RECURRENT VIOLENCE

Implement Agenda Four before pushing BBI

Even before the 2010 Constitution is fully implemented, there is a clamour to change it

In Summary

• Just about two years to the 2022 General Election, there are calls to change the law, essentially to expand the Executive for “inclusivity”.

• This ignores other issues such as the police and land reforms, and national cohesion — we are struggling to handle hate speech and incitement cases— all under the Agenda Four.

ODM leader Raila Odinga, President Mwai Kibaki and former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan during the signing of the National Accord on February 1, 2008. The unrealised issues agreed are a shameful reminder of collective failure of the nation.
ODM leader Raila Odinga, President Mwai Kibaki and former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan during the signing of the National Accord on February 1, 2008. The unrealised issues agreed are a shameful reminder of collective failure of the nation.
Image: FILE

To provide a peaceful solution to the political impasse and violence that had engulfed the country, the National Dialogue and Reconciliation Agreement was signed on February 1, 2008.

Among the items in the National Accord was the Agenda Four.

It was to address long-term measures and solutions such as constitutional, institutional and legal reforms; land reforms; poverty and inequity; unemployment, particularly among the youth; consolidating national cohesion and unity; and transparency, accountability and addressing impunity. The list was long.

A number of changes have been realised over the years, largely through the 2010 Constitution.

Unfortunately, however, even before the 2010 Constitution is fully implemented, especially on the issues highlighted in the Agenda Four, there is an intensified clamour by the political elite to change the law through the BBI process.

Just about two years to the 2022 General Election, there are calls to change the law, essentially to expand the Executive for “inclusivity”.

This ignores other issues such as the police and land reforms, and national cohesion — we are struggling to handle hate speech and incitement cases— all under the Agenda Four.

The Commission of Inquiry into Post-Election Violence inquiry concluded with interesting observation. That the country must “make decisions to change the way politics is conducted, as well as to its intersection with other issues related to land, marginalisation and inequality, and youth. Short of that, violence including that related to elections will continue to appear and will be ignited ever more readily.”

The 2010 Constitution was essentially to change how politics is done in Kenya. Now that the politicians don't want to adapt, they are shifting the goalposts. 

In recent months, there have been tragic communal clashes in Narok and Northern Kenya. Unfortunately, this is only being seen as communal violence. But  clashes since 1992 were largely caused by resource allocation, mainly land- ownership, access, boundaries and use.

It reached the pitch of worst violence in 2007-08. Injustices in the allocation of land rights have been recurring. They began in the colonial period, and in some cases, compounded by the way the territory was divided up after independence.

The result is that there are places where indigenous communities feel their traditional land was allocated to visiting groups favoured by those in power at the time. Its irregular distribution irks them more. Enduring resentments over these issues often come to the fore when politicians seek electoral support from these communities.

In conflict management and resolution, people respond to threats and violations —whether perceived or real —of or on their needs, concerns or interests. People see a real threat physically and emotionally in the power organisation, in a status quo and in the sharing of resources.

Naturally, after an attack, the other community will revenge. When people are confronted by conflicts, they respond in many different ways. They analyse their values, culture and cultural beliefs based on the information they have and previous experiences.

Agenda Four also called for reforms in the police. Although that is ongoing, not much has been seen, at least going by the 2017 post-election chaos and recently in the enforcement of the curfew.

When ignored, like we did over the years, these small cases turn into large scale violent. They tend to be politically or economically generated. They simmer of a period of time and finally erupt when the actors feel the time is ripe. This will certainly be constructed to be around the electioneering period. It must not be allowed to happen.

This then calls for a review on progress status of Agenda Four items.