• There’s really no deliberation to speak of in the Senate, let alone Parliament as a whole.
• To make things worse, the law that required MPs to have a degree was shelved in 2017 and will come into force in 2022, if it does.
Kenya currently has a bicameral legislature. In theory, the Senate is supposed to represent the interests of the counties and their governments; to participate in lawmaking by considering, debating and approving bills concerning counties and to determine the allocation of national revenue among counties.
The Senate also participates in the oversight of State officers by considering and determining any resolution to remove the President or Deputy President from office in accordance with Article 145.
The key words here are “in theory.”
In practice, a strong case can be made that we don’t need the Senate.
Clearly, whoever prevailed on this notion of a bicameral legislature during the drafting of the Constitution had the UK and the US in mind. They are two countries that have centuries-old legislative systems and, more importantly, far superior and advanced democracies such that to replicate what happens there in advancing democratic ideals and policies is simply not attainable. Not in present Kenya, not in the far future.
To be sure, Americans brag that their Senate is the world’s most deliberative institution and they have a point only if you consider that a senator can block legislation or at least stall it long enough for other mischief to be done on the legislation much to their liking. So much for deliberation.
In Kenya, there’s really no deliberation to speak of in the Senate, let alone Parliament as a whole.
What’s interesting and worth noting is the fact that gone are the days when Parliament was a bastion of barely educated members who would mostly provoke laughter in their failed efforts to communicate in English, let alone Swahili.
The 2010 Constitution was designed to address that by requiring that MPs must at least have a college degree.
According to the Star, citing details that were made public late last year, at least a third of MPs lack bachelor's degrees, which means up to 116 MPs have either a diploma or a certificate.
The academic qualifications of the 349 members of the National Assembly show some lawmakers with certificates enrolled for and graduated with bachelor's degrees.
To make things worse, the law that required MPs to have a degree was shelved in 2017 and will come into force in 2022, if it does.
Currently, the law requires the President, deputy president, governors and deputy governors to hold a degree but is silent on the other elective seats.
It was also revealed that most MPs bypassed acquiring a diploma and enrolled for degree courses in overseas universities with questionable reputations.
The hopes and aspirations of those who pushed for this education requirement were to turn our Parliament into a deliberative House that can debate and come up with solutions to address the endless problems facing our country, especially those related to the economy, corruption and impunity.
These ills continue to plague the country, yet Parliament is doing little to address them and in the irony of ironies, President Uhuru Kenyatta, representing an Executive that has always been the hotbed of corruption, is the one convincingly leading in efforts to face head on the graft cartels.
One can only imagine what a day it would be for Parliament to use its oversight powers and haul in a few of these corruption architects and publicly expose and humiliate them for their shameless schemes and land grabbing, which can only make the president’s job easier in eradicating or at least bringing this debilitating corruption to 1980s and 90s levels.
Were that to happen, then we’ll know our country is turning the corner and headed in the utopia we long for, or at least something close to it where these greedy, selfish and inconsiderate corrupt cartels don’t hold the country hostage for their selfish and misguided gain.