The Roles of the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly
After Moses Wetangula was officially sworn in as the 8th Speaker in the history of the National Assembly on Thursday 8 September 2022, his first order of business was to preside over the election of the Deputy Speaker who will serve as his number two. And it was 48-year-old Uasin Gishu County Women Representative Gladys Boss Shollei who was elected Deputy Speaker after flooring Dadaab MP Farah Maalim 198 to 139 votes. With neither party garnering the requisite 233 votes (or two-thirds of the House) the election was to proceed to the second round of voting. However, Maalim conceded before the vote went to the second round, thereby paving the way for Shollei’s swearing-in as Deputy Speaker.
Article 106 of the Constitution provides that there shall be a Deputy Speaker for the House of Representatives, who shall be elected by that House in accordance with the Standing Orders, from among members of the House. Thus unlike the Speaker who is an ex-officio member, for one to be elected as a Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, one has to first be a validly elected Member of Parliament.
What are the Duties of a Deputy Speaker?
Along with their nomination papers, interested Members-elect are also required to provide:
- Certificates and other relevant supporting documents, in accordance with Article 99(2) of the Constitution (which states that a person is disqualified from being elected a Member of Parliament if the person is among other reasons: a State officer or other public officer, other than a Member of Parliament; or has within the five years immediately preceding the date of election, held office as a member of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC); is of unsound mind; or an undischarged bankrupt; and is subject to a sentence of imprisonment of at least six months, as at the date of registration as a candidate, or at the date of election, among others.)
- At the First Sitting of the House, the Members-elect shall be sworn in, in accordance with the requirements of Article 74 of the Constitution and immediately thereafter the House shall proceed to elect a Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly in accordance with Article 106 of the Constitution.
What are the Roles of Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly
- The Deputy Speaker is the Chairperson of the Committee of the Whole House and also chairs the Liaison Committee.
- He or she is the Chairperson of the Members of the Chairperson’s Panel, which comprises four members who assist the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker in presiding in the plenary.
- Under Article 107 (b) of the Constitution, the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly shall preside over the sitting of that House in the absence of the Speaker.
- The Deputy Speaker deputises the Speaker and assists in ensuring the dignity of Parliament is upheld, its rights and privileges are not abused and generally assists in the interpretation and application of the practices and procedures of Parliament at all times.
- In the event that the Speaker’s office falls vacant, the Deputy Speaker presides over the election of the new Speaker unless the Deputy Speaker is one of the candidates.
When Does The Deputy Speaker’s Office Become Vacant?
- The office of the Deputy Speaker shall become vacant when the new House of Parliament first meets after an election and if the office holder vacates office under Article 103. This includes the death of the member.
- If the House so resolves by resolution supported by the votes of at least two-thirds of its members.
- If the office holder resigns from office in a letter addressed to the House.