CIVIL SOCIETY PERSPECTIVE

BBI a backdoor ploy for politicians to share political positions

The country cannot afford a costly political project that is not informed by coherent reasons and justification rather than desire by few individual politicians to create public offices

In Summary

• The handshake and subsequently the formation of the BBI  was meant to restore stability and create a conducive environment to ensure the Constitution was fully implemented.

•  The BBI report is, however, a serious indictment on the Jubilee government, and complete failure to fully and faithfully implement constitutional reforms.

President Uhuru Kenyatta, Deputy President William Ruto, ODM leader Raila Odinga and other leaders during the BBI launch at the Bomas of Kenya on November 27.
President Uhuru Kenyatta, Deputy President William Ruto, ODM leader Raila Odinga and other leaders during the BBI launch at the Bomas of Kenya on November 27.
Image: COURTESY

A modern democratic country has well-defined core values and principles that guide and direct its national interests regardless of the ruling political party.

This, unfortunately, has not been Kenya’s situation. Political elite internecine fights have obscured national agenda and interest. There has to be a significant reversal.

The 2010 Constitution is predicated on five basic principles — equity and inclusiveness; equity of opportunities; delinking politics and policy; equitable access to and share of national resources; and bringing government and public services closer to the people. 

The handshake and subsequently the formation of the Building Bridges Initiative was meant to restore stability and create a conducive environment to ensure the Constitution was fully implemented.

The best BBI can do is give recommendations to ensure this is done.

After the struggles for the multiparty politics and the new constitution, the country’s next biggest agenda is Constitution implementation, delivering effective devolution for inclusive development, and guaranteeing economic security and quality service for all Kenyans.

The BBI report is, however, a serious indictment on the Jubilee government, and complete failure to fully and faithfully implement constitutional reforms.

The report further exposes how the disregard to implement the reforms agreed during the 2008 Kofi Annan-led National Dialogue and Reconciliation framework remains the fundamental root cause of recurrent violent elections.

BBI is simply a backdoor political ploy for politicians to establish a mechanism to share political positions. The report offers nothing new and substantive to warrant constitutional amendments.

The building bridges process should be people-owned, well–structured, inclusive and participatory, accompanied by civic education. It must be divorced from 2022 election. 

The country cannot afford a costly political project that is not informed by coherent reasons and justification rather than desire by few individual politicians to create public offices without considering the economic implications on the country.

Kenya is not facing a constitutional moment that warrants sweeping changes to the supreme law. President Uhuru Kenyatta cannot change the Constitution while still in office in the pretext of implementing the BBI report.

BBI is a decoy to camouflage the final intent and outcome.  It is an outright attempt by Uhuru to perpetuate his grip on power either directly or through a proxy. This is tantamount to abuse of office and state power, undermining rules of democracy and subverting constitution. He should accept his devastating withered legacy. 

ECONOMY ON THE CLIFF

Kenyans are reeling from a shrinking economy. They have diminished disposable income and access to essential services is out of reach for many, while the government spends billions on annual recurrent costs.

Jubilee administration is the only government since independence that has massively borrowed and burdened the country with valueless debts, making Kenyans poorer. The economy is actually on the cliff.

As a matter of urgency, what should be done is to fix, expand and diversify the economic security for all Kenyans through county-based agriculture output, special economic zones/cooperatives, and export-oriented productivity.

Two, reform the national government through reviewing old order institutions, laws, policies and state corporations/parastatals and align them to the devolved system.

This is will remove duplications, cut wastage and build stronger devolution as the core driver of economic prosperity and equity. 

Devolved system is not only about center-regions’ relations but also fiscal devolution and autonomy at the lowest level of government, where the people. An analysis of the experiences of 46 decentralised countries shows devolution comes with the achievement of a higher state of economic development. =

Thirdly, implement a comprehensive transitional justice agenda through reports of the past Commissions and task forces to tackle historical grievances, injustices and disparities as core guarantor of genuine national reconciliation.

Fourth, establish and implement mechanisms for gender equality and equity in economic opportunities, governance/leadership and labour relations.

There is also need to set up a well-structured dual apprenticeship programme for the young people starting in high schools and colleges as a joint initiative of the national and county governments, tertiary institutions/universities and the private sector.

The sustainability of the economy of Kenya depends on adapting and adopting new productivity and investment paradigm. Youth must be enabled to fully participate and be at the centre of governance, economy and devolution.

REFORMS

In conducting the electoral reforms, these four areas are critical. 

Strengthen the structural, operational and financial independence of Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission. The Constitution has already guaranteed institutional  independence

Two, devolve and  enforce  the  voting and election management at the polling station and constituency tallying centre  in accordance  with the Constitution and courts’ decisions

Three, enforce the ethics, integrity and suitability of candidates

And finally, mplement fully the campaign financing disclosure for both the candidates and political parties.

The security sector and criminal justice systems must also be reformed in accordance with the Constitution.  The changes must focus on the strengthening the accountability and independence of all security agencies, especially their independence to enhance their insulation from political interference.

The Office of the President has grossly been interfering and controlling the sector contrary to the Constitution, thus weakening their independence. 

Corruption and theft of public resources at national and county levels has become rampant. The provisions of Chapter Six of the Constitution on Leadership and Integrity address this issue. Ensure compliance.

Finally, the Constitution is unequivocally clear and meticulously articulates the principles of inclusion, equality, diversity, non-discrimination and participation.

However, there are no solid laws at national and county levels to enforce these principles in practice. What is needed is to prioritize the enactment of the enabling pieces of legislation to enforce these constitutional tenets.

 Wainaina is the executive director of International Center for Policy and Conflict