The term of the Building Bridges Initiative is coming to an end and the committee is expected to hand in its report to their conveners, President Kenyatta and Opposition Leader Raila Odinga, any time soon. Coming out of the ashes of post-election turmoil that nearly brought the country to its knees, much is expected from it.
However, information in the public domain indicates that the committee has walked the trodden path. Among the key highlights of the report is creation of more positions, such as Prime Minister and two deputy premiers, and expanding the government, ostensibly to serve various political interests. And this is borne out of a warped argument of pursuing inclusivity.
Informing this is the argument that the current governance structure promotes exclusion, bestowing powers and privileges on the party that wins an election and leaving the rest out in the cold.
There is merit in that. The current scenario of winner-take-all has made elections rancorous and fraught with violence.
But the counter-argument is that the parties are at fault too. Party leaders have failed the inclusivity test for their tendency to favour their cronies, particularly from their ethnic communities, in appointments.
We have had situations where top public offices are occupied by people from only two regions yet the Constitution demands equitable distribution of posts and resources. The law is not the problem; the individuals in power are.
Substantively, our concern is the focus on power sharing at the expense of creating systems and structures that promote national development and enable citizens to lead better lives.
Power equation is an elite problem. Not surprising, politicians have started examining the proposals on how it favours their regions in terms of political positions, yet the power question should not be left as the only variable to define the way everything else operates.
If changes are to be made to the Constitution, the objective should be to serve the interest of the citizens and not the political elite, who, at any rate, have no loyalties as they keep shifting positions depending on how the wind blows.
BBI presents a chance to critically review and amend the Constitution. It’s a chance for self-appraisal and rethinking the nation-state and fundamental unresolved issues. So, change has to be looked at broadly and, importantly, the citizens shielded from the machinations of politicians.
Fears abound that this golden opportunity may be missed, as has happened in the past, and the country forced back to the old ways that have failed. BBI must avoid that trap by providing an expanded vision of state-craft that empowers the citizens.