The Senate is not a ‘Nyumba ya wazee’


As the March 4 2013 election date fast approaches there is every reason to carefully analyse some of the candidates who have declared their interest to represent some counties in The Senate.

The civic education conducted on the components and requirements of the new Constitution is wanting if the understanding of the role of the Senate is anything to go by.

The trend I have seen across the country is an attempt to convert the Senate to be a retiree’s home, ‘Nyumba ya Wazee’ or what I would call political rejects chama. This is unacceptable since the role of the senate as stipulated in the Constitution is a very demanding engagement.

It is important for voters and those aspiring senators to read the Constitution Article 96 that stipulates the role of the Senate.

1. The Senate represents the counties, and serves to protect the interests of the counties and their governments.

2. The Senate participates in the law making function of Parliament by considering, debating and approving Bills concerning counties, as provided in Articles 109 to 113.

3. The Senate determines the allocation of national revenue among counties, as provided in Article 217, and exercises oversight over national revenue allocated to the county governments.

4. The Senate participates in the oversight of State Officers by considering and determining any resolution to remove the president or deputy president from office in accordance with Article 145.

Going by the duties above it is my considered opinion that the Senate will require men and women who still have a lot of energy to undertake research, debate and carefully scrutinise Bills and revenue allocation schedules.

There is a misguided and misinformed view that the Senate was formed to accommodate old members of Parliament and retired civil servants so that you “keep them busy”. Some of the candidates who are running for senatorial positions have attempted for parliamentary positions and have never been elected. Never mind that a constituency is a smaller unit compared to a county which a senator would be required to campaign and represent.

There are many candidates who are fighting day and night to ensure they bag the ticket of the most popular party in their region and this will mean his race to The Senate will be halfway done.

We have penned it in our constitution that Article 142 (2) “a person shall not hold office as a president for more than two terms” This means however popular one may be the maximum period for one to serve as the tenant of the house on the hill is ten years. We should also limit the years for all other elective positions in the country and also set the upper age limit of each elective office.

(Samuel C. Maina is the Deputy Editor-in-chief at the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation)

2 Replies to “The Senate is not a ‘Nyumba ya wazee’”

  1. Good article except for the last bit… Why do we have to limit the terms one can run? If someone keeps getting elected, he/she must be doing something right!
    If I had my way, I would remove the presidential term limits! Countries with PM don’t have limits and they’re doing just fine…

    1. Countries with PMs do not presidential terms because it is the PM who is the head of government business. The president is more/less ceremonial.

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