Nanjala: After one year down the line in the new Constitutional order that was brought into being via the promulgation, what do you think is the status of the goings?

It has been an era of new hope and expectation although Kenyans are hungry. We are witnessing a crop of leaders who are hell bent to circumvent the law and therefore, we must seriously start addressing our attitudes, prejudices, bigotry and our consciences must be satirized lest it becomes the case of a new wineskin in an old one. We must avoid anarchy by fully implementing the new Constitution without considering immediate sectarian gains. The judicial service commission has done a superb job in appointing judges. Thus the judiciary can be relied to be Wanjiku’s saviour when need arises.

Kizito: Do you have any disappointments in the course of this one year?

It is unfortunate that one year key legislations that would be critical in ensuring peaceful elections are being dilly-dallied with and those passed to beat the deadline can be challenged in court!

Legislators have spent most of the year politicking, squabbling and building alliances for the next General election only to rush through very important legislation that would have been better done by wider scrutiny. As a result, there is a great danger of Wanjiku losing out particularly if Parliament enacts bad laws that would roll back the gains envisioned by the new Constitution.  So Wanjiku must either get them out in next year’s General Elections or go to court.

The politicians have confirmed that they are the greatest impendent to legal reforms. A case in point is the shoddy way they have diluted the Political parties’ bill hence the need for the rest of the Kenyans to be vigilant.

Sabina: In a nut-shell what are some of the strengths of the new constitution?

The Constitution imposes tough integrity and accountability standards on those vying for public office. The public has started participating in the budgetary process and as time goes by it will no longer the preserve of the mandarin at the treasury.

The powers of the President have been significantly been whittled down.  His/her appointments must get approval from the Parliament a key departure from the past.

For the first time huge resources will be devolved to the grassroots where at least three billion shillings shall be given to every county as spelt out in article 203(2) hence not depending on the magnanimity of the National (Central) government or the President.

The authority to allocate Public land is no longer vested in the President but in an independent National Land Commission though Parliament has 18 months to legislate the envisaged Commission in article 67.

This is coupled with changes in land tenure systems by reducing the 999 year leases to 99 year lease thus checking on absentee landlords notwithstanding repossession of illegally acquired public land.

However I regret that one year after the jubilation of the new mother law, the Constitution is facing numerous threats that are holding the public hostage and threatening realization of gains promised by the new laws.

The threat of political interference which many thought would be minimized by the passage of the constitution still looms large even as the country trudges along the bumpy road to next General Elections.

It is not only some politicians that are resisting change but also some key public servants who are from the old school of thought notwithstanding some external forces like the International Monetary Fund. Look at the resistance to pay tax by the Members of Parliament, the reappointment of some cabinet ministers who have been involved in dubious deals and the heavy political undertones that was made manifest by the political class during the approval of the Director of the Public Prosecutor. Surely they really want to muddy the waters!

The Cabinet has severally watered down some crucial bills such as the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission on the next General Election.

Nyawira: In your own opinion what are some of the grey areas in the one year

Article 27(8) needs to have been given a time limit because the three judge bench ruling on the Constitutionality of the Supreme Court said in their 93-page judgment that there was no legislation in place to effect the principle of two thirds.

Secondly, the date of the next General Election hangs in the balance because of two conflicting stipulations in the new Constitution. That is article 101(1) which says the election will be the second Tuesday of August in the fifth year while Section 10 of the 6th Schedule (Transitional schedule) stipulates that elections will be held after the expiry of the current term of the National Assembly that existed before the effective date although article 101(1) takes precedent in law.

Kipkoech: What is your parting shot? We are a very conservative society trying to implement a new liberal and progressive Constitution and hence the culture of business as usual goes on! We need to borrow from the ancient Greek City of Sparta on building patriotism.

By Muthama Joseph: Program Officer, Governance