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Let us approach BBI with an open mind

Friday February 14 2020

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Public presentations to the Building Bridges Initiative Taskforce started in earnest this week and this is the moment to resolve all those contentious issues.

Controversy has stalked the task force all through because of divergent political views. Confusion and mistrust obtain.

But this can only be dealt with through sober and candid public discourse.

The BBI was the offshoot of the ‘handshake’ between President Kenyatta and Opposition Leader Raila Odinga, and its objective was to end the cyclic violence that attends to every election.

Yet it has engendered deep division. Noble as it seemed, politicians have diametrically opposite views about it.

Within Jubilee Party, some perceive the handshake as a blockade designed to stop Deputy President William Ruto from ascending to the presidency.


But others embrace it. Consequently, the ruling party is divided right down the middle.


Suspicion is the main reason for this discord. President Kenyatta is serving his final term and the next in line, logically, in Jubilee is Mr Ruto.

However, things are never that straight in politics and, indeed, they should not be because ours is competitive. Everyone should have an equal chance at ascending to the presidency.

Round Two of BBI presentations provides a unique chance for Kenyans to think through the issues they want to confront to achieve national stability.

The initial report made pivotal recommendations but did not go far enough. Some recommendations were superfluous while others lacked clarity or tended to the banal.

A major recommendation of the report was creation of the position of the prime minister, whose objective is to cure political exclusivity.

However, its practical orientation was not properly teased out. Proposals on the appointment, duties and dismissal of the PM were not well-thought out.


Also, the report dwelt on generalities such as enforcement of national ethics and instilling discipline in the public sector.

Some of these are already well articulated in the Constitution, but the challenge is execution.

The public should take the opportunity to seek clarity on the proposals and importantly, based on experiment with the Constitution, suggest other practical interventions to deal with social, economic and political challenges afflicting the nation.

One of the realities from implementing the current Constitution is that constitutional reforms cannot succeed without constitutionalism.

Let us debate the BBI with an open mind and clear understanding that transformation does not take place on paper but through total reorientation of national systems and structures.