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Electoral agency exit could solve impasse

ALEXANDER CHAGEMA
By Alexander Chagema | June 16th 2016

Our very progressive Constitution has the Government and its institutions by their necks. There is paralysis everywhere. Cabinet secretaries and bureaucrats can’t get things moving unless they laboriously and exhaustively consult.

The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission cannot act tough on thieving individuals because it does not have prosecutorial powers and depends on the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to push cases. The National Cohesion and Integration Commission is all bark but no bite. The Judiciary is morphing into a circus. Judges are increasingly getting embroiled in legal tussles; they act independently and don’t read from the same script on matters of law.

You can decline to be prosecuted even when caught red-handed with your mouth dripping blood by simply rushing to court and getting an injunction because they are given by the dozens! The President can’t do much to put things back on track even when they go wrong because he is petrified some bright Johnny will take him to court.

Individuals enjoying security of tenure under the Constitution can connive to have the country go to the dogs while the President watches helplessly, waiting for the rickety bureaucratic machine to sluggishly turn in order to accord him the chance to act, by which time it might be too late. That is the beauty of things as encapsulated in, largely, the bill of rights and other sections of the Kenya Constitution 2010.

At face value, the right to picket and demonstrate is such a great idea. It accords the individual the power to get things moving against dogmatic establishments or companies. There are instances when demonstrations are an absolute necessity, but only when the outcome guarantees better working conditions and improved salaries for workers who toil day and night to make their employers rich while they themselves slip deeper into a life of penury.

As a political tool, demonstrations are counter-productive. Even though the Constitution protects peaceful demonstrations, our inherent culture of aggression often turns them violent. The attendant dangers in demonstrations cannot therefore be wished away. First, the Government could be moved to assert its supremacy by turning the country into a quasi-police or military state.

Second, feeble economies like ours crumble and thirdly, if the fever spreads far and wide, anarchy lurk just beneath the surface.

Algeria, Egypt, Ivory Coast, Tunisia and Burkina Faso are illustrative cases of where what started as peaceful demonstrations turned chaotic and led to regime changes. Perhaps reading from their histories, some feckless legislators from the Jubilee side are peddling the lie CORD wants to sneak into power through the back door.

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There is this implausible narrative of CORD wanting to create a constitutional crisis to suspend the 2017 elections and demand a coalition government. In our case, even with the ‘Kuria-ism philosophy’, things have not and hopefully will not, progress that far.

The negative effects of the demonstrations against the electoral body have so far been on schooling, infrastructure, on businesses and holding the Government to ransom. Even as President Uhuru Kenyatta and his acolytes make a show of standing rigidly by the Constitution, they know at the back of their minds there is a notable precedent to dialogue and if the demonstrations continue, they will have to accede to the opposition’s demands. The eventuality of that is that the Government would lose face while the Opposition gains ground.

We are sitting on a ticking time bomb obliviously flexing our muscles, hurling invectives, spewing hateful utterances, threatening ethnic cleansing and destroying property worth millions of shillings; all because of a handful of individuals whose credibility is under probe. These are people, in my estimation, without conscience and who epitomise selfishness at its finest. Something tells me the immediate former team at the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission did not leave of its own volition. There must have been some dominant forces at play that prompted them to throw in the towel. If the same behind-the-scenes machinations could be used to put the beleaguered team at the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission in the right frame of mind to voluntarily leave, why not?

Not only will this take the sails out of the Opposition’s boat, it will save time and taxpayers money, shouting matches between hardliners in Jubilee and CORD, the protracted standoff, demonstrations and of course, nobody loses.

I'm not under any illusion that legislators like Moses Kuria who is under the spotlight of the National Cohesion and Integration Commission and whose public utterances make even the most shameless citizens recoil in horror will bring any objectivity to the negotiating table.

And perhaps to drive that point home is Deputy President William Ruto’s recent crack that to negotiate with the Opposition, who better than combative Baba Yao (Ferdinand Waititu) and Moses Kuria?

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