You want to play your part? Take public participation seriously!

Posted by on 7th November 2017

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Since August 8th the country is being treated to a showdown between opposition NASA and the Jubilee government, it’s easy to imagine the country is split down the middle between opposition and government, but that’s a half truth. There is a good chunk of Kenyans who care less who is president-these are middle upper class and upper class.

Well, that was the case until now. It’s no longer business as usual.

The bungled August 8th elections by IEBC was only a symptom. The real disease can be diagnosed when we look keenly at how these independent institutions are formed and key office holders appointed.

Prior to the 2010 Constitution, institution capture by politicians was so obvious that people preferred settling cases out of court for fear that justice would be sold to the highest bidder. This was true of other independent institutions like the Anti-Corruption commission. They were cosmetic institutions whose only aim was subterfuge.

First forward to post-2010 constitution and there’s little to celebrate in this regard. And while we may want to blame appointing authorities and politicians in general; it’s time we also took up the blame. While we could play victim in the Moi and part of Kibaki regime it’s immoral to play victims now.

Despite the constitution for the first time allowing Kenyans to be involved in the law making process, majority Kenyans have treated the exercise with near contempt that has made us live with bad laws that beget toothless institutions that we now endure rather than enjoy.

How to deal with tyranny

Despite calls to amend the constitution over its over ambitious form, it is the best thing that ever happened to Kenya after independence. The problem has always been implementation and a citizenry that is too trusting of politicians.

For instance, parliament is the face of the people because it represents every part of the country. Laws debated before Parliament are therefore assumed to be presented to the entire country. But the drafters of our constitution knowing only too well the integrity challenge in the country allowed for the public participation of the citizens themselves to check on rogue MPs.

It’s therefore safe to argue that everything wrong with this country are the citizens of this country. All the scenarios currently at play are as a result of bad laws; from the constitution of IEBC that bares the biggest brunt to funny laws like the electoral amendment that prevent accountability of such an institution are a result of the public shying away whenever Parliament calls for a memoranda on public participation.

The country is getting lost in political heat; already the former Kilome MP, Harun Mwau has filed a petition challenging the election of President-elect Uhuru Kenyatta following the October 26th elections that the opposition boycotted.

The government on the other hand is cracking down on NGOs deemed pro-opposition or likely to challenge the elections. It’s easy to get carried away in these political moments and forget one of your key functions as an active citizen interested in the wellbeing of this country.

Parliament resumes sitting next week and three key bills are before them. The Computer and Cyber Crime Bill 2017, the Copy Rights (Amendment) Bill, 2017 and the Building Surveyors Bill, 2017. With the ever fluid online challenges. Cyber bullying and criminal activities online are real but in Africa states have also used this law to cause harm.

Regarding the Copyright law, Musicians have been at the fore front complaining of companies and individuals misusing their efforts for gain. Will they come out and give views? Their fans perhaps? And what of the stories of buildings collapsing, trapping people and ending lives prematurely? Will Kenyans show up and present their views on the Building Surveyors Bill or wait to complain when another building collapses?

The message is simple: when the bills come up for public participation show up and give your views. Take up your rightful place as envisioned in the constitution. In case you don’t know the contents, please take time and visit our Dokeza platform and interact with the content. Drop your views too, in the event you might not make it for participation and we’ll do it on your behalf.

Public participation allows for cooperation and trust between the public and lawmakers-by extension government. Let’s do our part and stop playing victims all the time.

1 Comment

  • by morris mutua on 8th November 2017

    On the matters relate to bill public should also been involved. They should create a platform in each County to gather the information and contributions of the citizens of each County. By doing so will reduce the murmuring of the citizens and will always motivate them to build the laws and economic of our country Kenya.