REJECT BBI

BBI not panacea for Kenya's problems, fully implement 2010 Constitution

It is foolhardy to entrust a constitutional moment to the same people who have blatantly refused to implement the current Constitution.

In Summary

• Collectively, the Constitution as currently formulated, is a document that addresses all the political, social and economic challenges that have bedevilled the country since independence.

• It is for this reason that the current efforts to amend the Constitution must be resisted by all Kenyans committed to constitutionalism and the rule of law.

Fully implement 2010 Constitution
Fully implement 2010 Constitution
Image: OZONE

On August 27, 2010, Kenyans watched with pride as President Mwai Kibaki led a team of dignitaries in the promulgation of the new Constitution.

It was an occasion equated by many to a rebirth of our nation, similar only to that of independence night, four decades before.

The promulgation was a culmination of two decades of a clamour for a new constitution, which was characterised by false starts, bloodshed, loss of lives and life-long injuries.

 

Retrospectively, Kenyans voted “Yes” for the new supreme law of the land, elated that it was a moment the country had been waiting for and the answer to the many ills facing the nation.

Having experienced a tumultuous period two years earlier in the bloody post-election tribal clashes of 2007-08, the moment was seen as a healing moment for a divided nation. The country learnt its lesson and was ready to move forward.

Fast forward and 10 years later, Kenya finds herself in another so-called constitutional moment, under the Building Bridges Initiative. However, unlike the Wanjiku-driven and responsive constitutional moment years back, the current push is largely driven by a political class intent on cannibalising a document whose potential is yet to be realised.

The 2010 Constitution has been hailed as one of the most progressive globally. With a comprehensive Bill of Rights, provisions on equality and inclusion of women, youth and persons with disability, the supreme law has wide-ranging liberties for citizens in relation to access to information, freedom of association, movement and media as well as guarantees to basic social-economic rights. This includes the right to health and education.

The Constitution guarantees the principle of separation of powers among the three arms of government, providing for strong checks and balances.

Collectively, the Constitution as currently formulated, is a document that addresses all the political, social and economic challenges that have bedevilled the country since independence.

It is for this reason that the current efforts to amend the Constitution must be resisted by all Kenyans committed to constitutionalism and the rule of law.  

 

Whereas arguments have been made for the review, and indeed, there might exist some provisions that would do with enhancements.

It is, in my view, hypocritical to begin amending a law whose implementation is, at best, lacklustre. The Jubilee administration, for example, has been at the forefront of flaunting the rule of law, including judicial decisions.

The current onslaught on the Judiciary and Parliament has only added to the perception that the administration is intent on taking the country back to a centralised model that is not open to divergent and diverse voices.

That the ruling party is imploding due to this lack of accommodation is a clear indication that the commitment to plurality of ideas and views is no longer appreciated. This does not augur well for our nascent democracy.

Implemented fully, the Constitution would address most of the challenges bedevilling the country such as corruption, inequality, exclusion of marginalised and vulnerable groups, disregard for the rule of laws and the equitable distribution of resources that proponents of reviewing the law are advancing.

Accelerating the implementation of the two-thirds gender Rule, Chapter Six on leadership and integrity, devolution and public finance management, is a game-changer for national cohesion, thereby, reinforcing our national commitment to constitutionalism.

This is not the time to cannibalise the Constitution. The political class advocating for review of the law is doing so for self-preservation and actualisation.

It is foolhardy to entrust a constitutional moment to the same people who have blatantly refused to implement the current Constitution. A review of the law must only be based on an audit of a constitution fully implemented.

Citizens must familiarise themselves with their constitutional rights and demand full compliance. They must demand more from devolution and the integrity and values threshold that they place on their leaders as espoused in the supreme law.

They must demand that before the political class markets the BBI as a panacea to the social political and economic challenges facing the country, the social contract between them on the implementation of the constitution be honoured.

In so doing, they must demand that the only constitutional moment and momentum must be towards accelerating the full implementation.

Any other motivation for review must be met with a resounding NO from Kenyans.

Martha Karua is the party leader, Narc Kenya.