Is the NADCO Legislative Process Representative of the Citizen?


Attention now shifts to the Parliament of Kenya to either reject or approve nine Bills meant to enforce the report of the National Dialogue Committee (NADCO) that was adopted by the August House on 22nd February 2024. This follows the conclusion of the business of NADCO that was last year established to facilitate bipartisan dialogue and consensus building, recommend appropriate constitutional, legal and policy reforms on issues of concern to the people of Kenya focused on five key areas. 

The five areas included outstanding Constitutional matters, Electoral justice and related matters, Entrenching funds into the Constitution, Establishment and entrenchment of State offices and fidelity to Political Parties/Coalitions and the law of multiparty democracy. 

The nine legislative proposals allude to significant steps towards constitutional reforms. Amidst the looming flurry of legislative activity as outlined in the 2024 legislative calendar, lies cruicial questions, one in particular as to whether the voices and needs of the citizens are being adequately considered in the proposed amendments. 

Through a communication by the Speaker of the National Assembly, Moses Wetang’ula, the National Assembly will consider and prioritize the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill 2023, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (Amendment) Bill 2024, the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (Amendment) Bill 2024, the Leader of Opposition Bill 2024 and the National Government Coordination (Amendment) Bill 2024. Their counterparts in the Senate will be expected to consider the Elections Offences (Amendment) Bill 2024, Election (Amendment) Bill 2024, Statutory Instruments (Amendment) Bill 2024 and the Political Parties (Amendment) Bill 2024. 

The Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill 2023 is being fronted to anchor various offices i.e Office of the Prime Minister, Office of the Leader of Opposition and two deputies and create and anchor the Senate Oversight Fund, the Natinoal Government Affirmative Action Fund (NGAAF) and the National Constituency Development Fund in the Constitution. Additionally, the amendment Bill proposes an extension of the term of the Senate from five to seven years. 

The IEBC (Amendment) Bill proposes to change the IEBC selection panel and provides procedure for the delimitation of electoral boundaries. 

While the proposals rightfully seek to address very pertinent issues that have riddled Kenya’s political history, it is a tad bit worrisome that the committee has not proposed definitive interventions to address Kenyans’ pressing needs. The burden of the high cost of living gets heavier by the day through new Acts of law and policy shift that ironically are passed by the same Parliament. 

The essence of democracy lies in representation and inclusion of all voices and these voices gain audience through representatives sitting in Parliament. Across the political divide, there was a promise to relieve the populace off the high cost of living that stands between them and a quality life. However, the report doesn’t seem to offer much relief and exposes double speak on the side of Parliamentarians. 

The report proposes to cut travel budgets by 50 percent but in the same breadth puts its primary focus on the establishment of new offices, which will ultimately burden the taxpayer. Does it really reflect the public plight? 

Again, it’s only recently that Parliament approved the Affordable Housing Bill that has since been signed into law, evidence of a great disconnect between public and political intetests. The import of the Act is the re-introduction of a housing levy that was initially opposed by a majority of Kenyans and ultimately ruled unconstitutional when introduced through the Finance Act 2023. 

While the Bills have now been handed over to the joint committees of Justice and Legal Affairs and a public participation process is expected to be conducted on them respectively, Parliament will have a duty to also pronounce itself on the steps being taken to alleviate the tax burden on the citizen while taking cognizance of the underlying issues of corruption and poor service delivery.

Procedurally, the NADCO Bills have a forty-five day window after publication and gazettement to mature. It is, therefore, crucial for lawmakers to save-face and reevaluate priorities by ensuring that such legislative efforts genuinely serve the welfare of the people. These Bills hold the potential to shape the future of Kenya, beyond the governance structure, and it is imperative that they reflect the greater aspirations and needs of Citizens

Posted by Loise Mwakamba on March 27, 2024

Categories:  National Dialogue Committee Report   NADCO   representation



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