By Ndung’u Wainaina
The word ‘reforms’ just like ‘impunity’, ‘accountability’ and ‘development’ has been captured, manipulated and bastardised with intent of defeating its core meaning and application.
This appropriation strategy of language change and subsequent deployment is a common feature of individuals with despicable past. This tactic is used to fight off attempts at questioning the past role in corrupt authoritarianism while covertly vouching for continuity and protection of entrenched personal interests at the expense of public interest. In their quest for power these individuals mobilise ethnic constituencies by promoting inter-ethnic animosities using the rhetorical weapons of blame, fear, and hate.
Unlike these political entrepreneurs whose agenda is individual interest, though packaged and sold as communal interest, democratic institutions constrain behavior and provide incentives for cooperation and compliance in norms, rules and procedures for allocation, participation, representation and accountability. President Kibaki has on several occasions stated his desire to ensure full implementation of the Constitution, facilitate a smooth transition and genuine devolution governance. But, has he been faithful and truthful to his words?
Assuming there is a case for optimism, then why is the President perennially violating the Constitution? What is his motivation? What good does it do for him to retain bad advisors? Don’t his actions clearly show he has been engaging Kenyans on political platitudes regarding Constitution implementation?
In a country where there are few corrupt elite protected by impunity through targeted manipulative ethnic affiliations and the believe that power is a birth right, these questions can only lead you to one conclusion; that the Constitution is just a piece of paper not embodiment of collective national will to this clique.
Thus, as the titular custodian of this pro-status quo group, the President has supervised systemic blatant violations of the letter and spirit of the Constitution.
Unsurprisingly, these violations are a reincarnation of the preparatory period experienced toward the last elections when, the President unilaterally appointed commissioners to the defunct Electoral Commission of Kenya resulting in sham elections.
The only difference is that this time round, it is being done through reverse gear. The clear plan is to delay every important reform by first deliberately making wrong appointments as election nears. In the process, conservative elite entrench themselves to maintain stranglehold of key institutions. Consequently, the President now holds the undisputed title of the only head of Government whose decisions are reversed by Parliament and courts almost every week.
The initial indications were with failed nominations of Chief Justice, Attorney General and Director of Public Prosecutions. Since then, majority of all vital institutions identified under Agenda IV as integral to credible elections have been stalled due to unacceptable manoeuvres by the Executive.
First is the strangled Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission, which is indispensable in vetting candidates for public office under the new dispensation. Despite the Constitution establishing criteria for appointments, persons with integrity concerns were picked thus provoking court cases; for instance, the appointment of County Commissioners by the President.
The unconstitutional manner in which these appointments were made confirmed his indifference to the rule of law. On the other hand, the President renewed the term of the NSIS Director General, who the Prime Minister recently claimed could be serving partisan interests.