FAILED DEVOLUTION

Dissolve Senate, it’s an utter failure

Suspending parliaments is not new and has been done elsewhere – Britain, Canada

In Summary
  • Without revenue, county operations will stall, salaries will remain unpaid, medics may strike and mwananchi will suffer.
  • And while many may blame governors, the main culprits are the senators.

The Senate has been on the spot lately over the conduct of its business and failure to exercise its mandate. The manner in which it has handled various investigations such as the Ruaraka land saga and the Managed Medical Equipment Service programme, has left more questions than answers.

Another issue is how the Senate handles governors who come before it to answer to audit queries. Most of these probes do not give Kenyans any closure on the issues raised.

The ongoing controversy that has resulted in a financial crisis for counties is another mark of failure by the Senate. Many Kenyans are even wondering whether there is need for the Senate if it cannot come up with a solution for more than a year now.

The Senate received the Commission on Revenue Allocation recommendation in April 2019. What have the senators been doing for more than 18 months?

One of the major roles of the Senate is to protect the interests of the counties to ensure that devolution is not only being executed but is successful. Has the Senate fulfilled this mandate? The simple answer is a big no.

Twelve senators were last month tasked with resolving the counties revenue sharing formula impasse. After numerous meetings, and after using taxpayers’ funds for allowances, they reached no consensus and requested the President to intervene.

The committee was formed after the senators adjourned the revenue debate for the ninth time on August 17, when they failed to agree. That the committee cannot get a solution for the country is a great indictment on the Senate.

When parliaments can no longer serve the purpose they were set up for, one of the solutions is to dissolve them and put in place mechanisms to resolve the issues at hand.

As this happens, the Council of Governors is warning that services in many counties will come to a halt by mid this month for lack of money. If senators had an ounce of care for devolution and were true to their mandate, this would not be the situation.

The governors have said they will seek the dissolution of the Senate if it cannot help in ensuring that counties run as they should. You cannot blame the governors, they will take the flak for the lack of the services, and not the Senate.

Without the necessary revenue, county operations will stall, salaries remain unpaid, nurses and doctors may strike and mwananchi will suffer. While many may turn the blame on governors, the main culprits are the senators. Action should be taken against them if they continue to fail in their mandate.

Suspending parliaments is not new and has been done elsewhere, including recently in Britain during the Brexit debate. The UK Parliament had failed to come to a resolution and was therefore suspended.

Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last month suspended parliament for five weeks. He said the move was necessary as his 2019 agenda had been overtaken by events in line with the changing world as a result of Covid-19 pandemic.

When parliaments can no longer serve the purpose they were set up for, one of the solutions is to dissolve them and put in place mechanisms to resolve the issues at hand.

Article 258(1) of the Constitution states, “Every person has the right to institute court proceedings, claiming that this Constitution has been contravened, or is threatened with contravention.”

It is therefore clear that the dissolution on the Senate is not something that is beyond the reach of Kenyans. Senators have failed to carry out their mandate as envisaged by the Constitution.

The Senate is therefore in contravention of the Constitution by failing to ensure that the county governments are running and that devolution is protected by ensuring that there is a proper flow of funds.