NATIONAL ASSEMBLY SETS GUIDELINES FOR CABINET SECRETARIES' QUESTION TIME
In a move aimed at enhancing transparency and accountability, Cabinet Secretaries will now be required to appear before the National Assembly every Wednesday afternoon for a maximum of three hours. This comes after the approval of amendments to the Standing Orders by Parliament on March 9th, 2023, which take effect from March 23rd, 2023.
According to Speaker Moses Masika Wetang'ula, the Clerk of the National Assembly, Mr. Samuel Njoroge is expected to process and transmit approved questions to the relevant ministries for responses by the respective Cabinet Secretaries in line with the provisions of the Standing Orders. Mr. Njoroge will also be expected to prepare and publish a tentative list of Cabinet Secretaries scheduled to respond to questions on the Parliament of Kenya website on a regular basis.
Under the amended Standing Orders, a designated place on the right of the Speaker adjacent to the public servants' bench has been identified as the sitting area for Cabinet Secretaries in the National Assembly Chamber. Each Cabinet Secretary will be obligated to come to the House in person, with no room for delegation of their duties.
The Leader of the Majority Party will inform the House of the date, time, and order in which Cabinet Secretaries will appear to reply to questions and provide reports, taking into consideration the urgency of each question. Cabinet Secretaries will also be required to provide both physical and electronic copies of the reply to a question at least one day before their appearance.
Members of the National Assembly will have an opportunity to ask a maximum of two supplementary questions to the Cabinet Secretary. Questions directed to a Constitutional Commission or an Independent Office shall be replied to before the relevant Committees of the House, with Members having an option of receiving a written response.
The amended Standing Order 40(3A) gives priority to questions and reports by Cabinet Secretaries every Wednesday afternoon for a period not exceeding three hours. Additionally, Wednesday House sittings will adjourn at 9.00 p.m in accordance with the amended Standing Order 30(2).
The move has been lauded by Members of Parliament, who see it as a step towards enhancing accountability and transparency in the Executive.
The inaugural appearance of the Cabinet Secretaries is expected to begin after the short recess when the National Assembly resumes on April 11th, 2023