President says a good Constitution must be responsive to aspirations of a nation and is a means to a greater end
President Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday signalled the urgency for Constitutional change and necessity for a new political mindset.
In a passionate pitch made at State House Nairobi during the Madaraka Day celebrations, the President left every impression that he is determined to preside over far-reaching constitutional amendments that will “secure the country’s growth and development”.
Previously, Opposition leader Raila Odinga has been the avowed champion of constitutional change.
Conversely, Deputy President William Ruto has been blowing hot and cold with regard to the changes, believing they would cloud an already clear succession path. Both Ruto and Raila were at the State House event.
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The past one month has been characterised by ceaseless pounding of the DP’s political edifice and the routing out of his allies.
“A Constitution is not an end in itself; it is a means to a greater end. It is a living document. And if certain elements of the Constitution outlive their historical purposes, they become a cancer. They must be removed or they will infect the good elements of the mother law,” said Uhuru.
Time for change
According to the President, the time for the change is now. He reminded the country of past constitutional changes in 1991 and 2008.
“I am already discerning a constitutional moment. Not a moment to replace the 2010 Constitution, but one to improve on it. A moment that will right what we got wrong in 2010,” he said.
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Of the 1991 repeal of Section 2(a) reintroducing multiparty, President Kenyatta said the section had outlived its historical purposes and morphed into “political cancer.”
The 2008 National Accord and Reconciliation Act changes, he said, happened out of historical necessity. In 2008, Raila became the country’s second Prime Minister after Mzee Jomo Kenyatta who transformed into President and Head of State a year after independence.
“If the political architecture provided by a Constitution cannot support the growth and progress of a nation, that Constitution becomes cancer to the body politick,” said President Uhuru.
Quoting Kenya’s founding fathers, Mzee Kenyatta, Jaramogi Odinga and Tom Mboya, he said a good Constitution must be responsive to the aspirations of a nation and be a means to a greater end.
“Having been involved in the Lancaster constitution-making process in the 1960s, Mboya cautioned the nation against constitutional rigidity,” he said.
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At the base of these changes, however, the nation must obtain the right mindset and re-imagine itself, he said.
Although the constitutional change is at the core of this re-imagination, a change in civic culture will crown and firm it up.
New kind of leadership
“We cannot re-imagine our nationhood without changing our political architecture. And we cannot change this architecture without re-engineering our Constitution,” he said.
Quoting a sermon by Cannon Donaldson of Westminster Abbey, the President bemoaned the difficulties of policing a political culture beset with skulduggery where politics is defined by “Wealth without Work; Pleasure without Conscience; Knowledge without Morality and Worship without Sacrifice”.
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He complained of a leadership keen on taking shortcuts, devoid of integrity and lacking in national duty and devotion.
“We need political leaders totally committed to promoting not self, but what will transform lives of our people in line with what our founding fathers yearned for. Indeed, as Martin Luther King Jr said: ‘We need political leaders not in love with money, but in love with justice. Not in love with publicity, but in love with humanity’,” he said.
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