Civil society scores E for effort

December 26, 2008 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 26 – The civil society in Kenya has failed to achieve much this year due to lack of a good coordination and necessary support.

Harun Ndubi of Haki Focus said on Friday that although the level of advocacy had risen some key pleas have been ignored.

“There is a significant level which we have failed in terms of following issues and agendas discordantly,’ the lawyer cum activist told Capital News.

Mr Ndubi said that the movement had not received necessary support from the government. Most of the times, he said, state security forces have disrupted their activities and roughed up some of their members. “Some of our members still have pending cases in court,” Mr Ndubi said.

He said that the achievement of major issues such as the constitution and the implementation of the four agendas agreed at the mediation talks remain a mirage.

The lawyer however faulted the citizenry for failing to support the course of change and reforms in the country.

“We are still not close to having people coming together and demanding for change except, unfortunately, when they are mobilised by politicians.”

The Chairperson of the state run Kenya National Commission on Human Rights on her part admitted that the movement had experienced some drawbacks in their course.

“There are some moments when the government has not been entirely responsive,’ said Florence Jaoko.

She cited the recently passed media bill as an example, saying that despite spirited campaigns to remove offensive clauses Parliament went ahead to pass it.

Mrs Jaoko nevertheless credited the movement for the achievement of key milestones including helping to end the post election crisis, the Constitution of Kenya Amendment bill 2008 and the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Bill.

She told Capital News on phone that the pressure exerted by the activists had driven the State and Parliament into action.

“I think there is room for everyone to improve. Obviously the government is the primary duty bearer in all these things we are agitating for. Then Parliament is important since we elect them to act on our behalf.”

The civil society remained very vocal through the year. Right from pushing for the end to post election crisis, to the perceived bloated Cabinet, the resignation of former Finance Minister Amos Kimunya, high food and fuel prices and the recent uproar on the Media bill.

Mrs Jaoko however called on the civil society members to be more vigilant in their course.

“At times we are not as vigilant or it can be very frustrating when you are trying to be aggressive but nothing seems to be working. But we have to keep pushing,” she said.

Mr Ndubi on his part however remained optimistic that the advocacy is likely to bear fruits in the future.

“Those politicians who are saying that they want to pay taxes or that the media bill should be returned to Parliament for amendments is because of the pressure from the civil society,” he said.


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