We should discard old ways now and let 2010 law reign
The 2010 Constitution gave Kenyans an opportunity to be represented at two levels: at county through MCAs, senators and governors, and nationally through members of the National Assembly and the Presidency, each with clearly stipulated roles.
From the surface, this is ideal. But its nature downplays the good picture in the following manner; we opted for a new method of governance but never divorced the first method. The old constitution stipulated representation at national level with weak municipal and provincial systems and members of the National Assembly to represent at the national level.
In the 2010 constitution, two levels of government provided for national and county governments, three houses of representation (National Assembly, Senate and county assemblies) and 13 constitutional commissions.
The National Assembly is provided for in both the 1969 and 2010 constitutions, with almost same responsibilities. The current 47 counties replaced the eight provinces. The senate was created to represent views and interests of counties at national level, legislate county related laws and oversight.
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Nine years after the promulgation, the 2010 constitution has had both positive and negative effects. Others feel we need amendments to reduce loopholes and accommodate for more inclusive government. This has been amplified by the March 9 handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Opposition leader Raila Odinga.
Word in the corridors of power has it, that the public participation carried out by the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) Committee was a thermometer to measure the heat of the referendum. So far, there is wide support for constitutional amendment. Some of the views by the youth are:
Firstly, to divorce completely from the 1969 constitution, that is, scrap that which we inherited and embrace the new dynamics including representation. This is because even though we opted for devolved units of representation, there was no clear distinction of the Senate as the upper house and the National Assembly as the lower.
In fact, the National Assembly seems to be the lower house with the upper hand due to its functions. All the 290 constituencies are within counties. Is it not proper then to merge the constituencies in a county and make counties the new national unit of representation?
This will reduce the number of parliamentarians and expenditure as well as improve the quality of debates. With the county representation at both levels, that is Senators and Members of National Assembly, it will be easy to achieve the 2/3 gender representation, which has been contentious.
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Secondly, strengthen, create and enhance accountability measures in the devolved unit. The new baby is now old enough and has demonstrated its capacity to make the difference.
However, the baby has to be independent from the guardian and her share in the estate must be given to her fully. Much has been put into devolution, but much has been lost through corruption, shoddy and none existent projects and embezzlement all these caused by lack of proper mechanism to scrutinize.
Those bestowed with the responsibilities of oversight are crying foul and, in some instances, are in bed with executive (implementors). MCAs roles are mired with dark cloud of incapacity, embezzlement and ignorance of their responsibilities. Senators simply agree to eat or die out of hunger. We borrowed best practices in devolved unit from other jurisdiction but not the accountability measures.
Thirdly, develop more means of separation of powers; separate head of state and head of government from one person and accommodate everyone in the country.
Democracy has no universally accepted definition, but it has universally accepted principles which when adhered to bring a government for the people and by the people themselves.
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Let us not fear constitutional amendments as it will lead us to contextualisation of the principles to address the peculiar nature of our country.
- The writer is CEO of Kenya Young Members of County Assembly.
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2010 ConstitutionConstitutionNational AssemblyGovernors