If anyone doubted that Kenya is truly undergoing a transformation, the new-look Judiciary is the evidence. Judges are operating with a confidence and independence that can only come from the knowledge that behind them is a new Constitution that has rebuilt the boundary between the Judiciary and the Executive.
Since Independence, that barrier has been eroded by successive governments as the Executive used threats, bribery, and intimidation to have its way in courts.
Yes, the new Constitution can work and the Judiciary is showing a glimpse of what is possible in the future.
Recent rulings by the High Court and Court of Appeal have not only resonated with the public mood, but have been made with the new Constitution in mind, recognising the need to move away from the past and usher in a fresh dispensation.
On Tuesday the Court of Appeal ruled by a majority decision that elections should take place in March, but even the dissenting judge concurred that the Executive has no business trying to control the electoral calendar when the Constitution has bestowed the same on the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission.
In other words, neither President Kibaki nor Prime Minister can use the dissolution of Parliament as a means to fix the date of the General election.
Also important in yesterday’s ruling was the opinion of the five-judge Bench that the term of the current Parliament must end on January 14, 2013, which is the date the current MPs were sworn- in to office.
This leaves no room for ambiguity and resolves with a finality a matter that created plenty of heat, as some legislators had assumed they would remain in office until March 4.
As the judges said, only President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga will remain in office after January 15 until the elections. This is to ensure there is no presumed power vacuum in the Executive.
The Judiciary is benefiting from reforms that include vetting of judges, a reform-minded Chief Justice, and a Constitution that entrenches their independence and removes the hidden hand of the Executive in judicial matters.
Of course it can still go horribly wrong. The vetting might allow a rotten official to remain in office or the anti-reformists in Government might massacre the new laws with crippling amendments that render them ineffective.