By OLIVER MATHENGE
Wednesday, January 27 2010
Kenyan Members of Parliament negotiating a new constitution were upbeat on Wednesday, reporting that they had resolved the most difficult issues in the draft law — the executive, devolution and the legislature.
The 26 MPs who make up the Parliamentary Select Committee were in talks to find acceptable compromises on the draft constitution ahead of the referendum expected later in the year.
Size of Cabinet
Informal sources said after 10 hours of negotiations, the MPs had agreed on two levels of devolution — national and county. They had previously agreed on two tiers, national and 18 regions but the issue was revisited. The PSC, in accordance with parliamentary rules, does not provide detailed official briefings of its discussions and some of the information previously reported on the basis of interviews with individual MPs has turned out to be inaccurate.
On Wednesday, MPs said they had fixed the size of the Cabinet at 25 — including the president and the deputy president. MPs will not be eligible to serve in the Cabinet. MPs appointed to the Cabinet will have to give up their seats. And the office holders will be called Cabinet Secretaries — not Cabinet ministers.
The president will be head of state and head of government but his authority will be checked by an empowered parliament and regional governments. Attempts by a section of the PSC to re-introduce a hybrid system of government as proposed in the Draft Constitution were rejected by majority of the members.
The provision to impeach the president was upheld and the president’s running mate, who will also serve as deputy-president, will act as president for the remaining term if the president vacates office. “But the acting president will be deemed as having served a complete term if he or she serves more than half the original term,” one source said.
Another MP said a clause had been included requiring the president to ensure that the Cabinet reflects regional diversity and that no more than two-thirds of the ministers are of the same gender. The president will also have the powers to create public offices other than constitutional offices. Sources also indicated that chairpersons of parliamentary committees will have the same status as Cabinet secretaries.
Discussions on devolution stretched late into the night before ending after midnight and resuming on Wednesday morning. The first session was delayed after most MPs turned up at the conference room late. “We have agreed that the leader of the largest party in parliament will be referred to as Majority Leader while the leader of opposition will be called the Minority Leader,” an MP told the Daily Nation.
Reports from the meeting indicated that appointments to constitutional offices will be checked by parliament while parastatal heads are to be vetted by the relevant departmental committees. Parliament will also have control over its own calendar. And the Senate, which will be lower than parliament, will be made up of senators, one elected from each county. According to the MPs, the purpose of devolution was to help check and balance the executive.
The MPs discussed the devolution chapter from Tuesday evening to midnight and continued on Wednesday up to 4pm. Ahead of their lunch break, the team formed a subcommittee of three members from each side to try and break the deadlock after they disagreed. It is this team that made the decision on behalf of the PSC which was unanimously adopted by the committee.
Coming from the debate, according to sources, was a decision for an Act of Parliament to set the formula for sharing of resources. This, it was reported, will be based on poverty index, population and relative contribution to the country’s Gross Domestic Product. The PSC is also said to have agreed that 12 per cent of the national revenue be transferred to devolved governments.
Speaking to the Daily Nation in confidence, PSC members said the proposed senate will legislate matters relating to the devolved units. The counties will also be the coordinating unit for the Constituency Development Funds. Last week, sources revealed that the PSC had settled on 18 regions and no counties though the matter had not been debated conclusively. PNU is said to have indicated that it wanted the regions to be increased to 33.
The other disagreement was on what model the devolution should take – resource based or political. While ODM was seeking political autonomy for the devolved government, PNU proposed that the system be resource-based. It was, however, agreed that the two should form the basis for the devolved structure to ensure that governance and resources were equitably distributed to the lowest level.
Submitted by Muruwakamau
Posted January 28, 2010 11:43 AM
Sad and money wasting if MP will be appointed and by-election held. With our short sighted leaders and self serving goverments. We can be having as many as 10 by-election. Even more sad if the presidents can appoint election rejects.
Submitted by tarzan1966
Posted January 28, 2010 11:10 AM
The PSC ought to be commended for their good efforts. We have seen more of the greater national interest put first and not tribal and self as in the past. Let us agree in Africa we need a powerful head to implement change,but equally empower parliament and other institutions to check and get him out if he becomes imperial
Submitted by ngureco
Posted January 28, 2010 10:33 AM
If the president is impeached, the president as well as the vice president should both go. If the vice president is to take the place of president in case the president is impeached, then the most work the vice president will be doing is plotting on how to impeach the president.
Submitted by okamala
Posted January 28, 2010 09:14 AM
My major concern is why the President has the option of appointing cabinet from amongst the MPs, which automatically means a by-election - an unnecessary expense. If one feels they qualify for cabinet appointment, they should lobby and keep of contesting during that period; neither should those who lose elections immediately lobby - this is tantamount to rewarding, a recipe for sycophancy
Submitted by fsagar
Posted January 28, 2010 08:49 AM
Am very sad to see almost everything PNU proposes is accepted while ODM proposal is critised and scrutinised,where is Orengo the law guru whom we trust.Dont let PNU retain centralise system under "devolution" of their own meaning..remember PNU doesnt want to empower people but enslave us to keep on begging from central goverment ..corruption to be countinue as usual from them.
Submitted by MohamedDK
Posted January 28, 2010 07:48 AM
The Senate members should be elected by the voters of the County and given more legislative powers over the Parliament. They can be voted for the same time when other MPs are being elected. Otherwise having nominated Senator with no powers is a waste of public funds.
Submitted by OruniOloya
Posted January 28, 2010 06:47 AM
A strong President who has to be checked by strong regional governments, independent legislature and independent Judiciary is very good. I like the innovation whereby Cabinet Ministers will not be MPs. This will make parliament more robust in checking cabinet decisions and proposed legislations. On the other hand a truely executive cabinet will concentrate on getting the job done. Parliamentary Select Committees are set to become very powerful institutions of accountability of the executive and civil service. Local government will be local and coterminous with natural communities and check the executive.
Submitted by knyesu
Posted January 28, 2010 06:39 AM
what kind of bogus name is cabinet secretary, the name we use Minister is good and the only sense making name.even here in use its rediculuos cheap name.
Submitted by Edkobu
Posted January 28, 2010 04:12 AM
I just want to read what powers will the county reps or referred here as senators will have. If they are just ceremonial without any powers to check the upper house and the executive, then to hell with them this is just a burden to the already burdened tax payers.
Submitted by ajeeraba
Posted January 28, 2010 02:47 AM
We need proper devolution that will ensure all regions/counties prosper. If they are going to give only 12% of the national revenue and pay themselves the rest then there is no need for develotion but a presidential system with strong checks and balances to ensure faireness in resource allocation and usage.
Submitted by mamin
Posted January 28, 2010 02:07 AM
One could say part of the agreement is copy and paste from united states law. Good idea particluarly getting professionals for cabinet and creation of counties. But the PSC should focus on creation of independent judiciary, police and Electoral body. This are the basics we have to perfect if all in the agreement are to be fulfilled. overall, exciting times ahead for kenya.
Submitted by meko
Posted January 28, 2010 01:44 AM
Who is gonna pay for the byelections of those MPs who relinguish their parliamentarian seats upon being appointed as secretaries? That is money going to waste.
Submitted by krugutt
Posted January 28, 2010 01:06 AM
It is important that the senate be given the same powers as parliament. One of the roles for the two houses will be offer checks and balances for on each other and to ensure that good laws are written for the country. To try to make senate looks inferior is selfish and serves national interest other than parochial. If anything, senators will be representing a larger administrative unit than the MP. For instance, a county like Kericho who will be represented by one senator who will seek votes from four current constituencies-[Ainamoi,-Belgut,-Kanoin,-and-Kipkelion]! To-say-that-senators-will-be-focusing-on-issues-of-the-counties-is-to-bring-back-the-current-provincial-administration-mentality. How-can-an-MP-who-represents-a-smaller-electoral-unit-be-more-powerful-in-law-making-than-the-senator-who-even-represents-the-MP-constituency? In-the-current-setup,-it-is-just-like-saying-the-PC-should-be-under-the-DC. The-MPs-should-not-feel-threatened-by-the-presence-of-senators-but-should-take-senators-as-equal-partners-in-the-fight-for-good-laws-and-governance-of-the-country.
Submitted by ndotonoyao
Posted January 28, 2010 01:04 AM
Is it all about money?
Submitted by swala nyeti
Posted January 28, 2010 12:05 AM
Committee/departmental chairs being renumerated as cabinet miniters is an expensive and extravagant idea. Parliament has very many committees as it is now. Why this emphasis on salaries? What are the responsibilities of the Committee/Departmental Heads. Spare Kenya tax payers this expensive offices.
Submitted by ememen
Posted January 27, 2010 11:40 PM
The whole purpose for upper and lower houses of legislation is fair representation and both tiers must have law-making powers. Regions or Counties whatever you want to call them should also have more than one representative if fairness is to prevail. Get the Cabinet and AG out of Parliament and you have Executive, Judiciary, and Legislative bodies for checks and balances on each other. If the regions/counties are based on parochial setting we only end up with tribal kingpins who will play the same old games we see today.
Submitted by kenmash
Posted January 27, 2010 11:08 PM
Selfish politicians, expecting anything from them is like waiting to hear about Artur brothers or Grand Regency inquiry outcome........dishonest old men and women purporting to care and wisdom..Just greed!!! All of them!
Submitted by beejaychester
Posted January 27, 2010 10:56 PM
"This, it was reported, will be based on poverty index, population and relative contribution to the country’s Gross Domestic Product." I think this is a worthy move which can help Kenyans. But talking about resource based systems and political autonomy is just a way to divide Kenyans more. Kenyans main contention was how the national resources were distributed by the government. Some areas got a big chunk others got nada. Lets not try to go to far in solving non issues.
Submitted by Thabari
Posted January 27, 2010 10:48 PM
If the Senate has no law making or oversight of the National Assembly, what's its role? PSC must empower the proposed Senate, or else the CoE must re-insert the original powers envisaged. PSC does not seem to appreciate the value of a vibrant Senate and how easy one chamber can fall under the manipulation of the executive, especially when both president and the majority are from the same party. Counties are not viable economic or political units and cannot check either parliament or the executive.
Submitted by MichaOlga
Posted January 27, 2010 10:34 PM
Rejecting! Accepting! Rejecting Again. How many times do these guys and gals change their minds?
Thursday, January 28, 2010
at 1:39 PM ·
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