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WRONG DIRECTION

Rulers’ disregard for law worrying

When tyrants seek to destroy freedoms, their first target is rule of law.

In Summary
  • History shows a troubling penchant for Kenyan rulers to mutilate the constitution to resolve personal problems.
  • So heated was the debate that Kibaki had to twice deny in Parliament that he was planning to resign to protest the scrapping of his post.

Kenya’s landscape is replete with instances of betrayal, broken promises and careers sacrificed at the altar of powerful leaders who used the constitution to achieve their own personal interests. History shows a troubling penchant for Kenyan rulers to mutilate the constitution to resolve personal problems or to settle personal scores.

In 1969, for instance, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta who was now over 80 became more intolerant and at times disregarded the constitution when it did not suit him.

Kenyatta had by presidential proclamation extended sea boundaries from three to 12 miles without any constitutional backing and Parliament had to enact a law in 1972 to give this proclamation some legal basis.

In July 1971, Kenyatta postponed local government elections from 1972 to 1974 after he met a delegation of councillors. When informed by then Attorney General Charles Njonjo that this was illegal, he retorted “To the devil with the law”, Hornsby writes.

In June 1980, when he retired as the Attorney General,Charles Njonjo attempted to change the constitution to scrap the post of vice president, then held by Mwai Kibaki, and replace it with a prime minister’s slot for himself.

So heated was the debate that Kibaki had to twice deny in Parliament that he was planning to resign to protest the scrapping of his post.

On June 9, 1982, the 19th constitutional amendment was made to the effect: “There shall be in Kenya only one political party, The Kenya African National Union.”  This was championed by Njonjo who wanted to block Jaramogi who had just announced that he was in the process of registering Kenya African Socialist Alliance.

In recent times, President Uhuru Kenyatta has presided over what some consider the illegal transfer of key functions from Nairobi City County to the Nairobi Metropolitan Services.

In a statement, LSK president Nelson Havi observed that the agency is an illegal entity with no mandate to execute the functions transferred from the county government. Further, he questions the process by which the NMS was prescribed and established as the institutional framework for the execution of the transferred functions in line with the provision of Article 7.1 of Deed of Transfer.

Uhuru also sanctioned a post-election coalition agreement between Jubilee and Kanu, a function reserved for the party’s National Executive Committee. Article 32.2.4 of the Political Parties Act provides that the post-election coalition panel shall report to the National Executive Committee.

The Jubilee Party NEC has never met and, therefore,  ratification of the coalition was a contravention of the Third Schedule of the Political Parties Act section two, which stipulates that the coalition agreement can only be initiated and ratified by the NEC.

Our nation is headed in the wrong and as such, we can only expect to pay a heavy price in the long run. When dictators and tyrants seek to destroy the freedoms of men, their first target is the rule of law.

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