Since independence, Kenya has had inter-community conflicts, with politics recurrently marred with electoral violence. Tribal alliances and political parties are largely based on ethnic regions. By large all this makes Kenya a complex, fraught and divided society. It is upon this background that the 2010 Constitution was promulgated.
The process of implementation was elaborated and provided for in the sixth schedule of the Constitution of Kenya 2010. The Constitutional Implementation Commission (CIC) was duly tasked with ensuring full implementation.
Ten years down the line, many teething issues are still affecting the nation. If recent voices and initiatives are anything to go by, then there’s need for amendments geared towards addressing these issues that have continued to bedevil the society. All over the world, constitutional amendments have been used to contextualise the principles needed to address the peculiar nature of each individual country and reduce the existing gaps in society thus enhancing accountability, value for money and good governance.
The concern we should have is: What are the issues being amended and to what end are they geared to achieve? Any amendment to the 2010 Constitution must be geared towards enhancing accountability, inclusivity, enhancing devolution, giving Kenyans value for their money in development, adhering to the principle of separation of powers, ensuring there are checks and balances, creating inclusive institutions and strengthening constitutional commissions.
In any aspect, we should remember that democracy does not have a commonly accepted definition. However, it has one common character, and that’s the “people” who are citizens. The word ‘citizens’ has largely been used in ancient Greek to connote human beings found within a defined boundary who must approve based on known and accepted principles that anything purported to be democratic must have public participation and ensure adherence to majority rule.
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Why do we need to contextualise a constitutional democracy? As humans we were not made for democracy, but rather democracy was made for us to achieve the best for everyone. Currently, we have a constitution said to be the most progressive, not in terms of implementation but in how it has been designed and written. Much has been said about gaps that should be addressed through a referendum.
But with the nature of our society that is pluralism inclined towards tribalism, the amendments to the Constitution should be people-centred. This would make it truly deliberative by engaging the public meaningfully in decision-making.
Amendments that may be undertaken with a ‘quick fix’ mentality will be costly in the long run.
Kenya’s boundary was designed by the colonialists just like any other African country. The citizenry had no option but to accept the boundaries already defined and fight to ensure that the sovereignty of those boundaries are not affected. We tried to develop a political system but failed in 1964 when we reverted and adopted the colonial administration systems used by the British. Up and until 2010, we still wished to develop a unique political system to govern ourselves.
Devolution, for instance, was designed for us through the new Constitution 2010, but colonial administration relics still persisted in the name of county commissioners, regional coordinators, among others. Tribalism and nepotism propagated by our leaders has led to the marginalisation of many. Tribalism and nepotism is also the reason why we have a bloated system.
Since everyone wanted to be represented more, we tried to create a platform to accommodate more people to the present considerable state where the National Assembly is another market place.
The basis of electing leaders is mostly on “mtu wetu”, violence and illicit money in politics, which are arguably the death row of our democracy.
-The writer is programmes manager, Emerging Leaders Foundation