, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 21 – A proposal by President Uhuru Kenyatta to do away with a move by MPs to summon Cabinet Secretaries to answer questions in the National Assembly has now been referred to the Procedures and House Rules Committee.
In a communication to the House, Speaker of the National Assembly Justin Muturi indefinitely suspended the Committee of General Oversight after President Kenyatta wrote to him asking him to halt the proceedings which he says contradict the principle of separation of powers.
“The operation of the Committee of General Oversight has now forthwith been suspended to enable the assembly to seek way to best handle the matters that have been raised over its establishment. The Procedures and House Rules Committee will spearhead these consultations and for which the communication by His Excellency the President is now hereby referred to for consideration and advice accordingly,” Muturi said during Tuesday’s House sitting.
Muturi has however directed Cabinet Secretaries to continue appearing before respective House Committees every Tuesday between 10.30am and 12.00pm to answer questions posed to their respective ministries.
Minority Leader Francis Nyenze and his Deputy Jakoyo Midiwo challenged the President’s move saying that it was tantamount to the Executive dictating to the House how to transact business.
“This is not a small matter, we may take it as a small matter but the moment we just give in and accept what the Executive wants… and then next time, we will make a decision and then something will be done and we will lose face and we will lose the mandate that we have been given by the electorate,” Nyenze said.
“What we need to inform the nation and the Executive in particular, is that if there is a contradiction in law, the body to interpret the law is the courts. So they cannot be calling you (The Speaker) to State House or otherwise to try and tell you we are uncomfortable,” Midiwo said in reference to a meeting that reportedly took place at State House last week.
It was reported that the President had summoned Speaker Muturi, his deputy Joyce Laboso, House Majority Leader Aden Duale and all committee chairpersons allied to the ruling Jubilee Coalition to the meeting where the matter of the CSs appearing before MPs was discussed.
Duale however remained adamant that the House had not ceded its position to the Executive.
“I want to tell my colleagues that we have not lost anything, because each and every member of this House who sits in a committee and who is a chair or a vice-chair is competent enough to interrogate those CSs and answer question the way the CGO was supposed to do,” Duale asserted.
The Executive has been uneasy with MPs’ insistence that the Cabinet Secretaries appear before the key committee or else they face sanctions and even removal from office.
Duale had on Thursday, informed the House that the House leadership had met and decided to cancel this week’s date with the Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph ole Lenku and his Education counterpart Jacob Kaimenyi in order to facilitate talks between State House and the Speaker on how to move forward with the interrogation of public policies through the Committees of the House.
Kenyatta’s Chief of Staff Joseph Kinyua and the Attorney General Githu Muigai had asked MPs to freeze the grilling of CSs until the talks between the two arms of Government had been addressed.
MPs had revised the Standing Orders to form the committee and open an avenue for the CSs to show up, and answer questions every Tuesday at 10am.
The Speaker is the chairman of the Committee on General Oversight, and all the 349 Members of the National Assembly sit in that committee.