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Constitution change and ‘colonial virus’

By Gerald Kithinji |

I think there is, hovering around us, a colonial virus. Whenever we make a decent decision to move forward as a democratic republic, the virus goes rampant. It holds us captive and nothing we say will move the affected leaders. They will quote violence, which in truth is man-made, to return us to colonial ways. So now, get ready for my truth.

In 1963, founding President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta told us that we had three colossal enemies: Ignorance, disease and poverty. Almost haphazardly, we have dealt with the first one, although there is still a long way to go. The other two are still with us.

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Our politicians need to curb their unbridled ambition. This is not the time to be revolutionary, whatever that means in this day. Let us check corruption and if possible kill it. The mantra of vote-rigging in order to force one’s way to the high table must be checked. Real proof is essential. Respect for judicial decisions at the requisite level is crucial. Avoid causing violence and expecting it to be rewarded. That must be resisted by the state and citizenry.

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Let us not hoodwink the citizens even as we attempt to impose an imperial presidency in our constitution. Let us uphold our Oaths of Office. Otherwise, let the consequences flow from our breach of them. Above all, let leaders remember that they are representatives of Wanjiku. Let them stop lying to people and treating them like voting machines.

The other democrats give more value to the individual and her freedom. They want to be able to reach the president right away. They want Mama Mboga to reach the president she elected right away. So they want a president and a deputy and Cabinet. A shorter route. Tom Mboya said in the year he was killed that he believed we could build a Kenya where everyone was respected and treated equally under the law without reference to their tribe.

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I see that the BBI Committee consulted very many constitutions, monarchic, parliamentary, communist, socialist, presidential and decided to craft something that is none of them although some signs show. They ended up with a hybrid system. ‘A hybrid regime is a mixed type of political regime that is often created as a result of an incomplete transition from an authoritarian regime to a democratic one. Hybrid regimes combine autocratic features with democratic ones and can simultaneously hold political repressions and regular elections. Why do we move from a liberal democracy to a hybrid system?

The decision Kenyans have to make is whether to entrench individual freedoms, and outlaw tribal supremacy, or keep the status quo. As long as we keep saying this region and that region are bedrooms of certain people, those bedrooms will be guarded. So long as we maintain that certain areas are staunch supporters of so and so in perpetuity, those areas will be guarded. And so electoral violence will surface occasionally, at least when those positions are threatened.

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We have included violence clauses in our constitution. The requirement to secure 25 per cent of votes in so many counties means that certain people must never get the 25 per cent in certain counties. The counties are defended with resultant violence. Look at the hotspots of violence in Kenya. That is a beast we have to slay. The rest is beating about the bush.

I see little concern for Wanjiku in this Covid-19 period. I see unbridled ambition that Shakespeare presented so well in Macbeth. It is said that it is the desire to exercise freedom. Yes. There is freedom to be over-ambitious. But there is freedom also to shun the enticement.

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Why should the taxpayer be saddled with redundant employees, officials and supervisors? The US has 100 senators for over 300 million people. BBI wants us to employ 94 for 50 million people. Are we that special? In the end our government will be too expensive, unwieldy and crippling for Wanjiku.


-Kithinji is a lawyer and an author

About Whispers from the North

Whispers from the North is an online platform that appreciates the ecological, cultural and socio-economic diversities of Northern Kenya. We also acknowledge that the lives of the communities of northern Kenya has been shaped by a number of intrinsic and extrinsic factors which have led to complex challenge that calls for a multifaceted approach.

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