Bill seeks prosecution of public officials who snub House resolutions

Tana River Senator Danson Mungatana (pictured) has sponsored a Bill in the Senate that seeks to have government officials who fail to implement Parliament resolutions jailed or fined.

Mr Mungatana through the Powers and Privileges Amendment Bill seeks to have the Executive, constitutional commissions and independent offices respond to Parliament’s resolutions.

The Bill states that a public official who fails to comply with the law commits an offence and is liable, on conviction, to a fine not exceeding Sh500,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or to both.

“Getting feedback on whether an action has been taken or a resolution has been implemented has not been easy to accomplish through the Standing Orders of Parliament since they are rules for the orderly and effective discharge of the business of Parliament,” said Mungatana.

The Senator in the Bill contends that parliamentary committee reports contain important policy recommendations and perspectives that reflect the will of the people and insights from the legislators and other stakeholders and need to be treated with the seriousness they deserve.

If the Mungatana Bill becomes law public officials will be required to submit a status report to the relevant committee within 60 days from the date the resolution is conveyed or within such period as shall be specified by a resolution of the House.

The Senator argues that the Standing Orders provide for reporting on resolutions passed by Parliament but few reports are submitted on action taken and the Bill seeks to ensure that feedback on the same is given in a timely manner.

“The reports enable Parliament to hold the relevant offices accountable on various matters, including matters touching on the functions and powers of county governments and to require these offices to respect the input given by Parliament,” said Mungatana.

He argues that delays or failure to submit reports by the relevant government officials will undermine the ability of Parliament to undertake its oversight mandate and that government officials need to take their roles seriously and respond accordingly when required to.

Mungatana recommends that when a response is sought on the implementation of more than one resolution of Parliament, the relevant Speaker may direct the responsible officer to submit a single report on the status of implementation of all the resolutions.

The senator argues that time and resources go into committees work and subsequent reports that are tabled and adopted in Parliament and it is therefore negating good governance for those resolutions to be submitted to the Executive and other offices with no action taken. 

“The relevant House shall within seven days of resolution of tabling a report of a committee convey the resolution or a copy of the report, to the responsible officer whose portfolio implementation of the recommendation of the committee falls,” said Mungatana.

The senator argued that the accountability of other arms of Government to Parliament is necessary for democratic governance and is anchored on the fundamental principle that Parliament represents the will of the people and exercises their sovereignty.

Mungatana said the objective of the Bill is to ensure oversight mechanisms that Parliament employs to monitor the actions of the Executive and other independent offices to ensure accountability, transparency and responsibility in the performance of their duties.