Senior counsel Pheroze Nowrojee’s opinion in The Sunday Standard of July 16, 2023 entitled; “We’re in danger of sliding back and killing hard-won freedoms” must not go unchallenged.
It is a misrepresentation of the current situation and makes sweeping claims on five issues he calls “very serious wrongs that endanger our nation” allegedly going on, citing events of the previous week (I guess he was referring to protests of July 14, 2023 and Saba Saba).
First, he falsely claims the government is blocking collection of signatures by Azimio One Kenya aimed at “impeaching” the President. The truth is it dawned on the Azimio principals led by former Prime Minister Raila Odinga that the road was headed nowhere.
The reality must have hit them hard that only a parliamentary process initiated at the National Assembly, where they have a shy minority, was provided for by article 145 of the Constitution.
The legal minds in Azimio must have advised their bosses that only gross violation of the Constitution or the law, commission of serious crimes or gross misconduct by the President can necessitate an impeachment.
Secondly, the senior counsel claims the Ruto administration is preventing the exercise of the right of assembly by blocking leaders. Nothing could be farther from the truth. No peaceful, unarmed assembly anywhere in Kenya has been blocked or dispersed since this regime came into office.
There are many demonstrations and picketing I have witnessed around Parliament in recent past and none has been disrupted.
Thirdly, Nowrojee’s claims the police have been made part of the political purposes of the government, including mouthing political messages publicly are not true. Many will agree with me that the police have been largely professional, independent and politically neutral. A blanket condemnation is unfair and depicts the bias on the part of the learned senior counsel.
Fourthly, Nowrojee makes a curious conclusion: “the regime has lost its constitutional direction. It has no answers. It has stopped even pretending to listen to the people”.
The Kenya Kwanza regime has demonstrated its fidelity to the Constitution. It is barely eight months old. Among the quick wins in the Plan is independence of the police and the Judiciary. Court orders have been complied without question, including the ones on Chief Administrative Secretaries and the Finance Act 2023. The police enjoy budget and financial autonomy.
The constitutional provisions on the Bill of Rights, including the right to education are not only being complied with but also being expanded. For the first time in Kenya’s history, the Ruto government has employed 54,000 teachers, doubled scholarship and loan support to university and college students in a friendly financing model. Reading through the entire opinion, one reaches the conclusion that Nowrojee has twisted and inverted facts about the Ruto regime’s scorecard.
We all agree that the cost of living is high. We also agree that it is one of the issues that itch the opposition to call for anti-government protests. Perhaps what some of us do not share with the opposition is how to solve the problem.
Kenya Kwanza rooted for production subsidies while Azimio promoted consumption enticements during last year’s campaigns. It is what Kenya Kwanza is implementing and it is consistent with the legitimate expectations of the majority of Kenyans who voted Ruto and his team to office.
With success of the fertiliser subsidy programme, we expect a bumper maize harvest in the next two months in the breadbasket areas of Rift Valley and Western. The conversation about cost of living will surely take a new tangent soon.
The writer is Bomet Senator and chair of the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee