alexa Why Muturi's radical BBI proposals are now attracting attention - Daily Nation

Why Muturi's radical BBI proposals are now attracting attention

Sunday March 15 2020

Justin Muturi

Speaker of the National Assembly Justin Muturi speaks during the Peoples Dialogue Festival (PDF) at the National Museum of Kenya on March 5, 2020. PHOTO | LUCY WANJIRU | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

More by this Author

When National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi appeared before the Building Bridges Initiative task force this week, he made far-reaching suggestions that, if adopted, may alter the way Kenyans choose their political leaders.
Mr Muturi suggested that parties or coalitions of parties that get the highest number of votes should be forwarding names of presidential and governorship candidates.
In what appears to be a coordinated move, Registrar of Political Parties Anne Nderitu, while appearing before a parliamentary committee, also made a similar proposal. She suggested that parties would be expected to come up with a list of their candidates who would be up for election against other parties at the county level as opposed to constituency and ward levels.
In Homa Bay, Suba North MP Millie Odhiambo, in her submission to the BBI task force, also made similar proposals on mixed-member proportional representation.
But Mr Muturi insists that his submissions were drawn from his long experience in interacting with other nations’ democratic processes, especially South Africa, Germany and Nordic countries.
He says his proposal will remove the pressure on candidates and ease the cult-like following on leaders, with focus being on political parties and their manifestos.
In a wide-ranging exclusive interview with the Sunday Nation, Mr Muturi said despite being a close friend of President Uhuru Kenyatta, his proposals are not meant to benefit anyone.
He rebuffed suggestions that he could be preparing the ground for President Kenyatta to retain power. “I know the man very well. That is not true,” he said.
He insisted he had not even discussed his proposals with the President.
Mr Muturi suggested that the winning party should nominate persons to the key executive Mr Muturi suggested that the winning party should nominate persons to the key executive offices after a general election.offices after a general election.
“The popular will of the people manifested through one-man, one-vote should be actuated through the nomination of the president by the party that garners the majority votes at the general election,” Mr Muturi told the BBI team.
On governors, the Speaker wants each party to nominate three people who are qualified to hold office and send the names to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) before the polls.
If approved, the person shall be gazetted as governor and should nominate a person of the opposite gender as deputy governor.
If a name is rejected, Mr Muturi proposes, the IEBC should forward the second name in the list within three days for consideration.
Mr Muturi acknowledges that it would not be easy for Kenyans to adopt the changes but reckons it can be done with enough civic education.
“It’s an idea on the table. I haven’t said that the President will be elected by MPs. People want to distort what I said. Like the African National Congres of South Africa, the leader of the party is determined by the party, not by MPs alone. The party has membership and officials from the grass roots,” he said.
“Even people from Mt Kenya must begin to appreciate that having a strong party is good. Because we are the worst in running parties. Look at Kibaki, Uhuru, Kiraitu, they changed parties all the time. Time is running out on us. We must begin to appreciate that the provisions in constitutions on strong parties will not be removed. Political parties as institutions of public governance are here with us to stay.”
He admitted that scrapping constituencies would be a hard sell but said Kenya should consider adopting mixed member proportional pepresentation as happens in Nordic countries.
On governors, the Speaker wants each party to nominate three people qualified to hold office and send the names to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) before the polls.
“Those people will campaign for their respective parties so thoroughly because no one will be saying if you elect me I will do this and that for you, they will be saying if you elect my party, the party will do this and that for you. And the party will have set out its manifesto,” he said.
“It will be issue-based politics. That appeals directly to the party. And by the way that’s universal suffrage because the right to vote is not taken away. But the people will now vote for ideas not for the people.”
He, however, said more discussions are needed so that Kenya does not copy what other countries do without incorporating local realities.
“We can’t become copycats without exceptions. We must temper this thing called democracy with our own peculiar experiences. It’s not a cap that fits all.”
He dismissed fears that the proposals, if adopted, would lead to dictatorship, especially where renegade MPs opt not to toe party line.
“Actually, I prefer where MPs are recalled by the party. Party discipline is not negotiable. Too bad that today I can’t participate in party matters given my position. I hate party indiscipline. I remained firmly in Kanu despite losing in 2003. One must stand with what their party stands for,” he said.
Mr Muturi cautioned that there is no referendum law, therefore it would be problematic for the BBI report to find its way in Parliament and county assemblies.
“This current BBI process has no way of coming to Parliament. Unless the President brings it when he is delivering State of the Nation address.”
“That is, the President hands two reports, on national values and on security. The values report is debated in both Houses. Then we have to ask the relevant committee to extract the parts that require constitutional amendment,” he said.
Then there are no timelines guiding how long Parliament should stay with these Bills.
“Punguza Mizigo process shows that there were counties that never submitted their reports,” he said.
Whereas ODM members are beating drums of impeachment against Deputy President William Ruto, Mr Muturi said there exists a lacuna in law on what happens after a Deputy President is impeached.
“In the event of the impeachment of a DP, that is not clear. What is clear is when the President leaves for whatever reason. Not when the DP is impeached. This was not envisaged. I guess the name of a new DP has to be brought to Parliament because he is a member of the Cabinet. But is there an impeachment?” he posed.
In his proposals, Mr Muturi seemed to suggest that Senate should be the Upper House, ceding a ground he had held from 2013 that National Assembly is the superior House.