BBI through backdoor as new Bill makes it possible for MPs to be ministers

Ndaragwa MP Jeremiah Kioni [File]

The contest for a parliamentary seat could gain more intensity if a proposed piece of legislation at the National Assembly seeking to bring back Cabinet Secretaries to the bicameral House, becomes law.

The Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill (National Assembly Bill No. 40 of 2020) has endorsed to have the president appoint his Cabinet from Parliament.

The Bill is sponsored by the Ndaragwa MP Jeremiah Kioni-led Constitutional Implementation Oversight Committee (CIOC) and is presently set for public participation.

According to the Bill, Cabinet ministers will be drawn from Parliament as opposed to the current situation where they are technocrats and loyalists of the president.

The same will apply at the county level where governors will appoint MCAs to their Cabinet.

The Attorney General will also sit in Parliament as an ex-officio member with assigned function. The latest move will make member of the National Assembly and Senate seats more lucrative in next year’s elections.

The proposal is among those contained in the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) constitutional amendment push, currently pending at the Court of Appeal, whose determination is slated for August 20.

Kioni’s Bill offers a lifeline for a key proposal of the BBI Bill, which aims to bring back government to Parliament.

The BBI Bill seeks to expand the Executive, proposing creation of prime minister position and two deputies, the office of the official opposition leader and a hybrid Cabinet drawn from the National Assembly and technocrats.

Over 20 second-term governors, previously shy to seek the MP slot, can contest the constituency positions with the hope of becoming Cabinet ministers.

Currently, legislators seeking to be Cabinet Secretaries have to resign from Parliament. This was the case when former Interior Cabinet Secretary, the late Joseph Nkaissery, was plucked by President Uhuru Kenyatta to head the ministry in 2013. Kericho Senator Charles Keter also had to resign to be Energy CS.

The post is among those that the president has seemingly used to reward loyalists. For instance, President Kenyatta’s Cabinet includes former governors Peter Munya (Meru) Ukur Yatani (Marsabit) and Hussein Dado (Tana River). Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe is also former Nyeri senator. 

Yesterday, Kioni said they will do what it takes to have accountability in Parliament.

“We expect the publication to last three to four weeks. We published in 11 counties where public participation will take place,” he said.

“Hopefully, the Second Reading will be in September when we resume and fast track to the Third Reading. Once done, we will transmit the same to the Senate where we expect it to be expedited.”

Download the BBI Judgement by all seven Judges - Civil Appeal No. E291 of 2021