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The BBI Defeats Itself

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The building bridges initiative is good in theory. It seeks to bring Kenyans together in a way that ensures that elections do not lead to violence. That is a good thing and a good thought. However, in practice, the BBI is a failure in that it has holes that are leaking its goodness without even needing poking. The first is the appointment of the would-be prime minister by the president. That translates to the president having the call for the prime ministership and even possibly the sway of the leader of the government. Again, why need a prime minister appointed by the president to lead the government if the president will be the head of state. When there is a prime minister, then the expectation would be that the prime minister will head the government, and the president will be ceremonial or symbolic. The BBI fails to strike a balance there and would possibly duplicate power in a way that is not healthy for the country.


The BBI proposes an ombudsman for the judiciary. This is just outright wrong. When the judiciary is supervised by an appointee of the president or an officer of the executive, then it loses its independence. In this light, the ombudsman would act as a police officer for the judiciary, and as we have seen in this country, the police are brutal in enforcing the law. An ombudsman in this light would infringe on the independence of the judiciary in a way that would allow the executive too much sway. I have to say, the way the BBI is being sold to the people is very suspect. In a way, the initiative is being pushed down Kenyan’s throats in a way that has become the trademark of the current government. The current government holds up a stick to its opposers and is very much one that feeds millions and billions of ‘carrots’ to its supporters. It is unfortunate that cabinet secretaries are very totalitarian and speak as if they are forcing matters on Kenyans. 

National Police

The BBI also proposes changes to the leadership of the national police, an institution, and a sector that has, over the years, been synonymous with corruption. The BBI proposes that the police force be put under a commission led by a cabinet secretary. Again, when you take something like the police force and put it under a cabinet secretary, then the police force becomes an arm of the executive and not the judiciary in enforcing law and order. This means that as we have seen, the police are easily marshaled as the executive’s force or as the foot soldiers for the will of the executive. The BBI alleges to have good things like tax cuts for the youth or opening a business, and that sounds good, but at what cost.

Women Representatives

The BBI also proposes a change from the Women Representative seat to a double senate that would be equally shared between both genders. Why take away a post that empowers women to force two senators on every county? The initiative also proposes that the deputy governors would also have to be of a different gender from the governor. Having such a requirement is a kind of discrimination by saying that counties should be led based on gender despite qualification. There is also the risk that such requirements would mean issues with deputy governors’ appointments and a lot of conflict within the senate as there would be double senators. With the recent impasse on resource allocation, how would a double senate decide or vote for bills or against them? What if one of the two senators proposes and the other opposes? Would that county vote for both sides? 


My intention is not to put the BBI down. Not at all. If the BBI is as good as advertised, then there should be a chance to make it better. It should not be done with haste and should not appear to be forced on the people. A referendum can be a good thing when necessary but also a waste of resources when unneeded. The country cannot always be at the whims of a few. We should not always be pushed to anything leave alone a referendum. The BBI can be a good thing if done correctly and inclusively, and engagingly to all people. However, when it is a partisan project, not everyone will be eager or willing to give it a chance. The document should also be made available to the people in languages they can understand. How else would we correctly accept or reject the document?

A Referendum

The issue of a non-contested referendum sounds bollocks. It is like saying an uncontested vote. It simply does not make sense. The BBI should be contested as it is not possible not to have opposition to a referendum or any other vote. A referendum should involve a fair, participated, and well-determined vote by normal and average citizens. It should not be an agreement between elites. Kenya has a long way to go to attain democracy as should be, and it is upon future generations to dissuade themselves from totalitarianism or chest-thumping. We need leadership that is sober, pragmatic, and in touch with the plight of the common mwananchi. Else we will always be slaves to those in power.

David Mania
David Maniahttp://maniaincnews.com
David Mania is an upcoming musician and blogger.

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