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Kenyans’ hope for a better future lies in parliamentary system

By Aden Duale | August 27th 2019 at 12:00:00 GMT +0300

Building Bridges Initiative task force Ambassador Stephen Ndung'u Karau and Chairman Yusuf Haji receive a report from KNHCR officials during public participation meeting at Nairobi’s KICC. [Edward Kiplimo, Standard]

The likelihood of the next General Election being conducted under a new constitution is real albeit with political divisions and lingering concerns.

The only constant thing in life is change but the change should deliver desired outcomes that do not compromise public good and prosperity

India’s foremost Yoga teacher BKS Iyenga once said, “change is not something we should fear”. Rather, we should embrace it because without it, nothing ever grows or blossoms and no country would ever move forward to become what they’re meant to be.

In the recent past, Kenya has been keenly following the referendum debate after the Yusuf Haji-led Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) wound up its hearings and retreated to write a report.

Leaders opposed to constitution change, those keen on it and the few sitting on the fence may have made it the new fashionable political battlefront. The bottomline is, however, that change is within sight and it has to be in the best interest of Wanjiku.

Kenyans, including those who have for long been ambivalent on the clamour for constitutional reforms, are more hopeful than ever as most opinion shapers seem to close ranks on why the supreme law requires amendments.

Looking at Kenya’s political history in retrospect, there can never be a better time to align our constitution to the challenges we face, some bordering on the absurd. The mass murders of 2007-08 and 2017 are a case in point.  

I am in full support of reviewing the 2010 constitution if it promises to push the country to move in the direction of a parliamentary system of government.

The BBI is the surest avenue to this change. Knowing all too well that it is a product of the March 9 handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition chief Raila Odinga who lead the two largest political formations in the country, there’s no gainsaying it enjoys some semblance of nationwide goodwill and support. 

Some legitimacy questions have, however, dogged the initiative. But because together with Minority Leader John Mbadi, I tabled a motion in the House immediately after its formation in 2018, it’s no longer a matter of how but when it will table its report in Parliament for debate and consideration. The initiative is well constituted.

Though Jubilee did not present its views on the BBI, once the report is received, the party leadership; Mr Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto, will have a parliamentary meeting where they would take a position on the matter.

There are rumours flying about that by supporting the BBI initiative, I have broken ranks with Ruto. The truth of the matter is that I support law changes and a parliamentary system because it is the surest way of curing the political dominance of the presidential seat by the big tribes. I have taken this position as an individual and I urge every leader to make independent assessments of the same.

A parliamentary system will not only allow individuals from smaller communities to rise to the highest office in the land but also encourage an inclusive system of power sharing. Leadership shouldn’t be a preserve of the big tribes. For a budding democracy such as ours, the system must be seen to be fair to all.

If you want to bring inclusivity and equity so that every Kenyan will be included in the affairs of the Government and country, a parliamentary system is the way to go.

Separation of powers is a serious demerit of the presidential system. What has come to be known as the winner-takes-it-all has proved disastrous in a multi-ethnic environment. And the solution to this is not to reduce representation as advocated by lawyer Ekuru Aukot’s Punguza Mizigo.

I support a system where a coalition of parties that gets the highest number of MPs will produce the Prime Minister (PM). This will give chance even to leaders from minority groups to occupy that position. Henceforth, I will be all out to convince the Jubilee Party rank and file to support a parliamentary system.

Once we adopt the system, there will be higher accountability. We will have a powerful leader of the opposition who sits in Parliament who will rally MPs from within the assembly unlike now when the opposition seems subdued to the fact that its leaders are not members of the House. Kenyans can no longer bury their heads in the sand. This is a good window to solve our problems once and for all.

Mr Duale is the Majority Leader, National Assembly


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