Kenya is as unique as it comes. Amongst the African nations, it prides itself of having a robust culture of law reform and freedom. Since its independence in 1963, Kenya has maintained a steady approach to law reform, with lobby groups and constitutional reform commissions taking a center stage. The Independence Constitution was changed severally through Presidential repeals; some of them after fierce campaigns by the opposition and civil society.
From the era of founding President Jomo Kenyatta whose term was largely mired in constitutional reforms to reflect the African independence goals, the then Kenya African National Union (KANU) regime was less accommodative of civil society and the opposition. Upon the mantle being passed to the then Vice President Daniel Moi, the law reform quest took a different trajectory, with proponents often seen as enemies of the state. Upon the repeal of Section 2A which led to a new constitutional order for multiparty democracy and freedom, Kenya had a new lease of life.
After a regime- change in 2002 which hounded the ruling party out of power after almost three decades, a regime that more accommodative to law reform was born. The clamour was felt within and without government and with the ruling regime losing a Constitutional referendum in 2005, the dice appeared to have been cast. After a chaotic election mired in violence ending up to prosecutions at the International Criminal Court, the constitutional order was again changed to accommodate the offices of the Prime Ministers and two deputies.
In August 2010, yet another Constitutional referendum was held, and with a massive 69% victory as ever been seen in history, a new Constitutional order was introduced among others, abolishing the Prime Ministers’ position and introducing a devolved system. This constitutional order that has been in place for the past 10 years with minor Parliamentary amendments, also established the Supreme Court and independent commissions including the Judicial Service Commission and the Police Service Commission.
The Kenyan spirit is one which never tires of law reform. After a disputed general election in 2017 that was annulled by the Supreme Court in the same years; a chaotic parallel swearing-in that led to a violent and divided state, the two key political players in the Kenyan system came together in what is termed a handshake and established an initiative known as the Building bridges initiative; that has now come up with a raft of proposals constitutional reform, which is now the subject of the Kenyan socio-political atmosphere. The BBI report, recently launched on 26th October 2020, proposes a number of reforms to the 10-year-old Constitution:
The BBI report has estimated a wide-ranging series of recommendations that seeks to restructure the government as is to a hybrid system of shared power between the varied arms of government as will be explicitly detailed herein;
- The Executive.
Consequent to general elections, the BBI proposes that the President has the mandate to appoint;
- the Vice President, a principal assistant to the president and will also occupy a ministerial position
- the Prime Minister who will be any member of the majority party of the members of parliament,
- 2 Deputy Prime Ministers all from the majority party and ministers as well.
- The 22 Ministers will also be appointed from within parliament and those appointed without, become ex-officio members of parliament.
Several arguments have been made for and against these moves making it one of the core contentious issues. To argue for, would be to acknowledge that there is no clear-cut model of complete separation of powers. That, in fact, there are only but very few countries that adhere to the American model to completely void the legislatures… Continue reading in our October 2020 Africa Edition