Kenyan Members of Parliament are on Tuesday expected to begin setting up a crucial team to oversee the transition to a new constitution.
The Constitutional Implementation Oversight Committee will take over from the Parliamentary Select Committee on Constitution that steered the review process up to the referendum stage.
A member of Parliament’s Justice and Legal Committee, Mr Olago Aluoch, said another key organ expected to be established is the Commission on the Implementation of the Constitution which will be government driven. “Its members will be appointed by the President in consultation with the Prime Minister,” Mr Aluoch said.
The new House committee, he said, will be charged with the role of prioritising legislation, overseeing its drafting and ensuring timelines are met. It will work closely with the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee.
According the vice-chairman of PSC, Mr Ababu Namwamba, if traditions of Parliament are followed in deciding membership of the new committee it is likely to have 27 MPs shared between the PNU-ODM coalition partners.“Parliament will then debate the names and approve them before the members elect a chairman,” he said.
The PSC was composed of 14 PNU and 13 ODM MPs. The MPs’ committee will play a key role in the appointment of the Constitution Implementation Commission and in preparing the timetable for legislation, Mr Namwamba said.
Parliament will also have the responsibility of establishing new independent commissions while others will be merged, leading to loss of jobs. The membership of these commissions has been limited to nine meaning that existing larger commissions will be trimmed.
They include the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission which will bring together members of the Interim Independent Electoral Commission and Interim Independent Boundaries Commission, Kenya National Human Rights and Equality Commission which will bring together the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights and National Commission on Gender and Development.
Only the chairpersons of the two commissions have their jobs secure as KNCHR chair Florence Jaoko will serve as the head of the new commission. Ms Regina Mwatha, who chairs the gender commission, will be the deputy until Ms Jaoko’s term ends.
Lose their jobs
The implementation of the new constitution will see a number of high ranking government officials lose their jobs. They include Chief Justice Evan Gicheru and Attorney General Amos Wako. The Controller and Auditor General, Anthony Gatumbu, is also among those who will have to leave office.
The new law says the holder of the office of Cabinet Secretary, now held by Mr Francis Muthaura, must have been approved by Parliament but it is not clear whether it is before or after the constitution comes into effect in 2012. A director of public prosecutions has be appointed in accordance with the new constitution before August 20, 2011.
Other commissions include the Commission on Revenue Allocation which is expected to be constituted within 90 days once the new constitution is signed into law. Then there is the Salaries and Remuneration Commission which is expected to be constituted within nine months.
The Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution will draw its membership from people with expertise in Human rights, government and public administration. Various Bills are expected to be tabled before the House that will deal with various aspects of the new constitution among them on the volatile issue of land and recalling of non-performing MPs.
Parliament is required to pass at least 49 legislations for the new constitution to function effectively. The Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution shall monitor, facilitate and oversee the development of the legislation and administrative procedures required to implement the constitution.
It will work with the Attorney General and the Kenya Law Reform Commission in writing the laws required to implement the constitution. The Commission is required to report regularly to the Constitutional Implementation Oversight Committee on the progress in the implementation of the constitution and any impediments.
It will also work with each constitutional commission to ensure the letter and spirit of the constitution is respected. The new law is expected to be signed by the President Kibaki by August 20, that is 14 days after it was passed at the referendum.