MPs have insisted that their second families should be covered by State-funded medical insurance, defying President Uhuru Kenyatta’s plea that they put public interest first.
During a kamukunji (informal sitting) at Parliament chaired by Speaker Justin Muturi and attended by his Senate counterpart Ken Lusaka on Tuesday, the 416 members demanded to have a fuelled car despite already drawing mileage allowances and a Sh7 million car grant from the taxpayer.
The members also said they would not relent in their push for the government to cater for their shelter by housing them or paying house allowance despite enjoying a mortgage of up to Sh20 million.
The mortgage has one of the most attractive repayment terms in the country — three per cent interest rate — but must be settled at the end of an MP’s five-year term.
The MPs agreed to have the bill fast-tracked and passed by Tuesday next week.
Their demands, widely seen as blackmail on the Executive as MPs prepare to vote on the politically sensitive two-thirds gender bill, flies in the face of exhortation by President Kenyatta on Monday that they drop the demands and focus on improving the welfare of citizens.
Building consensus on the gender bill was shelved during the kamukunji after a section of the MPs said it was not necessary at the time.
According to an MP who attended the meeting, but who cannot be named because of its confidentiality, Budalangi MP Raphael Wanjala protested the exclusion of “some of our family members” from insurance, saying it is discriminatory.
“It is wrong because I have two wives and both of them successfully campaigned for me. But selecting only one for insurance cover is wrong. It is discriminative because where does the other one get the cover?” Mr Wanjala is quoted to have said.
The MPs argued that they want to be accorded similar treatment given to Cabinet secretaries and judges, who have car loans, car grants and official cars as well as mortgage and official residences.
Speaking when he opened the Jumuiya ya Pwani Blue Economy and Agribusiness Conference in Mombasa, President Kenyatta criticised leaders, including MPs and ward representatives, who are always pushing for salary raises at the expense of Kenyans.
At a recent funeral ceremony, President Kenyatta said mourners were told of how a minister, an MP and an MCA now earned more than their predecessors who would have a sitting allowance of Sh300.
"That amount cannot even translate to Sh20,000 now. But today, I am revealing this to you, an MCA takes it as sitting allowance to stay in the assembly for half an hour,” the President said.
The perks are some of the provisions contained in the controversial clause introduced in the Public Service Bill 2018 by the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee in its report currently before the House.
The report of the committee chaired by Baringo North MP William Cheptumo was tabled in the House on Thursday last week.
All 416 MPs, Speakers of both Houses and majority leaders in both chambers will each be provided with a rent-free house, a government vehicle, an expanded medical cover, travel allowances and an expanded constituency outreach operation, if the new bill becomes law.
The latest demands from the MPs have triggered a public outcry that they are insensitive to the needs of the electorate and the current economic situation.
The Justice and Legal Affairs Committee report further recommends that a budget be set aside for each of the 290 constituencies to have a public participation office and monitoring separate from the National Government-Constituencies Development Fund (NG-CDF) that they control.
The kamukunji was called to discuss the MPs’ medical cover by M/s Liaison Healthcare Limited, the parliamentary service bill and the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill 2018, popularly known as the two- thirds gender rule bill.