President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga have appointed 30 technocrats to the BBI taskforce even as senators tabled fresh demands to the team.
It emerged yesterday that the two leaders appointed the experts when they extended the term of the 14-member taskforce to collect the views of Kenyans on its report.
The committee of experts is led by lawyer Tom Macharia, Catherine Mumo and Prof Ben Sihanya. Some of the members are ODM Executive Director Oduor Ong’wen, Prof Larry Gumbe, Awuor Achoka, Kenneth Rotich, Patrick Kiloku and Cess Mutua.
Some of the technocrats met with senators at Serena Hotel, Nairobi, where they took the legislators through the BBI report. Ong’wen said the team will synthesise, crystallise and refine the report into an implementable deliverable.
“These 30 people will hold town hall meetings across the country and collect the views of Kenyans on the report and make recommendations to the taskforce,” he said.
Ong’wen revealed that competing interests and push by politicians to have their persons considered forced Uhuru and Raila to retain the Garissa Senator Yusuf Haji-led task-force.
Macharia said the task-force and technocrats are now waiting for their gazettement by the President before hitting the road next year.
The senators, led by Minority leader James Orengo (Siaya) and Ephraim Maina (Nyeri), pushed for the amendment of the report released three weeks ago to give the Senate more powers.
They said the Senate should be made the Upper House with veto powers.
“We should define what the Senate should do and what the National Assembly should do. The mandates of these two houses should be captured in the BBI report and in the Constitution,” Nyandarua Senator Mwangi Githiomi said.
“There shouldn’t be something like money bills. All bills from the National Assembly should come to the Senate. It is time we decide to either have a Senate or not.”
Maina, Orengo, Fred Outa (Kisumu), Ochillo Ayacho (Migori) and Rose Nyamunga (nominated) supported him saying the Senate should be empowered. “The Senator has said it all. The Senate should be empowered and Kenyans should decide,” Orengo said.
The lawmakers, however, threw their weight behind the report and the recommendations therein saying they will address historical injustices. They supported the expansion of the executive to include a prime minister and a hybrid system where some Cabinet ministers are appointed from Parliament.
Nominated Senator Beth Mugo supported the implementation of the BBI report through a popular initiative as opposed to the parliamentary route.
“The BBI is a people-driven process and should be taken to the people,” Mugo said.
However, Mugo opposed ODM’s push for a powerful Prime Minister saying it will create two centres of power and cause chaos in government. Citing the defunct grand coalition government headed by former President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister, where the two leaders were constantly on a collision path over critical policy matters.
Other senators who attended the meeting were Kimani Wamatangi (Kiambu), Johnes Mwaruma (Taita Taveta), Judith Pareno (nominated), Agnes Zani (nominated) and Getrude Msuruve (nominated).