Vihiga Senator Godfrey Osotsi has tabled a bill seeking to have all government officials and persons of interest who fail to honour Parliamentary summons pay the price.
The Parliamentary Power and Privileges (Amendment) Bill, 2023, proposes all those found guilty be fined Ksh2 million up from Ksh500,000.
Cabinet Secretaries in the current regime have been put on the spot on multiple occasions for ignoring summons issued by MPs for the one year they have been in office.
Some of them including; Sports CS Ababu Namwamba and his Health counterpart Susan Nakhumicha have attracted the ire of legislators and marked as repeat offenders.
Vihiga Senator Godfrey Osotsi chairing a Senate Committee on May 30, 2023
Parliament of Kenya
However, if the bill is implemented, such individuals will not only be required to pay the fine, but they will also be risking being put in custody as well.
“The Bill further amends sections 19 and 33 of the Parliamentary Powers and Privileges Act to provide a mechanism by which an order of arrest may be executed. Such an order may be executed by the Inspector General of the National Police Service or a member of staff duly authorized by the Speaker or Clerk,” the Senator observes in his legislation.
Once arrested, the individual will be produced before the floor of the House or the committee that summoned them on the next working day.
The individual will be granted a chance to defend their case before the fine is imposed.
In the new bill, all those summoned regardless of position held will have to appear on the set date but not earlier than seven days from the date of the summon.
However, depending on the urgency of the matter, the individual may be required to appear at an earlier date.
According to Osotsi, oversight is a key role undertaken by Parliament to guarantee accountability, especially in government offices.
“These summons enable Parliament to hold the relevant officers accountable on various matters, including matters touching on the functions and powers of County Government,” the Senator stated.
Meanwhile, Cabinet Secretaries appointed by President William Ruto have been under scrutiny from Kenyans and the opposition.
President Ruto himself and MPs have even questioned the competency of some cabinet secretaries and their grasp of operations of their respective ministries over mishaps experienced in the one year they have been in office.
Ruto in August during the signing of performance contracts at State House complained that he knew more about the different ministries than some members of his executive.
“If I know more than you about what is in your ministry, then you should not be part of this. Why are you a Cabinet Secretary if you don’t understand your job?” he questioned.
On the other hand, National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetangula, during a grilling session, accused Agriculture CS Mithika Linturi of having shallow details on his ministry.
The CS was struggling to give comprehensive answers to crucial questions prompting the response from the Speaker.
A photo of Kenya National Assembly.
Parliament of Kenya