In Summary
  • The structures and operations of the Building Bridges Initiative reflect a lack of transparency and inclusion that could very well lead to recommendations that reflect the will of the sponsors.
  • There have been open public hearings across the country, but there is no system where the media and the public can freely access presentations, documents, papers and other records that will inform the final report.

Contemplating the Building Bridges Initiative one year since that ground-breaking handshake on the steps of Harambee House between President Kenyatta and former Opposition leader Raila Odinga, I suddenly got this dreadful feeling that the outcome might turn out as one big con.

My mind went back eons ago, to the Kanu Review Committee formed in 1990 as President Daniel arap Moi sought to deflect increasing pressure for political reform.

THE SHOCKER

For the first time since Independence, Kenyans got the opportunity to vent. Ordinary men and women from all parts of the country trooped in the numbers to lay out their discontent before Vice-President George Saitoti and his band of Kanu mandarins.

It became clear that the people were angry, disillusioned, disgruntled and utterly fed up with one-man rule, dictatorship, repression, the police state, unchecked corruption, lack of political rights and basic freedoms of assembly, association, speech, expression, and even freedom of thought. In other words, the people were tired of the one-party regime and were demanding unfettered democracy.

Come publication of the report and recommendations of the ‘Saitoti Committee’ report, and the shocker that made the entire initiative and months of public hearings a complete waste of time. The Committee reported that the people of Kenyan were happy with President Moi’s rule and wanted to retain the status quo of a one-party regime.

It was all a gigantic lie. Recommendations for just minimal cosmetic changes in no way reflected the people’s desire for revolutionary change and transition to multi-party democracy.

PUBLIC HEARINGS

Anyway, Kanu’s scheme to subvert the peoples will came to nought. The dam had been breached and the march towards democracy proved unstoppable.

So what does all this history have to do with the present day?

It is simple. The structures and operations of the Building Bridges Initiative reflect a lack of transparency and inclusion that could very well lead to recommendations that reflect the will of the sponsors rather than the will of the people.

Something to hide

Like with the Kanu Review Committee, there have been open public hearings across the country, but there is no system where the media and the public can freely access presentations, documents, papers and other records that will inform the final report.

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