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MPs must aim at meeting deadlines for new laws

EDITORIAL
By | March 25th 2012

Parliament is on recess, but it should not be lost to the leadership that fundamental reforms are yet to be put in place even as the polls’ clock ticks away.

Already, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission has announced it is ready to conduct polls as early as December, and this should sound alarm bells to the Executive and Parliament that time is running out.

Parliament would therefore be required to work overtime when it resumes on April 17, to enact laws to ensure credible and peaceful elections that could help build a cohesive society.

It is worth noting that the Executive has miserably failed in originating Bills to implement the new Constitution in time, forcing Parliament to rush and even sit up to midnight to beat the Constitutional deadlines. This should be avoided.

It is worrying that three Land Bills that seek to transform the sector are yet to be enacted. To be sure land management has been a thorn in the flesh for Kenya since colonial times. The February 27 deadline for their enactments was extended by Parliament to April 27, after the Executive and the Legislature sought more time to scrutinise the Bills given land is a sensitive matter.

But since then little has been going on and the Parliamentary Committee on Lands and Natural Resources must seize the moment to receive submissions from relevant stakeholders to enrich the Bills. Given Parliament would only have ten calendar days to endorse the Land Registration Bill, the National Land Commission Bill and Land Bill, the committee must use the recess to do a thorough job to make the work easier for Parliament when it resumes.

Reforms in the police service must also be put in place urgently. The Parliamentary Committee on Administration and National Security last week vetted nominees to the Independent Policing Oversight Authority and must hand over its report to Parliament by March 20. Unfortunately, their approval would wait until Parliament resumes. During the vetting the nominees underscored the need for delinking the police from politics if reforms are to be realised.

And given that the police play a critical role in elections it is worrying that there is no sense of urgency in its reform. The Philip Waki Commission that probed post-election violence, returned a damning verdict on the police. It recommended radical reforms, including a complete audit of the current police management, structures, policing, practices, and procedures.

It is unfortunate that the nominations of members to the Police Service Commission has ruffled feathers, with Prime Minister Raila Odinga saying President Kibaki did not consult him on the nominations. Though the names have been forwarded to Parliament for approval, it is imperative that this disagreement does not derail recruitment of commissioners.

Parliament would also have to endorse the names of nominees to the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission as fast as it could. The Commission would play a critical role in vetting candidates to public offices, including presidential candidates, to effect Chapter Six of the Constitution that requires leaders to be people of high integrity.

The Parliamentary Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs rejected the names of Mumo Matemu, Jane Onsongo and Irene Keino last year, but the Executive is yet to bring a Motion seeking their approval as House Speaker Kenneth Marende directed. The House would also be called upon to endorse the Leadership and Integrity Bill to effect Chapter Six.

MPs must therefore desist from using the august House for sideshows. The Executive must also present Bills and Motions in good time.

The House Business Committee would also save time by not listing mundane questions on the Order Paper. All these would ensure MPs use the remaining time on only key issues. MPs’ in-tray would be packed as they are expected to also scrutinise the national Budget and the supplementary Budget when they resume. Our legislators must realise that time and tide wait for no man.

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