The Senate on Tuesday made far reaching recommendations to the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) in what would see its roles significantly strengthened.
In a march for power led by Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen and his Minority counterpart James Orengo, senators have asked the 14-member BBI steering committee to ensure that their roles are not only well defined, but also protected.
The Senate wants both Houses to be given full legislative mandate and not just limited to Bills concerning counties.
The House is in court to challenge 28 Bills passed by the National Assembly that did not go through the Senate.
The Senate also wants powers to approve nominees to offices that have security of tenure.
These include offices of the Chief Justice, Deputy Chief Justice, Director of Public Prosecutions, Inspector General of Police, Auditor General, Controller of Budget, as well as all Chapter 15 commissions.
Chapter 15 Commissions include the Kenya National Human Rights Commission, the National Land Commission, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, the Parliamentary Service Commission, the Judicial Service Commission, the Commission on Revenue Allocation, the Public Service Commission, the Salaries and Remuneration Commission, the Teachers Service Commission, the National Police Service Commission and the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission.
The National Assembly, the Senate said, should only be left to approve nominees to offices such as Cabinet Secretary, Attorney General, Ambassadors and High Commissioners, and Principal Secretaries.
“If CSs are to be picked from members of the National Assembly, then it should be upon the Senate to vet and approve those picked from outside the House, as well as their removal processes,” Mr Murkomen said in the Senate’s presentations.
“If the Senate is not going to provide any CSs, and it’s better that way, then the Senate should be made the House of accountability as far as this office is concerned.”
Mr Murkomen said the proposal by the BBI team for a mixed cabinet “is a tough balancing act” that must be strengthened by ensuring that accountability avenues are working.
On the Parliamentary Service Commission, the Senate wants it split and one such Commission for both Houses set up.
“Reduce the numbers to three commissioners each, the Speakers become chairs of the Commission, and then one or two members of the public,” Mr Murkomen said of the PSC.
The Senate also wants to be given the power to consider and approve the budget, with the legislators saying that being shut out of the process was hurting the counties.
The National Assembly, Mr Murkomen said, will still retain veto powers in this case.
Mr Murkomen also called for a provision that to remove a County Governor, it should take two thirds of the House, just like is required to remove a president or a deputy president.
They also want financial independence of the County Assemblies, saying it was long overdue.
In the presentations to the BBI team, the Senate also called for the House to be given powers to sanction international treaties entered into by the Kenyan government.
They also want powers to have a say in the deployment of the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) within Kenya.
“Before signing any Bill, the President needs to ask, has the Parliament complied with Article 110, and if yes, then go ahead and assent to it,” Mr Orengo said.
Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Jr said that there were cases where “governors have mischievously played with development to ensure that County Assembly members then lose their seats.”
Nakuru Senator Susan Kihika called for the financial independence of County Assemblies in order to strengthen devolution.