Battle lines have been demarcated. A showdown lurks with wanton abandon over the implementation of the Building Bridges Initiative report amid an uproar that the process had been hijacked by a parliamentary committee controlled by supporters of DP William Ruto.
The Constitutional Implementation Oversight Committee has organised a four-day retreat to Mombasa to discuss the report before it’s formally introduced in Parliament.
The CIOC is headed by Ndaragwa MP Jeremiah Kioni, a one-time running mate to ANC Party Leader Musalia Mudavadi turned a staunch Pharisee of Deputy President.
“Good morning, Honourable Member, the committee has resolved to hold a retreat in Mombasa to consider the BBI report from Thursday 5 to Sunday 8 December. Kindly confirm if you will be available,” a message sent by the Committee clerk to the 22-member committee reads.
Another team of Ruto allies from Rift Valley MPs are also scheduled to in Naivasha this weekend to discuss the report and adopt a common position.
A section of members protested that the Ruto wing was keen to commandeer the implementation process in an effort to scuttle the BBI adoption.
“The report has not come formally to Parliament. So how can we retreat to discuss something that is not before the House? These are games being played by Ruto and his allies to scuttle the process,” Lugari MP Ayub Savula, a member of the committee protested.
Savula however confirmed that he will attend the retreat which he termed “very malicious”
Ruto and his allies have strongly opposed calls for a referendum, largely championed by ODM leader Raila Odinga as the best implementation route for the BBI report.
ODM Chairman John Mbadi, who is also the National Assembly Minority leader, pledged that they will resist any attempt to introduce the report to Parliament.
“On what grounds are they discussing the BBI report? Let them not be busybodies. Parliament only acts on official documents. The BBI report is a task force report not yet introduced formally in Parliament,” he claimed.
Mbadi went on, “Who sent them? These people are acting on behalf of somebody and we will resist any attempts to bring BBI to Parliament. I hope they are not spending Parliament’s money on such irrelevant endeavours.”
Nominated MP Godfrey Osotsi, who is a member of the House Business Committee, denounced Kioni for seeking to spearhead constitutional review when he is already conflicted.
“There is a conflict of interest, Kioni cannot purport to be presiding over a matter of constitutional review when he is already biased. He has been attending meetings of Tangatanga pushing for a parliamentary initiative,” Osotsi told the Star.
“The speaker has already said that the report has no route to Parliament as it is now. Obviously they will be going against the Speaker’s direction. Committees are part of Parliament, the speaker’s viewpoint does not only affect the plenary but also the committees.”
However, Kioni dismissed his critics as individuals with an “old mindset” who do not understand the work of Parliament.
“The report doesn’t have to be presented to Parliament officially. There are many issues that have been discussed on the floor of the House but they have not been presented officially. When cows are stolen in Pokot, what report is tabled in Parliament? The criticism is by people who don’t understand their role in parliament,” Kioni told reiterated.
“There are many legislative agendas that our committee has discussed without anyone telling us to. MPs must be proactive,” he added.
There were also questions about how the committee got approval for the retreat from the parliamentary leadership and how the CIOC report will be introduced on the floor of the House.
According to parliamentary procedure, a task force report is sent from the President to the Speaker before the Speaker commits it to the appropriate committee.
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