House committees top MPs’ agenda
The National Assembly and Senate will tomorrow start official business with formation of the House Business Committee (HBC) set to be the first agenda.
Bicameral Houses will approve names submitted by majority and minority parties or coalitions to form the committee.
If the House adopts members to form HBC, it will stand adjourned to allow new members to go for a retreat to prepare Wednesday’s morning order paper and subsequent days.
If the House rejects the nominees, it will stand adjourned until the Speaker notifies members for another sitting, which must be at least 12 hours before the sitting.
A fierce battle looms between Kenya Kwanza and Azimio coalition political parties with each claiming to have majority in the National Assembly.
For the first time, the House will find itself in a precarious situation where the Minority side has formed the government while Majority is in the opposition.
In addition, National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetang’ula, who was sponsored by Kenya Kwanza, is constitutionally bound to preside over the House as a neutral arbiter but at the same time seen not to rub shoulders with the coalition that supported his bid. Article 108 (1) of the Constitution states that there shall be a leader of the majority party and leader of the minority party. The leader of the majority party shall be the person who is the leader in the National Assembly of the largest party or coalition of parties.
Same Article provides that the leader of the minority party shall be the person who is the leader in the National Assembly of the second largest party or coalition of parties. “We are in a pure presidential system of governance where Parliament is independent of the Executive and therefore Parliament which comprises of majority and minority exist to offer oversight to the Executive,” Homa Bay Town MP Opondo Kaluma said.
Kaluma, a lawyer by profession, explained that Article 108 of the Constitution is explicit and self-explanatory and does not require communication from the Speaker or advisory opinion from the Supreme Court.
Already, Nominated MP John Mbadi said the Registrar of Political Parties Anne Nderitu had clarified the issue and Kenya Kwanza members should be ‘contented with the minority status.
“It has been clarified which parties are under Azimio legally as of now and those which are under Kenya Kwanza and if you look at the numbers Azimio is the majority party in the National Assembly,” he said.
According to Standing Orders of both the Houses, the chairperson and at least one-third of the other members of the House Business Committee shall form a quorum.
If, for any reason, a member of the House Business Committee is unable to attend, the Leader in the House of the party, which nominated that Member may appoint another in that Member’s place for the period for which the Member is unable to attend.
Established under the provisions of Standing Orders, HBC consists of the Speaker (chairperson), Leader of the Majority Party, Leader of the Minority Party; and not less than 21 and not more than 29 members, nominated by parliamentary parties and approved by the House at the commencement of every Session.
In establishing HBC, the membership should also reflect the relative majorities of the seats held by each of the parliamentary parties in the National Assembly and take into consideration the interests of Independents. House Business Committee is appointed within seven days of Assembly of a new House and each parliamentary party is required to include its Whip in the membership of HBC.