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How Moi Day was saved seven years after it was scrapped

Thursday October 10 2019

Moi Day

James Gatama, a resident of Nyeri County, displays a 10th anniversary of Moi era badge on October 10, 2018. PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI | NATION MEDIA GROUP  

MAUREEN KAKAH
By MAUREEN KAKAH
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For nearly over 20 years, Kenyans marked October 10 as Moi Day.

But during the promulgation of the new Constitution in August 2010, the day was scrapped as one of the public holidays in Kenya.

However, seven years later, a Mr Gragory Oriaro Nyauchi took the matter to court, claiming that the law was never repealed to completely scrap this very day as a public holiday.

In his case against the Cabinet secretaries for Interior and Labour together with the Attorney-General, he argued that there was a “blatant ignorance” of that day.

The Federation of Kenya Employers (FKE) and the Central Organisation of Trade Union (COTU) were listed as interested parties in the case.

EMPLOYMENT CONTRACT

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Mr Nyauchi also mainly claimed that there was a likelihood that employees would be denied their holiday entitlements since they sign a contract indicating their off days.

And despite the fact that the sued parties told court that there is no legal obligation to ensure a public holiday is observed, Justice George Odunga agreed with the petitioner that public holiday computation dictates legal time and affects contents of an employment contract.

The judge ruled that as a matter of fact, Moi Day remains a public holiday and not a national holiday since there is a difference between those two.

“It is not up to the court to prescribe the manner in which the day is to be celebrated,” Justice Odunga ruled in his November 6, 2017 decision.

While granting reprieve to workers, the judge ruled that not unless Parliament amends Schedule 1 of the Public Holidays Act or the Interior Cabinet Secretary substitutes the same for another date, October 10 will remain and continues to be a public holiday.

NOT A NATIONAL HOLIDAY

Considering that no celebrations had been marked since 2010, the judge pointed out that the failure should also not be considered as unlawful.

In a statement earlier this week, Interior CS Fred Matiang’i affirmed that October 10 remains a public holiday even though it was removed from the list of national holidays.

The CS affirmed Justice Odunga’s decision and urged Kenyans to mark the day with selfless acts of service to their community that seek to promote patriotism, national unity, social justice, cohesion and sustainable development.

Unlike national holidays, it is not mandatory for public holidays to be marked with a national address from the President.

At the same time, the Constitution, does not demand any official celebrations on those days.

According to the supreme law, however, all national days are public holidays, but most public holidays are not national days.

Also, Parliament can pass laws recognising public holidays, but not add new national days.

Here is a list of other public holidays in Kenya and when they are celebrated:

  • New Year’s Day............ January 1
  • Good Friday.................. March or April
    Easter Monday...............March or April
  • Labour Day................... May 1
  • Madaraka Day .............. June 1 (National holiday)
  • Idd-ul-Fitr..................... Date depending upon the appearance of the moon
  • Idd-ul-Adha................... Date depending upon the appearance of the moon
  • Moi Day ....................... October 10
  • Mashujaa Day................. October 20 (National holiday)
  • Jamhuri Day................... December 12 (National holiday)
  • Christmas Day ............... December 25
    Boxing Day.................... December 26