Deputy Senate President Fatou Harerimana on Tuesday tabled before the Lower House of Parliament a new bill seeking to revise functions of the senate in order to harmonise provisions with the newly amended Constitution.
The move follows revision of the 2012 Organic Law which was initiated by the senate last year to help align senate roles and responsibilities with fundamental principles.
Submitting the bill, Senator Harerimana told members of the Lower House that since the constitutional amendments a lot has been changed in terms of provisions regarding the mandate, terms of office, ordinary and extraordinary sessions up to the power of senatorial commissions.
“This same law was initiated in line with article 88 of the Constitution on right to initiate and amend laws, we thought of repealing the 2012 [organic] law to accommodate the new responsibilities and the senate’s new mission,” she said.
While the mandate of the senate has not entirely changed, Senator Harerimana told lawmakers that part of the changes are related to new approaches of integrating fundamental principles in senate’s daily work; revising terms of office for senators, and reduction in legislation handled by the senate, among other things.
“For example while a senator’s term of office, before, was a non-renewable eight years, the bill , once approved will provide that a senator will sit for a five year renewable term, and this particular law sought to determine its practicability,” she said.
“For a senator who is elected in the middle of the term, the law provides modalities in which he or she is elected and whether that senator will be allowed to serve the remaining term,”
Once enacted, the senatorial committees assigned with different dockets will incorporate in the daily businesses specific fundamental principles in line with their special docket.
According to the newly revised Constitution, the principles are about prevention of the crime of genocide, fighting against genocide denial, ideology and revisionism; eradication of discrimination and divisionism based on ethnicity and promotion of national unity.
The principles also cover equitable power sharing; building a state governed by the rule of law, a pluralistic democratic government; developing a state committed to promoting social welfare and constant quest for solutions through dialogue and consensus.
The changes according to senators will streamline laws that are supposed to be sent to the senate, revise joint legislative activities with the Lower Chamber; set benchmark in assessment of the fundamental principles especially on how committees work and how consultative discussions should be done.
Senator Harerimana further argued that the changes are particular about methods and senate approaches to work thoroughly on fundamental principles.
This includes how we analyse, assess and plan accordingly; so far we have set medium and long term benchmarks which will allow us to assess principles in all sectors, she said.
In their reaction, members of the Lower House commended the proposed changes.
They called on the senate to make sure its mission is in line with what the country has committed to achieve and that it has exhausted all means to make the Organic Law flexible and efficient.
“I want to assume that before this bill was drafted, you took in mind the experiences in other countries,” said MP Nurah Nikuze.
“Also during the commission scrutiny, make sure some provisions governing the holidays granted to senators, before the closure of the third semester are in line with other laws,” added MP Edda Mukabagwiza.
The 2012 Organic Law establishes the commencement and closure of the plenary sitting business; responsibilities of the Bureau of the Senate; appointment, taking oath and replacement of senators; establishment of standing committees and their composition, functions and conduct of the senate.