When 65-year-old Moses Masika Wetangula assumes office as the 8th Speaker of the National Assembly, as every Speaker before him, Wetangula will nominate a committee that will assist in running the House. This is known as the Speaker’s Panel and operates under the form of an Executive Committee. Besides the Speaker and his Deputy, four other Members of the House form the Chairperson’s Panel and normally assist the substantive Speaker and the Deputy Speaker in presiding over the House Proceedings, and during the Committee of the Whole House. The Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly is Gladys Boss Shollei.
The panel is appointed for the tenure of a term of parliament (five years) and may be replaced at the behest of the Speaker in consultation with the leader of the nominating party. The panel meets weekly to consider arising procedural issues and the challenges of presiding in the House with the Deputy Speaker serving as the Chairperson.
How the Speaker’s Panel is Constituted
- Four Members of Parliament are nominated by the Speaker of the National Assembly in consultation with parliamentary parties, with the concurrence of the Assembly at the commencement of a new House. This is known as the Speaker’s Panel.
- The Four members are ranked as the First, Second, Third, and Fourth Chairpersons of Committees and are entitled to exercise all powers exercisable by the Deputy Speaker. At least one member of the panel is from either gender.
- The members known as the First, Second, Third, and Fourth Chairperson of Committees exercise all powers vested in the Chairperson of Committees.
- The First, Second, Third and Fourth Chairpersons are in Order of Precedence. Seniority in this case is according to experience gained by the Members which is highly reliant on their longevity of service in the legislature.
- The Deputy Speaker also serves as the Chairperson of the Members of the Chairperson’s Panel.
What is the Role of the Speaker’s Panel?
- Moderating of the plenary sessions of the House by ensuring acceptable decorum of and respect for the presiding officer throughout the plenary sessions.
- The Presiding officer may call out Members on disorderly conduct and punish them as per the provisions of the Standing Orders. The presiding officer may order that a person withdraw from the House or the Committee if in her or her opinion there are justifiable reasons for the exclusion.
- Adjourning the House.
- Ensuring the requisite quorum in the House during voting/division.
In the 12th Parliament under Speaker Justin Muturi, the Members of the National Assembly’s Speaker’s Panel included: Hon. Patrick Mariru (former MP Laikipia West), Hon. Jessica Mbalu (re-elected MP Kibwezi East), Deputy Speaker, Hon. Moses Cheboi (former MP Kuresoi North), Hon. Soipan Tuya (former Narok County Women Representative) & Hon. Chris Omulele (former MP Luanda). All eyes now turn to Speaker Moses Wetangula and Deputy Speaker Gladys Boss Shollei for the list of nominees of the Speaker’s Panel.