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REFERENDUM

Democracy hijacked by 'president’s men'

Ours is now a government of the few, by the few and for the few.

In Summary
  • If the Constitution must be amended, the process must be people-driven, not handshake-driven.
  • Uhuru speaks like a democrat, but the government he is leading is portraying oligarchical tendencies
Democracy hijacked by 'president’s men'
Democracy hijacked by 'president’s men'
Image: OZONE

Going by the President and former Prime Minister’s sentiments, it is increasingly becoming evident that Kenya will hold a referendum before the 2022 general election. While it is premature to predict what the plebiscite question will be, Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga, together with their political allies, have been drumming up support for an expanded executive ostensibly to ‘accommodate everyone’.

This is, of course, a fallacy. Creating a few positions to assuage ethnic chiefs and tribal barons cannot and should not be equated to inclusivity. It is simply a political gimmick aimed at hoodwinking gullible masses into supporting and advancing a hidden agenda for the ruling elite.

Moreover, whether presidential, parliamentary or hybrid system, there will be winners and losers. In a multiparty democracy, parties will always compete for power regardless of the political system. Ours is not a government by consensus.

With devolution, political inclusivity is well taken care of. What Kenyans are yearning for, in my opinion, is economic inclusivity. The current impasse in the Senate is all about economic inclusivity where each county rightly wants more revenue from the national government.

Democracy thrives when citizens are economically empowered. This ensures that leaders are elected on a policy and ideological platform rather than in our case where voters queue to get hand-outs and vote in people with questionable character and dubious credentials.

Though Kenya likes to project herself as a beacon of democracy in the region, our democracy, in my opinion, is slowly mutating into an oligarchy. A few individuals seem to be making important decisions for the country outside the constitutionally mandated institutions.

And why the rush? The most pressing issue, in my opinion, ought not to be constitutional amendment and disruptive referendum politics but rather fixing the economy, which has taken a hit due to the pandemic.

The aura of entitlement in some of these ‘president’s men’, as they call themselves, is shocking if not repellant. They believe that Kenyans should be dictated to as to what type of government to have and who to lead them.

The country is being held hostage by a few people who decide its agenda, not for the common good but for their own selfish interests. They decide which politician will be arrested, which corruption case will be prioritised, which company trades with the government and who should be appointed to strategic positions.

President Uhuru Kenyatta speaks like a democrat, but the government he is leading is portraying oligarchical tendencies. That explains why ‘consultants’ and unionists who hold no position in government can engineer coups in parliament, bully an elected deputy president and convene political gatherings in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. They are clearly above the law unlike the rest of us mere mortals. Ours is now a government of the few, by the few and for the few.

Once again, just like the struggle for the reintroduction of multiparty democracy in the 1980s and 90s, Kenyans must reclaim the ever-shrinking democratic space. If the 2010 Constitution must be amended, the process must be people-driven, not handshake-driven.

And why the rush? The most pressing issue, in my opinion, ought not to be constitutional amendment and disruptive referendum politics but rather fixing the economy, which has taken a hit due to the pandemic.

With slightly less than two years to the end of his term, the President ought to concentrate on his legacy and refuse to be drawn into unnecessary political fights. His decision to drum up support for constitutional amendment is giving credence to the narrative that he wants to re-incarnate as a prime minister once his presidential term expires.

And since power is sweet, he must pray to God to take away the ‘cup of temptation’ to extend his term beyond the stipulated limit like some of his regional peers.

If he is truly a democrat, he must respect and abide by the will of the people and not the desires of a few around him. Whether a referendum or his succession, the outcome must reflect the will of the people. Let the people decide.