Why this deafening silence from the regime on the economic woes of the people?
It is because this regime has outsourced the policy-making and management of our economy. It has handed over the task of managing our economy to the IMF (International Monetary Fund). The IMF demanded abolition of subsidies, particularly of petrol.
This is while the dominant members of IMF themselves maintain sophisticated subsidies in key sectors like petrol, generic medicines, agricultural production and, for example, pig production. By breaking their own rules, they help their own people, but prohibit Kenya (and other countries on the continent) from using any type of subsidies to help their people. Yet they have compelled the regime to force the Finance Bill through.
The IMF demanded tax increases. The effect is that now close to 60 per cent of the income of middle and lower income Kenyans will go to pay taxes. The IMF has demanded that our shilling be removed from fixed rates to a floating market-response rate. This is not only the devaluation of the shilling but also its vulnerability to foreign manipulation. The IMF has demanded that our public parastatal bodies be privatised. This will vest our national food security institutions in the hands of a few already rich Kenyans. The IMF has demanded reduction of the Public Service. Where fiscal, all these demands of the IMF were included in the Finance Bill, and then forced through amidst almost universal protest throughout the country. With all these handicaps, will our people feed themselves?
The regime has accepted these IMF conditionalities without the consent of people. It did not have moral integrity to inform people what IMF was demanding. It did not have integrity to call for public participation on these dilemmas. It does not have command of history and knowledge to withstand IMF demands. The silence comes from the shame of handing over their dignity, and that they have been forced to give up even the façade of control over Kenya, reminiscent of pre-Independence. And they cannot admit this. To keep matters silent and secret they have had to ignore the Constitution. Those secret demands and processes are now unravelling through leakages by reliable sources within Kenya and outside it. The violations of the Constitution are therefore now visible.
Firstly, by hiding its actions and decisions, the regime has confirmed that it has kept out the participation of the people. This is a breach of the national value of participation of the people, contrary to the provisions of Article 10(2) of the Constitution.
This provides: “The national values and principles of governance include – (a) patriotism, national unity, sharing and devolution of power, the rule of law, democracy and participation of the people;…”.
This is particularly important in matters of taxation, public finance and public assets. It attracts the principle ‘No taxation without representation’. Representation is not just about having a parliament. It is also in the participation of the people by their freedom of expression, and assembly.
It is all the more important to observe these rights where there is one man rule which has parliament under its thumb. Then the people’s views are not heard, not even allowed to be spoken in Parliament. And this is exactly what happened to Kenya Kwanza ‘majority’ parliamentarians when the Finance Bill came to the vote.
This is not the only unconstitutionality in the regime’s IMF saga. Secondly, the regime has not made public the documents of its negotiations and agreement with the IMF.
The IMF’s conditionalities are information whose importance can be seen daily on the empty plates throughout the country. The regime cannot ignore all this and keep silent because Article 35(1) enshrines the people’s rights further: It provides: “35.(1) Every citizen has the right of access to (a) information held by the State.”
Government has to be transparent. And the participation of the people is the monitor. Otherwise, one-man rule would return to Kenya.
This catalogue of constitutional violations – exclusion of participation, suppression of important information, blocking lawful demonstrations, police brutality and serial unconstitutionality – is the manifesto of this regime. But the Manifesto of the People is the Constitution.
The writer is senior counsel
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