The roles and responsibilities of a kenyan senator
A senator, in my opinion, is to a county what a Member of Parliament is to a constituency. A county is a larger administrative unit to a constituency and as a matter of fact covers more than one constituency in geographical area.
There are forty- seven counties established under the constitution. In as much as the governor will be the administrative head of the county, the Senator will be the political head.
Kenya’s new parliament, after the March 4th general elections, will be composed of the National Assembly and the Senate. As the name suggests, senators will sit in the senate with the work of legislating on behalf of the counties. In doing so, they will be representing the interests of the counties and their governments.
During the general elections, each of the forty- seven counties will be voting for a governor as well as a senator. The governors will work from the county assemblies while the senators will constitute the Senate. However, they too will not be alone in the Senate.
The Senate will additionally be composed of sixteen women members who shall be nominated by political parties according to their proportion of members of the Senate elected from the forty seven counties. Two positions will also be allocated to the youth with each gender represented, while persons with disabilities will also be represented by one man and one woman. The four positions will be contested for in a similar manner as the sixteen women members which means that it will be on the basis of proportional representation by use of party lists.
The speaker of the Senate will be elected from among persons eligible to be members of parliament but not already elected to the house; he/she will be an ex- officio member. The deputy speaker of the Senate will however be elected from among the elected senators.
Senators will be responsible for determining the allocations of funds needed to spur growth in the counties. Since these funds will be sourced from national revenue, they will also be tasked with ensuring oversight on how the funds are utilized. It is important to note that the county assemblies will also play a similar oversight role, more so in terms of approving policies, plans and the budget.
In addition, the senators will separately participate in the oversight of state officers by considering whether or not to remove the President or Deputy President from office once the national assembly impeaches either one of them. This means that the Senate is the one which seals the fate of the impeached leader after conducting its own investigations and a two thirds majority votes to uphold the proceeding.
Senators will themselves not be insulated from oversight, which shall rest with the people who elected them to office. The electorate has the capacity to recall a senator before the expiry of their term in accordance with legislation which will be enacted by Parliament.
The Senate is going to be a powerful house of parliament largely because important matters like the impeachment of the president, the alteration of county boundaries and other pertinent legislative issues will have to pass through it before being ratified.