NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 15 – Senators are now planning to push for a constitutional change through a national referendum to strengthen its role in steering devolution.
During a special sitting convened Monday, Minority Leader Moses Wetangula (CORD) and his Elgeyo Marakwet counterpart Kipchumba Murkomen (Jubilee) insisted that the move is the only sure way of protecting devolution which they say is under attack from the National Assembly.
“The committee we want to set up has to look at fast tracking on how in the new move to change the Constitution, this House becomes the Upper House properly,” said Wetangula.
The special session, which resolved to form a nine-member select committee to come up with the proposed amendments, was called to discuss the reallocation Sh1 billion from their oversight kitty by the National Assembly.
“The committee will within three months recommend to the Senate constitutional, legal or institutional changes that it may consider appropriate,” said Murkomen.
Other institutions that were ‘preyed’ upon by the National Assembly according to the Senate are the Judiciary which lost Sh800 million from its capital allocation, the Salaries and Remuneration Commission which had to part with Sh200 million from its recurrent allocation and the Treasury which lost Sh325 million allocated to the IFMIS program.
The Senators have also threatened to lobby to have the Constituency Development Fund usually under the control of the Members of the National Assembly allocated directly to counties.
“If the National Assembly feels that the Senate is not entitled to a small fund to carry out oversight, the High Court has already said the CDF is unconstitutional and cannot be passed without the input of the Senate so they should choose, it is either we have a fund for all or a fund for none,” warned Wetangula.
“Whatever clothing they want to give to the CDF, we will go back to the courts’ judgment; we want this money to go the counties.”
Wetangula further warned the National Assembly against passing the CDF law without the input of the Senate saying they will challenge it to ensure it is not implemented.
“The language they are using is that they are going to tailor CDF to only focus on national functions, the genesis of CDF is that it is a devolved fund and that is what it will remain. That Bill must come to the Senate after it is passed by the National Assembly and we might reject it so that it goes to mediation, then we can also come to the table with a fixed mindset, ” added Wetangula.
Earlier in the day while moving the motion on behalf of Leader of Majority, Kithure Kindiki (Tharaka Nithi), Murkomen stated that the Senate will resist attempts by the National Assembly to cripple their activities adding that they will undertake their role despite the looming cash crunch.
“Despite the re-allocations effected and the adverse effects they are calculated to have on its operations, the Senate will zealously continue to discharge its mandate to protect the interests of the counties and their governments,” said Murkomen.