The Constitution will not solve all our problems

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BY CATHERINE KARONG\’O

I must say I am amazed by the passion Kenyans have displayed in the Constitution debate.

I can say without fear of contradiction that Kenyans are one very optimistic lot. Even when the road seems so rough and it looks like they would never get to the Promised Land, they have remained sturdy and soldiered on.

For instance, look at the years before the multi-party era. Every Kenyan (well almost all) believed that a multi-party system of government would be the solution to the poor governance and injustices that the country was facing at that time. We got multi party democracy in 1992 but did we get to the Promised Land?

Then the heat changed to former President Daniel arap Moi. Again, almost every Kenyan saw this man as the stumbling block to reaching Canaan and come December the year 2002 many gathered at Uhuru Park and sang with vigor and zeal “Yote yawezekana bila Moi” (everything is possible without Moi)

This is what I mean by saying that Kenyans are a very optimistic lot. They expect change to happen in a flash, instantly.

During the swearing in of President Kibaki in 2002, many Kenyans believed that it was the end of their problems and it would be a completely new dawn for Kenya. They expected immediate change and when they realised that it would not be as fast, another ‘monster’ was created this time the Constitution for the umpteenth time.

This ‘monster’ has been scoffing the country over the years and now there seems – at least to the ‘Yes’ sayers – to be a light at the end of the tunnel.

This group of Kenyans who are in the ‘Yes’ camp believe that the proposed Constitution will finally take Kenya to the promised land of Caanan, a land that it has sought since time immemorial.

I am a bit cautious though about the efficacy the proposed Constitution would have if it is passed. You may call me a gloomy Gus but I view myself as a person who likes looking forward into the future and realistically.

There are two scenarios here if the proposed constitution sails through. One, is that either we will live like a fairly tale where Kenyans will live happily ever after or two, it will be back to the same old business of impunity.

What I am saying is that although the proposed Constitution has a transitional and consequential provision that states how the law – if passed- will be adopted, I am not sure of the commitment there is to ensure its implementation.

Look at it this way. We still have an existing Constitution that for instance states very clearly that abortion (which is a very contentious issue in the proposed constitution) is illegal in this country. But at the same time, government statistics indicate that 300,000 abortions take place annually (and mind you, these are estimates). It is not known how many others occur out there in the backstreet. So who is to blame for this when the law is very clear?

It is in the Constitution, a supreme document, so why is it not implemented?

My answer to this is the culture of impunity, a phrase that has become all too common in Kenya and until we get rid of this, it doesn’t matter whether or not we get a new Constitution; Kenya will still have the same old boring problems.

Right now Kenyans who are for the ‘Yes’ vote believe that once the proposed Constitution passes, it will be the end to all the problems the country is facing.

But I say that we need as Kenyans to realise that change does not come instantly otherwise it would be suspicious. We need to know and come to terms with the fact that even if we get a new Constitution, there will be no change unless we all try in our own small way to ensure the new constitution is implemented to the latter.

It takes you and me to make Kenya a better place to live in.

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