Cleric wants pledge to amend law fulfilled

Friday August 6 2010

National Council of Churches of Kenya Secretary General Canon Peter Karanja (left), chairman Dr Gerry Kibarabara and televangelist Mark Kariuki (right) during a media briefing at the Ufungamano house. PHOTO/ CORRESPONDENT

National Council of Churches of Kenya Secretary General Canon Peter Karanja (left), chairman Dr Gerry Kibarabara and televangelist Mark Kariuki (right) during a media briefing at the Ufungamano house. PHOTO/ CORRESPONDENT 

By SAMWEL KUMBA

Bishop MARK KARIUKI, in a discussion with Saturday Nation’s SAMWEL KUMBA explores the next course of action for the Church after Kenyans decide to pass the new constitution.

Q. Kenyans have spoken and their verdict is clear: they want a new constitution. What is your opinion?

A. I look at it differently. In my opinion, Kenyans have said what they want through this referendum. My perspective is that the referendum was actually to decide on the date to amend the contentious issues in the New Constitution.

The supporters and those that were campaigning for ‘Yes’ wanted the amendments to be done after the law is passed while those in the ‘No’ side wanted the changes done while the document was in draft form.

Q. So the ‘Yes’ won?

A. Those in favour of changing it after passing it carried the day. To me the announcement that ‘Yes’ won marked a starter’s gun for the fulfilment of the promise. Remember the ‘Yes’ advocated and promised Kenyans to change it after passing the law.

So today is the first day towards the promised amendment. We all agreed that there is need for amendments. Scriptures tell us to forget the past and approach the future. We need to start accomplishing what we all wanted.

This constitution will become law should there be no injunction in court. We don’t intend to go to court.

Q. But the Church lost its bid to win followers to its side?

A. It is unfortunate for those looking at it that way because we had said from the beginning that if the ‘No’ side won, there would be no celebration about it.

This was no competition. We all said the document was faulty and as a prophetic institution — the Church — we have that role.

Actually the Church did not lose. It has gained a lot from this exercise. First, the Church is now united and can speak with one voice.

Secondly, it has educated its people on what the Constitution contains.

You will be surprised that people know what is in the New Constitution more than what is in the current one that is to be repealed soon.

Q. Talking of a united Church, the mainstream churches seemed to desert the evangelical churches midstream the campaigns and that portrayed a divided church?

A. No, they did not take a back seat. We used to hold meetings and consultations with them. There was not a time there was division in the church.

Q. What about the relationship between church leaders and congregations which no longer seemed intimate?

A. That is not a valid feeling. We spoke to Kenyans. Out of the whole congregation, more than 2.5 million went with the Church, over six million went with politicians and about five million absconded. We can argue that were those to support the Church, then the majority would have been with us.

Q. In the past, the Church was known to galvanise its flock into whichever direction it desired, a force that did not work this time round?

A. The Church tried. But we even had Permanent Secretaries who were tasked to campaign for this constitution even though they could have wished to be with the Church.

Besides, the Church did not have as much resources and funding as the government.

As the clergy, we are encouraged by this outcome. We have been called and congratulated for taking a position and taking a stand. That is the kind of leadership we have been lacking even in the political realm.

Q. Talking of funding, the Church was said to have been heavily funded from abroad?

A. In fact it was interesting when I read in the newspapers that I, Bishop Mark Kariuki, had been given Sh1 billion for the campaigns. My question is, is it is possible for Sh1 billion to enter the economy without the Central Bank knowing?

During the campaigns, we were dealing with people who gave offerings while the politicians paid the same people to attend rallies.

So when they saw our gatherings, they wondered how people came and concluded that we too must have paid them while in fact the people often gave us offering. That is something they (politicians) cannot understand. That is why there was this talk about loads of money coming from abroad.

Q. So what is your next course of action as the Church?

A. Now we are no longer working as a Church alone. It is up to the government and the Church to forge a way forward. So asking what the Church is going to do is to propagate a division. We need both the government and the Church to unite and work on the agreed changes.

Q. What are the agreed changes?

A. The Church said there are contentious issues and the government agreed. What we need to do now is sit down and evaluate what the other side has and if we have the same ideas, we then move forward.

Q. What then is likely to shape your consultations with the government?

A. We are making consultations among ourselves to see what role the Church can play and we will then sell it to government to see what we can do together going forward.

Q. What is your word to Kenyans on their decision?

A. I would like to thank the over 2.5 million Kenyans that heard the prophetic voice of the Church. Similarly, I would like to thank the over 6 million Kenyans who made their decision out of information they gathered.

Any hiccups that we may face while implementing this New Constitution, let us not blame one another. Let nobody say “we told you” or let no one lament “we were told”.

We want a united Kenya and one nation. We don’t want a people who feel dejected. This is our document; let us get hold of it and run away with it. And let God bless Kenya.