On Sidelining of Commissions and Independent Bodies

Posted by on 27th September 2011

Categories:   Kenya Constitution News

By Mzalendo Contributor Moreen Majiwa

Why form commissions and independent bodies if they are going to be sidelined?  The government/parliament has a very poor record of non-interference, follow through, or implementing recommendations of commissions and independent bodies created to perform specific tasks. This trend seems to have carried on in the new dispensation, let’s review.

First, the Constitution Implementation Commission (CIC), whose role is to oversee the implementation of the Proposed Constitution, seems to have a hit several roadblocks i.e. the wrangle between the commission and government over the issue of payment of salaries of the commissioners. The most recent development in the CIC salary dispute being the A-G’s dismissal of a petition brought against himself, the Minister of Finance, and the Public Service Commission, pay negotiations are still ongoing.

Second, the CIC is being increasingly sidelined in its oversight role. Parliament passed 15 bills in less than two weeks against the CIC’s advice and disobeying a court injunction granted to stop the passage of said bills. There’s the unilateral decision by the cabinet to propose the postponement of the date of the next election contrary to the CIC advice, the issue is currently in the hands of the Supreme Court. and the illegal passage of two acts the National Government Loans Guarantee Act and the Contingencies and County Emergency Fund Act.

Third, despite the fact that the IEBC is supposed to be an independent body,  a section of MPs are attempting to influence the panels shortlist of candidates for the positions of commissioners.

I bring this up because there are 11 commissions are to be formed in the new dispensation. Commissions cost taxpayers millions probably billions of shillings every year. The role of commissions play is crucial to reform. However commissions and independent bodies this can only do their job successfully if given an enabling environment and so far it appears parliament is the biggest barrier to proper functioning of the very commission they create.