, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 5 – The Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution (CIC) on Monday slammed plans by a section of lawmakers to abolish the Senate as provided in the new Constitution.
Chairman Charles Nyachae urged Kenyans to reject the proposal as it would hamper the gains envisaged by the Constitution by doing away with devolution structures.
He cautioned Kenyans against amending the law to serve short term interests saying they would derail all the reforms anticipated by the law.
Nyachae further called on Kenyans to engage in open dialogue in order to understand the provisions of the Constitution better and help ensure it was protected.
“We haven’t even established the Senate and we already want to abolish it. When you talk about abolishing the Senate then that is the thin end of the wedge in as far as the structure of governance is concerned,” he argued.
Ndaragwa MP Jeremiah Kioni, who is leading a caucus of MPs from Central Kenya in drafting the constitutional amendment Bill, argues that the Senate is a duplication of MPs’ roles. He feels that the structure should be done away with to remove the 68 seats in the Senate.
Garsen Member of Parliament Danson Mungatana also said he was opposed to any attempts by MPs to take a Motion to Parliament which seeks to abolish the Senate.
Mungatana said those working on the amendment should be seen as the greatest enemies of the devolved system of government because they want to take the country back to the 1960s.
“We must strongly oppose this attempt because it an argument that is not valid at all. Kenyans spoke during the referendum and they voted for the devolved system of government. How can we then turn back and start scuttling it?” Mungatana posed. “These are people trying to take us back to the way people were thinking in the 1960’s. This is exactly what the former President Kenyatta did to abolish the Senate. We are not going to allow this move at all.”
Addressing a press conference at Parliament Buildings on Monday afternoon, Mungatana told journalists the attempt of scrapping the Senate will ruin the gains the country has made under the new Constitution.
The Garsen MP said the argument brought forth that the Senate will be too expensive to maintain does not hold water because the government has an option of reducing MPs’ salaries to pay Senators.
“If anyone argues that the Senate is going to be too expensive to maintain, then MPs should not earn anything more than Sh300,000. The salaries commission should set this early enough so that those who want to contest will be coming in with a clear five year contract knowing they are coming for public service and those who do not want should go and look for jobs elsewhere,” Mungatana said.
Meanwhile, Gichugu MP Martha Karua has urged Kenyans to protect the new Constitution against those she termed non-reformers.
Karua challenged Kenyans to remain vigilant and ensure that the Constitution was implemented in totality noting that any slight slackening on their part risked jeopardising the gains of the law.
“We are at the nascent stages of implementing the Constitution and we should not relax; the struggle must continue because the forces of impunity are regrouping,” she said.
The chairman of the Kofi Annan Foundation and African Union Panel of Eminent African Personalities, Kofi Annan, also urged Kenyans not to lose focus on the need for far reaching reforms ahead of next year’s general election.
He also asked Kenyans to take ownership of the reform agenda.
Annan, who was speaking during the National Dialogue and Reconciliation Conference in Nairobi, called on Kenyans to ensure that the Constitution was implemented in a timely fashion in order to provide guidance for the next polls.
“It is also vital that the military action in Somalia does not distract Kenya’s domestic reforms. Aspiring politicians should take heed that the usual way of practicing politics in Kenya is no longer to be tolerated,” he challenged.
Annan however expressed concern that Kenya was yet to address the issues that led to the deadly 2007 post election violence noting that there was need to hasten the healing process.
“While our focus is on the future, we cannot forget the issues from the past which remain unresolved. The continued presence of IDPs in our midst constitutes an open wound which leaders must heal,” he observed.
Also present at the conference, was Prime Minister Raila Odinga who assured Kenyans of the government’s commitment in reforming key government institutions.
He asked Kenyans to rise above narrow sectarian interests in order to propel the country forward and to confront negative ethnicity.