Kenya’s problem is IEBC, not the Constitution

By Mukalo Kwayera
Tuesday, October 1st, 2019
IEBC chair Wafula Chebukati. Photo/File
In summary

Talk has been rife on the perceived need for a referendum to change the law. But what is wrong with the Constitution?

Let us face it:  It is not the Constitution that has prevented Parliament from passing the two-thirds gender law; neither is it that killed pupils at Precious Talents Top School last week.

It is not the Constitution that serially denies governors funds to run counties. It does not cause accidents on our roads nor cause pollution, and much more.

Indeed, it is public office holders and citizens who flout the very Constitution. By seeking to amend the supreme law of the land, we are being hypocritical and dishonest. We are channelling energies in the wrong direction.

That the country faces a myriad challenges is not in doubt. However, the elephant in the room today remains the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).

Every election cycle since 1992, the country is often polarised ethnically, with disputed results being the order of the day. 

This is why I do not support Ekuru Aukot’s Punguza Mizigo initiative that seeks to amend the Constitution. Neither will I support any attempt to change the law by the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) if  its report recommends so. 

Despite my not supporting Aukot’s bid, I appreciate the fact that he did not attempt to negate existing laws, but instead applied them honestly to his proposals.

Sadly, the same cannot be said about BBI. All indicators point to an unconstitutional script being crammed uncostitutionally to constitutionalise ambitions, desires and interests of a cabal of political elites. Truth be told, it is simply another unholy assault on the Constitution.

Punguza Mizigo and BBI are attempting to cure non-existent problems. Kenya’s problem today is not the Constitution, but adherence to it and implementation. 

Existing challenges will not be solved by multiplication of constitutional clauses but by a genuine commitment to implement the law. 

A Chinese saying that “a poor workman blames the tools” could not be more prompt.

Kenyans have elected to continually blame the Constitution for our own individual and collective failures. It is time we accepted we are the problem.

Renowned lawyer PLO Lumumba is wont to argue: “You can change the forest, but you cannot change the monkeys.” That is a truism, which the architects of both BBI and Punguza Mizigo seek to disguise as the will of Kenyans. 

Unfortunately, the people who are pushing for Constitution change today are either, in the case of Aukot, the ones who drafted it or, in the case of BBI, those who mobilised Kenyans to vote for it en masse in 2010.

The 2010 Constitution has been touted as one of the most progressive in the world. That is a fact. What is also a fact is that Kenya has some of the worst Constitution managers. 

Since independence, Kenya’s Constitution has been changed five times. Save for the 2010 document, all those changes were aimed at emasculating the right of citizen and handing it over to the managers of the Constitution.

Even during the repressive one-party era, bold parliamentarians such as Martin Shikuku, Koigi wa Wamwere, Chelegat Mutai and James Orengo spoke for the citizenry. Not so today.  Today’s lawmakers merely run errands for the Executive. What a pity!

The Supreme Court decision to nullify the presidential election in 2017 was a massive indictment of the IEBC for perpetuating gross electoral irregularities and illegalities. So much has happened since, but  nothing has changed at the IEBC.

If status quo remains, IEBC will be the genesis of another cycle of political tension and violence come 2022. -The writer is a Revise Editor at the People Daily. [email protected]

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