For many of us, if we were asked to describe the role of the Sergeants-at-Arms (SAA), the first quick guess would be that they are the prefects of the House. And if we were to expand that scope the next best thing is the ceremonial aspect of the role; the men and women dressed in green (and blue for the Senate) and always looking dapper either during the Speaker’s procession at the commencement of each sitting of the House or State opening of Parliament, and other commemorative events.
While in fact the role of the Sergeants-at-Arms is keeping members of the National Assembly and the Senate from throwing punches at each other and sometimes forcibly removing disorderly members from the houses, their duties transcend beyond all that.
The duties of the Sergeants-at-Arms (SAA) include:
- Enforcing the Standing Orders, Speaker’s Rules and Orders to ensure order and decorum.
- Maintaining custody of the mace.The Mace is the symbol of Parliamentary authority and it is the duty of the SAA to protect, secure and maintain it. The SAA carries the Mace during the speaker’s procession into the Chamber and during the rise of the Senate.
- Ensuring protective security for all persons and property and advises the Speaker and the Clerk on the same.
- Performing chamber duties which include ensuring that all members are registered in the Biometrics system and are logged in when entering the Chamber. In addition SAA ensures that all members are registered manually during plenary sessions as a back-up measure for purposes of maintaining the record of attendance for payment of sitting allowance.
- Performing ceremonial duties which involve supporting members of Parliament in events such as, State opening of Parliament, Visiting Head of State Address, and Annual State of the Nation Address by the President. This responsibility extends to State functions during the laying of wreaths at the Mausoleum of the First President, the Late H. E Mzee Jomo Kenyatta.
- Providing interdepartmental and chamber support services.
- Allocating office accommodation to Senators and staff and conference rooms to Committees.
- Ensuring fire prevention and safety of the facilities.
- Ensuring compliance with occupational health requirements/standards.
- Accessing control management.
- Crowd management.
- Ensuring desirable housekeeping standards.
- Maintaining decorum within the precincts of parliament.
- Disaster preparedness and mitigation.
- Investigating incidents.
- Coordinating parliament police.
- Disseminating relevant information to members through notice boards.
- Carrying out periodical security surveys.
- Conducting institutional risk assessment.
The Sergeants-at-Arms is appointed by the President, and is usually recruited from senior ranks in security agencies and administration.