Leader of opposition job beckons as MPs adopt talks team's report

National Dialogue Committee co-chair Kimani Ichungwa and Wiper Leader Kalonzo Musyoka after signing the Bipartisan talk agreement. [Dennis Kavisu, Standard]

Kenya has begun the journey to amend the Constitution to allow the creation of new positions such as the Office of the Opposition Leader and Prime Cabinet Secretary.

An adoption of the National Dialogue Committee (NADCO) report yesterday by the National Assembly set the ball in motion, with MPs now expected to introduce Bills and legislative proposals to facilitate the expansion of the structure of government.

“Once you pass this motion which has also been passed at the Senate, the clerks of both Houses will convene a meeting with senior officials to look at your proposals on legislation, both on the Constitution and Bills. We will work expeditiously to craft the Bills,” said Speaker Moses Wetang'ula right before the House adopted the motion on the NADCO report.

The Bill which also proposes formation of a new electoral commission ahead of the 2027 polls, is a by-product of the bipartisan talks between the Kenya Kwanza Alliance team and that from the Azimio la Umoja coalition.

The report was unveiled last year following lengthy deliberations between a bipartisan team led by National Assembly majority leader Kimani Ichungwa on behalf of the Kenya Kwanza faction and Wiper party leader Kalonzo Musyoka on behalf of Azimio coalition.

It is calling for creation of the office of Leader of the Opposition, which will be occupied by leader of the party that garnered second highest number of votes in the presidential election with two deputies and the entrenchment of the Prime Cabinet Secretary's office into the Constitution.

It also proposed that the Salaries and Remuneration Commission reduce the bloated wage bill by 30 per cent.

Further, the Ministry of Energy will be required to reduce road maintenance levy and anti-adulteration levy by Sh5 and Sh3 respectively.

The two sides, also reached a consensus on entrenchment of the Senate Oversight Fund, Ward Development Fund and National Government Constituency Development Fund (NGCDF) in the Constitution.

On electoral justice, the report concluded that the Azimio and Kenya Kwanza factions had agreed on necessity of an audit of 2022 electoral process.

It further proposed an expanded selection panel of nine members, up from seven to recruit the chairman and commissioners of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).

It has also called for increase of the timeline within which the Supreme Court shall hear presidential petition from 14 to 21 days and the creation of an office to oversight party fidelity to be entrenched in the Constitution. The role currently played by office of Registrar of Political Parties.

But prior to the adoption of the report yesterday, the exclusion of the issue on the 2/3 gender rule in the report came back to haunt the August House.

Dagoretti North MP Beatrice Elachi sought to have the issue addressed and included as part of the NADCO report before it was adopted.

“Mr Speaker, just to request in a humble way to look at all the availabilities that are there to ensure that the issue of the two-thirds gender rule becomes part of this NADCO report…. So that as we move on, we are able to know that we have something that will be part of this NADCO report…,” said Elachi.  

Speaker Wetangula responded: “As it is right now, Honourable Elachi, the Speaker has absolutely no capacity to superimpose a matter that is strange to the NADCO report on the NADCO report.”

He explained that there is currently an ongoing multi-sector process that would wholesomely address the 2/3 gender issue and once done present a report/Bill to the House for adoption/passing.

“Out of the question that I am going to put, you are going to tease out legislative proposals out of NADCO including some possible constitutional amendments bringing fresh bills, policy changes where necessary so we can actualize what is in Nadco,” observed the speaker.

Majority leader Kimani Ichungwa explained why both parties couldn't agree on the issue during the report crafting.

“Indeed, we were not able to conclusively give a way forward in NADCO on the two-thirds gender rule and principally because there was also broadly no agreement between the various stakeholders on that issue of the two-thirds gender rule,” he said.

Minority leader Opiyo Wandayi lauded Kimani’s sentiments, further reiterating that Azimio coalition supports the achievement of the 2/3 gender rule and would do whatever it took to make it a realisation.

“I agree with Ichungwah…. Whereas the matter was referred to the multi-sectoral forum, it implies that once the report by the team is brought before the house, it will be treated as part of the NADCO report,” Wandayi said.