CONSTITUTIONAL CHANGES

Nothing wrong with our laws, just us

In Summary
  • Having beautiful laws without changing the attitude and character of society is an exercise in futility.
  • How will there be shared prosperity when government coffers are being looted in broad daylight?

Once again, Kenyans find themselves at the brink of high-octane politics thanks to the impending referendum occasioned by the BBI and 2022 general election. The President has consistently urged Kenyans to seize this ‘constitutional moment’—but is it?

In my opinion, the myriad of problems bedevilling our nation has not been occasioned by the constitution or inadequate laws and policies. Rather, Kenya’s maladies are societal based. Our society ostracises virtues and embraces vices.

That is why regardless of the laws we put in place, corruption has continued to thrive, our electoral cycle will continue to be dotted with violence as politicians hire goons and incite communities during campaigns and the poor will continue being discriminated against by the justice system.

The utopian state we are being promised by the BBI proponents is only meant to hoodwink the gullible masses so as to advance the interests of the political elite. This is not a people-driven process. It is an elite consensus designed to maintain a stranglehold on the state and advance their political and economic interests.

Unless Kenyans become wired to respecting the existing institutions and laws, it will be futile to keep making amendments to the Constitution. If our politicians continue treating the IEBC with contempt, what assurances do we have as Kenyans that there will be no post-election violence in 2022? What will stop the losing candidate(s) from disputing the outcome and calling for civil disobedience? Weren’t there sufficient electoral laws in 2017?

The proposed amendments have lofty phrases such as ‘shared prosperity’. How will there be shared prosperity when government coffers are being looted in broad daylight by well-known culprits, some of whom are close to the powers that be?

When the same people present themselves for leadership positions and the citizens gladly embrace them, doesn’t that demonstrate a society that glorifies corruption and impunity? Without a change of ethos by Kenyans, changing the laws will be akin to putting new wine in an old wineskin. Laws cannot be effective in a society that lacks discipline and patriotism.

A society that cannot adequately cater for its health workers in the middle of a pandemic and chooses instead to embark on an expensive political experiment that is neither urgent nor necessary has already sold its soul to the devil.

The people who swore to defend and protect the Constitution are its topmost violators. The Executive decides which laws to obey and disregard. Conflict of interest only exists on paper since senior government officials openly do business with the agencies they lead.

Whatever the BBI intends to cure can be done by the existing laws. It is just a question of having fidelity to the Constitution and the other subsidiary legislation. Granted, some improvements need to be undertaken. But as the Catholic bishops pointed out, why the hurry? The answer is simply because the ‘owners’ of the initiative are not driven by genuine love for the country but self-preservation.

We are a dishonest society that has in turn produced dishonest leaders. Even those calling for a consensus are not genuine—they are simply buying time to scuttle the process. And as the grandstanding and political formations take shape, healthcare workers are starting an industrial action to protest poor working conditions and pay.

A society that cannot adequately cater for its health workers in the middle of a pandemic and chooses instead to embark on an expensive political experiment that is neither urgent nor necessary has already sold its soul to the devil.

Good laws cannot be effective as long as they are being implemented by morally bankrupt men. Inclusivity will not be attained by having a bloated government and expanded executive. What most Kenyans are yearning for is economic inclusivity where regardless of their tribe or region they have access to economic opportunities for their daily bread.

In the same vein, peace can only be attained by having a just society that respects the rule of law and rewards merit and hard work. Having beautiful laws without changing the attitude and character of society is an exercise in futility.

Without morality and character, we shall continue witnessing the president openly feuding with the proposed prime minister, MPs openly shooting revellers in clubs, Kenyans littering everywhere and our institutions and voters allowing people with questionable character to occupy leadership positions in spite of the laws in place.

Let us fix our ethos, there is nothing wrong with our laws.

Political analyst and operations manager, Pride of East Africa Ltd