All eyes on Parliament as MPs debate dialogue committee report

National Dialogue Committee co-chairs Kalonzo Musyoka and Kimani Ichug'wah. [Dennis Kavisu, Standard]

Parliament is on Tuesday expected to adopt the National Dialogue Committee (Nadco) report which will pave the way for debate on various recommendations made with far-reaching implications on how the country is governed.

Key among the recommendations that the Senate and National Assembly are set to deliberate on are having a new electoral commission in place, measures to lower the high cost of living, creation of the office of the Leader of the Opposition and the office of the Prime Minister among others.

The committee report recommends that the Constitution be amended to establish the office of the Leader of the Opposition an office that will go to the person who is the leader of the largest party or coalition of political parties which garnered the second highest number of votes at the ended presidential election.

“The person designated by the party or coalition of political parties which garnered the second greatest number of votes in the immediately preceding presidential election to hold that office in accordance with the party or coalition agreement,” says the report.

The report seeks to have the Official Leader of the Opposition represent the interests of the opposition, provide an alternative policy agenda and constructive criticism of government policies, and promote transparency, accountability and good governance in public affairs.

The committee recommended that the Constitution create the office of the Prime Minister who shall be nominated with the approval of the National Assembly and appointed by the President to assist the President and the Deputy President in the coordination, supervision, and implementation of government policies.

“The Prime Minister shall supervise national government policies, programmes and projects across all government ministries and state departments, coordinate the national government’s legislative agenda across all ministries and state departments and perform any other function as may be directed by the President,” says the report.

The Nadco report also recommended fast-tracking legislation to harmonise relations between the Senate and National Assembly, enactment of legislation on the fight against corruption and entrenching the National Government Constituency Development Fund, the Senate Oversight Fund and the National Government Affirmative Action Fund in the Constitution.

The Nadco report also made several recommendations after meeting various stakeholders and experts which included the amendment of the First Schedule to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission Act, 2011 to establish a Selection Panel for IEBC Commissioners.

“The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission Act, 2011 should be amended to provide that respective nominating bodies shall select the nominees for appointment through a competitive and transparent process and ensure that no more than two-thirds of the nominees are of the same gender,” says report

The Nadco report seeks to have section 6 of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission Act, 2011 amended to include experience in information and communication technology and accounting as professional qualifications for appointment as a member of the Commission.

The report seeks to have the IEBC after every General Election review its operations and make the necessary changes required to make its operations more efficient, effective, transparent and accountable.

"The IEBC shall within three months of its reconstitution develop internal guidelines delineating the administrative and policy responsibilities of the Chairperson and Commissioners and institutional guidelines on administrative and policy functions," reads the report.

“Article 138 of the Constitution be amended to clarify the role of the other commissioners before the Chairperson declares the final Presidential results. Amend the Elections Act, 2011 to provide for processing and declaration of results,” says the report.

On the cost of living the Nadco report recommends that the Government should rationalise its expenditure for the next three years to allow the economy to recover with the Executive, Parliament, Judiciary, county executives, county assemblies, constitutional commissions and Independent offices should reduce their travel budget by 50 per cent.

The report seeks to have the Salary and Remuneration Commission review the Daily Subsistence Allowances (per diem) for State and Public officers with a view to reducing it by 30 per cent with all state and public officers required to travel in economy class for flights of not more than four hours.

“Full implementation of the government circular (Reference No. OP/CAB.304/018 dated June 29, 2023) on the size of government delegations with reduction of allocations to hospitality and office general supplies 50 per cent should be carried out,” says the report.

The report recommends that within one year of its adoption, the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC), National Gender and Equality Commission (NGEC) and Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) be merged, and their mandates be undertaken by the Kenya National Human Rights and Equality Commission as established under Article 59 of the Constitution.

The report also seeks to have the national and county governments adopt a Zero-Based Budgeting approach to enhance accountability, rapidly reduce wastage of public funds and address the challenge of incremental budgeting.

“The Government shall review and develop national policies relevant to the enhancement of agricultural production and manufacturing capacity to reduce over-reliance on imports that has drained the foreign exchange reserves,” says the report.

The report notes that the Senate and the National Assembly have been engaged in several litigation with regard to the extent of their respective legislative functions and particularly the application of Article 110 on the procedure for processing Bills concerning counties and money bills

The committee recommends that Parliament should fast-track the enactment of legislation to harmonise bicameral relations between the Houses with the Constitution being amended to provide that the term of the Senate shall expire on the seventh year from the date of the last election.

The report seeks to have the Constitution amended to promote multi-party and fidelity to political parties by entrenching procedures for resignation and deregistration of members of political parties. This seeks to ensure party discipline and provide that a political party may enter into a pre or post-coalition agreement with another political party or political parties.

“The Constitution be amended to include, in the basic requirements of political parties, that every political party shall promote discipline within the party, conduct its affairs in a manner that promotes democracy and peaceful politics, and adheres to the values and principles of the Constitution in the nomination of persons to appointive or elective positions including Articles 27, 54, 55, 56, 57 and 100 of the Constitution,” says the report.