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'Reject the Bill' - Why chant was ignored during Committee of the Whole proceedings

Black dress code, Opposition MPs drop all their amendments and 'Reject the Bill' chants in the National Assembly - what these meant during Committee of the Whole House proceedings on Finance Bill 2024.

Members of the National Assembly during the Budget Reading on June 13, 2024
  • Azimio Coalition MPs dropped their proposed amendments to the Finance Bill 2024
  • During Committee of the Whole House proceedings, there were resounding 'Reject the Bill' chants from the Opposition MPs
  • Opposition MPs donned black attire as a deliberate sign of mourning over the Bill

As young Kenyans across the country mounted anti-Finance Bill 2024 protests on Tuesday morning, the National Assembly was in session for a Committee of the Whole House on the Bill.

The proceedings of the morning begun with Minority Leader Opiyo Andayi rising to inform the speaker that the Azimio Coalition MPs had agreed to drop their proposed amendments to the Bill.

Minority Whip Junet Mohammed proceeded to explain that the Azimio side had held a Parliamentary Group meeting and agreed that their position was to reject the Finance Bill in its entirety.

Observing that the Opposition MPs had donned black attire for the day, Rarieda MP Otiende Amolo explained that it had been deliberate, and a sign that they are "mourning together with the people of Kenya" over the Bill.

These events were the precursor to a "Reject The Bill" chant that was heard as the Committee of the Whole House went through the various clauses of the proposed law.

With every question put to the house on the amendments to the Finance Bill, Opposition MPs responded with a resounding "Reject the Bill" and the Chair - Uasin Gishu Woman Rep Gladys Shollei - proceeded to announce, "The ayes have it."

Kenyans who were following the proceedings Live were curious to know why the chant, which was seemingly louder than the assent, was ignored during the proceedings.

This can be attributed to the House rules for Committee of the Whole proceedings which state in part: "In carrying out its mandate, a Committee of the whole House takes into account any instructions given to it by the House through the Speaker. The Committee does not have the power to grant leave for the withdrawal of a Bill from the House."

Speaker Moses Wetangula's instructions for the session included a notice that the Finance Bill 2024 had undergone a "winnowing" process which involved Treasury CS Njuguna Ndung'u.

With the 'Reject the Bill' chant having been ignored and in the absence of 'noes', the Bill made history as the fastest Finance Bill to be passed without the Opposition as it took two hours of deliberation.

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