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  • Jemimah Mangeni Esq.

Constitution Making and Reforms

The constitution is a very important tool that helps in governance of a country in terms of creating institutions that responds to the needs of people as well as to protect rights of all people. The constitution guarantees equity, equality as well secures liberties of people of today and tomorrow. In Kenya, we promulgated the new constitution in 2010. The new constitution brought about devolved governments. As a result, people at the grassroots have been reached with development for example, expansion of health facilities; opening up and improving more roads; expansion of educational infrastructure; more houses connected to the national grid; construction of more markets; development of more road networks; development of more processing plants for agricultural produce; more water projects, and so on. The government has been felt in grassroots more than ever. However, the new constitution has brought with it some challenges for example, corruption has been institutionalised; a lot of resources has been used to provide oversight of unmatched resources; increasing wage bill; in a devolved unit little resources injected to development initiative; extravagance in use of national resources, ethnicity amplified more than ever in devolved units and so forth.

As the time has become ripe to discuss about the constitution reforms, tough questions should be asked, such that the reformed constitution should be able to respond adequately to the needs of people of today and those of the generation to come. Therefore, we should begin with review/audit of the constitution for the last eight years to establish what were the achievements, opportunities and challenges. We should ask what are the best democracies in the world we can learn from the best practices? Here we should be careful not to borrow blindly from the context different from ours. What I mean advanced democracies and economies such as USA, Canada, France, Britain, Italy, China, Japan, Australia and even Scandinavian countries, governance structure may not be our best fit. However, democracies such as that of Malaysia, Singapore, and countries we become independent almost the same time with almost the same economic status, but with highly developed market economy today. We should interrogate what governance structures that have lifted these countries’ economic fortune. We should ask what kind of governance structure that could grow our economy and free from political corruption? Is it a majoritarian democracy- winner take all or a consociational democracy that represents all communities with minorities’ veto? Or do we need an hybrid kind of government?

For the review process to be successful, the team steering the process should be above reproach. The team should comprise women and men of unmatched integrity; statesmen and stateswomen; selfless humans with interest of Kenya and its future at heart; and people who have truly made a mark into the society. This is what had made the constitution of United States relevant as it was 17 century when it was made. The forefathers of USA who had made the constitution had thought of the instrument that could offer people the blessings of liberty and secure their needs and that of posterity. Indeed, the instrument has withstood the taste of time. What makes our constitution not to stand the taste of time is the process being hijacked with people with vested self interest and without clear vision for the country.

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