HANDSHAKE REPORT REVIEW

BBI should listen to all Kenyans, present their views accurately

Unlike the TJRC report, the BBI report was a beautifully designed document whose findings cannot be verified or attributed to specific interest groups.

In Summary

• It was, however, disappointing that the 156-page report did not capture the views presented by Kenyans accurately.

•  Rather, the report reflected what the task force summarised and termed as the voices and views of Kenyans.

BBI should listen to all Kenyans
BBI should listen to all Kenyans
Image: STAR ILLUSTRATED:
BBI should listen to all Kenyans
BBI should listen to all Kenyans
Image: STAR ILLUSTRATED:

The subject of inclusivity under the BBI discourse has largely been reduced to who gets what at the national Executive level.

Major political discussions now revolve around the strategies the political class is establishing on how to share or exclusively control executive power. Yet inclusivity should be discussed and reviewed from the lowest levels of governance, all through to the county and national government. Inclusivity is about Kenyans from all walks of life being involved and substantially represented in the affairs of governance right from the villages.

When the BBI report was launched at Bomas of Kenya, Kenyans were eager to read the proposals and know the next steps. Having participated in preparing a memorandum on behalf of the Sabaot community in Trans Nzoia and Bungoma counties, I was among the Kenyans who regarded the BBI process and the report as one that would re-ignite and perhaps fulfil the dreams, hopes and aspirations that we have held since Independence.

Various groups from across the country appeared before the BBI task force and presented memoranda and petitions. Some of these views were aired on national media stations and newspapers.

It was, however, disappointing that the 156-page report did not capture the views presented by Kenyans accurately. Rather, the report reflected what the task force summarised and termed as the voices and views of Kenyans. Unlike the TJRC report, which presented specific findings and made specific recommendations, the BBI report was a beautifully designed document whose findings cannot be verified or attributed to specific interest groups.

The Sabaot community, for instance, put forth a strong case for consideration and inclusion in governance at the national and county government levels. They demanded, inter alia, for the creation of an extra county combining Endebess, Kwanza and Saboti constituencies to give them a chance of representation at the county level, like all communities in Kenya. However, these views were not featured anywhere. Ridiculous as the demands may sound to those who do not relate, this is the crux of the memoranda presented by the Sabaot, Kuria and Teso communities to the BBI team.

In the second round of the BBI process, which is mainly on public participation, we expect the views of Kenyans to be specifically recorded, summarised and made public at the end of the process.

Where strong views such as the need for the creation of an extra county for marginalised or minority groups are given, it would be prudent for the BBI task force to specifically record such views and present them. The BBI team does not have the authority to sieve through the opinions of Kenyans and choose the ones to record and present and which ones to ignore.

It beats logic and defeats the essence of the entire exercise that billions of taxpayers’ money would be used to facilitate the process and in the end, the views presented by Kenyans are ignored. The BBI committee is not paid to compose and create sweet poetic phrases and pose them as views from Kenyans.

They must listen to Kenyans and capture their voices without discrimination and bias. Had this been done before, there would be no need to go back to Kenyans to collect views on what they had proposed.

I propose two alternative options for the BBI. One, during the discharge of their fresh mandate, the team should collect views according to how they are presented to them by Kenyans in their various tribal groupings. If it is true that there are 44 tribes in Kenya, it is not difficult to summarise the views of these tribes and present them for all Kenyans to see.

Two, the team can collect views based on the regions represented by the various groups they meet. They have the option of capturing and summarising the views by residents of each of the 290 constituencies.

Arguably, it may be impracticable to forward all the views for further action or implementation, but it will serve the purpose of making citizens feel as part of the process and live in the hope that their grievances are well known to the government.

In the end, if the findings and recommendations are specific in terms of where they came from and where they apply, respectively, the BBI process would gain more legitimacy and acceptance.

 

Naibei is an advocate of the High Court of Kenya