BY LAWRENCE NGACHA
This nation has yearned for a new constitution since the one drawn at Lancaster was a compromise document negotiated to facilitate our independence in 1963.
Our forefathers who gathered in London in the early 60\’s passed strictly a \’majimbo\’ constitution to govern Kenya but as soon as it actualized it\’s independence objective, President Kenyatta\’s regime through it\’s principal constitutional architect, mutilated the document severally and severely, to create a Republican document under a completely new set of arrangements that consolidated power in the dominant KANU regime under a strong presidency.
This resulted in unquestionable leadership which was not only both excessively authoritative and dictatorial, but oppressive to the extreme over alternative views on governance. The country witnessed political purges of dissenting voices leading to numerous detentions, political murders and eventually bred a nation that was both fearful and totally submissive to the authority.
However, men and women of courage stood out to put both their political careers and personal lives on line and vigorously agitated for a change in governance and demanded for a new constitution to correct the ills of the adulterated document.
Oginga Odinga, George Anyona, Koigi wa Wamwere, Martin Shikuku, Raila Odinga, Kenneth Matiba, Charles Rubia, Paul Muite, Gitobu Imanyara, among many others stood out firmly, and fearlessly led the clamour for a new political dispensation through a new negotiated constitution. KANU resisted ruthlessly and put all of the above and others into detention but could not extinguish the silent war for change.
KANU was finally cornered and submitted to mounting onslaught in peacemeal, by initially agreeing though scornfully, the repeal of Section 2(A) to allow for multi party politics once again, and some negotiated IPPG agreements before the 1997 elections
This country has since, and thereafter remained expectant of a new negotiated governance instruments, both in a new constitution and corresponding statutes.
The Wanjiku story, the Bomas constitution, Kilifi and Naivasha 1 and 2 draft constitutions culminating with the Wako draft which politicians conveniently turned into a battleground instrument for bananas and oranges to settle political scores, set the succession agenda spiked with deliberate distortions of the draft, segmented Kenyans into political armies of inclusion and deliberate exclusion leading to a greasy mess of intertribal hostilities.
The orange and bananas tore this country asunder in 2005 and as we approached the 2007 elections, the political mood generated earlier, was carried forward such that when the presidential results were made to look and declared suspect, the nation exploded into a fireball!!
We were lucky the world rushed to put reason into our heads before we descended into a ruinous and failed state. To date we remain fragile, potentially explosive and vulnerable to succumb to the early 2008 scenario, unless we take serious, lessons from that unfortunate event as we approach the referendum and eventually the 2012 elections.
But today as politicians criss-cross this country preaching the YES and NO doctrine, we have awesomely been taken aback by the notoriously open and deliberate distortions of the Proposed Constitution. Contents in the proposed constitution are told with so much abandon and venom of lies, ostensibly to create fear, hatred, despondency and uncertainty in order to secure mental captivity of people who have insufficient capacity to fully understand the proposed constitution, so that they may vote their way.
The NO team are abundantly guilty of this gross misinformation and lying while the YES team is guilty of allowing the NO team to drive the nation into peak hysteria by reluctantly and lukewarmly taking responsibility to push for a proper, timely campaign to the masses who have long yearned for a new dawn in governance and constitutional dispensation.
The Cabinet met and declared this a Government project but went ahead to deny it the money necessary to actualize the project and never hit the road immediately to enlighten and lead the people correctly.
In stead they allowed William Ruto, Daniel Moi and the Evangelical churches to meticulously comb the whole country telling scaring untruths only to start a belated hop step-and-jump effort to undo the mess with little or no time left before the 4th August D-day.
Its inexplicable to have watched government deny the CoE the necessary funds to conduct civic education and even as the NO team broke the law to start the campaign before the due date, the government agents in charge of law enforcement went into slumber and never raised any concern as the country was being maliciously set into a war mood just as it happened in 2005.
Instead, the YES team higgedly-pigeddly jumped into the campaign arena but with those in charge, pushing for their 2012 agenda. They abandoned the campaign for the YES agenda and started to fight for supremacy yielding boycotts and splinter groups that stalled the campaign. The GEMA meeting in Limuru had to be called to resurrect the campaign and give it some direction in the territory of its influence.
The YES house is having some order now only due to the recent direct intervention of President Mwai Kibaki, after the glaring realisation that his basket was full of water melons. The YES campaign had stalled and aggravated further by the indisposition of the Prime Minister as the red card was being flashed all over and a new danger for the defeat of the peoples constitution was looming. The NO team were succeeding in their agenda.
I agree there are a few areas that will need to be revisited upon passing of this document in order amicably actualize its objective but saying, we angusha, turekebishe and then tupitishe is grossly mischievous and deliberate attempt to derail the entire constitutional realization in order to prolong and entrench the usage of the current preferred NO constitution into infinity.
The NO team had also passed the entrenchment of the evolution process of the Proposed constitution into the current constitution and clearly understood that there would be a referendum to determine. They would need to change that entrenchment in order to halt the process, which they will need to garner the necessary two thirds vote in parliament to obtain the dreams of their afterthought.
Their only choice in their agenda now is to behave like a rude bull in a china-shop, throw the spanner into the works and finally if it is not their way-we all hit the highway!
We must vote YES to nip these destructive efforts of this class (or is it crass?) in the bud.
(The writer is a former deputy mayor of Nairobi.)