Friday 3rd May 2019
THE BIG CONSTITUTIONAL REVIEW DEBATE
NAIROBI FORWARD pressure group under the leadership of its founder,Fwamba Nc Fwamba in collaboration with COUNTY GOVERNANCE WATCH steered by Executive Director Kevin Osido, held the first structured public engament concerning the discussions around amending the Constitution of Kenya (2010). The objectives of the debate which was moderated by Agnes Ibara, were to: familiarize Kenyans with the content of the different existing proposals from different stakeholders seeking to amend the Constitution of Kenya (2010); provide a platform to critically interrogate the proposed Constitutional amendments, their implications and the role of the citizens and other actors in the constitutional review discourse and generate practical steps towards moving the Constitutional Review Debate to the grassroots.
The panelists included Gatundu South MP Hon. Moses Kuria, Party Leader of Thirdway Alliance Dr.Ekuru Aukot, Speaker of Nairobi County Assembly Hon. Beatrice Elachi, Former Nairobi County CEC for Education Janet Muthoni Ouko, Uraia Trust Executive Director Grace Maingi and Kevin Osido; engaged in a heated issue-based debate that focused on the theme: Is it the time we reviewed the Constitution of Kenya(2010)?
Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Jr., was also expected but sent his apology as he was attending a funeral of a close relative.
The debate sought to answer questions such as:
1.Do we need a review of the Constitution of Kenya (2010)?
2.If we do, what is it that we must review?
3.If we must review, when is it appropriate to do so?
4.What areas of interest should be reviewed? 5.Must we do the review through a referendum? 6.Is it possible to attain desired changes through Parliament?
The organizers indicated that this was just but the beginning of a countrywide structured engagements being organized by NAIROBI FORWARD in collaboration with the COUNTY GOVERNANCE WATCH; hinting that some of the submissions would also find their way into a memorandum to the Building Bridges to Unity Initiative.
Various organizations, civil society groups, student organizations, religious organizations, youth groups and other stakeholders, including the BBI Taskforce were represented.
#TheConstitutionalDebate was held at Ufungamano House Nairobi, which has a historical significance in Kenya’s Constitution making process during the second liberation.
While Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria argued that there is need for a constitutional review process that seeks inclusion of all Kenyans in national leadership, Thirdway Alliance Leader Dr.Ekuru Aukot argued that Kenyans were already overburdened with a high wage bill supporting redundant political positions like the nominated slots. Ekuru argued that compared to other countries like the US,China and India, Kenya is almost 400% over represented in parliament.
Moses Kuria argued that the Senate should be ceremonial with Senators doubling up as County Assembly speakers in their respective counties with similarity to the German model. Kuria also proposed that parliament should find a way of amending the Constitution by creating five top executive positions President, Deputy President, Prime Minister, and two Deputy Prime Ministers that will ensure fair distribution of leadership positions between different ethnic groups in Kenya.
Aukot argued that it is possible to achieve equal gender representation and at the same time reduce the burden on the tax payer by reducing the number of MPs where every county will be represented by one male and one female legislator.
Nairobi County Speaker Beatrice Elachi empathized the space of women in leadership, adding that the emphasis on inclusive politics means that women and men should get equal chances to leadership. She proposed that there is need to have the five positions proposed by Kuria but on principle that the position should be inclusive on the basis of gender representation.
Uraia Trust Executive Director, Grace Maingi said that the constitutional review process is not in place yet but the debate is now laying ground to determine whether there is need or not to have the constitutional review process.
Former CEC ,Nairobi County, Janet Ouko emphasized on the need for the process itself to be inclusive enough and encouraged youths and students to be fully involved because they represent the future of this country.
The convenors Fwamba Nc Fwamba of NAIROBI FORWARD and Kevin Osido of County Governance Watch reiterated that there was need to have a structured national discourse to ensure the country builds consensus on the issue of constitutional review and that citizen voices take centre stage in the debate. They have earmarked the first 14 Counties for the initial citizen engagement dialogues.