Dinah Ondari @PeopleDailyKe
Could the presidential system of government be impeding business in Parliament, particularly in the Senate? This is what senators were grappling with for the better part of last week as complaints emerged that lack of Executive’s representation in the House was undermining the legislators’ oversight role.
Failure by House committee chairs to respond to issues touching on government has also sparked questions on whether the Executive is involved in a subtle war to frustrate them.
“Majority of the chairs are from the ruling party. Is the Executive trying to sabotage the House? In other jurisdictions like South Africa and the UK’s House of Lords, question time is very important. It is the only time to put the government to task,” Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Jnr quipped.
The concerns come at a time when debate is rife on whether the country should have a referendum to revert to the parliamentary system of government where ministers were appointed from Parliament.
Senate Speaker Kenneth Lusaka also expressed concerns over the current system, saying he had not been spared the frustration.
He poked holes into the system where committee chairs are mandated to respond to government-related issues as opposed to the previous one in which Cabinet ministers and their assistants appeared in Parliament to respond to members queries.
“Day after day, statements continue to be deferred for lack of responses or lack of adequate responses. We require to conclusively determine the way forward so as to ensure smooth business in the House,” said Lusaka, adding that committee chairs “have been reduced to agents” or mouth pieces” of Cabinet secretaries.
Consequently, Lusaka has urgently convened a meeting of all chairpersons of the House committees this morning to deliberate on how to process statements.
He also deferred the approval for requests for statements until senators concerns, especially touching on failure by CSs to honour summons are addressed.