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Jubilee’s call for referendum on Judiciary uncalled for

By The Standard | Updated Mon, February 20th 2017 at 00:00 GMT +3
Devolution Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri

Devolution Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri and MPs Kanini Kega (Kieni) and Esther Murungi (Nyeri Town) want a referendum called to check on what they term as “excessive powers” of the Judiciary. Obviously, the MPs are frustrated that the Judiciary is not letting them get away with inconsistencies and illegalities in the affairs of running the country.

That is how it ought to be. But that is no reason for the siege mentality creeping in the Jubilee ranks. Discrediting the Judiciary for not ruling in their favour can only stoke up unnecessary tension in an electioneering period. Granted, there are times when the general feeling is that the Judiciary has crossed the line and the actions of its members have been deemed dishonourable. The Judiciary has, however, opened itself up for scrutiny and where cases of impropriety have been proven beyond reasonable doubt; those in question have been removed from the Bench.

Separation of powers is what forms the bedrock of any decent democracy. And so the dalliance between the Executive and the Legislature should be cause for worry. This dalliance has been the cause of dysfunction in many democracies.

A pliant Parliament is the precursor to an Executive dictatorship. In our case, the Judiciary has been the bulwark against the excesses of an overbearing Executive in cahoots with an obliging Jubilee-majority Parliament under the leadership of the cantankerous Aden Duale and an acquiescing Speaker Justin Muturi.

In December, Mr Duale singled out High Court judge George Odunga and accused him of playing tribal politics in the wake of the acrimonious passing of Elections Laws (Amendment) Act 2016.

His threat to bring up a motion to discuss the conduct of the judge was quietly withdrawn. For far too long, the Legislature has constantly pushed the envelope. It is the duty of well-meaning Kenyans to stop this march to dictatorship.

We have witnessed the Executive through the National Assembly connive to turn back the clock. From the infamous Security Laws (Amendment) Bill 2014, to the Electoral Laws (Amendment) Bill 2016 the Executive has used Parliament as a rubber stamp

Mr Kiunjuri, a former MP, could only have been uttering what others in the top Government ranks don’t want to say. All of them claim the Judiciary is to blame for the problems the country faces.

That is not true. In fact, it would be fair comment to say that half the problems the country is grappling with have been caused by a greedy, uncaring political class. It is thoughtless for the MPs to delink their growing clamour for high salaries from the demands being made by other employees.

For awarding themselves some of the highest salaries and allowances, the MPs have distorted the pay structure in the public service and made it fashionable that indeed, you can be awarded handsomely for doing nothing. That should stop. And because the MPs, not once, but twice shoddily vetted EACC commissioners, the country is worse off in the war on corruption which in the President’s words “is a national security threat”. And there are many other examples.

The MPs’ and Mr Kiunjuri come from the school of thought that propagates the my-way-or-the-highway dictum. The time for that is long past. They should appreciate that Kenya has changed and they should “accept and move on”. The political class should leave the Judiciary alone.



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