NGOs want Cabinet axed from law process

July 25, 2011 2:18 pm

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 25 – Six civil society organisations have kicked up a storm by asserting that the Cabinet should not be involved in the formulation of Constitution implementation Bills, arguing that its role is not recognised by the supreme law.

National Civil Society Congress head Morris Odhiambo said that the Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution (CIC), the Attorney General (AG) and the Kenya Law Reform Commission (KLRC) were the only actors tasked by the Constitution to facilitate the implementation process.

Mr Odhiambo said that the Cabinet had no role to play in the process as it was not authorised by the Constitution to approve the Bills before they were tabled in Parliament.

He added that bureaucracies created by the Cabinet were slowing down the implementation process, noting that four Bills which are required by August 27 were held up at the Cabinet level.

“The Constitution does not say that the Cabinet has to approve the Bills for the implementation of the Constitution before they are taken to Parliament.  So when the Cabinet insists on approving Bills, it’s like saying that the CIC should not be there,” he said.

Articles 4b and 6b under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution indicate that the CIC, in consultation with the AG and KLRC, is tasked with approving the Bills.

Mr Odhiambo further accused the Cabinet of flouting the Constitution by altering Bills that had been submitted to it including the Political Parties Bill (before it was published).

He also expressed his concerns at the unhealthy competition that was emerging between various government institutions over the implementation process.

Already the ministries of Finance and Local Government are involved in a tussle surrounding the Bills on devolution with the Treasury insisting that the devolution taskforce overstepped its mandate when it drafted financial bills touching on devolution.

However, the taskforce maintains that it is best placed to handle the financial aspects on devolution based on its works so far and its mandate.

Mr Odhiambo noted that such issues had the potential of derailing the Constitutional implementation process.

He also said that it was crucial for the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission to establish a fair formula through which to meet the one third gender threshold on representation in preparation for next year’s polls.

“It is good that we are having this debate now but if we don’t properly sieve some of the proposals that we are making, we might end up breaching the Constitution,” he said.

Kenya National Commission on Human Rights commissioner, Hassan Omar, also called for the timely passage of crucial Bills so as to avoid rushing through the process.

He also proposed that the implementation actors focus on drafting single conclusive Bills on various topics.

“It is very difficult to engage on many Bills so we need to condense them into wholesome laws. Kenyans don’t even read brochures,” he quipped.

He further asked the government to allocate more resources to the implementation of the devolution structures.



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