Majority and minority leaders in the Senate clashed at the ongoing Fourth Annual Legislative Summit after the latter termed the meeting a mere “talk shop” that has not brought any meaningful results.
Speaking at the official opening session of the summit, Senate Minority Leader James Orengo said there is little to show from the last three summits.
“The importance and effectiveness of this summit will only be when resolutions are implemented or become actionable. So far this summit is a talk shop.
“I don’t want to cheat you that the promises we make today are going to be implemented. The summit cannot be compared to the Council of Governors’ summits whose results can be seen,” said the Siaya senator.
He suggested that working groups be formed to come up with a legislative framework to anchor the annual legislative summit in law as a statutory body like the Council of Governors.
“This Summit is not recognised in any legislation. It just happens that we like each other and we come to meet every year,” he said.
“Even before you go into pushing for individual statutes that you want Parliament to pass, I am hoping you can work on having this summit anchored in law,” Mr Orengo said.
But Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen disagreed with Mr Orengo, saying the forum has never been a talk shop.
“If this forum was a talk shop we would never have secured the independence of county assemblies,” he said, recalling the first summit in 2015 which he said gave birth to the County Assemblies Forum (CAF).
“Before 2017, county assemblies didn’t have separate accounts, they were being controlled by county governments,” he said.
“I also sponsored a Bill in the last Parliament creating CAF to anchor it in law. If this forum was a talk shop it wouldn’t have been possible. It has never and will never be a talk shop,” the Elgeyo-Marakwet Senator added.
He promised that the Senate will defend county assemblies at all costs, particularly against any attempt to muzzle the regional legislative bodies, citing a current attempt by county executives to reduce the money allocated to the assemblies.
“They argue that county assemblies don’t do development and therefore they don’t need money. Some governors say the assemblies’ recurrent expenditure should be reduced,” he claimed.
“But the Senate finance committee will not allow any reduction for county assemblies. In reality, it is a strategy to weaken county assemblies so that every Friday the MCAs can go line up at their governors’ offices for Sh5,000,” said the senator.
He also claimed that some county executives are colluding with officials of political parties to intimidate MCAs who do not tow their line, threatening them with expulsion from the parties. Others are using police, Mr Murkomen said.
The Senator further said he will oppose any attempt to reduce the number of MCAs through a constitutional referendum.
Devolution CS Eugene Wamalwa suggested that future summits be used as a tool to vet the performance of each individual assembly in terms of legislation output, ranking the best and worst performers.