Key changes to secure a solid legacy
- National unity and economic transformation cannot be achieved in the absence of peace and political stability.
- Kenyans believe that scrupulous drafting would rationally allocate powers to avoid ambiguities in relation with the presidency for the smooth running of the government.
- Apart from the expansion of the Executive, there is a need to review the architecture of devolution.
It has been refreshing to finally savour the benefits of certainty and predictability after the swearing-in of President Uhuru Kenyatta, ending protracted electoral and judicial processes.
The thrust of his inauguration speech was national unity, and he reiterated that he will be the leader of all Kenyans. He pledged a raft of measures and development projects in his second and final five-year term, which will be geared towards economic transformation, job creation, and poverty alleviation.
National unity and economic transformation cannot be achieved in the absence of peace and political stability. Changing the Constitution is not just an option, but a necessity.
The thread that ran through the Nasa campaign was one of inclusivity of all Kenyans.
The notion of exclusion, whether real or perceived, can only be addressed through a genuine, and candid national dialogue to culminate in constitutional change. This the President should spearhead.
When Kenyans overwhelmingly voted for the new Constitution in the 2010 referendum, it was the expectation of many that it would address historical concerns of political, sociocultural, and economic exclusion, among other agitations.
It will be recalled that the opponents of the then-proposed Constitution led by the current Deputy President, Mr William Ruto, pointed out shortcomings, but the wave of constitutional change gave no room for rational reflections. The proponents persuaded many it was time for a new constitution.
The 2010 Constitution was heavily borrowed from jurisdictions with fairly mature democracies, but it has failed to flourish within our sociopolitical and economic circumstances, given our fledgling democracy.
The Executive is in dire need of restructuring to eliminate the winner-take-all system. Indeed, there was a consensus about the need to review the Constitution.
Now is the time. It would be good to expand the Executive by reverting to the Bomas draft model, which had provided for a prime ministerâs position as well as two deputy prime ministers.
The prime minister, in the hybrid system of governance, would be the leader of the largest political party or coalition of parties and would be appointed by the President, with the approval of the National Assembly.
Kenyans believe that scrupulous drafting would rationally allocate powers to avoid ambiguities in relation with the presidency for the smooth running of the government. The expansion of the Executive would, politically speaking, bring out the face of Kenya.
Further, the Bomas Draft recognised the place of an official opposition leader within the Legislature. It proposed that the largest opposition party in the National Assembly, elect from among its members, a leader of the opposition. The position was envisaged to rank immediately after the President, the Deputy President, the Prime Minister and the Speaker with rights to participation in all official functions and enjoying other privileges.
Apart from the expansion of the Executive, there is a need to review the architecture of devolution. Devolution was meant to ensure equitable sharing of national and local resources.
It was the culmination of a struggle to eliminate historical concentration of resources within the central government.
Devolution, it was hoped, would bring about national cohesion by recognising our diversity and nourishing it with the equitable distribution of resources.
However, this has not been the case. The devolving of 15 per cent of the national resources has not augured well with many counties, particularly the ones that perceive themselves as having been historically marginalised. It would help, the President, through the Constitution, could have more resources be devolved, with accountability demanded of the counties.
There are other constitutional changes that the President should lead, ranging from infusing greater certainty and predictability in the electoral process by eliminating the copious loopholes that were recently exposed and exploited by crafty politicians and activists.
In the interest of national unity, the President should, as the symbol of unity, direct the desired constitutional change to address all the issu es that create schism, hatred and tribal animosity. Then and only then, will his legacy be well-founded and history as well as future generations judge him favourably.
Mr Ndiani, the clerk to the County Assembly of Nyandarua, is an advocate of the High Court of Kenya. [email protected]
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