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Weekly Newsletter - Issue No 201
27 August - 2 September, 2018

Editorial

As we celebrate the 8th birthday of our constitution, we mustn’t forget how far we’ve come

Eight years ago on 27th August 2010, the current constitution was promulgated after years of strife and struggle. Every objective legal analyst agrees that it was such a huge leap from the largely oppressive document that seemed to have been revised over time to favor the president.

The current constitution elevated the people to hierarchical supremacy, with every other institution deriving its mandate from the people. It also emphasized on the rights of citizens as a fundamental tenet. It has been hailed world over as very progressive and liberal.

We could say it was such a revolutionary act that the civil society and the government made it their aim to have this document everywhere and in every format possible. Unfortunately, a huge population of the young generation did not intrinsically interact with the old constitution. Unlike the old constitution that many only knew was bad but couldn’t cite it; you are likely to find a number of ordinary wananchi today, citing the constitutional provisions of the 2010 constitution with astounding efficacy.

If we’re to really appreciate the 2010 constitution, it’s instructive to know how far we’ve come. Having some form of knowledge of the old constitution can help us in measuring the progress we’ve made so far.

Changes from the first Parliament

While so many Kenyans were excited about the 2010 constitution establishing the Senate to oversee county government and National Assembly overseeing national government; it wasn’t the first time we were having a bicameral parliament. The constitution we inherited in 1963 established two Houses of Parliament (The Senate and the House of Representatives).

There wasn’t much difference between the Parliament at independence and Parliament today, except that the membership has increased considerably. Prior to abolishing the Senate in 1966; effectively ending the bicameral Parliament, we had 41 Senators representing 40 districts and the Nairobi Area and 124 MPs in the National Assembly. And while the law did not bar any woman from vying, no woman was voted into the first parliament. During the elections, a total of 1.8 million votes were cast. In last year’s General Elections, we had more than 10 times that number registered to vote.

News of the Week

Anything to celebrate after 8years of a 'new' constitution?

August 27th, 2010 we promulgated the new Constitution. Among the many things the public celebrated in the new Constitution was the Chapter Six on integrity that was supposed to prevent corrupt public officers from occupying office. Eight years later we have seen corruption scandals increase and no senior public officer directly responsible like CSs whose ministries were heavily involved convicted in court.

The constitution also gave a lot of attention to gender parity outlining two-thirds gender be streamlined in Parliament and key public institution. This has not been realized either in Parliament where a Bill to ensure two-thirds gender has been defeated twice or the Executive where the number of women are far low compared to their male counterparts.

The Constitution further made lawmaking more open through public participation. Eight years down the line and public participation remains a ineffective as the public are not able to know whether Parliament considered their input or not.

What then can we celebrate since the promulgation of the 2010 Constitution? We can celebrate the spirit of the constitution; the intention to truly give power to the people. To that end therefore the people must safeguard the Constitution from those who seek to mutilate it. Consequently, we must push our lawmakers to implement the Constitution to the letter
 

IEBC commissioners who resigned sneak back to work 

IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati plays hard ball as two of the three commissioners who publicly resigned quietly, walked back to their previous positions. The two commissioners resigned in April 16th over what they termed poor leadership by IEBC. chairman. They have been requesting a meeting with the Chebukati who refused to see them asking they put their reasons on paper. It’s not clear whether the two have had a change of heart and now have confidence in the chair. It’s also emerging that Head of Civil Service never responded to Chebukati’s letter on the status of the two, four days after they publicly resigned.

MPs investigate corruption allegations at the ministry of Sports

MPs in the Public Accounts Committee were shocked to learn the ministry of sports deliberately gave contracts for services worth Sh.73 million to three companies with expired tax-compliance certificates during the IAAF under 18 World Youth Championships championship in 2017. The PS for sports asked for more time to provide relevant documents. The watchdog committee chaired by Ugunja MP, Opiyo Wandayi is also probing how Sh1.7billion meant for organizing the world event by the same ministry was lost as pointed out by the Auditor General.

MPs take on Department of Defence on Corruption allegations

The National Assembly, Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has summoned the Defence PS, Torome Saitoti over corruption allegations involving the restricted tendering at the Department of Defence (DoD). The watchdog committee chaired by Ugunja MP, Opiyo Wandayi is investigating among other things how senior officers at DoD allegedly fleeced the government billions of shillings by colluding with firms given tenders to hike prices for goods that would otherwise be bought cheaply.

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Parliament on recess

The two Houses of Parliament are on recess. Senate has not been in session since 10th August and will be resuming on 10th September.  The National Assembly on the other hand begun their recess on August 31st and will resume session on September 24th.

Quote of the Week

"The 11th Parliament enacted the VAT Act, 2013. In that law, Parliament introduced 16% VAT charge on all petroleum products. In that year the CS Treasury in his budget highlights suspended the operationalization [sic] of that law for 3 years.. and again in his budget highlights for 2016 he suspended it for another 2 years...meaning 1st September 2018, the law was coming into effect automatically."

Quote by National Assembly Majority leader, Aden Duale when speaking during an interview on the 16% VATwith Citizen TV on September 4, 2018

Read the Hansard

Lest we forget

"The Finance Bill...is an extremely important Bill. I want to raise two issues...I have read through the document and there are many things I do not understand. So, the Chairperson of the Committee must explain the amendments. I can see they are trying to amend some of the proposals from the Executive."

Sentiments by former Gem MP Hon. Jakoyo Midiwo when debating the Finance Bill (National Assembly Bill No. 27 of 2015) that sought to amend the VAT Act, 2013 on August 27, 2015.

Read the Hansard

Newsmaker this Week

Minority Chief Whip, Junet Mohammed made headlines this week  after his proposal to postpone the implementation of 16% VAT on petroleum products was unanimously endorsed by MPs. For a brief moment the public breathed a sigh of relief only for the Treasury CS to go ahead and implement the dreaded tax on 1st of September. The Suna East MP while asking for support from members of Parliament had said Parliament had been accused of being insensitive to the people's needs and this was a good time to change that perception. Unfortunately the decision by the CS to overlook Parliament's decision raises questions about whether the Executive is overstepping its mandate or MPs are taking Kenyans for a ride; considering they could have dealt comprehensively with the matter seeing as it was introduced to the House more than five years ago.

... PROFILE

Bills before the National Assembly

First Reading
Second Reading
THE URBAN AREAS AND CITIES (AMENDMENT) BILL
- NO. 04 OF 2017
Sponsored by the Leader of Majority Party Hon. Aden Duale
THE WAREHOUSE RECEIPT SYSTEM BILL
- NO. 10 OF 2017 - SENATE BILL
Sponsored by the Leader of Majority Party Hon. Aden Duale
THE HEALTH LAWS (AMENDMENT) BILL 
- NO. 14 OF 2018
Sponsored by the Leader of Majority Party Hon. Aden Duale
THE CONSTITUTION OF KENYA (AMENDMENT) (NO.2) BILL
- NO. 05 OF 2018
Sponsored by Hon. Chris Wamalwa
Third Reading: Committee of the Whole House
THE FINANCE BILL
- NO. 20 OF 2018
Sponsored by the Chairperson, Departmental Committee on Finance and National Planning, Hon. Joseph Kirui Limo
The Statute Law (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill
- NO. 12 OF 2018
Sponsored by the Leader of Majority Party Hon. Aden Duale
THE DIVISION OF REVENUE (AMENDMENT) BILL 
- NO. 14 OF 2018
Sponsored by the Chairperson, Budget and Appropriations Committee, Hon. Kimani Ichungwa

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