How rotational presidency could cure Kenyans long running quest for power

President William Ruto's official vehicle at the KICC during a past event. [Silas Otieno, Standard]

Kenya’s political and economic climate has been volatile from 2002 due to several factors including the clamour for a new constitution, tough economic times, and tribalism among others.

The distribution of natural resources was assumed to be the key factor for the volatility since in the previous administration resources were distributed according to political allegiance and proximity to the presidency.

The country’s political climate affects the economic environment to the extent that a day of street demonstrations and violence businesses count losses as the shilling loses value.

The drafters of the current Constitution noted this when they created institutions of government at both levels which include counties. Key commissions and independent offices were set up which include the commission of revenue allocation among other commissions to check the presidency and ensure equal distribution of resources.

This was done with the promulgation of a new Constitution but still, to date, the country has remained volatile leading to the question, what really bothers Kenyans that hasn’t been addressed?

National pride in having produced a president is the only answer that bothers the majority of Kenyans. For illustration purposes, Kisumu has received a huge amount of infrastructure budget from the national government more than any other region including Eldoret and Gatundu where current and former presidents hail from. However, Kisumu remains the bedrock of political dissent and volatility.

Every community and region wants to produce a president regardless of development that will come with the presidency thus the need to address the question to attain political and economic stability.

The Constitution is anchored on majority rule where the majority determine who occupies the presidency leading to tribal alliances being formed between big tribes as evidenced in the last elections.

This system doesn’t guarantee peace and stability as evidenced in Nigeria where a war broke out in 1967 which came to be known as the Biafra war. The people of southeastern Nigeria wanted to secede and form their own country called Biafra. It took years for Nigeria to find a solution which is a consensus where the presidency oscillates like a pendulum between the Muslim north and the Christian south.

Yugoslavia too disintegrated into seven countries due to many factors the major ones being minority Albanians of Kosovo, Slovenes and Croats could not agree to be part of the Serb majority-dominated Yugoslav government. At the end of the conflict, different countries had emerged for each group with close to 150,000 people reported to have lost lives in the conflict.

The EU, as popularly known, is a classic example where majority rule is avoided. The Union adopted a six-month rotational presidency amongst member countries. In the agreement, France with a population of 67 million stands an equal chance of EU presidency as Malta with a population of 500,000 people. Had the union adopted a majority voting system as Kenya the script would be chaotic.

Countries that have successfully put in place rotational presidencies include Israel, Turkey and Romania

The current constitutional arrangement in Kenya has made the presidency not as lucrative as it was in the KANU days since major institutions have clipped off its powers; the Judiciary, Parliament, and various commissions now check and ensure accountability of the presidency.  However, all communities of Kenya still thirst to produce a president.

Kenya should therefore consider an amendment to the Constitution to establish a rotational presidency anchored on old eight provinces. That will go a long way in solving the current problem of constant politicking and volatility. 

-The writer is a finance analyst