On August 26, our new Constitution will be one-year-old. The question in the minds of most Kenyans is: How successfully have we implemented the Constitution?
In the next one week, a number of events and symposia will seek to trace the steps we have taken as a nation. Let me share some thoughts on the journey we have travelled since that momentous Friday, August 27 last year.
Let me start by saying that two documents stand out as milestones in Kenya’s recent past. Vision 2030 is the country’s socio-economic and political blueprint. This is the development charter designed to move Kenya from Third World status to a middle level economy.
On the other hand, the Constitution of Kenya, 2010 provides the basic legal framework for the promotion of constitutionalism, rule of law, human rights, justice and democracy.
The third leg of the stool relates to the germination of values (that is moral and ethical standards) necessary for catalysing the renewal of our society.
Article 10 of the Constitution describes the national values and prin ciples of governance.
The three legs of a stool on which our development will rest are thus Vision 2030, the Constitution and an emerging body of general principles and values on which to build the character of our nation.
The Constitution is the basic law of the land which is used, in its own right, to guide governance as well as secondarily to act as the midwife of subsidiary law. By giving life to the provisions of the Constitution, we therefore begin to implement the country’s development agenda.
Several actors have joined efforts to develop about 25 Bills relating to the implementation of the Constitution. These institutions are: specialist task forces, Government ministries, the Kenya Law Reform Commission, the Commission on the Implementation of the Constitution, the Constitutional Implementation Oversight Committee of the National Assembly, the Attorney General’s office, Kenyans as the primary stakeholders in law-making, Cabinet and the National Assembly.
These structures have together been involved in the generation, discussion, achievement of quality control and consensus, and passage of the laws.
The Bills that have been developed and approved by Cabinet are: Commission for Implementation of the Constitution Bill; Vetting of Judges and Magistrates Bill; Judicial Service Bill; The Salaries and Remuneration Commission Bill; The Independent Offices Bill; The Supreme Court Bill (all already passed into law); The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission Bill; The Kenya National Human Rights Commission Bill; The National Gender and Equality Commission Bill; The Commission on Administrative Justice Bill; The Political Parties Bill; The Commission on Revenue Allocation Bill; The Employment and Labour Relations Court Bill; The Independent Policing Oversight Authority Bill; The National Police Service Commission Bill; The National Police Service Bill; The Power of Mercy Bill; The Elections Bill; The Independent Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission Bill.
This weekend Cabinet approved the Urban Areas and Cities Bill; The Environment and Land Court Bill; The Kenya Citizens and Foreign Nationals Management Service Bill; and the Citizenship and Immigration Bill.
The legislative baton is now in the hands of our National Assembly. This august institution will proceed to complete the passage of the legislation that has to be enacted by Parliament under Article 261 of the Constitution within one year of the promulgation of the Constitution. All Kenyans must fully support the National Assembly as it focuses on the completion of the above cited pieces of legislation.
Although many institutions have been constitutionally mandated to work together towards the passage of the laws necessary for the further implementation of the Constitution their work has so far been successfully co-ordinated by the Parliamentary Constitutional Implementation Oversight Committee. The few occasional bottlenecks in this national project have been successfully ironed out.
I salute the array of national institutions charged with the task of nation building through passage of the necessary laws for the implementation of the Constitution.
One major achievement which I am proud of is the high quality of the proposed legislations.
The process of law making has for example been enriched through stakeholder consultative fora. This is a new strategy of lawmaking in Kenya. The time used to guarantee meaningful consultations and consensus building on each single law has been worth the wait. I appreciate this legal innovation relating to how we make our laws today.
The implementation of the Constitution is not merely a matter of passing the requisite ordinary laws to give flesh to the basic constitutional principles. The law authoritatively expresses values that a country holds dear. To successfully implement our Constitution we must live the principles and values that it establishes.
We must transit into a country where the rule of law for all reigns. We must implement Vision 2030 in an equitable manner.
Kenya is on the verge of recording significant levels of socio-economic, legal and political change. We must continue working together in the Constitution implementation project. I thank Kenyans for walking this journey.
The writer is President Kibaki’s advisor on constitutional affairs