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Bills Change May Cause Dictatorship

Wednesday, February 15, 2012 - 00:00 -- BY PHEROZE NOWROJEE

The building of Kenya carries on apace. Under the blueprint of the Constitution, signed off by millions of Kenyans, the structure is growing higher and higher. As Parliament has reopened, it has three very important laws to decide upon. These are the supporting legislation for devolution. They are the County Governments Bill, the Intergovernmental Relations Bill and the Transition to Devolved Government Bill. These key laws relate to structuring the critical component of devolution. Devolution is at the heart of a Kenyan democratic future.

What is the opposite of a Kenyan democratic future? It is our unfortunate past. It is an undemocratic presidential system where the President tells everyone what to do; where the counties will not make their own decisions. They would do whatever the President would tell them to - on money, land, jobs and the other decisions of the governance of the 47 counties. This would bring back one-man rule. But also one-party rule, because with this deletion the President’s party could overrule any other party in a county.

There are still persons who want one-man, one-party rule. They are in Parliament, in the Attorney-General’s office, in the NSIS, among the Permanent Secretaries, and in ethnobusinesses. They want to go back to such a system because it gives them money and impunity, both. To return to it, they do all they can to change clauses or omit or add or substitute words in the laws that implement the new Constitution. As Ministers, they officially agree one thing in public and do another in the backrooms.

Is there such a problem with these new Bills? Surprise, surprise, there is indeed an unauthorized alteration again. There is a deletion of a crucial phrase. In the original draft sent to the Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution (CIC), and approved by them, the provision was: “Subject to the Constitution, the governor shall perform such State functions within the county as the President may determine.” In its published form, the words “Subject to the Constitution” have been deleted. The section now reads, “The governor shall perform such State functions within the county as the President may determine.”

The effect of the new wording is to enable a President to dictate to county governors regardless of the Constitution’s directions. This is precisely what Kenyatta and Moi did for forty years. They did it to the Provincial Commissioners and those below them. This is exactly what would happen if this deletion were allowed to remain. The deletion would make the County Governors into ‘Provincial Commissioners’. Even though County Governors would be elected, this deletion would make the governors answerable not to their electors, the people of the county, but to the President. This is yet another trick to return to the old ways under the guise of implementing the new constitution. This deletion subverts the new Constitution.

The Provincial Administration was the centralised and tyrannical method of controlling the Kenyan people. It prevented local democracy from emerging, let alone flourishing. Those who now want to exercise power in the repressive ways of the past want therefore to retain the provincial administration system under whatever name, even though it has been abolished by the new Constitution. The deletion of the words “Subject to the Constitution” would allow them to do so. They therefore have choreographed the deletion. Every Kenyan who loves freedom must reject this deletion and insist that the words be put back. Those words are our protection.

Who are these people who continuously subvert the future of Kenya for their own benefit? It is the unreconstructed KANU lot that we see every weekend, and their camp followers, court jesters and sycophants who pant behind, parroting their patrons’ latest obscenities that are grist to the media and an embarrassment to the nation. This is the old KANU slogan at work: Backwards ever, forward never.

Will these people never stop? That is not the right thought. The right thought is “We are the ones who will never stop – never stop our vigilance against these people.” The tools of that vigilance are not only in the Constitution of Kenya but now also in the minds of 67% of Kenyans and counting. All the money, trays of watermelons, and rallies full of lies and calumny of these saboteurs were unable to halt Kenya’s new Constitution. Their money, political promiscuity and current rallies, still full of lies and calumny, will also not be able to halt Kenya’s democratic future, already a growing and irreversibly rooted reality.

The writer is a lawyer.