Kenyan National Assembly Induction Workshop: Building a Strong Foundation for the New Legislature
From September 8-11, SUNY/CID’s Kenya Parliamentary Strengthening Program, jointed funded by USAID and DFID, organized an Induction Workshop for members of Kenya’s National Assembly to continue the capacity building agenda necessitated by the passage of the 2010 Constitution of and the shift from a unicameral legislature to a bicameral legislature. The effect of the presidential system resulted in the legislature acquiring significantly enhanced mandates in oversight and legislative authority. These changes in addition to having more than 70% of National Assembly members serving their first term in office has given rise to the need for ongoing capacity building for Members to effectively carry out their legislative mandate. Topics at the workshop included: setting the policy agenda, overseeing government expenditures, the role of the National Assembly in the budget process, and the public participation in policy development.
The workshop featured presentations from local and international experts, speeches from the United States Ambassador Robert Godec (full speech available), the British High Commissioner Christian Turner (full speech available), as well as interactive plenary sessions.
As a result of the induction workshops, Members exhibited an enhanced awareness of the need for sustained and structured interaction between the National Assembly and the Executive in order for meaningful actions in the House to occur. The workshop also saw the Members receive a deeper understanding of the position of the Legislature in a Presidential System including the need for dialogue between the all parties in order to facilitate the priorities of all Members after a combative initial session.
With the President of Kenya officially closing the workshop, (full speech available) Members were accorded a rare opportunity to interact with the President and raise issues of concern they felt needed to be addressed by the Executive. The retreat provided an opportunity to take stock of the inaugural period of the 11th parliament while also emphasizing the adjustments that can be made to improve the legislative process in subsequent sessions to ensure a robust National Assembly moving forward.
Members expressed optimism and engagement at the close of the event with one MP remarking they “learnt to love matters of legislation.” One important theme that emerged from the workshop is the importance of a positive image for Parliament. With the entire Assembly coming together, it was a timely opportunity for Members to re-launch the National Assembly motto –“For the welfare of the society and the just government of people”.
Posted October 04, 2013