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Yes, something has got to change

By | April 14th 2010

By Andrew Kipkemboi

Realising that the contest over the Proposed Constitution was perilously turning into Church versus Government and liberal faithful contest on the one hand and William Ruto versus Raila Odinga contest on the other, I did an unscientific survey on what the people thought about the document.

They say two is a crowd, so I did a sample of tens of people whom I know will not mislead me, nor equivocate.

Almost all of them strongly knew what they wanted, how they wanted it and when they want it. My conclusion, therefore, was that the train had left the station before the above protagonists pitched into the campaign. It then occurred to me that beneath the turbulence and confusion over the Proposed Constitution is a glimpse of Kenya’s new dawn beckoning.

Most of my interlocutors regrettably feel that for far too long, the reform process has been sputtering, but also agree, with a lot excitement tinged with hope, that the wheel has turned and no one could possibly stop it.

Resentment and cynicism is palpable and one feels that the chickens have come home to roost for the ruling class. It is as if the gods have conspired against them and the champions of status quo. Those whom they have perceived as passive victims are astir and want to be masters of their destiny.

One of the lessons over time in Kenya, especially after the 2007 elections, is that despite regular elections, wretched injustices are routinely perpetuated by a corrupt and cruel elite who have constantly obstructed the search for a new political dispensation.

It is believed that in their unbridled quest to retain power to themselves at whatever cost, the ruling elite leant on, thereby emasculating the defunct Electoral Commission of Kenya with disastrous consequences.

Kenyans have looked up to their leaders to rescue them from the anarchy and the rottenness of its society. But most of the messiahs ended up delivering hell. Most bottled out of the reform process after boarding the gravy train.

Tribal prejudices

All they did was engage in schemes to self-perpetuate and self-preserve and let bad governance, ineptitude and the canker of corruption to fester.

Yet despite the groups agreeing that the country is ripe for change, the problem with Kenya has always been that politicians make promises they cannot deliver. And for a long time, the contest is almost devoid of the tribal prejudice. Perhaps the people know that they have a chance to get out of the horrific cycle of poverty, deceit and government paralysis.

Obviously, those standing on the way to a new constitution have something about it that many do not understand or just choose to ignore.

One of the believable reasons is that they want to thwart a document that was painstakingly put together to ensure that they always sit in the middle of the political equation. Secondly, the feeling that the Government could take away their huge pieces of land rankles with those of who are a law unto themselves.

With a Proposed Constitution that is generally agreeable to a large portion of the masses, never has the prospect of dealing with unequal land distribution, deep-rooted impunity and political chicanery been so real.

Forget for a minute the chaff of nationalistic bluster thrown up by the sabre-rattling few to disguise the mendacity of the aristocrats. I have read the document and I tell you what, it gives hope and a chance to millions of Kenyans who feel that the rungs have been removed from the ladder of opportunity.

It gives the country a chance to do away with a document that has spawned searing inequalities that disfigure Kenya. Hands up those who own more than 1,000 acres land that lies idle.

It is understandable why the ruling class is jittery about passing new laws because it is as much about their lives as it is about that of their benighted subjects. No doubt, a new constitution will herald a rebirth of a new Kenya. Yet ultimately, a No vote is a Yes for the current constitution, which we all agree, is skewed.

For you and I, the prospect of good governance, honest politics and accountable leadership far much outweighs the cries of Armageddon peddled by the moneyed and the owners of means of production.

Make no mistake, a new constitutional order will actually give a chance to the dregs of society to find their place at the high table.

Selfish groups

It will unclutch the grip of power from the venal elite and create honesty and equality by sweeping out the scoundrels.

To demonstrate their sadism, the obviously selfish groups of the ruling elite and some in the Church have narrowed a document sprinkled with good intentions to abortion, Kadhi’s courts and land.

Many are sick of the old constitution that they believe has been an encumbrance to progress and development and relish the feeling of taking back their country.

Yet it is to engage in wishful thinking to imagine, as some do, that the new constitution is the panacea for all our troubles.

The writer is The Standard’s Foreign News Editor.

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