Tuesday, March 08, 2016

To the promised land, step by step

The difference this time is that elected leaders are abandoning their parties before their term has ended. This has left the electorate confused. What if I vote for a candidate from one party today and tomorrow he moves to another party? What does the Constitution and the law have to say about this?Rasnah Warah
In David Rothkopf's Running the World: The Inside Story of the National Security Council and the Architects of American Power, he states, albeit in a wildly different context,
Trust and rapport are, in the day to day operations of any government, much more important than the formal mechanisms of governing.
The formal mechanisms of governing that Mr Rothkopf refers to in this instance are made up of the Constitution of the United States, the National Security Act of 1947, and the rules, regulations and guidelines issued by the US Government to organise the management of ts foreign policy and national security. I believe it is this that lies at the Heart of Ms Warah's question, "What does the Constitution and the law have to say about this?" Plenty, it turns out, but that ignores what the Government is, what it does, and how the people who make up the formal government influence how the Government does what it does.

Elections in Kenya, since the amendment of the former constitution by the insertion of section 2A that stated, "There shall be in Kenya only one political party, the Kenya African National Union" have not been founded on the interpretation of the Constitution or the sound interpretation of the written laws of Kenya. Instead, whittling away at the independence or autonomy of public institutions and the fusing of political and administrative roles have made political parties to be mere vehicles for the acquisition of power; the retention of that power relies almost entirely on ones ability to seek rent from the high office one holds. It is why an elected MP/MCA could resign his parliamentary seat without suffering any judicial repercussions and why his party will not insist that he be held to account in the courts of justice.

It is not surprising that despite the Constitution and statutes like the Elections Act and the Political Parties Act, defections are rife, even though parliamentarians and county legislators have not formally quit their parties. The assumption by the Committee of Experts was that a separation of the Executive from the legislature would reduce corrupt acts where members of the executive were also legislators. As the NYS scandal and the several impeachment attempts against sitting governors have demonstrated, legislators have been able to corruptly influence members of the Executive, demonstrating the same impunity that necessitated a new constitution in the first place.

I believe we are still in a transitional phase, moving slowly and deliberately from the old constitutional order to the one ushered in August 2010. We are naturally impatient to enjoy the benefits of the post-2010 constitutional order and are justly frustrated by the slow pace of constitutional implementation and the persistence of corruption in the Government. However, we must bear in mind that the change we desire requires the total purge of the detritus of the past as well as the complete mental re-engineering of the people in order to reject ideas that have compromised the pace of reforms. 

In this endeavour it is vital that voices such as that of Ms Warah continue to contribute to the national discourse on what we believe we can achieve as a people. Despite the frustrations, it is quite possible that subterranean changes that are yet to see the light of day have already to have effect in subtle ways. Recalling the fiascos of the Kibaki Era ministers when they "stood aside" or resigned and then were later reinstated to the Cabinet, isn't a measure of progress that Charity Ngilu, Michael Kamau, Kazungu Kambi, Davis Chirchir and Anne Waiguru have so failed to make it back into the Cabinet? Despite rumours that they are still on the public payroll, this is progress of sorts and we should build on these incremental changes in the hope that we will reach the promised constitutional land.

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