CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS

Court interception of BBI derails inclusive democracy bid

The injunctions against the BBI process smack of sinister motives

In Summary

• BBI is not destroying the Constitution but seems to be reintegrating it into society socially, economically and politically.

• One may ask why the actors waited for their BBI promoters to get so far along while waiting in hiding to waylay them.

Court of Appeal judges Justice Roseline Nambuye, presiding judge and Court Of Appeal President Justice Daniel Musinga with Justice Hannah Okwengu at the Court of Appeal on June 2, 2021.
Court of Appeal judges Justice Roseline Nambuye, presiding judge and Court Of Appeal President Justice Daniel Musinga with Justice Hannah Okwengu at the Court of Appeal on June 2, 2021.
Image: ENOS TECHE

The High Court interception of the Building Bridges Initiative through its ruling has created an impasse.

One may ask why the actors waited for the BBI promoters to get so far along, only waiting in hiding to waylay them. Such injunctions smack of sinister motives.

When we have decided to solve our problems the court way, which only leads to washing of our dirty linen in public, where does the camaraderie of our relationship go?

The BBI is about a constitutional amendment proposal with recommendations meant to deepen inclusivity, unity, transparency, human rights, equity and accountability, among others.

One of the great principles that appear to underpin it is its emphasis on inclusive democracy.

Despite 3,188,001 registered voters endorsing the report, according to the IEBC, the High Court judges have advertently or inadvertently failed to breathe life into this as a popular initiative.

Abraham Lincoln, the 16th US president, described democracy as the government of the people, for the people and by the people.

Exposing Lincoln’s conception of democracy — in the BBI context — should ring in our ears about what works for the good of the people, for them and by them, which they have endorsed.

This requires bracketing ourselves to withhold potentially deleterious effects of misconceptions, and misjudgments.

The BBI, presumably, is not destroying the Constitution but reintegrating it into society socially, economically and politically.

Kenya has been facing various problems not limited to violent and divisive elections, ethnic antagonism and killings due to negative ethnic polarisation, inequalities and marginalisation of certain communities.

The BBI proposals, if taken seriously, might alleviate most of these challenges.

Unfortunately, the BBI has taken a long time in conceptualisation, committees, registration, assemblies, Parliament and the courts.

Israelites bondage in Egypt should remind us that if Moses had to go through committees and Pharaoh’s courts, they would still be in Egypt to date. This is what Kenya is doing with their BBI liberation initiative.

In four ways, the BBI provides a mirror of how it seeks to live up to its promise and end our challenges.

First, President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga demonstrated openly and honestly through the handshake their willingness to offer a path to a better Kenya. 

Furthermore, the three million Kenyans who endorsed the document are enough evidence of a popular initiative.

Perhaps, the handshake, the BBI and the collected and verified signatures all seek to save Kenya from the trappings of tribal hegemony, antagonism and identities.

For us to see the courts throwing away the process and celebrations of stopping BBI thereafter is being zealot, hypocritical, pretentious and misdirected over our situation that requires salvation. 

Second, recently I read Daisy Maina’s critique about the BBI  headlined "Selfish interests are blurring our view of BBI reform proposals".

Maina’s narrative appeared quite insightful, and meaningful for anyone to read.

If inclusivity is not possible, we will have no other alternative but to consider the possibility of proscribing solo ethnic political parties until they have met the correct number of membership formations across the divide.

Third, the BBI agenda addresses some inclusive democratic issues but not limited to the following addressing inequalities.

It guarantees increased resource allocation to the counties (from 15 per cent to 35 per cent); ensures that 30 per cent of opportunities in the counties and wards are secured for the youth, women, PWD, minorities and the marginalised; expands the national leadership, and remodels the parliamentary system to foster inclusivity.

Fourth, BBI appears to be premised on re-known philosophies and principles of philosophy of unity in diversity, ubuntu, nyayo philosophy, sage and ethno – philosophy,  African Socialism as part of nationalistic-ideological philosophy among others.

There is the religious exegetical exposition on the spirit of inclusivity and oneness that need to be embraced to remain together (Galatians 3:28; Quran 3:103 and Bhagavad Gita 18:20).

Of interest, Radhakrishnan, the Indian philosopher and former President of India once said, “After all, we are all one”.

He provided a model for cultivating a spirit of inclusivity. For example, the world at large, India and Kenya having about 5,000, 2,000 and 70 diverse ethnic groups respectively may not have espirit-de-corps a nation needs.

However, this is possible if we can cultivate the philosophy of unity in diversity and nurture cultural pluralism. For Radhakrishnan, such diverse ethnic backgrounds should not be a sine qua non for antagonism and bigotry.

Charles Dickens, one of the famous English writers and social critic, said, "Have a heart that never hurts… a loving heart is the truest wisdom."

I still think BBI aims to pursue some natural justice, common good and needs a non-conflictual environment to accomplish much for building a peaceful nation.

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(Edited by V. Graham)