Expunge impunity to protect the Constitution

Tuesday, August 25th, 2020 00:00 |
Senate in session. Photo/PD/FILE

Consensus in the Senate on a formula for counties’ revenue sharing is a critical test on fidelity to the Constitution, nearly 10 years after its promulgation.

The sharp divisions in the House over the past several weeks that have virtually paralysed operations and services in counties is a stark reminder of how deeply the nation remains polarised due to impunity and defiance of the Constitution.

Just when Kenyans were expecting respite in the toxic national political atmosphere, they have been thrown back to the old bad habits threatening to roll back the democratic gains of the last decade.

In scenes reminiscent of crime movies, police officers in unmarked cars raided the homes of three senators in the dead of the night on the eve of a crucial vote on the revenue allocations - devolution’s lifeline and the cornerstone of the Constitution.

The ensuing drama saw senators arrested, dangerously hurtled high-speed across country, before being released without any charges. 

An action clearly demonstrating the culture of impunity, the Constitution sought to banish, was attempting to claw back. 

This blatant contempt of the supreme law of the land revealed is that there are some people in our country who can refuse to obey the law at will.  

On August 28, 2010, we witnessed the most important transition in our society since colonialism and independence – the enactment of the Constitution. 

It was a new beginning heralding the Executive in a new regime, the Judiciary and the Legislature with a two-chamber National and Senate Assembly, plus the most grassroots-based County Assemblies. 

However, during its relatively short period of existence, the Constitution has been emasculated, eroding the good intentions of its drafters.

The performance of these organs of government remain questionable.

Amendments in Parliament watering down the Chapter on Leadership and Integrity, Bill of Rights and the limits to the powers of the Executive in relation to the Legislature and the Judiciary have perturbed the citizenry.

Poverty, negativity, impunity, corruption and scandals haunting the nation, failure of the legislative arms of government to stand up for the freedoms and rights of the people don’t paint a flattering picture of the so-called people’s representatives.

Kenyans are increasingly demanding for the largely dormant civil society and faith-based organisations to step up the campaign for increased stronger public participation in the implementation of the Constitution.

It is time to revisit the National Dialogue and Reconciliation Agreement signed in Nairobi after the political impasse and violence that engulfed the country in 2007-2008. 

Its agendas of restoration of fundamental rights and liberties, promotion of reconciliation, healing and restoration and creation of the infrastructure for political stability, constitutional, institutional and legal reforms, land reform, poverty, inequity and unemployment, have not been fulfilled

Constitutional experts point out that the just and accountable use of power is not just a preserve of the Executive and the Legislature, but also affects all public officers in government, religious groups and civil society.

The Building Bridges Initiative must enforce accountability and ensure that all these organs and institutions abide with and enforce integrity. 

The legal fraternity must therefore be at the forefront on behalf of the people in challenging the forces of marauding impunity against constitutional legislation.

Such a daunting task calls for solidarity and critical linkages dealing directly with the people to uphold and protect the Constitution in letter and spirit. [email protected]

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