all systems go for kenyan referendum

Kenyans have the chance to vote in a new constitution come August 4th. The referendum vote has created a divide in Kenyan society, pitting clerics  and politicians allied to William Ruto against Kenya’s wider political establishment. Kenya’s quasi-dyarchy fully backs the new document. The church opposes the document on the grounds that it allows for abortion and disproportionately favors Muslims by providing for Kadhi’s courts. William Ruto and his allies do not like the document because it will perpetuate the centralization of land management, something that is dear to the hearts of most of their constituents.

The new document is not perfect. But it’s infinitely better than the colonial constitution that we have had since independence. For one it provides for separation of powers. The president and his cabinet will no longer be members of parliament. It also gives parliament more teeth. The provision to channel funds to local governments is a brilliant idea. Corruption will make a dent on the funds, no doubt, but local elections should attenuate the effects of graft. I only hope that county governments will be allowed to compete with each other and experiment with policy.

If I were to make improvements to the document I would provide greater autonomy to major towns and cities. I would also stagger elections so that not all parliamentary elections coincide with presidential elections. I would have given supreme court judges lifetime security of tenure. Lastly, I would have granted Mr. Ruto his wish and decentralized the management of land – but set national minimum requirements with regard to land use and taxation, especially of idle land.

4 thoughts on “all systems go for kenyan referendum

  1. Pingback: Noli Irritare Leones » Blog Archive » Abortion in the Kenyan Constitution, pirates set adrift, and other African news

  2. Fact 1: The Proposed new constitution provides for the Kadhis Court;
    Fact 2: The Current constitution provides for Kadhis Court;

    Fact 3. The proposed new Constitution provides for abortion by “a trained health worker” when the “mothers life is in danger”;
    Fact 4: The current constitution does not recognize life at conception and thus does not deal with abortion; but abortion is allowed through statute when the life of “the mother is in danger” and can be performed by “any person” (penal code section 240: a person is not criminally responsible for performing in good faith and with reasonable care and skill a surgical operation upon any person for his benefit, or upon an upon an unborn child for the preservation of the mothers life….. also penal code 214 which determines when life begins: A child becomes a person capable of being killed when it has completely proceeded in a living state form the body of the mother…..)

    Fact 5: Denial of abortion under all circumstances happens in only four countries in the world. (Chile, El-salvador, Malta and the Vatican)

    Fact 6: Abortions will continue whether or not we pass a new law.

    Fact 7. If you manage to illegalise all abortions, when my child gets an ectopic pregnancy I will travel with her to Uganda or Tanzania and guess what-have a legal abortion.

    Fact 8. The clamour for the new constitution was based on poor governance and human rights and not religious issues. And the new constitution deals with these issues well.

    Is there something I am missing here? Why does it seem like in winning the Christian right is actually loosing.


  3. Well said. It’s unfortunate really that Kenyan clerics continue to take cues from church leaders in places like Western Europe and North America in which such things as the use of contraceptives and the right to choose are considered fundamental rights for women. Plus, in any case, Kenyans are still very conservative. Nobody is really pro-abortion. What Kenyans want is a system of laws that is reasonable. That’s all.


  4. Exellent! Just one more point to add: If we disallow abortion irrispective of any reason, only the rich will travel outside the country for “treatment” while the poor will remain to die. Is this what the opponents of new constitution wants?


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