Some Common Terms Used in the Kenyan Constitution

The Constitution of Kenya contains some terms that enable Kenyans to interpret it. This article explores some of these terms and their definitions.

Definition of terms used in the Kenyan Constitution

“Adult” means an individual who has attained the age of eighteen years.

Affirmative Action” includes any measure designed to overcome or ameliorate (make better) an inequity or the systemic denial or infringement of a right or fundamental freedom.

“Child” means an individual who has not attained the age of eighteen years.

“Effective Date” means the date that this Constitution came into force (August 2010).

“County Legislation” means a law made by a county government or under authority conferred by a county Assembly.

Disability” includes any physical, sensory, mental, psychological or other impairment, condition or illness that has, or is perceived by significant sectors of the community to have, a substantial or long-term effect on an individual’s ability to carry out ordinary day-to-day activities.

“Document” includes–

  • any publication, or any matter written, expressed, or inscribed on any substance by means of letters, figures or marks, or by more than one of those means, that is intended to be used or may be used for the purpose of recording that matter; and
  • electronic files.

Financial Year” means the period of twelve months ending on the thirtieth day of June or other day prescribed by national legislation, but the initial financial year of any entity is the period of time from its coming into existence until the immediately following thirtieth day of June, or other day prescribed by national legislation.

“Gazette” means the Kenya Gazette published by authority of the national government, or a supplement to the Kenya Gazette.

“Guarantee” means any absolute or conditional promise, commitment, or undertaking by the national government to partially or completely re-pay any loan to a county government or any person.

“Judicial Officer” means a registrar, deputy registrar, magistrate, Kadhi or the presiding officer of a court established under Article 169 (1) (d).

“Land” includes–

  • the surface of the earth and the subsurface rock;
  • any body of water on or under the surface;
  • marine waters in the territorial sea and exclusive economic zone;
  • natural resources completely contained on or under the surface; and
  • the air space above the surface;

“Legislation” includes-

  • an Act of Parliament, or a law made under authority conferred by an Act of Parliament; or
  • a law made by an assembly of a county government, or under authority conferred by such a law;

“Loan” includes any form of borrowing, lending or deferred payment in respect of which money from a public fund may be used, or is required to be used, for payment or repayment;

Marginalised Community,” means–

  • a community that, because of its relatively small population or for any other reason, has been unable to fully participate in the integrated social and economic life of Kenya as a whole;
  • a traditional community that, out of a need or desire to preserve its unique culture and identity from assimilation, has remained outside the integrated social and economic life of Kenya as a whole;
  • an indigenous community that has retained and maintained a traditional lifestyle and livelihood based on a hunter or gatherer economy; or
  • pastoral persons and communities, whether they are–
    (i) nomadic; or
    (ii) a settled community that, because of its relative geographic isolation, has experienced only marginal participation in the integrated social and economic life of Kenya as a whole.

Marginalised Group” means a group of people who, because of laws or practices before, on, or after the effective date, were or are disadvantaged by discrimination on one or more of the grounds in Article 27 (4).

“National Legislation” means an Act of Parliament, or a law made under authority conferred by an Act of Parliament.

“Natural Resources” means the physical non-human factors and components, whether renewable or non-renewable, including–

  • sunlight;
  • surface and groundwater;
  • forests, biodiversity and genetic resources; and
  • rocks, minerals, fossil fuels and other sources of energy.

“Older Member of Society” means a person who has attained the age of sixty years.

“Person” includes a company, association or other body of persons whether incorporated or unincorporated.

“Property” includes any vested or contingent right to, or interest in or arising from–

  • land, or permanent fixtures on, or improvements to, land;
  • goods or personal property;
  • intellectual property; or
  • money, choses in action or negotiable instruments.

Public Officer” means–

  • any State officer; or
  • any person, other than a State Officer, who holds a public office.

Public Office” means an office in the national government, a county government or the public service, if the remuneration and benefits of the office are payable directly from the Consolidated Fund or directly out of money provided by Parliament.

Public Service” means the collectivity of all individuals, other than State officers, performing a function within a State organ.

“Republic” means the Republic of Kenya.

“State”, when used as a noun, means the collectivity of offices, organs and other entities comprising the government of the Republic under this Constitution.

State office” means any of the following offices–

  • President;
  • Deputy President;
  • Cabinet Secretary;
  • Member of Parliament;
  • Judges and Magistrates;
  • member of a commission to which Chapter Fifteen applies;
  • holder of an independent office to which Chapter Fifteen applies;
  • member of a county assembly, governor or deputy governor of a county, or other member of the executive committee of a county government;
  • Attorney-General;
  • Director of Public Prosecutions;
  • Secretary to the Cabinet;
  • Principal Secretary;
  •  Chief of the Kenya Defence Forces;
  • commander of a service of the Kenya Defence Forces;
  • Director-General of the National Intelligence Service;
  • Inspector-General, and the Deputy Inspectors-General, of the National Police Service; or
  • an office established and designated as a State office by national legislation.

State Officer” means a person holding a State office.

“State Organ” means a commission, office, agency or other body established under the Constitution.

“Writing” includes printing, photography, lithography, typewriting, Braille, and any other means of representing or reproducing words in a visible form.

Youth” means the collectivity of all individuals in the Republic who–

  • have attained the age of eighteen years; but
  • have not attained the age of thirty-five years.

For more of these terms, check Article 260 of the Kenyan Constitution.

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