Mutahi Ngunyi: Referendum could become war of people vs principals

The man who inserted ‘‘things’’ in our draft constitution was inspired. Call him a criminal; call him a saint. The man is a patriot. Seriously!

Because we refused to negotiate, we invited madness. And madness happens when “... the relationship between a nation and the truth is disturbed”.

In my view, therefore, the ‘‘mad patriot’’ knows something we do not know. He knows a truth; a disturbing truth. But he is powerless.

However, he is a dare devil, a frustrated one at that. What is more: He is not acting alone. He speaks for an enterprise. A dark enterprise that preaches “Yes” at Uhuru Park, and “No” in the dark. I have a hypothesis regarding its owners.

In posing this hypothesis, I plead ignorance. What I want is a public interpretation of three things. One, we have a government. And this government has two principals.

Is it possible for a constitution to be changed without their knowledge? Or maybe they were asleep. And when they came to brief them on this impossible scheme, they were dozing. Absolutely not.

My hypothesis is this: the government is behind this insertion. This might sound cantankerous, but hear me out. Is it possible for NSIS or the Attorney-General to change the draft without consulting higher authorities? Zero. What about the ministers and permanent secretaries mentioned in the media? Did they do it without reference to their superiors? Zero.

Logically, we must conclude the following: Highly placed people are involved in this sabotage. Hypothetically, they must be “No!” And this insertion was the best way to deliver the “No” vote.

However, I could be wrong. Our leaders could be genuine grandfather-type. Trusting, sleepy and woolly. And while they slept, others went behind their backs and changed the constitution.

If this is true, I am dead worried. While they slept, we do not know what else was changed. Similarly, if they are not alert, who is in charge? Some ‘‘mad patriot’’, the Nairobi City Council or who? Can they take us through the referendum competently?

If the authorities could not stop an obvious insertion, how will they deal with the referendum ‘‘dark forces’’?

In my view, they are either incompetent or an evil genius. I am more inclined to believe the ‘‘genius’’ part. And that this is being done with succession in mind.

And now the second thing that needs your interpretation. For the first time in our politics, the security forces are part of public discourse. In the past, they were a ‘‘sacred cow’’ regulated by “disciplinary law”.

Now we have inserted them in our constitution at Article 24(5). During the parliamentary debate on this article, Mr Mutula Kilonzo told Parliament (something to the effect that) the military chiefs were uncomfortable with the article.

This is also the article that was fiddled with by an invisible hand this week at 24(1). And the problem with it is that every Kenyan is given the right to join a union and go on strike.

However, this right is taken away from the Defence Forces and the police. But the process of taking it away is not guaranteed.

The article says that the rights ‘‘may’’ be taken away through an Act of Parliament. It does not say that the rights ‘‘shall’’ be taken away.

Similarly, it does not say when.

Come August, our soldiers will have a constitutional right to demonstrate. This right will continue until Parliament takes it away, whenever that is.

And this anomaly is what the illegal insertion was trying to stop. The ‘‘mad patriot’’ was arresting a probable military unrest. The message here was therefore this: If you cannot fix the constitutional problems politically, they will be fixed through other means. Crime is one way.

The other is the politicisation of the military. To do so is to invite them into politics. Imagine a ‘‘union of generals’’ walking on the streets shouting ‘‘haki yetu!’’ Not clever.

My hypothesis therefore is this. The Defence Forces are uneasy about this development. By inserting the illegal phrases in the draft, someone could have been warning us of an impending danger.

And if I am wrong, why was the discussion on this issue expunged from the Hansard after the amendment was debated in Parliament? Why the sensitivity around Defence Forces? I have no idea. Kindly interpret.

The third thing regards the Peace Accord. The Sixth Schedule of the draft has a mischievous suggestion. If the coalition is dissolved, it suggests that an election is probable if not necessary. This was rejected when the Accord was signed.

But why re-introduce it in the draft? Should we anticipate a snap election in December following an ODM pullout?

When you think about it, this is not improbable. With a new constitution, a voter’s register and six heavy-weights taken away by Moreno-Ocampo, a snap election would benefit Mr Odinga.

This would be a clever ‘‘civilian coup’’ against the President. And if the President is scheming against Mr Odinga, the latter is ahead.

If the constitution passes, he will owe the President nothing. In fact, he will walk out of government and force the election. But I could also be wrong.

And now a final thought. This is not about the constitution; it is political games. If we vote “Yes”, it will be a vote of ‘‘joy’’. A statement of happiness in the two principals. If we vote “No”, it will be a ‘‘vote-of-no-confidence in the two’’.

Then we can move on. Which one will it be?

Mutahi Ngunyi is a political scientist with The Consulting House, a policy and security think-tank for East, West and Southern Africa.

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