The National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi has termed the Senate an institution that houses leaders who do not know their key roles.
Speaking exclusively to Citizen Television’s Anne Kiguta, Thursday, Muturi said nearly all Senators do not have requisite experience in their work and are only relying on the legislative knowledge they garnered while serving as lawmakers in the National Assembly; since most of the Senators had served as Members of Parliament (MPs) prior to the March, 2013 general election.
“Some of the problems we are seeing in the Senate emanated from the fact that when our Senate came into being in this 11th Parliament, majority of the so-called experienced members were only experienced in the work that was is done in the National Assembly. They had never been to any Senate because there had never been a Senate since the promulgation of the 2010 Constitution,” said Muturi.
Asked whether he perceives the Senate as an unnecessary body, Muturi declined, saying: “The Senate was being modeled on the lines of the National Council of Provinces in South Africa. We (Kenyans) wanted something that people would call a unifying house with representation from every county; not necessarily coming to do politics or serious legislative work. At some point, there was a proposal to call it a council of tribal chiefs so that we have a house of tribesmen and women so that you bring all communities together.”
In May, 2013, Members of the National Assembly and the Senate were embroiled in a week-long heated debate over which of the two Houses was superior to the other.
The issue was raised when Suba legislator, John Mbadi, questioned why the Senate was debating the Division of Revenue Bill, 2013, a Bill which had already been debated and passed by the MPs just a few days before.
The MPs, led by National Assembly Majority Leader, Aden Duale, felt that the Senate had over stepped their mandate and were trying to assume powers that had not been provided for them in the Constitution. The MPs felt that the Senate had no constitutional mandate to revisit the Bill.
The Division of Revenue Bill deals with the amount of money that is to be allocated to the Counties from the National Government.
Rather than being a legal debate, the bitter exchange degenerated into a political scuffle between the two houses, with both seemingly pushing for personal interests rather than speaking in one voice for the good of the Kenyan people.
According to the Constitution of Kenya, The National Assembly is meant to enact legislation, determine the allocation of National Revenue between the different levels of Government. It is meant to oversee the National revenue, expenditure and State Organs. The National Assembly is also meant to approve a declaration of war and extensions of States of Emergency.
The Senate, on the other hand, is meant to be the backbone of the Counties and its actions are meant to determine the effectiveness of the Devolved Units to deliver services to the people. It is meant to protect the interest of the Counties and their governments in parliament.
“The Senate will participate in law making, debates and approval of Bills that concern the Counties (Articles 109-113). The Senate will determine the allocation of National Revenue among the Counties (Article 217). It will exercise oversight over the National Revenue allocated to the County Governments. The Senate will also participate in the oversight of State Officers by determining resolutions to remove the President or his Deputy from office (Article 145),” says the Constitution.
The Constitution, however, does not mention which position is above the other.