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Kenya's New Constitution on the chopping block!

Discussion in 'Kenyan News and Politics' started by Ab-Titchaz, Aug 25, 2012.

  1. Ab-Titchaz

    Ab-Titchaz Content Manager Staff Member

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    Aug 25, 2012
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    MPs pass tampered Integrity Bill


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    Updated 10 hrs 12 mins ago

    By Peter Opiyo

    Members of Parliament have ensured an easy return to the National Assembly for dozens of their own suspected of involvement in crimes.

    Under the cover of darkness, the MPs worked to ensure voters would not learn anything about suspected criminals that would keep them out of public office.

    This makes it easier for lawbreakers to attain public office at a time when there is rising concern some Kenyan institutions are unduly influenced by foreign despots and drug lords.

    The MPs tore out sections of the Leadership and Integrity Bill intended to ensure those elected to public office are people of high morals. They sat until five minutes past midnight on Thursday to vote against requirements on wealth declaration, vetting by State agencies and publication of their pending criminal court cases.

    The move flies in the face of public pressure to strengthen the Bill. Those seeking elective positions (presidential, parliamentary and county assembly posts) will not be vetted by State agencies. Those with pending criminal court cases would have a free ride to the ballot. The electorate will also be in the dark about pending criminal court cases against aspirants. The changes make a mockery of the era of transparency envisaged under the new Constitution, civil society groups say.

    The vetting component was considered a huge step in clearing the chaff from the country's leadership and was incorporated in the version of the Bill that the Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution forwarded to the Attorney General, but the Cabinet expunged this provision from the Bill.

    Though Kisumu Town East MP Shakeel Shabbir had expressed the intention to reintroduce it, he withdrew it from the list of amendments after his colleagues had voted against a provision on wealth declaration that could have laid the ground for vetting. The initial Bill, crafted by Charles Nyachae-led CIC, put in stringent vetting mechanisms.

    It had provisions that required those seeking public office to be cleared by the relevant State agencies. This would see them get approval or clearance from the National Security Intelligence Service, Kenya Revenue Authority, Higher Education Loans Board, and the National Police Service, or any other public entity.

    Wealth declaration

    This is what Shabbir had intended to move, but withdrew after the section on wealth declaration was defeated at the vote.
    The Constitutional Implementation Oversight Committee and the Parliamentary Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs, in their meeting on Tuesday, had argued that the reinstatement was "incompatible" with Article 99 (3) of the Constitution.

    On Thursday night, Chairman of the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee Njoroge Baiya, on behalf of the Committee, brought an amendment seeking to have State Officers declare their wealth and file the same report with the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission, before they are elected or appointed to office.

    This provision required State Officers to also declare their wealth within the first 30 days of being appointed or elected into office, on an annual basis and within 30 days of ceasing to be a State Officer. It slapped a one-year jail term and a fine of Sh5 million against those who fail to declare wealth.

    But the MPs voted against this provision, save for Baiya, Shabbir, Martha Karua (Gichugu), and nominated MPs Millie Odhiambo, and Rachael Shebesh, who supported the amendment.

    Shabbir would later introduce a similar amendment, but this again was shot down. In supporting the wealth declaration Karua said: "Let's make wealth declaration public so that we can catch everyone who is milking a cow that is not his."

    Those opposed to wealth declaration argued it would expose them to the public and more so to gangsters.

    "Access to wealth declaration shall give gangsters ammunition for kidnap. They will know how much you own and they will come for you," said Yatta MP, Charles Kilonzo.

    "One qualification of getting into leadership is because you are solvent. Insolvent people can't be in leadership," said Mathira MP, Ephraim Maina. Finance Minister Njeru Githae, in opposing the amendment, said it would give opponents a weapon to campaign against them.

    Contentious clause

    "Your opponents will look at your wealth and see you have nothing much and will ask what kind of a person is this we are electing?" said Githae. Another amendment by the Legal Affairs Committee requiring State Officers not to participate in a tender for the supply of goods and services to a public entity proved contentious and occasioned a division.

    It carried the day with 75 MPs voting for it, while ten opposed it. Only Public Works Assistant Minister Mwangi Kiunjuri abstained. The vote was the first to be done electronically after the refurbishment of the new Chamber. It took only three minutes for all the 86 MPs in attendance to vote. In giving the people free ride to the ballot without the public knowing of pending court cases against them, the MPs robbed the public of their right to know the kind of leaders they intend to put in public office.

    The amendment introduced by Githunguri MP, Njoroge Baiya, on behalf of the Legal Affairs Committee, required the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission to publish and publicise a list of persons to be elected and who have criminal cases pending in court. The amendment was meant to supply the public with adequate knowledge of those they intend to elect so that they can make informed decisions.

    But the MPs argued making such cases public would portend a death knell for their quest to seek public positions, as publishing such cases would portray them as guilty.

    Some said it could provide fodder for malicious people to taint others' names thereby jeopardising their chances of being elected.

    "When this amendment is passed anybody can go to court maliciously and when the list is published it can be used against you," said Mr Kiunjuri.

    Standard Digital News : MPs pass tampered Integrity Bill
     
  2. Ab-Titchaz

    Ab-Titchaz Content Manager Staff Member

    #2
    Aug 25, 2012
    Joined: Jan 30, 2008
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