Electing 47 women to the Senate and scrapping Nairobi as a county are among the proposals in the Building Bridges Initiative report that could be rescinded.
President Uhuru Kenyatta and his handshake partner Raila Odinga struck a deal with MPs on November 2 that could allow fundamental changes to the BBI report.
“They agreed to incorporate the proposal we made and we hope that will happen,” Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Jr said of the changes fronted by the Senate and National Assembly.
Mutula sits in the Senate Justice and Legal Affairs Committee which with its counterpart in the National Assembly scrutinised the BBI document and proposed the changes.
The Star has obtained a report of the joint committee containing a raft of proposals to the BBI report.
According to the document, the MPs oppose the BBI task force’s proposal to elect 47 women to the Senate and scrap the equivalent in the National Assembly.
The committee noted that women representatives play an important role in the National Assembly as that House directly represents people in constituencies.
“It is therefore prudent that they be retained in the National Assembly to continue performing their important representative role and have an opportunity to serve in the Cabinet,” reads the report.
Further, the panel said that the proposed amendment contradicts Article 89 of the Constitution as it does not properly address the issue of gender representation in the National Assembly.
“The Committee further notes that removing these elected women representatives from the National Assembly will also affect the funds that reached women and other marginalised groups through the National Government Affirmative Action Fund,” the committee said.
“The role of protection of counties may be compromised when, for instance, the two Senators disagree and therefore do not vote the same way on a matter,” reads the report.
The committee said that jurisdictions that have more than one Senator per constituency such as the United States have far higher populations compared to Kenya.
They want the Senate to maintain the 47 elected members.
Further, the legislators opposed the proposal to repeal Article 123 of the Constitution on voting in the Senate – by delegations or otherwise. This has the implication that voting will be one vote per senator.
“The Committee notes that this deletion ought to be removed, especially noting the Committee’s proposal to only have 47 Senators from each of the Counties,” they said.
The MPs want all members of the Cabinet, except the President and his deputy to report to both Houses of Parliament and, when called upon, attend sittings of both Houses of Parliament and their committees.
They also want a Parliamentary Oversight Fund to facilitate members of both houses in carrying out their oversight work at the National Assembly and county levels.
In another proposal, the MPs want the proposal to scrap Nairobi county rescinded, arguing that such a move could spell doom for devolution.
“The Committee notes that this proposal flies in the face of devolution and is likely to be the first step in killing devolution. Devolution is the bedrock of the current Constitution and its benefits to Kenyans cannot be gainsaid.”
The committee further noted that the proposal restricts the power of the people of Nairobi to exercise their sovereign power.
It discriminates against the people of Nairobi in contravention of Article 27 of the Constitution, the committee said.
Concerning the Judiciary, the legislators have opposed the suggestion to have Judiciary Ombudsman sit in the Judicial Service Commission and report to the President and Parliament.
“The Committee notes that the judiciary ombudsman is an investigative office and should therefore be an ex-officio member of the JSC and further that her/his approval for appointment should be done by the Senate,” reads the report.
The committee further notes that the requirement for the ombudsman to report to the President and to Parliament should be removed. This would ensure the judicial independence, and therefore the independence of the Judiciary Ombudsman.
However, Raila last week indicated there will be ‘no new ideas’ to be incorporated into the report despite calls to tweak it.
Raila announced that the tedious process of collecting one million signatures to begin the referendum process starts this week.