BY JOSEPH KAMOTHO
According to the new Kenyan Constitution, general elections are due on the second week of August in every five years and dissolution of the present Parliament is due sometime in May 2012 at the very latest to allow ample time for the Electoral Commission to prepare for the event.
Deliberations at the two-day parliamentary retreat on the implementation of the new Constitution spoke volumes about the leaders’ failure to detect flaws in the transition. A belated proposed change on the election calendar should have been made by the Parliamentary Select Committee on the Constitution or in the chamber session that had all the time to amend the transitional clause in the document. It is too late in the day to propose changes in the election calendar.
Even then, members should have consulted widely amongst themselves and with the Committee of Experts (CoE) on the term that ends in December 2012. It would have been logical for the legislators to negotiate for the payments for the lost months to enable them meet their unforeseen financial and other obligations that include mortgages. Any suggestion outside the stipulated law is a violation.
Lawmakers ought to be reminded that the days of waking up one morning and making changes to the law are things of the past and that they have themselves to blame for engaging in sideshows during the deliberation instead of taking care of their welfare in the transition to a new dispensation.
Until recently, parliamentarians were in the habit of making laws that suit them and not the lesser mortals. A case in point is the independence constitution drafted in Lancaster House, mutilated and re-baptised Kenya constitution had to be replaced because of the unpalatable changes.
This Constitution, a radical departure from its predecessor, provides for strict checks and balances in the governance structure that has since stripped the executive and the legislature some powers and transferred the same to the county administration and the Senate.
Under the weight of this document, the structures are crumbling by the day as weaknesses crystallize. The system in which Members of Parliament doubled as cabinet ministers was fraught with abuses because roles conflict and efficiency compromised. Ministers will be nominated from outside the legislature. In the absence of demarcation of roles between the legislature and the executive, parliament is always held hostage.
It is not in doubt that lawmakers of the yesteryears miss the hybrid system which benefited the ruling elite. Old order structure beneficiaries are fighting back and status quo has once again reared its ugly head reminiscent to the mutilation of the Lancaster House constitution by post in dependence leaders.
The casualties of the just promulgated Kenyan constitution are the ruling class, some of who mounted aggressive campaigns against it in a referendum. Now, leaders want Kenyans to believe that the supreme law they enacted the other day is flawed. This is a new dawn and any monkey business will not be tolerated.
(The writer is a former cabinet minister and one time secretary general of two major political parties. Email: email@example.com)