Recently, President Uhuru Kenyatta was seen touring Michuki Memorial Park in Ngara, Nairobi, as well as the Mukuru slums.
This is not the first time the President has been seen visiting such places in a bid to understand the people’s needs.
This has been accomplished by seeing that issues affecting the people are addressed. Public participation has been a defining aspect of the government’s policies.
This was seen most recently in the validation phase of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) final report.
Having completed the most comprehensive project of national consultation in Kenya’s history, this phase sought to ensure that citizens also had a say in the report’s final draft.
This is important considering what an impact it is expected to have on national policy.
We have heard the constant talk in our press about a referendum. This will ask citizens for their personal opinions on the proposed amendments. This has been despite recommendations from advisers to the contrary. It is for these efforts to “build bridges” not only between government factions, but also between the people and their leadership, for which our president will best be remembered.
Public participation is an integral part of any democracy. Derived from the Greek words “demos” meaning citizens and “kratos” meaning power or rule, the essence of democracy is involving the people in the decision making process.
It is for this reason that countries that involve their citizens in the decision making process, such as Switzerland, have traditionally been seen as ideal types of democracies.
Democratic systems provide leaders with opportunities to govern through executive orders.
Despite its position in the public eye as the world’s foremost democracy, the current United States government has more often than not made decisions based on such executive order or presidential edicts, never for a moment stopping to consult the people.
These orders have covered a wide-range of topics directly related to the welfare of the citizens of the US including healthcare, public safety and the economy.
In fact, since taking office in early 2017, the Donald Trump administration has issued orders directly impacting the future of US citizens based on presidential decision-making power alone.
Any presidential candidate seeking to lead our great nation will be expected to be one who walks among his people.
JUSTUS OMWANDA, Kendu Bay