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LSK is becoming a busybody, National Assembly clerk says over Zulekha drama


Aug. 10, 2019

By JOSEPH MURAYA, NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 10 – The move by Kwale Woman Representative Zulekha Hassan to walk into the National Assembly debating chambers with a toddler continues to elicit reactions, even as the legislator says she does not regret her actions.
The National Assembly has been placed on the defending line after the legislator was kicked out of the Chambers, with lobbyists saying it was on an infringement of her human rights.
National Assembly clerk Michael Sialai has come out to defend the move saying the MP peacefully walked out of the chambers in adherence to the standing orders, following the speaker’s directive.
“We have facilities for lactating Members and staff, and baby daycare within the precincts of Parliament and we always uphold the rule of law and the Constitution. Parliamentary Service Commission has gone out of its way to treat all Members equally and provide services and facilities that uphold the dignity of its members and staff,” he said.
But according to the legislator, who spoke to Capital News on Friday, the facility is not only far from the chambers, but it also lacks adequate staffing.
According to the woman representative, the crèche was hurriedly equipped after the incident, despite the Parliamentary Service Commission having approved its set up some six years ago, in a bid to accommodate the nursing members.
“They only rushed to save face … it has not been functional,” she said.
While the Law Society of Kenya has demanded that the National Assembly tenders an apology to the legislator, Sialai has dismissed them as a busybodies, saying like any other self-regulating body, the Constitution provides that Parliament shall put in place Standing Orders for the orderly conduct of its business and proceedings.
“It is therefore unfortunate for LSK to issue an alarming statement without ascertaining facts on what transpired in the Chamber on 7th August 2019. We note with regret that of late LSK has accorded itself the power of policing parliament,” the clerk said in a hard-hitting statement.
“It will be ridiculous for LSK to advocate for breach of such rules and yet in their case they expect their LSK members to adhere to their rules including requiring those contesting for positions to be tax compliant.”
In their list of demands, LSK also wants the government provides policy directives to ensure compliance with the Breastfeeding Law and protection of lactating mothers at workplaces.
“Breastfeeding provides unique health benefits to both the mother and the child. Breastfeeding is the healthiest start to life; it is a baby’s best vaccine and a crucial driver of the right to health. The World Health Organization(WHO) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for infants up to 6 months and thereafter diet supplemented breastfeeding up to 2 years. This incident happening during the breastfeeding week speaks of the indifference to breastfeeding despite the known benefits and legal cushions.” LSK President Allen Gichuhi said.
She added: “This is my third child. I have never done this, but it is only because there was an emergency and I had no other way and I decided to come with the baby so as not to miss work. It’s like I have been punished for having a child and it’s a very natural process.”
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