NAIROBI, Kenya July 2 – Lawyer John Khaminwa on Friday asked the seven-judge bench of the Court of Appeal to uphold the High Court ruling that shot down the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) process to preserve the sanctity of the Constitution.
Khaminwa, acting on behalf of the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) who are apposed to the clamor for constitutional reforms in the country, submitted before the Justice Daniel Musinga-led bench that the 2010 Constitution is in fact un-amendable.
“One contribution that this court should make to the able judgement is for you to strengthen that judgement by making a firm ruling that the Constitution we have now is un-amendable,” he said.
The seasoned lawyer noted that the court’s determination dismissing the appeals challenging the BBI ruling by a five-judge High Court bench would go a long way in “protecting democratic values of the country”.
He said the BBI process was hijacked by selfish politicians whom he accused of hatching a plot to take back Kenya into the dark old archaic days where the elite used to disguise themselves in the name of democracy to oppress the citizenry.
“We must say to them no. The Constitution is un-amendable,” he said noting that the current crop of politicians in the country are job seekers who are out to look out for their own selfish interests.
Khaminwa who briefly evoked laughter during his submission revealed that a section of lawyers who are appealing the case are dishonest and made presentations which they do not believe in.
“My learned friends who appeared for the appellants I listened to them very carefully and some of them whom are close friends of mine and we regularly take tea together, I got the impression that some of the things they submitted are things that they do not stand for,” he said.
“As a country we have been very unfortunate. We have not had leaders who are selfless. The crop of our politicians in this country is very poor. The nearest politicians who has was selfless for the years I have been in Kenya in Wangari Mathai and Kenneth Matiba,” he added.
He proceeded to submit that the submissions that were made by the appellants who include the BBI Secretariat, President Uhuru Kenyatta and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga legal teams were “pedestrian” and that they should be dismissed.
“Whatever problems we have in this country have absolutely nothing to do with the Constitution, they have something to do with ourselves and particularly the political class. When it comes to violence, they are the ones who are actually one can suspect that they are the ones fueling the violence,” he said.
President Kenyatta and Odinga argued that the proposed constitutional changes will end the winner-take-all structure of Kenyan politics they blamed for deadly violence.
The Kenya Human Rights Commission contended that the 2010 Constitution had not been fully implemented and that it is a charade that the promoters of BBI want to amend it so as to achieve inclusivity in the country.
The BBI amendments sought notably to expand the executive in what is billed as an attempt to curb election violence, blamed on the current winner-takes-all electoral system.
But critics see the move as a bid to create a prime minister post for Kenyatta, who is not allowed to seek a third term in 2022.
The BBI process seeks to have the president remain head of government and commander-in-chief, while ministers would answer to a prime minister.
If adopted, the law would also lead to the creation of 70 new parliamentary constituencies and an official office of the opposition leader in parliament.
Some have argued that adopting the reforms would burden a country already struggling with debt with new sky-high bills — and create more opportunities for patronage and corruption.