NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 20 – In a rare show of solidarity, Senators and Members of the National Assembly have closed ranks to slam recent Judiciary rulings they perceive to be an affront on their oversight mandate.
The ongoing supremacy battle between both Houses of Parliament and the Judiciary escalated when the High Court in Nairobi issued an order barring nine besieged Governors from appearing before the Senate Committee on Economic Affairs and Finance to answer claims of financial impropriety.
On Tuesday, the High Court in Kerugoya reinstated Martin Wambora as Embu Governor after the Senate sent him packing last Friday in another ruling deemed to undermine the authority of the upper House of Parliament.
Senate Majority Leader Kithure Kindiki fired the first salvo on Thursday when he declared that only a national referendum can torpedo the work of Parliament.
Kindiki asserted they would not recognise the reinstatement of Wambora, with the Leader of the Majority Coalition in the National Assembly, Aden Duale, saying he would institute a procedure to review the conduct of sitting judges appointed after 2010 following the promulgation of the New Constitution.
“As far as the Senate is concerned, Governor Wambora was impeached on Friday, February 14 and no court can undo that process because that would be unconstitutional and amount to a dangerous and unprecedented affront to the integrity, legitimacy, and independence to the Legislature. They say courts can only interpret laws. Parliament is only subservient to the people of Kenya,” Kindiki further articulated.
Duale added he had asked Speakers of both Houses to convene a Kamukunji (informal session) next Tuesday to deliberate the matter stressing that Governors have no choice but prepare to account for funds disbursed to their counties, failure to which monies will be withheld until they answer relevant questions.
Duale said the National Assembly is empowered to discuss the conduct of any individual judges.
“We are going to bring back the Vetting of the Judges and Magistrates Act and make sure that judges who were employed after 2010 go through vetting,” said the MP.
“We are telling those Governors they can run and hide in the courts but they will still come back to the Senate,” Duale continued.
The Senate Majority Leader, on his part, reiterated that Senators will continue to carry out their oversight role over the resources allocated to the counties by summoning and inquiring information from the Governors, who are the elected heads of the counties.
He added: “Some Governors have been hiding behind the court orders argument yet their defiance started before it was issued. So we are going to request the necessary organ of the Senate and the Committee of Finance and Economic Affairs, to go to the next level and prepare committal documents for the prosecution of those Governors who have breached the law.”
They spoke as Wambora prepared to resume duties after being reinstated by the court which suspended his impeachment.
The show of unity by both Houses came by surprise as the Senate and National Assembly members are known to be at loggerheads after the National Assembly rejected amendments by the Senate to Division of Revenue Bill.
The bone of contention was the decision by the National Assembly to approve the scaled-down Sh210 billion budget as opposed to the whopping Sh258 billion budget the Senate had sanctioned after restructuring the Division of Revenue Bill.
“Yaani, leo mnaweza kula kutoka sahani moja (today you can eat from the same plate?”) one bemused journalist asked the panel addressing them at the Parliament Media Centre.