On the left, Kenyan parliament in session. In the middle, the stomach of a typical MP while on the right is the Speaker of Kenyan parliament, Hon Marende
By Jerry Okungu
December 14, 2009
As the public debate on the draft constitution draws to a close, there are fears that ODM and PNU are ganging up to have a common stand on what the new constitution should contain and discard. One of the clauses they are conspiring to expunge is the recall clause that threatens to cut short the life of non-performing MPs rather than wait for five years before sending such no-performers packing. The other one targeted for expunging is the clause that compels all Kenyans including the President to pay their taxes.
As a Kenyan, I’m drawing my inspiration from the draft’s preamble that bestows the making of this constitution upon me. To me”we the people of Kenya” means ordinary people with power to choose parliament and the executive every five years. If it is we who have the powers to produce this document then it is about time we told MPs and other arms of government to shut up and let us produce the document of our choice and liking.
When we embarked on this umpteenth journey to produce a new constitution under Kofi Annan’s Agenda 4, the understanding was that once nine wise men known as the Committee of Experts were selected, they would go about doing their business without interference or undue influence from the political and interests groups because such interference especially from MPs and religious groups was the reason we flopped in constitution making in 2005.
Right now religious leaders are busy beating drums about things that matter least to ordinary Kenyans. They are busy poisoning our minds with issues on the Kadhi’s courts, family values and the right to life. In each of these issues, they have introduced strange clauses that are nowhere in the draft. They have invented contentious issues and inserted them in the draft to make it look like there are problems.
To illustrate my point, let me tell you what the draft says about the Kadhi’s courts. It does not say anything about entrenching the Kadhi’s Courts in the new constitution. It says that the Kadhi’s courts will remain in our judicial system as they have been since 1963. This status quo has never given ordinary Kenyans any headache and it never will. Why some morally bankrupt churches have an issue with it beats logic.
On the issue of family life, the draft is very clear that every adult Kenyan will have the right to get married to another adult of the opposite sex. However, some churches are reading permissiveness in the clause claiming that it allows adults of the same sex to get married. Where they get that interpretation is difficult to fathom.
However the most bizarre argument is on the clause that deals with the right to life. In this chapter, Christians have strained to introduce a clause that does not feature anywhere in the draft. That clause struggles to claim that this draft allows for abortion thus denying human beings the right to life.
But what is obnoxious about their argument is that even if the life of a mother is in danger, no abortion should take place! More bizarre is the argument that even if a nine year old child gets pregnant, the parents have no right to terminate the pregnancy! This heretic belief in the sanctity of life while destroying the life of a nine year old is what makes non believers think that some churches may not be worshipping the true God but some cult that neither cares nor feels for the suffering souls in our midst.
Kenyans must be more than weary of some Christian churches and the political class, especially the sitting members of parliament. We must not allow them to repeat what they did to us in 2005. In 2005, the NCCK worked round the clock to defeat the Bomas draft and went ahead to campaign for a section of the political class to pass the Wako draft. When the church failed, its leaders ganged up two years later to derail the 2007 elections. Although they have publicly apologized, we know they have not repented and that is why like in 2005, they have hurriedly come up with their parallel draft.
It is easy to deal with churches at the referendum the way they were dealt with at the 2005 referendum because the numbers they proclaim to have are nonexistent. Kenyans never vote along religious lines. If that were the case, Pastor Muiru would be Kenya’s president today. At the polls, “millions” of his followers ended up being 800 on the presidential ballot, not enough even to win a parliamentary seat.
As for MPs ganging up to water down the people’s draft, let them know that Kenyans are watching keenly. If they dilute it to suit their whims, we will reject the draft and punish them individually at the 2012 polls.
That is the way it is!
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