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Nadco report proposals good, Gen Z protests game changer

Opinion
Youth demonstrate in Nairobi during demos over Finance Bill 2024 that was due debate and voting in parliament. Youth opposed to the bill kept the police in running battle all day long. [Denish Ochieng, Standard] 

The National Dialogue Committee (NADCO) delegations of 10 members, each from either of the two coalitions, were led by Kimani Ichung’wah from the ruling coalition side and by Kalonzo Musyoka from the opposition.

One of their key report recommendations was the amendment of the First Schedule to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Act, 2011, to establish an expanded Selection Panel for the Commissioners. This recommendation emanated from the presentations made to the committee during public participation.

The NADCO report recognises the important role of political parties in political dialogue, engagement and democratisation process. This is why the representation of the Political Parties Liaison Committee to the Panel was expanded from one to three, in the political parties categories of non-parliamentary political parties or coalition of parties, parliamentary party or coalition of parties forming national government, and parliamentary party or coalition of parties not forming national government.

The NADCO report also enhanced the roles of political parties by recommending a Mixed Member Proportional Representation (MMPR) electoral system.

The committee also recommended the strengthening of political parties through public funding and facilitation with Kalonzo recommending formation of three (3) umbrella coalitions of independent political parties to ensure they have a stronger voice within their coalitions and are able to organise and enhance their collective bargaining power.

Funding for political parties is a thorny issue that keeps on recurring especially because political parties in Kenya are not permitted to raise funds from sources other than public funding especially, not from foreign governments. This reliance on public funding exposes them to challenges and undermines their capacity to organise and play their roles effectively.

The law is very clear on the percentage of funding due to political parties, a matter that has been reaffirmed by the court. The problem is inadequate allocation by the Treasury, which may not appreciate the important role of political parties in promoting democracy, peace-building, social justice and the rule of law. In fact, adequate funding and facilitation for political parties greatly enhances acceptance of elections results and minimise post-election disputes and violence as elections becomes less of a zero-sum game of winner take all.

The recommended amendment to the Constitution to introduce MMPR also aims to make operational the rule that no more than two-thirds of either gender should constitute elective positions in the National Assembly, Senate and County Assemblies. If adopted, political parties participating in an election will be required to submit a list of candidates in zebra format, female-male-female-male etc. in order of priority to be translated into seats proportionate to the number of votes garnered by each political party in an election.

These changes will raise the number of persons with disabilities to be nominated by parliamentary political parties based on their proportion of members in the National Assembly to 18 and 3 in Senate.

Finally, it is heartwarming to see and witness the now popularly known Gen Z coming out in large numbers to entirely reject the Finance Bill 2024 and insist on full implementation of the Constitution and realisation of human rights for all.

The cost of living is extremely high, with the majority of Kenyans unable to fend for themselves and their families. The Finance Act 2023 introduced the housing tax and other statutory deductions from workers’ salaries including increasing VAT on commodities and fuel, which has greatly undermined Kenyans capacity to live a decent life. This Finance Bill 2024 seems like the last straw for struggling Kenyans.

This is why the youth who are more than 55% (millennials and Generation Z) came out in large numbers to force the government to recall in entirety this Bill and rethink its taxation measures. I hope the government listens very carefully to these demands.

For us elder activists, knowing a constitution is useless without implementation, celebrate and fully support Gen Z campaign in their campaign.

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