Constitution Implementation Turf Wars

Posted by on 29th November 2011

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In a perfect Kenya all government organs involved in the implementation of the constitution would work together in congress to make the provisions of the constitution a reality. However this is not a perfect Kenya and relations between the Office of the Attorney General and the Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution (CIC), two offices crucial to the timely implementation of the constitution, seem far from cordial.

During a special meeting chaired by House Speaker Kenneth Marende on the implementation of the Constitution the Attorney General, Professor Githu Muigai, called out the CIC for overstepping its mandate. Speaking on the request by the CIC seeking that the Commission scrutinize and approve all private members bills touching on the constitution before they are tabled in parliament. The Attorney General stated,

“I refuse to believe that your work is to supervise organs of government…you have neither the resources nor the technical expertise. The Commission will serve Kenyans well if it stayed within its mandate. We will achieve what we are doing if we respect our territorial authority.”

The Minister of the Justice and Constitutional Affairs Mutula Kilonzo backed the Attorney General declaring that, “any attempt to seek to audit the functions of Parliament and the Executive is not in the [Commission’s] mandate.”

However according to the constitution the CIC is charged with monitoring, facilitating and overseeing the development of legislation and administrative procedures required to implement the Constitution.

To achieve its mandate the Commission is supposed to “co-ordinate with the Attorney General and the Kenya Law Reform Commission in preparing, for tabling in Parliament, the legislation required to implement the Constitution.” In Article 261 (4) the constitution provides that “The Attorney General, in consultation with the Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution, shall prepare the relevant Bills for tabling before Parliament, as soon as reasonably practicable, to enable Parliament to enact the legislation within the period specified.”

Given its constitutional mandate, it would seem to me that the CIC was well within its mandate to request that it scrutinize private members that touch on implementation of the constitution before their introduction to parliament, your thoughts?