Lusaka to rule on BBI Bill amendment amid split

Monday, May 10th, 2021 00:00 | By
Senate Speaker Ken Lusaka. Photo/PD/FILE

Hillary Mageka @hillarymageka

Senate Speaker Ken Lusaka is tomorrow expected to deliver a ruling on whether senators can amend the BBI Bill.

Lusaka’s ruling is expected to guide the House on whether to correct the anomalies picked by the joint Justice and Legal Affairs Committee or pass it without any alterations.

On Thursday, following a ruling by Speaker Justin Muturi, the National Assembly passed the Bill despite a clamour for amendments and corrections.

Senators are sharply divided on whether the Bill should be amended.

Leader of Minority James Orengo and Minority Whip Mutula Kilonzo Jr are leading a group of lawmakers who want the Bill amended.

MPs faulted some of the proposals in the Bill, especially the creation of 70 additional constituencies.

Cabinet Secretaries

Orengo’s group, which also has his predecessor Bungoma’s Moses Wetang’ula, has questioned the criteria used to allocate the constituencies, saying ODM leader Raila Odinga’s strongholds, including Nyanza, Western and Coast regions, were short-changed.

The lawmakers have also questioned the legality of the Second Schedule in the draft Bill that has created the 70 constituencies but left the role of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) in the Constitution intact.

“In this Bill, IEBC has the sole authority to delimit and allocate constituencies.

We want this Bill to go through, but let us not create future problems,” Wetang’ula said.

Wetang’ula has also raised a red flag over how Articles 152, 153, 154 and 155 of the Constitution being amended to remove the approval by the National Assembly in the appointment of Cabinet Secretaries, Principal Secretaries and others.

However, omitted is an amendment to Article 132(2) which remains intact in the Constitution that states: “The President shall nominate and, with the approval of the National Assembly, appoint, and may dismiss — (a) the Cabinet Secretaries, in accordance with Article 152; (b) the Attorney-General, in accordance with Article 156 (c) the Secretary to the Cabinet in accordance with Article 154; (d) Principal Secretaries in accordance with Article 155; (e) high commissioners, ambassadors and diplomatic and consular representatives.”

“How are we going to reconcile the provisions of the Constitution when you have removed vetting in the other Articles that I have cited, but left it intact in Article 132?” he asked.

At least five senators, including Murang’a’s Irungu Kang’ata and his Kitui counterpart Enock Wambua have proposed amendments to the Bill.

“We are calling upon the Speaker to go deep into the books and make a finding whether the House can amend a constitutional amendment Bill under Article 256 and Article 257,” Mutula told People Daily yesterday.

“Is there a provision in the Constitution? What did the committee of experts intend on the two articles?” he asked.

According to Mutula (Makueni), Speaker Lusaka’s ruling should emulate his predecessor Kenneth Marende, on an issue that was raised in Parliament at some point.

“We might have good BBI promoters, but a time might come when you have a bad promoter, a dictator who will want to change the Constitution by using a popular initiative. This is critical,” he said.

On Thursday, Wambua sought the Speaker’s guidance on the proposed amendments.

Reasoned ruling

“I request that you give a reasoned ruling on each of the proposed amendments for us to know where we stand on this matter,” he added.

In his response, the Speaker noted amendments have been proposed at the Committee of the Whole.

“I want to assure this House that I will make a ruling before the Committee of the Whole Stage.

It will be a well-researched and well-reasoned ruling. I am not a Speaker by accident. I have a competent team ,” he said.

Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja said it was important that the Speaker responds to all the questions that were asked from the day when the Bill was tabled.

“That will give clarity to the Members and they will know if they can prepare any amendments.

I hold that there should be none, but it is important for you to give us that direction as we move forward,” he said.

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