Mombasa, Kenya Apr 26 – The supremacy wars pitting the National Assembly and the Senate over the classification of roles of both Houses is set to be ignited yet again after Members of Parliament accused Senators of not understanding their role almost eight years since the inception of the new constitution.
The bitter feud between the two Houses which has over the years been witnessed in legislative discussions both inside and outside Parliament dominated the better part of the agenda of the second National Assembly Leadership retreat in Mombasa County with the leadership scolding their colleagues in the Senate in engaging in meaningless wars at the expense of Kenyans.
The Majority and Minority Leaders Aden Duale and John Mbadi respectively opened the conversation whey they castigated the Senate of ‘stealing’ the National Assembly roles.
Duale said the duplication of roles was proving to be an expensive affair, causing taxpayers huge amounts of money which often lead to derailing of the passage of key Bills especially if the input of the Senate has been incorporated albeit not necessary.
He challenged the Attorney General Kihara Kariuki to call for an urgent meeting between the leadership of both Houses so as to aid in the demarcation of roles henceforth.
“We need to put the record straight once and for all. This business where the National Assembly and the Senate handle the same issues at the committee stages, for instance, needs to come to an end,” he said.
The Garissa Township lawmaker maintained that the Senate had no business at all to perform any oversight role that is exclusively the preserve of the National Assembly.
Riding on the same argument, Mbadi noted that Senate actions of overstepping their mandate were so much detrimental to the Executive insisting that it was incumbent of the Senate to respect and adhere to the constitution.
He cited the Ruaraka land saga, Kenya Pipeline and the controversial proposal for Kenya Airways takeover of Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) where committees in both Houses probed the matter.
“It honestly does not make sense where we have both Houses of Parliament probing the same matters. More often than not we are treated to contradictions from the reporting of both committees yet the Senate could, for instance, have kept off from being part of the probe. The role of the Senate must be defined properly,” he said.
The Suba lawmaker challenged his critics to go the referendum route if an amicable solution to end the wars between the two Houses cannot be arrived at.
Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiangi who was a guest speaker at the summit weighed in on the subject and insisted that the legislative roles of the two Houses need to be adhered to as per the constitution.
He challenged the leadership of the House to look for mechanisms on how the disputes can be mediated suggesting the formation of a panel of elderly MPs and Senators who will spearhead the talks.
He, in particular, said he and his colleagues in the Cabinet have been drawn into the infighting of the two Houses and noted that it was hurting their delivery.
“Sometimes I get four invites in a day to attend to both National Assembly and Senate committees yet I wonder why some of those committees cannot be merged or why the members cannot do joint sittings. Even as I speak now I know I will be beaten so hard by Senators who will accuse me of favoring the National Assembly committees to theirs,” he said.