Weekly Newsletter - Issue No 220
21 January - 27 January, 2019


Kenya needs stronger ideological parties for a healthy democracy

Since the March 9th handshake the country has experienced relative peace and unity. However, questions still linger nearly one year later about what that gesture between the President and his Opposition counterpart really meant for the ordinary Wananchi beyond a peaceful environment to go about their business.

More importantly, what does this mean for political parties and their role in shaping democracy? While the meeting sealed by a handshake was between two individuals, their followers and political parties they lead fell in line albeit shakily trumpeting the same message of building bridges.

For nearly a year, the opposition coalition NASA has failed to actualize its mandate as the opposition. Despite numerous economic scandals involving high ranking government officials, the opposition parties have remained ineffective. In fact, the better part of the year was treated to infighting among the coalition partners who felt “left out” whatever that means. Which in itself reveals a rather ugly underbelly of the opposition coalition. Were they really in it for the change or for the ‘spoils’?

And if a leading opposition party like ODM chose to “work with the government” what does this mean for other political parties in the opposition like Ford Kenya, ANC and Wiper? Outside of the coalition that brought them together to challenge Jubilee, what is their ideology? Are they able to pronounce themselves on the ills in the society allegedly perpetuated by the government?

Interestingly, all these three parties now appear to have joined ODM in supporting the handshake’sBuilding Bridges Initiative (BBI) task force that’s going round seeking views of Kenyans on the way forward for the country. They’ve all submitted their proposals with the exception of Wiper Party – which is also likely to give its views going by the mood of its party leader, Kalonzo Musyoka.


News of the Week

President's Directive Strengthens Chapter Six of the Constitution

President Uhuru has asked the Attorney General to draft a Bill that will help address the issue of conflict of interest that’s gotten many senior public officers entangled in corruption scandals. The President while speaking at the two-day anti-corruption conference at the Bomas of Kenya said public officers will have a simple choice; serve in the public or remain in private business. He promised not to relent on the fight against corruption.

In the recent past many senior public servants have been paraded in court for allegedly engaging in business with the government that led to unfair practices and loss of millions in tax payer's money. This Bill if presented to Parliament, passed and signed into law will strengthen the Chapter on Integrity and help deal decisively with corruption resulting form conflict of interest.

Speaker Muturi Accuse Media of Misrepresenting the Facts on the Public Service Bill

National Assembly Speaker, Justin Muturi accused the media of misleading the public on the Public Service Bill that's set to increase MPs allowances among other benefits. The Speaker said only the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) was by law capable of raising the salaries of members of Parliament. He proceeded to say that the Bill had no proposal to raise salaries and that if it did it would be rejected on unconstitutional grounds. The controversial Bill if passed will see all the 416 MPs get GK vehicles despite the car grants offered them at the beginning of their session in Parliament - complete with government drivers and fuelled by the taxpayers among other benefits. 

More Political Parties Give Views on Building Bridges Initiative

The March 9th handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Opposition leader, Raila Odinga has scored some major points in recent times following the support for referendum by major political parties as seen in their proposals to the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI). Ford Kenya added its voice to the ongoing referendum debate. The party now says there’s need to amend the Constitution to have a parliamentary system of government.

In addition they want a review of electoral laws to ensure credible elections. The party also adopted a report from the technical committee that was created to come up with proposals for the Building Bridges to National Unity Task Force - a product of the BBI. In the same breath, ODM party technical committee has prepared a report to amend the Constitution that will be presented to the BBI unity task force. The report proposes a non-renewable term of 7 years for the president and an introduction of the Prime Minister Post and deputies. 

The report also proposes to elevate the Senate to the Upper House and introduce 14 regional governments on top of the national and county governments. ANC through their party leader had already signalled that they will support a referendum to amend the Constitution and create a more inclusive government. Jubilee is likely to give a similar view considering the party leader President Kenyatta is one of the key people behind the Building Bridges Initiative following the March 9th handshake. 

Quote of the Week

“You put 30 accused persons on one charge sheet, they are represented by 30 lawyers. How long do you think that will take? Those kinds of cases will never move,”

Quote by Chief Justice David Maraga while responding to accusations that the Judiciary was the weakest link on the fight against corruption. He said this on January 26, 2019

Lest we forget

"Sometimes, when you look at our country, you must ask yourself: Are we really having too much Constitution and very little constitutionalism?"

Sentiments by former Rarieda MP, Hon. (Eng.) Nicholas Gumbo when debating the motion on the Presidential address on March 22, 2011.

Read the Hansard

Newsmaker this Week

Coast MPs, Aisha Jumwa (Malindi) and Suleiman Dori (Msambweni) made headlines this week after ODM National Executive Council (NEC) recommended their expulsion from the party on grounds that they were advancing the interests of another party. The accusations leveled on the two are that they’ve openly campaigned for Deputy President William Ruto as President Uhuru’s successor in 2022. The NEC ordered the Minority Whip in the National Assembly, Junet Mohamed to remove the two from any committees having notified the Speaker. The two Coast rebel MPs will know whether they will lose their seats next month when the National Governing Council (NGC) meet to ratify the decision by the NEC. MP Aisha Jumwa thanked the party leader for giving them a chance to explain themselves before the NEC and said in the spirit of the handshake, this too wasn't beyond forgiveness.

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