- He cautioned MPs to be aware of the ongoing litigation on the constitutionality of the office of the Chief Administrative Secretaries (CAS).
- Wetang'ula said that the changes that the Bill ultimately seeks to achieve relate to significant constitutional and legal matters
National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetang'ula has cautioned against President William Ruto's plans to alter the administration of government.
The Speakers' move could puncture the president's legal strategy to anchor the offices of the Chief Administrative Secretaries in law and clip the powers of the Attorney General.
The National Government Administration Laws (Amendment) Bill (National Assembly Bill No. 73 of 2023) was read for the First Time on Wednesday.
On Thursday, Wetang'ula warned that an array of proposed laws by the executive raises serious constitutional issues that cannot be glossed over.
In a communication to the House on Thursday while committing the National Government Administration Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2023, Wetang'ula called for a thorough scrutiny of the proposed laws.
The Speaker said that while the majority of the amendments in the Bill relate to the administration of government, the changes that the Bill ultimately seeks to achieve relate to significant constitutional and legal matters.
"In seeking to alter the role of governmental bodies and officials, the Bill affects the independence of the bodies and existing checks and balances within the government," Wetang'ula cautioned.
He said that any change proposed to the functions of entities such as the Assumption of the Office of President Committee, the National Security Council and the Office of the Attorney-General, may infringe upon their constitutional and statutory mandates.
Ruto has sought to expand the NSC and the committee that manages the transition to a new government after the elections.
The Bill by National Assembly Majority Leader Kimani Ichung'wah seeks to include the Secretary to the National Security Council and the principal secretary responsible for Defence as members of the Assumption of Office of the President Committee.
Ruto seeks to expand the team that organises the transition to provide that the president-elect shall nominate six persons to sit in the Assumption of the Office of the President Committee.
Currently, the president-elect only has three slots.
The current law provides that the president-elect nominates three persons to the team chaired by the Head of Public Service.
The proposed law further makes the National Security Adviser and Defence Principal Secretary members of the Assumption of Office Committee.
It also seeks to replace the Attorney-General as the custodian of the public seal with the Head of Public Service and establish and delineate the offices of the Chief Administrative Secretary.
The Bill further seeks to establish a committee of the National Security Council to be chaired by the Head of Public Service.
The Chief of the Kenya Defence Forces, the director general of the National Intelligence Service and the Inspector General of the National Police Service would be members.
Other members would be the Solicitor General, Principal Secretaries for Defence, Internal Security, Foreign Affairs, National Treasury, and “any other persons whose knowledge and skills are considered necessary for the function of the committee as authorised by the National Security Council".
But on Thursday, Wetang'ula asked the Committee of Justice and Legal Affairs to be aware of the ongoing litigation on the constitutionality of the CAS offices.
"Whereas Parliament may consider a proposal to establish the position of CAS, knowledge of the pending court matter must inform any such consideration," he said.
"In my considered view, it is imperative for the committee of the House charged with overseeing constitutional affairs to thoroughly scrutinize the proposed amendments in the Bill and ensure their consonance with the Constitution and the written law."
Wetang'ula said that in its consideration of the Bill, JLAC should lend particular weight to the underlying legal issues in the proposals made by the Bill.
He said that where necessary, the Committee may sit jointly with the Departmental Committee on Administration and Internal Security to address specific matters in the Bill that require the input of their counterpart Committee.