By Githae Mwangi
Last week, the president has petitioned parliament to consider passing three bills that will entrench our governing and oversight structures.
Among them is a bill that seeks to cement the position of the opposition leader and their deputy.
The bill seeks to introduce these offices in the constitution, which will allow the government to provide them with various perks, including state funded offices and the right to address parliament at least once a year like the president does.
This bill is timely and beneficial to the country because it will enhance oversight, improve the opposition’s input on governance and take away the winner-takes-all phenomenon from our politics.
The bill will enhance oversight by giving the opposition a platform to keep the government of the day in check. Currently, the office of the opposition is not entrenched in the constitution.
Therefore, the opposition leaders are not state funded; they have no office or perks to empower them to fulfill their obligations efficiently.
If this bill is passed, it will entrench this office in the constitution, requiring the government of the day to fund it. It will also give the opposition a powerful platform on which to air their grievances and give alternative policy directions that will hopefully improve the lives of the people.
Therefore, it is good for the country and should be passed within the shortest time possible.
Moreover, it will boost the opposition’s input on matters governance. Currently, the opposition’s role in the country’s governance is limited because it is essentially ‘out of government’.
With limited funding, it has become difficult for it to form a shadow cabinet, hire professionals for advice, and essentially contribute to nation building.
Consequently, the current state of affairs have reduced it to hecklers in parliament. This state will only change once that office is entrenched in the constitution and funded by the state.
Providing it with state funding will allow them to conduct their affairs effectively, including offering alternative policy directions and voicing the opinions of the minority, which is good for the country.
Hence, parliament should do its best to pass the bill as fast as possible.
Finally, it will address the winner-takes-all phenomenon from the country’s politics.
One of the cures that the Bridging Bridges Initiative was allegedly meant to cure was the winner-take-all phenomenon, which essentially means that the winning side gets all the goodies, including state power and resources, while the opposition gets nothing; it is essentially left out in the ‘political cold’ until the next election.
This occurrence has led the opposition to device ways of getting a share of the cake, including leading antigovernment demonstrations, proposing cessation, and swearing themselves in incase of disputed elections.
Fortunately, the bill will address this issue once and for all. If passed, the opposition will get much needed state funding and recognized offices and perks, which can help losers accept defeat during elections.
As a result, parliament should pass it.
There is no doubt that the president’s proposal to set up the office of leader of opposition and their deputy that is entrenched in the constitution will be beneficial to the country.
It will provide it with a powerful platform on which they can keep the government in check, enhance its input on matters governance, and cure the winner-takes-all phenomenon from our politics.
Therefore, parliament should pass it as soon as it returns from recess to allow Kenyans to enjoy the benefits.
Githae Mwangi is a political and current affairs commentator