Ensure crisis orders comply with the law

The relative calm after the recent deadly anti-government protests is an opportunity to seek tangible solutions to the problems that have brought the country to this boiling point. The scores of deaths, injuries to hundreds and destruction of property are a wake-up call to the leaders and the people to rally together and stop the descent into chaos and mayhem.

President William Ruto’s concessions to the youthful protesters’ demands confirm that he is keen on urgent fixes to ease the national tension. The Generation Z demonstrations are continuing to pile up pressure.

However, some of the orders the President has issued may raise legal queries. It would be foolish to introduce measures that may breach the law.

Legal experts have questioned some of the measures he has announced as he seeks alternative ways of funding the national Budget after he declined to assent to the Finance Bill, 2024.

The experts have, for example, pointed out that the President does not have the powers to scrap the 47 state corporations he has announced will be dissolved. It is the National Assembly that has the mandate over the corporations created by Acts of Parliament.

He has also appointed a task force to audit the public debt, which would raise queries over the apparent side-lining of the Auditor-General and the Controller of Budget. Auditing public debt is the Auditor-General’s constitutional mandate. There is also the Directorate of Public Debt Management.

The task force could also amount to a possible duplication of efforts, as the two agencies have done a good job so far. Some well-meaning proposals such as the banning of State officers from participating in harambees should also be carefully looked into.

Of course, the Head of State has legal advisers, including the Attorney-General, who should caution against risky proposals or give guidelines on how those announced will be implemented to comply with the law.

The existing laws and institutions should not be ignored in this new push to solve the current national crisis. The public extravagance and wastage of resources need to be stopped, but this must be done within the law.