Joseph Kamotho: Prophets of Doom Hindering Reforms - The Star

Doomsday prophets have resurfaced to ensure that political gains made in the aftermath of the 2007 bloody election violence are reversed and Kenyans go to the polls without a new constitution in 2012.

The so called contentious issues buried with the Bomas draft have since been reactivated and are likely to derail the process of fine tuning the parallel drafts by the Committee of Experts on Constitutional Review.

In one of the familiar sideshows, a section of leaders are threatening to frustrate the new constitution if populous constituencies are not given more seats in the legislature by the Boundaries Commission tasked with collection of views from the public on the overdue electoral and administrative boundaries.

Boundaries review, like the comprehensive constitution, is part of the terms agreed upon by the negotiators of the peace and reconciliation under the Chief Mediator, former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, in 2008.

Agenda four items in the National Accord signed by the two principals, President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Od-inga, were seen as the vehicle to durable peace and healing of the wounded nation but the powers-that-be are manifestly not for the healing of the nation.

Unfortunately, negative and pessimist interest groups emerge to offer retrogressive views, some paradoxical.

For instance, in the vocabulary of some of the leaders in the present coalition government and previous administrations, consider the chapter on the executive which is contentious because it allegedly creates two centres of power by advocating for an executive prime minister as the head of government.

It is worth noting that a political party that once proposed the position of an executive prime minister to the now defunct Constitution of Kenya Review Commission has changed the position more than once in the recent past on the same issue because one of its own is not likely to be president come 2012 .

A new constitution that is devoid of controversy and manipulation can be delivered only if there is a political will to see a democratic Kenya emerge and parochial tendencies consigned to the dustbin of history. This is not likely in the foreseeable future with the authors of contentious issues comfortably seated at the helm.

The National Constitutional Conference at Bomas in 2004 deliberated and voted for and against the contentious issues. The executive re-opened the sealed draft for amendments. As expected, the doctored draft was rejected at the referendum.

This notwithstanding the fact that political elite are in agreement that 80 per cent of the Bomas draft is non-contentious. The one million dollar question is: why not enact the none contentious issues as part of value addition to the current constitution and subject the 20 per cent to-public debate and scrutiny?

In 2002, anxious Kenyans voted overwhelmingly for the National Rainbow Coalition on account that it would deliver a new constitution within 100 days upon assuming office. It is seven years later and the document is gathering dust in the shelves.

Kenyans have no problem with the Bomas draft constitution but it surprises that the leadership quarrels with every aspect of document produced including those that they have commissioned in lavish retreats at Kilifi and Naivasha. So it is safe to say that it is the leadership that is contentious and not the draft constitution contents.

The long and short of the story of constitution making in the country has been contentious because it is not guided by ideological leadership.

Leaders are not comfortable with reforms. With a good constitution in place, most of the leaders feel threatened they will be rendered irrelevant by the electorate they have cheated for nearly half a century.

The constitution moments are always squandered by the political class who do not permit sober and meaningful input into the making of the supreme law.

Finally, the acrimonious diversity of communities corrode some of the best views that are supposed to be incorporated in the document.

The writer is a former cabinet minister and secretary-general of Kanu and the LDP.

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