Fighting government institutions bury the hatchet

Uhuru Kenyatta receives his presidential certificate from Chief Justice David Maraga (left) as Chief registrar of the Judiciary Ann Amadi (centre) looks on during the swearing in of Uhuru Kenyatta as the President of Kenya for the second term at the Kasarani stadium,Nairobi.[Elvis Ogina.Standard]
The sour relationship between the three arms of Government witnessed after the 2017 elections seems to have taken a turn for the better following the handshake.

The Executive, Legislature and the Judiciary had protracted wars in the aftermath of the August 8, 2017 polls but appear to have buried the hatchet in a bid to build the nation.

Unlike before when the Judiciary was accused of dishing out injunctions against the Executive and Legislature, the trend has toned down.

The courts now order full trials for applications that may interfere with operations of the entity that is the subject of the suit. “The relationship between the Judiciary and the other arms of Government remains complementary as we are independent. We continue to engage and collaborate as we cannot operate in isolation,” says Judiciary Registrar Anne Amadi.

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Senate Deputy Speaker Kithure Kindiki says relations between the Legislature and Judiciary improved when the Judiciary slowly appreciated that “the world does not start and end with them”.

“They are cautious in issuing injunctions against Parliament and other arms of government from performing their work. Parliament derives its authority directly from the people as opposed to the Judiciary that derives its authority indirectly,” he says.

Kindiki says there is much restraint and maturity in the manner the courts are issuing orders that interfere with the functions of Parliament.

Biggest casualty

The constitution, he says, permits an interface between the three arms of government and none has exclusive independence.

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“It is minimal and remains the background overruling of any arm. Parliament has been the biggest casualty of the Judiciary,” he says. Following the August 8, 2017 General Election and the nullification of the presidential results by the Supreme Court, there were calls for removal of some judges. However, the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) watered down the move by dismissing the petitions.

Following the nullification of his election, President Kenyatta accused the Judiciary of issuing rulings that were detrimental to the Executive and promised to “revisit” the matter after the repeat polls.

“I have always said that we have a problem with our Judiciary. We will respect the ruling but we will revisit this agenda because we have to respect the will of the people,” he said.

It has not been all rosy though. The Judiciary’s 2018/19 budget was slashed by half by Parliament, a move that forced the institution to suspend its mobile courts that have been operating in 50 remote areas in the country.

The mobile courts were introduced to reduce the backlog of cases and to save Kenyans in remote areas of the country the pain of travelling hundreds of kilometers in search of justice. Yesterday, National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi said he has no issue with the Judiciary. “I talk a lot with Chief Justice David Maraga. Even on this budget issue, there are ongoing consultations. The matter is being looked into by the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee,” he said.

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According to Amadi, the effects of the slashed budget will trickle down to the litigants whom she said will have to share the cost.

Public outreach

“We may be forced to introduce appropriate cost-sharing measures. Development projects will obviously stall with far reaching consequences for the taxpayer,” said the registrar.

But even as the three arms close ranks, the Independent  Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) is still reeling from last year’s polls. Four commissioners and a number of officials have left since the August polls and chairman Wafula Chebukati sent CEO Ezra Chiloba on compulsory leave.

In a bid to rebuild its image after last year’s elections, the electoral body has embarked on public outreach programmes.

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“Our image is often dented by inadequate information. The chairman and commissioners have held several county forums,” said Andrew Limo, the IEBC communications manager.

2017 electionsuhuru raila handshake