National Dialogue Committee presents report after D-Day standoff

National Dialogue Committee co-chairpersons Kalonzo Musyoka and Kimani Ichung'wah

National Dialogue Committee co-chairpersons Kalonzo Musyoka and Kimani Ichung'wah flanked by committee members present their final report at the Hilton Garden Inn on  November 25, 2023.

Photo credit: Francis Nderitu | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • The team disagreed on push to scrap housing levy and reduce VAT on fuel from 16pc to 8pc.
  • It recommended the extension of presidential election petition period from the current 14 days to 21.

The National Dialogue Committee has agreed on key agenda of the talks but referred disputed issues for further consultations after a daylong meeting.

Among the recommendations agreed upon by the team led by Kenya Kwanza’s Kimani Ichung’wah and Azimio la Umoja’s Kalonzo Musyoka are the creation of the post of Official Opposition Leader with two deputies, and entrenching the Prime Cabinet Secretary’s office into law.

Other proposals by the team include evaluating the 2022 electoral process, expanding the IEBC selection panel, extending the period for presidential petitions from 14 to 21 days and cutting the government’s travel budget.

In a late-night media briefing, the team said it had sent the report to President William Ruto and Azmio leader Raila Odinga.

However, they indicated there was no agreement on the scrapping of the Housing Levy, and reducing Value Added Tax on fuel to eight per cent from 16.

The negotiators picked by President Ruto and Mr Odinga had planned to release the document by noon on Saturday, November 25, but pushed it to 5pm before further delays that went late into the night.

Sources told the Sunday Nation that the use of certain words in the final document and issues around the cost of living triggered a fresh standoff and a flurry of consultations.throughout the day. However, there was consensus on the proposal to cut the road maintenance and anti-adulteration levies.

Earlier, the Kenya Kwanza team led by the National Assembly Majority Leader is said to have raised concerns over the wordings of some recommendations by the team, which appeared to compel the government to act on them.

Subsequently, the 10-member team adjourned to allow the technical committee to go through the text of the document to effect changes.

Mr Musyoka and Kericho Senator Aaron Cheruiyot in an earlier press briefing initially gave the technical team up to 5pm to conclude making changes in the text.

“We are determined to conclude our work today,” said Mr Musyoka. “In addition to the report, the team is also supposed to put together draft legislation to accompany the report to Parliament.”

Mr Cheruiyot earlier said the report would capture both the contested and agreed agenda items.

“Our technical team needed more time to go through the texts. We want to tell the nation that there is nothing to worry about. We will have everything captured in the final document,” said the Senate Majority Leader.

By 7pm, both the National Dialogue Committee and the technical team were still holed up in a closed door meeting. All the while, the secretariat was busy setting up the stage for the planned launch.

Cost of living has all through remained contested. The opposition had proposed that the controversial housing levy be scrapped or made voluntary among salaried Kenyans.

Other demands by the opposition included a proposal to cut tax on petroleum products. This now remains a contested issue.

The new tax measures have made life more expensive while hitting businesses hard with high levies. Take-home for salaried Kenyans has also reduced significantly as a result of additional statutory deductions.

A clause in the framework agreement signed by the opposing camps provides that the National Dialogue Committee will submit to Parliament “a list of agreed issues and those not agreed upon” for consideration.

The provision appears to suggest that the two Houses of Parliament will have the final say on items that the team may fail to build consensus around, opening up the dialogue to a contest of numbers between the two rival leaders on the floor of the National Assembly and the Senate.

“The Final Report and Proposals of the Committee shall contain a list of agreed issues and those not agreed upon. The Final Report and Proposals of the Committee shall be presented to the respective Coalition Leaders. In addition, the Final Report and Proposals of the Committee shall be submitted to the Leader of the Majority Party and the Leader of the Minority Party of each House of Parliament,” states the agreement signed on Wednesday.

It adds, “Upon presentation of the Final Report and Proposals of the Committee, the Leader of the Majority Party and the Leader of the Minority Party of each House of Parliament shall table them and ensure that any proposed reform is introduced in Parliament.”