By Mourice Seretta
The Law Society of Kenya (LSK) asked Kenyans to reject the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill, 2020 and urged Parliament to shoot it down in totality.
Speaking when he led his team to give its views to the joint Justice and Legal Affairs Committees of Parliament on Thursday last week during the BBI public participation forum LSK President Nelson Havi said the Bill is unconstitutional.
The top lawyers’ body said the Bill seeks to overhaul the Constitution by changing the structure of governance through a process that is not inclusive or participatory.
“The Bill does not conform and seeks to alter the norm of the Constitution. The current Constitution envisages the situation where we have a pure presidential system. Any attempt to alter this is so vast in its scope to be called an amendment,”Havi said.
Havi backed up his remarks by citing the proposal to change the structure of the constitution by introducing the Office of Prime Minister and two deputies.
The council also termed the plan to pick cabinet members from parliament unconstitutional and objected to the provision giving the Salaries and Remuneration commission (SRC) powers to determine fees charged by professions to county and national governments saying it will undermine the independence of the bar.
However, Havi got it rough from the MPs especially those who are members of the council.
Led by Rarieda MP Otiende Amollo, the legislators questioned whether the views contained in the document were personal arguing that the society never collected such views or any views at all before filing the memorandum.
Kisumu Town West MP Olago Aluoch said the submission should be treated as personal views because an AGM was not called to get members’ views.
Apart from LSK, other first persons to give their views to the joint committee included but not least to Jubilee party secretary-general Raphael Tuju who said the Bill was what Kenya needed.
Tuju asked the MPS to pass the document containing constitutional changes, saying the Bill will address the challenges the country has grappled with for years.
Tuju who also appeared before the joint committee on Thursday appealed to the House to pass the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill, 2020 stating that the BBI proposals will arrest the perennial chaos and polarization of the country every election cycle.
“We have had divisive elections in 2017, 2013 and several years dating back in 1992. Any attempt, however modest, to address this issue of polarization every five years, we have to support,,” he said.
Tuju further said that proposals to address youth unemployment through the creation of the Youth Commission will help address the problem of joblessness in the country.
Others who gave their views to the joint committee were the Nairobi Mashinani Women Caucus from Kawangware who drummed up support for the passage of the Bill.
Led by their chairperson Rachel Kamweru, they said there will be enough bursaries for their children with an increase of CDF allocation and additional 12 constituencies that will pump in Sh1.2 billion in the capital city.
They also said that since the handshake that brought about BBI and now the Bill, the country has witnessed peace and tranquility enabling then conduct business in a manner never witnessed before.
One Beatrice Wayeko, who calls herself Mama Njugu, caused quite a stir after making her submissions when she asked members to buy her peanuts which she had in the chambers.
She walked to Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja and asked him to buy the peanuts to demonstrate how peaceful the country has been making her business thrive since the handshake.
“We have suffered every election. We cannot but anything. Today, we are free. Our children can walk and I can sell njugu to everybody,” she said.
Sakaja bought the groundnuts and informed members that he had their peanuts.
“Just for your information, I want to inform members that I have your groundnuts here,” Sakaja said.
During the first session, a consortium of the disabled person’s organisation of Kenya, Boda Boda Riders Association, Jua kali Association, informal sector working groups and the Non-Governmental Organization Council aired their views supporting the BBI Bill.
They cited several clauses in the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill, 2020 which they termed as progressive and beneficial to them.
Many other bodies and individuals are still giving their views to the committees before they retreat to write their report before tabling it both in the National Assembly and the Senate simultaneously.