Saba Saba: Activists raise red flag

John Githongo and Narc Kenya party leader Martha Karua during yesterday’s 30th anniversary of Saba Saba. [George Njunge, Standard]

Leaders and rights activists have vowed to resist what they describe as an attempt under the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) to mutilate the current constitution.

Speaking in Limuru yesterday during the 30th anniversary of Saba Saba Day, marked in honour of July 7, 1990 protests that led to political reforms in Kenya, the activists and a number of politicians accused the ruling Jubilee government of trying to take the country back to a one party State.

They vowed to oppose any attempt to change the constitution to remove or alter term limits or create new offices for more politicians in government. 

“We support the full implementation of the constitution but not its full cannibalisation to benefit a few individuals. It is time for those in office facing term limits to retire and go home quietly and leave Kenyans to pick the pieces,” said Narc Kenya Party Leader Martha Karua.

Economist and activist, Dr David Ndii argued that the 2010 Constitution should not be changed to suit the whims of politicians.

“We should strive to maintain the current constitution even with it faults because if it is bad for them (politicians), it is good for us Kenyans,” Ndii said.

The BBI report has recommended the expansion of the executive to create the position of prime minister and picking elected leaders into the cabinet.

Civil rights activist John Githongo accused the government of slipping the country back to an authoritarian political order by emasculating Parliament, harassing and intimidating the Judiciary, defying court orders, usurping the powers of Nairobi County and militarizing civilian functions.

According to Githongo, there was what he described as “clear misuse of the security and military services in purely political or governance  affairs.”

“We are particularly concerned by the role of the National Intelligence Service (NIS) becoming an instrument of the presidency in dealing with opponents of the President including undermining the Judiciary,” he said.

Ugenya MP David Ochieng spoke against co-option of Opposition political parties and use of coercion through State institutions such as the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) and the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

The MP said Jubilee administration was undermining devolution through administrative and legal impediments.

He claimed that the country had witnessed several incidents of gross violation of human rights by the State.

“We can no longer tolerate continued police violence, enforced disappearances, extra-judicial killings, torture, gender-based violence and other forms of violations of human rights,” he said.

The leaders and activists accused the government of entrenching the mindset of disrespecting and violating human rights in the country.

They said the 2019 Handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga which was meant to unite Kenyans, was being used to divide the country ahead of the 2022 polls.

“We see the return of the perennial quest of a Luhya political supremo, jostling for the throne of Kamba kingpin, and all manner of intrigues as to who will inherit Uhuru Kenyatta’s mantle as the undisputed King of the Agikuyu,or whether he plans to succeed himself,” Ndii said.

The leaders accused Kenyatta’s government of attempting to take over and control the Judiciary through appointment or co-option of judicial officers, intimidation and hounding out of perceived independent-minded officers and character-assassination.

Download the BBI Judgement by all seven Judges - Civil Appeal No. E291 of 2021