When all three arms of government are on one side, the Fourth Estate is meant to assert the power of the people and ensure that the State is held to account. Traditionally, this role has been played by the media but many argue that an organised civil society could be equal to such an important task. However, both the media and NGOs in Kenya (which includes Civil Society) are largely unregulated, often finding themselves consumed by profit-making and promoting partisan agendas. For today, the focus shall be on NGOs.
Currently, the Non-Governmental Organisations Bill 2012 published a few weeks ago is the hot topic of discussion in many public and private circles. To understand how this Bill proposes to rein in NGOs and clean up the sector, we must recall some of the issues that this Bill is trying to address. Firstly the definitional issue, and then the major issue of regulation both state regulation of NGOs and self regulation of NGOs amongst themselves.