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Kenya: Senators vow to clip MPs' budget powers

POLITICS
By MOSES NJAGIH and ROSELYNE OBALA | Jun 16th 2015 | 2 min read

Senators vented their anger on Members of the National Assembly after they took away Sh1 billion that the Senate had initially been allocated, escalating the supremacy wars between the two houses.

In a rare Monday sitting, senators tore into their National Assembly counterparts over what they termed abuse of power in budget-making, even as they sought measures to tame them from acting in breach of the Constitution.

Angry senators especially criticised the MPs for being "vengeful and vindictive" in slashing budgets for constitutional organs and institutions that they considered unfriendly to them.

Discussing a motion to establish a select committee to inquire into what they see as the excesses of the MPs, senators described the National Assembly a "a rogue House lacking in wisdom and experience" that must be tamed.

They indicated they would support a move to have a constitutional amendment to end the sibling rivalry between the houses. The senators also gave the strongest indication yet that they would shoot down a proposed bill seeking to align the Constituency Development Fund (CDF), managed by the MPs, to the Constitution.

Seconding the motion for the establishment of the committee, Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang'ula said the CDF must be removed from the control of MPs.

"Whatever clothing the National Assembly wants to give to the CDF to change its face so that they can control it, we will still say a big NO. It is either a fund to all or a fund to none. CDF should go to counties and be managed as a devolved fund by governors," said Mr Wetang'ula.

Baringo Senator Gideon Moi, John Lonyangapuo (West Pokot) and Amos Wako (Busia) also weighed in on the MPs' "excesses" and the sticky CDF issue.

"This CDF, which they guard with utmost jealousy, and I understand why, is a devolved fund. It has to be managed as devolved just as the High Court upheld," argued Gideon.

Mr Wako said Kenyans must fight the excesses of the National Assembly in the same way they did the abuse of powers by an imperial presidency.

Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale said Kenyans would not allow MPs to become dictators. National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale and Mbeere South MP Mutava Musyimi, who also chairs the Budget Committee, were specifically targeted for attack by the senators.

BAD FAITH

Referring to a Hansard report of the National Assembly, Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Jr said the sentiments by Mutava betrayed him as having acted in bad faith, which he said he should not do as a leader and a clergyman.

Moving the motion, Senator Kipchumba Murkomen said the MPs must be taken to task where they were found to have acted unconstitutionally.

"So many Kenyans have sacrificed a lot, including their lives for us to get the devolved system of government," said Mr Murkomen.

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