NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 28 – A day after Kenya marked five years since the promulgation of the new Constitution, the Kenya Law Reform Commission has launched a guide to the legislative process in the country to enhance law making at both levels of government.
The guide according to the chairman Mbage Ng’ang’a will also be vital in improving the quality of legislation by equipping key players with the required tools of policy formulation.
“There has been a shortage in procedural and substantive guidelines for policy makers, legislators and the public. This guide seeks to address the complexities in generating policy and its interplay with legislation especially under the new Constitution so as to ensure that laws match the needs of society, ” said Ng’ang’a.
He added that the guide was also set on entrenching the concept of public participation among Kenyans to ensure they actively participate in the formulation of laws as in the recent past, the calls to submit views on Bills have received little or no concern.
Council of Governor’s Chairman in Charge of the Legal Affairs Committee Professor Kivutha Kibwana (Makueni) says the guide will boost the capacity of County Assemblies in drafting legislation.
“The Council of Governors expects to see more sound and robust legislation being enacted in the counties. In some instances, County Assemblies have rejected Bills on the basis of poor drafting – this will help us deal with substandard drafting,” said Kibwana.
He urged the stakeholders involved to review Bills that are currently before the National Assembly to ensure they don’t undermine devolution. He cited the Health Bill and the various land-related Bills.
“More than 25 Bills before Parliament and Acts already passed claw back on devolved functions including the Mining Bill, the Agriculture Fisheries and Food Authority Act among others contain provisions that undermining devolution by decentralizing power or ignoring county governments on matters that affect them, ” added Kibwana.
He urged the two Houses of Parliament to engage the counties in the policy making process to ensure harmonization of the proposals stating that this would remind Kenyans of the sovereignty of the levels of government.
“As devolved governments take shape, there are a myriad of challenges, we must therefore develop laws that deal with these challenges,” he said.
He also pointed out that the guide would assists the County Assemblies come up with laws that are consistent with the existing laws.
Education Cabinet Secretary Jacob Kaimenyi who was in attendance noted the shortage of constitution drafters saying it was wrong that the country had to employ the services of external individuals yet there was talent among Kenyans.
“Years after independence we should not be outsourcing,” he retorted.
Solicitor General Njee Muturi who represented the Attorney General in the event welcomed stakeholders to support the commission as it embarked on an audit of all the laws enacted after the promulgation of the constitution.
In attendance were Public Service Commission Chairperson Margaret Kobia, PS National Coordination of Government Josephta Mukhobe among other government officials and lawyers.
The launch comes days after the National Assembly extended the deadline for constitutional Bills by one year to enable it finalise on 28 Bill some of which had elicited heated debates owing to the sensitivity of their proposals.
For instance, Governors insist that the Community Land Bill is unconstitutional as it gives the Lands Cabinet Secretary powers over the management of community land.