Kenyans went through a grueling past to birth the Constitution in 2010, yet the last five years has seen them leave its implementation to political leaders who as time has proven cannot be trusted. The great expectations and policy demands captured in the Constitution need an engaged citizenry to be realized.
The Constitution in article 3 states that every person has an obligation to respect, uphold and defend the Constitution. This clause should translate in Kenyans taking the challenge or exercising their right against anyone who threatens the dictates of the Constitution.
The public must not only participate in their affairs but also call to order leaders who do not live up to their oath of office. Although, the Constitution gives the public the right to recall elected leaders who fail to undertake their duties as expected, the clause remains untested yet time and again citizens complain that their leader has failed in one way or another.
The provision that has been well utilized is petitions. Citizens have petitioned Parliament to undertake investigations, some of which have seen reforms taking place like that which led to the ousting of former Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commissioners (EACC). The other petition still being investigated is the dissolution of the Makueni County Government.
Kenyans greatest failure has been the low attendance of various public participation forums available to interact with county and national governments. The main issue driving this has been the perception that their input will not be considered. However, judicial decisions that have kept underlining the need for public input have helped to encourage the public to take up their responsibility. Processes that have not included public opinion have severally been termed an illegality.
The call for this Constitution was inspired by the lack of a people centered public affairs management. Kenyans were tired of dictatorship. Today, by Kenyans not taking up the opportunities laid in the Constitution, they are betraying the same call and sweat that informed the sacrifices for a new legal order.
On the political parties’ front, today the public fund the leading parties, meaning that they should demand from them servant leadership through their participation. The public should also ensure political parties are representative and meet Constitutional demands expected of them. In all the parties, people are yet to demand for grassroots structures that will promote their participation.
Kenyans must seize the moment and take charge of their affairs in line with article 1(i) which states all sovereign power belongs to the people of Kenya and shall be exercised only in accordance of the Constitution.
Kenya needs bold individuals to stand up and call for what is right within political structures be it in the Executive, Parliament, political parties or county assemblies. The Judiciary has shown that when you side with the Constitution, you always win. The buck stops with the public! What will you do?