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In what appears to be a blatant defiance of a court order stopping public participation forums on Affordable Housing Bill 2023, two National Assembly committees have lined up series of meetings to collect views from the public.

The week-long program in 12 counties will be presided over by Parliament’s Finance and Planning Committee and the Housing Committee, setting up the stage for an imminent legal battle between the Executive and litigants, who were granted conservatory orders stopping the public participation from taking place until the matter is determined later this month.

Counties which will host the public participation programme include; Machakos, Narok, Uasin Gishu, Meru, Nyeri, Nairobi, Mombasa, Kwale. Homabay, Kiambu, Embu, Bungoma and Nakuru.

“We have finalized all logistics and ready to receive views from the public. Over 100 memoranda received from the public. Focus will be on contribution on the levy and beneficiary aspects,” Kuria Kimani, the Chairperson of the National Assembly’s Finance committee, said.

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The High Court in Kisumu last month issued conservatory stopping the public participation of the Affordable Housing Bill 2023 pending further directions.

The petitioner, a Kisumu-based lobby, Grassroots Trust, argued that the National Assembly should conduct adequate public sensitization, especially targeting marginalized groups, that may not know the content of the Bill before collecting views.

Similarly, Justice Jacqueline Kamau of the Vihiga High Court late last month declined to vacate the orders initially issued by the Kisumu High Court, stopping the planned public participation, and instead asked the parties to make submissions for the hearing on January 17.

Kimani is adamant that the latest move by Parliament is not in contempt of court orders.

“There is no contempt because we stopped and are now doing it differently. You cannot gag an independent body from doing its job from the grassroots, unless they now tell us who they want to make laws. We will proceed,” he said.

The National Assembly had initially set December 28, 2023 as the deadline to receive memoranda on the Affordable Housing Bill, 2023, whose revised edition was tabled by Majority Leader Kimani Ichung’wah in Parliament on December 7.

With the petitioners keen on having the public participation of the Affordable Housing Bill, 2023, dismissed, another round of legal showdown looms in the corridors of justice, even as the Court of Appeal is set to issue ruling on January 26 as to whether or not to suspend the housing tax, under the Finance Act 2023.

—CD

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