Here are some of the facts which you probably didn’t know about your constitution, which happens to be the “Legal Moses” of our times.  It’s the only acceptable legal statement, whose decision you can take to the bank, whether or not you disagree with it.

Remunerations and benefits of the Presidency
Many have been complaining about the huge perks awarded to former President Daniel Arap Moi and his successor, Mwai Kibaki, urging that their retirement benefits be cut further. But here’s a bolt from the blue: Article 151 of the Kenyan constitution, section 2  states that, “The retirement benefits payable to a former president and a former Deputy President, the facilities available to and  the privileges enjoyed by them, shall not be varied to their disadvantage during their lifetime”. So, we may as well have to accent to this fact, unless we can of course marshal support from our elected members to amend this particular clause. 

Public scrutiny of State officers
Article 76 of our constitution, under the famous chapter six on leadership and integrity outlines appropriate measures of audit to state officers. It states that, “A state officer shall not maintain a bank outside Kenya except in accordance with an Act of Parliament”. However, am yet to come across that specific statute that sanctions this exception.

Questions regarding Presidential elections
The constitution gives clear legal procedures for redress, regarding an election incongruity. In these current elections, we’ve have seen a number of quarters air their concern with the tallying of presidential results by the IEBC. Here’s what the constitution says about this, in article 140. “A person may file a petition in the supreme court to challenge the election of the president-elect within seven days after the date of the declaration of the results of the presidential election.” This is it. You have a problem with the election process? Take that to the Supreme Court, and leave the IEBC to finish it mandate. No need to heighten the public emotion, which can even  We need to maintain peace, more than we actually need the results. (I know…we need the results too!)

Promotion of representation of marginalized groups
Affirmative action will ensure the involvement of marginalized groups such as the youth, women, persons with disability, ethnic minorities as well as marginalized communities. All these are groups that ought to be taken care of in our society, and the constitution in Article 100, ensures this. Procedures for their inclusion are further highlighted in articles 55, 56, 97 and 98, where they ought to be included as members of Parliament, as special interest groups. But this will prove to be a huge headache, considering the recent move by most political parties to include certain individuals in their list of nominated members to the National Assembly. Some of these include Party chairpersons, politicians, and even party leaders in some lists. All this happening at the expense of those originally intended to fill the posts in Parliament.

Cabinet secretaries
We shall soon have Cabinet Secretaries taking over “Minister” titles in the government. But this time it shall be different. According to article 152, section 3, they “shall not be a Member of Parliament.” however, contrary to the wide speculations that Cabinet Secretaries must have the appropriate credentials, to match up the kind of ministry they head, the president retains the discretion of appointment, but with the nod from National Assembly. Therefore, we can only hope that our next president employs diligence in these appointments, in order to avoid the high level of incompetency previously witnessed in a number of ministries, as a result of bogus appointments.

The Land Commission
The issue of the gazetting  of the Land commission members by the President, took center stage recently, with wide calls from various quarters, which claimed that only this commission is best placed to address the historical injustices which have for a long time bruised us, as Kenyans. Well, the President bowed to the pressure, and commissioned the members. But really, how many Kenyans know the functions of this commission, apart from addressing the historical injustices? According to article 67, the commission is also mandated to manage public land on behalf of the National and County Governments; recommend a national land policy to the national government; advise the government on a comprehensive program for the registration of titles; assessing tax on land and premiums on immovable property; and to monitor and have oversight responsibilities over land use in Kenya. 

Composition of the National Assembly 
The next parliament shall have a total of 418 members, where by the National Assembly shall have a total of 350 members, drawn from the 290 MPs, 47 women representatives, 12 members nominated by parliamentary political parties, and the Speaker. The upper house, on the other hand, shall have a total of 68 members, drawn from the 47 senators, 16 women members nominated by the political parties, 2 members of different sexes representing the youth, 2 more members representing people with disabilities, and the Speaker. This is according to article 97 and 98 of the constitution. The county assembly, according to article 177, shall consist of county representatives drawn from the various wards within a particular constituency, a number of special seat members necessary to ensure that no more than two-thirds of the assembly membership are of the same gender, a number of marginalized groups including persons with disabilities as well as the youth, and the Speaker, who is appointed by the members of this assembly.  

So there you have it. Much of this may not be new to a number of us, but there are definitely those who learnt one or two things they previously had no knowledge of. We have a relatively good constitution, which will help address the issues that face us as Kenyans. With the proper political involvement, this will go a long way in upholding the rule of Law. Question is, how willing are our political class? That answer lies with them.

Kinaga Mbugua
Political Analyst

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