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Top Kenyan lawyer gets parliament and judiciary funding numbers wrong

This article is more than 5 years old

  • A top lawyer said Kenya’s judiciary was underfunded, comparing its staff numbers those of parliament and suggesting parliament’s travel and entertainment budget was high.

  • He said the judiciary had 10,000 employees and parliament only 800. The judiciary has 5,598 staff and parliament has 9,940.

  • He said parliament’s travel and hospitality budget was KSh10 billion. The most recent audited figure is KSh4.64 billion.

As Kenya’s parliament finalises the country’s budget forecasts, its allocation to the judiciary has left a prominent lawyer unimpressed.

“Look at this MONKEY business… the entire Kenyan judiciary with 10,000 employees covering 47 counties has a budget of KSh18 billion. Parliament with only 800 employees has 40 billion out of which 10 billion is for foreign/local trips/entertainment...what a shame!!!”

Senior counsel Ahmednasir Abdullahi tweeted this to his 660,000 followers in March 2019.

He was responding to an update from Kenya’s National Assembly that parliament would get some KSh39.5 billion in the 2019/20 financial year, and the judiciary just KSh18.9 billion. The executive arm of government’s share was capped at KSh1.77 trillion.

The lawyer is a former chair of the Law Society of Kenya, which he later represented in the Judicial Service Commission.

‘Deliberately starve judiciary of funds’

Africa Check contacted Abdullahi for the source of his figures. He told us the parliamentary staffing number came from his sources in parliament. He did not give a source for judicial staffing.

“I was told by the people who work there that employees of parliament cannot reach 1,000.” He said he wrote the tweet “off the cuff after I talked to one or two guys. There is a deliberate policy to starve the judiciary of funds.”

Cuts to the judiciary’s budget have drawn past criticism from the chief justice, David Maraga. But is Abdullahi’s ire justified? We checked his numbers.


“The entire Kenyan judiciary with 10,000 employees covering 47 counties has a budget of KSh18 billion.”



Kenya’s judiciary had 5,598 staff as at June 2018, according to the State of the Judiciary report released in March 2019.

These were 155 judges, 513 magistrates and kadhis and 4,930 judicial staff, ranging from court clerks and researchers to technicians and messengers.

But the judiciary requires 9,568 employees to operate at its peak, the report says – 3,970 more than its current staff.

The report adds that the judiciary is “operating at 58.5% of its optimum staffing”.


“Parliament with only 800 employees has [a budget of] KSh40 billion.”



Parliament has 9,940 staff, Jeremiah Nyegenye, the clerk of the senate and secretary of the Parliamentary Service Commission, told Africa Check.

A letter from Nyegenye shows there are:

  • 830 permanent and pensionable parliamentary staff, 282 contract staff, and 10 seconded staff

  • 6,740 constituency staff in the 290 constituencies and 47 county offices

  • 46 staff serve 12 nominated lawmakers

  • In the senate, 940 staff serve 47 elected senators, and 64 serve nominated senators

  • 1,022 police officers are attached to lawmakers in both houses

Abdullahi is therefore also off the mark on this one.


“Parliament… has [a budget of] KSh40 billion out of which KSh10 billion is for foreign/local trips/entertainment.”



Parliament spent KSh2.95 billion on domestic travel in the 2017/18 financial year, the office of the controller of budget reported. Foreign trips cost KSh1.32 billion while the bill for hospitality was KSh370.3 million. This adds up to KSh4.64 billion.

The figure increased significantly in 2018/19, with KSh2.59 billion budgeted for foreign travel, KSh4.99 billion for domestic travel and KSh577.8 million for hospitality. The total is KSh8.16 billion.

However, these are unaudited figures. Parliament’s most recent audited figure for travel and hospitality is KSh4.64 billion. The lawyer’s claim of KSh10 billion is therefore incorrect.

Budget estimates for the 2019/20 financial year are expected in April.

Bonus numbers

Data from the controller of budget shows that the judiciary spent KSh7.3 billion on employees in 2017/18. This was 57.5% of its KSh12.7 billion recurrent spending budget.

Parliament spent KSh12.8 billion on personnel. This was 65% of its KSh19.6 billion recurrent spending budget.

Further reading:


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