Citizens’ Rights and Responsibilities

Citizens’ Rights and Responsibilities

Rights and Responsibilities of Citizens under the Constitution

Kenya’s sovereign power is vested in its citizens. They exercise their sovereign power either directly or through their democratically elected representatives.

Every person has the right to lodge a case in court if a right or fundamental freedom in the Bill of Rights is denied, violated or threatened.

Every person is entitled to the following rights and fundamental freedoms:

  1. Right to life;
  2. The right to equality, equal protection and equal benefit in law;
  3. Human dignity;
  4. Freedom and security;
  5. Protection from slavery, servitude & forced labour;
  6. Freedom of conscience, religion, belief and opinion;
  7. Freedom of expression;
  8. Freedom of the media;
  9. Right of access to information;
  10. Freedom of association;
  11. Right of assembly, demonstration, picketing and petition;
  12. Political rights;
  13. Freedom of movement and residence;
  14. Protection of right to property;
  15. Fair labour practices;
  16. Right to a clean and healthy environment;
  17. Right to economic and social rights (health, housing, food, water, social security & education)
  18. Right to use of language and culture of one’s preference;
  19. Consumer rights;
  20. Fair administrative action;
  21. Right of access to justice; and
  22. Right to a fair hearing.

Kenyans have an obligation to ensure people serving in the independent Commissions are properly vetted as they are tasked to protect the sovereignty of the people, ensure the State organs keep democratic values and principles and promote constitutionalism.

Members of the public have the right of access to parliamentary sittings and those of its committees and can give contributions.

The Executive authority (the Presidency) obtains its power from the citizens of Kenya and acts as empowered by the constitution.

The judiciary obtains its power from Kenyan citizens and acts through the courts and tribunals.

Alternative forms of dispute resolution including reconciliation, mediation, arbitration and traditional dispute resolution mechanisms are promoted provided they do not go against the Bill of Rights.

Devolution gives power of self-governance to the people and grants them opportunity for greater participation in the exercise of the powers of the State and in decision making. It also recognizes the right of communities to manage their own affairs and further their development.

County assemblies are expected to conduct their business in an open manner and hold all their sittings and committee meetings in public.

All national security organs – the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF), the National Intelligence Service (NIS) and the National Police Service (NPS) – are sub-ordinate to civilian authority.

Citizens have the right to propose an amendment to the constitution by popular initiative signed by at least one million registered voters.

Every Kenyan has the right to start court proceedings, if the constitution has been contravened or is threatened with contravention.


Regardless of the presence of elected representatives:

Every citizen has an obligation to respect, uphold and defend Kenya’s sovereignty.

Citizens also have a responsibility to live out the national values and principles of: patriotism, national unity, sharing and devolution of power, the rule of law, democracy and participation of the people.

They are to uphold human dignity, equity, social justice, inclusiveness, equality, human rights, non-discrimination and protection of the marginalized.

In addition, citizens should ensure good governance, integrity and accountability are upheld.

Every Kenyan has the responsibility to uphold the rights and fundamental freedoms in the Bill of Rights and to ensure they are observed in making social, economic and cultural policies.

Every person has a duty to cooperate with the State to protect and conserve the environment and the country’s natural resources and ensure sustainable development is carried out.

Citizens are expected to monitor how state officers are functioning to ensure the guiding principles of leadership and integrity are respected and maintained. The guiding principles include:

  1. Selection based on personal integrity, competence and suitability or election in a free and fair election;
  2. Objectivity and impartiality in decision making and in ensuring decisions are not influenced by nepotism, favouritism and other improper practices;
  3. Selfless service based on public interest is maintained;
  4. Accountability to the public for decisions and actions; and
  5. Discipline and commitment in service to the people.

Citizens should promote the realization of the principles of the electoral system. The electoral system principles include:

a) Freedom of citizens to exercise their political rights;

b) Not a more than two thirds of the members of the elective public bodies shall be of the same gender;

c) Fair representation of persons with disabilities;

d) Universal suffrage based on the aspiration for fair representation and equality of vote; and

e) Free and fair elections which are:

  1. By secret ballot;
  2. Free from violence, intimidation, improper influence or corruption;
  3. Conducted by an independent body;
  4. Transparent; and
  5. Administered in an impartial neutral, efficient, accurate and accountable manner.

Adult Kenyans are expected to vote the right people to office by participating in elections.

The electorate has the right and responsibility to recall their Member of Parliament before the end of their term in office.

Citizens can also petition Parliament to consider matters within its authority and enact, amend or repeal legislation.

Citizens also have an obligation to ensure presidential candidates meet the qualifications for the post.

Kenyans have the responsibility to ensure Executive authority is exercised in a manner that serves them and for their well-being and benefit.

County assemblies should facilitate public participation and involvement in the legislative and other business of the assembly including its committees.

Public participation in the public finance process is expected and the government has to maintain openness and accountability through the structure to promote an equitable society.

Members of the public must be involved in the public-service policymaking process.

The public must also hold all public service institutions accountable for their work.

Citizens have to ensure the government protects its people rights and freedoms and the country against internal and external threats to its territorial integrity and sovereignty.

Citizens are obligated to ensure the constitution is interpreted in a manner that promotes its purposes, values and principles, advances rule of law, human rights and Bill of Rights, permits development of the law and contributes to good governance.


Top 7 African Aspirations

  1. A prosperous Africa based on inclusive growth and sustainable development.

We are determined to eradicate poverty in one generation and build shared prosperity through social and economic transformation of the continent.

2.An integrated continent, politically united, based on the ideals of Pan-Africanism and the vision of Africa’s Renaissance.

Since 1963, the quest for African Unity has been inspired by the spirit of Pan Africanism, focusing on liberation, and political and economic independence. It is motivated by development based on self-reliance and self-determination of African people, with democratic and people-centred governance.

3. An Africa of good governance, democracy, respect for human rights, justice and the rule of law.

Africa shall have a universal culture of good governance, democratic values, gender equality, respect for human rights, justice and the rule of law.

4.A peaceful and secure Africa.

Mechanisms for peaceful prevention and resolution of conflicts will be functional at all levels. As a first step, dialogue-centred conflict prevention and resolution will be actively promoted in such a way that by 2020 all guns will be
silent. A culture of peace and tolerance shall be nurtured in Africa’s children and youth through peace education

5.An Africa with a strong cultural identity, common heritage, values and ethics.

Pan-Africanism and the common history, destiny, identity, heritage, respect for religious diversity and consciousness of African people’s and her diaspora’s will be entrenched.

6.An Africa whose development is people-driven, relying on the potential of African people, especially its women and youth, and caring for children.

All the citizens of Africa will be actively involved in decision making in all aspects. Africa shall be an inclusive continent where no child, woman or man will be left behind or excluded, on the basis of gender, political affiliation, religion, ethnic affiliation, locality, age or other factors.

7.Africa as a strong, united, resilient and influential global player and partner.

Africa shall be a strong, united, resilient, peaceful and influential global player and partner with a significant role in world affairs. We affirm the importance of African unity and solidarity in the face of continued external interference including, attempts to divide the continent and undue pressures and sanctions on some countries.


Link to the whole Article.


Africa in 2063

What will Africa look like in 2063? The Confederation of African States will have been established in 2051, with integration driven by the African youth. Inter-African trade could grow to nearly 50% by 2045 (from 12% in 2013) and business be dominated by Pan-African commercial giants in finance, mining, food and beverages, tourism, pharmaceuticals, fisheries and ICT.

This vision is outlined by Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Chairperson of the AU Commission, in an “an email from the future”, written to a fictional Kwame. She shared it on Sun 26 Jan, during the ministerial retreat of the AU Executive Committee in Ethiopia’s Bahir Dar. The attached gives a few extracts, and the full email gives some food for thought and is attached.

“Date: 24 January 2063
Subject: African Unity

My dear friend Kwame,

Greetings to the family and friends, and good health and best wishes for 2063.

I write to you from the beautiful Ethiopian city of Bahir Dar.. as we finalize preparations for the centenary celebrations of the Organisation of African Unity.. Yes, who would have thought that the dream of Kwame Nkrumah and his generations, when they called in 1963 on Africans to unite or perish, would one day become a reality? And what a grand reality.

At the beginning of the 21st century, we used to get irritated with foreigners when they treated Africa as one country…! But, the advancing global trend towards regional blocs, reminded us that integration and unity is the only way for Africa to leverage its competitive advantage.

In fact, if Africa was one country in 2006, we would have been the tenth largest economy in the world! However, instead of acting as one, with virtually every resource in the world (land, oceans, minerals, energy) and over 1 billion people, we acted as 55 small and fragmented individual countries. The bigger countries that should have been the locomotives of African integration failed to play their role at that time, and that is part of the reasons it took us so long. We did not realize our power, but instead relied on donors, that we euphemistically called “partners”.

That was the case in 2013, but reality finally dawned and we had long debates about the form that our unity should take: confederation, a united states, a federation or a union. As you can see, my friend, those debates are over and the Confederation of African States is now 12 years old, launched in 2051.

What was interesting was the role played by successive generations of African youth… We were a youthful continent at the start of the 21st century, but as our youth bulge grew, young men and women became even more active, creative, impatient and assertive, often telling us oldies that they are the future, and that they (together with women) form the largest part of the electorates in all our countries!

Of course this was but one of the drivers towards unity. The accelerated implementation of the Abuja Treaty and the creation of the African Economic Community by 2034 saw economic integration moved to unexpected levels.

Economic integration, coupled with infrastructure development, saw intra-Africa trade mushrooming, from less than 12% in 2013 to approaching 50% by 2045… Even more significant than this, was the growth of regional manufacturing hubs, around the beneficiation of our minerals and natural resources, such as in the Eastern Congo, north-eastern Angola and Zambia’s copper belt and at major Silicon valleys in Kigali, Alexandria, Brazzaville, Maseru, Lagos and Mombasa, to mention but a few such hubs.

My friend, Africa has indeed transformed herself from an exporter of raw materials with a declining manufacturing sector in 2013, to become a major food exporter, a global manufacturing hub, a knowledge centre, beneficiating our natural resources and agricultural products as drivers to industrialization.

Pan African companies, from mining to finance, food and beverages, hospitality and tourism, pharmaceuticals, fashion, fisheries and ICT are driving integration, and are amongst the global leaders in their sectors.

We are now the third largest economy in the world… we did this by finding the balance between market forces and strong and accountable developmental states and regional economic communities to drive infrastructure, the provision of social services, industrialization and economic integration.

We refused to bear the brunt of climate change and aggressively moved to promote the Green economy and to claim the Blue economy as ours. We lit up Africa, the formerly dark continent, using hydro, solar, wind, geo-thermal energy, in addition to fossil fuels.

If I have to single out one issue that made peace happened, it was our commitment to invest in our people, especially the empowerment of young people and women. By 2013 we said Africa needed a skills revolution and that we must change our education systems to produce young people that are innovative and entrepreneurial and with strong Pan African values.

From early childhood education, to primary, secondary, technical, vocational and higher education – we experienced a true renaissance, through the investments we made, as governments and the private sector in education and in technology, science, research and innovation.

… the African Express Rail now connects all the capitals of our former states.. it is not only a high speed-train, with adjacent highways, but also contains pipelines for gas, oil and water, as well as ICT broadband cables: African ownership, integrated planning and execution at its best!

The continental rail and road network that now crisscross Africa, along with our vibrant airlines, our spectacular landscapes and seductive sunsets, the cultural vibes of our cities, make tourism one of our largest economic sectors.

…KiSwahili is now a major African working language, and a global language taught at most faculties across the world. Our grand-children still find it very funny how we used to struggle at AU meetings with English, French and Portuguese interpretations, how we used to fight the English version not in line with the French or Arabic. Now we have a lingua franca, and multi-lingualism is the order of the day.

How things have changed. The Confederation last year celebrated 20 years since we took our seat as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, and we are a major force for global stability, peace, human rights, progress, tolerance and justice.

Till we meet again, Nkosazana.”

The email was published by the AU’s Directorate of Information and Communication,

It is part of the Agenda2063 visioning exercise which has its own website – there is even a form “Have Your Say” where you can add your own visions for the future – go on, have your say!

Read the whole Articleafrica

Popular African Participation

At the end of World War II, all but three African nations (Ethiopia, Liberia and South Africa) were ruled by some European State. Then the independence movement began: first in North Africa with Libya (1951), and over the next five years, Egypt, the Sudan. Tunisia and Morocco.

The Sub-Saharan States soon followed, beginning with Ghana (1957) and, by 1990, 42 other countries. Being newly independent and largely poor, the thinking was that if a country could come up with a national plan for generating and investing a sufficient amount of funds in a manner consistent with macro stability, then that country would have met the pre-conditions for development.

It would be a “State” (central government) — led process whereby “the flexibility to implement policies by technocrats was accorded price-of-place and accountability through checks and balances was regarded as an encumbrance” (World Bank, WDR, 1997).

It was not an unreasonable strategy: national governments populated by good advisers and with external technical and financial assistance would put the country on the sure path to growth and development.

There was some progress in terms of indicators such as infant mortality rates, life expectancy, and adult literacy. There have also been many failures, and not just about the ability to achieve sustained growth and development.

The failures have also been about environmental deterioration, loss of civil liberties, corruption and a poor record of delivering local public good and services-clean water, sanitation, education, health, housing, roads, and basic social services and safety nets.


Africa sharpens expertise in agricultural statistics

The Economic Commission for Africa, the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the National Institute for Statistics and Applied Economics (INSEA) of Morocco launched today a joint training on agricultural statistics.

Agriculture currently contributes more than 40% of Africa’s GDP and employs more than 70% of its population while current priorities include the Sustainable Development Goals and regional integration through Agenda 2063. “Statistics will [therefore] play a key role as a measurement and control tool to observe countries’ progress towards these goals”, said Lilia Hachem Naas, director of the ECA Office for North Africa in her opening speech.

For a week, about 70 experts, trainers and officials from African national statistical institutes and Ministries of Agriculture will study and share their experiences in the field of agriculture, fisheries and aquaculture, and post-harvest loss statistics.

Some twenty countries benefit from the training including Benin, Burkina, Burundi, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Comoros, Congo Brazzaville, Congo DRC, Côte d’Ivoire, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Sao Tome, Senegal, Togo and Tunisia.

The ECA African Center for Statistics is organizing this training in collaboration with the ECA Office for North Africa as part of the UN Global Strategy to improve agricultural and rural statistics-Action Plan for Africa; and in support to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals in the region.

Read the whole article here1200px-Africa_(orthographic_projection).svg

Vera Songwe urges leaders to act collectively to combat money laundering, tax evasion and bribery

The Executive Secretary of UN Economic Commission for Africa, (ECA) Vera Songwe, said that combatting bribery, money laundering and tax evasion should be a priority if Africa has to finance its transition to middle income status and increase prosperity.

Songwe was speaking in a two-day African Leadership Forum 2018 last week in Kigali, a meeting hosted by President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, and convened by Benjamin Mkapa, former President of Tanzania. The Forum was attended by other former Heads of states: Olusegun Obasanjo former president of Nigeria, Mohamed Moncef Marzouki former president of Tunisia, Joaquim Chissano and Armando Guebuza former presidents of Mozambique.

In the last three decades to 2009, Africa has lost an estimated close to $ 1.4 trillion. In addition, losses through non-trade channels averaged an estimated $27 billion annually between 2005 and 2014.

According to the report of President Mbeki’s high-level panel on illicit financial flow, the Continent loses between $50 billion and $80 billion a year due to illicit financial flows.

Songwe called governments to take action on several fronts, and she insisted leadership was critical demonstrative effect important. As such governments should aggressively investigate and prosecute money launderers and companies that evade taxes.

What things can countries do on their own? 

UN estimates that the amount Africa loses through illicit financial flows is roughly double the Official Development Assistance that Africa receives, and also outweighs the $42 billion that the continent received in Foreign Direct Investment in 2017.

“For a continent that needs substantial financial resources to meet its development needs, we should celebrate our accountability agencies, the auditor general, the chief justice and the media to support the collective effort”, said Songwe. She asked for more integrity and transparency among leaders and officials of the public and private institutions through asset declarations; and urged African countries to sign up to the international tax information treaties to enable exchange of information.

“Countries should also build human and technological capacities of agencies tasked with tackling Illicit financial flows, and institute information sharing and collaboration between relevant government agencies and ministries”, she said.

Vera Songwe also applauded countries that have ratified existing global and continental initiatives on halting Illicit financial flows.

Read the whole article here

Financing industrialization in central Africa: actors call for better enabling environment and innovative approaches

In a recent webinar on financing industrialization in Central Africa organized by the Subregional Office for Central Africa of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), leaders of the private sector called on State authorities to lay emphasis on improving the enabling environment for investment in order for industrialization to thrive in the sub-region. They also called for greater transparency by the private sector in their business operations as an enabler to the functioning of financial markets that can help with mobilizing resources for industrialization.

According to Mr Célestin Tawamba, who heads the Cameroon Employers’ Association (GICAM) – a leading movement of industrialists in the country, financing is an important factor for boosting industrialization but “you always have to create a trustworthy infrastructure for this to happen,” referring to the role of the State. Such infrastructure, he said, includes the creation of special industrial zones and a well-functioning financial market. He noted that for the market to function properly, companies also need to be well structured and transparent in their business transactions. But he warned that excessive taxation does not help matters, arguing for tax regimes based on profits, rather than on the cash flow of a companies – which is the prevailing regime.

Expressing similar views, Cameroonian economist and to Government Advisor – Mr. Christian Penda Ekoka, said the creation of economic clusters bringing together the full range of actors in the value chain of the supply or demand of particular products, for instance wood products, would improve productivity that attracts investment for industrial players. He opined that the lack of such poles have contributed to the decline of industrialization in the Central African subregion in general and in Cameroon in particular, stating that industrial growth in Cameroon, for instance, declined from 3.6% in 2016 to 1.3% in 2017.

Debaters also pointed to the difficulty with long-term financing. According the Secretary of State for Industry of Equatorial Guinea, Mr Cesar Hinestrosa Gomez, who joined the panel remotely from Malabo, in such an environment, banks consider the risks of long-term loans that could finance industrialization as very high. He therefore joined other members of the panel to call for the creation of guarantee funds in the subregion.

Ms Mama Keita who heads the Data Centre of the ECA’s Subregional Office for Central Africa posited that the inability of banks to offer long-term loans also stemmed from the very low volume of private savings in the subregion and across many parts of Africa. This corroborated the argument put forth by Ms Gaimin Nonyane – head of Economic research at Ecobank, who testified that “liquidity is a serious problem in Africa because saving rates are very low and this constrains the lending power of the banks”.

Ms Mama Keita however went on to add that the subregion needs to find ways to improve on the mobilization of private savings, take advantage of the opportunities offered by artificial intelligence and developing stakeholders’ capacity in drafting bankable industrial projects that attract financing.

The General Manager of the Cameroon Development Corporation (CDC) – which is the second largest employer in the country after Government, Mr Franklin Ngoni Ikome Njie, added to Ms. Keita’s argument for bankable projects, saying “it is a matter of focusing on where we have comparative advantage” for projects in order to get financing. Reacting to Mr Njie’s intervention, a participant remarked that large outfits such as the CDC, should actively look for joint-ventures with bigger outfits abroad to improve their financing to move to an industrial stage of production.

In the view of the General Manager for Central and West Africa of the credit risk insurance firm, COFACE – Mr Olivier Bagneki, one way to stimulate the growth of small and medium sized industrial outfits (SMEs) to strive in business and expand, is to leverage the use of factoring – a process whereby companies can sell their invoices from slow-paying clients in order to mobilize immediate working capital that they (SMEs) need to pay for important expenses in carrying out their projects.

The contributions of the webinar will enrich discussions at the 34th session of the Intergovernmental Committee of Experts for Central Africa (ICE), which the Subregional Office for Central Africa of ECA has convened for N’Djamena, Chad from 18 to 21 September 2018 under the theme: “Financing Industrialization in Central Africa.”

Read The whole press release here