Promulgation of the Constitution of Kenya 2010 marked a new dawn for the country. It was a product of years of bloodshed and political struggle for reforms that saw many detained without trial. The new Constitution brought with it a transformative agenda for the country, a watershed of reform on the continent.
Close to seven years since it’s promulgation we cannot fail to reflect on the constitutional challenges the country continues to face. Both National and County governments continue to minimise the transformative impact of the Constitution. The civic space continues to shrink; rights violations are on the rise with emerging new cases of extrajudicial killings. The constitution is being strangled by tokenistic participation strategies, disrespect for the rule of law and rapidly intensifying conflictual relationships between and among elected representatives. With the high stakes that come with the elections, the situation appears to be getting worse.
What is currently being witnessed in political parties’ primaries are a clear violation of the Constitution and failed attempt to keep up with the tenets of democracy. We continue to witness a series of violence, unexplained disappearance of aspirants, corruption and intentional violation of electoral laws. This round of party primaries has left some voters hospitalised due to the violence created. Beyond this, aspirants associated with corruption have demonstrated an interest in vying with high chances of being elected. Woe unto you if instigators of violence and corrupt individuals clench onto the angles of power, the constitution of Kenya will the greatest victim.
Elected and nominated individuals take an oath to uphold the Constitution. This entails having a responsibility to ensure that the government, created by and sustained by the Constitution, continues to function for the good of the people of Kenya. Electing individuals with questionable character waters down this entire objective. We find ourselves in a critical moment that calls for civic vigilance in the party primaries’ and election period. In a country where 70 to 80 percent of nominated aspirants in major political parties in their respective strongholds are successfully elected in the general elections, meaningful public participation in the party nominations is a none negotiable matter. There is an urgent need for Kenyans to register in political parties and nominate individuals, who have demonstrated integrity and commitment to protecting the Constitution of Kenya, in the party primaries.
Persons of integrity who fail to get party nominations should not despair. They have the opportunity to offer themselves for public service as independent candidates. Kenyans should carefully consider all those offering themselves for elective positions in the coming general elections and only elect leaders of integrity who are willing to protect the constitution.
The Constitution is only as strong as those who uphold it. This is an ideal time to do away with corrupt leaders and bring in a new crop of leaders who have demonstrated integrity and are ready to sincerely protect and uphold the Constitution of Kenya 2010.