By Atieno Ndomo
It is incredible. Those who object to the Proposed Constitution have now resolved to introduce ultimatums, fallacies and outright dishonesty.
All this in an amazingly brazen and combative fashion. It is hard to place this kind of affront and antipathy especially when it emanates from quarters that should represent virtue, like the Church.
It is also incomprehensible sections of the Church would choose a path that puts them in direct collision with the interests of the wider majority – in this case the desire by Kenyans to conclude and adopt a new constitution.
One cannot also help question why they would seem to be fighting on the side of those who have most oppressed the people.
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Whether it is because we are presumed to be a highly religious (read Christian professing) people or it’s our incurable love for drama, a discourse seems to be emerging on possible ways to appease the sections of the church raising objections on some provisions of the proposed law. Whereas this may seem a pragmatic approach, it runs the serious danger of worsening the situation by fostering confusion, engendering belligerence and jeopardising the possibility of finalising constitution making.
The reasons are simple: There is no justification whatsoever for entertaining calls to reopen negotiations on the document. The reasons being bandied about are not compelling and reek of mischief. Constitution making can never be about agreeing a perfect document around whose every singular provision there is satisfaction by all. Further more, in the absence of a clear demonstration of tolerance, compromise and humility on the part of the objectors, reopening the process for negotiations would be futile as it would merely provide an avenue for hardening of positions. We are in the present scenario because of the hardline positions adopted by those who are expressing displeasure. There is no guarantee that extending an already prolonged period of negotiation and consideration of the matters in question would yield any meaningful resolution.
If the Church leaders opposing the Proposed Constitution stepped down from their holy pedestal they may hear the point of view of the rest of us ‘ordinary and sinful mortals’. For we have conceded we can live with some of the imperfections in the new law.
None of us are banging tables and bullying people into accepting our every little fetish on the new law.
Another great danger of going this route is the likelihood that several other groups with grievances would take the opportunity to re-open other points of contention.
There would be no defensible reason for making exceptions and shutting the door on others’ concerns once that door is opened. What this would most certainly do would be to create the very real possibility of putting the entire process in jeopardy.
The point that this matters in equal measure and directly to every singular Kenyan cannot be over emphasised.
Therefore, it cannot be that self-appointed so-called-representatives are encroaching into the sphere of the individual citizen on very profound matters.
The essence of the referendum on the proposed new law is precisely to enable the expression of this individual will-without duress or duplicity.
It is time for some plain talk with the objectors.
Citizens must reject any moves towards reopening negotiations on any of the provisions of the Proposed Constitution.
We have now reached a point of no return where the verdict must be left to the people. Every eligible voter will have an opportunity to do so when the time comes – including those objecting.
The country cannot afford to squander another, and perhaps the last opportunity to finalise and institute a new constitution.
The consequences of choosing to go the route of engendering another still borne constitution are too dire.
We got a lifeline to put the country back after the horror of the post 2007 elections. We must do so through the new law.
—The writer is a social and economic policy analyst
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