The harsh political reality of new law

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The new Constitution is many things in one and is nothing but a thorn in the flesh of many rogue political leaders. As it becomes operational, it will not be business as usual especially for members of Parliament some of whom have been political party office holders.

Section 77 of the new constitution bans State officers from holding party posts which for nearly half a century undermined internal democracy within the existing political entities.

In the meantime, they have every reason to cling to parliamentary party posts because the National Accord on Peace and Reconciliation that created the grand coalition is still in force until 2012. The leader of a majority party in parliament assumes the position of Prime Minister, the  Accord avers.

Amongst State Officers expected to vacate party posts are President Mwai Kibaki, the Prime Minister, Raila Amolo Odinga two deputy prime ministers, Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka, Internal Security Minister, Professor George Saitoti, Msikari Kombo, Martha Karua to mention just a few.

The constitution promises to put to rest squabbles that often rock parties and target the lesser mortals in nominations and spare the mighty the rigours of selection for elections.

Aspirants breathed a sigh of relief and can now celebrate because they are free to abandon water preachers and wine drinkers and vie for elections as independents.

Officials of these parties will not in future have a free hand in selecting friends and relatives as
candidates as has been the case in the past. The days of imposing candidates on the electorate by the political class are as good as gone in the new dawn.

But should the barons insist, independent aspirants are likely to carry the day in the next general elections.

It is unfortunate that parties are heard of during elections and rarely hold regular elections and neither do they file annual returns with the Registrar of Political Parties – save for the time the Parties Act came into force.

These entities resemble community welfare associations or personal properties in which an idea of one person rules.
 
The existing parties are not likely to match the constitutional expectations because leaders are not prepared to relinquish control of parties and presiding over the collection of nomination fees. It is the height of irony that legislators who swear the oath of allegiance to uphold and defend the country\’s constitution cannot lead by example but would rather violate the rules of their respective parties with unparalleled impunity.
 
It is no exaggeration that the journey to a new constitution was rough. Brave sons and daughters of this country paid a price with their limbs and freedom. One man dictatorship could not be tolerated at the time the world was replacing despots.

In the ensuing confrontation, the obstinate leadership was told to change before change changes it. The leadership gave in to pressure and allowed an amendment to reintroduce competitive politics and promised far reaching reforms including replacing the constitution. Minimum reforms were achieved but the new constitution remained a far off dream.

But before the ink dried on the assent that reintroduced multi party contests, democracy was a dream shattered. None of the parties registered 18 years ago boasts of any ideology or hue of fairness. Instead, they have helped perpetuate and perfect the old dictatorial tendencies the former ruling party, Kenya African National Union (KANU) was accused of.

Delivery of a new constitution was elusive even in the hands of the so-called reformers until the international community intervened in the 2007 post-election violence. One of the conditions in the Agenda IV was delivery of a new constitution amongst other reforms.

The supreme law will not be worth the paper it is printed on if the lawmakers presumed to have been elected under it can pass for lawbreakers and perpetuate lawlessness unquestionably. 
 
(The writer is former Cabinet Minister and one-time secretary general of the Kenya African National Union. Email:  [email protected])

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