National Assembly Majority Leader Kimani Ichung’wah has read the riot act to House departmental committees’ chairpersons and their deputies over their continued absence from plenary sessions.
Ichung’wah warned that they risked removal from their positions if they continue to skip House sessions where critical communication is made.
He said that committee chairpersons are often absent from the House when their reports are being debated, including at the time the House rises.
The Majority Leader called on the chairpersons to suspend local and foreign trips during the long working recess to scrutinize the annual budget estimates.
“If a chairperson of a committee is not in the House, the bare minimum is that the vice-chairperson must be in the House at the time the House rises,” he said.
Further, he urged chairpersons, especially those of the departmental committees, to attend House sessions and participate fully in processing the budget estimates during the month-long recess.
“It is indeed, a great honour and privilege to oversee the government and the budget process. We must make use of the long recess. This one, unlike the one in December, which is longer is usually a working recess. I implore upon the membership of the House across the political divide to be available in committee meetings during the coming recess to process the budget estimates,” said Ichungwa.
The Majority Leader urged the lawmakers to take charge of their committees and ensure their full participation in the budget process.
“It is good for the general membership of the House to take charge of their committees and ensure their full participation in considering the budget estimates because this is the most important business of this House,” he reiterated.
Despite the House being on long recess, Ichung’wah said it was paramount for the chairpersons to avail themselves to meet with their respective Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) and engage with the Budget and Appropriation Committee.
National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetang'ula concurred with the Majority Leader saying that the committees need to be in tune with the House calendar and have reports ready by the time Parliament resumes.
“Hon Members, you are advised, particularly, chairpersons and your deputies. If you all attended, this House would never have a quorum hitch,” said Wetang’ula.
The Speaker advised the members to adhere to Ichung’wah’s warning and to ensure a proper quorum in the House.
Kamukunji MP Yusuf Hassan expressed concern at the lethargy and lack of commitment among some of the chairpersons, particularly the younger and new MPs saying some of them have been saddled with responsibilities.
“Some of these new guys have been saddled with chairmanship and vice-chairmanship positions yet they lack the requisite experience and weight to carry out these functions,” said Hassan.
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“This is a little bit disappointing because one would expect that the chairpersons and vice-chairpersons would be running around to ensure that issues raised here are responded to in a timely manner. Most of the time they are completely absent from this House,” he added.
Mbeere North MP Geoffrey Kiringa said: “If there are chairpersons who are not actively involved in the matters of the House; it is important for the House Business Committee to reorganise committees since some of us are willing to serve in them as chairmen.”