BBI – YES OR NO? UNPACKING THE TRUTH ABOUT THE BBI REPORT (Part 3 of 4) – What Kenyans Really Want

Citizenship is a NON-NEGOTIABLE “inalienable BIRTHRIGHT”. The state CANNOT, on its own, deprive a person of that birthright by way of revocation, suspension or enactment of any laws to that effect at any time. A birthright is an act of God and only the citizen, on his/her on volition can renounce citizenship, not state.

Taskforce Missed opportunities –As stated elsewhere in this narrative Kenyans would be better served if the Taskforce took a comprehensive approach in remedying the anomalies in the current constitution. President Kenyatta was recently quoted as wondering why Kenyans are broke, perhaps that should be his priority – getting money in Kenyans pockets should be the government’s first priority, not creating jobs for the political elite. Here are some of the fixes I would like to see as part of this initiative:

Remove “dual citizen” restrictions and caveats that treat Kenyans in the Diaspora as second class citizens – Citizenship is a NON-NEGOTIABLE “inalienable BIRTHRIGHT”. The state CANNOT, on its own, deprive a person of that birthright by way of revocation, suspension or enactment of any laws to that effect at any time. A birthright is an act of God and only the citizen, on his/her on volition can renounce citizenship, not the state. The egregious bullying and abuse meted on Miguna Miguna as the state misused its police powers to deprive him of his birthright as a citizen by “deporting” him to Canada and the recent refusal by Parliament to confirm Ms. Mwende Mwinzi as ambassador to South Korea epitomizes the injustices that the Diaspora endures from the government. The state MUST not have the power or authority to deprive any Kenyan their birthright. Only Kenyans, on their own terms, can disavow or relinquish their birthrights. Kenyans all over the globe should be treated equally, PERIOD!

  • A balanced Budget Amendment The country needs to live within its means. Over the last seven years under the Jubilee regime the country’s debt has more than quadrupled to over 6 Trillion shillings, a big chunk of that stolen by government officials. The government consistently cooked books to project higher tax revenue than they actually generated. They would then use these cooked figures to obtain loans from both domestic and foreign sources. Those loans sunk the country deeper and deeper in debt. When the government borrows excessively it crowds out private enterprise and eventually the economy contracts, businesses lay off workers and the downward economic slope ensues. This is compounded by increased debt payments by the government as is the case in Kenya now where more than 35% of revenue collections that would otherwise be invested in the country are paid to creditors instead. Therefore, it is extremely important that we have a Balanced Budget amendment that compels the government to live within its means.  competes with private enterprise and eventually crowds
  • Mandatory establishment of a cabinet level Diaspora Ministry The Kenyan Diaspora is a major economic engine that keeps the country afloat. The government must move beyond the lip service and empty rhetoric and partner with this critical demographic in deed and resources. The Diaspora is in desperate search of a viable partner in government to create an enhanced economic development framework upon which capital and enhance The Diaspora is a truly marginalized demographic that’s heavily taxed without any representation whatsoever. That MUST change.
  • Tort Law reform to unclog the courts of frivolous suits Frivolous suits tie up the courts’ most valuable commodity, TIME and they have adverse economic consequences because positive economic and investment decisions get delayed or cancelled altogether because of these suits. Litigants MUST have standing in any action they are involved in except in very rare situations.
  • Criminal Justice reform Methinks too much leeway and discretion is placed on individual judges to adjudicate criminal cases. There is lack of uniform and consistent application of the law and sentences across the country. This needs to be addressed, particularly in serious cases such as capital offenses (Murder, robberies, etc.) so defendants are mandatorily afforded fair trials either by Juries of their peers or a minimum of three judge panels; let’s have a standard and consistent rule of law and application of justice.  
  • Repeal the Deputy President’s “security of tenure” If the current dysfunction and infighting between President Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto is anything to go by, it is palpably clear that no Deputy should have security of tenure. It was a mistake in the first place because it gave the occupant of the office unfettered power to do as he/she pleases without any ramifications. It is important that the president always have control of his/her administration including the ability to reign in rogue staff including the DP, Kenyatta is completely hamstrung even as William Ruto has become increasingly rebellious and defiant of the President. There are literally two centers of power and parallel governments in Kenya with competing priorities and interests today. Short of being completely paralyzed the presidency is at the very best discombobulated. Let the Kenyatta/Ruto presidency fiasco be a lesson learned that MUST not be repeated. The BBI should have addressed this. It is worth noting that the current arrangement was introduced and championed by former Prime Minister Raila Odinga to neutralize President Kibaki’s appointment of Kalonzo Musyoka as VP following the 2007/2008 Post Election fiasco. It was a poorly crafted knee jack reaction that I am sure even Mr. Odinga himself must be regretting today because but for Ruto running to succeed Kenyatta, I highly doubt that the BBI would even be a topic today.
  • Repeal of one third gender Quotas and any other Quotas Women are the majority in Kenya and they can overrun men at the ballot-box if they so choose, no affirmative action is necessary. Democracy is about competition of ideas and choice, not gender. Indeed it has proved impossible to implement this provision. Even the inventor of this cockamamie idea, now Supreme Court Justice Njoki Ndung’u admitted during a moment of candor that she just inserted this provision just to do it and it was not something she clearly thought through. There are several other provisions in the constitution in limbo because of similar circumstances and they need to be revisited as well. Additionally, the government should not be in the business of picking winners and losers and creating permanent special carve-outs of groups of populations or creating classism in the country. Such designations as “women rep”, “marginalized”, “youth” etc. for purposes of political representation in Parliament and County legislatures are simply overkill and unwarranted, scrap them.
  • Removal of barriers to elective office including the onerous diploma/degree requirements for MPs Leadership is not a classroom affair, most of the so called learned leaders now in office have ruined the country. This requirement is elitist and cliquish, it advances classism and tiers of citizenry as well as FRAUD as we have witnessed since this constitution was passed wherein politicians have been fraudulently acquiring diplomas and degrees solely so they can run for office. If you can vote, you can lead!
  • A constitutional cap on recurring expenses at 25% of the national budget – Salaries and wages increases should be pegged on GDP performance, i.e. there should be a correlation between economic performance and governance and pay should be so commensurate and reflective of the economy. To those who feel the wages would be too small, find other jobs in the private sector that pay better, you do not have to work for the government. 
  • Presidential election disputes and petitions must be guided by evidence and NOT arbitrary timelines/deadlines Let the evidence guide the court’s decision and allow a reasonable amount of time to get it right. Justice demands it. The 14 days provided in the Constitution in Article 140 Clause 2 which reads “within 14 days after the filing of a petition under clause (1), the Supreme Court shall here and determine the petition and its decision shall be final” is simply NOT sufficient time to collect all the evidence necessary, review, adjudicate and render a fair and just resolution. We saw a perfect example in the last election where the justices were so pressed by deadlines that one Justice Njoki Ndung’u literary concocted a voluminous 7 hour dissenting opinion claiming she had personally read ALL the tens of thousands of pages of evidence submitted to the court, a humanly impossible feat that tarnished her credibility and that of the court.
  • Reduce the size & scope of governmentThe government’s size and scope has ballooned exponentially over the last several years and so has its onerous burden on Kenyans from a cost and regulatory standpoint. We need the “Commissions” and “Authorities” reduced and their services streamlined. We need their onerous regulations that stymie the economy minimized. Overlapping roles need to be consolidated.
  • Curb the excesses of local governments Devolved governments are the Petri dishes of corruption with unrestrained autonomy. Kenya was not ready for this system of government and it has been a disastrous experiment. Devolution devolved corruption and created greed monsters and multiplied sleaze nationwide. We need better controls to rein in runaway rogue County governments.
  • Restore our defaced currency to reflect our heritageThe defacing of our currency in the current constitution was a bad idea.  There is absolutely no sense in defacing our currency and replacing it with inanimate objects. Our heritage is our history. The changes were born out of odium of past presidents and it was simply wrong. Can you imagine an American Dollar note without George Washington or Benjamin Franklin faces for example? Of course not, these men were not necessarily the most beloved during their reign and yet they are part and parcel of America’s heritage. Jomo Kenyatta, Daniel Arap Moi, Mwai Kibaki, Uhuru Kenyatta and future Presidents are part of Kenya’s heritage and history. They may not have been the most beloved during their reign but that in no way erases their place in our nation’s history. Our currency is the one place that this national history and heritage is amplified notwithstanding our varied opinions of the people on those faces. The notion that we are substituting our leaders with animals and inanimate objects on our currency is preposterous and MUST be REPEALED.
  • Eliminate “nominated” Reps, MPs, MCAs It is common knowledge that most of these nominated positions are used as leverage to reward girlfriends, friends and cronies with positions that they are otherwise not entitled to or eligible for. They add absolutely no value, instead they are a major drain on taxpayers. Nominations are an outdated and MUST be scrapped.