By J. Mghanga Malasi, Nairobi
Kenyan optimism has grown to a less extent and so are their expectations towards the fulfillment of the promises made in the new constitution. It’s fresh in the minds of many when Kenyans voted in a landslide to usher in a new government after decades of dictatorial rule. They in their large numbers flock into the polling stations to vote for change, “Yote yawezekana” where several politicians led by the then leader of the official opposition who is the incumbent President Mwai Kibaki formed a formidable coalition that handed a resounding defeat to the Kanu Government that had been in power for four decades.
Kenyans ecstatically celebrated the victory that promised to bring changes they had yearned for many years. Indeed, they were reported to be the most optimistic people on the face of the earth by international media in early 2003. They were hopeful that their livelihoods will change under the new leadership. Given the promise given by the coalition partners, Kenyans were optimistic that their lives would change for the better. Little after the formation of National Rainbow Coalition government things changed after the memorandum between the two parts that come together to form the government was not followed to the letter and the leading president went against it making the Liberal Democratic Party cry foul to its main partner National Alliance of Kenya party. Before long, corruption and other malpractices slowly started crept back. The power struggles that ensued eventually saw the Coalition disintegrate and by 2007, Kenyans had realised they had been duped into voting for a regime that was not entirely forthright.
Having said that Kenyans an optimistic people and in August fourth this year they did the same went out and voted in large numbers to usher in a new dispensation. They voted yes for the new Laws to govern them; providing a facilitating framework to heal the ills of the past and make amendments where they went wrong. From this we clearly saw the expectation from those congregations and their expressions at the promulgation day at Uhuru Park. Though, as Kenyans we seemed to have turned a new leaf after the passing of the new Constitution, this has been clawed back by the watering down of laws meant to entrench integrity in the country’s top leadership.
It’s time that Kenyans called on their leaders and those entrusted with responsibility of implementation of the new constitution that they must trade carefully and guard the optimism of Kenyans by all means. They must act and work within their mandate given to them and should be people of integrity and uphold high moral values. They must bear in mind that the intention of the constitution is to foster unity among Kenyans. They must stay away from sectarian politics and draft laws that will guide this country as whole into prosperity; achieving the middle income status as stipulated in the vision twenty thirty.
The recent public debate by politicians on gender one third rule achievement come the next election march fourth and the call by the chiefs to know their fate in the devolution of the provincial administration in the new constitution is a healthy debate and should be encouraged. Remember the new constitution is the most widely read document in the country and public debate helps the citizenry understand the stick issues and get involved. However we should cautious and discuss with an open mind the most contentious issues that can easily divide us especially as Kenyans have to ponder as we prepare to cast our ballots in the General Election due in March next year. Looking forward there is wide appreciation of the understanding of political freedoms by Kenyans and this is expected to enhance their decision making come election time. With the maturity, the questions Kenyans should be asking are: why should they continue voting for anti-reform leaders? Why should they glorify corrupt politicians and vote them for public office while they still suffering? Many of the politicians on the campaign trail wear different hats in the eyes of public, thus may not suit the list of those to be elected for office come the election date.