“We the people are the rightful masters of both parliament and courts. Not to overthrow the Constitution but to overthrow men who pervert the constitution” Abraham Lincoln.
Just as Lincoln said more than 200 years ago, we remain the greatest part of the constitution. It is designed for and by the people. And in our supreme law as Kenya, the preamble states, “We the People “. However, while celebrating ten years of existence of the Kenyan Constitution of 2010, a lot lingers in the mind. The main question remains, does the constitution stand for the direct benefit of the people of Kenya, as it is written in the preamble? And the simple answer is a big fat NO. Even though the main aim of the constitution was people-focused, it was hijacked by the politicians immediately after the inauguration.
On the 27, August of 2010, I was barely 10 years old, yet just like the rest of Kenyans, I was full of hope that the New Constitution was dawning the new beginning of Kenya. However, how wrong I was! The narrative has remained just as it was decades ago, just like the tale of some monkeys but different forests. So just how has this document that was intended to serve the interest of the people not lived to expectations?
Runaway corruption: Chapter six of the constitution places weight on integrity and leadership. The constitution also established independent offices to deal ruthlessly with runaway corruption. However, a few people have hijacked the process making it difficult, or rather impossible to pin down any corruption suspect. In fact for the lifetime of the constitution, corruption has gone too far too extreme levels. The bodies tasked like EACC, ODPP, DCI, and even the judiciary has been weakened to an extent that despite the overwhelming evidence on grand corruption, no convictions have been made.
Devolution: When the constitution was enacted, devolution was a major clause. It was applauded as the new dawn towards achieving the elusive equity in Kenya. The central governments of the previous years had sidelined parts perceived to be in opposition. However, devolution was to bring power close to the people. The Governor was to be the president of and serve the interest of the particular counties. However, ten years on there is nothing much to write home about. On matters of development, the counties are just the same as they were pre-devolution. In fact, the ASAL Region of Kenya which was basically ignored by the previous regimes has not improved 10 years with their local governments under devolution.
Calls for a change in the constitution. A good constitution is often argued as that which cannot be changed easily. However, currently, the political class is already in a rush to change it. This has been brought by the excitement behind “The Handshake”. Yes, the Handshake is good considering the times we were going through, which I am an ardent supporter of, however, its end game being a change in the constitution is completely puzzling. While the 2010 constitution is yet to be implemented, a clamor to change has already begun. This makes Kenya a weak democracy, with weak institutions and laws which are changed by politicians to suit their will. This makes Kenya equal to any banana republic, only now that it involves democratic dictatorship.
In conclusion, I believe that the implementation of the Kenya 2010 Constitution has been done in the worst way possible, and no matter how many times we change the laws, without great implementers, then the constitution is doomed to remain pieces of paper forever.
Written by Lincoln Oyugi – A Law Student at Mount Kenya University and a member of Africa’s Formula For Development
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