, NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 9 – The Constitutional Implementation Oversight Committee (CIOC) on Tuesday gave Justice Minister Mutula Kilonzo a six-hour ultimatum to hand over 16 Bills that ought to be passed by Parliament by the end of August.
The committee which held a meeting under the leadership of nominated MP Milly Odhiambo said the minister needed to hand over the Bills by 5pm, regardless of their status, citing concerns with the publication delays as the August 27 deadline draws closer.
Ms Odhiambo explained that the CIOC had already asked the implementation actors to make the Bills’ status report available by Tuesday to determine the way forward.
“We had agreed at the last meeting that there were certain things that had to be done by given dates and we were supposed to get an update today so after the end of business today then the committee will deal,” she said.
Gichugu MP Martha Karua had earlier asked Mr Kilonzo to cooperate with the CIOC to ensure that the constitutional implementation process was not delayed. She was also among those who insisted that all the Bills be submitted to the CIOC.
“We also agreed at last week’s meeting that all the Bills be given to this committee in whatever stage they are in. So our first question on all these Bills is do we have them so that we know what to do next,” she quipped.
The CIOC further revealed that it would propose that the article 59 commissions be separated into the Kenya National Human Rights Commission (KNHRC) and the National Gender Commission (NGC).
Ms Odhiambo added that the CIOC would review the KNHRC and NGC Bills, the Political Parties Bill and the Ratification of Treaties Bill before forwarding its recommendations to Parliament so as to fast track the implementation process.
“The CIOC has already divided itself into three subcommittees to help deal with these Bills and we will adopt whatever recommendations they have before taking them to Parliament,” she explained.
There was also a proposal by Ms Karua that the CIOC looks at five Bills per week before tabling them to the National Assembly to beat the deadline. Ms Odhiambo however said that the CIOC would figure out what to do once the 16 Bills were submitted to it.
Although staffing concerns were raised by assistant minister office of the Prime Minister Alfred Khang’ati (Kanduyi MP) on the Commission on Revenue Allocation Bill, the CIOC resolved to adopt it and allow it to proceed to the House saying it would be amended later.
Several MPs and individuals have however raised the red flag over the passing and enactment of shoddy Bills that will likely be passed by MPs without proper scrutiny.
“I’m afraid that these Bills will come to Parliament in lumps and we will not have enough time to scrutinise them properly. So we are going to pass Bills that are going to end at the High Court because they are unconstitutional,” said Kilome MP Harun Mwau when he visited the Kenya Red Cross Society on Monday.
The CIOC has also severally warned that it would take over the process of publishing the Bills from the AG, Cabinet and Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution and might sanction the Executive over the undue delays.
The legislators are already gearing up for an extension of sitting time to enable them debate and pass the 19 Bills in a record 20 days.
They can however, with the approval of the Speaker, extend the period needed to make the new laws by up to one year, but must garner a two thirds majority vote to pass such an amendment.
The CIOC however ruled out the possibility of extending the deadline saying they would strive to have all the Bills by August 27. Ms Odhiambo explained that once the Bills were submitted to the committee, the members would prioritise them and work on those that are most crucial.
“As a committee that is not an option we are looking at; the only option we have is meeting the deadline. We know we have 13 working days and so we are working with these 13 days; we will do whatever we have to do to ensure we don’t violate the deadline,” she said.