Roles and Functions

 

 

Further to the brief in Clause 131. 1 (b) in the previous page on the Authority of the President as head of the Cabinet, s/he is required to perform the following administrative roles:

132. (3) The President shall— (a) chair Cabinet meetings; (b) direct and co-ordinate the functions of ministries and government departments; and (c) by a decision published in the Gazette, assign responsibility for the implementation and administration of any Act of Parliament to a Cabinet Secretary, to the extent not inconsistent with any Act of Parliament.
(4) The President may— (a) perform any other executive function provided for in this Constitution or in national legislation and, except as otherwise provided for in this Constitution, may establish an office in the public service in accordance with the recommendation of the Public Service Commission; (b) receive foreign diplomatic and consular representatives; (c) confer honours in the name of the people and the Republic; .......
(5) The President shall ensure that the international obligations of the Republic are fulfilled through the actions of the relevant Cabinet Secretaries.

To give effect to these responsibilities, the National Government Coordination Act, 2013 borrows heavily from sections of Articles 131. and 132. of the Constitution. 

The President, the Deputy President and the Cabinet must also work together to build and maintain national harmony and unity. Thus the Presidency ...... (e) is a symbol of national unity (Article 131).

The President must therefore endeavour at all times to fulfill the aspirations of the people of Kenya. So on their behalf, -

(2) The President shall— (a) respect, uphold and safeguard this Constitution; (b) safeguard the sovereignty of the Republic; (c) promote and enhance the unity of the nation; (d) promote respect for the diversity of the people and communities of Kenya; and (e) ensure the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms and the rule of law (Article 131).

The importance of this clause cannot be gainsaid. The Constitution allows the President to declare a state of emergency and war to protect the rights, freedoms, peace and unity of the people of Kenya. Excerpts from clause 4 of the same Article 132.:

132. (4) The President may- (d) subject to Article 58, declare a state of emergency; and (e) with the approval of Parliament, declare war. 

Indeed, the President is the protector-in-chief of the people. To explain this, let us consider the example of an unfortunate situation where a County is experiencing serious internal upheavals that are undermining the rights and liberties of the people of that county. Article 192, Chapter 11 - Devolved Government, Part 6 - Suspension of County Governments, grants the President wide powers to restore order: 

192. (1) The President may suspend a county government— (a) in an emergency arising out of internal conflict or war; or (b) in any other exceptional circumstances.

Under the Constitution, the buck stops with the President. Once each year, s/he must report to Parliament on the performance of the National Government in its various mandates - both internal and international. Excerpts from Article 132:

132. (1) The President shall— ...... (c) once every year— (i) report, in an address to the nation, on all the measures taken and the progress achieved in the realisation of the national values, referred to in Article 10; (ii) publish in the Gazette the details of the measures and progress under sub-paragraph (i); .......

This report will also inform special debate by the people's representatives i.e., Members of both Houses of Parliament, who will examine and debate it:

(1) The President shall— ...... (c) once every year— (iii) submit a report for debate to the National Assembly on the progress made in fulfilling the international obligations of the Republic.

Indeed, the fourth President of the Republic of Kenya did give his first State of the Nation address on the 27th March 2014.

At the same time, the President's Cabinet colleagues are obligated to ensure that he succeeds in his responsibilities to any and every external relationship with other nations or international bodies.

(5) The President shall ensure that the international obligations of the Republic are fulfilled through the actions of the relevant Cabinet Secretaries.

This means that, for example, it is up to the President to ensure that his Cabinet Secretary responsible for Communications has fulfilled the Country's commitment to digital TV migration by mid 2015, as agreed and as required by its membership to the International Telecommunication Union, ITU.

The State of the Nation address is thus a great step towards openness, accountability and transparency on the part of government to its people and their representatives. 

 

 
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