Senator Okiya Omtatah has criticized President William Ruto, urging him to stop acting as a legislator and allow the National Assembly to exercise its rights independently. Omtatah expressed his concerns during an interview with Spice FM, stating that Ruto is employing threats as a means to pass bills, whereas his role as the Executive is solely to propose legislation, not to pass it.
Omtatah emphasized that the Executive is responsible for proposing taxes, while it is the National Assembly’s duty to determine whether they should be implemented. He criticized Ruto for attempting to enforce taxes rather than proposing them and accused him of seeking a rubber stamp from the National Assembly. Omtatah further pointed out that Ruto has been exerting influence on the legislative process by writing letters to the Speaker, essentially attempting to dictate the agenda and run the country as if he were the law. Omtatah also highlighted that the forced savings proposed by the bill are against the law.
According to Omtatah, members of the Kenya Kwanza coalition in the National Assembly are fearful of the consequences if they question or fail to support the bill. They are more inclined to vote in favor of it to secure their positions in Parliament and avoid retribution from their leader, Ruto. Omtatah raised concerns about the exclusion of the Senate from the discussion, especially since the bill directly impacts them and raises constitutional issues related to devolution. He questioned how one house could amend bills that were initially created by both houses and pass laws that affect devolution without involving the Senate.
Omtatah and four other activists recently filed a petition in court to challenge certain sections of the proposed Finance Bill, 2023. The High Court, through Justice Hedwig Ong’undi, certified the matter as urgent, acknowledging its pressing nature. However, the judge did not prevent the National Assembly from discussing and transmitting the disputed bill to the president. Omtatah remains hopeful that if the bill is not halted, the court will ultimately overturn it.