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Snubbing Of Parliament Summons Should Not Be Entertained

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The much awaited grilling of Petroleum Cabinet Secretary John Munyes and his Energy counterpart Charles Keter by the senate on 21 September 2021 over the recent hike of fuel prices did not occur.

This move angered senators lamenting that the CS’s had ignored their summons to appear before them.

 “They must understand we are not calling them because we are idle, we are not calling them because we have our own issues we want to address , it is on behalf of Kenyans who their sovereign power is exercised through us madam speaker,” Nairobi senator Johnson Sakaja said.

“Where does the Energy CS get the audacity to say this matter does not concern him? We know both the high fuel and electricity costs are related. This country is hurting,” Bungoma senator Moses Wetangula lamented while lambasting the CS’s for their decision.

Irked senators led by senate minority leader James Orengo decided to table a censure motion against the Cabinet Secretaries for snubbing them.

 “This house must put its foot down and demand Senator Keter, Senator Munyes to come here and explain themselves even after this censure in the shortest time possible failure to which we will invoke the law and fine them and above the fine we shall use the Director of Public Prosecutions to cause the arrest of two ministers and the production of the same before this house madam speaker,” Tharaka Nithi Senator Kithure Kindiki warned.


This is not the first time Cabinet secretaries are ignoring summons in this country, it has even become a norm. In March 2020 Interior CS Fred Matiangi, his Transport counterpart James Macharia and Mutahi Kagwe for Health snubbed a Joint national assembly and senate health committee to shed light on the governments preparedness on coronavirus, a move that was not welcomed by parliamentarians.

Ironically the Cabinet secretaries do appear in parliament when they have a hidden agenda or when they want to as it happened recently when Interior CS Fred Matiangi appeared before parliament over Deputy President’s security.

Matiangi in what seemed as a show of might was accompanied by his PS Karanja Kibicho, Inspector General of Police Hillary Mutyambai, DCI chief George Kinoti and GSU commandant Douglas Kanja , among other senior ministry officials.

This increasing move by CS’s snubbing Parliament summons should not be encouraged at all, actually it’s troubling. This should be dealt with firmly before we go back to the dark days when ministers were only accountable to the Executive the President in particular.

The summons should not be seen as a favor done to the CS’s or just mere suggestions, every other person including officials in government should take them seriously. in fact those CS’s and senior government officials who snub parliament summons should be fined heavily or even charged to deter such habits in future.

But this does not give a leeway for Parliamentarians to now extort and harass cabinet secretaries as it has been reported before. Claims of extortion rings in parliament especially when big companies and senior government officials are involved are on the rise. Such a scenario is what makes CS’s and other government officials fear appearing before parliament.

This tiff over summons was also stretched to the third arm of government the Judiciary in July 2021, where Chief Justice Martha Koome blocked Chief Registrar Ann Amadi from appearing before MPs to give reasons as to why the Judiciary had failed to hire a finance director for seven years.

The Chief Justice accused the members of parliament of wanting to pursue their own interests and harassing judicial officers in the name of undertaking their oversight role.

She even cited occasions where Chief Registrar and other senior officials in the judiciary were summoned to multiple committees to respond to a number of issues.

“In recent past, we have had frequent and multiple summons from parliament overlapping and duplicating summons from different committees of the same house and also between the two houses to discuss the same issues. Part of it borders on harassment,’ CJ Koome said.




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