Weekly Newsletter - Issue No 186
14 May - 20 May, 2018


A Three Tier System of Government Won’t Strengthen Devolution

Kenyans have barely recovered from a long and gruelling election that threatened to tear the country apart and now some politicians are talking about changing the Constitution through a referendum. Yet, a referendum may end up pulling the country apart despite the handshake between bitter rivals, Mr. Kenyatta and Odinga which has brought about a semblance of peace and cohesion.

Some of the changes that are being flown left, right and centre are meant to change Kenya’s system of governance. A number of the proposals are just fancy and may not necessarily solve Kenya’s governance structural problems.

Take for instance, a referendum to have a Parliamentary system with a powerful Prime Minister and a ceremonial President. This is a debate that has a potential to divide the country into two. Numbers are at the centre of politics and there is a flimsy possibility in Kenya that a person elected by a group of 300 people would legitimately govern Kenya.

The proposal of an executive Prime Minister has always been suffocated by communities that have many votes but less representatives in Parliament. To date, there is no evidence showing that leaders especially from the Gikuyu community are willing to take this lying down.

On the other hand, there is a fancier proposal that wants to pursue a three tier system of government in Kenya. This debate was re-introduced by Raila Odinga recently when addressing Governors in Kakamega at the devolution conference.

Let us interrogate the ‘three tier’ system. Firstly, in a three tier system a country will have a national government on top. A regional government at the centre and local governments at the bottom. The National government may mean the government in Nairobi, regional governments may take the shape of the former eight provinces and finally county governments as they are, may remain at the bottom as local governments.

News of the Week

How to use data on MPs from our website

This week at least three national newspaper used data about Members of Parliament available on our site to write about lawmakers contribution in the House. We thus got a number of calls and complaints from MPs and their personal assistants, some wrongly accusing us of misleading the media. We thus had to release a press statement clarifying we had not done any report on MPs and took issue with one of the papers that insinuated we did a survey. While we appreciate the role we play in making Parliament more open to the public and indeed encourage use of the data on our site for purposes of research or newspaper article; we advise that anyone using the data do any of the following:

1. Reach out to us for a clarification or to confirm whether data is up to date. This will enrich your story or research.

2. Avoid using terms like, "survey by Mzalendo" as it makes it look like we have carried out a study which is not the case.

3. Issue a disclaimer to your readers informing them of any limitations regarding data you have recovered from our site.

4. Please note that we release a score-card on MPs annually and at the end of the Parliamentary year. We do this with the full knowledge that we have 349 MPs.  A score-card released after a full Parliamentary year gives ample time for any elected or nominated MP  to make their contribution on the floor of the House.

5. Considering the challenges Kenya had shortly after the August 8th polls that saw the opposition MPs abscond House sessions it would not have been prudent of us to release a 2017 score-card.

MPs threaten to reject NYS budget over the Sh. 9billion scandal

MPs in the National Assembly Committee on Labour and Social Welfare now say they will not approve budgetary allocation to the National Youth Service (NYS) so long as action is not taken on those behind the latest NYS scandal. The MPs told the CS Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs it was no longer prudent to continue pumping money into NYS as it did not offer value for money.

President Uhuru Kenyatta dismisses calls for referendum to change Constitution

President Uhuru Kenyatta breaks silence on the referendum debate, says his focus is to implement the big four. The debate to change the Constitution has been gaining momentum following the handshake and opposition leader Raila Odinga has intimated it was part of the issues discussed as part of the "Building Bridges initiative". However, the President while speaking at a meeting with the Private Sector said changing the Constitution will not solve anything but engaging with private sector on manufacturing will.

Top Parliament officials say Senate, National Assembly parallel probe good for Kenyans

As the Senate and National Assembly continue investigating similar cases, there rivalry continues to play out. Top House officials however feel the parallel investigations are healthy. The officials reason Kenyans will compare findings from both Houses and get the best out of it. Critics however, question if this is proper use of Taxpayer’s money. Meanwhile the chairpersons of committees on both Houses insist they’re within their mandate. The Senate’s Public Accounts and Investments Committee is probing Ruaraka land case at the same time as the National Assembly’s Lands Committee.

National Assembly on recess

National Assembly is on a long break that begun 4th May and ends 4th June.

Quote of the Week

"This is such a backward law. We shall repeal it. The creative industry is a much needed economic frontier for job creation."

Quote by Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja when responding to the proposals by the Kenya Film Classification Board (KFCB) to charge film makers licensing fees. The Senator made this remark on May 22, 2018

Lest we forget

"The stability of any nation is dependent on the Government’s ability to make sure that its people are self sufficient in food production and that whenever people want food, it is available."

Sentiments by former Kitui Senator David Musila when debating the motion on provision of cheap credit to farmers by the Agricultural Finance Corporation (AFC) on November 19, 2013.

Read the Hansard

Newsmaker this Week

Meru Senator Franklin Mithika Linturi made headlines this week after winning a court battle against the University of Nairobi (UoN) that deregistered  him as a law student on allegations that he used fake academic papers. The High Court ruled that he be awarded his law degree and UoN reinstate him as a post-graduate student. The Senator had sued the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC), UON, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), and the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP). EACC has nonetheless vowed to appeal the ruling.


Bills before the Senate

Second Reading
- NO. 05 of 2018
Sponsored by  Sen. Irungu Kang'ata
- NO. 07 OF 2017
Sponsored by Sen. Mutula Kilonzo Jnr.
- NO. 03 OF 2018
Sponsored by the Chairperson Standing Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs and Human Rights Sen. Samson Cherarkey
- NO. 06 OF 2018
Sponsored by the Chairperson, Standing Committee on Labour and Social Welfare Sen. Johnson Sakaja
- NO. 04 OF 2018
Sponsored by Sen. Amos Wako
- NO. 11 OF 2018
Sponsored by the Chairperson, Standing Committee on Finance and Budget Sen. Maalim Mohamud Mohamed

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Mzalendo Trust, Heinrich Boll Foundation,
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P. O. Box 21765 00505 Nairobi, Kenya

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