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The Parliament of Kenya is hosting the Fifth Society of Clerks-at-the-Table (SoCATT) Africa Region Professional Development Seminar, 2021 in Nairobi Kenya. The three-day long Seminar, under the theme “Promoting adaptive programming in Parliamentary settings as a response to emergency and emerging global, regional, and National challenges” was officially opened by the National Assembly Speaker Hon Justin Muturi, who is the Chairperson of the CPA Africa Region Executive Committee.

In his remarks, Speaker Muturi acknowledged the importance and timeliness of the Seminar, referencing the challenges that legislatures have endured in the last year. 

“This Parliamentary engagement is timely and very important in seeking to promote active participation of parliamentary staff in understanding programming tools in the wake of Covid -19 pandemic and deployment of workable adaptative measures during emergency in legislative processes that support the advancement of delivery of Legislative mandate.” Said Hon Muturi.

He stated that the seminar accords participants an enviable opportunity to re-examine their traditional practices and explore the effectiveness of adaptive programming approaches adopted by African Parliaments in response to Covid-19 within the context of Legislative progress and considering emerging challenges, opportunities for the realization of the advancement of democratic governance through legislation, representation and oversight.

The Clerk of the National Assembly of Zambia Mrs Cecilia Mbewe, who is also the Chairperson of SoCATT Africa, acknowledged the sacrifices and adjustments that most Parliaments across the world had to adopt, the lessons generated, and the good practices learned from the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic. She Urged the delegates to ensure that the lessons derived from this seminar are well documented and implemented even as the legislatures embrace the new adaptive frameworks  of carrying out legislative business.

The Clerk of the National Assembly of Kenya Mr Michael Sialai, who is also the SoCATT Africa Vice Chairperson, narrated the experiences and challenges faced by the Kenya National Assembly, in his keynote presentation on Examining the Effectiveness of adaptive Programming approaches adopted by African Parliaments in response to Covid-19. Mr Sialai who shared his personal experience having contracted Covid-19, outlined some of the measures taken by Parliament of Kenya during the pandemic. 

“We had to act first to ensure business Continued even as the crisis got worse. We had to review the standing orders, established a crisis management and response team to handle emerging situations, and agreed on the need to focus on only crucial business as the key legislative agenda,”said Mr Sialai.

In his remarks, the Clerk of the Senate of Kenya Mr Jeremiah Nyegenye, who is the Treasurer of the SoCATT Africa, underscored the timely nature of the seminar,emphasizing the irredeemable amount of time lost in the last year as legislatures tried to re-adjust their systems in a bid to cope with the Covid-19 pandemic. Giving a first-hand account of events as they unfolded in the Senate of Kenya, the clerk lauded the impressive milestones so-far achieved by both houses of Parliament of Kenya that ensured successful and timely completion of intended legislative agenda.

The Representative of the Regional Secretary for CPA Africa, extended deep appreciation of the Hon Speaker Muturi for his commitment and continuous support for SOCATT activities, and the hospitality shown to the delegates by the Kenyan parliament in this process. In his remarks, he stated that for parliaments and MPs to successfully carry out their mandates, such consultative forums are critical, hence the coping mechanisms adopted by the parliaments to ensure continuity must be lauded and entrenched into our systems even beyond the pandemic.

Mr Dennis Omondi, the Country Director of the National Democratic Institute (NDI) acknowledged the consistent consultation and working together between NDI and the Parliament of Kenya, with great support from the houses’ leadership, stating that NDI continues to support parliaments in managing such situations as Covid-19 and guiding on strategies of readjustment of operations under such circumstances.

The Conference has brought together delegates (Clerks-at-the-Table) from Kenya, Botswana, eSwatini, South Africa(Gauteng Provincial Legislature, KwaZulu-Natal Legislature,Limpopo Provincial Legislature, Western Cape Provincial) Ghana, Malawi, Namibia, North West Legislature, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and the USA.

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