Beleaguered former chairman of the defunct Public Accounts Committee Ababu Namwamba yesterday shocked his colleagues in the National Assembly when he defied a direct order of Deputy Speaker Joyce Laboso that he drops all the claims of bribery against his colleagues and the House.
That refusal to drop the allegations and failure to apologise for making them, left Dr Laboso with only one option – to kick Namwamba out of the precincts of the National Assembly for four days. She did so.
But before he was shown the door, Namwamba, the MP for Budalangi, said the claims of bribery were valid, and that they were meant to help the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission deal with corruption in the corridors of Parliament Buildings.
““I declare for the avoidance of doubt, without an iota of fear, that I shall not apologise for that, and I place myself at the pleasure of the chair in terms of attendant sanctions. My respect for the rules and honour of this House is unimpeachable. But my commitment to stand for the truth in the fight against corruption ...still stands,” said Namwamba.
He slammed the Committee on Privileges which asked the Deputy Speaker to reprimand him, and three of his colleagues Ahmed Abass (Ijara), James Bett (Kesses) and Omondi Anyanga (Nyatike).
Another MP Samuel Arama (Nakuru Town West) was not reprimanded, but he was required to apologise for discussing the matters in committee with the media. Arama is not among those who were barred from sitting in PAC for the remainder of the Third Session. Only five were barred Namwamba, Bett, Anyanga, Abass, and Cecily Mbarire (Runyenjes). Mbarire was not reprimanded and neither wasn’t she required to apologise.
“I respect the process that the Committee on Privileges went through but I do not agree at all with the procedure, the findings and the recommendations of that committee. I consider that whole process to be something akin to a kangaroo court that was merely tended to confirm a predetermined verdict. That report is a pack of contradictions that will not stand the test of any judicial inquiry,” said Namwamba.
The Committee on Privileges recommended the dissolution of PAC, a ban on five MPs, a call for a public reprimand from the Speaker and the constitution of a fresh team within a week. These resolutions were adopted.
'My hero is Ababu'
For his stance, Namwamba also the secretary general of the biggest opposition party, ODM, earned instant praise from Millie Mabona (Mbita).
“My hero is Ababu, you must always stand with the truth no matter what!” said Mabona.
He said the audio file with the confession of an MP detailing how they shared Sh1.5 million from the Office of the President to alter the report on the looting of money in the confidential vote, and his dossier on the extent of corruption within the watchdog committee will help the EACC nail the corrupt in the House.
“I believe the PAC has been made a sacrificial lamb, if this House is committed to fight corruption, this House must allow the process that the EACC has initiated to go to its full conclusion,” said Namwamba in the House.
But he did apologise for discussing committee business in the media, and argued that the matter was already an issue of “public notoriety” and his name was being ‘dragged through the mud” and that’s why he had to respond.
Quoting Mahatma Gandhi, Namwamba told the House: ““Many people want to punish you for speaking the truth, for being correct, for being you. Never apologize for being correct, or for being years ahead of your time. If you’re right and you know it, speak your mind. Even if you are a minority of one, the truth is still the truth.”
The Deputy Speaker reprimanded Namwamba, Anyanga and Bett for “Bringing the integrity of PAC into disprepute!”
“Your conduct brought ridicule to the House and its membership,” said the Deputy Speaker in the unprecedented censure in the history of Parliament. Abass was not in the House.
For Anyanga, Bett and Arama, the House was turned into a theatre of contrition as they apologised for failing to back up the allegations they had made against each other regarding corruption; they also apologised for discussing the issues in the media when they were active within House committees.
Arama, who no longer sat in PAC because he was de-whipped, added: “I stand to apologize. What made me go against the committee and your orders is that the chair of PAC was hopping from one media house to another, so I was forced to reply back, but I apologise.