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National Assembly Leadership retreats to take stock; Urges both Houses to focus on their respective Mandates and create necessary synergies for the Welfare of the Country

The Speaker of the National Assembly, Hon. Justin Muturi and other Members of the House Leadership have this weekend retreated to take stock on the progress made on the legislative agenda and to strategically focus on upcoming business before the House.

Speaking when he opened the two day forum at Sarova Whitesands Hotel, Mombasa, Speaker Muturi noted that the annual retreat is critical as the interactions and reflections thereof, would guide the House during the Third Session. He noted that this 2nd retreat would also provide an important avenue for Chairpersons and Vice Chairpersons of Committee to share their experiences and challenges in the management and processing of Parliamentary Business.

 “Within the dictates of a Presidential System, it would be an exercise in futility for a House of Parliament to plan without the input of House Committees," Speaker Muturi observed.

Addressing concerns that the National Assembly faces dissolution for its failure to enact legislation addressing gender representation in the House, Speaking Muturi noted that the fears were unfounded, but urged Members to focus on enacting comprehensive legislation promoting the representation of all marginalized groups outlined in Article 100 of the Constitution, that is- women, persons with disabilities, youth, ethnic and other minorities and marginalized communities.

The opening ceremony swiftly shifted focus to the encroachment of the mandate of the National Assembly in the execution of its oversight and legislative roles. Speaking on the matter, the Leader of the Majority Party, Hon. Aden Duale and his Minority counterpart Hon. John Mbadi, faulted the Senate for executing some roles that constitutionally fall under the exclusive mandate of the National Assembly. They further urged the Senate to uphold their role of safeguarding the interests of the counties and their governments as per Article 96(1) and avoid having to encourage or cause conflicts with and in the county governments, so as to support devolution.

Concerned that the architecture of the Constitution with regard to the place of the Senate may be the reason for lack of clarity on the roles of the mandate, the Leader of the Majority Party, Hon. Duale challenged the House Leadership and indeed the citizenry to address themselves to the role and mandate of the Senate. 

“Can we consciously and selflessly ask ourselves, for how long as a country do we need to continue with the Senate in its current form under Article 96 of the Constitution?” he posed. He urged the country to decide whether to go fully bicameral by giving the Senate full authority of a legislature or "bite the bullet, do away with the Senate and become unicameral again".

On his part, the Leader of the Minority Party, Hon. Mbadi reiterated on the need for each House to focus on their mandate, but further called upon House committees to consider working in close coordination to avoid wastage of public resources and for better oversight outcome.

The Leaders also urged committees all Chairpersons to enhance synergies to eliminate duplication of roles during oversight

Speaking during the forum aptly themed, “Consolidating Synergy and Safeguarding the gains for the Welfare of Society", the Cabinet Secretary for Interior and Coordination of National Government, Dr. Fred Matiang’i called for a coordinated inter-governmental collaboration for the welfare of the country.

While making his presentation on the subject; "Coordinated Oversight and Synergy", Dr. Matiang'i decried that lack of coordination, unnecessary bureaucracy and a poor communication strategy had cost the country a huge opportunity to effectively implement projects, thus leading to the huge loss of public resources.

He called on the National Assembly to enact legislation on Public Participation, with key focus on a qualitative rather than a quantative approach, so to enhance the creation of the necessary synergies. He appealed to the National Assembly to embrace a proper "sit down" arrangement with the executive rather than a "touch and go" approach to promote meaningful interactions between the two arms of government.

He however lauded the National Assembly for their support to his ministry noting that the House had achieved an astronomical growth in regards to legislative practice.

The retreat comes at an opportune time following the commencement of the Third Session of the 12th Parliament and just before the 2019/2020 Budget Estimates are tabled before the House, next week. Besides Coordinated Oversight and Synergy, the forum is expected to deliberate issues related to Governance and National Security, Public Debt, Population Statistics and Issues for National Planning, Effective Oversight and Public Petitions, among others.

Other Members and persons who addressed the opening session are: the Deputy Speaker, Hon. Moses Cheboi and the Clerk, Mr. Michael Sialai. The forum is also set to be addressed by Treasury CS, Henry Rotich, PS, State Department for Maritime and Shipping, Ms. Nancy Karigithu, the Director General, National Intelligence Service, Maj. Gen (Rtd), Phillip Kameru, the Director General, Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, among others.