After the Constitution, we need to fix leadership

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JOSEPH LISTER NYARINGO

The proposed Constitution is likely to pass in the referendum despite the raging debate between the protagonists and antagonists. After this, the country will start focusing on a leader who will apply the new law to transform and restore the governance systems and processes.

As a nation, we are smelling equality, equity, freedom, devolution, a fair justice system and other wonderful provisions enshrined in the proposed law but the sum total of any bureaucracy – whether in business or government – requires superb leadership to ensure its success.

Today, many Kenyans are stricken by poverty; living from hand to mouth. The landless can’t afford even a graveyard. Quite often, in rural Kenya, a young girl is raped and the culprit perambulates lackadaisically in the village while the victim wriggles in pain with no justice.

A farmer in Nyamache District delivering tea to a buying centre is robbed off his kilos by a corrupt tea clerk. If this happens at the grassroots, what of the top where we have entrusted leaders with responsibilities of managing our taxes which are in a tune of billions of shillings?

Our exchequer has been looted since independence and the culprits walk freely. Others have stashed the loot to foreign banks when many Kenyans are living under a dollar a day. Others have undergone a spiritual transformation – fooling Kenyans by preaching and engaging in politics. What a way to fool Kenyans?

The corrupt of yesteryears are the ardent critics of the proposed Constitution. They fear that it will unravel their past inequities and bring them to justice when it’s implemented.

Therefore, our key focus should be how the new Constitution will be harnessed to address the past and present predicaments that continue to bedevil our nation.

The President who will take over from Mwai Kibaki under the new Constitution will determine whether we shall float and swim as a nation or sink and drown.  He must be a person with a willing spirit and excellent track record to use the “new bureaucracy” to lift our nation from the current abyss. He must also be willing to defend and protect it for our national good and not betray it the way others have done since independence.

Remember, liberation from colonialism was received with a sigh of relief but it never relieved Kenyans.
The hurrah and jubilation that will accompany the passage of the new Constitution will not be enough in itself except when we shall elect a leader who will not turn into a world dog to maul the nation but use the new law to transform and restore our broken governance systems and processes.  After all, a constitution is just a mere book in black and white.

Our nation has experienced betrayal after betrayal of the Constitution since independence. Jomo Kenyatta betrayed Kenyans when he immediately took the mantle of leadership and started acting against the spirit of the independence struggle. Daniel arap Moi started well but underwent a complete metamorphosis; he exterminated dissent by changing the Constitution, which turned Kenya into a one party state.

Although Moi agreed to change section 2(a) that paved the way for the reintroduction of multiparty democracy, he still betrayed Kenyans by failing to provide a level playing field for the same democracy to suffice in the country. He was even accused of rigging himself into power in the first multiparty elections of 1992.

The present government has had its share of controversies since the new regime took over power in 2003.
Our “governance manual” is likely to change in August this year but we must be ready to elect persons who will use the new manual to transform and restore our nation in the economic, social and political spheres when elections are called.  The person must be change-minded and having the problems of Kenyans at heart.

A good example is Barrack Obama, who had the problems of millions of Americans without healthcare insurance and after being elected president, moved with a stratagem that caught his opponents off guard.
His administration passed the healthcare bill that was a hard nut to crack by many former US Presidents.
This is the spirit we expect from those who want to take the country’s leadership under the new
Constitution. Otherwise, with Moi, Kibaki or Kenyatta replica, it will be a tragedy for the nation even with a perfect constitution.

(Joseph Lister Nyaringo is writing from New Jersey, USA)

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