The successive cases filed in court in recent months against decisions and actions by the government are indicative of the need by all of us to re-examine the state of our democracy, governance and the rule of law.
It is the patriotic duty of every Kenyan to hold their government to account and fully participate in decision-making and public affairs.
It is also the duty of every citizen to constructively criticise their government to ensure its decisions and actions are taken and implemented for the good of all citizens irrespective of their political biases.
Therefore, when citizens criticise their government, they should not look over their shoulders for fear of intimidation and reprisals.
Constructive criticism against one’s country is patriotism based on the love, loyalty and devotion we show to our country, that’s why we pay taxes, vote and participate in the public affairs of our country.
When we criticise the government, we are not opposing the government and supporting the opposition. Those are very different concepts.
We criticise because we want our government to do better and focus on its core business of service delivery and facilitating Kenyans to bake the national cake and realise our full potential irrespective of our political leanings.
The many cases filed against the government may appear as irritants and unnecessary hurdles for the government but they are citizens’ call to their government to listen to their grievances and concerns and not to assume these are fuelled by politics. Our government and state officers need to look at the concerns and demands of citizens through human rights, good governance, and the rule of law lenses. Most Kenyans are tired of politics that negatively impact their lives.
People are increasingly finding fault in government decisions, utterances, and declarations inimical to their needs and interests.
Statements by government representatives that they respect the views and concerns of citizens must be backed by positive actions and legally backed decisions or they will continue sounding hollow and not believable.
Continuing to make promises that go unkept is further eroding public confidence and trust in their government, even the die-hard supporters are beginning to doubt sincerity of their leaders.
Further, this is decreasing the goodwill that still remains among supporters. For example, complaints that 22 important clauses introduced by the parliamentary committee into the Finance Bill of 2023, which were not subjected to public participation including their turning the housing levy into a tax, should not be taken lightly neither should be the consequences of logging and deforestation.
Public participation is a constitutional obligation and should be respected by any legitimate government that respects the rule of law. State officers and the government have a constitutional obligation to listen to citizens and reason with them with respect. This is why there are numerous remedies for citizens to result to if their government lends them a deaf ear or violates the Constitution.
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Kenyans can express their concerns and or outrage publicly through various media and can go to court, picket, demonstrate, and petition their leaders or assemblies if those being petitioned can listen and take remedial action.
There are a number of questions that linger on the president’s increasing public declarations. The main objectives of our Constitution are to ensure strict adherence to the rule of law, respect for human rights, and good governance.
The other is to ensure formality of government processes, decisions, and actions thereby ending roadside and public declarations.
Finally, the Judiciary has largely been credited with paying great heed to its core mandate and rationale for its existence by dispensing blind justice thereby ensuring rights, interests, needs, and demands of citizens are safeguarded, respected, protected, and addressed positively.
Many Kenyans have lost faith in their elected representatives and therefore appreciate the Judiciary and the media for stepping in to ensure respect and protection of our democracy, good governance, and rule of law. We can only hope that this is not short-lived.