In Summary
  • Wholesale changes based on an opaque process that might be more grounded in political expediency will not solve our problems.
  • We must look deeply into why we willingly elect thieves to high office, and get surprised when they steal our money.

Having collected views across the country, the Building Bridges Initiative is expected to complete a report for presentation to President Uhuru Kenyatta and ‘former’ Opposition leader Raila Odinga within the next two months.

If what Mr Odinga has been publicly saying for a long time now holds any water, the team will recommend constitutional changes of a magnitude that can only gain passage through a popular vote.

I don’t know whether Mr Odinga is a seer or simply had advance knowledge of the Building Bridges outcome well before views of the public were collected, but I am thus persuaded that a referendum is inevitable.

A lesson from history might be useful as the merry men and women retreat to compile their report.

This reminder from March — the first anniversary of the famous handshake between President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga that spawned BBI — is worth repeating.

It is from the report of the Kanu Review Committee formed in 1990 as President Daniel arap Moi sought to deflect pressure for reform.

PEOPLE'S VOICE

After months of open hearings, the committee chaired by Vice President George Saitoti reported that the people were happy with President Moi’s rule and wanted to retain the one-party regime.

It was a monumental lie. Ordinary men and women from all parts of the country had taken advantage of the rare opportunity to speak their minds, and it was clear the majority were fed up with dictatorship.

The Saitoti committee’s findings were a betrayal of the people’s demand for return to a multiparty system. It was a lie to no avail as the march to demolition of the monolithic edifice proved unstoppable.

The saving grace was that the Kanu Review Committee held its sessions in the open.

It was thus easy for all to see that the Saitoti team was lying, which no doubt emboldened leaders of the multiparty campaign because they knew they were on the side of the people.

By the same token, the report of the Building Bridges team must reflect the voice of the people.

SUSTAINABLE DEMOCRACY

Recommendations based on what the founding fathers of BBI dictate will be rejected outright.

President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga will suffer a crushing and embarrassing defeat if they try to force through proposals for governance structures based on creating offices for individuals rather than a more sustainable democracy.

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