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Uphold the law and keep Kenya united

By Kethi Kilonzo | July 26th 2015

Kibera slums and Highrise Estate in Nairobi are divided by a wall. Those in Kibera slums live well below the poverty line and make do with a meal a day. Those in Highrise are a bit better off and can afford to store food in their fridges and discard if it goes bad.

It is not the wall between the two residential areas that stops those living in the slums from raiding their wealthier neighbours. It is not the gates or the watchmen there. As a group, acting with a common purpose, if they decided to scale the walls and the gates to raid their wealthier neighbours nothing would stop them. The other slum dwellers would pick up the trend and would do the same to their wealthier neighbours.

The wall between Highrise and Kibera slums represents the law. The fear of the wall is therefore not the scaling of it and the breaking of limbs. The fear is the consequences of breaking the law by scaling the wall. Once the law loses respect and following, and the consequences of breaking the law do not invoke fear, the society is bound to fall. It is the law, and the fear of its consequences that seams everything together. The law does matter.

In a month’s time Kenya will be celebrating five years since promulgation of the Constitution. The Constitution is the Supreme Law of Kenya. It is the backbone of our political, legal and social system.

The Constitution is designed to and provides a safety net to ensure compliance with each of its provisions. Perhaps learning from Kenya’s past and fearing a repetition, the Constitution creates a mechanism through which every State Officer, State Office and State Organ is accountable and answerable to the public. Each of them can be removed from office by members of the public, Parliament or the County Assemblies. The biggest casualties so far have been the Speakers and Clerks of the County Assembly and Members of the County Executive Committees who have been removed by various County Assemblies. A Governor or two have also suffered the same fate.

The President can be impeached under Article 144 of the Constitution. His deputy can be impeached under Article 150 of the Constitution. Cabinet Secretaries can be removed from office by the National Assembly. This power is donated to the National Assembly under Article 251 of the Constitution.

The beauty of Article 251 of the Constitution is that any person can petition Parliament for the removal of any member of a commission or the holder of an independent office. So far the National Assembly has unseated the Secretariat of the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission, as well as two of their Commissioners. The motion to remove the Secretariat was by Parliament. The motion to remove the commissioners was through a petition by a Kenyan lawyer.

County governments can be dissolved. Parliament can also be dissolved. If Parliament does not pass all the laws required under the Constitution by August 27, 2015 any person can Petition the High Court for the dissolution of Parliament under Article 261 (5) of the Constitution. Parliament has the power to extend the time within which to pass the laws required. However, it cannot extend this period beyond August 27, 2016. Members of Parliament and Senators can also be recalled by their electorate under Article 104 of the Constitution, and Sections 45 to 48 of the Election Act.

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As we prepare to walk into the sixth year of our renewed Republic, we should all strive to bring more life, meaning and purpose to the Constitution by upholding both its letter and spirit. There is something for all of us to gain from the Constitution.

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