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Weekly Newsletter - Issue No 159
30 October - 6 November, 2017

Editorial

You want to play your part? Take public participation seriously!

Since August 8th the country is being treated to a showdown between opposition NASA and the Jubilee government, it’s easy to imagine the country is split down the middle between opposition and government, but that’s a half truth. There is a good chunk of Kenyans who care less who is president-these are middle upper class and upper class.

Well, that was the case until now. It’s no longer business as usual.

The bungled August 8th elections by IEBC was only a symptom. The real disease can be diagnosed when we look keenly at how these independent institutions are formed and key office holders appointed.

Prior to the 2010 Constitution, institution capture by politicians was so obvious that people preferred settling cases out of court for fear that justice would be sold to the highest bidder. This was true of other independent institutions like the Anti-Corruption commission. They were cosmetic institutions whose only aim was subterfuge.

First forward to post-2010 constitution and there’s little to celebrate in this regard. And while we may want to blame appointing authorities and politicians in general; it’s time we also took up the blame. While we could play victim in the Moi and part of Kibaki regime it’s immoral to play victims now.

Despite the constitution for the first time allowing Kenyans to be involved in the law making process, majority Kenyans have treated the exercise with near contempt that has made us live with bad laws that beget toothless institutions that we now endure rather than enjoy.

News of the Week

The House Committee Headache

National Assembly resumed sitting Tuesday 7th and are expected to begin efficient running of the House business yet key functional committees are not yet formed. Jubilee which controls majority has signaled it will proceed with the exercise if NASA continues to dilly dally over positions of Minority Leader, Deputy Minority Leader, and opposition Whip and Deputy Whip. Speaker Justin Muturi had warned the opposition coalition that he would not hesitate to ask the party that qualifies to submit names to do so as some of the affiliate parties in NASA don’t qualify.

NASA had previously submitted a controversial list that their leaders refused to acknowledge. Watch dog committees: Public Accounts and Public Investment Committees have always been reserved for the opposition. It’s not clear how this will play out should Jubilee go ahead with the exercise without their NASA counter-parts. Already the House Business Committee and the Committee on Selection have been formed without NASA MPs.
 

Is a Parliamentary system the way to go?

Jubilee leaders close to the president and his deputy have been reported in the local media as mulling over a parliamentary system as a mitigation measure against the election fights. The current presidential system that is a winner takes all appears to create more rifts in the country as those who lose are dimmed to have been left in the cold. Considering the voting pattern in Kenya, those in the opposition stronghold tend to feel disenfranchised.

The National Council of Churches in Kenya (NCCK) appears to be suggesting the same arguing that there’s a need to accommodate poll losers by allowing for position of leader of opposition; insisting on creation of position of Prime Minister. Currently the position of the President and Deputy President are the most powerful and popular. This might signal the first step towards amendment of the constitution as the opposition leader Raila Odinga has been quoted in the past as favoring a parliamentary system. With Jubilee leadership in agreement, we might be going for a referendum soon.

 

Number of Committees drop in the 12th Parliament

Activist Okiya Omtatah has sued the State over the controversial Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2017 over what he says attempts to make unqualified personnel perform functions of the Chair. The amendment laws allows for the electoral agency to announce the results of a presidential poll in the absence of the chairperson.

The Activist also took issue with the lowering of quorum to three from the previous five saying it would create two factions and that the undermining of the role of technology diminished the transparency process. The Bill effectively became law on 27th October, 14days after the president acknowledged receipt. Though he did not sign the Bill it remains law and the AG’s office is expected to gazette it as such unless the court agrees with Activist Omtatah’s petition.  

Parliament now gobbles 2% of the national budget from 0.88%

The bicameral parliament we adopted is now a burden to the Kenyan tax payer taking up between KES 23-26 billion per year. Debates are rife over whether Senate was really necessary and if the County Assemblies are competent enough to make county laws. The previous unicameral parliament with only 222 members was spending about KES 10.8billion per year compared to the current one with 418 members. The Senate has maintained they are an important part of the August House even though the last election has seen majority quit office to run for Governor, MP and even MCA position.
 

   
Parliament goes on recess after a day

National Assembly resumed sitting on Tuesday 7th November, 2017 after 3weeks leave only to adjourn the House today 8th November for another two weeks. The MPs will resume session on 29th November 2017.

Quote of the Week

"The I.G sent so many police officers to Nyanza on the eve of October 26th elections with machines, vehicles...why can't we deploy that kind of force to protect the people of Kenya when we deploy them to protect ballot boxes?"

Quote by Suba South MP, John Mbadi when addressing the press concerning alleged harassment of the residents of Migingo Island by Uganda Police on November 8, 2017

 

Lest we forget

"The reality is that ethnicity is the elephant in the room and time has come for this country to address ethnicity."

Sentiments by former Mandera Central MP Hon. Abdikadir Mohammed when debating the National Ethnic and Race Relations Commission Bill on July 3, 2008.

Read the Hansard

Newsmaker this Week

Hon. Richard Onyonka made news this week after winning his re-election for the Kitutu Chache South Parliamentary seat. Elections in this constituency had been postponed following the death of the Jubilee candidate Leonard Mwamba. Hon. Onyonka won his third term with 45.86% in an election with a low voter turnout yet. Though he won on a Ford Kenya ticket (affiliated with opposition NASA) he had decamped from his ODM party to Jubilee and back to ODM then finally Ford Kenya. It turns out his gamble paid as he trounced both the Jubilee and ODM candidates.

... PROFILE

Bills before the National Assembly

First Reading
THE PETROLEUM (EXPLORATION, DEVELOPMENT AND             PRODUCTION) BILL
- NO. 40 OF 2017
Sponsored by the Leader of Majority Party Hon. Aden Duale
THE ENERGY BILL (NATIONAL ASSEMBLY BILL NO. 41 OF 2017)  
- NO. 41 OF 2017
Sponsored by the Leader of Majority Party Hon. Aden Duale
THE NAIROBI METROPOLITAN AREA TRANSPORT AUTHORITY BILL 
- NO. 43 OF 2017
Sponsored by the Leader of Majority Party Hon. Aden Duale
THE NAIROBI METROPOLITAN AREA TRANSPORT AUTHORITY BILL
- NO. 43 OF 2017
Sponsored by the Leader of Majority Party Hon. Aden Duale
Second Reading
THE PHYSICAL PLANNING  BILL
- NO. 34 OF 2017
Sponsored by the Leader of Majority Party Hon. Aden Duale
Third Reading: Committee of the Whole House

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