Constitution Snip

Former President holds the new constitution during its promulgation in 2010. A working group on the constitution has revisited the reasons Kenyans wanted the constitution changed (Photo/Google).

A report by a Working Group that carried out a socio-economic audit of the Constitution of Kenya (2010) has identified the effects of having an all powerful Presidency in the country as the main reason why Kenyans sought to have a new constitution.

Besides noting the lack of institutions to check the all powerful Presidency, the report also identifies the lack of a space to exercise free democratic space as the other reason why Kenyans wanted a new constitution.

“Kenyans’ desire for a new constitutional dispensation can be traced back to the effects of concentrating power in the presidency without attendant checks and balances,”

partly states the report while looking at how initial political parties with dissenting voices were ‘killed’ in a bid to have a uniform language in the country – at least politically.

“KADU, the only opposition party immediately after independence, was weakened and finally wound up in November 1964,” the report adds.

The report traces Kenya’s political woes to the colonial times blaming colonialism for the institutions that were ‘handed’ down to the post-independent regimes which did not have the aspirations of the people at heart.

“Institutions such as the Provincial Administration and the Police, inherited from the colonial government, were subsequently used to intimidate and harass individuals perceived to be dissidents and/or from opposition areas of the country,” it says.

Because of this the report says Kenyans longed to change the situation with a view that only a Constitutional dispensation could help them out. Specifically the report says, Kenyans wanted institutions that could check the government created.

“Kenyans wanted an independent Judiciary capable of exercising checks on other arms of Government and a Parliament that was independent from the Executive and which independently controlled its calendar and activities,” the report says.

“Along with these institutional reforms, Kenyans wanted political parties that reflected the diversity of the Kenyan people and which promoted a political culture of democratic inclusion. Kenyans also wanted reforms to the electoral process and system to ensure a fair, competent, and transparent management of elections.”

The 2010 constitutional referendum that led to the birth of the new constitution was the second shot towards getting a new constitution in Kenya. This is after the a proposed new constitution that was voted out in 2005 during a constitution amendment referendum.

According to the report Kenyans quest for a new constitution was pushed by the desire to create measures against corruption, political patronage and misuse of public resources with the offenders always going unpunished.

“Through successive post-independence regimes Kenyans have witnessed mega financial scandals that have resulted to heavy losses to the public. Public procurement processes were replete with corruption to a level where it was once reported that almost one third of earmarked government expenditure was lost through corrupt public procurement deals,” the report notes.

In addition the report says Kenyans wanted to have a new constitution so as to end regional economic disparities that were entrenched in the country through successive regimes starting with the colonial regime.

“Despite the rhetoric of the independence government on the need to address the socio-economic disparities that existed at independence, post-independent patterns reveal a continuation of socio-economic disparities. The colonial racial segregation ensured that areas that had influence of the settler economy flourished while those untouched by settler development lagged behind,” the report states.

The report further states that, in their quest for a new constitution Kenyans wanted an efficient public service that delivers. They also wanted a change in political culture and an

“end to the silent forms of exclusion.”

“Integrity and mature political leadership were part of the calls for reforms requiring a political and governance system based on integrity, transparency and competence,” the report says.

Created under the auspices of the Auditor General and through a resolution of the National Assembly, the Working Group that came up with the report was formed early last year. Its terms of reference included

“assessing the impact of the implementation of the Constitution to the Nationā€˜s economy and in particular its public finances,” as well as “making a rapid assessment of the impact of the implementation of the Constitution on public institutions.”

The Working Group was also tasked with the role of

“evaluating the social impact resulting from the implementation of the Constitution,”

among other tasks.