Wednesday, March 27, 2013

MPs mull mass swearing in to save time

Parliament in session. Members of Parliament allied to the Jubilee coalition Wednesday expressed concern at how the swearing-in at the National Assembly will be done.

Parliament in session. Members of Parliament allied to the Jubilee coalition Wednesday expressed concern at how the swearing-in at the National Assembly will be done.  Nation Media Group

By ALPHONCE SHIUNDU ashiundu@ke.nationmedia.com

Members of Parliament allied to the Jubilee coalition Wednesday expressed concern at how the swearing-in at the National Assembly will be done.

The lawmakers mulled the possibility of having a mass oath-taking ceremony for the National Assembly when the Eleventh Parliament sits for the first time on Thursday morning. There were 221 MPs-elect at the huge gazebo that was set up adjacent to the beautiful golf pitch at the exclusive resort.

The MPs-elect were drawn from parties including Kanu, TNA, URP, Ford People, Kenya National Conference, Narc, Federal Party of Kenya, New Ford Kenya, CCU, independent MPs, Alliance Party of Kenya, Narc-Kenya.

Speaking at a meeting of the coalition’s Senators and the members of the National Assembly at the Great Rift Valley Lodge, the MPs said the individual oath-taking for the National Assembly will take long, because there are 349 members.

For the Senate, they said, there’s no problem, because there are only 67 senators, and oath-taking can be done within three hours.

Mr Njoroge Baiya, the MP-elect for Githunguri (TNA), who was also the chairman of the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee in the Tenth Parliament, told the meeting that “if each MP takes two minutes, the ceremony will take over 11 hours”.

“Now that we’ll begin at nine, it will take us to mid-day on Friday. Let’s do so in a group of 20 or even 50 MPs. That way, we can finish that assignment within two or three hours, and then elect the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker,” said Mr Baiya.

Mr Baiya said the Jubilee coalition should use its majority in the National Assembly and approve a resolution to speed-up the swearing-in process.

But the Senator-elect for Kiambu County, Mr Paul Kimani Wamatangi (TNA) said the individual oath-taking had a somewhat fulfilling value, and that is what ought to be done.

“I have watched mass weddings in Asia, and it does not feel like a wedding. It is a very special occasion. Your family will be there, so when you stand there and take the oath of office, it is your moment and it is (something) good to feel (you have achieved) after the struggle (of the election campaigns and the election itself,” said Mr Wamatangi.

Mr Nyikuri Barasa, the consultant at the Jubilee coalition meeting said the Members of the National Assembly had to agree --and seek the concurrence of the Clerk of the National Assembly, Mr Justin Bundi-- on a batch swearing in of up to ten members.

“The only problem is that the first words of the Oath is ‘I’. I don’t know how you’re going to deal with that,” said Mr Barasa.

Senator-elect for Embu, Mr Lenny Kivuti, also sought to know how a maximum of 22 Cabinet secretaries will respond to questions from 418 MPs (including senators).

“It is completely impossible for 22 Cabinet secretaries to answer all those questions,” said Ms Beth Mugo, the nominated MPs.

Ms Mugo, who just resigned from her post as the minister of Public Health, proposed that there be created positions of deputy secretaries to stand in for the Cabinet ministers when they go out of the country, specifically to answer questions referred to parliamentary committees.

All these proposals will be brought to Parliament where they will be legislated upon.

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