President Uhuru Kenyatta (L) greets opposition leader Raila Odinga of the National Super Alliance (NASA) coalition after addressing a news conference at the Harambee house office in Nairobi, Kenya March 9, 2018. PHOTO/FILE
A Prime Minister’s slot, a mixed cabinet, and allocation of more resources to county governments are among key recommendations contained in the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) taskforce report that was launched on Thursday by President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga at the Bomas of Kenya.
The report recommends a President, with executive authority who will be directly elected by the people, with the loser in the State House contest directly nominated to Parliament and takes over as leader of official opposition.
On the structure of government, the BBI team recommends what it termed “a home grown and inclusive” system, that comprises an executive headed by a popularly and directly elected President, and a robust, structured opposition that holds the government to account.
The Executive, according to BBI, should include the President, a Deputy President, a Prime Minister, and Cabinet Ministers. The president shall have garnered at least 50% plus one vote in the State House race, and at least 25% of total votes cast in at least 24 counties.
The President, according to the report, shall remain Head of State and Government, and Commander in Chief of the Defence Forces.
The Deputy President, according to BBI report, remains the President’s principal assistant, and running mate at the ballot.
The report has neither recommended an expanded Executive nor a Parliamentary model of government. The proposed Prime Minister in the BBI report shall be an elected member of the National Assembly. The President shall nominate a Prime Minister, whose appointment must be approved by the National Assembly.
The Prime Minister, according to the BBI report, shall control and supervise execution of day-to-day functions and affairs of the government. The Prime Minister shall also, be leader of government business in Parliament and chair of Cabinet Sub-committees.
The BBI report recommends Principal Secretary in the Prime Minister’s office, to chair the technical implementation committee that shall comprise all principal secretaries.
The report also proposes the return of Prime Minister’s time, where MPs can pose questions directly to the premier and cabinet ministers.
And in response to the ‘winner takes it all’ mantra that was cited as one of the key causes on bitterly contested elections, BBI has recommended that the loser (1st runners-up) in a presidential election be nominated to the National Assembly and takes over as leader of official opposition.
The leader will name a shadow cabinet, and craft a strong opposition that will act as government in waiting and putting the government of the day to account.
Another radical shift recommended by BBI is a mixed cabinet, that shall be appointed by the president in consultation with the prime minister. That cabinet shall draw its membership from Parliament and technocrats.
The report also recommends a change of name from Cabinet Secretaries to Cabinet Ministers, and an elimination of the Chief Administrative Secretary slots.
On Devolution, the BBI report recommends retention of the 47 counties and increased allocation to County Governments from at least 15% of last audited accounts to between 35% and 50%, with resources matching the devolved functions.
The report recommends that Members of County Assembly (MCAs) take charge of bursaries and play a more prominent oversight role to ensure prudent management of devolved resources.
The report also recommends establishment of a Health Services Commission, to take charge of all personnel issues in the health sector.
The BBI report recommends that all 290 constituencies remain, as well as affirmative action seats such as Woman Representatives and nomination slots for youth, marginalised and people with disabilities.
On graft war, the report recommends repeal of the 1972-Ndegwa report and bar public servants from doing business with the government.
The report also recommends that wealth declaration forms be publicly available, with the ethics function taken away from the anti-corruption commission to enable it concentrate on economic crimes.
Allowing the media to expose corruption cartels in public service without fear of libel and defamation, strengthening the Controller of Budget’s office and rewarding whistleblowers with 5% of the recovered proceeds are among key recommendations to beef up the graft war.
The BBI report also recommends a total overhaul of the current electoral commission — IEBC — , with a new team appointed to take charge of the 2022 General Election.
Political party leaders will according to the report’s proposals, nominate non-partisan individuals, with unquestionable integrity and impartiality for appointment as IEBC commissioners.
The IEBC chair, according to the BBI report, will wield Executive authority, to avoid past confrontation between the commission Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer.
The report also recommends vetting of all IEBC senior managers, with commission staff members serving three-year contracts that are renewable only once.
Returning officers in constituencies and counties will serve on part-time basis and preside one election only, if the BBI recommendations are implemented.