BY COAST NEWSPAPER CORRESPONDENT
The Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill 2020 will ‘soon’ be tabled in both the Houses of Senate and Parliament for deliberation in the next 13 days.
Kenneth Lusaka, the Senate Speaker, says joint legal committees of the National Assembly (NA) and the Senate have begun scrutinizing the Bill from Tuesday March 9) and will be due for tabling by March 23 in both Houses for discussion ‘where it will be determined whether the country will be ready to go for a referendum’.
The Bill had been slotted in the order paper for introduction in the Senate for first reading but was postponed where the Speaker directed it to be introduced in the form in which the IEBC sent it to the County Assemblies.
“The National Assembly and the Senate are currently holding a joint meeting, after which they are going for a public hearing between 17 and 20 and after a retreat on March 23 it will tabled in both houses to start the process of discussion. After that it will move to the next level which is the president and IEBC to come up with the roadmap ahead of the referendum,” he said.
Speaking to journalists during Senate’s Board of Management committee in Mombasa, Lusaka said other pending bills, which were nullified by the court will be tabled concurrently as the two houses debate on them.
According to him twenty-four (24) laws passed by the National Assembly without the input of the Senate were declared unconstitutional by the High Court.
In a ruling delivered by a three-judge bench, the High Court said the Senate’s role in legislation is not optional and that it was illegal for the National Assembly to ‘ignore’ the Senate.
“There were laws that were nullified by the courts were given nine months to ensure that the correct things are done because there must be concurrence. So, they are coming up and we are working very closely with my colleague in the National Assembly to ensure they are in accordance to the law,” he said.
On the Handshake anniversary March 9, Lusaka attributed the progress realized in the Senate to the ‘spirit of unity’ attributed to the handshake saying the stability being witnessed in the country is as a result of the handshake.
“The handshake made our work in the Senate and NA very easy because at least people are able to work together. We were in very turbulent waters before but we are witnessing good times because we are able to avoid the pitfalls,” he said.
As for now, the Senate is experiencing a backlog of 19 pending bills that have been attributed to the disruptions brought about by Covid-19 pandemic.
Samuel Poghisio, Senate majority leader, says the bills are awaiting deliberations and with limited time left, the Senate may be forced to work extra hours.
“Very soon you will see the senate very busy, time is limited and the answer will have to burn midnight oil to achieve what Kenyans want from us,” he said calling on Senators to protect the integrity of the house.
His Senate minority leader James Orengo notes that in the spirit of the March 9, 2018 handshake the house will achieve its target by passing key bills before the election season kicks in. The Senate is also evaluating its achievements and failures.
“With only 18 months left, to end our term, I think the spirit of unity in the house is going to see it through, with key business issues and legislation being accomplished in real time,” he says.