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Supremacy wars between national assembly and senate get a notch higher with MP calling for scrapping of nominated MPs and MCAs

Bahati Member of Parliament Kimani Ngunjiri has kicked off a fresh storm restating the proposal that the Senate be abolished and the positions of Nominated Members of Parliament and Members of County Assemblies be scrapped.
If Ngunjiri and his likeminded lawmakers were to have their way with these radical proposals in what is turning out to be supremacy wars between the National Assembly and the Senate, a Constitutional amendment through a referendum ahead of the 2022 polls has to be held.
“We have to think in the long-term and I would want anyone else to challenge me. What does the Senate do that is so special that cannot be done by the National Assembly? I don’t see any reason why we should have the Senate overburden taxpayers,” stated Ngunjiri.
“On this am speaking for myself as an individual. Creators of our Constitution borrowed the idea of a bicameral parliament from very advanced economies and democracies in the West. The time for the idea is not yet ripe for Kenya. A unicameral house is adequate,” said Ngunjiri.
Speaking in Nakuru, the MP claimed that positions of nominated Members of Parliament and Members of County Assemblies constituted a heavy burden to the taxpayer, costing the public over Sh3 billion annually.
“As elected representatives of Kenya, we are obligated to bring down the cost of representation to the public, reduce the public wage bill and promote prudent use of public funds,” he pointed out.
He also wants the Country to ‘rethink’ the 47 women representatives whom he said should be encouraged to compete with men for elective office.
Kenya has about 770 nominated MCAs and 1, 450 elected ones across the country. Each MCA is entitled to a Personal Assistant. Each MCA also has constituency manager besides their Personal Assistants.
Ngunjiri’s proposal triggered instant resistance from a section of nominated leaders and experts who dismissed it as a publicity stunt.
Immediate former Kaptembwa ward Member of County Assembly Daniel Ambale said those pushing for the abolition of the Senate have little or no understanding of devolved systems of governance.
“The framers of the Constitution were not wrong when they created the Senate as a protector of the devolved system of government. You shudder when you hear of plans to scrap the counties’ first line of defense. It’s just like removing a life support for the units,” he said.
Former ODM nominated civic leader William Ating’a said the proposal would be retrogressive and a claw back on the strides Kenya has made in democracy.
“It is unfortunate that in this era someone can talk about doing away with nominated seats and the Senate as provided for in the Constitution. I don’t see the scrapping of these positions drastically reducing the wage bill,” Ating’a said.
Atinga said it was shameful that the National Assembly suspended day’s business ‘just to discuss which of the two houses between it and Senate is superior to the other’ terming it as insignificant and simply unworthy to deprive the citizenry time.
“The Constitution has given clear roles to both houses. Instead of them spending so much time fighting over supremacy, may our representatives find time to refer to the Constitution on their roles and stick to them as outlined.
“If this trend continues of parliamentarians only agreeing when they want to treat themselves to exaggerated allowances, fighting over supremacy and spending more time on petty discussions, then this arm of government is at the risk of further losing its dignity. Let them try and learn from their predecessors,” he observed.
Rev. Robert Odinga of Church of God, Mwangaza Parish said Kenya was indeed over-represented but dismissed the idea of scrapping the Senate as wishful thinking because the House has played its cardinal role as the defender of counties.
According to Rev. Odinga Kenya should scrap some constituencies and reduce the counties from 47 to just 14.
“Let us be realistic and improve on what the Constitution provides. We need to significantly adjust the system of governance to ensure we bring down the wage bill,” said the clergyman.
To deal with the country’s financial crisis, the religious leader challenged the executive to deal firmly with corruption and plough the resources recovered to the economy.
Currently, the National Assembly has 290 elected members, 47 women elected from each of the 47 counties and12 members nominated to represent women, youth and the marginalized. These add up to 349 members
Ngunjiri maintained that though the Senate is enshrined in the Constitution, its work is not being felt on the ground.
He claimed that the Senate has failed to effectively oversight county executives on utilization of public funds.
“There is no Senator I know who follows up to see how the county is utilizing the funds given to them,” he said.
“They are all stuck in Nairobi while counties misappropriate funds. The Senate should be scrapped off because we can’t see its work,” he asserted.
By Anne Mwale

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