Social and economic justice

1. Public finance management

Chapter 11 and Articles 201-231 of the Constitution provide a general framework for public finance management at the county and national levels. The framework covers critical areas such as financial laws, fiscal management institutions, the budgeting process, debt management, financial controls, revenue raising, sharing and utilization. To safeguard public money, Article 201 outlines the principles of public finance, some of which include openness, accountability and public participation, promotion of an equitable society (fair sharing of the burden and benefits of taxation and public borrowing), prudent and responsible use of public money, and responsible and transparent fiscal reporting.

In addition to the Constitution, various legislation establishes structures, mechanisms, and guidelines for public finance management. The key ones include the Public Participation Act 2016 and the Public Finance Management Act 2012. Despite the existing legal and constitutional provisions, the country faces enormous challenges in public finance management. This intransigence can be attributed to poorly developed laws, institutional weakness, and ineffectiveness; lack of political goodwill to fight impunity; a political culture that condones corruption but glorifies it; and inappropriate incentive structures and other bureaucratic pathologies within the public sector.

As such, we push for transparency, accountability, and public participation in public finance management.

2. Land and resource justice

The governance mystery of land and land-based natural resources has remained central to Kenya's political, economic, and social policies and conversations. The successive regimes (colonial and post-independence) have deliberately continued to treat land and related resources as mere factors of production without due regard to their implications on the rights and well-being of the impacted citizenry. This is mainly attributable to the failure of the government to formulate or implement harmonized and pro-people laws and policies and the non-resolution of historical and emerging land and resource injustices. If the Constitution and the successive policies, laws, regulations, and reports developed were fully executed, significant milestones would have been realized in land governance and justice.

The constitution declares that land in Kenya is supposed to be managed in an equitable, efficient, productive, and sustainable manner.  Moreover, environment and natural resources are expected to be managed to ensure, among others, sustainable exploitation, utilization, management, and conservation of the same and equitable sharing of the accruing benefits.

However, the mismanagement of land and natural resources in Kenya has led to, among others, ineffective land administration systems, unresolved historical and emerging land injustices, and displacements of communities.

Consequently, we want to advance inclusive and accountable management of land and natural resources.

3. Corporate accountability and labor justice

In this area, we promote respect for human rights by the state and corporate actors.

For a long time, businesses have distanced themselves from human rights obligations. This is partly because the fundamental rights discourse was initially focused on governments. Notwithstanding, the recognition that businesses have human rights obligations has gained massive traction in recent years. The new corporate human rights agenda has become institutionalized mainly through the adoption and dissemination of the United Nations Guiding Principles (UNGPs) on Business and Human Rights that articulate the role of business enterprises as specialized organs of society performing specialized functions, required to comply with all applicable laws, to respect human rights and to avoid infringing on the human rights of other people. Locally, the Constitution buttressed labor rights by embedding them in the Bill of Rights in Article 41.

Noteworthy, the recognition of the corporate duty to respect human rights comes against a backdrop of decadent legacies of colonialism and imperialism that have continued to haunt and negatively influence the political, economic, and social structures and policies of Kenya and many developing countries. This is mainly because the colonial and post-colonial administrations adopted and sustained repressive political systems and exploitative economic models that prioritize capital and business at the expense of people. It is also based on the international trade model that uses the global south economies to source primary products and cheap labor. In the process, corporate capture, trade, and labor injustices have taken root, with both the state and corporate actors being the leading players. This has created fertile grounds for precarious work to thrive, resulting in decent work deficits.

Precarious work is increasingly being used by businesses to replace direct, permanent jobs, allowing employers to reduce or even abandon their responsibility to workers. Workers engaged in precarious employment suffer the challenge of unstable employment, low wages, limited social security, and difficulties in exercising their rights, especially the right to join a union and bargain collectively for better wages and conditions of work. They also glare at inadequate legal protection, especially concerning freedom of association and general welfare at the workplace. Most workers are in the informal, domestic, textile Export Processing Zones (EPZs) and agriculture sectors.

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