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New currency dispute: CBK says Githu okayed KICC monument

In Summary

• Njoroge says KICC is a key national monument in Kenya under the National Museums and Heritage Act

The new look Kenyan currency notes.
The new look Kenyan currency notes.
Image: ENOS TECHE

The Central Bank of Kenya has denied claims that the new generation bank notes bear the portrait of the first President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta.

In response to a case filed by activist Okiya Omtata,  Governor Patrick Njoroge said prior to adopting the usage of image of the Kenya International Conventional Centre (KICC)  on the front of all new notes, the CBK on October 4 2013, sought legal advice from then Attorney General Githu Muigai.

Githu advised the CBK that the image of KICC was not in contravention of the law.

Njoroge says KICC is a key national monument in Kenya under the National Museums and Heritage Act and should be preserved as depicting the very essence of Kenya and its national heritage.

Omtatah in his suit accused the Governor of violating the constitution by having a statue of Kenya’s founding president Kenyatta at the back of all the new notes.  He also accused CBK of not conducting public participation in the design stage to determine its imagery.

But the Governor argues that the process of design, printing and issue of new currency was strictly conducted in compliance with the constitution and the law, was neither tainted with illegality nor unconstitutional as alleged by Omtata,”

He says before any currency is issued, the CBK ensures that there is adequate stakeholder engagement or public participation. These engagements especially in designing currency results in identifying concepts that depict the country and will be used in the currencies to be issued.

According to the court documents, CBK on 7-13 march 2012, published notices in the daily newspapers inviting individuals, institutions, organizations and professional bodies to present proposals on elements they would like to see featured on the bank notes and coins.

In the said notices, the CBK identified two guiding themes: Kenya reborn (to reflect the spirit of the constitution of Kenya and Kenya prosperity to reflect Kenya development goals as outlined in vision 2030.

To ensure that there was wide public participation, Njoroge says the CBK gave the individuals, institutions, organizations and professional bodies interested in sending proposals at least 30 days to present their proposals on the design of currency notes and coins not later than April 12 2012.

“From the foregoing, I believe that CBK indeed conducted wide public participation and stakeholder engagement, provided a proper guideline in the proposals and took into account the proposals in settling on the designs of notes and coins,” he says

He argues that the allegation by Omtatah that there was no public participation and stakeholder engagement in the design and imagery of banknotes is not true and has no legal basis.

“If Omtatah was interested in participating in the design process, he had an opportunity to do so from the moment the notices were issued on March 7 2012 until their issuance,” he says

Omtatah in his suit papers wants the court to suspend the ongoing circulation and has also protested the use of Mzee Kenyatta portrait.

But the CBK Governor says granting the orders sought by Omtata after the conclusion of the process of design, procurement, printing and issuance of currency would hinder the CBK from discharging its constitutional duty in giving Kenyans a new generation currency.

The new coins were launched on December 11 while the notes were launched on June 1.