, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 30 – The Speaker of the National Assembly Kenneth Marende and Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka have differed with Prime Minister Raila Odinga after he accused parliamentary committees of frustrating the performance of Cabinet Ministers through unnecessary summons.
Marende defended the Legislature saying that “the Executive must cease to complain” and appreciate that the pressure they are getting from the House is democracy at work.
“For us to give Kenyans an effective government, all the three arms must be efficient therefore there is no cause to quibble or complain over the performance of one arm or the other in the face of whatever arm that may have cause to complain,” the Speaker said.
“I want to believe that they will cease to complain and instead engage Parliament and we will be able to progress this nation.”
The Speaker pointed to television polls conducted during the 9pm primetime news, where he noted that 75 percent of Kenyans had shown support for the House committees.
“The public said there is no intrusion so perhaps that should settle the matter,” Marende quipped.
Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka said Parliament must be given space to check the functions of State and public institutions adding that the Executive is no exception.
Musyoka said another key structure of Parliament in recent times is the establishment of House Committees with enhanced oversight and effectiveness to interrogate matters of crucial public interest.
“This have changed drastically, there is no way that the Executive can muscle the ability of Parliament to carry out its responsibilities particularly the House committees. This is what over the years we have been waiting for,” he said.
He said; “Every Kenyan, every public officer, I think has to take cognizance of the reality. I have absolutely no problem with that and in fact support it being a member of the Executive.”
But Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution Chairman Charles Nyachae called for the adoption of a working formula that will allow the committees to perform their oversight roles without usurping the functions of other arms of government and constitutional bodies.
“In our understanding of both the letter and spirit of the Constitution, the oversight role cannot extend to Parliament discharging the mandate by the Constitution is specifically given to another organ,” Nyachae said.
The three were speaking during the close of a two-day Kenya Legislative Development Conference which brought together MPs to reflect on institutional changes and the future of Parliament under the new Constitution.
At the same time, a study shows that a majority of Members of Parliament rate oversight and legislation as the most important among their four functions as elected representatives of the people.
University of Nairobi Prof Njuguna Ngethe who presented the report, said MPs have expressed the need to build on the capacity of Parliamentary committees.
The same report also surveyed citizens who rate representation and constituency service as among the most important roles of their MPs.
Gwasi MP John Mbadi and his Turkana Central counterpart Ekwe Ethuro however say there is need to redefine the two aspects to the citizenry to avoid a disconnect with the view held by MPs.
Mbadi explained that while MPs view constituency service to be supervision of development projects, their constituents view it as attending harambees.
The report shows that there has been a significant improvement on the time allocated by MPs in the 10th Parliament as compared to the ninth Parliament.