Let wananchi drive debate on Building Bridges Initiative report
The launch of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) taskforce report on Wednesday opens the door for constructive debate about the future of Kenya. It provides the country with an opportunity for self-reflection and invention.
The document contains fairly reasonable proposals to address some of the country’s most pressing challenges especially on governance, corruption, national cohesion and security.
There are critical recommendations on threat to the family unit and how competition around resources has been the source of conflict. While it shines a flicker of hope in some areas, it largely paints a picture of a country whose fabric is tattered and urgently needs a cure.
The chapter on corruption is particularly grim. It says there is a growing public perception of Kenya having a rigged system that rewards cronyism and corruption, rather than productivity and hardwork.
So ubiquitous is the abuse of public trust, says the report, that the thieves are often praised and put on podiums while the honest are called fools for refusing to partake of graft.
And politicians are the major culprits.
Many Kenyans told the BBI taskforce it is the allure of illicit financial gain through the holding of elected or appointed positions that drives much of the aggressive and negative ethnicisation and even militarisation of political contests.
The proposal for strengthening of the Judiciary and devolution as well the emphasis on ethics and financial discipline in the public sector is notable. We expect Kenyans to engage in sober debate on proposals around the country’s power structure.
Though critical, the political component of the report should not be allowed to overshadow other equally salient issues such as ethics and security.
However, there are fears the process could be hijacked by the political elite. President Uhuru Kenyatta and Opposition chief Raila Odinga have asked politicians to let Kenyans read the report on their own. The debate on the document should be driven by Wanjiku.
History is replete with cases where politics has blighted critical national conversations, including implementation of the recommendations by the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission and the Waki report on post-election violence as well as the referendum on the 2010 Constitution.
We expect to more voices from farmers, business leaders, members of the civil society, the youth, clergy and professional groups, among others.