, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 10 – Senators from the opposition Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) led by Minority Leader Moses Wetangula (Bungoma) have threatened to move to court to oppose the proposed amendments to the security law saying the Bill is seeking to curtail the freedoms enjoyed by Kenyans.
The legislators faulted the Bill saying the proposals were taking Kenyans back to the draconian days by infringing on their rights of expression and access to information while at the same time insisting that the Bill must have the input of the Senate as the insecurity instances affect counties.
“Any attempt to undermine the Bill of Rights will be resisted including going to defend the provisions in the Constitution in courts of law,” warned Wetangula.
“I think we are bringing the law relating to sedition through the back door—if you look at this Bill, it’s not only seeking to change our way of life, it is also trying to erode the democratic space established and donated by the Constitution and more so Article 19,” Orengo added.
They claimed that the Bill also lacked the certificate of compliance outlined in Article110 (3) showing that the two Speakers met and agreed on whether the Bill affected counties or not, a requirement that determines whether a bill will be forwarded to the upper House.
Owing to this, they urged the National Assembly to ensure that the security bill upon debate and eventual passing is forwarded to the Senate for debate, amendment or rejection pointing out that their role in protecting counties could not be by-passed especially in regards to legislation of laws that affect it.
“You cannot go and debate matters security without going to the House that is constitutionally vested with the authority to defend and protect devolution and counties,” said Wetangula
Wetangula who was flanked by Senator Amos Wako (Busia), Mutula Kilonzo Jr(Makueni), Boni Khalwale(Kakamega), Johnstone Muthama(Machakos) and James Orengo(Siaya) said they would use all means possible to ensure that the democracy enjoyed by Kenyans was not restrained further stressing the call for the involvement of the county government in discussing security matters.
“One can say without fear of contradiction maybe part of the failures of the security system is the non-active involvement of the county government and therefore I would be pleading, asserting and putting forward our idea that County governments must be actively involved in National Security issues not just as a matter of policy but as a matter of legislation—and there should be a legislative framework for that,” posed Wako.
The leaders further said the Bill failed to address the main causes of insecurity further insisting that although security was a national function, it directly affected counties and thus the need for their input.
“The problem with our security is not the inadequacy of legal provisions, the inadequacy in our country is borne out of corruption that has permeated and perverted the management of our security structures, is borne out of the ethnicisation of the running of security organs in the country, borne out of the outright malice and abdication of duties, inadequate intelligence among others,” stressed Wetangula.
They at the same time took issue with the passing of a Sessional Paper by the National Assembly Tuesday afternoon, increasing the national debt ceiling from Sh1.2 trillion to Sh2.5 trillion saying the Bill required their contribution as the issue affected counties.
“When you look at the revenue allocation structures, debt service is factored—the service of these debts that are escalating will be done by revenues collected from the counties, will also affect the quantum of resources being allocated to and disbursed to counties –the senate expects that this Sessional Paper be tabled for the Senate to debate and have a say on it,” said Wetangula.
Wetangula justified their concerns saying the debt burden needed to be addressed before it crippled the economy as the payment for the debts would spill over 40-50 years later.
On his part Busia Senator Amos Wako said functions as budgeting, finance, planning, public service and administration of justice which were reserved at the National Government were also intertwined with the functions of the county government and were thus the responsibility of the senate, and so was the issue of debt ceiling as it was a financial issue.