East Africa

Has Kenya Constitution 2010 Delivered for Kenyans?

The Kenya constitution 2010 was promulgated in 2010 coming into effect in 2012 with the general election that year being conducted under the new constitution.

The 2010 constitution was promulgated ostensibly to bring greater equality to the Kenyan political landscape, promising more prosperity, greater individual and media freedoms, reduction of the powers of the presidency to curtail the possibility of ever having another dictator, and economic prosperity particularly via a new system of devolved federal government. The Kenya constitution 2010 borrowed heavily from the U.S. and can essentially simply be described as a copy paste of the American Constitution.

Has the constitution delivered on its promises?

A reduction of the powers of the president has ensured checks and balances that seem to have withstood a number of tests. It is undeniable that Kenyan media freedom is quite intact and devolution has definitely spread wealth across Kenya.

So what’s the problem? Why do Kenyans still seem unsatisfied with the new dispensation? I personally believe that the problem lies right at the inception of the constitution and the motivations behind the push for the new American style constitution.

I believe that a big part of the problem is that the 2010 constitution was heavily influenced by one person in particular. It was the culmination of Raila’s intentions and ambition to accede to power.

It used aspects of the American constitution that reduce the power of the numbers of different regions via a combination of the electoral college and a variety of laws distributing power to states unequally, not by population, but purely based on geography. For example each American state has two senators regardless of the population. This means that for example the state of Montana, population five hundred thousand, has two senators just as California with population 37 million!

Raila had hoped to use a combination of measures from this constitution alongside his toxic campaign of 41 against 1 to isolate the Kikuyu to reduce that community’s powers as his path to victory.

The Kenyan constitution replicated these deliberate measures that entrench unequal distribution within Kenyan counties. It also replicates measures similar to the electoral college in the presidential election with the need to ensure at least 50% + 1 of the vote and 25% of the votes cast in at least half of the counties. The logic herein, I believe was that an isolated Kikuyu community was never going to be able to muster the numbers needed to meet these thresholds.

All these measures, I truly believe were enacted in an attempt at disempowering one community. This was a losing prospect. The country should have been enacting a constitution meant to empower all Kenyans, rather than disempowering one community.

While Raila’s methods and politics may be objectionable to many, the reason they resonate with such passion to so many, is that his resentments are representative of a concern of many Kenyans that they will never live to see the day that a president or even deputy president will come from their community.

The major problem with COK2010 is that, not only does it do nothing to fix that reality, it in fact only entrenches the reality. Under the new dispensation, not only does the president need to come from a community that has a big enough population to command the electoral numbers, but his running mate also has to come from a populous community. This was illustrated most recently in 2022 where in the absence of a Kikuyu presidential candidate at the top of of the ticket, all four of the candidates that qualified to run had Kikuyu running mates!

Kenyans, indeed Africans, need to relook at our systems of government and go back to our roots to look for systems that are more resonant, and more relevant to our tribal societies and move away from copy pasting of these western Greek style government systems.

How about a return to something resembling the old system of councils of elders, modified to suit modern society. How about a system that eradicates the position of a single titular head such as the president or prime minister, in favor of an Executive Leadership Council (ELC).

One that is elected form amongst a list of candidates representing different regions and different groupings of tribal communities that allow for  representation across the board. We would do away even with the presidential palaces and turn them instead into museums.

Do away with the massive presidential motorcades, and turn the leadership council instead into a body exemplifying servant leadership. The executive leadership council would be constituted of a number of leaders from different regions. They would rotate the chairmanship, presidency or whatever you wish to call it yearly.

Each one of the members would also double as a cabinet secretary overseeing a ministry such as in Switzerland. They would also be rotated from different tribes ensuring that all tribes have been represented. Or perhaps they may just form the ELC and be the ones to select a cabinet, depending on the size of the ELC.

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