Executive should not usurp House’s powers

Members of the National Assembly have raised a fundamental matter about the powers of the President on legislation, arguing that he is increasingly becoming intrusive and overbearing.

The concern is arising from the fact that President Uhuru Kenyatta has recently rejected a number of Bills passed by Parliament and gone ahead to make proposals on the amendments he wanted incorporated.

The latest is the Bill on taxation, where President Kenyatta has made proposals on the amount he wants charged on luxury items, contrary to what MPs had passed.

In line with the doctrine of separation of powers, the Legislature’s role is to make laws while the Executive, which is headed by the President, implements them.

The President’s role in lawmaking is to give assent to Bills or reject them but with reasons.

There is no provision whatsoever allowing the President to determine the content of the laws.

Thus, the contention is that the President is usurping the role of Parliament on legislation by giving direction on the specific amendments he wants.


The National Assembly has done the right thing to reject the President’s manoeuvres because left unchecked, the House will easily find itself emasculated.

As the chair of the Parliamentary Finance Committee, Mr Benjamin Lang’at put it, it is unacceptable for the presidency to superintend over Parliament.

Not only is that unconstitutional, it sets a bad precedent.

At this rate, the presidency will be dictating the laws to be passed and slowly driving the country into authoritarianism.

Article 115 of the Constitution articulates the president’s role in assenting or rejecting Bills.

President Kenyatta should stick to his role and stop bulldozing MPs on legislation.

Parliament must stand firm and reject designs to grab its powers.