President did well to save the Constitution
Posted Tuesday, June 26 2012 at 19:40
We are gratified that the voice of the people prevailed when the President declined to give assent to the Statute Law (Miscellaneous Amendment) Bill.
In returning the Bill to Parliament, President Kibaki cited pending cases in court defending the culture of party-hopping.
He also mentioned cases challenging the minimum education qualifications for those vying for elective office.
The President cited the doctrine of the Separation of Powers, saying, matters before court should not be the subject of legislation by the National Assembly.
The citation may perfectly justify a decision to refuse assent to any proposed piece of law.
However, the President could have gone beyond the narrow legalistic interpretation to make a profound statement on the inviolability of the Constitution.
The public uproar witnessed was based, not on the fact that some matters were in court, but on the fact that MPs were using the Bill to pass laws to their own advantage and mutilate the very Constitution they swore to uphold.
The Constitution is not just any ordinary Statute. It is the Supreme Law of the land, and, more, it is the set of ideals that govern the nation.
It follows that Parliament cannot make legislation that, in the broader picture, violates, not just the letter, but the very spirit of the Constitution.
That is why the advisory by the Attorney-General that those dissatisfied with the amendments can go court was like adding insult to injury.
Meanwhile, it is worth noting that in petitioning the President to reject a law they had just passed setting minimum academic qualifications for themselves, the MPs demonstrated just why such standards are essential:
They had passed a law they never read or understood!