Ruto proposals on Constitution won’t wash

A sitting of the National Assembly.

Members of Parliament during a past session.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

The President is proposing changing the Constitution for the purpose of creating an office for the Leader of the Official Opposition with benefits from the Consolidated Fund and for provisions which will ensure two-thirds gender constitutional requirement is fulfilled.

I urge Kenyans to reject these proposals for several legal and economic reasons.

One, the Constitution, in Article 108 (b) and (c), provides for both the leaders of majority and minority, respectively, with fully equipped offices and adequate personnel who are well remunerated for those positions.

The minority leader takes care of the interests of the party that did not win the elections to form the government. This office is supposed to represent views (current and emerging) of the Opposition. Legally, therefore, this office exists under the Constitution, so it is unnecessary to create another one outside Parliament.

The President has proposed that this amendment be made by Parliament without Kenyans going to a referendum. This proposal is fundamental and it affects the basic structure of the Constitution. If at all, it has to be passed, it must go through by referendum.

Two, there are better and more economical ways to deal with the issue of the two-thirds gender constitutional requirement. It is a fact that Kenyan population is 50/50 women and men. Legally and morally, we should be targeting sharing power and resources on that basis.

First, legislative responsibility is now shared between Parliament and county assemblies. It does not, therefore, make economic sense to increase the number of Members of Parliament. In the best economic reasons of the nation, the numbers must be reduced.

IEBC should be allowed to invoke Article 89 of the Constitution with a view to reducing the number of constituencies to 200 and we allow every constituency to be represented by two members—one lady and one gentleman.

There should be both men and women separately running to be elected, with the voters allowed two votes each. The leading woman and man in that election would be declared the two MPs from the constituency. Then abolish Nominated MPs and Woman Representative seats. That will give us only 400 MPs. The same procedure would apply to the Senate and county assemblies.

It is important to have a lean government to save money to invest in other, productive activities that will expand the economy and create jobs for our ever-increasing population.

Gerishom L. Majanja, Kakamega

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