Why I differ with clerics on BBI, polls and judges’ jobs

Thursday, June 17th, 2021 00:00 | By
President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga at a past function to popularise the BBI Bill in Kisumu. Photo/PD/File

Joseph Mutua Ndonga  

I am a born-again Christian and have immense respect of the men of cloth who are anointed by God to lead the flock.

However, after listening to the recent statement by the Catholic bishops during their retreat at the Subukia shrine, I beg to differ with their observations on matters BBI, next year elections and the pending appointment of six judges as they highlighted. 

First, President Uhuru Kenyatta seemed to be their main target and from their body language, no doubt, they were making demands to him. 

Legally speaking, the President doesn’t have the answers to some of the issues raised, and where he does, he has already pronounced himself on the same.

Uhuru is the first president under 2010 Constitution which drastically whittled down the powers of the head of state.

As such, some of the issues raised by the bishops are being handled by the other independent offices. 

The BBI question, for instance, is a matter before the courts. By law, no one should comment on the case merits or in a manner to influence the outcome until the case is heard and determined.  

On the pending appointment of six of 41 judges, the President has pronounced himself through a memorandum to the Judicial Service Commission, in which he cited integrity issues as reason for the decision not to appoint them.  The bishops, I believe, are privy to this fact. 

According to the law, the only other option Uhuru had was to return the whole list to the commission and, once the matters are sorted out, appoint the judges.

But the JSC opted to play hardball, insisting the law did not donate any powers to the President to alter its decision.

A court has ruled that the President’s role is symbolic and demanded he appoints the judges, but as a respecter of rule of law, he has challenged the ruling in the Court of Appeal. 

And on next year’s General Election, the President has no power to alter the date of the polls as the bishops demanded.

Such powers can only be exercised by Parliament but only if the country is in a war or facing other challenges that pose a real threat to social fabric of nation. 

Uhuru’s administration is battling the Covid-19 pandemic, and just like the rest of the world, this has indeed drained the economy.

However, it is too early to use it as a factor to alter the election date. Maybe things will have changed by the August next year. 

Assuming the Covid situation doesn’t change, and noting that social distancing is a key intervention in combating the disease, the government won’t afford to endanger the lives of its citizens by allowing them to attend social gatherings or form long queues on the election day.

Howver, that decision will be made then. — The writer is a Political Commentator and Blogger

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