11 February 2014

Kenya: MPs' Biometric Clock-in Begins Working

Nairobi — The National Assembly resumed business on Tuesday with the adoption of a biometric system to track attendance and keep tabs on MPs being among major highlights of the new session.

A notable departure from practice as MPs returned to the second session after the Christmas holidays, was the break from tradition of the President delivering his statement to a joint sitting of both the Senate and National Assembly.

Leader of Majority in the National Assembly Aden Duale, explained that President Uhuru Kenyatta will formally communicate his legislative policy agenda for the Second Session in the next 10 days as per the Constitution when he addresses Parliament.

When House Speaker Justin Muturi rose to welcome MPs back to the House he focused on the new clock-in feature, in which legislators will register attendance using a fingerprint reader.

The Speaker had, at one point, to reprimand an MP who held up the queue as he examined the gadgets which were affixed on both sides of the doors to the Chamber.

Muturi directed that all the 349 legislators have until the end of the week to have their details captured in the biometric system.

"This is one of the efforts that we are putting in place towards ensuring a paperless National Assembly. The system is also meant to solve the challenges that have been experienced in the manual registration. The system will run simultaneously with the manual registration for a week, after which the manual registration will cease," the Speaker said in his Communication to the House.

The Speaker said the manual signing was slow and caused overcrowding at the entrance.

"I also wish to correct a wrong impression created by the media that the biometric system is to detect fraud; nothing could be further from the truth," said Muturi as he quoted Article 103 Clause(1)(b) of the Constitution; "that says that a member may lose their seat if they are not in the chamber for one session for eight sittings and not eight consecutive sittings," he added. "This is also a safeguard (for members) from busy bodies who may want to harass members."

Meanwhile, the session witnessed the swearing-in of Nyaribari Chache MP Richard Tongi and his Bomachoge Borabu counterpart Joel Onyancha into office after winning their respective by-elections in December.

Onyancha who is serving his second term in the National Assembly was first to take the oath. Tongi who is making his debut in the Eleventh Parliament was introduced into the House by Government Chief Whip Naomi Shaban and Asman Kamama.

Tongi who run on a Ford People ticket scored a major upset when he floored Chris Bichage of the Orange Democratic Movement by slightly over 800 votes.

The two by-elections were occasioned after the High Court nullified the March 4 victory of Onyancha and Bichage respectively.

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