My views on the Harmonized Draft Constitution
O.K I admit I hurriedly wrote this up today morning and I've just sent it in. Better something than nothing, right? (This is the unedited version so forgive the errors)
MY POSITION ON THE HARMONIZED DRAFT CONSTITUTION
With this historic moment of our country Kenya in mind it is my right and indeed my duty to present my views on the Harmonized Draft Constitution. Kenyans have struggled for almost 20 years for a new constitution and we have now been presented with an important opportunity. It with this in mind that Kenyans are putting their hopes and trusts with the Committee of Experts to honour citizen’s views and accurately reflect them in the draft constitution to be presented next year. I, Karanja Kebuchi as a Kenyan citizen am committed to a new constitutional dispensation as I believe this will be instrumental in guiding Kenya to a prosperous and unified future. However there are some issues with the Harmonized Draft that I hope will be addressed by the Committee of Experts; the issues are as follows:
After careful consideration on this issue it is my view that two centres of power is not a good system for Kenya. If powers of the Executive are to be checked this should be done through and independent and powerful Legislature and Judiciary. Creating two centres of power will inevitably bring instability and power struggles between the two offices. It is my view that the Presidential system is the most stable system of Executive dispensation for our young and fragile democracy. A Parliamentary system is unstable and constantly changing as witnessed in countries like Italy and Israel; Kenya as a young, developing democracy cannot afford constant change of government taking into consideration the tribal dynamics present in the country. We have come from an Imperial Presidency, but this should not mean we create a whole new office. We must only strengthen the Legislature and Judiciary and make them independent, strong and effective to check Presidential excesses.
A President should be elected through universal suffrage (i.e. by all Kenyans). Anyone seeking to exercise executive authority of a whole nation should go to the people to be elected. I am strongly opposed to a situation where the Executive will be chosen by MP’s. Kenyans have the democratic right and duty to determine who will exercise ultimate authority and implement their vision on the country.
It is my view that the Cabinet should be chosen by the Executive with the approval of parliament and the Cabinet should NOT consist of Members of Parliament. This is a system used in the United States and this will ensure the stability and cohesion of the Cabinet; it will also avoid a situation of undue political games being played in the Executive in terms of policy implementation.
LENGTH OF THE DOCUMENT
It is my view that the Harmonized Draft Constitution is unnecessarily lengthy and includes too many details. A constitution should be a living document that mainly reflects the basic principles and aspirations of a society. It should be a living document that can stand the test of time and can be in use centuries in the future. I do not desire a situation where the document has to be amended every few years like has happened with our independence constitution. The length of the harmonized Draft should be greatly reduced and unnecessary detail should be removed. The details in the constitution should be dealt with through policy enacted through acts of Parliament.
EQUALITY OF THE VOTE AND REPRESENTATION
All Kenyans must be fairly represented in Parliament and ALL Kenyans votes must be equal. The principle of one-man one-vote MUST be upheld in this country as a basic principle of democracy. All Kenyans must be equally and fairly represented in Parliament whichever region or constituency they come from and all their votes must be equal.
It is my view that the three-tier government proposed in the Harmonized Draft will be an unnecessary burden to a poor country like Kenya. We live in a country that still cannot feed all its citizens and thus bringing on a new burden on the Exchequer and stifle development programs. A three-tier system will also create unnecessary bureaucracy and slow down government’s ability to implement rapid development. A two-tier system of Central and County should be maintained but with reforms to ensure better service delivery and less bureaucracy.
The constitution should reflect that Kenya is a sovereign nation. It should clearly state that Kenya will make decisions that are in her own interest and without undue influence from other nations. Kenyans have the right to make their own decisions and build their own country and the President should be obligated to defend the country from exploitation in all spheres including economically, politically and socially from other nations. Any administration found to be exposing Kenyans to adverse influence and exploitation by other nations that threatens should be liable to prosecution. Foreign governments and institutions wishing to operate on the country should be willing to be subject to thorough vetting by Parliament where it deems fit.
I wish to strongly state my objection to the proposal to retire the entire Judiciary as stated in the Harmonized Draft. This would be a grossly discriminative action and would be against the principles of justice and fair treatment. It is not possible that the entire Judiciary is incompetent and this is indeed an insult to the capable men and women serving diligently in the institution. Any reforms to the Judiciary should only target those members and areas where a problem has been identified but not to condemn all the members. As regards to the Constitutional Court this is an unnecessary and expensive new court which will be a taxpayer burden; its proposed functions can be adequately carried out by the existing courts.
It is my view that the Harmonized Draft’s position on marriage is vague and full of loopholes as to how a marriage is defined. I would like to object to a situation where marriage will go beyond the time-honoured principle of one-man, one-woman. Societies throughout human history have practiced male-female models of marriage. Kenya must stick to this natural human model to ensure the continuity and stability of the society. We must not give in to social changes in other countries that go against the morality and cohesion of Kenyan society.
RIGHT TO LIFE
It is my view that every Kenyan has the right to life whether born or unborn. There should be the sanctity of life enshrined in the constitution and life starts at the moment of conception. No person should have the right to terminate the life of the inborn except in extreme cases where a medical board determines that the life of the mother is at stake. Capital punishment for criminals shall however be implemented where a judge deems that an accused has caused the premeditated first degree murder of someone else.
It is my view that Kadhis Courts should remain as is and as reflected in the Harmonized Draft. Kadhis Courts have been there all this time and have not caused any problems for the country. We should not seek to expunge them because of unfounded fears being placed on us by powerful forces who want to influence the region and discriminate one community. Kadhis courts deal with marriage and divorce and only affect the Muslim Community and should remain as is, this will reflect Kenyans stance as a tolerant nation.
It is my view that English and Kiswahili should remain the national language and I support the elevation of Kiswahili to be used as an official language.
The Harmonized Draft mentions culture only once and this shows the lack of seriousness that’s accorded culture in Kenya. The government must recognize the arts and culture as an important component of Kenyan society; one that promotes maintains and sustains unity, continuity and cohesion in the country. The government should be obligated to support the arts though all means including monetarily, infrastructure, promotion and other areas.
The Draft should recognize the right of every Kenyan to own land in any part of the country. All Kenyans displaced since the 1991 clashes and indeed any illegally displaced Kenyan should also have the right of return to their land which should be reflected in the draft.
It is my hope that the Committee of Experts will take my proposals and the proposals of all other Kenyans into careful consideration. We all desire an equal, free, fair and cohesive nation for generations to come. I furthermore appeal to all Kenyans to present their views and participate in this historic process.
“May God Bless Kenya.”