Why Kenyans are no longer cheering their constitution
n our series of letters from African journalists, Waihiga Mwaura looks at what has changed in Kenya 10 years after it adopted a new constitution intended to reform how the country was governed and reduce ethnic tensions.
There are many lessons from George Orwell’s famous book Animal Farm – the most poignant being that the animals who rebelled against their human farmer hoping to create an equal society ended up being disappointed by what came next.With the bells of independence chiming across the continent around 10 years after that classic was written, there was great hope that newly achieved African self-rule would lead to the equitable distribution of resources.
Several decades on that expectation was replaced by disillusion as local oppressors often took the place of the expelled colonial “masters”.This is why Kenyans were so jubilant on 27 August 2010 when a new constitution was adopted.In the words of former Chief Justice Willy Mutunga, the new laws marked the culmination of “almost five decades of struggles that sought to fundamentally transform the backward economic, social, political, and cultural developments in the country”.
What changes did the 2010 constitution usher in?
Well, previously the president operated with imperial-like powers controlling the three arms of government.He appointed and sacked judges.He determined the calendar of parliament and could have as many ministers as he liked.You get the picture.Kenyans were clear in terms of what they wanted.
They were keen to see clear a separation of powers between the legislature, the executive and the judiciary.They wanted their rights more definitively enshrined in the constitution, they wanted gender equality and they wanted the devolution of resources – away from central government to the 47 counties that were created.
So a decade on, it has been a time of reflection, looking back at the gains made – like more respect for human rights – but also at the missed opportunities.
Last Updated on February 8, 2021 by bmc4529blog
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