Knut joins PSC to oppose CJ Maraga’s Parliament dissolution advice

KNUT Secretary General Wilson Sossion. [Collins Kweyu, Standard]

Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) has joined forces with the Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC) in challenging Chief Justice David Maraga's advice to President Uhuru Kenyatta to dissolve the parliament.

Knut argues in a statement signed by union secretary-general Wilson Sossion that dissolution of the 12th Parliament would disrupt learning process that the state is trying to salvage after Covid-19 blow.

“Knut has instructed its lawyers to pursue the matter, and accordingly enjoin the union in the application by the Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC) to challenge Chief Justice David Maraga’s advice to the Head of State to dissolve Parliament,” Knut says in a statement.

According to the union, should President Uhuru heed to the advice of Justice Maraga, many sectors will bear the brunt of economic slump and education will be the worst-hit especially after closures occasioned by the pandemic.

It adds that the dissolution of Parliament would activate a campaign mood in the country. This, the teachers say would ‘plunge the country into the abyss of education’ piling even more misery on the learners that have lost seven months at home.

“Dissolution of Parliament which will be followed closely by election campaigns will derail the efforts by the Ministry of Education, Teachers Service Commission (TSC), and the teachers' unions to drive learners back to school. It would be a herculean task to get students who have been out of school for 28 weeks back to the classroom,” the union states.

“Hence, the time lost during the closure of schools in the Covid-19 period would not be recovered as anticipated in the post-Covid-19 school calendar.”

On Tuesday, the PSC led by the National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi trained their guns on Justice Maraga for advising the president dissolve Parliament on the account that the legislators have failed to enact the two-thirds gender rule.

Addressing the media in Nairobi, alongside a section of lawmakers; Muturi termed Maraga’s advice ‘devoid of wisdom and circumspection’. He said the directive failed the legal threshold and was immature in the sense that there are two petitions yet to be determined in the high court next month over the same issue.

“The Commission has taken the firm position that the act by the Chief Justice to advice the president as the aforesaid is ill-advised, premature and unconstitutional and is a recipe for plunging the country into constitutional crises of monumental proportions,” Muturi said.

“The Chief Justice glossed over the fact that there are two petitions at the High Court set for the hearing on October 7, 2020, to determine among other issues whether the order made by Justice Mativo on March 29, 2017, to during the tenure of 11th Parliament is applicable to the 12th Parliament,” Muturi argued.

Muturi revealed a legal action by PSC under the support of both the National Assembly and the Senate to challenge Maraga’s advice that he termed as a recipe for disaster.

"PSC has resolved to engage counsels to proceed to the high court to challenge the unlawful and unconstitutional action taken by the Chief Justice,” he stated.

While issuing the statement detailing his action on Monday, the Chief Justice said he was fulfilling his constitutional duty and upholding the rule of law.

He said time was ripe to ‘endure the pain’ for the right choices to correct omissions or neglect that perpetuate impunity.

“In the result, your Excellency, it is my constitutional duty to advise you, the President of the Republic of Kenya, which I hereby do, to dissolve Parliament in accordance with Article 261(7),” he stated.

The Chief Justice made the decision pursuant to six petitions which sought his legal action over the failure to enact the legislation. He had dismissed a similar one, filed by Margaret Toili on April 10, 2019, on account that there was a bill in parliament to discuss the same issue. The two petitions in the High Court are to determine if the current parliament will also be affected by the circumstances of failing to enact the legislation like the previous one.