Kalonzo says Yes

April 23, 2010 12:00 am

, By Kalonzo Musyoka

For the avoidance of doubt I would like it to be known that in the raging constitutional debate I am a yes proponent. I support the draft and eventual promulgation of a new constitution because I believe that the future of this great nation depends on a decisive paradigm shift.

We have come too far and gone through much to accept any less.The need to change the way we run our politics cannot be overemphasized.

Further we need to change the way we manage our economy and even more fundamentally we have to redesign our social and ethnic fabric to make this nation one indivisible unit now and for generations to follow. All these are achievable via this draft.

Now here comes the caveat: In the quest for a new constitution we should be watchful not to rush headlong into a divisive, corrosive and potentially deadly referendum campaign between Yes and No. If we fail to do so we risk turning the quest for a new constitutional dispensation into a supremacy contest characterized by insults and propaganda.

For over two years now I have maintained that the best thing for Kenya is a non contested referendum. I think that leaders should do all within their power to unite rather than divide because that way everyone is on board. Nothing is beyond negotiation and it is never too late for dialogue.

I know at this point it seems nothing can be done because of the strict timelines in the 2008 Constitutional Review Act but that is why sometimes the law is an ass. The Act forecloses any room for amendment to the draft at this stage but that is still no reason to shut down any and every avenue for dialogue.

It hurts nothing to engage each other with the honest intention of understanding where each stakeholder is coming from in the search for a common and palatable compromise for the nation. There is nothing wrong at all in that.

We should think outside the box to come up with creative ideas leading to the passage of the draft by a majority of Kenyans to give it legitimacy and acceptance. An all inclusive approach remains our best bet to a document that sits well with every sector and segment of our society.

I hold the views that those supporting and or campaigning for the Yes and their views should be respected. Similarly those rooting for a No vote also have their own reasons and fears that ought to respected. The way to win over those on the No side should be by dialogue and accommodation.

Threats and intimidation have no place in a discourse of this magnitude. Democracy demands at the very least that we respect the right of those of a contrary opinion to speak and be heard regardless of how much we do not like what they have to say. If this decorum is maintained throughout this process we have a much better chance of being a much better society at the end of it.

The church occupies a central place in the hearts and minds of the nation and her views must be respected. We cannot let this vote degenerate into a state versus church contest which is why I still think the church and state should continue their dialogue.

Even though we cannot amend the draft now we should continue to dialogue because if we can all rally together as a nation to pass this draft constitution the legitimacy and acceptance of the promulgation cannot be in doubt. However if we fail to bring everyone on board, we begin a new chapter in our national history divided.

Moreover a contest between the church and the state can only sow seeds whose harvest cannot be good for anyone or anything. The issue of religion is ordinarily a sensitive subject and one that can create unnecessary tension in the country between different faiths if we do not handle the coming days with sobriety.

I remain a staunch supporter of dialogue and an all inclusive process and come the referendum, I will vote yes.

(Mr Musyoka is the Vice President of Kenya)


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