By Joseph Kamotho
Handlers of the negotiated Agenda IV under the chairmanship of the former UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan in the aftermath of election violence have an uphill task to overcome in a society inflicted with deep rooted ethnicity and related vices. Unfortunately, hard line positions by forgetful and hypocritical political leaders and their parties of choice are notable obstacles to the restoration of peace that is vested on the reform agenda that includes delivery of a new constitution.
A parallel document popularly known as the Wako draft was rejected in the referendum. Side shows stood on the way to delivery of the new constitution concluded and sealed in March 2004 at the Bomas of Kenya. Similar issues have since resurfaced before the Committee of Experts tasked to fine tune parallel drafts before presentation to a referendum.
With the so called contentious issues reintroduced into the long awaited draft, the likelihood of the document seeing the light of day is remote. And should the document be presented to a referendum, the pre and post election wounds would be re-opened. With the support of leaders, an idle group has emerged that conditions the ratification of the draft on additional constituencies in regions with higher population density and another wants geographical sizes to be the criteria for determining electoral and administrative units.
At the rooftops and in broad daylight, leaders shout loudly how Kenyans badly need reforms but in private the self same facilitate discordant voices against the necessary changes that must come before the next general elections to avoid the recurrence of chaos. The fear of an earlier polls could largely be the reason for opposition to the timely delivery of the supreme law that inevitably has to bear a new date Already, elected leaders don’t want to go to the polls under the new law before their term ends.
The problem in the country is not a bad constitution but ill-mannered political class and malice towards meaningful and genuine desires for change. That is understandable. The political leaders are key beneficiaries of the problematic hybrid system and its inherent ills.
The abolition of a parliamentary system and scrapping of the second chamber in the original Lancaster House constitution for a hybrid was the genesis of governance woes that have eroded the public confidence and democratic tenets.
Be it hybrid, parliamentary or presidential system of government , the Committee must, as a matter of necessity, separate government from state with separate office holders was the case at independence and in serious democracies.
Until and unless the three state organs are independent and political leadership divorced from the government and state, the new constitution would be a worthless piece of paper. For purposes of checks of executive and legislative excesses, a second chamber is a must in the new law.
Party barons who also double up as members of parliament and cabinet ministers are in the habit of favouring their sponsoring parties with public appointments including politicizing the security forces. The same goes for political favours that more often than not go to the clan or the tribe of the chief executive.
The foregoing being the guide, justice cannot be done and be seen to be done and the opposition has to live in fear of retribution. The fate of the country is in the hands of these commissions who have suddenly realised that their mandate in a ceasefire situation is a tall order.
If the experts are to leave a legacy and match public expectations, they would do Kenyans proudly ignoring the wishes of busy bodies. This time round, the governed expect the best from the people mandated to seek truth, justice, draw boundaries and handle elections.
Utmost caution must, therefore, be taken through a careful postmortem on why a referendum campaign was explosive, divided communities and became a reference point in the 2007 general elections.
(The writer is a former cabinet minister and national party official of two political parties)