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Executive, MPs headed for clash over summons

The relationship between the Executive and the Legislature is headed for a collision course after senior government officials expressed their reservations over the number of times ministers are summoned by MPs.

A senior member of the Executive who spoke in confidence to the Nation said Cabinet secretaries spend most of their time seeking answers and appearing in Parliament. This, they argue, was done away with by the 2010 Constitution.

The issue is compounded by the fact that both Senate and National Assembly seem to be working at cross purposes since they at times could be investigating the same issue and send invites to a minister to appear before their committees at same time.

The two Houses are investigating the Ruaraka land saga, Solai dam tragedy, Kenya Airways probe and several others.

The chairman of the Senate ad hoc committee on Solai dam tragedy Senator Mutula Kilonzo said the issue can be sorted out by the two Speakers agreeing on what each House should look into.

He, however, said Parliament will not shy away from summoning ministers on matters that are of national importance.

“Cabinet secretaries are not just asked to appear before the committees. They are given a seven-day notice,” Mr Kilonzo said.

“The reason they are asked to come is because Parliament is a House of Hansard. Written answers cannot be put in a Hansard. Ministers should strive to manage their time.”

National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi last week dismissed an attempt by senators to investigate the Solai tragedy that killed more than 40 people.

He said the committee was wasting its time since the Senate has no mandate over government organs.

Most summons have been issued to the ministries of National Treasury, Interior and Agriculture.

A minister was recently summoned to appear before different committees more than 20 times in a month.

There was a standoff in Parliament on Tuesday last week when a Senate committee demanded that Interior CS Fred Matiang’i appeared before it in person to answer queries relating to the dam tragedy.

This is despite having provided answers presented by Chief Administrative Secretary Patrick Ntutu.

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