On Watering Down of Legislation

Posted by on 21st June 2012

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Lately there seems to be several attempts by parliament to amend legislation to favour the interests of those in the current House. The latest form of such legislative manipulation occurs in the amendments to Election Act 2011. In its an un-amended form the Election Act 2011 bars presidential candidates and their running mates from running for any other elective positions – senator, governor, Member of Parliament etc – during the general election.

However during the course of the week Members of Parliament have made valiant attempts to the change the provisions of the Election Act to allow presidential candidates and their running mates to run for other elective positions. The reasoning behind the proposed amendment is to give presidential candidates and their running mates a soft landing should they fail at their presidential bids.

The proposed amendment introduced by Nambale MP, Chris Okemo, through the Statute Law (Miscellaneous Bill) 2012 (the same legislation through which MPs are planning to increase their gratuity) was yesterday successfully passed in an extended session of parliament. The amendment reads:

“Not withstanding any other provision of this Act and for the avoidance of doubt, a person who is nominated as candidate for election as a President or Deputy President is nevertheless eligible for nomination and may contest as a candidate for any other elective seat in the same elections.”

The reasoning behind the amendment seems flawed. I’m not sure exactly what a ‘soft landing’ is? Or why presidential candidates should receive a soft landing if their presidential bids fail? Further in whose interest is the ‘soft landing’? Certainly not the taxpayer, the amendment involves allowing presidential candidates to run for two positions, if the presidential candidate should win the presidential race, they would be required to relinquish whatever other elective position they have won, and a 40 million by-election for the seat would ensue. A pretty hard landing for the taxpayer considering he/she would have just paid the bill for our most expensive election yet.

Apart from the amendment that will allow presidential candidates to run for other elective seats MPs also managed to change the Election Act to lower the education requirements for those running for the position of member parliament from university degree to high school diploma. MPs also succeeded in passing an amendment to the Political Parties Act that allows MPs to change parties without having to relinquish their seats.

Of all these amendments I’m sure that most Kenyans are wondering, what is the point of making new legislation only to amend it later to suit the whims of the political class? Ideally the constitution and the pursuant legislation are designed to provide a smooth transition and continuity of the good policies while rectifying/plugging/expunging the inefficiencies of the old dispensation. However this can’t happen if legislature keeps making laws then amending the new laws to ensure that the political system basically remains the same.

3 Comments

  • by kissorio on 21st June 2012

    The selfish interest of our leaders has left us helpless as we watch them mutilated the new constitution to gratify their ambitious interests that override the interests of 40 million kenyans, the only consolation that remains is to vote them out.

  • by njoro on 21st June 2012

    Kenyans we should realise majority of this Mps are there for their own selfish ends. Since the political class has failed as a progressive force, we the people should take the lead in umasking the political rot that is hindering progression and overall social mobility. We should name and shame this people whose behaviour is tantamount to TREASON. Doesnt the Kenyan constitution give all of us equality. This traitors should be taken to court and prevented from running for any office.Though the Government doesnt have laws on treason, we should enforce and evoke chapter 2 article 10 (2) (c) of the constitution. Dear Kenyans just ask your self this question. How has my life been for the past two years?? would it have been better if ,the leadership in this government took the right steps and offered good governance?? If yes then lets get rid of this vermin that has plagued our society

  • by Citizen Koffi on 24th June 2012

    I disagree with any of the amendments and I must state here from the onset that my opinions are my own and are neither affiliated to any particular party nor any particular politician thereof. First and foremost, when Kenya elected the ninth parliament, there was a general and acceptable excitement that since almost 80% of those elected were known lawyers (Orengo & others) academicians (Kilemi Mwiria & other) as well as civil activists (Mutava Musymi & others), Kenyans were forgiven for that optimism. Hell, Kenyans were judged the most optimistic people in the world. But what happened? There were perennial lack of quorums in parliament during meaningful debates but when it came to increasing their salaries, there were enough of them to pass the bills sometimes in the night. Now we all know that all lawyers have degrees; don't they? Secondly, If someone have high esteems as to be a presidential material and for some reason the voters do not agree with his qualifications (and there is nowhere in the world where leadership qualification is equated with education), why would he lower his expectations and vie for anything other than that which he/she initially presented His/herself for and put the taxpayer through a process which is non beneficial to the citizenry anyway? If this so called soft landing is meant to ameliorate their financial situations then it has got nothing to do with the voters. Third, there is a reason why politics need parties. But the situation in Kenya is peculiar. There is no party affiliation as therefore then there is no allegiance to any party manifesto which should be the guideline as well as it should be the barometer as to political ideals of an individual politician! This therefore leaves the voter wondering how a democrat can then in two weeks of the nomination process eschew his democratic ideals for republican principles! Now don't get me wrong. There has been on record on party hoppers who for some convoluted reasoning became very great presidents! On this Ronald (I personally never believed in his greatness. This is the president whose actions closed down the motor Industry in America and paved the way for exporting American jobs to China. Again that is my very considered opinion) Reagan comes to mind. As far as I am concerned, and as much as I agree that the parliamentarians should be educated, I opine that education is like a torch. You can give someone a very bright torch to light up his/her path, but the torch can never stop him/her from being bitten by a snake should she/he step on one simply because the torch is bright! There are people who believe that Njenga Karume was a great leader, that Mulu Mutisya was a great leader, that president Moi was a great leader, that Sir Richard and his Virgin is a successful leader, that Bill gates and Steve jobs are and were great leaders and that Professor Ayiecho has a degree! There are a lot of squatters in Taita Taveta and probably in Rongai while with the same token they believe that Uhuru Kenyatta will make a great president. There are a whole bunch of people who believe that Musalia Mudavadi knew nothing about Goldenberg and that the can be a very good president. You must accept that there are people who believe that the Late Saitoti (God rest his soul in eternal peace) was new nothing about goldenberg and that if he were alive today his presidency would be the panacea for all our ailments; politically! You can ignore the large majority of Kenyans who believe that Raiding KTN and admitting it on national TV was a figmentation of our journalists’ fertile minds and that the Artur bros never existed and therefore if John (I admired him for standing up single-mindedly to the Matatu menace and winning the war) Michuki was the greatest of them all! The point is Kenya is a country of declarations. Kenyatta declared himself president and with a little help from Charles (He now sees no point in electing non graduates when he turned against the grain to pave way for Moi without a degree; was he thinking of his future?) Njonjo, mutilated the constitution and Kenya had successive illegitimate elections for years. Njonjo would later help Moi turn Kenya into a one party state with claimed (rightfully or wrongfully) dictatorial tendencies. Kenyan politicians are fond of declaring no go zones come times of elections. So when you see and hear Nonini on TV demanding that presidential aspirants should have a one on one debate on TV to sell themselves the same way artists do by way of audio and video, I say that is a brilliant Idea but I add the rider: Since artists like Nonini pay for the production of their videos and later benefit form sales of their sweat, Political leaders should also pay for the airtime on national TV because going by the trends set by politicians lately, they benefit immensely. Lastly, to save Kenya form these greedy so called leaders, all MPs being representative of their constituents, should just be that. Representatives. They should never be Ministers nor should they hold any civil service jobs. Ministers and their assistants are paid by the taxpayer and that in my view is civil service. They are not uniformed, are they?