We have been there seen it all, now it is time to take stock and chart the best way forward.
According to reports, the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) taskforce is expected to hand its report to President Uhuru Kenyatta and Orange Democratic Party (ODM) leader Raila Odinga in the coming days which will set the stage for discussions on what Kenyans want to see addressed by their next constitution.
On Monday, The Standard, quoting unnamed members of the task force said that the report will recommend the creation of a prime minister’s post, two deputy prime ministers, a ceremonial president and a deputy president.
The report further stated that BBI will recommend retaining the counties while dismissing the idea of 14 regional governments proposed by ODM.
It also stated that BBI will propose scaling down of constituencies from the current 290 to 210 and the creation of 47 more woman representative elective positions across the counties to cure the gender equity question that has dogged the 12th parliament.
While President Kenyatta, Raila and their lieutenants have sustained a religious-like defence of the BBI, Deputy President William Ruto sees it as a ploy to deny him the holy grail three years before he stakes claim to the house on the hill.
Amid the political intrigues surrounding the proposed change in the law of the land, Kenya is struggling, companies are shutting down and citizens losing jobs as a result.
Therefore this time around, Kenyans must rise above the “Kama baba amesoma na akaona iko sawa basi iko sawa” talk which loosely translates to (If Raila has read the document and verified that it is in our best interests then we will support it to the last man).
This time Kenyans must examine what is brought before them. Ideas must not be shoved down their throats.
Business Today examines how the constitution can be strengthened for the benefit of all Kenyans while factoring in the country’s precarious economic position at the moment.
Ethnic divisions and tribal polarisation
This is the biggest problem that the constitution ought to address. Former President Daniel Moi warned Kenyans against multi-party democracy saying that it had the potential of dividing Kenya into tribal cocoons.
At the time, he was dismissed with many observing that it was one of his ways of clinging onto power. Every election that the country has gone through since his declaration save the 2002 general election has been characterised by chaos ignited by politicians playing the tribal card.
The expansion of the executive to accommodate all ethnic communities in Kenya would be a step in the right direction.
Reports indicate that the BBI will recommend that the prime minister, president, deputy prime minister and deputy president posts be occupied by politicians from different ethnic communities. Communities that miss out in this line up will be represented in senior cabinet positions.
It should not end there, the constitution should contain a provision that promotes ethnic diversity in all public appointments.
Over the course of his presidency, Uhuru’s critics have pointed out the dominance of state jobs by members of his own community and that of DP Ruto as one of the head of state’s biggest undoing.
Representation is another major headache that Kenya faces.
Far bigger economies have far lesser representation than Kenya. With 349 members of parliament, 67 senators and 1450 members of county assemblies, the country is currently over-represented.
BBI will propose reduction of the MCA posts and the number of constituencies to 210.
Ekuru Aukot’s Punguza Mzigo which has now been rejected by almost all county assemblies proposed the reduction of legislators to 147. It recommended the election of a male and female legislator in every constituency to cure the gender parity issue.
Aukot’s draft also proposes scrapping of nominated MPs, senators and MCA posts which is also thoughtful.
Whatever the case, what needs to happen is that Kenyans should only be left with MPs that they need and who will come back to campaign pointing out to the quality of debate in parliament and not campaign slogans.
The 12th parliament has shown us that MPs have a very huge appetite for increasing their salaries without considering the plight of the people who elected them. The next constitution should make it illegal for the legislators to line up their pockets and arm-twisting all other state offices to toe the line.
The Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) has had a torrid time carrying out its mandate with MPs threatening the constitutional commission with budget cuts every time it objected gluttony hence the need to spell it out in the law of the land.