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President Uhuru Kenyatta's Speech during the Official Closing of the National Assembly Retreat

President Uhuru Kenyatta's Speech during the Official Closing of the National Assembly Retreat

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Published by State House Kenya
President Uhuru Kenyatta's Speech during the Official Closing of the National Assembly Retreat
President Uhuru Kenyatta's Speech during the Official Closing of the National Assembly Retreat

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Published by: State House Kenya on Sep 11, 2013
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, PRESIDENT AND COMMANDER IN CHIEF OF THE DEFENCE FORCES OF THE REPUBLIC OF KENYA DURING THE OFFICIAL CLOSING OF THE INDUCTION RETREAT FOR MEMBERS OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY, LEISURE LODGE RESORT, UKUNDA, KWALE COUNTY ON 11 TH SEPTEMBER, 2013 Members of the National Assembly, Ladies and Gentlemen, I am happy to join you at this Induction Retreat and thank you most sincerely, Mr Speaker for putting it together. I was prevented from presiding over the opening of this Retreat by urgent official business back in Nairobi. Even so, I am confident that you have enjoyed engaging each other’s' minds in connection with the challenges of contemporary bicameral legislation. I also trust that your deliberations have been fruitful and yielded a smoother way forward for our Parliament. Owing to the exigencies of constitutional deadlines and other national business, Parliament was not able to undertake the critical mandate of interacting to familiarise themselves with the legislative environment and its constitutional framework. The induction programme is especially needful in this Parliament because the constitutional order has completely severed Parliament from the Executive, introduced Devolution, Bicameralism, mandatory legislation with deadlines and rigorous parameters for the National and County legislative agenda. This has posed challenges for first-time as well as experienced legislators. This is the first Parliament of the new dispensation. The Tenth Parliament was, after the constitution's promulgation, converted into a functional conflation of both Senate and National Assembly. Similarly, my Government is the first to be inaugurated under the new constitution. We have all faced our challenges getting to terms with the new dispensation. I believe that the drawers of the constitution designed it to incorporate a measure of shock therapy. Only a few years ago, it was difficult to envision an entire Cabinet comprising non-MPs! County governors recently mounted a spirited campaign to claim a greater mandate. Around the same time, Members of the National Assembly and Senators were going at each other, hammer and tongs, to settle the matter of whose was the Upper House.

While all this was underway, certain Members of Parliament expressed difficulty in calling the Executive to account when neither the Presidency nor Cabinet sat in either House. The new dispensation's Reality Check is finally properly underway. And it is happening in a situation where neither the citizens nor many of their leaders have properly internalised the respective mandates of their Governor, Senator, Member of the National Assembly and Member of the County Assembly. Authoritative commentators regularly indicate the term 'Member of Parliament' to exclude Senators but synonymously with 'Member of The National Assembly'. Seasoned with robust debate about symbols and titles - who flies a pennant on his official or personal car, who may or may not merit certain forms of address - we really haven't had a dull moment in governance. Without putting too fine a point on it, we are all in this together as Kenyans. There has been quite a bit of grappling in the dark. Fortunately, it was in the darkness that ushers in the morning light, to the extent that it has afforded us an opportunity to re-format our politics, redesign our leadership and reimagine the contours of our democratic space, the debate has not been futile. This retreat, therefore, benefitted from a rich experimental context. This is evident in its theme - 'Towards an Effective Legislature: Experiences in Bicameralism in Kenya Thus Far', which captures the essence of our journey to this point, and the need for a proper roadmap going forward. I also note the presence of participants from Uganda, Ghana, the United Kingdom, Germany and other EU members as well as the United States. This indicates the conscious intention to draw from the experiences of bicameral legislatures and counterpart jurisdictions. Our Parliament today features shared and distinct constitutional mandates. The National Assembly is charged with national legislation. It determines the allocation of national revenue between levels of government, appropriates funds for expenditure by national government and national State organs, exercises oversight over national revenue and expenditure, and reviews the conduct of State officers. It also approves declarations of war and extensions of states of emergency. The Senate represents counties and protects the interests of counties and their governments. It also conducts legislation relating to county governments, determines the allocation of national revenue among counties

and exercises oversight over national revenue allocated to county governments. Both the National Assembly and the Senate participate in the review of the conduct of State Officers by considering any resolution to remove the President or Deputy President in accordance with the constitution. The constitution anticipates overlapping and conflicting mandates, or even general misunderstandings on the matter. That is why Article 110 establishes a bicameral mechanism mandating both Speakers to seek consensus. In the case of Special Bills concerning county government, the bicameral mechanism incorporates checks subject to a voting threshold in the National Assembly. Ordinary Bills are, in case of differences in each House's resolution, dispatched to Mediation Committees. This elaborate framework is calculated to encourage intra-Parliamentary consensus that insulates the Legislature from other arms of Government. One may find the bicameral mechanisms in the constitution unwieldy or even unsatisfactory. When this happens, I would like to encourage Members to always revisit the First Principles of our constitutional order. The first is that the Sovereignty of the People as enunciated in Article 1 belongs to the People. Parliament exercises legislative power derived from the People, represents the will of the People and exercises their sovereignty. In order to make constitutional sense of their authority and function, every State Organ, arm of Government, State and public officer must align their intentions and actions, in whatever form or shape, to the National Values and Principles of Governance contained in Article 10. The Values may be seen as distinct pillars of the Constitution, tiers thereof, or even concentric philosophical premises. They may be regarded as escalating from the abstract to the concrete, or separating those affecting various Parts of the constitution: legislation and policy, Bill of Rights and so on. At any rate, the National Values are set out in four thematic clusters. At one level, we have patriotism, national unity, sharing and devolution of power, the rule of law, democracy and participation of the people. The second layer has human dignity, equity, social justice, inclusiveness, equality, human rights, non-discrimination and protection of the marginalised. The next is good governance, integrity, transparency and accountability and the last is Sustainable Development. There is no suggestion anywhere in the constitution that these values are elective. I understand them to be mandatory parameters by which every policy, strategy, programme and decision must be evaluated for propriety

and legality. Therefore, even as we assert our positions in discourse, we must always be conscious of the values we intend to promote. Similarly, as we oppose proposals, we must point out the national values at stake. The National Values, especially Unity and Patriotism, not only call for bicameral collaboration, dialogue and mutual understanding. They also call for a philosophical bipartisanship which must impel all of us to concede the national interest in an opponent's initiative or suggestion. It requires a value-added sort of political competition. Not all legislative engagement must be framed in the context of partisan vendetta. Politics must not always be divisive. Whether in Senate or the National Assembly, Members of Parliament legislate for Kenyans in all their diversity. We seek the best for CORD members as well as Jubilee supporters, without forgetting everybody else in between. Wherever we are, let us serve Kenya, and let us put Kenyans first. With the benefits of shared experiences, expert insights and reflection that Members encountered at this Retreat, I look forward to interacting with a Reloaded, Effective, Efficient and a truly Bicameral Parliament when you return to Nairobi. With these remarks, I declare the Induction Retreat for Members of the National Assembly officially closed. Thank you. God bless you.

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