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EACC wants action taken against Kwamboka, Senata over fist fight

Tuesday July 07 2020
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Nominated Senators Beatrice Kwamboka (right) and Mary Seneta in combined pictures. FILE PHOTOS | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By IBRAHIM ORUKO

Two senators, who fought within the precincts of Parliament, could find themselves in trouble with the law after the anti-graft agency demanded that action be taken against them. 

The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) said Tuesday that the behaviour of the lawmakers was unlawful. 

Nominated senators Beatrice Kwamboka (ODM) and Mary Seneta (Jubilee) were last week involved in a bitter disagreement over the election of the vice chairperson of the Health Committee which degenerated into a physical confrontation.

In a letter to Senate Speaker Kenneth Lusaka, EACC CEO Twalib Mbarak said the fight between the two lawmakers had desecrated the institution of Parliament, violated the Constitution and the Leadership of Integrity Act.

“The act by the two is not in tandem with the national values and the provisions of the Leadership and Integrity Act,” Mr Mbarak said.

A senator who talked to the Nation Tuesday dismissed Mr Mbarak’s letter as a waste of time arguing that the Senate has its own mechanism of dealing with members who act in a disorderly way.

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The Parliamentary Powers and Privileges Act provides a robust mechanism of dealing with lawmakers who engage in such actions as did the two besides the precedent set by many rulings delivered by the office of the speaker since independence.

The Senate also has the Powers and Privileges committee which is chaired by the speaker which the Nation has learnt has already taken up the matter.

The two fought last week during the election of vice chairperson of the Senate health committee.

Ms Kwamboka and Ms Seneta punched each other before parliamentary orderlies stepped in to separate them.

The committee had convened to elect its leadership after the recent changes brought about by the purge in the ruling Jubilee Party, which saw allies of Deputy President William Ruto kicked out.

Trans Nzoia Senator Michael Mbito had retained the chairmanship before chaos rocked the election of his vice, leading to cancellation of the process.

Kisumu Senator Fred Outa had proposed Narok Senator Ladema ole Kina as the vice chairperson in line with the newfound working relationship between President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga.

Apparently, the two sides have agreed to work together as part of their effort to cement the deal between the two leaders who were bitters foes during the 2017 presidential poll.

Things turned nasty when Deputy Majority Whip Farhiya Ali showed up, carrying a proxy vote on behalf of nominated Senator Beth Mugo.

Ms Mugo has been operating from home in line with Health ministry’s directive that employees aged 58 years work from home because they are vulnerable to Covid-19 pandemic.

Senate rules also empower a whip to nominate a member to vote for another in such situations where such a member cannot appear.

Ms Ali first appeared with letter of authority to vote on behalf of Ms Mugo.

After she was allowed she also moved out and received a call and declared the desire to vote for nominated Senator Millicent Omanga, who is also a member of the committee but was absent.

Ms Ali not only proposed Ms Seneta to contest for the same seat,  but her claim to hold a proxy vote for Ms Omanga triggered a storm that saw the committee degenerate into chaos.

Kwamboka took issue with Ali’s conduct, accusing the whip of bringing fraud in the committee.

In any, case,  she argued, the whip’s decision to front Ms Seneta to take on Mr ole Kina was against the spirit of the handshake between Mr Kenyatta and Mr Odinga.

Things got out of hand after Ms Omanga, who is awaiting the outcome of her disciplinary case with Jubilee Party, disassociated herself with Ms Ali as she was supporting Mr ole Kina.

After the chair cancelled the election and adjourned the sitting, the war between the two senator spiraled out of the election room as the lawmakers hurled unprintable words at each other.

"I am in the leadership and you cannot tell me anything,” Ms Kwamboka was overhead telling her colleague

“I am a Raila person and I will deal with you.”

In anger, Ms Seneta hit Ms Kwamboka with her bag.

Not ready to take it lying down, Ms Kwamboka returned fire, hitting Ms Seneta with her bag and going for her neck as the two started a fist fight.

Moments later, the orderlies stepped in and separated the two leaders who brought dishonour to the hallowed August House.

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