House may mutilate BBI report, cautions Muturi
Anthony Mwangi and Mercy Mwai
National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi yesterday insisted the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report should not be taken to Parliament as it risks being mutilated by politicians even as a legislator threatened to file an impeachment motion against him.
The Speaker said though most of the issues in the document are “mere policy issues” that do not require a referendum, he was of the opinion that if politicians are allowed to take over the process, the initiative’s objectives could be lost.
But he differed with MPs who are disparaging Parliament as too corrupt to deal with the report, saying they should resign from office.
“If you think you are serving an institution that is most corrupt and you are not happy with it, please resign. It beats logic for you to continue being in a House where you keep accusing your colleagues of being cheap,” he said.
Muturi’s sentiments did not sit well with Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria, who said he has started collecting signatures from MPs to impeach him.
“The Speaker exhibited himself as a partial arbiter even though his position does not allow him to take sides,” he told People Daily on the phone.
Addressing a news conference in his office, Muturi also said going by how Parliament has operated since 2013, no constitutional amendment has ever been passed by the House and thus such an initiative (BBI) is likely to suffer the same fate.
“We have some of us who think we should take it and run away with it, I think it is not good because we will start mutilating the proposals in the report because a member will just pick that which is juicy for themselves ... at the end of the day we will not be implementing that report,” he said.
He clarified that as it is, the BBI report is not a parliamentary initiative as Parliament was not involved in the formation of the task force report neither was it involved in the handover of the report.
Parliament, he said, can only receive a report from the Executive if it is in the form of a policy document from the Executive or if the President is coming to the House to brief it and on the principle of national values including human dignity, human rights, inclusiveness and sharing of power.
“The task force was appointed and gazetted by the president and, therefore, it really is an executive task force. Parliament was not in any way involved in the setting of the task force that became known as BBI,” he said, adding that before such a report is presented to Parliament, it has to go through certain process like allowing parliamentary committees to own the document.
As of today, he said, the document still remains a peoples’ document because Parliament did not originate it and thus has no power to receive it or even claim to receive it.
“Since this process did not involve Parliament from the word go, one would have to distill it out there before it can find legs or feet, with which it can walk to Parliament,” he added.
But Kuria in a disparaging tweet wrote, “Why Justin Muturi would allow himself to be bribed with a tilapia meal by John Mbadi in Migori to rule out a parliamentary route for BBI is a mystery for me. Today I will start collecting signatures to impeach him.”
Muturi’s assertion also appeared to differ with that of the Majority Leader in the National Assembly Aden Duale, who said most of the recommendations of the report require legislative interventions for it to be implemented.
“If you have read the report, you will observe that the recommendations contained in the report call for both administrative and legislative solutions for it to be implemented. In fact, I would say at least 80 per cent of the recommendations of the report require legislative interventions for it to be implemented,” he said in a statement.
Addressing a meeting in Uriri constituency over the weekend, Muturi ruled out the likelihood of the findings in the BBI report being settled through a parliamentary process.
However, Kimilili MP Didmus Baraza, who vowed to back the impeachment motion if it meets the required standards, dismissed Muturi’s assertion saying it will not be the first time that Parliament has pronounced itself on matters touching on constitutional changes.
Webuye West MP Dan Wanyama said Muturi has no powers to decide what comes to Parliament for debate.
Makueni MP Dan Maanzo said Muturi was speaking on behalf of both President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga, who he claimed want a referendum to implement the BBI findings.
Nominated MP Godfrey Osotsi defended Muturi, saying he was right because the BBI was not authored by Parliament for it to determine its fate.
“The Speaker is wrong on this one. Why did he allow debate on a Bill brought by Kiminini MP Chris Wamalwa which sought to change the date of elections. We debated it and resolved that it was a constitutional bill (and) parliament had no powers and hence it must be subjected to a referendum,” he said.
He said the BBI report has some bits which can be done through public policy.
“We have some suggestions which require acts of Parliament, others need a review or amendments through Parliament,” he said.