Both Houses did poorly on probes into sugar, Solai, graft scams
As the curtains came down on the 12th Parliament, House committees of the bicameral assemblies have been accused of failing to conduct thorough probes on various issues.
A report released yesterday shows that while Parliament has powers to conduct inquiries through questions, summons and probes, several probes conducted within the house failed to meet public expectations.
The report by Mzalendo Trust states that among the investigations that did not yield results is the probe into the crisis facing the sugar industry, conducted by the joint Departmental Committees on Agriculture, Livestock and Trade, Industry and Co-operatives on alleged illegal sugar importation. It was dismissed.
Investigations into misuse of Covid-19 funds by both Senate and National Assembly committees on Health, and forensic audits into misuse of cash by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) came after Kenya Medical Supplies Agency (Kemsa) failed to account for Sh 7.6 billion Covid funds, did not yield fruit.
The Auditor-General said Kemsa procured Covid-19 items amounting to Sh7.6 billion, out of which stocks valued at Sh1.9 billion were issued, leaving an Sh5.6 billion balance. Other questionable investigations include the Solai Dam probe by the Senate Committee on Land, Environmental and Natural Resources, and the Managed Medical Equipment Services (MES) which was investigated for over a year by an ad-hoc Senate Committee.
Mzalendo Trust executive director Caroline Gaita regretted that Parliament failed to live up to public expectations on certain pertinent issues.
“The 12th House had an opportunity to fix several issues Kenyans have been grappling with, including corruption, public participation, the two-thirds gender rule and inclusion of youth and women through the various legislative proposals initiated.”
The report shows there was sibling rivalry between the National Assembly and the Senate that saw the two in court over 23 disputed Bills.
In the National Assembly, 3893 Papers were laid, 761 Motions sponsored, 2148 Questions sought, 304 Petitions presented and 362 Bills introduced — out of which 140 Bills were passed, 114 assented to by the President and a further 24 nullified.
In addition, the National Assembly also conducted several approvals as stipulated under the Public Appointments (Parliamentary Approval) Act, which is a critical oversight role in upholding integrity in public appointments. It rejected the appointment of Ben Chumo as the proposed chairman of the Salaries and Remuneration Commission.
Senators, on the other hand, considered 137 Bills, sponsored 360 motions, presented 362 petitions, tabled 1703 Papers and sought 838 statements that were referred to the relevant committees for consideration.
But the 12th Parliament also witnessed certain firsts, including institutionalising Kiswahili in its proceedings, launching of the Kiswahili and Bilingual versions of the Standing Orders, a Swahili motion by Nyali MP Mohammed Ali, and the historic address by Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu. The Twelfth Parliament had the highest number of lawmakers who died.