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We must strive to live and act strictly within the Constitution’s four corners

By Yvonne Okwara | Published Sun, April 9th 2017 at 23:56, Updated April 10th 2017 at 09:12 GMT +3
President Uhuru Kenyatta

Let's review the president’s statement on the doctors’ strike that is now over, shall we?

The resultant debate over whether they should be paid for the 100 days that they were on strike was quite decisively sorted out by the head of state, or was it?

He ordered county governments to pay the doctors for that period. A decision that was quickly hailed by doctors who thanked him for ‘knowing the way, showing the way, going the way.’

The governors on the other hand, have been reluctant to follow this ‘directive’, for it did not sound like a request.

Chair of Council of Governors- Peter Munya, adamant that they will not be paid for days not worked! But his statement may be inconsequential as the head of public service has now directed them to do as asked by the president.

Never mind that this is at odds with devolution, a president ‘ordering’ county governments on what to do? But that is not my point.

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What is of greater concern is the statement made by the president thereafter. He promised and even swore, by God, that should the doctors go on strike ever again, he will sack them without thinking twice!

Well sir, two things. One is that the right to go on strike is enshrined in the Constitution in the very vibrant Bill of Rights, in the Constitution you swore to protect exactly four years today.

Article 41 expressly allows employees to form, join, and participate in the activities of a trade union.

It goes further to state that every trade union has the right to engage in, yes, wait for it, collective bargaining! So for the president to threaten to sack doctors should they engage in another strike, is extremely frightening to say the least.

Not to mention, that with the exception of the doctors at the referral hospitals under the national government, the president cannot in fact fire the doctors.

They are now the employees of the 47 county governments, each with the power to make its own hiring and firing decisions.

So, even while the doctors praise him for his benevolence in ensuring they are paid their dues for the 100 days, they should be very wary of that very direct threat to what they fought so hard for during those 100 days.

On this anniversary of the president taking the oath of office, we’ll do well to remind him of this stubborn document called the Constitution, and that we must all strive to live and act strictly within its four corners.

That, is my take!