Let’s honour Kibaki by including PWDs in politics
The late Mwai Kibaki was inaugurated as the third president while in a wheelchair (as a person with a disability for a few months), after a near-fatal accident during his campaign period. Throughout his presidency, he had had to live with the effects of the short period he was recovering from the accident injuries.
He, however, beat all the odds and became the best president Kenya has ever had by transforming the economy, giving Kenyans a new constitution among other achievements across all sectors.
During his reign, agencies such as National Council for Person with Disabilities were established and strengthened to promote and protect equalisation of opportunities and realisation of human rights for PWDs to live decent lives.
As we give Kibaki the final send off on Saturday, at a time the country is preparing for the third general election under his legacy achievement, the 2010 Constitution, we need to honour him properly. The Constitution provides for human dignity, equity, social justice, inclusiveness, equality humans rights, non-discrimination and protection of the marginalised to guide governance. Therefore, it’s the responsibility of all leaders in public and private sectors to strive towards inclusive electoral and political processes in honour of Kibaki.
Globally its estimated that, there are over a billion PWDs and according to the 2019 census, 900,000 Kenyans live with some form of disability. The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission estimated that PDWs registered as voters are about 140,000. Therefore, participation of persons with disability in political and public life is a human right as well as an important factor that promotes social inclusive development. When they participate in political and public life, their voices are heard and reflected in policy decisions.
Despite the significant numbers of PWDs in Kenya, reports from civil society suggest they continue to experience systemic exclusion from mainstream governance and developmental processes. This exclusion has been particularly acute in the areas of political representation in elective and appointed positions, with limited efforts by parties to provide a conducive environment for PWDs to engage in politics.
This year’s party primaries were unique as there was increased number of consensus building meetings among all major parties regarding PWDs. With gloomy results from the primaries on persons with disabilities, there is need for stakeholders to lobby for inclusion through the non-election position to ensure PWDs don’t lose the little gain made in inclusion in the next National and County governments, in honour of the job Kibaki began.
After the election, parties will be required to second interest groups to the Senate, National Assembly and County Assemblies. They should reserve a number of these slots for PWDs. To ensure this, PWDs should ensure they meet the party requirements for the nomination. The next president and governors, in constituting their cabinets, they should also remember PWDs. Thankfully, some have committed to do so, in accordance with Article 54(2) of the Constitution that envisions that the state ensures progressive implementation of the principle that at least five per cent of members of the public in elective and appointive bodies are PWDs.
Interest groups, should come up with agenda on their irreducible minimums for candidates. The irreducible minimum could be, a promise for a slot in Parliament, Senate and County Assemblies, and prominent featuring in manifestos. This could then further take the direction of memorandums and partitions.
All said and done, IEBC and the Registrar of Political Parties should ensure parties do the right thing as per the law by putting in place policies and structure to deliver an electoral process that is accessible to PWDs.
On the flip side, let PWD lobby groups and individuals negotiate for the opportunities at the County and National governments not with a fist but an open hand. By doing this, we shall be the vision and aspiration of the late President Kibaki.