It is important for the general public to have an understanding of the work of the committees of the National Assembly. A National Assembly has power to make laws and to serve as oversight in the implementation of those laws by those who execute the policies and programmes of a central or local government.
In order to carry out oversight section 109 of the Constitution provides for the establishment of committees. These committees have power to send for persons and documents, in order to inquire into any matter of public interest. However, the committees are not courts. They do not pass judgments. They formulate resolutions and recommendations for laws to be enacted and operations to be improved.
Hence those invited before such committees should not feel or be made to feel that they are meeting adversaries. They should always feel that it is a norm for those charged with the responsibility of serving the public to be held to account. The Select Committee on Local Government and the Ombudsman is just one of those committees that is formed by the National Assembly to serve as oversight to the local government authorities and the Ombudsman. There should be no axe to grind between the committee and the KMC. There should be cooperation to ensure oversight.
Section 109 which creates the basis of the creation of the committees of the National Assembly reads:
“(1) The National Assembly shall appoint –
(a) a Public Appointments Standing Committee;
(b) a Finance and Public Accounts Standing Committee;
(c) a Standing Committee of Privileges;
(d) a Standing Committee on Defence and Security, and
(e) such other standing or other committees as it considers necessary for the exercise of its functions.
(2) Committees may be appointed –
(a) to investigate or inquire into the activities or administration of ministries or departments of the Government, and such investigation or inquiry may extend to making proposals for legislation; or
(b) to investigate any matter of public importance.
(3) For the purpose of effectively performing its functions, each of the committees shall have all of the powers, rights and privileges as are vested in the High Court at a trial in respect of –
(a) enforcing the attendance of witnesses and examining them on oath, affirmation or otherwise;
(b) compelling the production of documents;
(c) the issue of a commission or request to examine witnesses abroad.”