Establishment of crucial Senate team derails as MPs scramble for positions

Homa Bay Senator Moses Kajwang’ together with Kiambu Senator Kimani Wamatangi in a past PAC function. [PICTURE COURTESY]

Intense lobbying for membership to a powerful parliamentary watchdog committee has delayed its constitution.

More than two months into the fourth session of the current Senate, members are yet to constitute the critical County Public Accounts and Investment Committee (CPAIC) that oversights expenditure of funds by county governments.

The delay means that governors who had been lined up to appear before the committee to respond to audit queries for the 2017-2018 financial year are yet to be held to account for their expenditures.

After the lapse of the term of Homa Bay Senator Moses Kajwang’, who chaired the nine-member committee in the last session, the Senate was expected to have constituted a fresh team at the start of the current session in February.

The formation of CPAIC, which is traditionally chaired by a member from the minority side, has been rocked by infighting as senators under the National Super Alliance (NASA), which brings together ODM, Wiper, Amani and Ford Kenya parties, jostle to be included in its membership. But Senate Minority Leader James Orengo (Siaya) downplayed the delay in forming the committee, saying members were still “consulting widely.”

“As NASA we agreed that senators should come up with names of those to be in CPAIC. We chose to go through the members themselves, otherwise any name presented on the floor of the House without members’ input will be defeated,” said Orengo.

Nakuru Senator Susan Kihika, who is also the Majority Whip, said the Jubilee Party was ready with its list of members and was only waiting for NASA to agree on its membership.

“As the majority party, we are ready and only waiting for the minority side to submit their names so that we introduce the motion on the floor of the House. We will not meddle in the choice of the chairperson. We believe the members are competent enough to elect their chair,” said Ms Kihika.

Her deputy, Irungu Kang’ata (Murang’a), said they would soon table names before the plenary.

“The right and competent candidate will definitely chair the committee. I do not want to prejudice the choice by stating a name now. I have full confidence in the names that we have proposed,” said Mr Kang’ata.

Apart from CPAIC, the Committee on Delegated Legislation and the House Business Committee are the only other sessional committees. During Kajwang’s tenure, the committee tabled the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 financial years’ reports for the counties.

The team also tabled a fiduciary risk report and held an inquiry into the possible loss of funds through the acquisition of land. The reports were subsequently adopted by the plenary.