In the words of prominent human rights lawyer Willy Mutunga: “a new constitution can either midwife a sound foundation for a prosperous society or produce a national stalemate or civil strife.”.
I have read the document now commonly known as the Proposed Constitution of Kenya (PCK) and thanks to Kipepeo’s ingenious Ni Sisi Initiative, I have had occasion to discuss the contents of the PCK with learned friends and a cross-section of young influential Kenyans. The overwhelming mood among most middle-class educated Kenyans is “YES, it’s time for a new Constitution. VOTE YES”. So when I’m asked what my vote will be in the upcoming referendum, I say I’m undecided. Saying that I’m undecided allows me to tell people both the good elements as well as the bad things in the PCK and let them decide for themselves. But somehow most people seem to confuse, my excitement about taking part in the constitutional-making process of my country and my optimism for the future of Kenya, with a green vote endorsement of the PCK.
In short, I’ve inadvertently turned into a watermelon, I appear to be supporting Yes (Green) but when pushed to disclose what my vote would be if the referendum were held tomorrow, I say I’d vote No (Red).
My No vote is informed by my understanding of the law and grounded in my moral beliefs. I understand the COE and Parliament meant well in coming up with this PCK but then again, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. What I find most interesting in all this is that all those people advocating for the PCK acknowledge that the document contains too much detail, several key contradictions and a host of other inconsistencies. Yet they’d rather we voted for the PCK now as it is and amend it later. These same proponents of PCK also acknowledge that amending the Constitution once it is accepted will be almost impossible due to the onerous amendment requirements it prescribes.
Like every Kenyan born after 1963, I believe my country needs a new Constitution too so if the majority of my fellow Kenyans are happy with this PCK and think that this is what they truly want and need then so it shall be. But let it be known that I felt that Kenyans deserved better instead of choosing to settle for what we have been given.