Drafters of Constitution created a weak Senate, and that is what we must work to remedy

Despite repeated calls to do away with bicameral legislature in favour of National Assembly, there is concurrence that that is near impossible. With its future thus firmly affirmed, we must seek to give real clout to the House tasked with safeguarding devolution, arguably the greatest gain of the current law

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Senators at Statehouse Kenya (Senate)

By Isaac Swila

For the last one year, debate has raged on the future of the Kenyan Senate, with the National Assembly even making subtle threats to have it scrapped out.
As if that is not enough, a number of the wise old men in the Senate have now thrown their hats in the ring for gubernatorial positions in the August 8 polls, signifying their desire to quit the August House to head counties.

Flash back to 2010, at promulgation of the current Constitution, which ushered in a bicameral parliament; many thought that, like in mature democracies, such as Germany and the US, the Kenyan Senate would have its prestige, allure and fair standing in the eye of the society.

In most countries, the Senate is usually as the Upper House. However, in the Kenyan context, the law is silent on which between the Senate and the National Assembly is the upper House.

And with several Senators now eyeing the gubernatorial seats, questions abound to what the future holds for the Kenyan Senate, which, arguably, needs sharp, mature minds.
Outgoing Kitui Senator David Musila and his Kisumu counterpart Prof Peter Anyang Nyong’o top the list of several Senators who have shifted their guns to the county chief positions, which are understandably more influential and prestigious going by the resources and revenues they control.

Nyong’o is challenging Kisumu Governor Jack Ranguma for governor while Musila wants to unseat Julius Malombe in Kitui. Interestingly, in the last polls, Musila and Malombe were in the same camp and campaigned for each other.

In lower Eastern, veteran politician and senior counsel Kiraitu Murungi has been campaigning to oust the Meru Governor Peter Munya. It promises, perhaps, to be among the most explosive contests, pitting a sitting senator and an incumbent governor, who also happens chair the Council of Governors (CoG). In Nyeri, Senator Mutahi Kagwe has trained his sights on the governor’s seat, as has Nandi’s Stephen Sang.

So, with the subtle threats to have the Senate scrapped, and the appetite by the Senators to shift their leadership roles, does this pose any direct threat to the quality of Senate proceedings – which is now left at the hands of greenhorns, mostly – or even its existence altogether, given the National Assembly’s assertions?

Senate Speaker Ekwee Ethuro believes…

…To continue reading this article please buy a copy of the Nairobi Law Monthly Magazine May 2017 Issue

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