Senators support dialogue committee report


National Dialogue Committee members during a past retreat in Naivasha. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

Senate Majority Leader Aaron Cheruiyot told the House that Kenya Kwanza and Azimio senators are in agreement with most of the key issues in the National Dialogue Committee (Nadco) report.

Cheruiyot called on members to debate the report objectively, terming the reconstitution of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), delimitation of boundaries, audit of the 2022 General Election as some of the key issues.

The Kericho Senator told the House on Tuesday that the report seeks to have the electoral commission review its operations after every General Election and make the necessary changes to ensure the operations are efficient and transparent.

“The report recommends that IEBC shall within three months of its reconstitution develop internal guidelines delineating the administrative and policy responsibilities of the chairperson and commissioners and institutional guidelines on administrative and policy functions,” said Cheruiyot.

He noted that on the high cost of living the report recommends that the government rationalises expenditure for the next three years to allow the economy to recover with the Executive, Parliament, Judiciary, county Executive, county assemblies, constitutional commissions and Independent offices reducing their travel budget by 50 per cent.

The Senate Majority Leader said that the report seeks to have the Salary and Remuneration Commission review the daily subsistence allowances for State and public officers with a view of reducing it by 30 per cent and recommend that they travel in economy class for flights not more than four hours.

Cheruiyot said the Implementation of two thirds gender was crucial so as to ensure that Parliament abides by the law, with the Senate only short of two members to comply with this rule.

“The report recommends that the Multi-Sectoral Working Group on the Realisation of the Two-Thirds Gender Principle under the Ministry of Public Service, Gender and Affirmative Action should finaliSe its work, and recommend a framework of implementation of two-thirds gender principle and submit its report to Parliament for consideration,” he said.

He said the report seeks to entrench the National Government Constituencies Development Fund, National Government Affirmative Action Fund and the Senate Oversight Fund in the Constitution.

The Majority Leader explained that Parliament is required to enact legislation to provide clarity on the purpose of the three funds being exclusive national government functions under part one of the fourth schedule to the Constitution.

Cheruiyot said there was a proposal to have senators serve for seven years’ term and members of National Assembly for five years due to the fact that senators currently earn the same salary as MPs despite representing counties some with more than five constituencies.

Nyamira Senator Okong’o Omogeni said the report contained various recommendations that need to be adopted to advance the economic and political stability of the country citing IEBC which the report has proposed capping the duration within which the commissioners must be appointed.

“The National Dialogue Committee recommends period of appointing IEBC commissioners from advertising the vacancies, shortlisting, interviews and appointment to be reduced to 90 days, however cases arising out of political parties’ nomination should be conducted by a different body other than the electoral commission,” said Omogeni.

The Nyamira senator who was also a member of Nadco, rallied his colleagues in the House to support the report saying they recommended that the National Treasury should a conduct a comprehensive review on the reduction of various taxes.

Omogeni revealed that they recommended that the electoral agency should remain with its core mandate of conducting elections and not addressing disputes arising from nominations.

Makueni Senator Daniel Maanzo said that boundary review is a crucial matter that should be given the attention that it deserves citing Makueni and Taita Taveta border conflict which is replicated in other areas and needs to be handled to ensure that residents coexist harmoniously.

Maanzo argued that food security and cost of living were matters of national important since some parents are unable to take their children to school or get them food due to the high cost of living and some Kenyans do not even have land to farm or any source of livelihood.

“On lowering the high cost of living I am wondering why one Cabinet Secretary would move around in more than three cars with dozens of aides accompanying them which is one example of unnecessary expenditure at a time Kenyans are facing serious economic challenges,” he said.

Nominated Senator Tabitha Mutinda said that the reconstitution of IEBC was important to allow the people of Banisa constituency and other electoral areas that did not have representation to go on by-election.

Mutinda congratulated Nadco led by Wiper leader Kalonzo who was the Azimio team leader and National Assembly Majority Leader Kimani Ichungwah who was the Kenya Kwanza team leader in the bipartisan talks for burning the midnight oil to come up with the report.

Siaya Senator Oburu Oginga said those who have never participated in an electoral injustice will not understand why the country needs a credible electoral agency that has more representation citing the disputed 2007 presidential election where the opposition candidate was winning until their victory was overturned at the last minute.

“We need an electoral body that is credible and trusted by all Kenyans so that we eliminate cases of election malpractices which have costed the country dearly in the past with a case in point being the disputed 2007 General Election where over 1,000 Kenyans lost their lives while many others were injured and lost their property,” said Oburu.

Nominated Senator Gloria Orwoba differed with her colleagues saying that the report has not addressed issues of women and failed to state the steps to be taken to implement the two thirds gender rule.

“I have read the report from page to page but I cannot see anything about women, let me tell my fellow senators that for this report to make sense it should come out clearly on the steps that should be taken to implement the two thirds gender rule,” said Orwoba.

Kisii Senator Richard Onyonka regretted that the two thirds gender rule has not been implemented because of vested interests of political figures and hoped that the matter will finally be settled.

Onyonka said that the entrenchment of the Senate Oversight Fund, National Government Constituencies Development Fund and National Government Affirmative Action Fund will be a game changer and called for inclusion of the Ward Development Fund.

“I would like to thank the teams led by Kalonzo Musyoka and Kimani Ichungwah for the good work they have done, it is now upon us legislators to ensure that we adopt the recommendations and have them enacted in law, we should all appreciate that we have one country Kenya,” he said.