We are not up to challenge in democracy: Minister

September 15, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sept 15 – As the world celebrated the second International Day of Democracy on Tuesday, Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Mutula Kilonzo admitted that the government had fallen short in delivering justice and democracy.

Speaking during a forum at the Bomas of Kenya to mark the fete, Mr Kilonzo stated his discontent in the coalition government saying that the government was not doing enough to meet Kenyan’s needs.
“Greater part of our population does not have food; tonight there will be children who will go to bed hungry, we still have the Mau challenges,” he said.

“The reason why we still have these issues is that we are still devoting the greater part of our energy discussing things that should be automatic. That is a serious lack of commitment.”
Mr Kilonzo also declared that those who were involved in committing the post election atrocities would face the law.

“If you think you will walk away with the crimes committed during that period, whether you financed them or were paid to commit these offences, then you are fooling yourself,” Mr Kilonzo said. “You will have to pay for your crimes.”

He said Kenya must reflect on the implications of democracy on development explaining that democracy was not an end in itself.

“We must pursue democracy as a nation and we must also constantly review the laws in our country so that they are synchronised with the society we live in,” the Justice Minister said.

Former Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Martha Karua who was also present said Parliament had been an obstacle to the constitutional review for failing to hold the Executive arm of government into account.

“When you have 96 of the parliamentarians belonging to the Executive, then half Parliament is gone,” she said.

“And when there is debate of national importance, it is very easy for this arm of government to maneuver the numbers and get a comfortable majority.”

She also blamed the electorate for promoting corruption among political leaders and asked the government leaders to put Kenyans’ needs first.

“As we talk about developing that culture of serving Kenyans, the electorate must be sensitised,” the Gichugu MP said.

“When they demand money to elect us, they corrupt the system from the word go; they need to appreciate their civic duty of electing good leaders,” she noted.

Ms Karua was also of the opinion that the 4th Parliament was the worst assembly out of the three previous ones stating that it was not playing its watch dog role effectively.

“We should severely sanction MPs who do not deliver; we must develop a culture of providing service to the people rather than self,” she said.

Also present at the function was Head of Department for International Development for Kenya and Somalia, Alistair Fernie who chided the government saying that it was not working towards ending impunity.

“If we are looking towards developing the country, we must end corruption,” Mr Fernie said.
“A stable democracy gives politicians more time to focus on what is important.”

“When a democracy is unstable, huge amounts of energy go into elections, politics; but it is in a sense a diversion from the things that matter most,”

“Until Kenya finds a way to end impunity, its democracy will never be mature.”

He added that a democratic state acted as an incentive to potential investors, which would further develop the economy of a country.

Mr Fernie said that democracy was the best government echoing Mr Kilonzo’s sentiments that there was a strong connection between democracy and development.

He also asked the government to hasten the creation and delivery of the new constitution saying that it was in the best interest of the country.

“This should be one that will benefit the whole of Kenya and not just a few individuals,” he added.
United Nations Development Programme, UNDP, Resident Representative, Tomoko Nishimoto, asked all Kenyans to embrace and aspire for democracy.

She affirmed the need for democracy and justice in the country and noted that there were key democratic changes in Kenya.

“Kenya has UNDP’s support and we are working with the government to ensure the provision of democracy to the Kenyan citizens,” she said.

The International Day of Democracy was designated by the United Nations General Assembly in 2007. It has since been celebrated globally on the 15th of September of each subsequent year.


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