Teachers, MPs clash over 2023 Conflict-of-Interest Bill amendments

Tecahers Protesting . Photo Courtesy

In a recent turn of events, teachers and police officers are at odds with Members of Parliament (MPs) over proposed amendments to the Conflict-of-Interest Bill 2023, currently under consideration in the National Assembly.

The bill’s primary objective is to address issues related to conflicts of interest in the execution of official duties, with oversight from the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission.

Additionally, the legislation aims to replace the Public Officers Ethics Act and make amendments to the Leadership and Integrity Act, the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission Act, and the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act.

Its most significant impact would be on public officers who engage in both public service and private practice, forcing them to choose one or risk expulsion due to conflicts of interest.

The bill mandates that public officers must avoid real or potential conflicts of interest tied to their official duties and disclose any private interests that could affect their public responsibilities.

However, the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) and the National Police Service Commission (NPSC) have raised concerns regarding specific clauses in the bill.

TSC, led by Dr. Nancy Macharia, proposed the removal of the term “perceived” from Clause 8, arguing that it could be abused.

On the other hand, NPSC suggested replacing “perceived” with “can be demonstrated,” asserting that the former lacks objectivity in assessing actions or omissions affecting a public officer’s duties. NPSC also proposed changing “has interest” to “pursue interest.”

The parliamentary Justice and Legal Affairs Committee received these proposals but did not concur with the commissions.

The committee defended the use of “perceived” in Clause 8, emphasizing that it refers to a reasonable person’s perspective or a court’s judgment on a public officer’s actions or omissions constituting a conflict of interest.

The committee did, however, agree with TSC’s recommendation to amend Clause 45, ensuring that the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission follows due process, including a fair hearing, before taking any compliance measures.

By Viola Chepkemoi

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