CONSTITUTIONALISM FAILING, BENOVELENT DICTATORSHIP IS WELCOME
In 2010, I wasted my money and time going to vote to ensure Kenya Realizes a new constitution. I knew that the new constitution puts in place mechanisms that entrench the rule of law. Laws are important to the extent they embody the spirit and aspirations of the people. However, having a constitution is one thing but entrenching constitutionalism is another ball game all together. While we celebrated the realization of the new constitution, we forgot that constitutions only work if people are willing to subject themselves to the constitution.
Why am I already disappointed? Well, the more things change in Kenya, the more they remain the same. Two vital institutions that would facilitate and ensure constitutionalism is entrenched are the presidency and parliament. However, what has happened?
a. Misgivings of The 10th Parliament
The tenth parliament did not respect the spirit of the constitution in many ways. They showed us that the law will always be changed at will to suit politicians. For instance
- They refused to pay tax and threatened government should they be compelled to pay tax
- They unanimously continued awarding themselves perks and salaries despite constitutional dictates that none should set his or her own salary
- They only did things upon being bribed, remember their having to be given 30, 000 each to support given legislation
- They watered down the political parties act and allowed for party hopping at the last minute
- The watered down the ethics and anti-corruption bill to the extent that it was not possible to vet anyone despite their corrupt past
These and much more only show that parliament can not be trusted to work for Kenyans.
b. Kibaki Regime Impunity
The Kibaki Regime showed in many ways than one that the executive can always have their way despite what the constitution says. For instance
- The case of appointing county commissioners and maintaining them in office despite what the courts said
- The case of signing bills into law only after being coerced by parliament, civil society outcry etc
- The appointment of CID boss even after the National Police Commission raising concerns
- Refusing to release given commission reports even when constitution calls for transparency and right of public to access information
These cases only demonstrate that the executive will always have its way in whatsoever way it wants.
c. Flawed Electioneering
Elections are conducted so that the public gives its leaders a mandate. An election is supposed to help the public vet leaders and choose from among them those best suited to represent them. This is the reason why the conduct of elections is clearly discussed in the new constitution. Despite the constitution being clear, a number of things happened that leave one wondering.
- Voter registration was not done independently. If voter registration was done without favor or manipulation, how come only some strongholds really registered? It was the responsibility of IEBC to ensure that all eligible Kenyans register to vote; however, the registration process became politically manipulated
- There was no official register used in the elections due to the different versions of voter registers allegedly used
- Electronic voter registration and tallying failed due to errors of commission and omission even when huge sums of money had been spend on the same (9 billion is not pocket change. That is money that can transform the livelihood of all slum dwellers in Nairobi).
- The tallying process was marred by errors due to what one lawyer termed as “human errors by young clerks”
These instances only go to prove that even independent institutions can be manipulated at will.
d. The Wrong Footing Of 11th Parliament
The 11the parliament is now in place but, even before they do anything, they are sending all the wrong signals
- They have already put in place mechanisms to double their salary and perks
- They are putting in place mechanisms to ensure they control CDF and most likely use it to award cronies
- They are all herded in tribal outfits, they call them political parties, and are hell bend on continuing to vote along tribal (party) lines without independently considering the merit of issue. Case in point is the planned smooth sailing of cabinet secretary nominees due to tyranny of numbers by Jubilee in Parliament.
e. Popular Submission To Benevolent Tyranny
There is hope in all this, and the hope lies in Kenyans' willingness to submit to a benevolent dictator. It is for this reason that I hope President Uhuru Kenyatta will step up and become the benevolent dictator that we need. Why do I feel it is time for the benevolent dictator to take charge?
- Uhuru Kenyatta has the economic muscles by which to silence any dissidence. If he is going to use his wealth in the same way he did in the just concluded election, he should not find it hard gaining loyalty where least expected. Money humbles hearts and thank heavens he will have family wealth and state wealth at his disposal
- Having won in 1st round, it means majority Kenyans support him and the majority in Kenya are ready to submit to him; the fanatical support that is not based on principle but infantile or primitive instincts e.g. tribal sentiments should enable him to have his way as he wants
- Our parliamentarians are filled with capital greed and they claim their greed results from Kenyans generally being greedy and seeking easy money from politicians. Therefore, as long as he lets the parliamentarians to eat, he should have his way on most issues. Hope the issues will have the interests of Wanjiku, Nafula, Muthini, Anyango, Chebet, Kerubo and Fatuma at heart.
- Our judiciary is highly influenced by populist sentiments. It is not easy to point to any radical decisions; non-populist rulings made in our courts. In MRC areas, the courts will rule that MRC is legal and are right in their "Pwani Si Kenya" demands. Therefore, let the president go populist in his ideology and no one will question him even as his inner circle eat and consolidate powers.
- The civil societies have shown that they are ready to raise their voice. And they would gladly welcome a dictator because that would attract donor funding. Equally, this civil societies being money minting entities can easily be compromised through tokenism.
While this post sounds cynical, the idea is that we have changed political hardware by electing new leaders. However, the political software, the theater of the absurd that characterizes our public affairs seems not about to change. Things will change if President Uhuru will use the advantages he enjoys to dictate a path that entrenches accountability, equity, transparency and patriotism in our national psyche.