Kenyans angered by out of touch leaders

As the year 2008 draws to a close, the problems afflicting the Kenyan people continue to mount by the day, resulting in rising anger that could be a danger to stability.

There are alarmingly frequent shortages of basic consumer commodities, such as food, sugar and fuel. Price hikes are the natural result of shortages, further putting pressure on an economy that is still recovering from the post election violence.

The worst thing about the current shortages is that they are caused by politicians, a rapacious taxation regime and lack of co-ordination within government. The commodities are stockpiled in warehouses and depots but they simply cannot get to retail outlets.

Apart from scarcity in essential commodities, Kenyans are still reeling in shock at how they were manipulated by politicians into butchering their neighbours on ethnic grounds. Today, the same politicians are in bed with each other, sometimes in the strictest sense of the term.

A recent road accident involving Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s son and a grandson of founding president Jomo Kenyatta, opened Kenyan’s eyes to the treachery of politicians. While ethnic groups are up in arms against each other, the children of big-shots were busy partying at 3am on a week day.

The mishandling of internally displaced persons (IDPs) has contributed greatly to discontent with the Kenyan government. After the post elections violence and the formation of the Grand Coalition between President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga, it was generally assumed that all efforts would be made into getting the displaced back to their homes. Unfortunately, divisions within the giant coalition prevent this from happening.

Prime Minister Raila Odinga and his ODM party is opposed to the return of mostly Kikuyu settlers into the Rift Valley. Whereas most of the Luo, Kalenjin and Luhya who fled the Kikuyu heartland are back to their old jobs, it is still too dangerous for the Kikuyu to return to ODM strongholds. Some have reportedly been killed in the Rift Valley when they went back to their homes. Others gave up and are resettling themselves elsewhere – with little government help.

One IDP committed suicide in Nairobi’s Dagoretti area after his meat hawking business was shut down by the National Environment Management Authority for alleged pollution of the environment. Another IDP took up a taxi business in Kerugoya but was shot by police who mistook him for a criminal. IDP women, frustrated at the government’s apathy, demonstrated in Nairobi and were clobbered by riot police. Many such tragic cases have been reported.

The indecision of the government over implementation of the Waki and Kriegler Reports has proved beyond doubt that Kenya is a ship without a captain. Though legislators are congratulating themselves for ‘sending’ the Electoral Commission of Kenya home, it still took almost a year to accomplish. Besides, serious constitutional challenges lie ahead in the wake of the last minute decision which, in reality, was meant to protect politicians from the International Criminal Court.

Indeed, Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka came to ECK’s defence. Could it be because the ECK’s Chair, Samuel Kivuitu, is from the same ethnic group as Kalonzo?

The refusal of government officials to pay tax has surprised both local and international observers, while the Kenya Communications Bill 2008 is an anachronism in the 21st century.

Meanwhile, the government is attacking private corporations for ‘exploiting’ consumers. This is seen as an attempt to deflect public anger over rising prices and shortages in commodities. However, private entreprise is being blamed for conditions not of its own making. Doing business in Kenya is extremely challenging as companies struggle to break even amidst poor infrastructure, corruption and arbitrary laws. It costs more to transport cargo between Nairobi and Mombasa than it costs to ship similar cargo between Japan and Mombasa.

Blaming private enterprise for exploiting Kenyans sounds more and more like the rumblings of a communist-style purge against ‘exploiters.’ Price controls will create worse shortages and spark off the rise of a black market. Unfortunately, Kenyan leaders will be the driving force in a brutal black market that will rival Zimbabwe’s. Members of Parliament have already been implicated in creating maize shortages.

The problems in Kenya, to paraphrase a Nigerian writer, are first and foremost a failure of leadership. Kenya’s leadership is disconnected from its people through the lack of ideology, short-sighted deeds and insulting words. Kenya’s leadership lacks the vision to drive the country forward and instead is regressing towards infantile politics of chest-thumping and group orgies.

The description of Kenya’s leadership used here should not be construed to mean a particular individual. The problems with Kenya’s leadership are bigger than the personalities involved for they all exhibit the same qualities. For instance, replacing President Kibaki with Raila Odinga will not bring about any changes. Removing Kibaki, Raila and Kalonzo then replacing them with Mudavadi, Ruto and Balala will simply be a game of musical chairs. All these people are part of the problem and can never be the solution.

Kenya’s leadership and its government has lost touch with its own people. The government does not know what the aspirations of the people are, it does not know the challenges that ordinary people face in daily life and neither does it care for the future. National leaders seem to think that increasing salaries, creating commissions and sub-dividing districts will placate the anger of Kenyans.

Already, the money for such tactics is running out. What then?

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Root causes of Kenya’s problems

Kibaki at State House, Nairobi.

Kibaki at State House, Nairobi.

While President Mwai Kibaki will be remembered as the man who bungled an election so badly that the winner will never be known, Prime Minister Raila Odinga has the dubious distinction of inciting ethnic cleansing in full view of the media.

The 2007 elections were the first under a Kibaki presidency. The 2002 polls that got him into power were organized under the tenure of former president Daniel arap Moi. The maladministration of the 2007 elections by Kibaki makes former president Moi look like a Swiss democrat – which he is not.

President Kibaki lost his supporters for failing to protect them from marauding ethnic militias. According to the Commission of Inquiry into Post Election Violence, chaired by Justice Philip Waki, the government knew in advance that ethnic violence would erupt in parts of Kenya regardless of who won the 2007 elections. No action was taken and the result is at least 1,000 dead and hundreds of thousands unable to return home.

But then, this was not the first of Kibaki’s blunders and neither will it be the last. Kibaki won the 2002 elections under the National Rainbow Coalition (NARC), a movement uniting most of Kenya’s politicians. Within one year, NARC was dead thanks to his moribund leadership. A politician who turns hope into despair can hardly be described as inspirational.

The disappearances and killings of thousands of Kenyans especially in the past two years is another cause of anger among Kenyans. Thousands of men and women have been grabbed from their homes in Nairobi, Central Province, Mount Elgon, Mandera and the Coast. The youths were tortured, killed and their bodies dumped in the bushes to be devoured by wild animals.

At the coast, Kenyan citizens were abducted from their homes by security forces and secretly flown to Ethiopia allegedly for sponsoring terrorism. Even the Ethiopians admitted that there was no evidence against the Kenyans but it took over a year for the Kenyan government to facilitate their return to the country.

Prime Minister Raila Odinga shares responsibility with Kibaki for Kenya’s woes. His personality-based battle for the presidency directly and indirectly led to the deaths of thousands of Kenyans.

A five year presidential campaign based on agitation against the Kikuyu ethnic group largely contributed to the violence that rocked the country after the 2007 elections. Between 2003 and 2007, Raila blamed the Kikuyu for his problems with President Kibaki. Diplomats, free from the delusion of reform espoused by the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), say the party was mostly an anti-Kikuyu alliance.

At the Coast, Rift Valley and Western provinces, Raila’s and ODM blamed poverty on the presence of Kikuyu settlers and business people. Unfortunately, poor rural youth believed the propaganda and voted for ODM in large numbers expecting to get land, shops, jobs and business opportunities. During the 2007 campaigns, Raila referred to the Kikuyu as ‘the enemy.’

As Raila was busy lighting ethnic fires, his first born son got engaged to a Kikuyu woman. Another son of Raila’s is close to a grandson of the late President Jomo Kenyatta and buddies with the son of a former top detective – all Kikuyu. Raila Odinga has gone into joint business with prominent Kikuyu personalities.

The other characters who comprise Kenya’s ruling elite are not any better. Most of them are linked to corruption scandals and ethnic incitement. Others are afflicted by poor character. Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka supported ODM’s ethnic-based campaign until he left the party a few months to the election. William Ruto has been implicated in ethnic violence and could easily find himself at the International Criminal Court. Musalia Mudavadi is widely viewed as a spineless politician whose claim to glory is his family name.

Uhuru Kenyatta, son of founding president Jomo Kenyatta, has also been blamed for ethnic violence and could end up alongside William Ruto at The Hague.

Politicians who wanted to form an Opposition to challenge President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila have been accused of hoarding millions of bags of maize, thereby driving up prices for the staple food. Incidentally, the politicians got approval from the Agriculture Ministry – headed by William Ruto.

Its not enough for legislators to decide to pay taxes and assume that Kenyans will be happy. The tax issue is a mere manifestation of a much bigger problem of impunity and lack of respect for the people. Even if the politicians succumbed to pressure and paid taxes, they will find another means of exploiting Kenyans.

Kenya does not have credible leaders at the current moment. The nation needs a complete change in leadership. None of the current crop of leaders should ever be allowed to hold any position anywhere in the republic. Kenyan leaders have reached the end of their usefulness: they cannot produce new ideas, but will merely recycle ethnic garbage to divide and conquer Kenyans.

Kenyan leaders are not for the prosperity of the people but are interested in pursuing the status quo of privilege for the few. That explains why government appointments only benefit their family and friends. The President, Prime Minister and cabinet ministers have filled the government with their brothers, sisters, wives, girlfriends, cousins and grand children.

Giant cabinet fails over Waki Report

Kenya’s giant 42-member cabinet failed this week to discuss a judicial report implicating its members in violence that killed 1,500 people.

A Cabinet meeting called by President Mwai Kibaki on Thursday was widely expected to decide a government position regarding the report. Currently, the coalition parties – Kibaki’s PNU, Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s ODM and the Vice President’s ODM-K – are split on what to do about Judge Philip Waki’s recommendations.

The Commission of Inquiry into Post Election Violence (CIPEV) was formed as part of the peace agreement between Kibaki and Raila following disputed elections in December 2007. Violence between their supporters resulted in 1,500 dead and close to half a million homeless.

CIPEV has implicated at least six close allies of the President and Prime Minister in the violence, which involved lynchings, hackings, gang rapes and mutilation.

The suspected ethnic warlords in the cabinet have denounced the Waki Report. So strong was the backlash in ODM that a split was imminent after party leader Prime Minister Raila Odinga, supported prosecution for planners of violence. In this, the Prime Minister was seen as pre-occupied with the Naivasha violence where people from his Luo ethnic group were attacked. Apparently, Raila did not realize that in calling for prosecution for Naivasha violence, he would inevitably open the door for ODM supporters elsewhere to face justice over crimes against humanity.

ODM Members of Parliament openly defied their leader as they closed ranks to protect their own. Meanwhile, PNU initially dismissed the report for recommending trials for supporters of President Kibaki. The Waki Report says that a meeting was held at State House to plot the Naivasha attacks but PNU and Kibaki deny such a meeting took place. As PNU puts it, the chaos at Naivasha and Nakuru was retaliation by the Kikuyu for similar violence targetting their kinsfolk in ODM strongholds.

As so many of Kenya’s politicians are implicated in the post election violence, its beginning to appear that a government-led prosecution will be difficult to commence. In effect, the government would be prosecuting itself.

However, the Waki Report has a self-activating mechanism: Should the Kenyan government fail to act by December, the task of prosecuting Kenya’s cruel and corrupt leaders will automatically fall under the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague. Already, media reports quote the ICC’s chief prosecutor saying he is ready for the work.

Many of the displaced are yet to return to their former homes as ethnic tension persists in the countryside. Its not only the victims of violence that want justice. There are fears that without punishment for inciters of ethnic cleansing, worse troubles are in store for the country. The next General Election is due in 2012 and presidential campaigns have already began along ethnic lines.

Kenya’s politicians are reportedly having sleepless nights as they await what is described as the “Hague Express.”

Raila, Kalonzo reject Waki Report

BY Michael Mumo and Bernard Momanyi (Capital FM)

The Waki report on post-poll violence got further bashing on Thursday, after Prime Minister Raila Odinga beat a hasty retreat and led 75 Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) MPs in rejecting it.

Mr Odinga, who has been vocal in pressing for the full implementation of the report, chaired a four-and a-half hour ODM parliamentary group meeting which declared that the report had “incurable errors, defects and fundamental constitutional contradictions.”

The Prime Minister sat to the right of the Parliamentary Group Secretary Ababu Namwamba as he read out the statement. Mr Namwamba said contents of the secret envelope that was handed over to the chief mediator of the Kenya peace talks former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan could not be subjected to legal proceedings or investigation within or outside Kenya.

“ODM being part of the coalition government will resist and stop any rendition or surrender of Kenya citizens to a tribunal outside its territory as the national jurisdiction and national systems have not collapsed.”

The position taken by ODM came barely hours after the American and German Ambassadors urged President Kibaki and Mr Odinga to implement the Waki report in full as a way of ending the culture of impunity in Kenya.

But speaking elsewhere, Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka appeared to take the same route as ODM, saying report should not be implemented in full since it would open up wounds that had started to heal.

Mr Musyoka said it was regrettable that several people were killed during the post-election violence but warned that if careers of politicians implicated in the violence were destroyed it would be detrimental to the healing process in the country.

More on this story from Capital FM news >>

Rejection by Kenya’s government of the Waki Report on post election violence is likely to cause discontent among a public eager to see justice amidst rising ethnic tension sparked by a fractious ruling elite.

The Commission of inquiry into Post Election Violence implicated senior politicians allied to President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga in ethnic clashes that killed over 1,000 Kenyans early this year. The violence was a result of disputed elections between Kibaki and Raila. International mediation efforts led by Koffi Annan brokered a coalition between the two in March. However, blame over the violence continues.

The Commission was chaired by judge Philip Waki who recommended the prosecution before an international tribunal of all politicians linked with ethnic incitement and financing of the clashes.

Kenya: A ship without a captain

Its interesting living in a country whose leadership is unwilling to guide developments in the social, political, cultural and economic institutions of the state.

asleep at the wheel

President Mwai Kibaki: asleep at the wheel

Of course, most people would be scared at living in a country whose leadership has taken a leave of absence. For the political scientist, the unravelling of a state provides interesting study opportunities comparable to observing the birth of a state.

Most Kenyans are familiar with author George Orwell because of his book, “Animal Farm,” widely used in English literature. Few Kenyans, however, have read the book, “1984,” also by Orwell. 1984 was written in the 1940s, in the aftermath of World War 2 but many of the things Orwell predicted are becoming reality.

In his book, Orwell explains the four ways in which states collapse. The first, and most obvious, is an invasion by another state with greater military power. The second is when a ruling class governs so inefficiently that the masses are stirred to revolt. The third is when a ruler allows a strong and discontented middle class to come into being.

The fourth way in which a state can collapse, and which is relevant to Kenya, is when the ruling classes lose their own self confidence and willingness to govern. Ultimately the determining factor as to whether a state survives or collapses is the mental attitude of the ruling class itself.

Coming back (or is it down?) to our beloved country, we are very unlikely to be invaded by another state. Most of our neighbours have their own problems and such an invasion would not be recognized by the international community. Considering the conduct of our so-called leaders, the three other factors written by Orwell are cause for worry.

The Kenyan state is governed so inefficiently that its a wonder it has lasted so long. There are no priorities other than the short-term gratification of the political class. Billions of shillings are spent in propping up a bloated government filled with ethnic warlords whose academic qualifications are in doubt. Cabinet ministers appoint their poorly educated relatives and tribesfolk into positions that demand technical expertise. Not surprisingly, such appointees spend more time thinking of ways to earn money than in improving service delivery.

New districts are being created left, right and centre. Most of the new districts are created as personal fiefdoms for prominent families and powerful politicians. For example, Thika District for the Kenyatta family, Mbeere for the Nyagas, Vihiga for the Mudavadis, Bondo for the Odingas and Ijara for Defence Minister Yussuf Haji. Transmara was created for Sunkuli, Bomet for the late Kipkalya Kones and Mwingi for Kalonzo Musyoka.

By 1990, Kenya had 42 administrative districts. Today, the country’s provincial administration does not know the exact number of districts but the figure is close to 200. While campaigning for a second term in 2007, President Kibaki created districts for almost every sub-tribe in Kenya. During the same campaigns, Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka promised to turn every constituency into a district.

The railway system, built by the British Empire a century ago, has all but collapsed after years of neglect. The education system suffers from under-investment in new facilities and teacher training. Kenya’s cities are receiving less water today than was the case a decade ago. Electricity supply, which is normally erratic, has become extremely expensive.

Inefficient administration coupled with blatant opportunism has made Kenya’s middle class greatly disenchanted. According to Orwell, this is a factor that could bring down the rotting edifice of Kenya’s statehood. The middle class is made up of educated young and middle-aged citizens more interested in globalization than in the antics of tribal politics.

The middle class want Kenya to play its rightful role in the international community by contributing towards a technologically driven society with equal opportunities for every body. The values of individual rights, justice, democracy and liberty are of significant importance to the middle class, as indeed, they should be for everybody. As matters currently stand, Kenya in its present form is unlikely to make these achievements.

It is clear that Kenya’s leadership is no longer confident about itself and has lost the willingness to govern. Quite frankly, we at the Nairobi Chronicle, confidently state that Kenya’s leaders are an utter failure. The country is suffering from a vacuum in leadership – we live in a leadership desert. This statement is not meant to criticize Kibaki alone, but it applies across the entire spectrum of Kenya’s political leaders. In all sincerity, who among the political chest-thumping classes can we trust with the task of achieving Vision 2030?

Is it Kibaki? What about Raila and Kalonzo? Can William Ruto, Martha Karua, Mudavadi, Balala or Mungatana do it? We don’t think so and most Kenyans privately agree with us.

According to world standards, one of the signs of a failed state is infighting within the ruling classes. For this alone, Kenya has earned a right of place among the galaxy of failed states which include Somalia, Pakistan, Nigeria, Haiti, Sudan, among others. The formation of the Grand Coalition was a sign of failure. The Grand Coalition is driven by foreign powers because our Kenyan leaders wanted to sacrifice the country for selfish ends. A government driven by foreign diplomats is a clear indicator of non-existent leadership.

To paraphrase Nigerian writer Wole Soyinka (or was it Chinua Achebe?), the trouble with Kenya is first and foremost a failure in leadership. A country without an assertive leader is like a ship without a captain. Everybody does whatever they feel like doing. Decisions cannot be made in time and when action is finally taken, its usually irrelevant. Middlemen and conwomen emerge within government circles claiming to represent the ever-absent chief executive.

The Kenyan government reaction to the capture of 33 tanks by Somali pirates is a case in point. Nobody knows where the tanks were going. Kenya’s military was caught unawares amidst infighting in the top command over promotions and recruitment. The US military based in Doha, Qatar, seems to have more information about the incident than our own government.

Kenya’s ruling elite is largely composed of individuals who inherited power and wealth from departing British colonialists. In a bid to keep wealth within the family tree, there has been a great deal of political inheritance, with power handed down from father to son and mother to daughter. The rest of Kenyans are relegated to spectators and pawns in the power games of the rulers.

Government in circles over captured tanks

With Somali pirates holding at ransom 33 powerful tanks and world powers staring helplessly, Kenya’s government is running around in circles amidst controversy over the true destination of the weapons.

Last Thursday, Somali pirates seized a ship carrying more than 30 military tanks. Initial reports indicated the tanks were ordered by the government of Southern Sudan. Later on, Kenyan government spokesman Alfred Mutua confirmed that the tanks were heading to Kenya.

“The cargo in the ship includes military hardware such as tanks and an assortment of spare parts for use by different branches of the Kenyan military,” Mutua said.

The pirates from the Somali district of Puntland denied Kenya’s claims, citing documents within the ship pointing to the ultimate destination of the cargo as South Sudan. The United States, which has a warship actively monitoring the hijacked vessel, has announced that the deadly cargo was headed for South Sudan.

What makes the saga intriguing is that Sudan is under a United Nations arms embargo; hence the government of South Sudan has categorically denied ownership of the arms shipment. Over the years, Kenya has been a close ally of the South Sudanese, right from the days of guerrilla conflict between the Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement and the Khartoum government.

Press interviews with Kenyan military personnel shows that the Army neither ordered the tanks nor was it aware of an incoming shipment. On the other hand, it has been reported that Kenyan authorities are in possession of documents confirming ownership of the captured weaponry.

Amidst this potentially explosive situation (no pun intended), Kenya’s political leadership is still immersed in its never-ending game of retrogressive ethnic politics. Hardly a word has been heard from President Mwai Kibaki. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Raila Odinga is engaged in maneuvering within the ODM party in readiness for the 2012 presidential elections.

Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka has drawn the ire of many by insinuating that he was an ‘acting’ commander in chief while President Kibaki was attending the UN Heads of State summit in New York.

It has been rumored that the tanks are indeed for the Kenyan military but were ordered without the knowledge of army chiefs by politically-connected persons. Military contracts tend to be highly lucrative due to secrecy in procurement.

In spite of having suffered the side-effects of Somalia’s lawlessness in the past 17 years, Kenya has taken a complete back seat in the search for stability in the Horn of Africa. The Transitional Federal Government (TFG) crafted in Nairobi in 2004 was a patchwork of warlords with no interest in creating a peaceful society. TFG President Abdullahi Yussuf is the warlord for Puntland, where piracy activities are centered.

Problems in Somalia worsened in December 2006, when the United States decided to overthrow the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC). By mid 2006, the UIC had succeeded in creating a functional government in Somalia for the first time since clan warfare wrecked the country in 1991.

During the short-lived reign of the UIC, piracy in the Indian Ocean almost ceased but with its overthrow, piracy has grown faster than before.

Typical of its lack of foresight, the Kenyan government provided logistical support and intelligence that enabled the US and Ethiopia to remove the Islamists from power.

Constitution reforms not a priority

A new survey reveals that 89% of Kenyans don’t care about reforming the constitution, but want the government to address poverty, insecurity and healthcare.

With rising food and energy prices, majority of Kenyans are more concerned with inflation than with a constitutional process seen as the preserve of politicians. Security emerged as a major concern for a country traumatized by political and ethnic clashes that left over 1,000 dead and half a million homeless. Land reforms featured consistently among poll responses.

The findings were released by Gallup International, a respected polling organization.

According to Gallup, only 9% of respondents feel that constitutional reforms are a priority. Apart from concerns about the economy, health care and security, Kenyans are anxious about the state of infrastructure in the country. Road rehabilitation has been slow as water and electricity shortages bite harder.

The findings were a big disappointment to civil rights activists and politicians, who have been lobbying for constitutional reforms since the early 1990s. Non-governmental organizations, politicians, lawyers and religious leaders – all backed by foreign diplomats – have persistently driven the view that a new constitution is the only path towards a wealthy society. The findings of the Gallup poll will question the legitimacy of these groups.

This is not the first survey showing Kenyans’ disregard for constitutional issues. Last December, just before the elections, another survey revealed that Kenyans want jobs, medicines in public hospitals, clean water and safe roads.

In spite of the rhetoric by politicians that Kenyans “want” constitutional reforms, the ordinary man and woman on the street is not fooled. Kenyans know that this obsession with changing the constitution has more to do with the trappings of power than it has to do with making a better country. A good example is the so-called Bomas Draft that some political parties want to implement.

If the Bomas Draft becomes a reality, every politician in Kenya will have a job thanks to multiple layers of government. There will be government at village level, locational level, the district, province and right to the national level. There will be mini-parliaments for the provinces and districts. Each layer of government will levy its own taxes. According to the Bomas Draft, retired politicians will be accommodated in some form of national council of elders.

There is little mention in the Bomas Draft of expanding economic production in order to provide jobs, food and housing to the growing population.

Political meddling in Kenya’s constitution has resulted in numerous amendments since independence. Most of these were designed to deal with a prevailing political threat. For instance, in 1966, President Jomo Kenyatta’s administration introduced an amendment that forced Members of Parliament who dissented with their political parties to face fresh elections. This amendment was targeted at Kenyatta’s critics, such as opposition leader Jaramogi Oginga Odinga.

In 1992, Kenya’s second president, Daniel arap Moi, amended the constitution to make his Kenya African National Union (KANU) the only legal political party. The amendment was removed in 1991 after international pressure.

Throughout the 1990s, President Moi’s opponents wanted the constitution changed in order to give themselves a better chance of winning. After the 1997 elections, the opposition began lobbying for the creation of a Prime Minister’s position after realizing that removing Moi from the presidency was impossible. Moi resisted their calls for a new constitution saying that the opposition was not sincere.

In 2002, Moi agreed to have a National Constitution Conference at the Bomas of Kenya. However, he made the conference so big that failure was a guarantee. The Bomas conference had over 600 delegates with all 222 Members of Parliament included. It was the largest constitutional conference in the history of the world.

Just before the conference completed its work, Moi dissolved parliament in readiness for the 2002 General Election. With most of the delegates being politicians, the Bomas conference was postponed in order to give them time to campaign. Mwai Kibaki won the elections and was sworn into office on December 30th, 2002 promising the enactment of the Bomas constitution within 6 months. That was not to happen.

Kibaki had made a political alliance with Raila Odinga, Kalonzo Musyoka and others based on the enactment of a new constitution. Raila was promised the position of executive prime minister. In the first few months of 2003, Raila and his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) continually reminded Kibaki of his pledge to change the constitution and make Raila a prime minister.

John Michuki, a Kibaki ally, dropped the bombshell. Michuki announced that the purpose of constitutional reforms had all along been to remove Moi and KANU from power. Since these objectives had been achieved, it was no longer necessary to reform the constitution.  Raila and LDP were outraged, and his alliance with President Kibaki came to an end.

In 2005, Kibaki wrote another draft giving the prime minister much less powers. Raila and LDP campaigned hard against Kibaki’s draft constitution and it was defeated in a national referendum held in November 2005. Since then, no further progress has been made in enacting a new constitution.

Gallup’s recent poll demonstrates that ordinary Kenyans clearly understand the intention behind constitutional review. With Kenyans being the most educated Africans, most realize that it takes much more than a constitution to create a better society. Constitutions do not build roads, power lines, hospitals and schools. All these are day-to-day responsibilities of a government.

The orgy of self-destruction seen this year was not driven by the current constitution. If anything, our present constitution criminalizes murder, rape, arson, looting and incitement. The present constitution, which has guided the country for 45 years, gives every Kenyan citizen the right to work, live and own property anywhere within our borders. The current constitution recognizes the rights of all racial groups in Kenya, that is, Africans, Caucasians, Hindus and Arabs.

As it was noted after the post elections violence, Kenyans need to re-examine the way they conduct politics. If people can kill and steal under the current constitution, why should they obey a new constitution?

Kenyans are suffering from a political class that is nurturing the values of impunity, racism, ethnic hatred, sexism and hereditary politics. It is unthinkable in the 21st century that politicians want a constitution that violates the rights of specific racial and ethnic groups. If such a constitution were enacted, life in Kenya will not get better. It will only get worse.