The Constitution is the supreme law of the Republic of Kenya and binds all persons and all state organs at the National and County levels of Government.
The legislative authority of the Republic is derived from the people and, at the national level, is vested in and exercised by Parliament. The Sovereignty of the people of Kenya refers to the supreme power or authority of the people to govern themselves or determine how they want to be governed.
Parliament the legislative, elected body of Government. It is bicameral, consisting of two houses; the National Assembly and the Senate. It is composed of the Speakers of both houses, their deputies and Members of Parliament commonly referred to as Members Of the National Assembly and Senators.
Membership of the National Assembly
The National Assembly consists of two hundred and ninety members, each elected by the registered voters of single member constituencies.
Forty-seven women representatives, each elected by the registered voters of the counties, each county constituting a single member constituency;
Twelve members nominated by parliamentary political parties according to their proportion of members of the National Assembly in accordance with Article 90, to represent special interests including the youth, persons with disabilities and workers; and the speaker who is an ex officio member.
The Roles of the National Assembly.
In addition to the traditional and internationally established roles of a legislature, Article 95 of the Constitution confers the following prescribed functions and powers on the National assembly:
- Representation of the people of the constituencies and special interests in the National assembly.
- Deliberate and resolve issues of concern to the people.
- Enacts National Legislation in accordance with the fourth schedule of Chapter Eight of the Constitution of Kenya.
- Determines the allocation of National revenue between the levels of government, as provided in Fourth Schedule of Chapter Twelve.
- Appropriates funds for expenditure by the National Government and other National State organs and exercises oversight over National revenue and its expenditure.
- Review the conduct in office of the President, the Deputy President and other State officers and initiates the process of removing them from office.
- Power to amend or veto a special bill that has been passed by the Senate (but this can only be done by a resolution supported by at least two thirds of the members of the National Assembly).
- Exclusive power to consider money Bills including taxes; the imposition of charges on a public fund or the variation or repeal of any of those charges; the appropriation, receipt, custody, investment or issue of public money, and the raising or guaranteeing of any loan or its repayment
- Exercise oversight of State organs.
- The National Assembly approves declarations of war and extensions of states of emergency.
In the performance of its functions the National assembly shall have freedom of speech and debate in the house.
Constituency Development Fund
The Constituency Development Fund was introduced in Kenya in 2003 with the passage of the CDF Act 2003 by the 9th Parliament of Kenya. The CDF Act provides that the Government set aside at least 2.5% of its ordinary revenue for disbursement under the CDF program.
In January 2013, the CDF Act 2003 (as amended in 2007) was repealed and replaced with CDF Act 2013 that was aligned to the Constitution of Kenya 2010. Enactment of the latter was meant to align the law governing CDF with the devolution concept as captured in the new Constitution.
Main changes made to the CDF Act 2013 include reduction in size of the CDF Board from seventeen to eleven members and introduction of a new officer, the Corporation Secretary as secretary to the Board.1
The separation of roles of the executive and the legislature is also well spelt out. There is also a change in the mode of appointment of CDF committee members and new roles for the area MP as ex-officio member (a patron) rather than Chairman of CDF committee.
On 08/08/2022 The Supreme Court of Kenya in Institute for Social Accountability & another v National Assembly & 3 others & 5 others (Petition 1 of 2018) declared the Constituency Development Fund illegal and unconstitutional. The decision brought to an end a nine-year court battle between the Members of Parliament and civil society groups. In its verdict, the country’s highest court found that the law allowing MPs to manage funds offends division of revenue and public finance law.1
Do you think that Members of the National Assembly should be involved in the use of funds or only on oversight of the expenditure by the executive?