When experts lack expertise


I am flabbergasted. Nay, I actually feel disappointed.

You see, last year, the country applauded when Parliament formed a nine-member committee to make a Constitution that would work for Kenya in posterity.

That team was aptly called, the Committee of Experts on Constitutional Review. It even comprises people who have vast experience on constitution-making from other countries.

Before I explain my frustration, let me first acknowledge that the Nzamba Kitonga team has actually met its deadlines twice now, and also managed to water down a potentially damaging leak of a break within its ranks.

But I am disappointed that the team seems not to have injected its “expertise” into this process. By “harmonising” the previous drafts, one would have expected Senior Counsel Kitonga and his fellow “experts” to actually solve the puzzles that led to acrimony in the first place. For instance, the issue of an appropriate system of government has always been the most contentious in this process. In fact, we could safely say that it is the reason Kenya has not adopted a new Constitution thus far.

My expectation (and I stand to be corrected) was that the committee of local and international “experts” would scrutinise this issue with a fine-tooth comb and present a justifiable solution to the country. Therefore, the Harmonised Draft Constitution should have produced a proposal that leaves no ambiguity and which is accompanied by proper justification from the experts.

But alas, our experts did not do that. They simply opted for a middle ground and gave Kenyans a hodgepodge of the two contentious systems, thereby inviting even more acrimony from Kenyans. Asked why they were proposing a “hybrid” system, the CoE explained that Kenyans seem to be “divided right down the middle” and they were therefore advocating a middle ground.

So where, pray, is their expertise on this? Somebody please explain to me why we had to recruit reputable lawyers into this committee instead of reputable peace makers. If all we wanted from CoE was peace building, then shouldn’t we have picked Ambassador Bethuel Kiplagat, Lazarus Sumbeiywo, and General Opande?

I feel let down because in my mind, we were finally entrusting the future of Kenya to a team of trustworthy, experienced “experts” to read through our confusion and present learned solutions.

As it stands, the CoE has simply taken the confusion from Bomas, Kilifi and all other parts of Kenya and is now passing further confusion to the Parliamentary Select Committee on Constitution Review and political parties.

Dear “experts”, if this deadlock was to be resolved by politicians, then we would never have redirected limited public money from feeding our starving brethren to finance your work now, would we?

We shouldn’t be seeking consensus at this point of the process, we should instead be debating a draft constitution based on arguments put forth by Nzamba Kitonga and his Committee of Experts.

Short of that, then this committee either got the brief wrong, or was simply incompetent. They are not experts!

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