By Guest Writer
Come on Kenyans, let us get our priorities right for once and have the cart behind the horse. This animal called the presidency is the singular source of all the ills afflicting Kenya and until we rectify and straighten that institution we will only succeed in bandaging a festering wound with devastating consequences.
The constitutional order was never the problem for Kenya. Rather, the problem has been and will always remain the abused institution of the presidency, debased by tribal shenanigans and left to rot by a "below-the-threshold" civic consciousness, low energy and rudderless political participation by the Kenyan people.
To create a proper constitutional presidency takes thorough-going measures to establish formal permanent structures to manage the presidency. These structures must create a process for how the presidency functions; develop goals and action plans for achieving presidential agenda, time frames and a reporting mechanism for the accomplishments of the presidency. Kenyans can then begin to make sense of the institution, weigh its actions against its goals and agenda and, evaluate its excesses based on a known set of parameters referencing constitutional provisions and limits of presidential action.
As things stand, the presidency in Kenya operates by rule of the thumb, has a limited executive apparatus consisting of a state comptroller, a press secretary and a security details. Think about it, how can this outfit effectively manage presidential programs?! The president's involvement in national issues, under these circumstances, becomes residual and the presidential routine includes such mundane roles as signing legal notices, receiving ambassadors credentials, attending ceremonial functions etc.
Lords of Impunity
There is much more that a broadened presidency can do. It can act as a centre for the expeditious implementation of important socio-economic agenda that meets the expectations of the people.
Institutions that are not held accountable never reformed or restructured in any way become derelict. If Kenyans can separate the presidency from the president, the executive, as an institution, from the president and, if focused attention can be paid to the structure and facility of these institutions, they have a chance to function as organs for the pursuit of the integrity of the state.
Instead, we have a presidency without a structure, an administration that functions as the superintendent of the permanent bureaucracy, a government that reels under the disruptive impact of new dynamics associated with new administrations, absence of transitional structures to anchor the bureaucracy from the degenerative effects of administration change. The presidency has, historically, produced political impunity and hawkish ethnic power centres. All these elements sour the political landscape and make good governance untenable.
A president that knows he/she functions under the watch of an institutional rather than an individualized presidency, will, in most cases, be controlled and limited in what he/she can arbitrarily do or allow to be done.
Return of Imperialism
Any constitution, old or new, that does not guarantee the rule of law, that allows the president to feel and act as an omnipotent deity, that tempts tribes to want power so desperately, will never be a good constitution. Anytime a good constitution is combined with bad institutions the resultant practices and political behaviours will undermine the rule of law. This will often create the impression that the constitution is the problem. Nothing can be further from the truth.
In a nutshell we are not starring hell in the face for lack of preachers. Far from it, we have collectively and unwittinly allowed pretenders and little devils to lead us by the hand to hellhole.
We must hold our leaders to account so that they match the letter and spirit of our laws, period.