, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 23 – The Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) in collaboration with the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) held a business leaders forum on the Constitution during which participants were urged to support a Yes vote for the private sector.
KAM’s Standards and Regulatory Affairs Committee Chairman Polycarp Igathe advised businesses to support the Constitution which he said, was much better than the one that is currently in place.
“As far as we are concerned, the proposed Constitution is good and we should all support it. The problematic areas which are quite few can be dealt with during legislation which will be within the ambit of the National Assembly,” stated Mr Igathe.
Speaking during the meeting, participants noted that it had taken the country more than two decades to get a new Constitution since the current one was written during the colonial days and as part of the process in preparation for independence.
“It is a fact that we need a new constitution and the current one is no option because it has been problematic and facilitated unaccountable governance.” KAM Chief Executive Ms Betty Maina said.
Parliamentary select Committee on the Constitution, Chairman Mohamed Abdikadir noted that the proposed Constitution was much better than the current one noting that it is not possible for Kenya to have a perfect Constitution.
He noted that the Proposed Constitution largely responds to most of the issues that had been raised by Kenyans.
“Kenya has 40 million Kenyans, each with their own views. That is why it is not possible to have a perfect document. However, fortunately there are processes for amendments in place that can make the Constitution a better document,” said Mr Abdikadir.
A Committee of Experts official told participants that a No vote would mean that there would be heightened political uncertainty in the country which would result in higher risks for businesses and also scare away investors. He said, a Yes vote during the referendum would confirm Kenya’s integrity as a nation.
“A No vote would mean a lot of uncertainty before the 2010 elections. There will also be too much political discourse at the expense of economic issues,” he stated.
Ms Maina advised members of the private sector to be more vigilant after the Constitution is passed during the referendum so as to ensure the various Legislations take care of all their concerns.
She noted the fact that the proposed constitution was more progressive than current one in most instances and addresses the grievances that inspired the clamour for change in the country.
Nonetheless, she said the proposed Constitution is not overly perfect and some concerns still remain thus the need for continuous engagement by business groups on the implementation of the same.
Concerns and submissions of business have been taken into account in revisions since launch of the Harmonised draft last year. Nevertheless various concerns still remain and these can be handled via policy and legislation. Some of these problem areas include:
– Executive and its functioning
– Costs of government and emphasis on representation
– Clarity of functions of different levels of government and structure of devolution
– Property protection and especially the interests with regard to land
– Employer rights vis-a-vis employee rights
– Freedom of commercial speech
"However, all in all, we believe the proposed Constitution should be passed via a Yes vote and that Kenyans should seek to address their remaining concerns and problematic areas at the legislation stage," They said.