President Uhuru Kenyatta is under siege. He is a victim of a tyrant Constitution.
If, for instance, he cannot sack his deputy and if he has no direct right of appointment of key State officials and judges, then he has most of his powers donated, shared and scattered. Uhuru, therefore, is the only president who has been able to implement and domesticate the 2010 Constitution more effectively through great tribulations, trials and temptations.
Without fear or favour, I reckon that Uhuru is a gentleman. I say this because, he has not directly interfered with the provision of the Constitution nor with the judicial decisions nor outcomes of a few by-elections conducted in recent times.
I have in the past argued here that Uhuru’s presidency is a victim of the 2010 Constitution, which is highly rated as among the most progressive in the world in terms of guaranteeing basic human rights and giving citizens enormous powers to determine how they are to be governed. Unfortunately, Kenyans seem not to be trusted with this outrageous document. They have not been able to reach a point where they can effectively and responsibly enjoy the provisions of the Constitution because it is far more advanced yet we are still a crawling democracy.
I say this because President Kenyatta is the most insulted, cajoled and looked down upon citizen today. The Constitution has consumed, captured and tamed the man. That it why his presidency is vulnerable where people, civil society and some public servants seem to have much more power. In essence, unlike past presidents, this Constitution has tamed and made the president a helpless victim. It has strengthened the Judiciary as well as given too much privileges and powers to the people. And no matter how much fire seethes in his belly, his outrageously clipped powers allow him to do very little without breaching the Constitution.
The framers of this ‘angry’ Constitution were in uncharted territory when they created both the Office of the Presidency and his deputy. I believe no one at that time, including the framers themselves, had a clear vision of what the outcome of this would have on the president as a symbol of national unity. The greatest freedom ever experienced anywhere on earth is where the deputy withdraws from the ruling party, forms his own party and still remains the DP.
The public has placed all manner of economic collapse squarely on Uhuru. During his second term, the economy plummeted into a near-depression. You don’t need to be a Malthusian philosopher to know that Covid-19 pandemic, corruption, climate change and poor rains undoubtedly contributed to the crisis, Uhuru bore much of the blame in the minds of the people.
Today, the president does not ooze power as Moi did. His words no longer carry the sanctity they ought to. The symbolic power of the presidency is no longer devoted to the preservation of the nation’s collective memory, but rather an emblem of ridicule. We certainly cannot proceed like this. I urge the next president to revisit.
Dr Chacha teaches at Laikipia University.