KISUMU, Kenya, Aug 27 – Deputy President William Ruto has said the push for constitutional amendments has the potential of destroying the current Constitution the way the independent Constitution was destroyed by parochial and partisan interests.
Speaking on Wednesday at the Tom Mboya Labour College in Kisumu where he officiated at the 3rd Annual Congress of Chairpersons of Constitutional Commissions, Ruto called for pragmatism, sobriety and avoidance of negative energy in addressing gaps in the Constitution lest it suffers the same fate as the independence Constitution.
He said: “Indeed there are gaps in the current Constitution but we cannot be organising a referendum whenever we encounter challenges with its implementation, we do not want to go the narrow and parochial way in addressing these challenges. After an audit, the amendments can be done through legislation or constitutional amendments.”
Ruto noted that the framers on the Constitution anticipated the gaps and that is why they gave a five year implementation period and three year transition period to identify areas that were inconsistent with the new law. “We are in that process though I’m happy that we have devolved services to the counties in one a half years instead of waiting for the five years,” he said.
He attributed the delays in the payment of salaries to these inconsistencies, saying the Executive had found a solution of going around it and now the Treasury had released money to the counties as to be refunded later.
The Deputy President recalled that though he advocated for the amendment of the Constitution before its passage in the run up to 2005 referendum, as a democrat he had accepted the will of the majority of Kenyans who said it should be passed then amended later.
He said: “Some people thought that I would challenge the Constitution because I voted ‘No’ in the referendum but as a democrat I agreed with the rest of Kenyans to have it implemented even as we address the gaps. Once you make a decision as a nation you stick to it,” he added.
Noting that devolution was the single most instrument in addressing exclusion and marginalization in the country, Ruto pointed out that it was not possible to marginalize any community since government had been devolved to the counties.
He said: “In a record one and half years we have devolved a system of governance with checks and balances that ensures that systems work without any influence from the national government.”
Noting that the biggest threat to the transformation of the country was mismanagement, theft, corruption and leaders who do not want to account, Ruto reiterated that those in the management of public finances must be held to the highest level of accountability.
In this regard, the Deputy President said the government was digitising its systems to eliminate brokers, and gatekeepers particularly in procurement who add the cost of doing business in government..
“We want to deal directly with the suppliers and eliminate inefficiency and bureaucracy in government procurement,” he added.
The Deputy President lauded the role of constitutional bodies in the implementation of the Constitution and realization of devolution noting that the national government had no intention of interfering with their independence or influencing their decisions.