NAIROBI, Kenya Oct 25 – Legal expert Nzamba Kitonga’a death is no doubt a major blow to the country, coming at a time Kenyans are gearing up for constitutional reforms through the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI).
Having led the Committee of Experts that drafted the 2010 Constitution, Nzamba Kitonga’s voice could have been crucial as Kenyans seek to understand the report of the Steering Committee on the Implementation of the BBI to a United Kenya Taskforce that was handed to President Uhuru Kenyatta and Opposition chief Raila Odinga last week.
Nzamba Kitonga collapsed and died on Saturday evening while attending a funeral at his rural home of Mutito, Kitui. He was aged 64.
“I am deeply saddened by the death of my friend Senior Counsel Nzamba Kitonga, a fine constitutional lawyer and a trailblazer whose successes in public service are finely documented,” the president said in a statement from his press team, “We all remember and are forever indebted to Nzamba and his Committee of Experts for midwifing the 2010 constitution and for his many exploits as a lawyer of high standing,” the President eulogised.
The Head of State said the death of Kitonga is a major blow to Kenya especially now that the country is gearing up for fundamental constitutional reforms through the ongoing BBI process.
“Senior Counsel Nzamba Kitonga played a major role in the drafting of the 2010 Constitution and as a country we really needed his input as we take audit of it through the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI),” Kenyatta said, mourning him as a constitutional law stalwart and a patriotic Kenyan with unmatched legal prowess.
“It is extremely sad that the cruel hand of death has snatched him from us at a time when our country is entering a constitutional moment,” President Kenyatta said in his message to Kenyans and the family.
Several leaders, including Deputy President William Ruto have described Kitonga as Kenya’s top legal mind.
Former President Mwai Kibaki who unveiled the Constitution midwifed by Kitonga said Kenya will be forever grateful to the constitutional lawyer who led a team that drafted brought change that had been elusive for more than two decades.
“Nzamba made his memorable contribution to an eventful trigger moment that will forever define the direction Kenya’s statehood, as well as statecraft, will take in days to come,” he said.
Odinga was among leaders who sent condolence a condolence message to the family on Saturday night.
Law Society of Kenya President Nelson Havi led the legal fraternity in mourning Kitonga.
Senator Mutula Kilonzo Jr. too eulogised Kitonga as Kenya’s top legal minds.
The BBI report due to be formally unveiled to the public on Monday, October 26, has substantial changes altering the governance model adopted under the 2010 constitution.
Proposed changes include the adoption of a hybrid presidential-parliamentary system under which an elected President appoints a Prime Minister from among members of the majority party in the National Assembly.
The BBI also proposes the appointment of two deputy Prime Ministers and ministers from within the membership of the National Assembly.
Other proposed amendments touch on the Judiciary, one of the key areas Kitonga had recently ventilated on.
Speaking in June 2020, the Kitui-born lawyer and politician called for the restructuring of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) by removing the Attorney General from its membership.
“The AG seats on the JSC and is part of the decision-making process, but after making those decisions, he goes and misadvises the President,” Kitonga said while referring to President Kenyatta’s refusal to appoint 41 JSC-recommended nominee judges.