Supremacy wars jolt MPs' push to amend law, bring back CDF

 MPs in a scuffle when Speaker Moses Wetangula ruled on the Majority House leadership on October 6, 2022. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

Supremacy wars between Senate and the National Assembly have delayed the push to amend the law to re-introduce the National Government Constituency Development Fund (NG-CDF).

The tiff threatens approval of the Constitutional Amendments Bill 2022 as the Amason Kingi-led Senate accuses the National Assembly of arrogance.

The Bill co-sponsored by Matungulu MP Stephen Mule and his Gichugu counterpart Robert Gichumu, seeks to entrench the impugned NG-CDF in law and ensure the Senate Oversight Fund (SOF), National Government Affirmative Action Fund and Economic Stimulus and Empowerment Fund are fully in the Constitution.

Senators have, however, protested lack of involvement in drafting the Bill by MPs and expressed displeasure with a proposal to allocate 0.001 per cent of the national government’s revenue to the Senate oversight fund.

“If there is anything that senators should never allow, it is a situation where the National Assembly sits and allocates anything to the Senate,” Kitui Senator Enoch Wambua said during an induction retreat in Mombasa. His Nairobi counterpart Edwin Sifuna said Senate would reject the Bill if they are involved in the process.

“Senators are not going to support these frivolous proposals which we do not know their origin. We will show them that we also matter when it comes to matters of national importance,” said Sifuna.

But Mr Mule said the Senate’s input would be sought as required by law.

He argued that debate on the Bill earlier this week on the floor of the House was to enrich the document and that a similar process would be initiated at the Senate.  

“There are those claiming we are not involving the Senate in the Constitutional Amendment Bill but I want to assure them that we will be working together through a joint committee of both Houses,” said Mule while tabling the Bill last week.

The rivalry, if it plays out further, could mark the beginning of a rocky relationship between the Senate and National Assembly, akin to what happened in the 12th Parliament. 

The legislative proposal has now proceeded for afresh drafting which will incorporate MPs’ views. Consequently, it will be introduced in the National Assembly for first reading before the MPs break for a long recess in December. The earliest the second reading will be in March when the legislators resume plenary. At that time the Bill is expected to have undergone public participation.

The Bill will only be passed after approval by the National Assembly and the Senate. Should the tiff between the two Houses persist, beneficiaries of the funds will have to wait even longer - a fact MPs are cognizant of and seeking to address.

“The disbursement of CDF cash should be allowed even as we wait for the push to have the kitty entrenched in law. We are alive to the fact there are timelines to be observed in passing the amendment Bill and that is a limiting factor to the kids at home without school fees,” said Sabatia MP Clement Sloya.

Baringo North MP Joseph Makilap added: “It is upon the AG to advise the Treasury CS to release the budget for NG-CDF funds.”

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