It was mostly an anticlimax as the Building Bridges Initiative released its report on Tuesday. Even before it was made public, media outlets got their hands on it.
The BBI report has been mostly castigated, with majority of Kenyans expressing their desire not to go into an expensive referendum. It was long assumed that the BBI would release a very radical report, that would need a public vote to adopt.
Among the issues thought to be contained inside were moving to a parliamentary system where the Prime Minister is the head of government. This was very polarizing, with Ruto‘s ‘Tanga Tanga’ camp openly arguing against it.
What was released on Tuesday is however very close to the 2010 constitution.
While the position of the Prime Minister has been re-introduced, it does not seem to be as powerful as previously imagined.
The holder of that position will be appointed by the President from among the MPs with majority seats in the national assembly. The PM has no security of tenure, and can be dismissed by the president or ousted by parliament.
His/her roles include:
> Control, supervise, execution of govt. functions
> Leader of government business
> Co-ordinate affairs of government
> Chair cabinet sub committees
Many of these are the same functions Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i currently has.
The BBI report also wants the return of the official leader of opposition. This will be the 1st runner up in the election.
He/she will be nominated into the national assembly, unlike the current situation where the first loser remains technically jobless.
Another key thing in the BBI report that moves away from the 2010 constitution is appointment of Cabinet Ministers from among MPs.
The president has the freedom of choosing from both technocrats or MPs, with the exception of Minister of State, who must be an MP.
This might end up saving the political careers of high profile governors who are serving their last terms, eg. Mombasa’s Hassan Joho. It will be much easier to have them in your alliance with the promise of a ministerial position, with the knowledge that they can still continue being MP if their party loses the presidential vote.
The BBI report also recommends the elimination of the CAS position, created by Uhuru after the 2017 election to reward his jobless political cronies.
One of the most radical proposals is in the counties, where a male governor must have a female deputy and vice versa.
To avoid a situation as is currently in Nairobi, a governor will have up to 90 days to replace a deputy who vacates office. Failure to which, one will be appointed by the county speaker.
Further, the budget allocation to the counties has been increased from the current maximum of 35% to a new maximum of 50%.
On corruption, public officers will be banned from doing business with the government, whistle-blowers will get 5% of recovered proceeds, and wealth declaration forms will be made public. Wealth above Sh50 million must be explained.
The report further proposes making Kenya a 100% e-service nation by digitizing all government services and processes.
When it comes to the status of Nairobi, many people have argued that the county should be abolished and the city made part of the national government.
The report is however not that drastic.
It gives Nairobi a special status, being a UN headquarters, and states that the city needs much more investment than the current formula of the Commission for Revenue Allocation can accommodate.
It recommends that the national government takes over some functions, but at the same time the people of Nairobi retain their ward and constituency representation.
There is also an interesting part that puts it in writing that all new roads must be designed with sidewalks. This is one thing Kenyans have constantly complained about, and it is encouraging to see it put in writing.
While most recommendations will be agreed upon quite easily, the matter of the Prime Minister might cause a debate on whether a referendum is needed or not.
We will be following on that closely.
Here are the top highlights from the report.