Pan-Africanist and renowned lawyer Patrick Loch Otieno Lumumba alias PLO Lumumba has announced plans to kickstart a process of amending the Constitution.
Addressing the press on Sunday, coinciding with the 13th anniversary of the promulgation of the 2010 Constitution, the scholar raised pertinent issues touching on the structure of the Executive, Devolution and independent Constitutional Commissions.
He argued that the Executive created some positions not contained in the Constitution, necessitating a revision of the laws to either accommodate or nullify them.
“We are saying that on a day to be announced, we shall commence the process of collection of signatures, which are to be a minimum of 1 million, in order to ignite the process of a popular initiative,” PLO, a former Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission director stated.
Former Kenya School of Government Director PLO Lumumba.
“In that endeavor, We shall do our very best. We will have people who will support us and we will have people who will support us.”
In his address, the lawyer argued that whereas the Kenyan Constitution sought to ensure that all public institutions adhere to the two-thirds gender rule, some other marginal communities were excluded from the provision.
“We also believe that our representation should be examined. For the last 10 years, we have been grappling with the issue of representation of women, but that is not the only area that we ought to focus on,” PLO stated.
“Do the Ogiek feel that they are part of Kenya? Do the Daasanach feel that they are part of Kenya? We believe that is the time to relook at the question of representation.”
For the last 13 years, the state has struggled to fulfil the gender rule. In the Cabinet, 15 Cabinet Secretaries are men, while seven are women. The Head of State appointed 51 principal secretaries, of which only 12 are women, despite promising women a third of his government.
In January, President William Ruto defended the decision, noting that he was restrained in the appointments by other considerations of age as well as regional balance.
Lumumba, who held the conference in the company of Green Thinking Action Party (GTAP) leader Isaac Kalua and other activists, also questioned the structure of the current government.
He argued that some positions had been added, including the Prime Cabinet Secretary (PCS), occupied by Musalia Mudavadi, and Chief Cabinet Secretary (CAS), which has faced numerous challenges in court. Both positions are not enshrined in the Constitution.
“There are those who believe we are over-represented and there are those who believe that we are under-represented… There are those who believe that the architecture of our executive arm of government ought to be examined,” he revealed.
“We have seen the creation of an office called PCS. It is not directly mentioned in the Constitution. We have seen the creation of CAS and we are saying the time is now to examine our executive and satisfy ourselves that it is something that can take us forward.”
According to a circular from the State House, the PCS position was tasked with the implementation of National Government policies, programs and projects. The embedment of the Prime Cabinet Secretary position in the Constitution is among the main agenda in the bipartisan talks between Ruto and opposition leader Raila Odinga.
In July, the High Court also ruled that the position of CAS was unconstitutional, rendering 50 appointees jobless.
Former President Mwai Kibaki during the promulgation of the 2010 Constitution on August 27, 2010.
The team also advocated for the re-examination of Devolution introduced by the 2010 Constitution, allowing county governments to independently carry out duties within their counties.
Lumumba argued that whereas the process made great achievements, including taking services closer to citizens, some aspects undermined its success.
“Devolution has done many beautiful things but there is sense in which certain things that have also happened which undermined the devolution,” he stated.
For instance, the Council of Governors has, in recent months, been at loggerheads with its national counterpart over the timely remittance of funds as well as the amount. A delay which governors argued affected their service delivery.
Lumumba hinted that the country had also permitted the formation of too many constitutional commissions, explaining that the move led to the wastage of public funds in the funding of the committees.
He noted that the time had come to review a number of commissions that carried out similar roles.
“We have offices such as the split in the offices of the Auditor General and split in the office of the Budget Controller. We moved away from a single office. Are we the rich or are we the poorer?” He questioned.
The team further challenged the country to relook into its alignment with the East African Community and the African continent.
Lumumba argued that it was time to dissolve the Kenyan borders and free movement of labour as well as relook into visa requirements.
The move would be expected to align with the Africa-wide Africa Continental Free Trade Area and Africa Agenda 2063 for seamless trade and removal of tariffs and non-tariff barriers.
“Is it not the proper time that our own Constitution should also, in a very specific manner, be aligned to what is happening in East Africa and in the Continent of Africa,” he stated.
As of July 2023, Kenyans could access 44 countries worldwide visa-free, including Burundi, Botswana, Ethiopia, Malawi and Mauritius, among others.
President William Ruto and Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua alongside CSs at State House in Nairobi County on October 27, 2022.