In Summary
  • There isn’t an ideal structure of democracy as leaders will make us believe. While some are proposing a powerful prime ministerial post and a ceremonial presidency, others think the status quo has no problem.
  • After all, we spent many years fighting the imperial presidency we discarded in 2010. We are forgetting too quickly before we entrench institutions that will protect those in power when they join the ranks of ordinary citizens.
  • It is imperative that we learn from the British and Americans who are currently faced with constitutional predicaments.
  • True leadership will always emerge and disrupt status quo even when unexpected as it happened with President Obama.

Next year, Kenya will celebrate ten years of the Constitution of Kenya 2010.

Even before any formal review of this foundational edict is made, political parties have embarked on amending it, although we all praised it as progressive.
The current argument is that the political structure isn’t right for a fledgling democracy.

Democracy (demos for "common people" and kratos, "strength" in Greek) was a creation of the Greek people.

Politicians as well as philosophers in Athens debated the development of this terminology for centuries. In 508-507 BC, the Athenians established the first democracy. Cleisthenes, an Athenian lawgiver, was credited with reforming the ancient Constitution of Athens.

By 411 BC, they were tired of their democratic system and replaced it with some form of oligarchy mostly consisting of wealthy Athenians.

Until the 19th century, the Athenian democracy faced internal conflicts, splits and coups that they ended reverting to the original democratic principles.

There isn’t an ideal structure of democracy as leaders will make us believe. While some are proposing a powerful prime ministerial post and a ceremonial presidency, others think the status quo has no problem. They both fall short in explaining the benefits in their preferred structure.

After all, we spent many years fighting the imperial presidency we discarded in 2010. We are forgetting too quickly before we entrench institutions that will protect those in power when they join the ranks of ordinary citizens.

A casual survey that I conducted shows that despite there being a public debate on constitutional amendment, many citizens have no clue about the intentions of Punguza Mizigo and Building Bridges Initiative (BBI).

Like the Athenians, it is only the elite few (less than one percent) playing constitutional games.

As they say, the devil is always in the details. Politicians want a win-win situation where the winner and the loser will have a cake to eat after a grueling campaign.

The public, however, want responsive and transparent leadership that will deliver desired public services. These two dichotomous propositions must be reconciled.

If we truly cared about the common mwananchi, then we should be ashamed that Members of the county assemblies (part of the expansive governance) gobbled Sh8.6 billion in travel and sitting allowances last year when children are dying from collapsing classes. Yet the same amount could develop thousands of classrooms across the country.

It is imperative that we learn from the British and Americans who are currently faced with constitutional predicaments. In Britain, although the country has no written Constitution, they from time to time face issues that are considered constitutional but they often overcome such challenges through their own traditions, conventions and legislations without resulting to demanding a written Constitution.

POLITICAL QUAGMIRE

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