New Keynan Bill appears to target National Assembly clerk

Political intrigues now surround the publication of a Bill that tabled in the National Assembly last week, with allegations that it targets the Clerk of the Senate and seeks to politicise the bureaucracy of Parliament.

There is also concern that the Bill is part of a wider succession scheme ahead of the impending retirement of the Clerk of the National Assembly Mr Justin Bundi.

Mr Bundi is set to retire next year.

The Parliamentary Service Bill also seeks to provide diplomatic passports to the spouses of members of Parliament.

A memorandum explaining the purpose of the Bill, its objective is to review the law enacted in 2000 so as to ensure that it complies with the new Constitution.

The Bill was presented to Eldas MP Adan Keynan.

The Bill provides for the appointment of a Clerk for each house of Parliament, the Senate and the National Assembly, to be done through an open, transparent and competitive process and proposes that the appointment will be subject to the approval of the relevant house.

The current Clerks of the houses of Parliament were appointed through a similar process.

POLITICAL MANIPULATION

One of the clauses that is seen as politicising the secretariat of Parliament, and as targeting the Clerk of the Senate, Mr Jeremiah Nyegenye, is alleged to have been sneaked in after the Bill had been approved by the PSC.

It says that the Clerk will be in office for four years and can be re-appointment for one more term of four years.

Critics fear that by capping the Clerk’s term at four years while the term of each Parliament is five years, the proposal is likely to erode the institutional memory and continuity by allowing each new Parliament to appoint a Clerk and that the Clerk’s office will become more open to political manipulation.

The effect of the Bill is that it will make the positions of Clerk of the houses of Parliament part of the spoils of the political processes to be shared out after each election.

The Clerk of a house is its accounting officer but is also the principal adviser to the Speaker and the members of Parliament on parliamentary procedures and traditions and experts consider that a high turnover in this office is in not the interests of the Legislature.

The Bill proposes transitional arrangements that will govern the migration of employees of the existing Parliamentary Service Commission to the one that will be created under the Bill.

All other employees of the Parliamentary Service Commission will retain their existing terms of service.

According to parliamentary insiders, the mischief is that the Clerk of the National Assembly, Mr Bundi, who has one year before he attains retirement age next year, will not be affected by the new four-year term proposed by the Bill since he is retiring anyway.

The Bill, however, affects Mr Nyegenye, still in his early 40s. He is said to be firm and thorough, with a reputation for professional independence.

He has served the nascent Senate from its inception and the Parliamentary Service Commission as its Secretary.

SOURCE: DAILY NATION