Interview: “We Are Going In For Effective Take-off”
Senator Andrew Otte Moffa, Questor at the Senate, talks on the Standing Orders signed by the Head of State.
The standing orders of the Senate have just been promulgated by the Head of State. What has changed in the new text?
It is an old text that we voted. The senators are the major people who contributed in drawing up this law and this was done far back in June 2013. This is the copy that was sent for promulgation. After the committee that was put in place to draw up the Standing Orders of the Senate did their job, they had to forward it for appropriation to the authorities that be; the Supreme Court and the Presidency. It was that procedure that must have delayed. It is not a new law per say, it is what the Senators bargained for.
The text in its Section IV calls for the collaboration between the bureaus of the Senate and the National Assembly in scheduling parliamentary sessions. How was that done before?
The collaboration has always been there. You know if the two houses do not collaborate, things cannot function smoothly. Whether written or unwritten, it is imperative and incumbent on the two presidents to concert in order for the laws to be smoothly examined at the level of the National Assembly before being sent to the Senate for a second reading. I think that Standing Orders or not, the two houses are bound to collaborate for the smooth functioning of the two houses.
Since the upper house has just been introduced, it was just normal that consultation has to take place for the laws to quickly leave the National Assembly and come to the Senate since the one-month time allocated for the two houses is a bit small. The collaboration has to be very imperative for the two houses.
The text also takes away accumulation of functions by some members of the House. Will that have any impact in the Senate?
You know accumulation of functions is at the level of ELECAM too. It is not new. We are borrowing laws from the constitution and from the Electoral Code. It is the Head of State who appoints and he appoints by decree. He has the right to appoint a Senator to oversee the smooth functioning of a service when he deems it necessary.
It is clearly written in the Constitution. He can always prolong the mandate for additional two years. Since the Standing Orders are just coming now, maybe at the level of validation next year those things can be looked into. I think the whole thing depends on the Constitution and the laws governing ELECAM and the Standing Orders of the Senate should be looked into at the level of the Senate.
With the promulgation of the Standing Orders now, would you say the Senate is now complete?
I can say so because we must understand that everything is about the law. You know we were in a transition (a period we were waiting for the Standing Orders to be promulgated to law). I believe that with the coming of the law, there will be effective take off of the Senate because most of the actions will be based on the standing orders that have been validated. So when we are acting, we will be citing those laws which we might have been quoting before but not with a loud voice. Now I think that we have been given the authority to quote those laws now while acting. I think that we are going in for effective take off”.