Explainer: Pros and cons of BBI's Youth Commission

BBI breakdown with Pulse Live

BBI graphic provided by the BBI Secretariat (Twitter)

The Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Act, 2020, popularly known as the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) Bill has been the subject of political discussions in the country since 2018.

The document born out of the handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga has undergone various edits and is now at advanced stages toward a referendum.

A recent informal survey conducted by the Pulse Live production team revealed that though temperatures are rising over the draft Bill, most Kenyans have not read the document for themselves.

Pulse Live has been dissecting the document in a series of articles which begun with the proposed amendment on Chapter 3 (Citizenship), the gains for women in the First Amendment and defining the roles of Prime Minister and Leader of the Official Opposition.

The Youth Commission

BBI proposes the creation of an exclusive Youth Commission whose primary mandate would be to promote the inclusion of the Kenyan youth in all spheres of public and private life.

The commission will have seven members in total; a chairperson and six members, with equal representation of both genders, at least four of whom shall be youth.

They will serve a single term of four years in the Commission.

Pros of the Youth Commission as envisioned by BBI

The proposed Youth Commission represents a step in the right direction after years of Kenyan youth demanding representation in government.

According to the functions outlined in the proposed Article 237A, the Youth Commission will have a say over policy decisions being made by both the national and county governments.

The Commission will also be charged with the mandate of perpetuating a knowledge and understanding of African traditional values among the youth. A role which is needed given the growing disconnect between the youth of Kenya and their local vernacular languages as well as cultural values.

The Commission will also be empowered to come up wit legislation which is in line with its mandate.

Cons of the Youth Commission as envisioned by BBI

Clause (5) of the proposed article reads:- "Parliament shall enact legislation to give full effect to this Article."

This means that the Commission will only be established once an Act of parliament is passed to establish it. Some articles in the Constitution of Kenya 2010 are yet to take effect, 11 years later, due to delays in the legislative process.

As has been witnessed with various other independent, constitutional commissions; political influence and interference.

Appointees to the Commission will all be selected by the President and vetted by the Senate.

The only guideline on the nature of appointments being:- "persons with experience in youth affairs and governance."

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