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Parliamentarians need to maintain House’ decorum

Posted by on 19th December 2014

Categories: Uncategorized

The Security Laws (Amendments) 2014 Act provided an opportunity to deliberate very serious provisions about Kenya but also brought out an ugly side of our legislators. The amendments to 22 security related legislations will go a long way in helping address our security challenges. Rising insecurity may not be wholly dealt with by adequate laws, but this remains a critical first step.

MPs demeaned the National Assembly and did not demonstrate any respect for their offices or the people they represent. They were rowdy – some tore the order papers and threw them to the floor – and even poured water on Deputy Speaker Joyce Laboso while chairing a session. The scuffles went on outside the chamber too.

The Parliamentary Broadcasting Unit’s live feed was sporadically switched off to hide the MPs shameful behavior. Journalists were also chased away from the media center. The public gallery was also closed for the first time in independent Kenya.

Speaker Justin Muturi also failed to be an impartial arbiter. His leadership was wanting in how the amendments were passed. He presided over the passing of the amendments amidst shouting from both sides of the debate. His ability to guide the debate was questionable as his hearing was certainly impaired and vision blurred by the many legislators that surrounded him.

Rule of law is supreme and Parliamentarians should be first to abide by it. Although the standing orders provide mechanisms for discussing bills before they are passed, they were totally ignored. Room for critical dialogue and consensus building was also shut.

The process of tabling and discussing the bill was completely non-procedural. The disorder started when the Bill was presented for debate. Many MPs had not gone through Bill and the public had not seen or read it either.

It took the intervention of the Speaker to order public sittings which were hurriedly organized. While the standing orders are not explicit on the period that the public have to read a Bill, practice has been 14 days. This Bill was presented to the public for a total of four days despite the fact that accessing it was also a challenge.

In the National Assembly, both sides of the political divide took a hardline stance on the matter. Jubilee Coalition mobilized their numbers to pass the law while CORD sought to use confusion to obstruct debate. In such a poisoned scenario the few voices of reason went unheard.

The substantive-ness of the security issue was disregarded. Key issues the bill raised like limiting civil liberties enshrined in the Constitution needed more serious debate and did not also merit the hurriedness with which the bill was passed. The Act is now law, but any clauses that are unconstitutional can be contested in court.

Regardless, what the MPs did will go into the annals of history as a dark day in Kenyan democracy as it limited the spirit of dialogue, openness and participation in public affairs. It should never happen again.

 

 

 

Special Sitting Amendments to Security Laws

Posted by on 18th December 2014

Categories: Uncategorized

The amendments that were passed today related to the Security Laws (Amendment) Bill 2014 can be accessed here

THURSDAY DECEMBER – 18-12-2014 SPECIAL SITTING (1)

Parliament has the Capacity to make Kenya Cohesive

Posted by on 11th December 2014

Categories: Uncategorized

The National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) recent report is troubling. It revealed that two out of ten Kenyans distrust each other. Trust, which was measured against six other pillars used to gauge national cohesion, recorded 43.7 per cent.

Kenya’s mutual suspicions are stoked by land grievances, youth unemployment, growing drug and substance abuse, delinquency and crime, food insecurity, income inequality and poor infrastructure.

Speaking at the launch of the report, NCIC chairman Francis ole Kaparo noted that institutions forming the Government are leading in the gloomy state of the country. He cited the turf wars between the Senate and the National Assembly, and also the differences between the Executive and the Judiciary. Other factors of mistrust include issues of land, cattle rustling, historical injustices, marginalization and unequal sharing of the national cake.

By the look of the issues, it is evident that they are systemic, institutional and historical. This is the main reason why Parliament has the greatest role in making Kenya cohesive. In its oversight role, it must ensure that resources are allocated correctly among all and where necessary positive discrimination applied to those who have historically been marginalized.

In its legislative role, these elected leaders need to pass laws that will promote equity and address various violations of the past regime. For instance, this offers the opportunity to call for the full implementation of the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC). Land injustices need processes that are being worked on by the National Land Commission but squabbles over mandate with the perception that MPs are taking sides do not instill the necessary confidence in the process.

Representation of the people must be informed by what the electorates want addressed. Parliamentarians exercise this function through motions and statements in the flow of the House and also recommendations directed to respective government organs.

Hon. Kaparo reckoned that availing opportunities like jobs is a clear way of ensuring cohesion is enhanced. Parliament has a role in driving the country to this direction. In their interactions with the electorate, they meet and feel their despair and suffering and should enumerate these issues in ways that will give real hope and solutions to the people.

The Commission conceptualized social cohesion to include trust, peace, equity, diversity, prosperity and national identity. These issues are intertwined. A peaceful society largely feels equitable in terms of resources and access to them among its diverse populace. If the people feel they belong to one nation, the country will prosper.

In his speech when releasing the report, the Chief Justice aptly stated that “division is the currency of politics. The issue of governance is only held by the elite and they are the architects of what we see today.”

Parliamentarians can sometimes be reckless in their public pronouncements especially in public rallies. This causes division among Kenyans whom highly regard their leaders as their saviors.

Honorable members, plenty can be found within our borders with your intervention. Ama vipi?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Security Laws (Amendment) Bill 2014

Posted by on 10th December 2014

Categories: Uncategorized

The Security Laws (Amendment) Bill 2014 seeks to amend the laws relating to security.

 

Find it here THE SECURITY LAWS AMENDMENT BILL 2014

The brief to the proposals is here Brief on Amendment to Security Legislations

Private Security Regulation Bill 2014

Posted by on 9th December 2014

Categories: Uncategorized

This Bill seeks to provide for the regulation of the private security industry, to provide for a framework for cooperation with National Security Organs.

Find it here The Private Security Regulation Bill 2014

 

What do the People’s Shujaaz Awards represent?

Posted by on 3rd December 2014

Categories: Uncategorized

The word honorable is a title indicating eminence or distinction. A person holding the title is therefore supposed to be revered especially through actions. This however is not the case with regard to many elected representatives. Some of their behavior in public forums brings into question the judgment of the voters who elected them.

Even so, there are certainly some representatives who work hard for the public. Sometimes the impact of their work may not be immediately visible, but inside the house their comments inspire confidence in the institution of Parliament and actually safeguard public interest.

Every effort must be put in place to make Kenya safer but no effort can surmount providing the basic needs of food, shelter, education, clean water and good healthcare system to the people. Employment opportunities enable a person to provide these and without it, crime increases.

This core, of human life therefore when being worked on should be highlighted and appreciated. The People’s Shujaaz Awards are meant to do just that. The Awards to spotlight the Parliamentarians that have made game-changing contributions in the House on issues of great public interest.

Shujaaz is the street Swahili equivalent of ‘heroes.’ In a Parliament where allegedly greed, personal business interests and corruption rule the day, Parliamentarians who go ahead to walk the talk and make the life of the public better should be celebrated.

Availing information on Parliamentarians and the contributions they made on the issues is the first reason behind the awards. Most of the time, Kenyans bash politicians and there is a risk that we may dismiss or fail to encourage those who are actually representing their interests.

Kenyans need to develop an interest in what goes on in Parliament. They should know what they send politicians to Parliament do on a daily basis. While this information is largely public, many either do not know how to get it or are totally unaware.

Their fellow Parliamentarians should also be challenged by seeing their colleagues taking a deeper interest in the affairs of the public. They should know that Kenyans are watching their performance and assess their own Parliamentary contributions. This should also challenge those who shy away from talking in Parliament to feel confident enough that so long as their focus is of public interest, Kenyans will appreciate.

Every year on Jamhuri day, the President always honors various Kenyans who have excelled in their work. Until this year when Kenyans were asked to nominate them, the process remained opaque. Some nominees seem to benefit merely by the office they hold and not substance of their work. People’s Shujaaz Awards seek to propose a different way of rewarding Kenyans who deserve these lifelong awards.

It is a win-win initiative for Kenyans in different spheres. Please go to the website www.mzalendo.com to exercise your right to choose the Parliamentarians who deserve to win. Let us embrace positivity in public affairs as it is not all gloomy.

 

 

 

 

Mzalendo Launches the People’s Shujaaz Awards

Posted by on 28th November 2014

Categories: News

Press Release – Mzalendo Launches the People’s Shujaaz awards

Nairobi, 28th November 2014 – Mzalendo Trust today launched the People’s Shujaaz Awards – an initiative to celebrate Parliamentarians that have excelled in championing issues of great public interest in Parliament – the National Assembly and Senate. The Parliamentarians were selected based on bills moved, contributions to bills, motions raised and statements issued from March 2013 to date.

“At the centre of these Awards are the bread and butter issues that drive Kenyan election campaigns and politics like food, health, water, education, security as well as core mandates of Parliament like devolution and budgetary oversight. The issues and list of nominees were arrived at through collaborative efforts between Mzalendo and other civil societies working on governance issues,” said Jessica Musila, Mzalendo’s Executive Director.

The inaugural People’s Shujaaz Awards has 10 categories with 3 nominees each. Mzalendo’s review of the Parliamentary business revealed discussions on health, water and budgetary oversight dominated debate. Kenyans have an opportunity to select their best choice in each category through online voting on www.mzalendo.com. Voting closes on 7th December 2014, 11.59pm and finalists will be announced and awarded gifts on 11th December 2014.

Kenyans spend a lot of time bashing politicians and there is a risk that we may dismiss or fail to encourage those who are actually representing their interests. People’s Shujaaz Awards is an attempt to fix that – we believe that it is important to point out that it is not all doom and gloom when it comes to Parliamentarians. The People’s Shujaaz Awards complement the National Honours the Presidency bestows on Kenyans who have given exemplary service to the country every year.

Through this initiative, Mzalendo seeks to gently nudge Parliamentarians to champion public interest, raise public awareness on the roles of MPs and Senators plus sensitize them on the need to hold their leaders to account. Mzalendo is a non-partisan Parliamentary Monitoring initiative which keeps an eye on Parliament and makes information on Parliamentarians and their activities easily accessible to the public.

For
 more information
 please
 contact:

Jessica
Musila,
0714
391812, Jessica@mzalendo.com

For
general
enquiries
email
about
the organization, email: info@mzalendo.com

 

 

 

 

Leadership is critical in making Kenya Safer

Posted by on 27th November 2014

Categories: Uncategorized

Napoleon Bonaparte famously defined a leader as a dealer in hope. Dealing in hope is no mean achievement to any who surmounts but which dictates character and commitment to a course of public interest. It must be evidenced in words and deeds. For instance, such a leader would not only call to order the men stripping women naked in public, but use lawful means to have them arrested and prosecuted for their backward behavior.

The rising insecurity calls for our President to give hope to Kenyans that the country will not perish at the hands of a few criminals. It also calls for all elected leaders in their wisdom and respect for public office, to rise against religious and ethnic bigotry to use Constitutional powers to reign in the situation.

Kenya is not a country where leaders resign from office due to failure of undertaking their responsibilities. This means that someone must induce a process based on incompetence, gross misconduct and corruption among other issues. It is clear that incompetence best describes how security has been handled since March 4, 2013.

Legislators yesterday rose above party affiliations to condemn the recent attack in Mandera in which 28 people were killed. While this is laudable and encouraged, they ought to move further beyond calling on the President to sack the Interior Cabinet Secretary Joe ole Lenku.

Article 152 (6) of the Constitution of Kenya, is elaborate on how an MP can initiate the process of removing a Cabinet Secretary and if he or she gets the threshold, a select committee is formed and if grounds are reached and the House passes that resolution, the President has no choice but to dismiss the Cabinet Secretary.

In addition Article 152 (5) (b) empowers the President to dismiss a Cabinet Secretary. The threshold an MP can initiate the removal may not have been reached but certainly the President can use his discretion.

Removing the Inspector General of Police David Kimaiyo requires someone to petition the National Assembly who will then discuss it, form a select committee to investigate and if findings are above board and if a majority agrees, ask the President to form a tribunal to remove him from office. This process may not be known by many but those who know should do something especially because the Inspector General has a four year non-renewable term which means he probably ‘lacks an incentive’ to deliver a safer republic.

Article 245 (d) cites incompetence as a ground for dismissal while (f) adds any other just cause as reason for the President to remove the Inspector General after the necessary procedures are followed.

The Constitution does not provide for sacred cows. If Kenya is a country guided by the rule of law, it must be seen that there are no sacred cows, without prejudice, as the lives of Kenyans are paramount.

 

 

 

Calling on MPs to protect our Civil Liberties

Posted by on 24th November 2014

Categories: Uncategorized

By  Alan Masakhalia

Kenyan’s have over the years suffered at the hands of corrupt and at times brutal and trigger happy Police Officers who were a law unto themselves.

With the setting up of the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) there was obvious relief to Kenyans as we now had a place to run to when abused by rogue officers, unlike in the past when a police officer would be reported to his fellow colleagues, who would hurriedly discard the complaint immediately you left the station, IPOA had come to address our plight.

IPOA on its part hasn’t disappointed Kenyans, it has among other things ensured that the flawed police recruitment is nullified, it has ensured that trigger happy officers are brought to book hence effectively bringing to a close the era of rampant extra judicial killings, simply put IPOA has been instrumental in stemming impunity in the police force.

It thus comes as no surprise that police officers countrywide are up in arms against IPOA calling for its disbandment, citing alleged harassment!

That police backed by some parliamentarians have hatched plans to strip IPOA of its autonomy and place it under the National Police Service Commission (NPSC) is most regrettable. This is a very ill timed scheme aimed at weakening IPOA and rendering it ineffective in its core task of ensuring police are held accountable and are answerable for their deeds or misdeeds.

I thus call upon all well meaning MPs, who love Kenya and believe in safeguarding citizens essential freedoms to shoot down the Police Oversight Authority (Repeal) Bill, 2014 that is currently before them.

 

Regards

Alan Masakhalia

Butula Constituency – Busia County

 

 

Fairness must inform Revenue Sharing

Posted by on 21st November 2014

Categories: Uncategorized

The thinking around revenue sharing between National government and County government has been a subject of discussion for the past few months. The Commission on Revenue Allocation (CRA) has held various forums, finalized its proposals and sent them to the Senate for consideration and adoption. The new proposal is a slight departure from the current one and if adopted will be used for the next three years.

The current formula in operation is distributed as follows; population (45%), equal share (25%), poverty (20%), land area (8%) and fiscal accountability (2%). This formula has seen counties receive billions of shillings and although the Controller of Budget (CoB) has raised absorption issues, counties have been able to lay the ground work for devolution.

Yet, a critical concern has been whether there is adequate information and data to inform better resource allocation. There is need for better public awareness on how resources are shared and to establish avenues for receiving their views for consideration. Data is useful as it informs where the drivers of cost lie and determines prioritization of limited resources.

CRA has refined the current formula and reduced fiscal responsibility and poverty but added personal emoluments and development as new parameters while retaining the rest. The proposed formula includes; population (45%), equal share (25%), poverty (18%), land area (8%), fiscal responsibility (1%), personnel emoluments factor (2%) and development factor (1%).

The International Budget Partnership (IBP) organized a public forum to discuss this new formula where they invited the public but also CRA to hear views from Kenyans on what informed this new formula.  An emerging and profound issue from the forum and which Kenyans brought out during the IBP County visits is the issue of fairness. What are the parameters that should inform a fair division of revenues among counties?

To determine a measure of fairness, issues like poverty, disease prevalence, ability to generate revenue, and available data were some of the provoking considerations. On poverty for instance, would it be fair to allocate a county less resources than another based on its perceived wealth? On ability to generate revenue, would it be fair to allocate more resources to a county that generates more than the one that generates less?

A measure of fairness between the National and County governments is likely to be forever contentious. But the conversation must be had on how whatever resources have been allocated, as a basket fund, to counties will be fairly disbursed.

If adopted, the proposed formula will help reduce the inequalities that are not only among sub-counties but also among wards within a sub-county. A good transfer system should be predictable but also avoid sudden and drastic change.

This new formula includes historical realities like bloated staff in some counties and is futuristic in terms of the development factor taking over from poverty. The proposal promises stability which is crucial as it did not deviate much from the current one. Is it fair? What are your thoughts?