We need institutional reforms

May 26, 2008 12:00 am

, The recent move by the Labour Minister John Munyes to de-gazette the labour laws is exposing an apparent gap in our legal system besides eroding the little faith we Kenyans have in our public institutions.

The directive that comes against a backdrop of constant confrontation between employers and the workers has created more confusion than clarity.

The excuse that more consultations are needed put the credibility of our legal system on test.

Why did the government gazette the laws in the first place if at all they were faulty?

It is assumed that all stakeholders are involved in the drafting of Bills before they are passed. What the Minister is telling us is that this very important step was locked out. If that is the case, how many other faulty laws has Parliament passed?

We all can remember the vigour with which he showed support for the laws immediately after he took office and during this year’s Labour Day celebrations the Minister publicly backed COTU Secretary General in the quest for the same.

Where has the vigour and commitment gone?

On the other hand the country’s chief legal adviser ought to have advised the House and the President better. Did he abdicate his duty?

A claim by the Federation of Kenyan Employers that the contentious clauses were sneaked in, if at all true, further corrodes the credibility of the AG’s office.

But was FKE really in the dark for that long? To many they just want to evade paying their dedicated workers their benefits.

What the Minister ought to remember is that as he continues with the consultations more casual labourers continue to be exploited, women denied their full maternity leave, dedicated fathers their paternity leave, while those injured in the line of duty continue to suffer.

So many unanswered questions, but what is coming out clearly is that there are gaps to be filled. We definitely need more transparency in our state institutions if they are to be trusted.  As the state continues to lose high profile cases in court for lack of evidence more alarm bells are ringing.
The stumbling blocks are many: rampant corruption, sluggish processes, political interference, impunity to name but a few.

We all look forward to the time when we would regain full faith in our legal institutions.

We most certainly need institutional reforms!

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