Sunday, 3 March 2013

Major changes in governance to come in force after Monday’s historic election

 The refurbished chambers of the Kenya's new parliament chambers in this file picture taken on August 6, 2012. In the new parliament under the Constitution promulgated on August 10, 2010 voters will have the powers to recall lazy MPs. BILLY MUTAI/NATION


Posted  Sunday, March 3  2013 at  18:06

When electoral commission chairman Issack Hassan stands up later Monday or early Tuesday to declare the final results of Monday's General Election, he will also be activating four chapters of Kenya’s 30-month-old Constitution.The chapters on Representation of the People, the Legislature, the Executive and Devolution did not take effect fully when the Constitution was promulgated in August 2010, and were suspended to allow for a smooth transition.However, these suspended clauses still formed the basis for law making by the 10th Parliament to ensure the Constitution is implemented to the letter.There was also a proviso — the suspended clauses that touched on the election had to apply in the first election under the Constitution, and they get to work on Monday, March 4.The suspension was to last “until the final announcement of all the results of the first elections for Parliament under this Constitution” according to the Transitional and Consequential Clauses of the Constitution.Monday marks the end of the Coalition Government and the expiry of the National Accord, which created the post of Prime Minister and pushed for a power-sharing arrangement between President Kibaki’s PNU and Mr Raila Odinga’s ODM.The Sixth Schedule of the Constitution says the National Accord “shall continue to operate until the first General Election held under this Constitution”.Mr Hassan’s declaration of results will put an end to the President’s powers for unilateral appointment of the Cabinet and senior State officers. 

It will give Parliament the muscles to vet and approve or reject candidates.The Sixth Schedule had protected the composition of the Tenth Parliament — 222 members in the National Assembly and the President— when it maintained the legality of articles 30 to 40 of the old Constitution.However, beginning Monday, those articles stand fully repealed, and the next Parliament will have 348 Members of the National Assembly, and 67 senators.The President will no longer sit in Parliament, but will be allowed once-in-a-while to pop in and issue a state-of-the-nation address.This election also ushers in a new era because candidates who win seats in the legislature are not guaranteed uninterrupted five-year tenure as has been the case in the previous polls.Article 104 of the Supreme Law prescribes that the public will have the power to recall non-performing MPs.The law provides that an MP or a senator can only be recalled after two years in the House, if the voters prove that they are not performing.This caveat was put to save the country from perpetual elections.The roll-out of devolved governments will also be activated as soon as the final results are announced.

There will be a governor in each of Kenya’s 47 counties and a County Assembly, plus a County Executive.This new lot of politicians and bureaucrats will benefit from the Sh9.8 billion set aside by the Treasury to ensure they get paid as they set up the building blocks to ensure the delivery of services at the grassroots.This election is different because for a candidate to win, he has to garner more than half of all the votes cast, and at least a quarter of votes in 24 out of the 47 countries.If none of the eight presidential candidates gets this majority, a second round of the election will be inevitable. Only the top two candidates will participate in the run-off.The crucial thing about this election is that it is under the scrutiny of the whole world, and major super powers, investors and even the foreign media, are watching to ensure it turns out right.The pressure on the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission is enormous and because of the unprecedented nature of a six-in-one election, the commission has prepared big-time.Voters will be identified using a little gadget that will scan their fingerprints and quickly pop up their details from the voters’ register.The commission collected those details through the biometric voter registration kits.After this, they will be issued with ballot papers and allowed to go and cast their ballots.Agents for political parties and candidates, election observers and the media will be allowed to monitor the voting, the counting and the tallying.

The presidential results will be send from all the 33,000 polling stations directly to the server at Bomas of Kenya, the national tallying centre.There will also be tallying of data from polling stations at the constituency and county levels.Safaricom is behind the provision of infrastructure.Mr Shaka Kwach, the Head of Special Projects at Safaricom, said they had done everything to ensure the network does not fail at the critical time.“We have tried to ensure that our network is ready by doing all the preventative maintenance— making sure security is in place, the necessary capacity upgrades have been done, fuelling (for the generators) has been done, and we’ve also tried to ensure that we have redundant connectivity end-to-end,” said Mr Kwach in an earlier interview with the Nation.Redundant connectivity means the firm has provided two fibre-optic links to Bomas of Kenya, so that if any of these fail, the transmission is switched over automatically.

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