12 Constitutional Bills to pass in 2 weeks, how did we get here?

Posted by on 14th August 2011

Categories:   2012 Elections Bills Kenya Constitution

By Mzalendo Contributor – Moreen Majiwa (@mmajiwa)

How did we get to this point?  The point where Parliament has just shy of two weeks to pass 12 constitutional bills! When the constitution was promulgated in August last year it was evident that its implementation would require the enactment of a multiplicity of complex legislation.

It seems, to me at least, that all provisions were made to ensure that transition from the old dispensation to the new dispensation was a smooth as possible. The new constitution staggered the deadlines for the enactment of all the required legislation according to urgency. The constitution also set out clear time lines for enactment of said laws. It also broadly outlined the manner in which the transition was to be managed and new laws passed in the transitional and consequential clauses in the 5th and 6th Schedule. Two new bodies, a parliamentary select committee, the Constitutional Implementation Oversight Committee, and an independent commission, the Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution, were formed to oversee the transition.

Yet here we are, so far only the Vetting of Judges and Magistrates Bill, the Judicial Service Bill, Independent Electoral Boundaries Commission Bill, The Salaries and Remuneration Commission Bill, and The Supreme Court Bill have been passed. However still pending is the enactment of legislation of on:

  1. Citizenship (Article 18)
  2. Kenya National Human Rights and Equality Commission (Article 59)
  3. Ethics and Anti-corruption commission
  4. Elections (Article 82)
  5. Electoral disputes (Article 87)
  6. Political Parties (Article 92)
  7. Urban areas and cities (Article 183)
  8. Contingencies Fund (Article 208)
  9. Loan guarantees by national government (Article 213)
  10. Revenue Allocation Commission
  11. Commission on Administration of Justice
  12. Ratification of Treaties

The passing of a bill of does not happen overnight. Before a bill becomes law has to presented before parliament, go through a first reading, followed by a second reading, a committee stage and third reading. Each stage has a purpose the rigor of each stage has implications for quality of the bill. A glance at the bill tracker on parliament’s webpage, updated as recently 8th August, shows that some of this legislation has not been even been presented, and the few bills that have been presented are somewhere between the first reading and the second reading (as a side note is it really necessary for all the bills to be separate pieces of legislation?)

Seriously, what are the chances of parliament meeting the constitutional deadlines for the enactment of the requisite laws? And even if parliament does meet the constitutional deadlines what are the implications of the trying to pass this amount of legislation in two weeks on the quality of the laws? And what are the implications on the constitutional requirement for public participation in the making of laws (Article 118)?