BY SAM ALFAN and IRENE ONYANGO.
Raila Odinga has made true his threat of stopping President William Ruto’s move to sell national treasures to potential highest bidders.
The court has temporarily agreed with him and stopped the sale of 11 parastatals, among them the iconic Kenyatta International Convention Centre, KICC.
Justice Chacha Mwita suspended the implementation of section 21(1) of privation act 2023 or any other decision made pursuant to that section until next year.
The parastatals include KICC, Kenya Pipeline (KPC), New Kenya Cooperative Creameries (KCC), Kenya Seed companies Ltd(KSC), The National Oil Cooperation of Kenya (NOCk)among others.
“The harm or damage that shall be caused to the public interest will be disproportionate to any inconvenience or damage, if any, that will be caused to any person by staying the implementation of the impugned amendments and failure to grant the said orders will occasion disproportionate prejudice or loss of prized sovereign assets of the Republic of Kenya at the detriment of the people,” Raila says through the ODM party.
Through Lawyer Jackson Awele, Orange Democratic Party, moved to court to overturn the implementation of the privatisation act 2023 including the 2023 privatisation programme or any other decision, programme or decision made pursuant to the said act.
In the petition, ODM seeks a declaration that the National Assembly did not conduct adequate or effective public participation before passing the Privatization Act, 2023.
“A declaration that the Privatization Act, 2023 violates Article 1(1) of the Constitution of Kenya in so far as it elevates subjective economic considerations and perspectives above the principles of sovereignty, democracy and accountability,” the party request.
The ODM party further petitions the court to declare that the delegated authority of the state can not be invoked to sell or privatize public assets of strategic and cultural significance to the people and the Republic of Kenya
“A declaration that some public assets including but limited to the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC), the Kenya Pipeline Company (KPC), the Kenya Literature Bureau (KLB) and the Kenya Seed Company Limited (KSC) form part of the sovereign wealth of the Republic of Kenya with significant cultural and strategic importance to the people of Kenya and can only be privatized with the consent of the people at a referendum,” seeks Raila’s party.
The opposition party also seeks the court to declare that the Privatization Act as designed, lacks an adequate system of checks and balances to protect sovereign assets of the people of Kenya from willful wastage and corruption.
The party argues that in breach of the foregoing provisions, neither the public nor the Petitioner was given a reasonable or meaningful opportunity to comment on or contribute to the substantive provisions of the impugned amendments at any stage prior to their passage by the National Assembly.
ODM further argues that any engagements with the public concerning the impugned amendments, if at all, were wholly cosmetic public relation exercises designed to create the false impression of compliance and the impugned amendments significantly concentrate the power to identify and dispose of public assets, some of which have acquired the status of identifiers of Kenya’s cultural heritage, on the executive to the exclusion of the citizenry.
“In essence, the impugned amendments have the effect of fundamentally dissipating the sovereign wealth and identity of the Republic of Kenya and its peoples at the whims of the executive,” party told the court.
The party argues that it is aware that members of the public harbor grave concerns which would have been substantially addressed through the relevant committees of the National Assembly had they been accorded the opportunity to meaningfully offer their views as by law required.
“It is accordingly fair, just and in the public interest that the public be availed of the opportunity, as Constitutionally mandated, to contribute to the said laws and the significance of the national principles and values of governance are not and cannot be subordinate to subjective economic perspectives of privatization and that the decision to privatize sovereign assets ought to be subjected to a higher threshold of public participation to wit; a National referendum,” says the party.