Murang’a Senator Irungu Kang’ata has issued a warning to President Uhuru Kenyatta that the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) is unpopular in his Mt. Kenya backyard and that he risked losing the debate should it go to a referendum.
“A possible loss by our party’s candidate will have not-so-good political consequences that will permeate into BBI and possibly torpedo it,” he said
BBI was launched by President Uhuru Kenyatta and former Prime Minister Raila Amollo Odinga in what was billed as a constitutional amendment that would bring an end to post-election violence thereby bringing lasting peace, harmony, unity, and inclusivity among Kenyans.
However, the amendments proposed by the BBI talk force have become so unpopular among ordinary Kenyans who claim that BBI does not address their immediate challenges
In principle, the idea behind the handshake and the Building Bridges Initiative appeared noble yet proposals contained in the second report fall short of the aspirations of the majority of Kenyans.
While this process was touted that it would bring Kenyans of all walks of life together, it appears to be headed in the opposite direction. The process is rife with intolerance, with those holding dissenting opinions branded names. With groups of parallel political persuasions adopting rigid and hardline positions, everyone can tell that this process is likely to create more chaos than deliver the peace it promised. Having a robust and blistering dialogue around an issue is not wrong; the intolerance, verbal insults, and physical threats are.
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BBI has failed to capture the imagination of ordinary folks and this is not surprising. The process was built almost exclusively around two individuals and their vision for the country. The proposal to remarkably change and expansion both the Executive and Parliament does not address the divisive nature of our politics. Rather, it is a political matrix intended to fulfill the individual desires of the ruling class with an unaccountable President dominating the three arms of Government by wielding imperial power
The BBI report misses the whole point. Kenyans are skeptical and unconvinced that adopting any of the proposals would end electoral fraud and malpractice and stymie ethnic violence and bloodletting as witnessed in 2007/2008. Everyone knows that the post-election violence has never been about or because of the structure of the Executive, rather, due to lack of a fair and transparent electoral process. Changing or writing the Constitution anew will not stop those who steal and falsify the vote. Sealing loopholes and creating a strong deterrent mechanism, including stiff penalties and a real pain to the perpetrators, is the only cure. Sadly, those who drafted the report totally ignore this basic reality.
The inability of the BBI task force to factor-in the cost of implementing the proposals is both troubling and shocking. The promise that the Constitution would raise county resource reallocation from 15% to 35% is complete nonsense. How can a government that has struggled to dutifully and timely fulfill the 15% allocation be able to transfer 35%? Despite the many checks and balances on the Executive, President Uhuru Kenyatta blatantly disobeyed court orders and the current Constitutional requirement on the Two-thirds Gender Rule including in the appointment to key positions, including his own cabinet. If the President is getting away with such, why would anyone expect a man wielding even more power to implement any of the BBI recommendations if adopted? Kenyans should be able to see right through these lies and deceit.
The talk of inclusivity that is to be achieved through the BBI is remarkably hollow. Mr. Odinga and his supporters must surely be uncomfortable pushing this narrative when they know that their partner, Mr. Kenyatta has and continues to unapologetically make tribal appointments to lucrative state corporations and Ambassadorial positions. Such openings would appear, are only to be filled by candidates from the Mt. Kenya region.
It is perhaps not lost to anyone that the 2010 Constitution requires all state appointments to reflect the true face of Kenya, something that the current administration has willfully violated. In truth, President Kenyatta should not tell Kenyans that he wants to achieve inclusivity through the BBI process when his regime is practicing open tribalism. Again, this is a reminder that we cannot legislate our way out of serious problems. This requires political goodwill, and for honest leaders to become true nationalists. Leaders lead by example, and the president has failed on this front.