Opinion and Analysis
Why clarity on Constitution is vital
Posted Monday, July 2 2012 at 22:25
Probably one of the major obstacles to peace in Kenya is the lack of clarity and harmony in the constitutional document.
The Committee of Experts, supported by key politicians, inserted vagueness and contradictions because it was politically expedient.
The stress was on adopting a document first and worry about inherent contradictions later. Some wit correctly commented that the vagueness and contradictions succeeded in creating work for lawyers.
Arguments as to the proper interpretation of various provisions arose immediately after Kenyans adopted the constitution.
Former allies competed to give the Constitution politically selective interpretations.
They hurled accusations and counter accusations of being anti-reform at each other and engaged in outright discrimination of some people while favouring others.
Depending on the political interest at hand, the “leaders” stressed one constitutional provision over others, denied rights to target people, and created doubts as to whether the document was reliable. The challenge to Eugene Wamalwa’s office is to remove the doubts.
There have been glaring acts of discrimination. The most infamous involved Maria Nzomo, an academician known for her stand on gender issues. She was denied appointment to chair the gender commission because one of her names is “Wambui”.
Strangely, many “activists” and politicians who are usually known for their supposed righteous crusades seemingly accommodated the injustice. In tolerating and applauding the victimisation , however, they found solace in citing selected clauses in the Constitution.
What the incident showed is that the supposed custodians of the constitutions are split into two uneven and competing camps.
One group is relentlessly brilliant in pushing its agenda, irrespective of what.
The second group is docile and complacent. As a result, the first group takes advantage of the constitutional confusion and contradictions and tends to set the agenda for debates.
The second group, its members full of self-importance and inclination to denigrate each other, is often caught napping because it does not pay attention to details, especially in the formative stages.
It, therefore, tends to react and to complain after the fact.
The two camps are responsible for the challenges to peace confronting the country in the coming elections.