Stop duplication by MPs in House probes

Thursday, January 28th, 2021 00:00 |
Parliament in session. Photo/PD/FILE

The 2010 Constitution has assigned the role of oversight to various arms of government, notably the Legislature both at national and county levels.

Other institutions mandated to oversight include independent offices such as the Auditor General and various commissions.

Senate and county assemblies have a singular mandate of oversight over devolved units while the National Assembly’s scope is broader, extending to other arms of government.

Parliament exercises this responsibility through watchdog and departmental committees.

The debate on why the Senate should have the same committees as the National Assembly has refused to disappear, with questions lingering about duplication of roles.

While we acknowledge the committees have in the past acquitted themselves well while probing various scandals, we are concerned about the integrity of some investigations, especially those on the procurement of Covid-19 materials.

A record five House committees are conducting parallel investigations into misappropriation of Covid-19 funds.

The matter has been handled by the Health Committee, Public Investments Committee (PIC) and the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the National Assembly. 

The departmental committee on Health and the Ad Hoc Committee on Covid-19 handled the matter in Senate. 

While we appreciate that the committees were exercising their mandate, questions abound about the big number of teams probing the same matter.

It is also notable that members of the committees earn huge allowances paid by the taxpayer. 

Witnesses have been hopping from one inquiry to another responding to the same queries but nothing concrete has come out of the investigations, raising eyebrows on the motivation behind the probes. 

There have been claims that some House committees have been turned into an extortion and bribery avenue for legislators.

They either end up writing reports that clear individuals under probe or make ambivalent proposals meant to ensure cover-up. 

Complaints about committees altering reports or failing to table any despite long periods of investigations due to suspected corruption are well documented.

Kenyans have a legitimate reason to question whether the ongoing Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa) probe is beyond reproach. 

We also strongly advise that any suspicious matters be handled by one or two committees of Parliament for efficiency.

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