Sunday, January 30, 2011

Political rivalries likely to get in the way of MPs’ enactment of new law

By OLIVER MATHENGE omathenge@ke.nationmedia.comPosted Saturday, January 29 2011 at 21:00
In Summary
  • Legislators warned early campaigns and succession politics may prevent Parliament meeting crucial deadlines

Parliament resumes on Tuesday amid concerns over the implementation of the new Constitution as MPs are now five months behind schedule.
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The Executive arm of government maintains it has prepared most of the necessary bills, but legislators’ political sideshows and delaying tactics are hindering the enactment of laws.
Justice and Constitutional Affairs minister Mutula Kilonzo and Attorney-General Amos Wako say that the country may lose the opportunity to implement the Constitution if MPs continue to enact bills slowly.
Two bills
The two said that the Executive was working quickly to ensure that deadlines are met, adding that two bills on the Judiciary that had been withdrawn from Parliament two weeks ago had already been republished.
“We are way behind schedule in the implementation of the new Constitution. We should have started the process in November and we have to work round the clock to ensure the key draft laws required for the establishment of various legal institutions such as a new Judiciary and police reforms are in place and passed by Parliament,” Mr Kilonzo said.
He said there is currently no electoral law in the country, which is one of the key legislations expected to be implemented before the new Constitution can take effect. Mr Kilonzo added that succession politics and the slow release of funding may delay the whole process.
“Some parliamentarians might oppose bills which seem to stand in the way of their favourite candidates getting into power,” Mr Kilonzo said.
He added that although Treasury had allocated Sh3.5 billion for the implementation process, Parliament was yet to approve the estimates.
The minister further noted that some politicians act as though there is a vacancy in the presidency and cautioned that early campaigns for 2012 may derail the entire process.
“They should retreat from this sort of action. We have not even put together the electoral body,” said Mr Kilonzo.
He added that if Parliament had kept to the timetable spelt out in the Constitution – which gave MPs 60 days after the law was promulgated to set up the Judicial Service Commission – judges would have already been vetted and a new Judiciary established.
“If the vetting of judges had been done by now, it would have given the President an opportunity to appoint a bench equivalent to the ICC pre-trial chamber,” he said.
Revenue allocation
Mr Wako further noted that bills relating to revenue allocation and salaries should be fast-tracked, saying the commission on revenue allocation cannot decide on budgetary allocations for counties until the wage bill is determined.
“Setting the wage bill is critical and the commission on salaries and remuneration is key as it will determine this,” he said.
The AG suggested that the commission could even think of slashing MPs’ salaries to get the money to pay for the additional MPs and senators.
The Constitution Implementation Oversight Committee chairman Abdikadir Mohamed listed the most critical bills as those pertaining to the Judiciary, security sector, electoral laws and county governments.
“Then you have a number of crucial offices to fill including the CJ, AG, DPP and Auditor-General among others,” said Mr Mohamed. “Even as Parliament goes on with its other work, we must ensure that the issues of implementation are prioritised.”
He added that five bills on reforming the police force and two on electoral law were ready. He expressed confidence that the commissions would embark on their work immediately as their offices and finances had already been prepared.

Thirty-four new laws have to be passed before the 2012 elections with 16 of the laws supposed to be enacted by August 27 this year.

“We are ready and hope that we can push through all the necessary bills,” said Mr Charles Nyachae, the chairman of the Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution.
His team is working on the bills meant to overhaul the police and security sectors and set up structures for the 2012 General Election.

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