A Kenyan Member of Parliament (MP) has several responsibilities, functions and powers. After every 5 years, Kenyans choose their MPs, who represent constituencies. According to our constitution, these are the functions of the MPs.
Many Members also work on parliamentary committees, which examine the Government’s actions in detail. Up to 19 of the 93 Members may be Ministers. This includes the Premier who is the leader of the Government.
Role of Parliament
Article 94 of the Constitution states the following as the roles of Parliament:
- The legislative authority of the Republic is derived from the people and, at the national level, is vested in and exercised by Parliament.
- Parliament manifests the diversity of the nation, represents the will of the people, and exercises their sovereignty.
- Parliament may consider and pass amendments to this Constitution, and alter county boundaries as provided for in this Constitution.
- Parliament shall protect this Constitution and promote the democratic governance of the Republic.
- No person or body, other than Parliament, has the power to make provision having the force of law in Kenya except under authority conferred by this Constitution or by legislation.
- An Act of Parliament, or legislation of a county, that confers on any State organ, State officer or person the authority to make provision having the force of law in Kenya, as contemplated in clause (5), shall expressly specify the purpose and objectives for which that authority is conferred, the limits of the authority, the nature and scope of the law that may be made, and the principles and standards applicable to the law made under the authority.
Functions of Members of Parliament
The role of a Member of Parliament (MP) is a multi-functional one. They have a responsibility
to three primary groups in their capacity as:
• The elected representative of an electorate
• A Member of Parliament and
• A Member of a particular political party (the exception being for Independents).
Working in the electorate
Members of Parliament are the representatives of all of the constituents in their electorate. Their responsibilities are therefore often wide-ranging. The ways in which Members typically serve their constituents includes:
- Giving assistance and advice to those in difficulty
- Acting as a lobbyist for local interest group and special groups
- Deliberates on and resolves issues of concern to the people
- Being a communicator for their party’s policies and
- Playing an active community role.
To meet these responsibilities, local Members need to be active in their electorates to keep in touch with what is happening and to get to know constituents’ views and problems. Members must also give constituents help and advice, communicate the needs of their region to the Government, and promote their policies to the community.
Working in the Parliament
Members’ parliamentary functions may include:
• Enacting and debating proposed new legislation
• Scrutinising the actions of the Government and government departments as members of parliamentary committees
• Participating in general debates in the Chamber
• Attending parliamentary party meetings and
• Performing other duties within the parliamentary complex such as Deputy Speaker roles.
Working as a Member of a political party
Most Members of Parliament belong to a political party and are expected to contribute to the
development and amendment of their party policies. At the start of each parliamentary sitting week, MPs (with the exception of Independent members) will attend their respective party meetings where they will:
• plan strategies
• develop policies
• scrutinise proposed legislation and
• discuss parliamentary business.
In their electorates, Members’ party responsibilities may include:
• attending branch party meetings
• keeping their fellow party members well informed on policy decisions and other relevant information
• participating in party debate at branch level and
• generally representing the party at the electorate level.