Cotu backs presidential system

January 24, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 24- The Central Organisation of Trade Unions has expressed support for the presidential system of government that was proposed by the Parliamentary Select Committee on the Constitution three days ago.

COTU Secretary General Francis Atwoli said at the weekend that a strong presidential system with checks and balances would unite Kenyans and fight corruption at all levels.

He argued that the existing hybrid system of governance in Kenya had created loopholes that allowed impunity and corruption to thrive.

“We are saying that a functional presidential system will keep us together, protect our boundaries and put Kenyans’ affairs into consideration. Kenya is a country that has tribal diversity and corruption really runs deep. Look at the hybrid system of governance; it’s like a snake that has no head or tail. You cannot tell who is leading who,” he said.

Mr Atwoli further explained that the hybrid system of governance had so far been pegged by corruption and theft with Kenyans losing billions of shillings in tax fraud.

“Kenyans continue losing property every day. We had the maize scandal where 5.8 million bags worth Sh23 billion disappeared then we had the oil scandal and Kenyans’ tax was again swindled,” he pointed out.

The union also took issue with human rights activists accusing them of derailing the constitution-making process.

“I am very grateful for the PSC but those human rights activists should stop interfering with the process and give the PSC time to conduct its duties. If we get to 2012 without a constitution, things might get chaotic and we don’t want that,” he said.

Mr Atwoli also emphasised the need for a new Constitution saying the time was right. He also asked the PSC to consider marginalized groups while recommending parliamentary seats to various groups of people.

“They have given women their seats and we now want the PSC to distribute the remaining 12 seats equally to workers, the disabled and the youth on Monday,” he said.

He alleged that the government was not committed to Agenda Item Four of the national accord and that it was instead focusing on things that would not benefit Kenyans.

“They have diverted their attention to other things; no one is talking about reforms and the Agenda Four package has the life of a Kenyan. It has institutional reforms, the constitution, land reforms, poverty eradication, empowering the youth by creating employment opportunities,” he said.

He said that the country’s gap between the rich and the poor would continue widening if the government failed to establish more public schools.

“I was shocked that the country does not have enough positions in secondary schools for those who sat for their primary school exams last year. The poor cannot afford to pay for private schools so their children will be left out,” he said.

He took issue with the government’s crackdown on illegal immigrants saying that the government should focus on nipping corruption at its roots. He explained that if the government wanted to permanently deal with the issue of illegal foreigners in the country then it had to change its systems and create effective checks.

He further alleged that foreigners bought their way into the country and obtained national identity cards through illegal channels.

“I am telling the government not to bother itself with deporting foreigners in the country. It should instead focus on cleaning its systems because if you are a foreigner who wants to get an Identity card, all you have to do is call with your Sh3,000 and are told to wait at your hotel. Before long you have an ID and come tomorrow you have already bought land and started developing it,” he said.


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