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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Mr Speaker, that's a populist ruling you just made, but anyway, you saved the country!

“The threshold to amend a draft Constitution was deliberately set high to ensure that only in the most meritorious of circumstances could this happen. This is a stage where the National Assembly is provided with yet another opportunity to input not to disrupt the process by which the people of Kenya seek to exercise their sovereign right to replace the Constitution. (...) We carry the hopes, aspirations and fears of an entire nation. It is a solemn trust that we must discharge with honour and responsibility." ...Excerpt from the six page ruling by House Speaker Kenneth Marende on March 25, 2010.

When I heard those words, I was seated next to KTN's Emmanuel Talam and The Standard's David Ochami. I kept mute as I waited for Mr Isaac Ruto, he of Chepalungu, to rise and seek a clarification from the Speaker's ruling. He didn't. Don't ask me what Talam and Ochami said, but then the Speaker has always proven a kind of expertise on controversial matters with his avant-garde intellectual apparatus.

Yes, the Speaker had congratulated Mr Ruto for being vigilant in his reading of the law, but then noted that it will be an academic exercise if the section 33(4) of the Review Act also referred to section 47(2)(b) of the Constitution.

In the words of Mr Marende: "I am also quite clear in my mind that that failure to so refer is not fatal as the provisions of the Constitution clearly override those of an ordinary statute in case of conflict."

Forget the legal jargon. I am getting kind of lazy to type the whole thing here. But I hope to get a soft copy as soon as possible and paste it somewhere.

So what is my grouse?

That the Speaker ruled against Mr Ruto's plan to propose changes to the draft. He just played around with the semantics and seriously, I grudgingly agree, that he was right. He told Mr Ruto, that if he had raised the contention in connection with any other Bill, then it will be right. But here we were dealing with the Constitution.

Mr Marende is a lawyer in his own right, so I take it that he was acting in public interest. He was right. Kenyans are happy, so happy infact that I just saw termites coming out of the wet grounds here in Parliament and I think they are also celebrating even with the rain making life in Nairobi quite difficult --ouch, this traffic.

"A proper reflection on the constitutional review process makes it clear that it is entirely different from the ordinary process of lawmaking. It is a process that was carefully calculated to learn from the mistakes of the past,” said the Speaker as he said why he could not allow Mr Ruto to do what he did.

So, as I had said, any ploy to change that draft has fallen flat on its face. ODM wins big in its plan. Oh yes, it now comes out as the Party of the People, even as some of its MPs in the Rift Valley and Coast Province shed crocodile tears over the loss of power to introduce the 25 regions.

As I said yesterday, following the disagreement between MPs at their recent consensus-building meeting at Nairobi’s Kenya Institute of Administration, it will be an uphill task for the proponents of amendments to raise the 145 members required to pass such a proposal. On the other hand, those seeking to pass the draft as it is, will need to just raise 76 members to vote against an amendment.

After the ruling, I met the Clerk of the National Assembly on the corridors of Parliament and joked that you had acted with impunity and interpreted the law instead of leaving the matter to the courts. He laughed and backed the Speaker. Okay! On that note, the Speaker, wins big. He has interpreted the law to show that he did not mislead the House.

I find him so not out of order.

But my love for Mr Ruto still sticks. Thank you for reminding us that we have laws and we need to read. Aha!


1 comment:

  1. I have absolutely no kind emotions towards this Ruto fella. But kudos to Mr. Speaker. More so for putting these noisemakers in their place.

    ReplyDelete

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