Mutahi Ngunyi: A choice between change and stability

Last week I was labelled an anti-reformist for saying a fat “No” to the draft law.

Allow me to put the record straight. Without a doubt, I am an anti-reformist. No apologies, no guess work, just anti-reforms. Besides, being anti-reforms is not a disease. And if it is, I am happily infected. I could be dead wrong on this.

But if I am, I do not choose to be right.

What I crave is “... change I can believe in”. Not change, because it is change. In fact, the change I see in this draft is best described by George Orwell in his fable The Animal Farm.

He talks of a Sugarcandy Mountain; the one we will get if we vote “Yes”. It is a place full of milk, honey and candy. A place where true reforms will happen.

And this is what James, a waiter at Village Market, craves for. He told me he is voting for reforms. After the draft, he sees himself going into business, getting out of poverty and growing fat. He believes that the Sugarcandy Mountain is coming.

But if you read The Animal Farm properly, this mountain was a lie. It never came; it never was. The “... more things changed, the more they remained the same”. And this is the shock we will experience on August 20 if we pass this law.

There is another thing. They say that the current constitution is bad. And if you vote “No”, you are voting for it. Both the assertions are right.

Yes, the current constitution is bad. And yes, I am voting “No” and I am voting for the current constitution.

Like my ‘‘anti-reformist’’ stand, this is not a disease; it is a choice. Between the current and the new constitution, I feel safer with the current.

It is not perfect. But the new one is not perfect either. If the bad things will be removed from the new one later, why can’t the good things be put in the current one later? It amounts to the same thing.

But this is not why I am voting for the current constitution. My vote is “No” because our choices are two. This referendum is a vote between change on the one hand, and stability on the other.

“Yes” is for Change; “No” is for stability. My choice is for stability. If the country is currently stable, why unsettle it with experiments in the name of change? Besides, whose change is this?

In my view, this constitution is a ‘‘Covenant of Darkness’’. Instead of liberating us, it will sink us deeper into national blindness.

This will become obvious only after we have passed it. And I have three reasons for saying so. The first has to do with the political intrigues if it passes.

Currently, the two principals are friends of convenience. If “Yes” wins, their true colours will show. Focus here must be on Mr Raila Odinga.

If “Yes” wins, all the credit will go to him. He will be our new hero. He must, therefore, consolidate support and ascend to the presidency in the shortest time possible.

He must do this before the ‘KKK’ regroups and regiments against him. And his best bet will be a snap election in November this year or thereabouts.

But is this possible? The new draft renegotiated the Peace Accord. While the Accord does not anticipate an election should a coalition partner pull out, the new draft does.

Mr Odinga can pull out in September after a ‘‘make shift’’ crisis and force an election in 60 days. This will be made even easier if The Hague suspects are ‘‘collected’’ around the same time. Between this razzmatazz and the stable status quo, which is worse?

The second aspect has to do with The Hague. And this point must worry the president.

Article 143 provides immunity to the president against any prosecutions. By extension, he is above the law.

However, 143(4) states that “... the immunity of the president ... shall not extend to a crime for which the president may be prosecuted under any treaty to which Kenya is party ...”

What this means is the following: Mr Ocampo can go for the president if the draft passes. But is this possible?

He told us that his focus will be on the Eldoret and Naivasha killings. And he further said that he will not be looking for the foot soldiers only.

The Waki commission further told us that the Naivasha killings were planned at top level. Is it possible that the president is targeted by ICC?

That this Article is carefully calibrated to fix him? What is the point of taking a load full of ‘‘earthlings’’ and ministers to The Hague? Is this all Mr Ocampo is looking for? Will he teach the world anything with this?

I doubt it. My hunch is that he is coming for big fish. And lifting of presidential immunity is the strongest signal yet.

The third aspect regards the implementation of the draft if it passes. And the year of concern is 2012. This is when we will implement it to the full.

The question to ask then is this: If we are afraid of 2012, will this draft provide a peaceful election? And the answer to this is a resounding “No”. Apart from its playful experiments, it has entrenched all the reasons why we fought.

With respect to presidential elections, it favours majority tribes. It means that the dominant tribes will dictate who becomes president under the 50-plus-one rule. This is one reason why we fought.

And as they do so, the majimbo elections will be taking place. The problem with majimbo is not the system, but the ethnic acrimony it breeds.

If people disagree on the presidential candidate, the tempers will be unleashed at the level of majimbo. And this is why I am voting no; why I stand to be counted as an ‘‘anti-reformist’’.

Now a word to the churches over the opinion poll results. My Sunday school teacher used to tell us this: ‘‘God is too slow, but He is never late!” You will catch up.

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