NAIROBI, Kenya, June 3 – Mombasa Senator Hassan Omar is proposing a Bill to provide a framework for the realisation of economic and social rights by National and County Governments to improve the lives of Kenyans particularly those classified in the cluster of the have-nots.
The Preservation of Human Dignity and Enforcement of Economic and Social Rights Bill, 2015 intends to ensure all Kenyans irrespective of their background have access to basic rights as outlined in the Constitution.
“This Bill will see that every person has access to the highest standards of health, accessible and adequate housing, is free from hunger, have access to clean, have social security and education,” said Omar.
Omar who was a commissioner in the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights decried the fact basic needs were being treated as campaign tools by the political elite so that Kenyans were made to believe that if they did not elect certain individuals they would not have access to certain basic rights.
“We have to make socio-economic rights obvious, human rights should not be treated as an exception,” he added.
He warned that if the bridge between the haves and have-nots was not closed, Kenya will be divided further, increasing the poverty index.
“It will no longer be a competition between the 42 tribes, but of two, the haves and have-nots. This Bill addresses the plight of the have-nots,” explained the Mombasa Senator.
Omar says the Bill will also ensure County Governments effectively deliver on the mandate instead of using the projects they have initiated as campaign tools.
“We also want to demystify that progress in a society is only about infrastructure, it is about making people better-off: We need to make those who are worse off better-off before we make those who are better off well-off. We will want to gauge governments as they go on how they better-off they left their people and not on how many highways they constructed,” he affirmed.
Apart from ensuring access to basic needs, it also seeks to ensure that every person can get reasonable standards of sanitation and basic nutrition for children.
“We have to remove development from highly itemized things because no one is delivering on other comprehensive programs required to meet other needs,” Omar added.
He said there is need to cushion the most vulnerable particularly the elderly by developing a social assistance kitty which will be crucial in ensuring they live a dignified life.
He went on to accuse the Commission for Revenue Allocation of failing to come up with an adequate framework on the utilization of the equalization funds saying the current formula left out many other counties especially urban ones which are grappling with congestion in the informal settlements.
He said they were also developing principles on the utilization of the funds to make sure that it covers a wider scope.
“We want to expand the horizon because there are Kenyans who are marginalized in the urban cities,” he added.
The Human rights activist said Kenya had been ranked highly among the most unequal countries in the world saying the Bill was adopted, it will see Kenya rise from those ashes.
He further stated that the Bill would develop strategies that were vital to reducing the soaring unemployment rates, revive failed policy interventions and in the end see a drop in the levels of corruption within and outside government which is blamed for the widening gap between the rich and the poor.