NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 20 – The Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) has raised the red flag over the last-minute rush of preparing and tabling Bills before Parliament, saying the country risks passing laws that are unconstitutional.
Speaking to Capital News, FIDA Chairperson Naomi Wagereka observed that Members of Parliament have to deal with the backlog of more than 10 laws in less than a week’s time, following the slow pace by the Executive to facilitating the process.
She argued that it would be better to extend the August 27 deadline to give more time to scrutinise the Bills, but noted it appeared too late to call for an extension.
“We knew for a whole year that we had a deadline to meet but it’s not surprising because this is a political process. So at this late stage we have to call upon the MPs, especially those who are progressive, to keep guard,” she urged.
The Cabinet has in the past week approved four other Bills including the Elections Bill, the Independent Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission Bill 2011, the Power of Mercy Bill 2011 and the Kenya Heroes Bill 2011.
The Political Parties Bill, the Kenya National Human Rights Commission Bill, the National Gender Commission Bill, the Commission on Administrative Justice Bill as well as three policing Bills are before Parliament for debate.
The Cabinet was scheduled to meet on Saturday to deal with four other pending Bills, as it moves to beat the fast approaching August 27 deadline, before forwarding them to Parliament.
Ms Wagereka further observed that the gains of the Constitution would be lost if the laws were not implemented in totality.
“You know the process has already begun and at least Parliament is determined to pass them so they have to work; let them work 24 hours. After all we are paying them too much and they are not even paying taxes,” she quipped.
On Thursday the Constitutional Implementation Oversight Committee (CIOC) revealed it had handed back all the Bills to the Cabinet for approval, after reviewing the attempts made by the Executive.
The CIOC has also requested for the amendment of standing orders so as to shorten the publication period of the policing bills from 14 to six days. Members of Parliament are also likely to sit for longer hours this coming week to ensure that they meet the tight timelines.
Ms Wagereka further expressed confidence that Kenyans would be able to meet the two-thirds gender representation requirement. She criticised those who have, in the past, said it would be impossible to meet the provision arguing that women have the numbers.
On Thursday the Cabinet kicked up a heated debate when it said that it had set up a taskforce to prepare a Constitutional Amendment Bill to deal with the “unattainable” one third gender representation requirement.
“We carried out a population census, which is very clear; that women have never been a minority in this country so the issue of women not being there to fill up these positions is a myth which is being created by the political class and they are anti reformists,” retorted Ms Wagereka.
Meanwhile Saboti MP Eugene Wamalwa has also urged fellow legislators to ensure that all the crucial laws are passed before the deadline as they will be held liable for any delays.
He further called on the youth to come out and vie for leadership positions so as to facilitate a generational change. Mr Wamalwa, who is also eyeing the presidential seat, added that he would unveil his running mate early next year.
“When you are a young man and you are trying to swim with the big boys, who consider themselves heavy weights, they look at you as something out of the ordinary. But I have programmes running up to December so I will pick a running mate beginning of the new year,” he told Capital News in an interview.