Prime Minister, two deputies in bigger Executive

Thursday, October 22nd, 2020 00:00 |
President Uhuru Kenyatta (centre) with ODM leader Raila Odinga (left) and BBI taskforce vice chair Adams Oloo during the handing over of the report at the Kisii State Lodge. Photo/PD/GERALD ITHANA

The Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report launched yesterday proposes the return of the Prime Minister’s position, the creation of 70 extra parliamentary seats and the scrapping of the position of Woman Representative. 

The proposed premiership, modelled along the Tanzanian Constitution, shall be appointed by the President from the Party or coalition of parties that are a majority in the National Assembly.

If no party has a majority, the PM will be the person who enjoys the support of majority of the members at the National Assembly.

 “He must be confirmed by the National Assembly. He may be fired by either the President through a decree or by the National Assembly through a vote of no confidence,” states the report.

The report also proposes an expanded Executive where more communities will get a chance to play a role in governance.

It further proposes an amendment to the Constitution to increase the number of members of the National Assembly from 290 to 360. 

The MPs will include those representing 290 constituencies constituting single and multi-member constituencies.

Kenyans will elect extra members in these multi-member constituencies to address the two-thirds gender rule. However, the position of county Woman Rep has been abolished.

In the Senate, the position of nominated senators has been scrapped and instead, Kenyans will be required to vote in one man and one woman in all the 47 counties, raising the composition of the Senate to 94 members.

The report which was presented to President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga yesterday in Kisii County, further seeks an amendment to have the Attorney- General sit in the National Assembly as an ex-officio member.

Also to sit as in the National Assembly as an ex-officio members will be Cabinet ministers who are not members of Parliament.

The report recommends changes in the nature and structure of the national Executive to make it more inclusive and ensure as many Kenyan communities as possible feel part of the government.

“To stop elections from becoming a do or die event, we must have a more inclusive political system where more communities get a chance to play a role in governing the country,” reads the report.

The report provides that there will be the office of the Leader of the Opposition who will be the runner up of the presidential election.

Second salary

Reads the report; “He shall become an ex-officio member of the National Assembly.

If the runner up forms a coalition with government, then the leader of the Opposition shall be the person who leads the coalition of parliamentary parties not represented in government.

All political parties not in government shall be deemed to be in the opposition.”

 The report further provides that the Cabinet shall be a mix of elected members of the National Assembly and technocrats, whereby appointed, technocrats will be  ex-officio members of parliament.

 “The president shall determine the ratio of elected members and technocrats in the Cabinet.

When members of Parliament are appointed as ministers, they will only get an extra responsibility allowance and not a second salary,” the report states.

 It also proposes that the position of Cabinet Secretary revert back to the previous title of Cabinet Minister because Kenyans have over the decades associated the word “minister” with authority in the National Executive.

 The proposal to take ministers back to Parliament is meant to address the overriding issue of who is supposed to answer questions between a Cabinet Secretary (CS) or a committee chairperson.

 Under the current dispensation, it is not mandatory for a CS to appear before a committee and so the mandate is left to the chairperson to respond.

It has been a debatable issue which at times calls for the invention of the Speaker to compel the CSs to appear physically.

 The report affirms that where necessary,, the president can appoint some members of Parliament as ministers of State to assist Cabinet ministers in their work at the National Assembly. 

However the appointment to these positions will not come with any additional salary.

 The position of Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) will be abolished if the proposals in the report go through.

 The position of the CAS was created by Uhuru supposedly to reward election losers who supported his party in the last general election.

To ensure that the system of representation guarantees that Kenyans are fairly and equally represented, all nominations and elections will be free, fair and transparent.

 Also, all persons to be included in party lists must go through a system of vetting that involves the public.

 The import of this proposal is to guarantee fairness, as the process has in the past been used by political parties to reward relatives, friends and associates with the positions.

 The report asserts that whatever changes may be made to constituencies, the so called protected  constituencies will not be tampered with as they are key for representation in sparsely populated  area.

 Further, all nominations to Parliament and county assemblies must be done in a transparent process.

 On the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), the BBI report seeks to have its capacity enhanced so as to deliver free and fair elections by, first removing all current commissioners and establishing a new commission for the next election.

 “Provide that all IEBC staff serve on three-year contracts that can be renewed only once, so that every new commission can determine its own direction, rather than become a captive of the IEBC Secretariat, “states the report.

Political contestants

 The Returning Officers should be hired through a system similar to that of appointing commissioners.

The officers should be contracted on a part-time basis and  should not oversee more than one General Election.

 The qualifications for the chairmanship of IEBC should be opened up,  so that it is not a  preserve for lawyers and that a chairperson should be anyone with at least 15 years’  experience in a senior management level.

The chairman of IEBC should be made the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the  commission, so that he is not undermined by the Secretary who is  currently the CEO.

“Leaders of political parties should be given a role in the recruitment of IEBC commissioners to enhance support for the commission from political contestants,” affirms the report.

The drafters of the report observe elections in Kenya have become a curse, saying that every one year before every General Election, the country becomes tense, unsafe and economic activity stops.

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