Report sets stage for discourse on the Kenya we want
The Building Bridges Initiative taskforce report has been received with mixed emotions.
The anticipation that occasioned its development has now been replaced with indifference on one hand and relief on the other.
The indifference stems from preconceived notions of what the report would have contained, largely from a political standpoint. During its preparation, various political outfits had anticipated myriad radical changes to governance structures.
In particular, there were sentiments regarding the possibility of having a referendum that would change the course of our political quest.
And while the political machinery toyed with these lofty possibilities, stakeholders from the private and civil society sectors had equally expressed views and expectations of what the report and its eventual initiatives should look like.
Regardless of our positions, the BBI has presented a fresh platform for greater debates of the Kenya we want.
Our major challenges at the moment are the state of our economy and dwindling patriotism. Majority of Kenyans are broke, angry and disillusioned regarding their role in nation building.
The BBI report recognises these challenges and rightly espouses that currently our sociopolitical and economic structures are not conducive for the wellbeing of wananchi.
Socially, we are fragmented and lack national ethos. Our ethnic antagonism and competition in particular, often leads to destructive cycles of conflict and stifled economic progress.
Marginalised groups are also left out in the implementation of national ideals. Development goes to more established groups and institutions, thus leaving women, children, youth and persons with disabilities in squalor.
The BBI report acknowledges the above challenges and makes bold recommendations towards the resolution. In particular, it is recommending a broader structure for inclusivity.
This includes more women in elective and appointive positions, especially at the county level. Governors should be deputised by person of the opposite gender, county governments should be more inclusive and, as a priority, we must protect and promote our different cultures and heritage.
In the search for economic solutions, the report recommends a path towards a shared prosperity that will include regional integration for the prosperity of the East African Community, the regulation of the national debt, lending and borrowing regimes and the eradication of monopolies within our economic structures.
Devolution has also received its fair share of attention with recommendations towards increased allocations to counties and greater involvement of the people in management of their affairs.
Corruption has also been widely addressed with recommendations touching on the conduct of the public officers and the protection of whistleblowers.
Specifically, it requires that government officials implicated in corruption should step aside and the need to inculcate ethics into our social fabric.
Politically, there are recommendations to review our leadership structure, including the establishment of the office of the Prime Minister and Leader of the Official Opposition. It also proposes that Cabinet ministers be drawn from both the technocratic and political spheres.
Above all, the report has provided us with a refreshing point of introspection. Its contents ensure that as a nation we take stock of where we are and where we would like to go.
It is also a tacit realisation that perhaps we need to re-commit to some of the pledges that we have made regarding our national well-being.
The next steps will involve important conversations. The private sector should, as a priority, look into the recommendations affecting their business environment.
The civil society must focus on the rights and responsibilities espoused in the report. Political players should have honest conversations on how best to strengthen our political structures and prevent electoral malfeasance.
It is these consistent and cordial discussions around the BBI report that will ensure we navigate this process of change with the sobriety and excellence that it deserves. —The writer comments on current sociopolitical, development issues