Six years later, Kenya’s new Constitution still holds great promise

William Janak, chairs the Kenya Correspondents Association.

August 27 has, since 2010, assumed significance given six years ago on this day, Kenyans adopted a profoundly radical constitutional framework through the promulgation of the largely home-grown Constitution. This Constitution replaced the tattered Independence constitution which was negotiated in faraway Lancaster House in London from 1961-62. Amid the noise around the issue of the reform of the IEBC, merger of Jubilee affiliate parties to form the Jubilee Party, and the shifting alliances within CORD, we need to spare time to reflect on the Constitution, six years on.

Politicians and other stakeholders interested in the governance of this country have been liberally quoting the Constitution and calling for fidelity to its provisions in all our engagements. This month, Jubilee leader and President Uhuru Kenyatta and CORD principal Raila Odinga, have lined up rallies across the country. But their agenda will scarcely focus on the importance of the Constitution and this month in the calendar of the country.

The Constitution was supposed to bring a new political culture of accountability, transparency, greater public participation, fair distribution of resources and respect for civil liberties among other virtues. It is gratifying to note that the civil society is in the process of planning a two day forum in Nairobi to mark the six years since the promulgation of the Constitution under the theme: “Six Years After The Promulgation: Assessing The Implementation Status Of Kenya’s Constitution.” There are other initiatives to mark the day by civil society organisations in counties.

The civil society has been consistent in demanding full implementation of the Constitution, which was the result of the collective struggle of many Kenyans to bring about change.
As we prepare to mark this important epoch in our democratic governance transformation, we need to reflect on all key deliverables of the Constitution, including the centrality for greater citizens’ engagement and participation in decision-making.

All sectors of the society need to devote time on August 27, to assess the achievements and challenges, and to make suggestions on how to improve on the gaps in the implementation process. The media have a role in projecting this month and the date as an important period of reflection on the country’s democratic trajectory and to remind the county’s leaders and citizens that the promise of this new Constitution holds the key to a stable, more inclusive, united and prosperous Kenya, if implemented faithfully.