The Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) has been selecting people to appear before them and give their views, a new report by Uwazi Consortium has revealed.
According to the findings of the report, invitations carried out did not encourage meaningful stakeholder participation, casting doubts on the quality of submissions received by the task force. Participants who voluntarily attended the ‘public participation’ were sidelined and more attention given to politically active citizens.
“Some participants complained of discrimination where submissions from people known to be active in political party politics, people seeking or holding political positions are given more weight and more time in the hearings. When submissions from other stakeholders including civil society are not given attention, the will of politicians is likely to influence the outcomes in the final report of the task force,” notes the report.
For all the hearings that were sampled, the researchers noticed that there was no evidence of notices given to the public through mass media or through posters.
Participants were instead invited through the National Administration, which includes chiefs, county commissioners and their deputies.
“For instance, one of the interviewees received an SMS from the Deputy County Commissioner (DCC) asking them to attend a meeting together with one other person oftheir choice. The message had details of the venue and time of the meeting and a promise of reimbursement of transportation costs but did not have the agenda of the meeting. The invitees did not know how the DCC obtained their telephone numbers but suspected their numbers were pulled out of an attendance list of a public baraza they had participated in the past meant for sensitization on the National Integrated Identity Management System project commonly known as “huduma number”,” adds the report.
Uwazi Consortium also faults the transparency of the BBI team, as it does not have known physical addresses for its offices nor a website, postal address, telephone number(s) or email address(s). It is also accused of not having established clear roles and responsibilities for the members or an organizational structure that can enable meeting its objectives.
While announcing the formation of the task force after the much publicised March 9, 2018 hand shake, President Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga announced that the task force shall have”an office and retain a retinue of advisors to assist in this implementation”.
“Some sources hinted that the task force secretariat has offices at the Kenyatta International Convention Center (KICC) buildings, however information obtained from enquiries made at the reception of the same buildings did not confirm this,” added the consortium.
The team has also been faulted as improperly constituted to represent interests of certain regions, while the youths and persons with disabilities are left out.
According to the civil society group, the nine points that they were to address are duties allocated to other state agencies, hence the task force could be draining taxpayers money with an already decided outcome.
“The 9 issues identified as causes of political, economic and social problems in Kenya through a formal statement released by President Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga in March 2018, have already been addressed in existing laws and are within the mandates of existing independent commissions,” reads the report.
It is not yet clear who funds the activities of the task force, but it is thought that it is funded by the state. However, its expenditure is not open to audit by state auditor, as it is with other firms funded by the government.
“Rolling out of the Building Bridges Initiative/Programme as a task force facilitated by public funds raises the question “is it legal to follow up on individual agreements of personal shared objectives using state resources”? It is apparent that the administrative and the executive branches of the state were not involved in the agreement on shared objectives between the two leaders. Therefore, going by the definition of public policy, the written formal statement signed by the two leaders does not amount to public policy and therefore cannot be a principled guide to action for state administrative and executive branches,” adds the report.
The task force held public hearings across the country, to collect citizens’ views on the nine-point communique unveiled by the President and the opposition leader during the March 9, 2018 handshake. Three weeks ago the team retreated to write the report.