Do not al­low self­ish lot bas­tardise Con­sti­tu­tion

Daily Nation (Kenya) - - OPINION -

Kenyans of good­will must stand up against sys­tem­atic at­tempts to roll back civil lib­er­ties and rights that were achieved af­ter decades of painful and bloody strug­gles.

They must re­sist at­tempts by a ca­bal of es­tab­lish­ment politi­cians mak­ing odi­ous schemes to change the Con­sti­tu­tion, with the ul­ti­mate ob­jec­tive of cre­at­ing an all-pow­er­ful Ex­ec­u­tive.

The cen­tre-piece of the 2010 Con­sti­tu­tion is dis­per­sal of pow­ers by es­tab­lish­ing in­de­pen­dent in­sti­tu­tions — a pil­lar we must se­cure at all costs.

Im­me­di­ately af­ter the Au­gust elec­tions, Na­tional As­sem­bly Ma­jor­ity Leader Aden Duale an­nounced plans to change the law to trim the pow­ers of con­sti­tu­tional of­fices, among them the Au­di­tor-gen­eral, whose oc­cu­pant, Ed­ward Ouko, is seen by the es­tab­lish­ment as too in­de­pen­dent minded and non-pli­ant by con­sis­tently ex­pos­ing mas­sive plun­der and theft of public re­sources.

Mat­ters came to a head af­ter the Supreme Court quashed the out­come of the pres­i­den­tial election for gross il­le­gal­i­ties and ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties and con­se­quently or­dered a re­peat polls. Pres­i­dent Uhuru Keny­atta and his Deputy Wil­liam Ruto led the on­slaught on the court, in­sult­ing and threat­en­ing the judges and specif­i­cally tar­get­ing Chief Jus­tice David Maraga whose stew­ard­ship of the Ju­di­ciary has since earned him a place in the an­nals of his­tory.

Last week, Ju­bilee Se­na­tors were schem­ing to in­tro­duce a mo­tion in the Se­nate to clip the pow­ers of the Supreme Court, ef­fec­tively to make the Ju­di­ciary sub­servient to the Ex­ec­u­tive.

Sep­a­rately, Ny­eri MP Ngun­jiri Wam­bugu, ar­guably act­ing like a Kanu-era syco­phant, went ahead to file a pe­ti­tion with the Ju­di­cial Ser­vice Com­mis­sion seek­ing to re­move CJ Maraga from of­fice os­ten­si­bly for in­val­i­dat­ing the pres­i­den­tial election.

Para­dox­i­cally, when Na­tional Su­per Al­liance re­jected the re­sults of the Au­gust 8 polls, the Ex­ec­u­tive, election ob­servers, re­li­gious lead­ers, busi­ness com­mu­nity and every­one who cared, told the op­po­si­tion to seek le­gal re­dress.

Le­gal re­dress

But when the Nasa brigade took the mat­ter to court and won, all of a sud­den, the court be­came a devil’s den. Yet, when in 2013 the court val­i­dated Keny­atta’s vic­tory, it was an an­gel’s court. This is hypocrisy at its worst!

In all these, a clear pat­tern is de­vel­op­ing. There are de­vi­ous de­signs to un­der­mine in­de­pen­dent in­sti­tu­tions through po­lit­i­cal, le­gal and pol­icy machi­na­tions and the net sum is to cre­ate an im­pe­rial pres­i­dency. The con­sti­tu­tion that we an­nulled in 2010 was never a bad piece of doc­u­ment. It was made so through or­ches­trated amend­ments right from in­de­pen­dence such that, by the early 1990s, it was in tat­ters.

When a ca­bal of lead­ers start to change it to suit their my­opic ends, they will not stop. To­day they will go for this in­sti­tu­tion, to­mor­row it will be that in­di­vid­ual. By the time they are done, what was hailed as the best Con­sti­tu­tion in the re­gion will not be iden­ti­fi­able.

When, for ex­am­ple, the Kanu ad­min­is­tra­tion changed the con­sti­tu­tion in 1982 to make Kenya a de facto one party state, it laid the foun­da­tion for a to­tal­i­tar­ian and dic­ta­to­rial regime that went ahead to kill, maim, sup­press and eco­nom­i­cally de­prive cit­i­zens.

When in the late 1980s Kanu moved a mo­tion in Par­lia­ment to re­move se­cu­rity of ten­ure of con­sti­tu­tional of­fices like the At­tor­ney-gen­eral, Au­di­tor-gen­eral, among oth­ers, it ren­dered the in­sti­tu­tions vul­ner­a­ble to the pres­i­dency. Of­fice hold­ers be­came be­holden to the Ex­ec­u­tive.

It is for this rea­son that the 2010 Con­sti­tu­tion put in place sev­eral pil­lars to se­cure checks and bal­ances. It un­equiv­o­cally states that the coun­try is plu­ral­is­tic and the peo­ple are sov­er­eign, which sovereignty they del­e­gate to elected lead­ers and who, in var­i­ous ar­ti­cles, are sub­ject to na­tional val­ues and fidelity to the law.

When elected lead­ers be­gin to breach the law; when they seek to re­verse con­sti­tu­tional gains and when they at­tempt to con­sol­i­date pow­ers and cen­tralise them in the of­fice of the Pres­i­dent, all peo­ple of good­will must stand up and say No.

We must keep vigil and stop all at­tempts to bas­tardise the Con­sti­tu­tion.

Con­sci­en­tious politi­cians, civil so­ci­ety, re­li­gious lead­ers, busi­ness peo­ple and in­di­vid­u­als must fight and pro­tect the hard-earned lib­er­ties.

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