Senate reads mischief in proposal to scrap House

Senate reads mischief in proposal to scrap House
Photo: Senate Speaker Ekwee Ethuro interacts with Kisumu County MCAs led by Caroline Awuor (right) during the opening of Women Summit at the second annual legislative caucus in Mombasa yesterday. Photo/NDEGWA GATHUNGU

The Senate has told off members of the National Assembly for proposing that the Upper House be scrapped. Led by Speaker Ekwee Ethuro, senators dismissed a proposal by the National Assembly Budget and Appropriations Committee to abolish the Senate, saying it is the custodian of devolution. He spoke as Members of the County Assembly (MCAs) also came out fighting over proposals to slash their salaries and number.

Ethuro argued that the House had performed extremely well in protecting the interests of the minority and marginalised groups such as youth, women and disabled persons and therefore, the proposal was ill-advised.

MCAs also rejected proposals to reduce their numbers terming it “wishful thinking”. The committee last week recommended that the Senate be abolished and its oversight functions transferred to a committee of Parliament.

“The future of Kenya lies with the Senate. Those entertaining some notions on dissolution of the Senate should know such plans have no place in this Republic.

This country could have been in a serious problem until Senate intervened in the delicate matter of the electoral laws. What other conviction do you need? This is the house of the future,” said Ethuro.

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Ethuro maintained the Senate was the upper house in terms legislation and oversight of county operations. The Speaker cited several instances when Senators used “wisdom” to avert political crises.

“You have seen the way we have conducted our business. We have not poured water on our ladies. We have not abused each other or fought each other, but we have delivered our mandate,” he said.

The committee wants the Senate scrapped as one of the measures to arrest the country’s wage bill. The committee has also proposed that governors should be appointed rather than elected. It also proposes the reduction of political posts such as nominated positions both in the Senate and county assemblies. Ethuro said the proposals were laughable.

He was addressing youth during a pre-summit legislative meeting at Pride Inn Beach Resort in Mombasa ahead of the main Second Annual Legislative Summit.

The committee chaired by Mbeere South MP Mutava Musyimi wants MCAs to be nominated from each constituency in what will reduce their number from the current 772 to 290.

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County Assemblies Forum chairman Johnson Esoi said the MCAs numbers were entrenched in the Constitution and therefore, it was not easy to reduce them. Esoi said the move would not help reduce the wage bill but would, instead, only deny some areas the right of representation.

The committee argued that members of public are overrepresented by lawmakers and this had overburdened the taxpayers. The MCAs said they would fight off any attempt by Parliament or any other body to reduce their number or those of wards.

“Before we talk about nomination positions, why can’t they reduce jobs of political officers which are not within the law, such as political advisors? Scrapping nominated positions would amount to marginalisation of some gender and the disabled,” said Esoi.

Ethuro also urged women and youth to seek elective posts in the August polls saying the law allows them to actively take part in matters of governance. Over 2,500 MCAs and senators are attending the four-day summit, which officially kicks off today.

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