Let’s All Protect The Constitution
Historian Lord Acton was spot-on when he said, “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” As the general election draws near, a section of Kenyan MPs have just demonstrated that they will do anything to retain political power even if it means defiling the country’s supreme law - the constitution.
The recent self-serving proposed legislation would, if enacted, allow MPs to continue with the despicable behaviour of party-hopping. Kenyans were right when they suggested that the current crop of MPs should not have been mandated with the delicate task of implementing the new constitution.
Like other enlightened Kenyans who understand the import of the recent bills passed by MPs in the guise of implementing Article 92 of the constitution, I was deeply disturbed by the pharisaic (hypocritical and self-righteous) posturing that some MPs have adopted in order to justify mutilation of the constitution. As much as MPs have not changed the letter of the constitution, the bills they passed to allow them recklessly hop from one party to another have mutilated the spirit of the constitution. And what is the purpose of a constitution whose spirit is not respected?
We can understand people like Gachoka MP Mutava Musyimi who put forward the proposal that would allow MPs to hop from one party to another because he was in the “No” camp that opposed the new constitution during the referendum. Besides, Musyimi himself is guilty of lacking any party principles because he has already identified himself with three different political parties during the short time he has been in parliament.
However, I am at pains to understand people like Ikolomani MP Bonny Khalwale and his Garsen counterpart Danson Mungatana who have put forward very unconvincing arguments to defend their support for the unconstitutional changes to the Political Parties Act. Appearing on national TV stations, Mungatana defended his proposal to nominate presidential poll losers, saying that the first runner-up in the presidential race deserves to be nominated to parliament so that he or she would marshal the required official opposition in order to provide checks and balance to the government in power.
But Mungatana’s argument does not hold water because he, as a well-educated lawyer, ought to know that the new constitution has more than adequate provisions to check the executive powers exercised by the president or any other state officer.
Presidents under the new constitution would not need official leader of opposition to check how they exercise executive powers. Bonny Khalwale defended the MPs’ move to change the Political Parties Act, saying that they did not change even a single comma of the constitution. It’s true that MPs did not change even a comma of the constitution, but what Khalwale has failed to understand is that the bills they passed violated the constitutional procedure required to pass such bills.
Since the MPs argued that they were exercising their powers under Article 92, how come they did not give room for public participation and the input of the Constitution Implementation Commission as required by the constitution when handling enabling legislation for the implementation of the constitution?
The impartiality and commitment of Madera Central MP Abdikadir Mohammed, the chairman of the parliamentary Constitutional Implementation Oversight Committee, is itself in question. He was elected for the Safina party but is himself a culprit of party hopping as he is now touting the presidential candidacy of Musalia Mudavadi who has also violated the Political Parties Act by joining UDF while retaining membership of ODM.
The latest behaviour of MPs has just proved to Kenyans that a big portion of the political elite in Kenya did not want a new constitution. The retrogressive political elite is now trying to reverse the gains of the second liberation and are prepared to do whatever is possible to frustrate the realization of the new constitution. The constitutional revolution that occurred in Kenya in 2010 is facing the same obstacles that people-driven revolutions encounter including in the Arab spring.
By pretending that they were they with people during the referendum and promulgation of the constitution, our MPs have put into motion a programme that would hijack the people-driven constitution with the aim of entrenching themselves in power and frustrating the aspirations that the people had in the new supreme law. Kenyans must not allow this happen.
Egypt provides us with a good example to learn from. The once trusted and people-friendly Egyptian military, that was given the mandate to manage the post-Mubarak transition, has now hijacked the people’s revolution, entrenched itself in power and turned into another monster than the Egyptian masses have to contend with.
The challenge now goes back to the Kenyan people themselves. They have to reclaim their sovereignty as enshrined in Article 1 of the constitution which states, “All sovereign power belongs to the people of Kenya and shall be exercised only according to this constitution.” And once Kenyans reclaim their sovereignty, they should start asking their MPs one question— in whose interest did they pass the obnoxious laws that allow them to engage in the political immorality of party-hopping? All Kenyans who believe in their constitution should, therefore, join in the noble fight to protect the supreme law.
The writer is the CEO of the Kenya Muslim Youth Alliance and Deputy Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims (SUPKEM).