, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 14 – Lands Cabinet Secretary Charity Ngilu has backed the decision by the National Assembly to summon CSs to appear before the House to respond to queries on their dockets.
Ngilu says the initiative will enlighten Kenyans on the responsibilities of the various ministry’s and further give Members of Parliament a chance to get direct answers from Cabinet Secretaries on issues that are affecting their constituents.
“The public also wants to know what the government is doing. A lot of times when we are doing it before a committee it’s just a small committee and we do not even have this media coverage that Kenyans can see what is happening in the land sector. Some of the questions that other members will ask other than those who are in the particular committee… so I think really, to a certain extent it is not bad,” said Ngilu.
Initially, MPs sought statements from the heads of committees responsible for the ministries, who would in turn consult the relevant ministers for answers which were later reported to the House.
Ngilu further called on broader deliberations between Parliament and the Executive on the development of a proper framework to direct the procedure of appearance by the CSs.
Cabinet Secretaries had initially opposed the move to have them appear before the Committee on General Oversight as they were working on very strict schedules and would rarely have time to honour the summons.
“We can give the government position on certain issues but I am sure between Parliament and the Executive, we will agree on the right position. Therefore to come and talk to the general committee is okay… the Executive and Parliament will continue to talk,” Ngilu added.
The move to summon the CSs had elicited debate with the Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution (CIC) and the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) questioning its constitutionality.
CIC Chairman Charles Nyachae had in a statement last week warned Parliament that it was overstretching its powers, a factor that was likely to cause a spat between the Legislature and the Executive.
On Monday, President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Chief of Staff Joseph Kinyua directed the Cabinet Secretaries to ignore the summons by the National Assembly pending the completion of consultations over the legality of the process.
On his part, Kiminini Member of Parliament Chris Wamalwa dismissed the assertion that the summonses were unconstitutional, saying Kenyans needed to read the constitution which outlines the mandate of the National Assembly.
“There is no illegality that has been done, and you have seen that she has done very well. This is to encourage other Cabinet Secretaries to come, and to prove that is not a lynching House; we must work together, the Legislature and the Executive,” posed Wamalwa.
Three CSs (Lands, National Security and Internal Co-ordination and Education) were expected to appear in the inaugural session, however only Lands Charity Ngilu appeared after Joseph ole Lenku and Jacob Kaimenyi ‘vanished’ from the precincts of Parliament.=