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Fireworks loom over proposed law on pecking order

NAIROBI
By ROSELYNE OBALA | November 10th 2013
              According to the Bill, governors can only fly flags within their jurisdictions

By ROSELYNE OBALA

A proposed law that seeks to define hierarchy in government in terms of pecking order, titles and flying of the national flag will soon be operational unless the Bill creating it is amended.

The proposals target to strip off governors of their His Excellency title and rank them lower than the Senators, a move that might face still opposition from the County Chief Officers.

The National flag, Emblems and Names (Amendment) Bill, (Senate Bills No 2 of 2013) by Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale also recommends that governors be restricted to flying the national flag with the boundaries of their counties.

The Bill further suggests that the Auditor General be ranked in the same level with the Attorney General. The proposed law will obviously rekindle the supremacy battle between the lawmakers and the governors. Senators, however, insist there should be sanity and order in the leadership hierarchy to avoid confusion. It proposes that Cabinet Secretaries, Principal Secretaries, Attorney General and Auditor General be ranked lower than the Senators and Members of the National Assembly.

The Senators say recognition and titles should not cloud minds of leaders, who should instead focus on service delivery.

The Bill in its second reading saw the Senators unanimously agree that sanity should prevail in government circles, without creating room for small kingdoms in the name of counties.

They questioned why Cabinet Secretaries, AG and Auditor General should be ranked higher that the legislators yet they vetted them. The latest move is also widely seen to be aimed at trimming the powers of governors and civil servants.

Facing jail term

If the Bill is passed, Governors and other state officers will risk being jailed if found liable of flouting the pecking order. “A person who unlawfully uses a title provided for under the Fourth Schedule commits an offence and is liable, on conviction, to a fine not exceeding Sh100,000  or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year.” reads parts of the Bill. The culprits may all face both. “The order of precedence of State officers is to be observed for all official purposes and official functions,” said Dr Khalwale.

Senators called for more amendments to strip off other State officers the right to fly the National flag.

Dr Khalwale, however, sought to assure the County Executive Officers that the Bill is not meant to undermine them but define their position as per the law. “The Bill seeks to clearly define the position of State officers, beginning with the presidency to address the confusion witnessed lately,” he explained.

Senators John Lenyangapuo (West Pokot),  Kiraitu Murungi (Meru), Kindiki Kithure (Tharaka Nithi), Kipchumba Murkomen (Elgeyo Marakwet), Kembi Gitura (Muranga), James Orengo (Siaya), Kimani Wamatangi (Kiambu) and Elizabeth Ongoro expressed reservations  that the governors were flying the National flag and using the His Excellency title.

They maintained that there is only one center of power, the presidency. Khalwale argued that the title His Excellency should be restricted to President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto.

“The Speaker of either Houses will be referred to as Right Honorable Speakers,” he said.

The President, Deputy President, Chief Justice, Speakers (Senate and National Assembly), Governors, Attorney General, Auditor General and Cabinet Secretaries will be allowed to fly the flag.

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