“Errors” of Government Printer

Posted by on 13th October 2011

Categories:   Bills

By Mzalendo Contributor – Moreen Majiwa

MPs Danson Mugatana, Martha Karua, and Olago Aluoch have called for an investigation into the Government Printer and employees of Parliament for a crucial error in the publication of the Elections Act 2011. The section in question is Article 34 (9) of the Act.

The misprint of the Act reads, “The party list may not contain a name of any Presidential or Deputy Presidential Candidate nominated for an election under this Act.”  While the actual draft bill reads, “The party list shall not contain a name of any candidate nominated for an election under this act.”

The correct version and the misprint are so substantially different in wording, meaning and intent it’s hard to believe that this is a simple mistake. And it is not the first time the Government Printer has made substantive errors in crucial legislation.

  • There was the incident of the ‘misprint’ in the constitution, while still in draft form. A misprint was one that effectively suspended whole Bill Rights i.e. the most progressive and revolutionary part of the constitution. The Government Printer later apologised for the error.
  • There was the incident when the Government Printer failed to publish the list of the constituencies that contained the names 80 new constituencies created under the new constitution.
  • There was the incident where the Government Printer was summoned before parliament to explain the delay in the publishing of the Independent Electoral Boundaries Commission Bill.

If errors or delays in printing had only happened once, or the errors did not keep happening in the publication of crucial bills/acts, or if the errors did not substantially alter the meaning and intention of said legislation, then maybe the bills could be written of as instances of human error.

However the number and type of incidents of errors, misprints or delays in publications of legislation, and the laws in which the errors occur (the errors and delays have not occurred in just any laws – errors or delays have occurred in the constitution, and the Independent Electoral Boundaries Commission Bill and the Elections Act) make a sound basis for investigations into the Government Printer.

Given the number of laws to be passed in the new dispensation can we really afford to have a sloppy Government Printer?

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