Senators today renewed push for the establishment of their oversight fund and threatened to shot down a Bill seeking to anchor the National Government-Constituency Development (NG-CDF) in the Constitution.
In what could ignite power wars between the National Assembly and Senate, some Senators said the NG-CDF should be run by the governors or county governments under the ward fund.
Speaking during the Senate Post Election Seminar for members in conjunction with the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) at Serena Beach resort, Mombasa, Speaker Amason Kingi promised to address the thorny issue of NG-CDF and establishment of the oversight fund during a Kamkunji.
Senate Majority Leader Aaron Cheruiyot and his minority counterpart Steward Madzayo said they will not allow to be arm-twisted by members of the National Assembly.
Cheruiyot claimed that the leadership of the National Assembly has been talking in ‘vilifying tones’ against the Senate as it seeks to establish the oversight fund.
He warned that senators may also decide to play ‘hard ball’ and not support legislation to anchor the NG-CDF in the Constitution.
“We need the oversight fund but we can do without it… We can decide to play hard ball. The leadership of the National Assembly has been talking in vilifying tone against the Senate. There is nothing we are begging from the National Assembly,” he said.
The Majority Leader said the Senate should be respected because it plays a bigger role of oversighting everything within the Kenyan borders unlike the National Assembly which does not oversight on devolved units.
“We have no problem entrenching NG-CDF into law. What we do not want is the unhealthy noise from the National Assembly,” he said.
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Madzayo regretted that the National Assembly has continued to disrespect the Senate calling it ‘nyumba ya wazee’ even after many young legislators joined it, claiming that there has been interference from the National Assembly and the Executive.
He noted that previously the National Assembly ignored the Senate and passed 23 pieces of legislation only for the courts to declares the laws unconstitutional.
“The Senate has been in conflict with the National Assembly. There has been acrimony and supremacy battle between the Senate and National Assembly," he said.
Madzayo said the National Assembly was usurping powers of the Senate casting doubt on its (lower House) duties.
He emphasized the need for the Legislature and the Executive to remain distinct and called on senators to collectively stand by their decisions.
Majority Whip Bonny Khalwale (Kakamega Senator) said he supported NG-CDF but it should be managed under county governments with MPs playing oversight role.
“Members of the National Assembly to go to Nairobi and play their oversight role on the funds,” he said.
But Kingi said such issues could be sorted out during kamkunji so that the Senate can speak as one family.
“We can address such matters that have been raised through a kamkunji and come out to the public as one family,” he said.
The Speaker assured that the Senate can establish the oversight fund without much changes to legislation and urged senators to go easy on the matter.
At the same time, the senators said there was need to have clear legislation on impeachment of governors so that those affected could only be barred from contesting for one term.
Cheruiyot said since constitutional powers belong to Kenyans, impeached governors should stay out for a specified term and be allowed to run for public office.
“There is need for legislation so that impeached governors can stay out for one term or a specified time. The Constitution provides that powers belong to Kenyans and therefore no particular person to issue a life-long verdict on the governors,” he said.
Dr Khwalwale said there were already proposals on amendment of laws to provide for impeachment which has captured pertinent issues. “We do not want governors to be always worried about impeachment. The proposed law will end infighting with senators. They should talk to one another. There is need for balance,” he said.
The Speaker urged senators to embrace parliamentary diplomacy so that they could use their influence to in conflict resolution and peace building in and outside the country.
“Here in our country Kenya, across the borders in Eastern Africa, the Horn of Africa and indeed in the Great Lakes region, we are witnessing turmoil and upheavals that threaten to roll back the gains we have realised since independence,” he said.