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Kenyans, our destiny is in our hands, not with politicians

by kenya-tribune

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There’s no doubt that the handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga was a political turning point for a country that was on the brink of a devastating precipice.

But while the truce is being revered as a monumental step by erstwhile political enemies, the architecture around the formation of the Building Bridges Initiative, its mandate, and modus operandi remains a grey area.

First, any process in the current constitutional dispensation that gobbles up public funds ought to be anchored in law.

Unfortunately, the BBI is not, thus emplacing it on the constant path of collision with its critics that deem it as nothing but personalisation of a national agenda.

And a plebiscite being the projected outcome of this initiative has once more sparked debate about the trajectory of our country.

The increasing jitters and whimpers of scepticism about the referendum are justifiable because the debate has degenerated solely into proposition and opposition of an expanded Executive, hence clouding other fundamental questions about our Constitution.

First of all, members of the National Assembly  and senators have been lamenting about the condescending attitude being exuded by Cabinet Secretaries who ignore summons to appear before parliamentary committees to answer pertinent questions about their ministries.

Complaints that CSs are aloof from reality by riding on the fact that they are not elected MPs to trample on official edicts by Parliament points to the need to shift from the presidential system to a hybrid or a pure parliamentary system.

However, the opponents of this idea keep popping up the fact that hybrid or parliamentary system will be a negation of the principle of separation of powers that brings about checks and balances; that you cannot represent and still be in control of resources because you cannot offer checks to your own excesses.

The recent squabbles between the Senate and the National Assembly over the Divison of Revenue Bill is a clear indication that the only socioeconomic equaliser of our time, devolution, is at risk. If Dr Chrispine Odhiambo Mbai, the architect of devolution, would wake up today from where he was interred only to find his brainchild riddled with wanton sleaze on one hand and supremacy wars on the other, he would gladly go back to his grave.

It is time that as a people we took a collective initiative to ensure that the devolved  resources are increased to 45 per cent and ultimately spelt out lucidly in law.

Furthermore, the rampant graft that is ravaging this country to the core has found two steady sources of diet to nourish its immoral systems.

One is the capital-intensive budget that gives unscrupulous tenderpreneurs leeway to influence the budget policy-making process, have corruption budgeted for as they await to inflate tender costs in huge infrastructural projects.

The other is the obscene intimacy between public office and personal interests as revealed by the Ndung’u Report.

The report, besides laying bare how top political figures arbitrarily acquired and dished out public land to their cronies, vividly described how government officials skew up procurement processes and place their companies at the centre to get fat at the cream of government.

If we must hold a referendum, it must fully address these two issues to stop convex-bellied politicians and hawk-eyed tenderpreneurs from self-aggrandizement and enriching themselves at the expense of the blood and sweat of industrious Kenyan taxpayers.

In its interplay with the provision of essential public service, the idea of public officials doing business with government must be banned. Also, it is important to make it clear that public service is not a means of production by making it as less lucrative as possible.

Lastly, our national debt that is hiking towards 5.8 trillion, and translating to almost 69 per cent of our GDP, must be a source of concern to us. Half of our revenue cannot be channelled to service our debt yet there is an underlying paralysis in public service.

The upcoming referendum must robustly speak to the prudent management of our debt by setting a cap in law on the amount of money we can borrow and seeking of parliamentary approval or disapproval before going for foreign loans.

These are just among the few issues that Kenyans must take lead in advocating for in order to grab the agenda from the hands of the political class whose interests can converge to overtake the need for making and amending our supreme law for posterity.

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