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Post-vote chaos, devolution top building bridges forum

Thursday January 31 2019

Building Bridges

Auditor-General Edward Ouko gives the Building Bridges Initiative Task Force his views during a session at KICC on January 30, 2019. He proposed a change to governance structure. PHOTO | KANYIRI WAHITO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

DAVID MWERE
By DAVID MWERE
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Expansion of the executive, creation of a parliamentary system of government and strengthening of devolution through enhanced allocation, dominated yesterday as the Building Bridges Initiative team started collecting views from Kenyans on constitutional review.

The BBI team led by former Attorney-General and Busia Senator Amos Wako, University of Nairobi don Adams Oloo and joint secretary Paul Mwangi, heard views from various groups on the proposed changes to the Constitution at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC), Nairobi.

The presenters were also in agreement that state and public officers should not do business with the government they serve as it amounts to conflict of interest and breeds corruption.

GOVERNANCE

Auditor-General Edward Ouko, Knut secretary-general and nominated MP Wilson Sossion and Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) CEO Twalib Mbarak were among the individuals who presented their views to the committee.

Mr Ouko called for a distinction between the head of state and government. He wants the president to be the head of state only with the prime minister taking over the daily operations of the government.

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According to Mr Ouko, the president will therefore cease to be auditee, which he says, politically interferes with his work to audit him.

“This will ensure that the head of state also plays an oversight role by demanding accountability based on the auditor-general’s reports,” Mr Ouko told the committee.

“The president will therefore assure checks and balances anticipated in the Constitution between the executive and legislature and be the protector of the independence of the office and other similar offices,” he said.

ELECTIONS

Unlike where the National Treasury determines what the office of the auditor-general should be allocated, Mr Ouko is proposing that the resources to the office should be determined at the highest level.

Mr Sossion vouched for an expanded executive to include the president and a deputy, a prime minister and two deputies, so as to decentralise presidential powers and make it less attractive in future elections.

He said that a strong presidency has been the bane of tribal mobilisation that has left the country more divided after every election.

“Kofi Annan, who successfully mediated our 2007 post-election violence crisis, gave us the formula for sharing power which we lost at the drafting of the current constitution,” Mr Sossion said.

The nominated MP also noted that failure to allocate enough funds to the counties has led to political pilgrimages to homes of politicians to seek development money.

Mr Twalib said wealth declaration forms must be made public and should always be under the custody of EACC as opposed to the Public Service Commission (PSC).