HANDSHAKE REPORT

Inside the radical proposals of the BBI team

Haji team recommends the rerun of non-executive Prime Minister

In Summary

• Prime Minister can be appointed and fired by the President and or Parliament.

• Civil servants banned from doing business with State and MPs plus technocrats to sit in mixed Cabinet.

 

President Uhuru Kenyatta receives the BBI report from task force chairman Senator Yusuf Haji on November 27, 2019.
President Uhuru Kenyatta receives the BBI report from task force chairman Senator Yusuf Haji on November 27, 2019.
Image: PSCU

The Building Bridges Initiative has made radical proposals to alter the structure of the executive and create several new offices, including that of a non-executive prime minister.

In recommendations presented on Tuesday could see Kenya go for a referendum before the 2022 polls, the BBI task force wants a premier to picked by the President from MPs in the majority party in the National Assembly.

The 14-man team also wants the reintroduction of the office of the Official Opposition and a mixed Cabinet drawn from both parliamentarians and technocrats.

 
 

It proposes that all public servants be barred from doing business with the government.

If the report is approved, Cabinet Secretaries will be known as Cabinet Ministers.

In a new political order being suggested, the BBI proposes the creation of the position of minister of state to enhance what the report described as “parliamentary accountability”.

The BBI team also proposes that Principal Secretaries, the technocrats running ministries, be excused from parliamentary approval to avoid “politicisation of the public service”.

President Uhuru Kenyatta and Opposition leader Raila Odinga on the footsteps of Harambee House on March 9, 2018.
HANDSHAKE DIVIDENDS: President Uhuru Kenyatta and Opposition leader Raila Odinga on the footsteps of Harambee House on March 9, 2018.
Image: JACK OWUOR

However, according to the report, the PM will be appointed by the president who will remain the head of state, head of government and commander-in-chief of the Defence Forces.

“Kenyans want to see inclusion in the Executive while also wanting to directly vote for the president,” the report handed over to President Uhuru Kenyatta on Tuesday states.

President Kenyatta’s backyard had almost unanimously rejected an executive PM, following speculation that the team had recommended a parliamentary system.

 
 
 

According to the report, the President shall appoint the PM from the political party with the majority of MPs, or if no political party has a majority, “one who appears to have the support of the majority”.

“The nominee of prime minister shall not assume office until his or her appointment is first confirmed by a resolution of the National Assembly supported by an absolute majority vote of MPs,” the report states.

Despite the PM being an appointee of the president, the report makes it mandatory that the president will only appoint Cabinet ministers in consultations with the PM.

In the new system, the PM will be the leader of government business in the National Assembly and at the President’s request, will chair cabinet sub-committee.

 “The prime minister shall have supervision and execution of the day-to-day functions and affairs of the government…In the exercise of his authority, the prime minister shall perform or cause to be performed any matter or matters which the President directs to be done,” the report states.

The PM can be dismissed by the President or through a vote of no-confidence in the National Assembly.

In a bid to tame the ballooning wage bill, the report proposes that the PM should continue to earn his salary as MP with no additional perks.

In a bid to give the PM’s office some executive heft, the task force says the Principal Secretary in the office of the prime minister should chair the technical implementation committee of PSs.

The report also wants the reintroduction of the office of the Leader of the Official Opposition and a mixed Cabinet drawn from both parliamentarians and technocrats.

The runners-up will become automatic ex-officio MPs and leaders of the official opposition if his or her party is not represented in government.

“The leader of the official opposition shall be enabled to have a shadow Cabinet,” the report states.

If adopted, the prime minister and Cabinet ministers will answer questions On the floor of Parliament on behalf of the executive, a system that Kenya abolished in 2010.

The technocrats who will join Cabinet will become ex-officio MPs upon parliamentary approval.

Under the new system, the 14-man team that was chaired by Garissa Senator Yusuf Haji proposes the creation of the position of minister of state.

This position would ensure what the task force described as “more political direction and parliamentary accountability”.

The minister of state, a new position, would be appointed from MPs and take direction in their ministerial duties from Cabinet ministers.

The team says Kenya should retain the present limit of two presidential terms.

The president will chair the Cabinet consisting of the deputy president, the PM and Cabinet ministers

In what would be music to the ears of governors, the task force has recommended that the allocation to counties be increased by to at least 35 per cent of the national revenue.

Governors have been championing their own referendum to ensure that at least 45 per cent of resources are devolved.

The Constitution provides only 15 per cent allocation of national revenue to the counties.

“When dividing revenue between counties, use a formula that focuses on ensuring services reach the actual settlement of people so that resources are not allocated on the basis of uninhibited landmass,” the report recommends.

In a radical move to tame runaway graft in procurement, the task force says all public officers should be banned from doing business with the government.

It also recommends that all wealth declaration forms should be open to public scrutiny.

To promote whistle-blowing, the report says whistle-blowers should be given a reward of five per cent of recovered proceeds.

The report also seeks to eliminate sitting allowances for salaried public officers, a move likely to hit MPs and MCAs like a tonne of bricks.

MPs and MCA’s have over the years milked the sitting allowances, apart from their salaries, becoming overnight millionaires.

In what would be a big win for women if approved, the report recommends that the running mate of every candidate for governor should be of the opposite gender.

A record 45 governors in Kenya are males, with a majority of their running mates also men.

In what is an answer to the prayers by Health personnel, the BBI team recommends the transfer of Health sector personnel from county governments to an independent Health Service Commission.

This means that doctors and nurses will have a centralised employer like the Teachers Service Commission.

The task force said the proposed HSC will enable the sharing of “the very limited health experts”.