Senate, National Assembly rivarly cost taxpayers over Sh90 million

Upper House got free legal representation from within its ranks. [AFP]

The rivalry pitting the Senate against the National Assembly on the passage of legislation has turned into a costly affair for taxpayers, with millions of shillings spent on legal fees.

The Senate on Tuesday heard that the National Assembly paid lawyers Sh90 million in a case that challenged 24 laws that were passed without the input of senators. The laws were later declared unconstitutional by the High Court.

The Senate, on the other hand, was represented pro bono by three senior counsel - senators James Orengo, Okong'o Omogeni and Amos Wako. The details were shared by Orengo during the first sitting of the House after a month-long recess.

“What I really wanted to bring out is that it has cost the National Assembly Sh90 million to defend this case ... the Senate has not spent a single cent in this case. I say this not in triumphalism, but I'm saying it pays to obey the law,” said Orengo.

The matter is now before the Court of Appeal.

The House also debated the list of members who would sit on the Senate Business Committee (SBC). Senate Majority Leader Samuel Poghisio moved a motion to approve senators who would serve alongside the Speaker, Majority and Minority leaders, and their Whips.

"The task ahead is going to be serious after many Bills were rendered unconstitutional by the High Court,” Poghisio said.

Senate Speaker Kenneth Lusaka called for consultations between members from the majority and minority parties.

"We are coming back at a (time) when there's a call for constitutional review. As the Senate, our sacrosanct duty is to protect counties and their interests," he said.

"Let us think about what we wish this Senate to be remembered for, then set our targets, focus and achieve. I impress upon each one of us to re-dedicate ourselves to the execution of our constitutional mandate and to undertake the task ahead of us with utmost integrity in service to our great country."

In the National Assembly, MPs Joyce Emanikor, Shadrack Mose, Kawira Mwangaza, Mohamed Abdikhaim Osman, Makali Mulu, Mishi Mboko and Godfrey Osotsi were retained to serve as members of the House Business Committee.

Others in the committee by virtue of their leadership roles are Speaker Justin Muturi, Majority Leader Amos Kimunya, Minority Leader John Mbadi, Majority Whip Emmanuel Wangwe and Minority Whip Junet Mohammed.

Mbadi said the National Assembly leadership resolved to retain the MPs due to their commitment to discharging their duties in the committee that sets the House agenda. According to Kimunya, they decided to stick with "experienced hands in terms of attendance and participation".

Senators also called for prioritisation of urgent proposed legislation.

“Any Bill that deals with manufacturing, security and health ... so when those matters come here, we can deliberate, make laws and legislate on issues that affect our people,” said Kitui Senator Enoch Wambua.

"We have said many times that Kenya is an agriculture-based economy. There are Bills that relate to farming that are pending. I want to appeal to this committee to give priority to such Bills.”

But even as both Houses went about setting their agenda, senators claimed that the Executive was planning to disregard an agreement reached on the third-generation shareable revenue formula among counties.

Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang'ula said the "drums they are hearing beating" from the Treasury are not encouraging.

"It does appear like the formula that we passed in its very first application is going to be honoured in breach. And that is not a good idea,” he said.

Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja said, "If you look at the proposals that have been brought by the CRA (Commission on Revenue Allocation) and what Treasury is talking about, there is an attempt to circumvent the resolution of this House on the formula through the backdoor. I think the radar of the Senate must be up."

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