For our Legal Systems and Methods class on the Law-Making process in Kenya, we were honoured with a guest lecture from Hon. Kipchumba Murkomen, Senator for Elgeyo Marakwet County, former Majority leader in Senate, and lecturer. He introduced us to the basic functions of the Legislature as a law-making organ and how it democratically represents the will of the people. An elaborate description of the law-making process in Kenya was given for both Houses (Lower and Upper). We focused more on the Bill-making process, how Parliamentary Committees are set up and referring to the Constitution and interpreting it.
One fascinating thing we noticed was his excellent knowledge and grasp of the Constitution as he cited relevant articles and chapters from it to drive points home. We were given a brief history of how the law-making process was before the constitution was amended. He gave us a vivid description of the process from Introduction to the House, to the final assent as an Act of Parliament while using current affairs to further explain. During the bill-making process, the bill goes through various committees. He also gave us the criteria of how they are chosen, how they go about their business and their involvement in the day-to-day house business. It is also worth pointing out that there are different kinds of bills brought before the house and how they are generated. He gave examples of Members of Parliament, recommendations from the Executive (Cabinet Secretaries), and even members of the public.
We also had a chance to discuss how the two houses conflict with each other when making bills and passing them. He cited an example of the revenue sharing bill which involves both the national and county governments. Thus, the Senate and National Assembly become interested parties, by default causing heated debates between the two houses
Students also had an opportunity to air out queries that they had. Some of these questions included the validity of certain positions in parliament like the leader of majority and minority in parliament, the process of amending the constitution in relation to the BBI agenda, and also why the majority of members of the Senate are lawyers. An important addition was an inquiry into the method of referendums and why they do not use survey groups like IPOA to get the views of the people. A very relevant commentary was also given on constitutional change, stating that, although there might be areas of improvement in the current constitution, a constitutional amendment should only be undertaken after a thorough process of evaluation, to determine the key issues that need to be addressed and adequate solutions to them.
In responding to these questions, he cited the Constitution pointing out that it has given mandate and authority to the members of the respective house to assign positions that are beneficial to the law-making process. In addition, the reason why most Senators are lawyers is that the people trust lawyers in dealing with the critical details pertaining to the law and how it applies with the people, which goes hand in hand with their functions. An intriguing discovery, one which even our lecturer concurred with, was how voting in the Senate works, showing how delegations are formed and assigned and how their respective votes count. As mentioned earlier, his understanding of the constitution and its application really intrigued most of us and gave us motivation going forward as a 1st-year law class. I believe the main take-away from the lecture, apart from being an educational one, was that it gave us a practical understanding of what we learn in class and an insight of what goes on in the Legislature that most citizens are unaware and ignorant of.
This article was written by Christian Mutiga K and Collins Kipkorir K.