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Judges rule new currency notes can bear Jomo Kenyatta statue

By Paul Ogemba | Sep 28th 2019 | 2 min read
By Paul Ogemba | September 28th 2019

It is now official -- the new currency notes will bear the image of founding President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta.

This follows a decision by High Court judges Kanyi Kimondo and Asenath Ongeri that the image of the first President on the new notes is not a portrait but a statue which forms part of the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC).

The judges upheld the design of the new currencies as issued by the Central Bank of Kenya, stating that it did not violate Article 231(4) which outlawed the use of portraits of individuals in any currency.

“It will amount to a very narrow interpretation of the Constitution to rule that the statue of the founding President is a portrait of an individual. It is clear that the image forms part of KICC which is a gazetted national monument and permitted to be used in the new currencies,” ruled the judges.

Justice Anthony Mrima dissented the majority opinion, ruling that the image is easily recognisable as that of Mzee Kenyatta and that he would have allowed the petition against the new notes and given Central Bank of Kenya one year to come up with new designs.

The judges also dealt a blow to those still keeping the old Sh1,000 notes by refusing to extend the September 30 deadline set by CBK Governor Patrick Njoroge.

According to the judges, the time limit was necessary to tame illicit money flaws, money laundering and counterfeit, adding that the CBK governor had the power to issue the directive without seeking public views.

“An economy like India, which is much bigger than ours had a deadline of only 60 days to withdraw the old notes. We find that that the four months’ notice given by the CBK governor was reasonable and lawful,” ruled the judges.

On the name and signature of Dr Njoroge and the Central Bank Board member which appears on the front of the new notes, the judges ruled that there was nothing wrong as the law allows government officials to sign all documents to prove their authenticity.

The judges further ruled that the pictures of individuals appearing on the front of the new Sh200 notes did not violate Article 231(4) since no one can recognise the faces.

They further defended CBK for failing to subject the final design of the new currencies to public participation, ruling that it was necessary to safeguard the duplication of counterfeit and fake money.

The petitions challenging designs of the new currencies were filed by East Africa Legislative Assembly MP Simon Mbugua and activist Okiya Omtatah.

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