alexa High Court stops debate on Aukot's Punguza Mizigo Bill - Daily Nation

High Court stops debate on Aukot's Punguza Mizigo Bill

Wednesday July 31 2019

SAM KIPLAGAT
By SAM KIPLAGAT
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The High Court has stopped the 47 county assemblies across the country from debating and approving a Bill fronted by Thirdway Alliance Kenya party, popularly known as Punguza Mizigo.

Justice James Makau also stopped the party from presenting the Bill to the Speaker of the National Assembly, pending a case filed in court against it.

The judge said the orders will remain in force for 14 days as other parties named in the petition file their responses.

PROTEST

Thirdway Alliance, through Elias Mutuma protested the move, saying they were only given less than a day to file their response.

The lawyer told the court that they should have been given at least three clear days to respond.

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While issuing the order, Justice Makau directed Mr Mutuma to file his response within five days and the case be heard on August 13.

The petition was filed by Mr David Kamau Ngari and International Economic Law Centre and has named the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), the Speakers of National Assembly and Senate, Thirdway Alliance and 47 Speakers of the county assemblies.

REFERENDUM LAW

Mr Ngari has faulted the Bill, stating that while aware that there is no national referendum law, IEBC has purported to receive, verify and approve the Bill and forwarded it to the county assemblies for debate and approval.

He says that most of the proposals in the Bill will ultimately require a national referendum under Article 255(2).

He further argued that the proposed Bill contains provisions which contravene the constitutional safeguards on fair trial and due process guaranteed in the Constitution.

“The proposed Bill to reduce the constituencies from 290 to 47 obliterates the fundamental political rights under Article 38 and the principles of representation under Article 81(d) of the Constitution,” he said in a sworn statement.

SENATE

Another contention is the proposal to make Senate the upper House with veto power, which he argued will cause legislative confusion because the Senate will still retain power to legislate on matters relating to counties and yet the bulk of law making is reposed in the National Assembly under Article 95.

Mr Ngari further stated that the Bill was procured through deceit and illegalities since the signatures are not genuine.

He argued that the uniformity of the signatures raises the question of authenticity and reliability of the signed forms and that it was impossible to verify the signatures because the electoral body does not have a repository of specimen signatures for comparison.

According to Mr Ngari, the verification process was done mechanically yet the law says voters should be registered biometrically. He said the alleged verification and approval of the Bill is unconstitutional, null and void.

IEBC QUORUM

The petition further says IEBC does not have the quorum as there are only two commissioners and the chairman. This was after four other commissioners resigned.

Mr Ngari said the quorum required to receive, verify and approve a proposed Bill for amendment under popular initiative under Article 257 of the Constitution should be at least five.

"The IEBC as presently constituted lacks constitutional competence and technical capacity to admit, process and approve the proposed Bill together with the supporting documents and signatures of registered voters as presented," reads part of the petition.

The petitioners want the court to stop Thirdway Alliance from presenting the Bill to the Speakers of the 47 counties for debate and approval.