Be very afraid of the “KDF Amendment Bill 2015”

The so-called “KDF Amendment Bill 2015” is the biggest threat to civil liberties and democracy in Kenya ever since the repeal of Section 2A of the constitution that had hitherto declared Kenya as a single party state.

Through the KDF amendment bill, Jubilee’s parliamentary dictatorship is seeking to invoke a law that would hand President Uhuru Kenyatta sweeping powers without safeguards that would effectively turn Kenya into a military state without any checks and balances.

The laws will will mark Kenya’s deepening descent into tyranny and will among other scary features effectively make the National Youth Service a key player in internal security and give the Defence docket a blank cheque to unilaterally spend tax payer money.

If these laws are enacted, it would be a severe blow to Kenya’s long and torturous reform journey and would inevitably portend dire consequences for multiparty democracy in Kenya and the entire region.

Here are some points form the proposed law;

1. The role of Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) in internal security could go a notch higher if a proposed new Bill becomes law.

2. The KDF Amendment Bill 2015, if enacted into law, will give express authority to the Chief of the Defence Forces to deploy KDF in civilian operations.

3. The move significantly shifts operational and command powers currently vested in the Inspector General of Police (IGP).

4. Similarly, the Defence Cabinet Secretary (CS) will not play a major role in the delegation of civilian functions to the Chief of staff.

5. The Bill, at publication stage, has the hallmarks of the composition of disciplined forces in Uganda, Rwanda, Ethiopia and Sudan, where there are no clear cut delimitation of the functions of the police and military.

In Uganda and Ethiopia, for instance, the Army is deployed during elections to man polling stations. The proposed law is expected to draw resistance from Opposition, human rights groups and even within government circles.

6. The Bill also envisages establishment of an auxiliary reserve force comprising Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), Kenya Forest Service (KFS) and National Youth Service (NYS) to serve alongside the KDF.

“The president may in situations of emergency or disaster or during war, unrest, or disaster, order that the auxiliary forces comprising forest guards and NYS be employed to serve with KDF or otherwise in the defence of the nation whether within or outside,” reads the Bill.

7. Under the Bill, the KDF boss has immense powers to monitor implementation of policies, operations and directions issued to service commanders.

8. Under the new Bill, the President has the power to extend the terms of office for the chief, vice chief and service commanders of KDF for a period not exceeding one year.

9. The Bill also seeks to extend the retirement age of the KDF chief from 62 to 64 years.

“The President may, on the recommendation of the Defense Council, extend the term in office of the Chief of the Defense Forces, the Vice Chief of the Defence Forces or the Service Commanders for a period not exceeding one year,” reads the Bill.

The council will direct and oversee deployment of KDF as authorised under this Act and also develop criteria for the recruitment, promotion and transfer of members of the Defence Forces.

10. The bill abolishes requirement for KDF to advertise slots as per counties. It also insulates KDF operations, including appropriation of its budget and functions, from public scrutiny by denying Parliament the oversight role.
However, Parliament would oversight deployment of troops in various operations.

“The Bill proposes to amend section 285 of the KDF Act and repeal section 289 of the same law, which stipulates that KDF should not hold accounts separate from those by the Ministry of Defence,” reads the Bill.

This means that KDF will have its own vote independent of the ministry’s budgetary allocation as appropriated by the National Assembly.

The law currently requires the CS to table an annual report in Parliament and to the Executive, which includes itemised statements on utilisation of public funds by KDF, but the Bill proposes to quash this requirement.

11.In a bid to ensure activities of KDF remain a closely guarded secret, the proposed law seeks to repeal section 290 of the Act to avoid the publication of Defense Council matters deemed to be prejudicial to national security.

3 comments on “Be very afraid of the “KDF Amendment Bill 2015”

  1. Choices have consequences.
    These are some of the things Kenyans are now reaping from this scandal filled Jubilee government. Questionable characters were put in office and we are now getting everything questionable from state house. They aim to stick to power by all means necessary. Truth be told, if CORD were to fire its base to get ID´s and register as voters, Jubilee would be no match. I think that this might be fueling the corrupt activities. Get as much cash as possible to buy votes and IEBC officials and win through thick and thin. I have told Kenyans many times that we have a very dangerous lot in power…worse than Mwai Kibaki.


  2. Kenya Defence Forces draft Bill is a bad one

    It is natural in times when a nation is facing major security challenges for policy-makers to succumb to the temptation to legislate in ways that strengthen security at the expense of aspects.

    But while everyone agrees on the need to take steps to tackle the threat posed by Somalia’s Al-Shabaab terrorists, who have in the past carried out deadly attacks in Kenya, this should not be done in a way that threatens to undermine civil liberties and which might lead to the exploitation of insecurity to raid the public purse without being held to account.

    The proposed Kenya Defence Forces Amendment Bill 2015 dangerously veers towards a direction that could prove unhelpful to the nation, especially after landmark constitutional changes in 2010.

    One key concern in the proposed law is the deployment of the military to handle internal security matters that should ordinarily be the work of the national police service.

    This, the anticipated changes indicate, could be done without going through the current stringent checks that include parliamentary approval.

    A role is also envisaged for an auxilliary reserve force that includes the National Youth Service and the Kenya Wildlife Service.

    Then there are internal matters that should be properly interrogated before they are passed.

    The respected former military chief Daudi Tonje, for example, introduced rules which were designed to professionalise the defence forces and which offered clear prescriptions guiding, for example, the succession process for defence forces chiefs.

    For reasons which are not explained, the draft Bill proposes to raise the retirement age for top military officers to 64, up from 62.

    Defying the spirit of the Tonje Rules which aimed to reduce the levels of arbitrary interference in the affairs of the military, the Bill also proposes to give the President powers to extend the tenure of defence chiefs by a year.

    Civilian oversight over the military is a well established norm in democracies.

    To its credit, the Kenyan military has largely stayed in the barracks unlike many others on the continent where successful coups led many countries into the path of stagnation.

    The new law will stray dangerously to the path of challenging this established practice, reducing scrutiny over its finances and essentially rendering the ministry of Defence irrelevant.

    All parties agree that the Shabaab is one of the biggest threats that the country faces and the biggest potential obstacle to progress in the region.

    But it is not right to use this threat to steer the country in a direction which yields ever greater militarisation of society.

    The proposed law is a bad draft which should either be rejected by MPs or be subjected to far-reaching amendments when it is presented to the House.


What Say You Now?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s