Ahmednasir Abdullahi - Narrow interests will deny Kenya true police reforms

The country is at the tailend of constituting the many constitutional commissions provided for in
the Constitution. These commissions are designed to play a critical role in the management of the country. The rationale for providing for these commissions was a noble goal.

The aim is to delimit and disperse powers previously exercised by the President and bestow the same on independent commissions. The Constitution has assigned these commissions the power and mandate to deconstruct and dethrone the imperial Presidency.

Due to the important roles played by the commissions, their composition and how the members are appointed has been a very contested and tricky proposition. Political and tribal interests have primarily defined the compositions of these commissions. In the process, the independence and calibre of some of the commissions has been watered down.

As a representative of the Judicial Service Commission, I have been privileged to be a member of two panels assigned the task of recruiting members of two commissions dealing with the police force. These are the Police Service Commission and the Independent Police Oversight Authority.

These two commissions will in future play important roles in addressing the historic shortcomings of the police force.

Lately, the matter of the Police Service Commission has been in the news.

Initially, a member of the panel representing the Gender Commission complained that a certain lady’s name was not forwarded to the principals as if the panel was compulsorily obliged!

Now we have the tussle between the office of the Prime Minister and that of the President on whether the latter consulted the former in appointing members of the commission.

The Police Service Commission is a critical organ. It will literally run the police force.

This commission is important to three organs — the office of the President, the office of the Prime Minister and then the Kenyan people. The panel that recruited members of the commission represented these three diverse and at times antagonistic political interests.

The offices of the President and Prime Minister undertook this recruitment in light of their broader national political agenda. Both wanted individuals whom they think will advance
the agenda of their respective offices and political power base.

Both want regional balance but each according to one’s political agenda. These two offices took part in the recruitment exercise in different ways.

First, the office of the Prime Minister was hands-on and very engaged in the process. It took a broader national perspective of the commission’s composition than the office of the President. It supports individuals it thinks will help in the broader reform agenda. Due to the strategy it adopted right from the start, it had a good idea of the final list of members of the commission.

The office of the President has adopted a different strategy. It is laid back and relies heavily on
members of the panel whom it thinks are sympathetic to the agenda of the office. It took a
very narrow vision of regional composition of the commission.

Most importantly, it rarely pursues a viable strategy. It relies a great deal on the strategy that it
can absolutely influence things when the names are finally forwarded to the principals.

This is the problem that currently faces the Police Service Commission. It is quite clear that the preferred candidate of the office of the President for the position of chairperson of the commission hasn’t made it.

Both the Constitution and the Police Service Commission Act are clear on the professional qualifications of the chairperson of the commission. It is also very clear that the President, in purporting to appoint the members of the commission, has failed to strike a fair regional balance. It is thus abundantly clear that the office wants police reforms on its narrow terms.

Ahmednasir Abdullahi is the publisher, Nairobi Law Monthly ahmednasir@yahoo.com

Courtesy of nation.co.ke

This entry was posted in , . Bookmark the permalink.