Renowned Economist David Ndii opined a widely read article on the Daily Nation with the title: Kenya is a cruel marriage is time we talked divorce. At the core of his message is, as a country we have failed to show ability to live harmoniously or share equitably the resources of this country and that perhaps regions not satisfied should break away.
It’s possible that’s an oversimplification of the over 1300 words in that article but really, that was the gist. Anyhow, Dr. Ndii was right on one thing. This is a cruel marriage. However, rather than talking divorce we should try make it work. But first we need to understand how we got here. While Dr. Ndii’s article gives that background there’s that sessional paper that is perhaps the mother of inequality in Kenya. The Sessional paper no. 10 of 1965.
Back when we had the eight provinces the leadership at the time under Mzee Jomo Kenyatta-the founding father, decided that to grow the economy faster, money for development should be “invested where it will yield the largest input.” And by this, the approach ended up favoring areas with good climatic patterns and better infrastructure compared to other provinces. It goes without saying that Central Province and certain parts of the Rift Valley were the major beneficiaries.
This wasn’t necessarily a bad idea; in fact if Mzee Kenyatta and his economists had gone a little further to think of how they would have utilized the non-productive regions we wouldn’t be here. Additionally, the inability by his government and subsequent governments to spread the resources to other regions is what has led to the “our turn to eat” mentality. And perhaps Mzee Kenyatta and his predecessor Moi bear the biggest brunt having ethnicized the government.
Perhaps the single, clearest attempt at redeeming ourselves from the jaws of inequality that nurses tribalism was the 2010 Constitution. It not only reduced considerably the powers of the president, that easily made one a despot but also created devolution in an attempt to kill the “our turn to eat” mentality and forge nationalism. The equalization fund is also another good attempt at correcting the mistakes created by that sessional paper no. 10 of 1965.
The 2010 Constitution gave our Parliament teeth to make their oversight role effective and prevent the Executive from bullying other arms of government. And to keep the country from cyclic politicking that made the country mark-time; the Constitution ensured the cabinet were professionals who wouldn’t waste time trying to impress their constituents as a result, the old order of appointing MPs was abolished. As a matter of fact, we can all agree that it is the 2010 Constitution that has kept the fabric of our nation even in this trying moments we find ourselves in.
People, the weaker link
Why then are we still having tension over an election and spewing hate messages when we have a powerful document like the Constitution? The answer is found in a statement one Martha Karua once said: you can’t legislate morals. Despite having an entire chapter on integrity on our Constitution, Kenyans ignore it all the time and picking leaders without any iota of integrity, simply because the mentality of “our person” hasn’t been cured.
The drafters of our Constitution made too many assumptions. One was that Kenyans were people of integrity and would elect leaders of integrity. Part of the problem we find ourselves in right?
Only this week first time MPs, Charles Kanyi (Jaguar) of Starehe fought with his counterpart from Embakasi East Babu Owino over “their persons”. And the fight degenerated online with their supporters throwing shade at each other.
In the same week, Police have descended mercilessly on unarmed university students in class. And when a journalist pushes the police boss for information, there are Kenyans who attack him because they feel he is attacking the government-‘their’ government. In short Kenyans appear to have no sense of principles or values that guide them. Right or wrong is seen from the lens of their leaders; unfortunately, even these leaders don’t know what they stand for. Perhaps we shouldn’t also be surprised that losers in the bungled August 8th are crisscrossing to another party after spending half a decade attacking the same outfit.
Die hard NASA supporters would not condemn the wanton looting and destruction of property during their demonstrations and Jubilee supporters would not condemn the blatant killing of the demonstrators either. And so the future of our country remains in the hands of two people; the Jubilee candidate, President Kenyatta and the NASA candidate former Prime Minister Raila Odinga.
Are we doomed?
While some quarters think this unpleasant marriage demands divorce, we are of the opinion that every marriage has issues but solutions can be found when partners put their ego aside and honestly deal with the issues raised by both of them.
For starters, Parliament should resume its rightful role as envisioned by the Constitution as the only arm that represents the people and abolish that electoral amendment law that clearly doesn’t have the face of Kenya.
The Judiciary’s annulment of the August 8th elections was important in this country because it signals for the first time since our independence that there are no sacred cows; that we are all equal under the law and that a ruling can go either way. If Parliament could abandon the whole show of tyranny and put their oath of office above any other person we shall heal this country.
Other independent institutions like the IEBC, EACC, DCI among others should also take cue and refuse to be intimidated by politicians and serve Kenyans according to their oath of office. As long as the three arms of government and independent bodies appear to be serving sections of Kenya rather than Kenyans in general things might get thick but we needn’t not divorce. Let’s work this through, let all of us rise to the occasion.