President William Ruto has vowed to end the rivalry between the National Assembly and the Senate.
The president said they will no longer move to court to address disagreements between them.
During the final day of the Cabinet retreat at the five-star Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club in Nanyuki yesterday, the leadership of the National Assembly, Senate and Council of Governors held a session with the Executive, and outlined ways to work together moving forward.
“We undertake to end this sibling rivalry between the Senate and the National Assembly by finding a collaborative way to deal with issues, I will not allow any matters to go to court,” President Ruto said.
He also said the government had been paying millions of shillings of public funds to lawyers in efforts to resolve matters that can be arbitrated out of courts.
"We should not be spending public money to sort out disagreements that can be arbitrated outside the court system, this must come to an end," he warned
Resolve matters amicably
Majority leaders Kimani Ichungwa (National Assembly) and Aaron Cheruiyot (Senate) welcomed the president’s move to have disputes between the two Houses settled out of court.
Cheruiyot said disputes between the Houses had led the Senate to challenge in court the approval of 23 Acts of Parliament, which stalled their implementation.
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“We have not had a very cordial relationship with the National Assembly, but I know moving forward we shall find an out-of-court solution for some of the disagreements we have had,” Cheruiyot said.
He noted the president had made it clear, to the House leadership that they should resolve matters amicably.
“We seek your indulgence Mr President, that should any dispute arise, you can call the speakers of both Houses and the leadership and we resolve the matter without going to court. The issues can be resolved by you,” he said.
Ichungwa said that disagreements between the Senate and the MPs would stall government projects if not resolved amicably.
"It would be very unfortunate if the Senate and the National Assembly disagree on key Acts of legislation such as the Finance Bill or Budget because this can stall the disbursement of funds to counties and other departments," he said.
The two leaders each presented their proposals on how the Cabinet Secretaries would attend plenary sessions to answer questions on policy issues and others of national importance.
In an effort to boost the relationship between the National Assembly and the Executive, the president announced that the Office of the Prime Cabinet Secretary would manage relations between the two Houses.
“The office of the Prime Cabinet Secretary will have a Department on Parliamentary Affairs that will work towards managing the relationship between the National Assembly and the Cabinet, this is one of the ways we will work in a collaborated effort towards achieving the government agenda,” he said.
The position currently held by Musalia Mudavadi will also undertake to address in Parliament any cross-cutting issues that may arise from the National Assembly.
Mudavadi said his office was working on programmes and policies to ensure quality in performance and delivery. “It is my intention that there be better efficiency and effective coordination, visibility and implementation of government agenda through a cross-functional approach across all ministries, State departments and State agencies,” Mudavadi said.
President Ruto also promised to work with the Council of Governors in accordance with the Constitution.
“It is not by choices made by some leaders or political parties to work with the counties, we shall work within the CoG because it is in the constitution and within our mandate to work cohesively as national and county governments,” he said, adding that the national government's relations with counties would be handled by Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua, directly and would be domiciled in his office.
“To ensure a smooth and cordial working relationship between national and county government projects, the DP will work closely with the CoG. This is a role I have given him to ensure we deliver on our promise to Kenyans,” he said and told all government agencies to avoid taking disputes between themselves to court. “No government institution should take another one to court. If you have a problem with another agency, resolve it within government channels.”
He asked those agencies with cases before courts to fast-track and settle them out of the courts.
The president welcomed the move by the National Assembly and Senate to work towards having Cabinet secretaries appear before the MPs. “The previous way of doing things where the Legislature through chairs of committees explains Executive policy to the National Assembly was not effective,” he said.
The President said the MPs were not members of the Executive and therefore, were not in a position to explain government business and Executive policies.