SOFTWARE REFORM

Why BBI process needs to proceed despite Covid-19

Even with the pandemic, we need to move ahead in developing the software and the hardware of our country

In Summary

• While their concerns are valid, we cannot stop building a nation – on all fronts.

• We have not asked the government to stop building the country’s hardware because there is a virus.

President Uhuru Kenyatta and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga at the new Kisii State Lodge after they received the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report on October 21, 2020.
President Uhuru Kenyatta and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga at the new Kisii State Lodge after they received the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report on October 21, 2020.
Image: PSCU

A constitution is regarded as the supreme law of the land. It contains rules and values that guide the actions of the governors and the governed. It’s a living document and amendments are possible when necessary.

Kenya, for instance, repealed Section 2A of its then Constitution in 1992 to return the country to multiparty democracy.

On March 9, 2018, President Uhuru Kenyatta and his then political nemesis Raila Odinga shook hands and decided to bury the hatchet to unite Kenyans through what is referred to as the Handshake. This was the moment that created the Building Bridges Initiative.

From views collected from millions of Kenyans, the BBI report was drafted. These were Kenyans’ views on how to achieve sustainable peace and development and in a ripple effect, develop our economy and shape our political future. These views would later crystallise into a constitutional reform process. Unfortunately, in the midst of this process, Covid-19 struck the country and the process was consequently halted.

Since then, over 84,000 Covid-19 cases have been recorded and more than 1,480 deaths confirmed. Thousands of businesses have closed down. Data from the Kenya National Bureau of statistics shows about 1.7 million Kenyans have lost their jobs. The entire world also faces these and things are projected to worsen with the second wave.

Governments around the world have realised that this problem might be with us for some years and as a result, many countries have put down protocols to curb the spread, even as they reopen.

There are those who argue that we should shelve the BBI process because of the pandemic.

While their concerns are valid, we cannot stop building a nation – on all fronts. We have not asked the government to stop building the country’s hardware because there is a virus. We are still building roads, railways, hospitals, schools, connecting electricity and investing in agriculture as part of the Big Four agenda.

We must also ensure that our software is in line with our hardware development. That’s why we need to build a national social relationship and fix our politics. This is the BBI process.

While Covid-19 is a global crisis, we still need to move ahead in developing both the software and the hardware of our country.

This is because the political decisions we will make today will determine the state of our economic recovery post-Covid 19. We should, therefore, not lose focus on our nation’s future because we now have a health pandemic.

During the launch of the BBI signature collection drive at KICC on November 25, President Uhuru Kenyatta said the tree of the nation is watered with a constant stream of ideas.

“Without this, the nation will wither and die. The only thing that is static and does not change is that which is dead.’’

I thus urge Kenyans to avoid fighting an exercise that means well for us and for the generations to come. The post-election violence that recurs every general election needs to end.

The proposed constitutional amendments will address historical political and economical injustices and needs be supported by all Kenyans, irrespective of whether there is a virus or not.

Kenyans should, however, continue following government’s directives on combating Covid-19.

The writer is a communications analyst and a YALI EA RLC Fellow, Cohort 40. @GikimaAlex