National Assembly sittings resume business to a full in-tray
The National Assembly resumes sittings from a short recess this afternoon for the final session of the year during which various legislations with far-reaching ramifications are set to be debated.
Top on the table will be the controversial Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill which enters the second reading stage.
The amendment seeks to allow a President to pick Cabinet ministers from among Members of Parliament.
The bill is, however, expected to face legal hurdles after activist Okiya Omtatah petitioned the to courts to stop debate on the bill, terming it unconstitutional.
Raise a storm
Omtatah said yesterday he expects the High Court to give directions anytime this week.
“We are seeking orders to have the proposed bill shelved because it contravenes the Constitution,” he said.
Another proposed legislation that is expected to raise a storm is the repeal of section 22(1)(b) of the Elections Act, 2011, which requires those vying for elective position to be holders of a university degree.
Two petitioners seek to stop the repeal of the Elections Act, claiming the university degree requirement will make political leadership a preserve of the elite and will disenfranchise a number of good leaders who may not have pursued higher education.
Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen has also moved a bill seeking to overturn the degree requirement.
The draft bill reads in part: “The legislative proposal seeks to amend Section 22 of the Elections Act, 2011 to void requirements for academic papers for consideration to be nominated for election as MCA/MP and replace it with the nominee being able to read and write in English or Kiswahili or literate in Kenya Sign Language.”
Another piece of legislation which is expected to elicit a storm is the National Hospital Insurance Fund (Amendment) Bill, which proposes that every adult pay a compulsory contribution of Sh500 per month translating to Sh6,000 annually.
Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu) and its 45 affiliates have opposed the amendments, terming them illegal.
Part of the amendments they are objected to include mandatory contribution, the conversion of the fund to a scheme as well as failure to conduct public participation and stakeholder engagement before settling on the amendments.
Cotu secretary-general Francis Atwoli says the amendment, which seeks to convert the fund to a scheme, would essentially disband NHIF and instead come up with an amorphous body with a new mandate and objective, a move that is contrary to the wishes of workers, who are members of the fund.
The Health Laws (Amendment) Bill, which seeks to remove health regulatory bodies from managing them has been opposed by professionals.
The Kenya Medical Association wants the Health Laws Amendment Bill 2021 be shelved altogether and that the regulatory bodies remain as they are and have proper stakeholder engagement prior to making policy amendments.
Other bills coming up include the Foreign Services Bill, the Parliamentary Pensions (Amendment), the County Governments (Amendment), the Judicial Service (Amendment), the Social Assistance (Repeal) and the Landlord and tenant among others.
There are also important bills being pushed by private members all which are in the second reading.