News and Events
Parliament needs to hit the ground running to meet tight deadline
Tuesday, 9 February could mark the beginning of the 11th Parliament’s final full-term session if the next general election date remains 8 August, 2017.
As this Parliament begins the fourth session and before it sprints to the finish line, the publics’ eye will be trained on the institution that is expected to enact 28 key legislations needed for the full implementation of the Constitution. The Bills must be law by 27 August this year.
The Fifth Schedule of the Constitution envisioned that legislation touching on community land, respect of culture and agreements relating to natural resources, among others would have been enacted by 27 August, 2015.
The Constitution, vide Article 261 (2) gives the National Assembly powers to extend the periods prescribed in the Schedule by a period not exceeding one year if the resolution is supported by votes of 233 or more Members of the National Assembly (MNAs).
“[Article 261] Sub clause 3 requires that the power to extend may only be exercised once and only in exceptional circumstances to be certified by the Speaker of the National Assembly. I do not recall any exceptional circumstances. At the time of extension the National Assembly had resumed from a recess,” Sen. Mutula Kilonzo, Jr told the Senate Press Relations yesterday.
The National Assembly already made use of the silver bullet in the chamber by invoking Article 261 last year, meaning Parliament has no cards to deal apart from passing the outstanding pieces of legislation by August.
“We have no choice. Ordinarily, I will expect these matters to be given priority from Tuesday this week. It is not the deadline that worries me. We will meet it,” said the Makueni Senator.
“Very crucial bills on land, including the Historical Injustices Bill will never see the light of day or will be watered down to suit the politics of the day.”
With elections imminent, quorum hitches may be experienced in the Houses from time to time, further stalling passing of key legislation. Sen. Beatrice Elachi, Majority Whip in the Senate is however optimistic that if Senators and MPs in general focus on their mandates the pending bills will be passed into law.
“[Quorum hitches are likely,] being an election year and realignment of Senators going for governorship. What we need the Senate to do if focus [on the outstanding bills] for the first six months. They must look at the foundation on which they were created. Key budgets are critical and functions being unbundled,” Sen. Elachi said.
The Mining Bill, 2014 is among the pieces of legislation that will need to be in place by the August deadline.
The Bill had been forwarded to the President for assent by the National Assembly late 2014 but State House returned it shortly before Christmas that year, for input by the Senate.
After consideration and amendments by the Senate, the contentious legislation was forwarded to the National Assembly which failed to approve Senate-proposed suggestions.
The Bill is currently committed to a Mediation Committee – constituted 4 November, 2015 – made up of equal numbers of representatives drawn from each House.
The two Houses of Parliament have been on recess for nearly two months.
“The staffers of the PSC have had the opportunity to conduct introspection and circumspection in anticipation of the fourth session of the 11th Parliament. Being the full session preceding the general elections, challenges will be there but they are not insurmountable,” said Jeremiah Nyegenye, Secretary to the Parliamentary Service Commission.
The Senate, which is the guardian of devolution, will be celebrating its third anniversary in March. The House has been at the forefront of advocating for increased funds to the grassroots.
KES 287 billion was allocated to the counties for the 2015/16 financial year after the Senate and National Assembly struck a compromise on the Division of Revenue Bill, 2015.
The National Assembly had proposed KES 283.7 billion to go to the counties but the Senate envisioned KES 291 billion being allocated by the National Treasury. After a month-long deadlock, a Mediation Committee found middle ground at KES 287 billion.
There has been a year-on-year increase in the amount of monies sent by the National Treasury to the counties: KES 210 billion in 2013 and KES 226 billion in 2014.
“It’s only natural for more funds to be allocated to the counties in the 2016/17 budget,” Sen. Mutula said.
“The people of Kenya have tasted devolution and banished the thoughts of centrism. There is clearly no going back. Whatever its shortcomings and setbacks, devolution is here to stay. Centrism is not an option,” Mr. Nyegenye observed.
Mr. Nyegenye who is also the Clerk of the Senate noted that he and staffers in the Senate are extremely privileged to be serving the House whose mandate is to protect and promote devolution.
“This is a divine calling because; to serve man, is to serve God.”
Quick Box: Summary as at the end of the Third Session of the Senate
- The Senate had a total of 111 sittings during the third session of which five were Special Sittings.
- A total of 33 Bills originating from the Senate and 12 originating from the National Assembly were introduced during the session.
- Senate Bills:
- Total Senate Bills Published – 61
- Senate Bills Passed, referred to the National Assembly and Assented to – 5
- Senate Bills Passed, and under consideration by the National Assembly – 18
- Senate Bills Pending Conclusion in the Senate – 35
- Senate Bills Negatived – 2
- Senate Bills Withdrawn – 1
- National Assembly Bills referred to the Senate by the National Assembly:
- Total Bills referred to the Senate by the National Assembly – 20
- NA Bills passed by the Senate and referred to the National Assembly – 14
- NA Bills pending conclusion in the Senate – 6
- Bills at various stages in the Senate:
- Bills at Committee Stage – 17
- Bills at Second Reading – 22
- Bills Due for First Reading – 2
- A total of 96 motions were tabled in the Senate in 2015. 55 were adopted, 2 were negatived, 4 introduced and concluded under SO 28, 7 motions were introduced and concluded under SO 33 and 28 are still pending before the House.