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Shame as 150 MPs pocket millions for no work done

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SAMWEL OWINO

By SAMWEL OWINO
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DAVID MWERE

By DAVID MWERE
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Parliament will next week crack down on scores of lazy MPs who have been pocketing millions of shillings in weekly allowances without attending committee meetings.

On Thursday, the leadership of the National Assembly said it will kick such MPs out of the committees in a move aimed at ensuring solemnity in the discharge of parliamentary affairs so that taxpayers can get value for money.

National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale revealed on the floor of the House that he will table a report on the status of committee attendance next week to expose the lazy MPs.

The report, prepared by the House’s Directorate of Committee Services, will recommend changes to standing orders to ensure that lawmakers who fail to attend three consecutive meetings without a valid explanation or written permission from the Speaker are kicked out.

Sources in Parliament told the Saturday Nation that more than 150 MPs, among them committee chairpersons, could be affected by the purge after collecting allowances for meetings they did not attend.

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A committee chairman is paid Sh15,000 for chairing a meeting. A vice-chairperson pockets Sh12,000 while an ordinary member takes home Sh8,000 for every sitting attended.

The Salaries and Remuneration Commission Kenya Gazette notice of July 7, 2017 on remuneration and benefits for MPs capped committee sittings at 16 per month or four per week.

While Speaker Justin Muturi maintained that having the MPs repay the illegally pocketed allowances may be difficult, he warned that such MPs will be de-whipped.

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“Those who do not attend the meetings have no business being members of those committees. They should be removed,” Mr Muturi said.

The most affected are the 16 departmental committees and four financial audit and monetary-related panels.

Although MPs are allowed to belong to a maximum of two committees, there are some who belong to as many as three.

On a normal day, a member can go to all the three committees and sign the attendance sheets before retreating to their executive lounges in Parliament to take tea or just laze around while surfing the internet.

The attendance sheet is what is used to compute what an MP earns in monthly committee allowances, paid at the end of the month with their salaries.

During the Thursday session, Samburu North MP Alois Lentoimaga protested the plan to de-whip MPs for not attending committee sessions, saying many were placed on committees they don’t want, an argument Mr Muturi rejected.

The Speaker noted that MPs appear to take special interest in some lucrative committees, including Energy, Transport, Security and the two watchdog committees — Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and Public Investments Committee (PIC) — for monetary gain.

“I can remember those who wanted to join the Security committee were 50, Transport 100 and Energy was overflowing with requests,” Mr Muturi said.

Mr Duale said publishing the list of truant MPs will ensure that he does not have to read the same statements sought by members time and again.

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Father, son jailed for 20 and 15 years respectively for raping neighbour: The Standard

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Rift ValleyCourt rules prosecution had submitted enough evidence against the two

A man and his son have been handed 20 and 15 years-jail terms respectively for raping a woman in Kuresoi North in 2018.
John Chirchir, 58 and his son Vincent Lang’at, 28 were found guilty of raping the 28-year-old woman from Telowa village.
According to the court, the two jointly violated the woman who was their neighbour against her will on June 27, 2018.
SEE ALSO: COVID-19: Nakuru MCAs risk lives to meet over Sh14,500 allowance
The two were arrested on the same day and produced before court on the following day for plea taking.
While delivering his judgement, Molo Resident Magistrate Emmanuel Soita said the prosecution led by John Limo had submitted enough evidence against the two.
The Magistrate noted that five witnesses were called on testifies against the suspects.
The same court also handed a ten-year jail term to Samuel Kiprono who is accused of defiling a nine-year-old girl at Keringet area in Kuresoi South.

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Sudan says three jailed Bashir aides have virus

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AFP

By AFP
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Sudanese authorities said Wednesday that three former senior aides to ousted president Omar al-Bashir have caught the novel coronavirus in prison.

Former officials Ali Othman Taha, Ahmed Mohamed Haroun and Abdulreheem Mohamed Hussein have been held in Khartoum’s Kober prison since Bashir’s military ouster in April 2019 following mass protests against his rule.

All three are awaiting trial in Sudan for corruption and other offences.

Haroun and Hussein, who held top government positions under Bashir, are wanted by the International Criminal Court over their role in the Darfur conflict.

On Wednesday, Sudan’s public prosecution said the three men had tested positive for Covid-19, which has so far infected 4,146 people and killed 184 in the country.

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Haroun has been in an isolation centre in northern Khartoum since late April, the statement said.

Prison authorities tested the others on May 20 and transferred Hussein to a hospital in Omdurman, Khartoum’s twin city, and Taha to an isolation centre in central Khartoum, according to the statement.

Taha served as vice president under Bashir between 1998-2013, and was previously Sudan’s foreign minister.

Hussein served in several positions including defence and interior minister. He was also assigned governor of Khartoum before Bashir’s ouster.

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Haroun served as minister of state for the interior, minister of state for humanitarian affairs, and governor of the conflict-ridden South Kordofan.

All three were members of Bashir’s now-defunct National Congress Party.

The Hague-based ICC charged Bashir and others — including Haroun and Hussein — with war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Darfur conflict which erupted in 2003.

The fighting started when ethnic minority rebels took up arms against Bashir’s Arab-dominated government, accusing it of political and economic marginalisation of their region.

The United Nations estimates around 300,000 people were killed and 2.5 million others displaced in the conflict.

Human rights groups say Khartoum targeted suspected pro-rebel ethnic groups with a scorched earth policy, raping, killing, looting and burning villages.

In February, Sudan’s transitional authorities, who took power in August, agreed that Bashir and his aides should stand trial before the ICC.

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Covid-19 team wants schools to reopen in September

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By FAITH NYAMAI

By DAVID MUCHUNGUH

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Schools, colleges and universities may remain shut beyond June 4 if a preliminary report by a committee formed to advise Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha is adopted.

Additionally, national exams scheduled for November will be administered in February 2021, according to the report by the Covid-19 Education Response Committee chaired by Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development Council chairperson Sara Ruto.

Although the Nation could not independently verify the highlights of the report, sources on the committee said Prof Magoha has been advised to start putting in place mechanisms to prepare for the reopening of schools in September.

The CS had set June 4 as the tentative opening date, pending the advice of the committee and the Ministry of Health.

That seems unlikely, considering the rising number of coronavirus infections. Kenya has 1,618 cases, with 147 reported Thursday.

“The final decision on when to reopen schools rests with the minister and the President, but we have presented our views,” the source said.

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Members of the committee are understood to have spent the better part of Thursday in a meeting “tying the loose ends of our report”.

Prof Magoha is expected to present his recommendations to President Uhuru Kenyatta, who announced the closure of learning institutions on March 15.

BOOST FUNDING

Mr Kenyatta last week hinted at adopting measures to open up the country’s economy.

The night-time curfew and restriction on movement from and into Nairobi, Mombasa, Kwale, Kilifi and Mandera counties expire on June 6.

Dr Ruto’s committee recommends that the Education ministry change the academic calendar to start in September and provide the requisite resources to run schools smoothly.

The team has also asked the CS to enhance funding for schools. Schools had not received all the State funding by the time they closed.

Many are struggling to pay auxiliary staff and teachers hired by boards of management.

Private schools have also been hit by the prolonged closure, as they depend on fees to pay staff, rent and loans.

The task force says money due should be released in full in September.

The committee has also come up with rules for reopening schools in compliance with World Health Organisation guidelines on managing Covid-19.

It advises the ministry to ensure social distancing and high levels of hygiene are observed in schools.

SAFEY GUIDELINES

The source said education stakeholders should be involved in executing the back-to-school programmes.

Teachers’ unions protested their exclusion from the committee. More than 3,000 people and institutions submitted their views to the team.

The recommendations came a day after the Kenya National Union of Teachers, University Academic Staff Union, Kenya Human Rights Commission, Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Doctors Union, Forum for African Women Educationalists-Kenya and Elimu Tuitakayo Network said schools should remain closed until September.

They also proposed that national exams be postponed to the first quarter of 2021.

The organisations recommended an elaborate and solid plan on safety in schools by the Directorate of Occupational Safety and Health be put in place before schools reopen.

Tracking coronavirus

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