National Assembly majority leader Hon Aden Duale has been involved in a bitter exchange with his Senate counterpart, Hon Kipchumba Murkomen, over the Health Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2019.
The President assented to the bill on Monday 13th May, 2019, at State House in Nairobi. The two leaders were present during the ceremony but have now differed on who had the mandate to draft and pass the bill; between the National Assembly and Senate. The two have engaged each other on Social media.
The senate is now advising the public not to adhere to a law signed by the president that amended sections of the health act. Majority leader Kipchumba Murkomen says the law was signed without the participation of the senate.
Here are the exchanges between the two leaders:
Hon Aden Duale;
“As you are all aware, yesterday (on Monday 13th May, 2019), the President assented to the Health Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2019. The Bill now an Act of Parliament amends various laws among them the Pharmacy and Poisons Act Cap.244, the Nutritionists and Dieticians Act, 2007, the Medical Practitioners and Dentists Act Cap 253, the Nurses Act Cap. 252, the Kenya Medical Training College Act Cap. 261. The Bill was passed by the National Assembly last year in December and was returned with President’s Reservations on few items of the Bill on 30th December, 2018 for reconsideration by the National Assembly in terms of Article 115 of the Constitution.
The National Assembly thereafter considered the reservations and approved the Bill fully accommodating the President’s reservations on 28th February, 2019. To my utter shock the Leader of Majority Party of the Senate, Senator Murkomen has been reported arguing that the Act was passed unprocedurally as it was never considered by the Senate as required by the Constitution. Never mind yesterday media was awash with pictures of Senator Murkomen standing next to the President assenting to the same Bill which he is now challenging how it was processed by the National Assembly. This is pure hypocrisy and one which requires to be treated with contempt!
It is also worrying that such comments are coming from Senator Murkomen who is an advocate of the High Court. The Act in seeking to amend all the aforementioned health related Acts deals and touches only on matters of health policy, reconstitution of boards and regulation of health professions. The fourth schedule to the Constitution is plain and clear that matters of health policy and regulation of professions are functions of national Government.
Article 110 of the Constitution is clear that the Senate only considers Bills concerning county governments.That Senator Murkomen does not know this is not only economical with truth but generous with falsehoods! It is even sad that Senator Murkomen does not seem to remember or rather is faking amnesia on the requirements of Article 110(3) of the Constitution which provides that it is only the two Speakers of Parliament that can resolve the question of what is the nature of a Bill.
Why did Senator Murkomen wait until the Bill is assented to raise concerns on the nature of the Bill? Did he ever raise his concerns with his Speaker? The Bill was passed last year by the National Assembly why raise issues on the Bill 5 months later? Only him can answer but whatever his reasoning one thing is certain he has chosen to feign ignorance of the provisions of the Constitution. For what reasons only him knows”.
And here is the response from Hon Kipchumba Murkomen;
“I have read some tweets from Hon.Aden Duale ranting about Senate’s protest against the purported Health Laws (Amendment) Act signed yesterday by HE President Kenyatta. I will respond as follows. I was invited to State House to witness the President sign into law ”The Assumption of the office of County Governor Bill”. This Bill originated from the Senate.I discovered at State House that Hon Duale was also invited on behalf of National Assembly having passed some Health laws(Amendment) Bill.
Just before the signing ceremony I overheard that there were Health laws to be signed. I protested to Hon Duale ,Solicitor General and other State House staff for presenting Health laws for signature against the Constitution.I told them they had the duty to give proper counsel to the President. Constitution makes it mandatory for Senate to be involved in the passing of all laws either by the concurrence of the speaker that it doesn’t concern county or if it does concern county must be debated&considered by both houses. That is when you can call it an Act of Parliament.
For the last 6 years, National Assembly has made attempts to ignore the Senate especially hiding laws concerning county in miscellaneous amendments. We have used all mechanisms to resolve the impasse including the intervention of President Uhuru Kenyatta who has done his best. Since President has tried in the past to resolve the matter unsuccessfully I felt it was going to be rude inside the signing room for me to try and stop the head of state who had the services of Attorney General, Solicitor General and other senior officers from signing something I hadn’t even seen.
Health Laws in whatever form and stature are laws concerning counties and must be considered by Senate on behalf of the Counties. I updated the Senate and Country about the matter and we have resolved to go to court to annul all laws passed in contravention of Art.110 of the Constitution.
The matter of Bills in the National Assembly only comes to the notice of Senate when they referred to Senate Speaker for concurrence and when the bill is referred to Senate. Since none of the above happened in the purported Health Laws Amendment, Senate cannot be accused of complaining late.
Even where Senate, Senators or other Kenyans have complains against Bills passed by the National Assembly in violation of Art.110, there is always hope that the Bills will not be assented to into law. It’s only after being assented to that we can now properly challenge them in a court of law.
Finally on that matter I can confidently say that the Constitution is on the side of Senate and we shall soon know the truth and the truth will set us free when all laws passed in violation of Art.110 of the Constitution will be declared null and Void”.