REFERENDUM, MZEE'S COMMEMORATION

Raila has the ‘locus standi’ to speak to Uhuru, propose Constitution reforms

In Summary

• More worrying is Barack's intolerance towards those offering ideas about constitutional reforms with or without a referendum.

• It is the constitutional right of any other person or party to team up to promote a referendum.

Raila Odinga shares a piece of cake with President Uhuru Kenyatta during the ODM leader's birthday.
Raila Odinga shares a piece of cake with President Uhuru Kenyatta during the ODM leader's birthday.
Image: JOHN CHESOLI

Reading the Standard of Thursday, August 29 on page 6, I was taken aback by some of the views held by my friend Barrack Muluka, the man from Emanyulia, against his newly found political foes.

As the secretary general of the Amani National Congress (ANC). he has declared total war on any other party that may stand in his way to State House as he campaigns for Musalia Mudavadi to be the next tenant at will in that "White House" secluded in the leafy suburb on your way to Kilimani from downtown Nairobi.

Nay, it is not a war: It is going to be a highly oiled electoral intifada whose main weapon will be money.

 
 

"This time," asserts the suave intellectual from Emanyulia, "Kenyans will see the true Mudavadi, a man who will unleash a financial campaign war chest  like never before."

I am beginning to shake and tremble when I contemplate what I see coming: A presidential campaign of war chests and not ideas! A presidential campaign where leaders I have assumed in the past to be "men of the people", like Martin Luther King, ready to move multitudes with speeches that raise hope rather than despair, are turning to money as the main weapon to win power.

Nay, says Muluka: That cheap talk about ideas is no longer the key issue. Money has to talk. Lord Jesus! If gold rusts, what will iron do?

But more worrying is Barack's intolerance towards those offering ideas about constitutional reforms with or without a referendum. Somewhere in the Bible — or is it in our prayer books — we are told that "where two or three people are gathered in together in His name, God, will give them what they pray for."

I may be wrong but my late father, a Canon in the Anglican Church, used to recite this prayer every Sunday in church as early as when I was six years old!

The man from Emanyulia thinks otherwise. Says he, both in English and Latin to drive his wise points home, thus: "Raila has no locus standi to sit with Uhuru [Kenyatta] and propose constitutional changes."

Dear God Almighty, I hope you are still there to help us protect the Bill of Rights that you even revealed to the likes of my father before we promulgated the 2010 Constitution, in which we enshrined so many "freedoms."

 
 

One of them was freedom of association, sanctioning the right of two or three people , gathering in your name, to plead with you for something they want. Now, tell me God, what is so wrong with Raila and Uhuru sitting somewhere and asking Kenyans to share with them their ideas about constitutional reforms? Is this forbidden in Canonic law?

The only thing I know is that you fixed your Canon against self-slaughter! But this Muluka decree that Raila has no locus standi to sit with Uhuru and propose ideas about constitutional reform, I find a little bit intolerant. But maybe it is my mistake. I may not understand this phrase "locus standi". I have googled it and the definition is as loquitius as the Latin language itself.

Google says: "locus standi is the term for the ability of a party to demonstrate to the court sufficient connection to and harm from the law or action challenged to support that party's participation in the case."Phew! What does all that really mean?

So what did Muluka mean to tell us when he said "Raila has no locus standi....?" Methinks it could have been easy to use a straightforward common garden expression that could have given us what Muluka really meant to say. When I was in intermediate school (Classes 5 to 8 of those days), we used to look up the most difficult words in the dictionary and use them in debates to show our colleagues how clever we were.

Muluka, of course, knows that the issue he is dealing with is much more important to all to us and should not be expressed in the language of high school debates or any semblance for that matter.

Yes, I agree. "Amendments to the country's supreme law can only be done through Parliament or a popular vote," as Muluka says. But such amendments do not fall like manna from heaven. They quite often begin from ideas expressed in the pulpit (remember the late Bishops Henry Okulu and Alexander Kipsang Muge), in articles in newspapers or popular movements like those triggered by the political struggles of the Young Turks.

In like manner, let us give Uhuru and Raila their political space as we grant the same to Muluka and Mudavadi.

Muluka admits that in this coming political duel "ANC will team up with Ruto and any other like-minded politicians to vote against the referendum" even before we know what the content of that referendum is.

Fair enough. That is obviously the constitutional right of the ANC. Likewise, it is the constitutional right of any other person or party to team up to promote a referendum whose proposals make sense in the context of our quest for a more democratically perfect republic.

It would only be helpful if, in promoting such rights, we adhere to the spirit of tolerance, a cardinal aspect of liberalism. On a much more sensitive issue, Muluka declared that  Uhuru "has no legal backing" to have announced that from next year, the family will no longer want to mark the commemoration of the death of Mzee Jomo Kenyatta as a public affair.

The commemoration has been customarily marked with very low key public events at the grave followed by prayers in church. If you allow me, I think what the President meant was that the family would from now prefer to commemorate the passing on of Mzee as a private family matter.

In any case, all these years, it is mainly the family and close friends and relatives who have attended the events. The army, envoys, ministers etc only go because it is an official function. The family may be tired of this and they want to be together as a family to remember Mzee just that one unique day in the year. Why should we, who actually don't wear those shoes of sorrow, impose officialdom on the Kenyatta family?

To tell you the truth I totally failed to understand the logic of Muluka' s fury against the President. Think for a moment that to Mzee, wherever he is, Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta is still his baby boy. To Uhuru Muigai, casting his mind over 40 years ago, Mzee is still the daddy whose laps he used to jump into.

Please allow these two people their privacy on that day. They may have much better reasons for "going private" than maybe dreamt of in your philosophy, señor Barrack Muluka.

The writer is the Governor of Kisumu County.