Friday, January 29, 2010



By Jerry Okungu
January 29, 2010
Nairobi, Kenya

Finally the Parliamentary Select Committee has come out in its true colors. It has shown that it can bastardize the people’s document to suit the narrow whims of just a handful of people in Parliament.

The deal reached by 26 MPs in Naivasha is a hoax that Kenyans must reject even on pain of having no constitution at all.

When Kenyans asked for another chamber of the House, they had their reasons for doing so. Like the imperial presidency, the 9th. and 10th parliaments had gotten out of control. Motions were passed in parliament that needed not have been passed. Motions of censor were defeated on the floor of the house after money had changed hands. T he august house had become a market place and a trading floor, a fact that even MPs themselves have confessed to. We needed a stronger elected Senate to check on the excesses of this lower house. We asked for nothing less.

Now this group of self-styled constitution experts thought it necessary to strike a deal on a Senate of 47 Kenyans nominated from the counties, with no legislative powers over the Lower House and worse still relegating it to a junior position. They had the temerity to restrict the Senate to 4 meetings a year to deal with county matters. This is an affront to Kenyans and a waste of public funds.

More importantly, the 47 districts on which the 47 counties are based are now much larger than the constituencies ordinary MPs will be representing. It is only fair that a senator should be elected by a larger majority than an MP hence his superiority to the MP. More critical is the fact that it is wrong to restrict senators to one seat per county as MPs increase their constituencies.

The truth of the matter is that each county should have no less than 2 senators making a total 94 elected and 6 nominated to represent special professional skills and interest groups.
To say the least, 349 MPs in the Lower House is obscene and wasteful. Kenyan cannot afford this kind of luxury.

Kenyans do not want a group of 47 nominated senators that will lobby to buy their seats from the sitting MPs and political regional warlords. They want to elect their own senators on the same day MPs will be elected. It is that simple.

Because MPs now realize that a pure presidential system will bar them from the Cabinet, now they are scheming to elevate themselves as Chairmen of House Committees to Cabinet status to further siphon public funds they do not deserve. Why have two parallel sets of cabinet ministers? We need real and genuine separation of powers. They cannot have their cake and eat it.

On the number of cabinet positions; let us remember how many cabinet posts there are in Obama’s country of 300 million people and an economy a thousand times stronger than Kenya’s. Let us stop and think of how many cabinet positions India has, with a population of 1.9 billion people has. In both cases, they have less than 20 cabinet ministers.

Why would anybody think of 25 cabinet ministers in this poor country once we devolve most of the government to the regions? What will these 25 men and women apart from the President and his deputy be doing?

Under the circumstances, Kenya should have a minimum of 8 cabinet ministers and the same number of assistants if we are serious about this constitution.

As the PSC deliberated on the new cabinet, did they give a thought to the current permanent secretaries? If in the next dispensation, the president appoints beaurocrats and other no- MPs as Cabinet Secretaries, it will be the surest way to declare the current PSs redundant because there will be no work for them to do.

It is now clear that the 26 MPs in their selfish drive decided to usurp the powers and mandate of the Committee of Experts. Instead of looking at contentious issues pointed out to them by the CoE, they chose to rewrite the entire document without any regard to the feelings and aspirations of millions of Kenyans.

One therefore wonders why parliament appointed the Committee of Experts in the first place when along the PSC knew it was competent to write the document.

At this point in time, it is imperative that all Kenyans rise up against these 26 MPs and reject the document at the referendum if it ever gets past the CoE and Parliament. We cannot afford to let pass a document that serves the personal whims of just a handful of greedy Kenyans.

Yes, let CoE either reject the Naivasha deal or Kenyans will do it for them at the referendum.