The Joint Report of the National Assembly Departmental Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs and the Senate Committee on Justice Legal Affairs and Human Rights on the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill, 2020.
COMMUNICATION FROM THE CHAIR
Special Sitting of the Senate
The Senate held a special sitting to transact the following business:
- a) Tabling of the Joint Report of the National Assembly Departmental Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs and the Senate Standing Committee on Justice, Legal Affairs and Human Rights, on the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill, 2020; and
- b) Consideration of the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill, 2020.
The Bill was introduced to Parliament without delay, owing to the intricate process attached to the consideration of the Bill in terms of collection of signatures in support; verification of the said signatures; public participation undertaken by various county assemblies; and ultimately, approval by the Assemblies and subsequent submission of their respective resolutions to the Speakers of the Houses of Parliament.
All county assemblies filed returns to the Speakers of the Houses of Parliament pursuant to the Constitution and the Guidelines for Delivery by the county assemblies in Legal Notice No. 175 of 2019. A total of 43 County Assemblies approved the draft Bill, three county assemblies rejected the Bill and one county assembly abstained.
In consultations over the Parliamentary process on the Bill, the two Speakers and the leadership of the Houses were in agreement that the Bill was to be introduced simultaneously and follow a similar process. This paved the way for the introduction of the Bill in both Houses of Parliament by way of First Reading on Thursday, 4th March, 2021 and its subsequent committal to the Joint Committee of the National Assembly Departmental Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs and the Senate Standing Committee on Justice, Legal Affairs and Human Rights.
The two committees considered the Bill, undertook public hearings and stakeholder engagements on diverse dates, concluded their deliberations and prepared a joint report on the Bill. The Senate will then be guided by its Standing Orders in the consideration of the Bill. As such, the Bill will go through the following stages: – Second Reading, Committee of the Whole and the Third Reading. The procedure is necessary so as to socialize the Bill to the longstanding parliamentary procedure within the Commonwealth for considering Bills. As is the practice, there is no Motion for consideration or adoption of the Report of the Joint Committee on the Bill. What is permissible are arguments in support or otherwise of the Bill, at the various stages, with the benefit of the information contained in the Joint Report. However, the nature of the Bill is one that, although subjected through the Parliamentary procedures for considering Bills, may not be amended.
It is the first time that Parliament is considering a Bill to amend the Constitution by popular initiative as contemplated in Article 257 of the Constitution. As all Senators will have a maximum of 20 minutes to speak, except the Mover, the Senate Majority Leader, and the Senate Minority Leader, who have a maximum of sixty (60) minutes each. The Chair of the Report will have a maximum of 30 minutes.
At the conclusion of the debate, the decision of the Senate on the Bill will be guided by Article 257(8) of the Constitution that states that “A Bill under this Article is passed by Parliament if supported by a majority of the Members of each House”. The provision applies to all the stages as outlined. Once the Senate concludes with the consideration of the Bill, the Senate will stand adjourned until Tuesday, 11th May, 2021, at 10.00 am.
The Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill, 2020.
The Bill was coming up for Second Reading.
The main objective of the Bill is to amend the Constitution by popular initiative. It seeks to address issues arising from implementation of the Constitution of Kenya, 2010. In particular, to resolve issues of divisive elections and promote gender equity in governance, strengthen the structure of devolution and increase resource allocation to the counties, broaden mechanisms of all the people of Kenya to benefit from economic growth, harmonize certain roles and functions of the bicameral legislature, fortify national ethos by specifying the responsibilities of citizens and strengthen accountability on public resourced and the fight against corruption.