Kenya MP says why Constitution must pass

April 15, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 15 – The year 2010 is poised to be a significant year for Kenya if the proposed Constitution is approved by Kenyans. It will mark the culmination of a two-decade search for a new set of supreme laws, and break the jinx that has haunted the process over the period.

The journey must however skip through one last hurdle at the referendum, with an already expanding number of opponents to the document over some contentious issues.

But there are many, too, who believe the time for Kenya to usher in a new constitutional dispensation has come, and they are prepared to campaign for its adoption at the referendum.

One of them is Youth and Sports Assistant Minister Kabando wa Kabando who is the Mukurweini Member of Parliament. He shared his position on the draft with Capital News.

Q. What do you think of the draft Constitution?

A. This is a historic moment for Kenya. We are creating a departure from bad governance; exploitation of our resources without reward. We are giving women an opportunity to participate fully in leadership, we are providing the youth with an avenue to maximise on their potential and also to be involved in leadership and to benefit from national resources. The draft is a good one also because it is providing mechanisms to safeguard interest groups particularly people with disabilities and the minorities so that they benefit from the nation state called Kenya.

Q. What else do you like about the draft?

A. We are creating checks and balances to forever terminate impunities so that institutions and individuals are directly accountable to the people. We are providing a space for Kenya to end imperial presidency and provide a Parliament which will have two chambers; the Senate and a House of Representatives.  For two decades there shall be a woman senator from each of the 47 counties. For any institution to qualify it must have gender equity.

Q. Kenyans are unhappy with the manner in which national resources are distributed; is the draft addressing this concern?

A. Resources in this country will be distributed equally, justly, and fairly. 15 percent of the national wealth will be downloaded to the grassroots in the form of the counties receiving 15 percent of the national revenue. Minority, disadvantaged areas will be given an equalisation fund of 0.5 percent of the national wealth. There is also a commission for gender and equality taking care of issues of minorities and gender.

Q. Land is one of the issues that is agitating some people. Why is this the case?

A. This question of land is of course generating controversy and interest but what we should ask ourselves is why did our forefathers seek freedom for Kenya? It is because they wanted their children to be free. Kenya is now a nation state only challenged by divisive, ethnic suspicion, paranoia and phobia.

No single Kenyan should own hundreds of thousands of idle land completely un-utilised; every piece of land should be subject to maximisation, to diligent management and to access for wealth and job creation.

Kenyans were dying last year, in Northern Kenya we saw people dying on roads and pastures. In Central Kenya we saw people with huge pieces of land badly utilised lining up for relief food. We watched as people in Machakos and Mombasa went to eat poisonous herbs and fruits to survive for a day. Maximisation of land use is a basic responsibility by government and that can only be done if we have a constitution to address that firmly in law.

If you are not using your land then that land should be subject to penalty in form of taxation so that the money can be directed to the poor and create jobs.

Q. What is your opinion on the contentious issues of abortion, Kadhis Courts, devolution and transition clauses of the proposed constitution?

A. This the most unfortunate thing! Kenyans have been seeking a new constitution not for the sake of having a new document but to end impunity where individuals appointed to high positions are untouchable, they are unreachable, and they can be recycled beyond generations and they will be protected by their ethnic groups and exclusive club members.

Some people may be diverting and distorting information on housing provisions in the draft. They are living in the wild world of being negative.

I was also for the idea that the constitution caters for a conflict mechanism for all, the Catholics, Muslims, Anglicans, and even the traditional ones. Nevertheless to give Kadhis courts inclusion as an excuse to scuttle this very important new beginning for Kenya will be very unfair, it constitutes to being uneconomical with the truth, it will constitute to a paradox.

If we depart from the proposed new constitution we will revert to the old constitution and we will find Kadhis Courts in the old one.

Abortion is a controversial issue, it is even emotional, but I wish the majority of those speaking are women. But I m waiting for a voice that will say, if we scuttle this process because of abortion we will go back to the old constitution which has a penal code. In the penal code there are issues of reproductive health, we have death penalty, in the coming constitution no death penalty, the old constitution has draconian laws which are new-colonial that have subjected Kenya to new colonial systems, exclusive government and also pampered ethnic fear, ethnic hate, ethnic paranoia and resulted to violence and electoral mayhem.

Do you want to tell Kenyans because of a slight inclusion of a subsidiary law, you want to send away this constitution? The moment is for us to embrace reality and accept the place we are in, and the place we are in, is Kenya, which needs a renewal!

Let us not subjugate the background of the diversity that is of the Kenyan people through denominations; let us not disintegrate Kenyan people because they are Catholics, Presbyterians, Anglican, Muslims or quacks, let us not constitute disintegration which is faith driven.

The constitution belongs to those who have faith and those who have not faith. Why are we unable today to amplify, go to the mountain top of truth, go to the mountain top of holiness and shout that we are all born equal in the eyes of God and support this Kenyan document?


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