PROPOSAL FOR A DIASPORA MP
A lawmaker wants the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) to create the position of a diaspora member of Parliament to help Kenyans livings outside the borders. Caleb Amisi (Saboti), the patron of Youth for Building Bridges Initiative, says the diaspora MP will help address issues such as visas, consular services, forced labour and kidnapping. Mr Amisi says in his memorandum that Parliament shall enact a legislation to determine the eligibility of persons vying to represent Kenyans living in the diaspora. The position will be limited to Kenyans. The number of Kenyans abroad is estimated to be about three million. There are at least 600,000 Kenyans in the United States, 300,000 in the United Kingdom, 200,000 in Canada, 100,000 in the United Arab Emirates and 800,000 in both South Africa and Sudan.
The MP says countries such as France, Iraq, Algeria, Cape Verde, South Africa and Mozambique have diaspora MPs so Kenya should take after them. France, for instance, had 12 out of 300 MPs, as at 2015, representing its diaspora population. Iraq has 10 out of 300 MPs, Algeria and Cape Verde six each while South Africa and Mozambique have two each. India, Nigeria, Georgia, Togo, Senegal and a host of West African countries now have a diaspora ministry separate from the foreign affairs ministry. Ethiopia, Rwanda and the Philippines have a Directorate General led by a principal secretary-level officer.
Mr Amisi also wants Cabinet Secretaries appointed from among MPs and for the number to be between 10 and 25. He further wants the number of MPs reduced from the current 349 to the previous 290. The first-term lawmaker also wants Article 98 (1) of the Constitution amended to reduce the number of senators from 67 to 53.The 53 will include 47 elected members and six special seats “This amendment reduces the total number of senators to 53 to reduce the wage bill and shoulder citizens from the huge tax burden,” he said in his proposal.
The lawmakers also wants Article 75 amended so that any public officer convicted of a corruption offence is never allowed to service in public office. He is also seeking the amendment of Article 203 (2) for more funding for counties – 30 per cent of all revenue collected by the national government.The Article provides for the equitable share of counties’ revenue to be at least 15 per cent of all revenue collected by the national government.
Meanwhile, Kenyan youth representatives on Wednesday proposed a 30 per cent youth inclusion in all government bodies, parastatals and political party nominations in the country. While presenting their proposals in the ongoing citizen engagement forum of the BBI taskforce at the KICC in Nairobi, they complained that they had for long been neglected in appointments to government positions. “Today the national assembly consist of 36 young persons which is 11 per cent of the representation of Parliament,” Kanu Youth Congress member Kidi Mwaga said. In addition, the youth representatives said that there is no inclusivity if the youth are not involved. Youth leader Ruth Ambogo said, “We have a pool of young people who are educated, competent and skilled, with brilliant ideas of progressive policies that will transform this country. With 30 per cent of youth representation in these bodies, we will have more policies geared towards the interests of young people.” Ms Ambogo further noted that every year, thousands of graduates join a job market that has not been able to accommodate them all.
Youth for BBI is demanding enforcement of a policy to ensure youths have access to opportunities. The group suggested introduction of innovation and entrepreneurship as a core course in the school curriculum at a young age. The youth representatives also proposed a stand-alone youth ministry at the national level that will follow up on matters including youth-related bills in Parliament. They have also called for establishment of a stand-alone youth development fund, separate from existing allocations to the youth, women and persons living with disabilities.
Members of the BBI task force, chaired by Garissa Senator Yusuf Haji, seeks to recommend fundamental reorganisation of the country’s governance structure. These recommendations are based on proposals from various groups in the country, including the youth. The task force was formed shortly after the ‘handshake’ between President Uhuru Kenyatta and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga on March 9, 2018. The BBI team is expected to propose lasting solutions to the challenges through public participation. Mr Amisi is set to appear before the BBI team at the KICC on Thursday morning. – nation.co.ke