KENYA : ENACTING THE NEW CONSTITUTION
VET ALL ARMS OF GOVERNMENT
In his celebrated book “The prince” , Nicoli Machiaveli evolves the principle of the end justifies the means. The holy scriptures tell us that the end is more important than the beginning, and that it is better to go to a function of sorrow than to a function of joy.
In the quest to deliver irreversible social-political changes in the republic of Kenya, the civil society deserves all the credit while the political elite should receive a barb. It is recalled that Men, women, youth and I dare say children have died, shed blood or been partially or permanently maimed in the struggle to liberate the country from the jaws of imperialism. Besides, many more have had to flee their motherland to live as refugees in quite unfriendly social-climatic conditions.
My greatest concern is whether Kenya can be said to be out of the woods by dint of the passing of the New Constitution, vetting or appearing to have vetted members of the New Look judiciary and or other holders of public office. In my humble submission to root out the evils of impunity, to exorcise the ghost of corruption and to bring to redemption the lords of ethnicity, the country is crying for a lot much more radical surgery. I say a radical surgery in contradistinction to the radical “thuggery” that was experienced in 2003 when like a “bandit attack” on the then judiciary, seasoned judges were suspected, accused and sentenced, unheard and bundled out of office. The custodians of justice and protectors of individual rights of persons became the laughing stock. The architects of this ugly occurrence were some former partners of some law firm who originate from some same village in Kenya and had sipped a pint of political power or sat under its umbrella.
Our judicial Service Commission has been our hero in achieving changes in the judiciary in a less satanic way than the 2003 “Radical surgeons”. In saying this I am not in any way suggesting that the men and women who were successful in getting the highly coveted judicial positions is better that those who desired them but were left out. Certainly they were not left out because they were any lesser judicial minds than their brothers and sisters who were appointed. As economists would put it, judicial positions were so scarce vis a' vis the demand for them; that their prices shot up so high till candidates were at times required to exhibit inter alia their academic credentials, legal philosophy, spirituality and even sexuality! It was simply a baptism by fire.
The anticlimax in the appointment was as expected in the august house. Elsewhere, before we had predicted that given a chance to dig one’s grave, one would dig it so shallow in the hope that if they came back to life they should get out of it with ease. When a research finding on the prevalence of gay and lesbian practice in the country that had been presented to a Parliamentary committee was cited on the floor of the house and its application explained to possibly include that of members of the august house, the majority of parliamentarians were ready to kill to make the point that the research could not and did not apply to parliamentarians.
Parliament is in denial of a human practice the world over which unless acknowledged, appreciated and managed will continue operating underground while wrecking havoc as a vehicle for spreading HIV/AIDS. To get back to the point, the revamped judiciary is only one arm of the government. The recommended investigations against the DPP were not considered necessary by Parliament meaning the DPP is here with us for the next 8 years.
What is curious is that the DPP is a member of the executive and by the allegations against him being ignored while any allegations against candidates for positions in the judiciary were taken extremely seriously however flimsy they were, a precedent has been set that members of the Executive and possibly those of the Legislature need not be like Ceaser’s wife i.e. beyond reproach. What this means is that the trillion shilling budget estimates for 2011/12 read to parliament on 8th June is going to be managed by “unvetted ” individuals. This means the public will pay the tax but will not be asked to express their satisfaction or lack of it on the persons taking. Does it surprise anyone that several “errors” have been reported by Treasury which as the reader will recall has been in the centre of the Goldenberg, Angloleasing and other scandals? Does it surprise anyone that despite the express provisions of the constitution, that the budget estimates be placed before parliament two months before Budget day the unvetted civil servants went about their business as usual?
Similarly, we have a problem of corruption merchants oiling their campaigns with dirty money to buy their way to elective positions. If such cartels cordon our poor counties and ground them; the country’s development will slow, youth unemployment and insecurity will escalate and the noble motives in the new constitution will be replaced by a vicious circle of poverty that will never be broken. The trouble here is that the legislatures will not enact any law that will curtail their undemocratic ways of retaining power. They will ensure that they pay no or lesser taxes than other Kenyans, that they get a golden hand shake at the end of their term, and that they block competition for nomination to big parties to benefit from any political wave.
If you asked me, unless the Executive and Legislative arms of Government are vetted in a similar way as was the Judiciary the country will not fire on all four cylinders. A good judiciary alone cannot deliver food on the table of Kenyans. As my mother would put it; one needs three stones to cook on. If any one of the three is unsuitable the ugali will not cook. Shall we now replace the two remaining stones for Kenya’s ugali to cook as well as that of the Asian tigers?
(The writer is a graduate of Finance and Law both from Nairobi University. A seasoned banker and former Chair of Kenya Institute of Bankers (NRB). He is currently a practicing Advocate of the High Court based in Nairobi.)