Now MPs, Senators plan to humiliate governors
In what appears to be a full-blown power tussle between the Legislature and the devolved executives, MPs are considering taking back the powers to co-ordinate development in the counties.
They are also considering stripping governors of the right to fly the national flag and to be addressed as “Your Excellency”.
The measures to “tame” governors are likely to cloud how the public receives some of the good proposed laws intended to control how counties spend public money.
They will also overshadow another proposed law to give county assemblies more powers.
MPs are also furious with judges for allowing governors to decline parliamentary summons.
In their fight against the Judiciary, a member said that Tuesday’s informal meeting — known as the Speaker’s Kamukunji — could ask members of the National Assembly to reduce the budgetary allocation to the Judiciary.
Last year, the Judiciary had asked for Sh24.1 billion, but was given Sh16 billion.
This was after the Budget and Appropriations Committee reduced the allocation.
Governors will also lose real powers if the National Assembly agrees with the Senate and passes the County Governments (Amendment) Bill.
Sponsored by Nandi Senator Stephen Sang, the Bill provides for the creation of County Development Boards headed by senators and whose main role will be to “coordinate and harmonise county development plans and projects.”
It will have all the elected and nominated senators and MPs from the county as members and the governor as secretary, among other recommendations.
The creation of County Development Boards will see members of the national legislature step out of their roles — to make laws — and into the business of development which possibly by rights belongs to the county executives.
Parliament also intends to use the National Flag, Emblems and Names (Amendment) Bill and the County Governments (Amendment) Bill to tame the governors.
These two Bills were passed by the Senate last year and await the approval of the National Assembly.
‘BRING ORDER AND SANITY’
Majority Leader Aden Duale told MPs last Thursday that “the two Bills are very important as they will bring order and sanity in the management and conduct of the county governments”.
Mr Duale has also said that motions would be introduced to discuss individual judges.
Other Members of Parliament have suggested that the Judiciary’s budget be reduced significantly in the coming financial year.
Sponsored by Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale, the Bill on the national flag and emblems is symbolic; it strips governors of the title ‘His or Her Excellency’ and restricts them to flying the national flag on their official cars only within their counties.
In the order of precedence of State Officers for official purposes and official functions, the Bill places governors eighth, only above members of the National Assembly and the speakers and members of the county assembly.
Those above them are; the President, the Deputy President, the Chief Justice, the Senate and National Assembly Speakers, Cabinet Secretaries, the Attorney-General and Senators.
The Senate Majority Leader, Prof Kithure Kindiki, has also said that he had published a Bill to regulate how county finances will be spent.
The Public Finance Management (Amendment) Bill 2014 proposes that 60 per cent of resources allocated to counties be used for development while 40 per cent will be used on recurrent costs, such as salaries.
“We want to make a law to compel them (county bosses) to spend public money in that manner,” Prof Kindiki said.
Senate’s House Business Committee is expected to give priority to the Motion for introduction of the Bill when it meets this morning to prepare the House agenda.
Also in the pipeline is another Bill meant to give County Assemblies more powers.
If approved, the County Assembly (Immunities and Privileges Bill, 2014) also published by Prof Kindiki, will ensure that County Assemblies have similar powers as Parliament.
“We want to make the assemblies proper legislatures for county governments. We want to make them county Parliaments,” said Prof Kindiki, who is also the Tharaka Nithi Senator.
The Senate, he said, would be “very firm” in demanding accountability from governors and in its constitutional responsibility of oversight and protection of county interests.
“We will not back off or relent,” he said.
Last week, nine governors defied summons by the Finance Committee of the Senate and sought legal interpretation in court. Prof Kindiki said that “the earlier they comply with the summons the better”.
But on Monday, Wajir Governor Ahmed Abdullahi said he and his colleagues were ready for talks with senators and other interest groups “at any time”.
“Regardless of the court case, governors and senators need to work together because each has a mandate to ensure devolution works,” he said and appealed to senators not to personalise the issue “because all governors are trying to do is clarify what the law says so that everybody is given space to operate within the law”.
According to summons signed by Senate Clerk Jeremiah Nyegenye, the governors are expected to appear before the committee tomorrow at 10 am.-nation.co.ke