Cabinet Secretaries to appear before the House after change of rules
Cabinet Secretaries will now appear before the plenary of the National Assembly every Wednesday afternoon and answer urgent questions from Kenyans within 48 hours.
This follows an adoption of the report of the procedure and House rules committee that amended various sections of the Standing Orders to allow the ministers to physically appear before the House and answer questions from the public and MPs.
President William Ruto had an easy time in the House with the changes sailing through as most MPs from the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition who had opposed the changes were not in the House. The coalition’s MPs, during the general debate of the President’s memorandum, opposed the changes.
According to the new Standing Orders, which take effect on March 23, the Cabinet secretaries will appear before the House every Wednesday from 2.30 pm to 5.30 pm to answer questions, expound on government policy and provide reports concerning matters under their control
“A Cabinet Secretary shall provide physical and electronic copies of the reply to a question at least a day before appearing before the House,” reads the new Standing Order 42 (c).
Currently, the CSs respond to queries through committees that then submit their findings or reports to the whole House. This has often led to complaints by MPs who accuse committee chairpersons of delaying their responses and shifting blame to the CSs when pushed to expound on answers.
The lawmakers amended Standing Orders to reduce the period within which a CS is required to answer questions from 30 to 14 days, and urgent questions from three days to 48 hours.
In the new rules, the speaker of the National Assembly Moses Wetangula shall provide a designated place in the chambers where the CSs will answer the questions.
The Clerk shall prepare and publish on the parliamentary website a tentative list of CSs scheduled to reply to questions. The questions and reports shall have precedence over all other business for a period not exceeding three hours.
Ugenya MP David Ochieng, while moving the amendments on behalf of the committee, said the changes will enhance the accountability of CSs to the public.