Authority

 

As the constitutional organ of legislation, the National Assembly was assigned to exercise legislative authority in Kenya under the Old Constitution. Excerpts from Chapter 3 - Parliament, Part 1 - Composition of Parliament:

30. The legislative power of the Republic shall vest in the Parliament of Kenya, .......

The National Assembly or 10th Parliament as it was known, was the only body that had the people's express authority to make laws or change the laws that governed them. This power was not to be exercised arbitrarily but by way of Bills that had been assented to by the President and gazetted as Acts of Parliament. Excerpts from Article 46 in Part 2 - Legislation and Procedure in the National Assembly, Chapter 3 - Parliament: 

46. (1) Subject to this Constitution, the legislative power of Parliament shall be exercisable by Bills passed by the National Assembly.
(2) When a Bill has been passed by the National Assembly, it shall be presented to the President for his assent.
(3) The President shall, within twenty-one days after the Bill has been presented to him for assent under subsection (2), signify to the Speaker that he assents to the Bill ........
(6) A law made by Parliament shall not come into operation until it has been published in the Kenya Gazette, ........
(7) A law made by Parliament shall be styled an Act of Parliament, and the words of enactment shall be “Enacted by the Parliament of Kenya”.

Having been assigned the legislative authority of the Republic, the National Assembly, was also empowered by the Old Constitution to consider and pass amendments to the constitution. This was a most sacred duty of the National Assembly given that the electorate was not invited to participate in or hold the final say on this critical process of amendment. Instead, a two-thirds majority in the Assembly was all that was required to pass an amendment.

47. (1) Subject to this section, Parliament may alter this Constitution.
(2) A Bill for an Act of Parliament to alter this Constitution shall not be passed by the National Assembly unless it has been supported on the second and third readings by the votes of not less than sixty-five per cent of all the members of the Assembly (excluding the ex officio members).

The person occupying the powerful office of the Presidency acted as the benevolent representative of the people in regard to Money Bills that sought to amend the Old Constitution:

48. Except upon the recommendation of the President signified by a Minister, the National Assembly shall not - (a) proceed upon a Bill (including an amendment to a Bill) that, in the opinion of the person presiding, makes provision for any of the following purposes - (i) the imposition of taxation or the alteration of taxation otherwise than by reduction; or (ii) the imposition of a charge on the Consolidated Fund or any other fund of the Government of Kenya or the alteration of any such charge otherwise than by reduction; or
(iii) the payment, issue or withdrawal from the Consolidated Fund or any other fund of the Government of Kenya of moneys not charged upon the fund or an increase in the amount of the payment, issue or withdrawal; or (iv) the composition or remission of a debt due to the Government of Kenya; or (b) proceed upon a motion (including an amendment to a motion) the effect of which, in the opinion of the person presiding, would be to make provision for any of those purposes.

The National Assembly was not  empowered by the New Constitution to set its own calendar. That authority was exercised by the President. Excerpts from Part 3 - Summoning Prorogation and Dissolution of Parliament: 

58. (1) Subject to this section, each session of Parliament shall be held at such place within Kenya and shall commence at such time as the President may appoint.

59. (1) The President may at any time prorogue Parliament.
(2) The President may at any time dissolve Parliament.

There was a general feeling not only in the Assembly but also among the electorate that Articles 58 and 59 gave the President and the President's party the trump card with respect to the business and life of the Assembly as well as the timing of elections. Nevertheless, the Old Constitution placed caps on the tenure of sessions, and the life of that National Assembly:

58. (2) There shall be a session of Parliament at least once in every year, so that a period of twelve months shall not intervene between the last sitting of the National Assembly in one session and the first sitting thereof in the next session.
(3) Whenever Parliament is dissolved, a general election of members of the National Assembly shall be held, and the first session of the new Parliament shall commence within three months after that dissolution.

The National Assembly could send the President home:

59. (3) If the National Assembly passes a resolution which is supported by the votes of a majority of all the members of the Assembly (excluding the ex officio members), and of which not less than seven days’ notice has been given in accordance with the standing orders of the Assembly, declaring that it has no confidence in the Government of Kenya, and the President does not within three days of the passing of that resolution either resign from his office or dissolve Parliament, Parliament shall stand dissolved on the fourth day following the day on which that resolution was passed. 

Despite the provisions of Article 59. (3), and the frequent threats by disgruntled Members to institute motions of no confidence in the government, this Parliament rarely witnessed any serious attempts to table such a motion. This was perhaps due to the fact that the passing of such a motion meant that a general election would follow; something that most MPs were uncomfortable with.

The National Assembly had the authority to set the President's remunerations: Chapter 2 - The Executive, Part 1 - The President and Vice-President, Article 13:

13. (1) The President shall receive such salary, allowance and benefits as may be determined by a resolution of the National Assembly.

 

 

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