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Mr President, the fate of the Constitution is tied to you, set the agenda

By Kethi Kilonzo | Published Sun, May 13th 2018 at 00:00, Updated May 13th 2018 at 21:27 GMT +3
President Uhuru

Your Excellency, Article 43 of the Constitution provides that every person in Kenya has the right to health care services, adequate housing, and reasonable standards of sanitation, food security, social security, clean and safe water and education. 

Article 21 (2) requires the government to take legislative, policy and other measures, including setting of standards, to achieve the progressive realisation of the rights guaranteed under Article 43. Your Big Four Plan is firmly grounded on the Constitution.

Article 27 (8) of the Constitution requires that your government takes legislative and other measures to ensure gender balance in elective and appointive bodies. No single state entity in Kenya should have two thirds of its membership from the same gender.

Eight years later this principle remains unmet. Creating leadership positions for women that the Constitution guarantees is a more important journey for the Kenya of today than amending the Constitution to create more political positions for more men.

Article 54 (2) of the Constitution requires your government to ensure the disabled have at least 5 per cent membership in every elective and appointive body in Kenya.

Like women who have been waiting for the last eight years for their 34% membership in all elective and appointive bodies, the constitutional agenda for the disabled remains a mirage.

Creating positions of membership for the disabled in government should be given priority to amending the Constitution to create more political positions for more able-bodied men and women.

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DEMAND FOR MORE POWER

The Constitution is not held together by glue, cardboard paper and chewing gum. It should not be pulled apart and pieced together as and when it suits the political class. Since Kenya’s Independence every amendment of the Constitution, every constitutional agenda has been driven by the political class or for political gain.

The IPPG reforms, the change to multi-party, the Rainbow Alliance Agenda and even the 2010 Constitution promised political systems and electoral reform. 

Any further constitutional reform of Kenya’s political systems will only lead to demands for more in future as the demand for more power by the political class will never end. Even the 2010 Constitution in all its grandeur, did not stop the electoral disputes and violence that accompany Kenya’s electoral cycle. 

Insanity, they say, is doing the same thing over and again expecting different results. Perhaps it is time to try something new. Perhaps it is now the time to use the 2010 Constitution to empower and enrich the people of Kenya and not its political class.

Perhaps the solution to the cyclic electoral disputes and violence lies in giving power back to the people of Kenya and not in giving the political class more power. The Big Four Plan is a good place to start as any. So is the constitutional agenda for Kenya’s women, youth, and the disabled. 

Kenyans took the plunge into the political system in the 2010 Constitution. They did so on the advice and under the leadership of the political class.

There have been failures, like the Independent Electoral Boundaries Commission and Chapter 6 on Leadership and Integrity. There have been successes in devolution and in the Judiciary particularly the Supreme Court.

Before Kenya embarks on yet another journey of constitutional and law reform on the advice of the same political class, perhaps the Nation should first pause and audit the achievements of the 2010 Constitution, correct the failures, and like you are doing with the Big Four Plan, implement those parts that remain virgin. 

Kenyans and Kenya remain bruised by the elections of 2017. Electioneering, political positioning and the agendas of the political class should give way to the people’s agenda.

Unlike your proponents and opponents your fate is no longer tied to the Constitution. Yet the fate of the Constitution is tied to you. Be its point man. Set the agenda, lead the way, and cement your legacy.

 


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