MPs will have an informal Kamukunji to change the dates for the passage of key Constitutional Bills as August 27th nears without them discussing them as stipulated in the Constitution.
A total of 28 Bills were required to have been passed by August 27th. They are the Minimum and Maximum Land Holding Acreage, Agreements on National Resources Bill, Forest Bill, Community Land Bill, Physical Planning Bill, Investigation and Historical Land Injustices Bill, Land Use Bill and Evictions Bill.
Others are the Energy Bill, the Petroleum Exploration and Production Bill, the Bill on Representation of Marginalised Groups, Two-Thirds Gender Principle Bill, the Seeds and Plant Varieties Bill, the Organisation and Administration of Appeal Bill, and the Small Claims Court and the Contempt of Court Bill.
The House earlier shortened the publication period for eight proposed Bills from 14 days to one and formally introduced them to the House for first reading. These are the Petroleum (Exploration, Development and Production) Bill, the Community Land Bill, the Physical Planning Bill, the High Court (Organisation and Administration) Bill, the Protection of Traditional Knowledge and Cultural Expression Bill, the Forests Conservation and Management Bill, and the Small Claims Court and Court of Appeal (Organisation and Administration) Bill.
The House requires a two-thirds majority of 233 MPs to be present and voting to extend the deadline of any constitutional Bill from the date set in the Constitution. Speaker Justin Muturi banned travelling of MPs outside the country to ensure all are in the country to deliberate and decide on the matter. The Kamukunji will also deliberate on the amendments to the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) Act.
Legislators have claimed that the delay is due to failure by key institutions to draft and publish the Bills in time for debate. The institutions are the Attorney General’s office, Cabinet and the Constitution Implementation Commission (CIC). Indeed if they have yet provided the House with the Bills, then it is not wholly their fault to fail to pass them in time. The Constitution Implementation Oversight Committee (CIOC) of the National Assembly has the power to sanction the specific institutions delaying the Bills.
Perhaps the wisdom of not wanting to rush Bills is to ensure they are accorded the quality time they deserve so as not to pass half-baked laws that will have a grave impact on the republic.
CIOC has proposed 12 months extension to pass the Bills. This motion should be passed with timelines on when they have to be presented in the House for debate. In addition, it should entail sanctions on institutions and offices that fail to provide the Bills within the stipulated timelines.
These Bills have a huge impact on Kenya as they directly affect the core of the country. They should be prioritized as a matter of national importance.