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Punguza Mizigo may have failed, but democracy won

Wednesday October 16 2019

By MICHAEL CHERAMBOS
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Kenyans are really privileged to take part in the exercise of healthy democracy, to be ruled by a government that lets minority voices take part in the selection of elected officials, to be represented in Parliament, not every nation on our borders has these.

Recently, we saw a great example of democracy in action: the Punguza Mizigo Initiative, which proposed constitutional changes, was legislated in counties across the nation.

Though it failed to gain traction, the fact that lawmakers were able to discuss the bill’s proposals and contemplate its merits and shortcomings demonstrates how far Kenya has come in terms of openness and acceptance.

CONSTITUTION

Ultimately, the Punguza Mizigo Initiative itself has not been a failure. It has afforded Kenyans the re-look the Constitution and debate the what is working and what is not working.  

 Did it fail to address what the people really want and need. Some commentators claim it concentrates power in the hands of a few individuals and limits the political representation of typically underrepresented groups.

Increased representation of individuals with diverse ethnic affiliation is a secure and promising way to ensure a stronger democracy.

Now is not the time for disunity. Many of us are scarred by the violence following the 2007 elections. The damage it cost to the nation is innumerable. On the domestic front, the deaths of innocents left open wounds and scars that will take a long time to heal, if ever.

Internationally, images and videos of Kenyans fighting one another on the news were hard to interpret in countries that do not have a decent understanding of our complicated history.

What they saw was a nation of people that could not be trusted to conduct business with, risky investments, a country that needs help in order to maintain stability.

INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITIES

That is no longer the case.  Our country is now seen as one of the greatest investment opportunities in Africa’s booming market. It goes without saying that Kenya is the kick-off point for international businesspeople seeking to penetrate the region’s market.

This reputation took a long time to cultivate, but it is essential to our economic growth and the Vision 2030 development goals. Kenyans do not take this reputation for granted.

Any initiative that threatens unity in government and national cohesion is bound to be rejected by Kenyans. 

Stability is a fragile state of being. It stems from constantly cultivating trust, understanding, openness and representation.

The Building Bridges Initiative, whose taskforce has spent a year and a half consulting with Kenyans county to county, is the only measure on the Kenyan political landscape right now that can effectively nurture our needs and our unity.

Mr Cherambos comments on topical issues. [email protected]