PLO Lumumba: Change the Constitution now; Martha Karua: Hold your horses!

Karua: Don't tinker with the constitution, Jubilee has scored zero. [File, Standard]

Today Kenya marks exactly 10 years since the promulgation of the new constitution.

However, the journey before, during, and after the new document was passed has been one full of ups and downs, hits and misses, but it surely, is still on.

Several leaders have nevertheless, differed over the implementation of the 2010 constitution that was touted as a silver bullet to the existing conditions in Kenya.

In an exclusive interview with the Standard Group’s Spice FM, former Secretary in the Constitution of Kenya Review Commission lawyer and public speaker PLO Lumumba agreed that the time to change the document is now.

“The Building Bridges Initiative provides a leeway for a few changes to be made in the constitution. Some issues on the role of the senate and the national assembly should be clearly defined. We also need to review the counties to prevent ethnic balkanization that is still a thorn in the flesh,” argues Lumumba.

The lawyer, however, cautioned that Kenyans should stay vigilant to prevent the political class from taking advantage of the process to expand the leadership room for their personal interests.

“I have seen it in the first BBI report, that there are plans to expand the executive to create space for ethnic representations. That should not guide our discussion. The constitutional change should only be for the benefit of our posterity,” he added.

On the other hand, Narc Kenya leader and one time Minister for Justice in the Kibaki Administration  Martha Karua is of the view that the country cannot trash the current constitution just yet because a lot of things have not been implemented.

Ms Karua gave the Jubilee government a 30 per cent performance mark adding that it had not only failed but also collapsed.

Dr  PLO Lumbumba: We need to review the counties to prevent ethnic balkanisation that is still a thorn in the flesh [Archive, Standard]

“We have a huge problem right from the government. People with huge corruption offences walk scot-free. People who have committed serious offences like murder are still in office,” Karua said.

She also pointed out other areas that have not been implemented, like the two-thirds gender rule which states that both the national assembly and senate should not have a composition of more than two-thirds of their members from one gender. This rule applies to all elective bodies as stipulated by the Kenyan constitution.

“Uhuru has two years or less. This is the last window of opportunity he has to redeem himself and his government. It's never too late to do the right thing. Return the country to the rule of law, ensure people's voices are heard. Embrace inclusivity… don't go on record as the president who tried to submerge the will of the people,” she added.

Karua also urged Kenyans to vote for leaders who have their best interests at heart and not based on tribal or ethnic lines.

“Fellow citizens; what matters most in your daily lives are things that your county government should be doing for you. Things like health care, agricultural extension services among others. If you don't elect good leaders you will suffer,” she said.

This comes a day after President Uhuru Kenyatta reiterated his stance that time has come to amend the 2010 Constitution, warning against attempts to succumb to the paralysis of rigidity.

The President said the crafters of the document fashioned it as work in progress.

He added that the Constitution was adopted on August 27, 2010, with the promise that it would be improved in future.

“Ten years after our progressive Constitution, the moment calls us to do better. Instead of a ceasefire document that enforces a zero-sum game in which the winner takes it all, the moment calls us to create a constitutional order that will last long,” the President said.


However, according to Mugambi Laibuta, a lawyer with the African Network of Constitutional Lawyers Association (ANCL), the ruling class believes amending the text to provide for more positions within the Executive will solve challenges bedevilling Kenya.

“Granted though, I believe it is important to test the limits of the Constitution through such initiatives. Unfortunately, the outcome may not be for the best interest of Kenyans. Unlike previous constitutional review processes, the current proposals do not address the plight of the common Kenyan,” Laibuta said in a text on the ANCL website. Laibuta said without full implementation of the Constitution and adherence to the leadership and integrity chapter, no amount of amendments will address the problem faced by the common Kenyan.

“The next ten years remain crucial. I believe they will usher in further entrenchment of devolution, promotion and protection of fundamental rights and freedoms and greater accountability of how public resources are administered,” he said.