The tension was palpable in the run-up to the Mombasa leg of the public rallies convened supposedly to drum up support for the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI).
It was, thus, a welcome relief that the event last Saturday passed peacefully. But that should not lull us into a false sense of security.
The fact is, the battle over BBI has become a full-scale political contest ahead of the 2022 poll.
The duel, featuring Deputy President William Ruto and opposition titan Raila Odinga as the principal protagonists, is displaying all the previous markers of electoral violence.
Having failed in Mombasa to take over the BBI rallies organised and controlled by the Odinga grouping, which enjoys the support of President Kenyatta, it’s certain now that Dr Ruto’s team will organise their own set of rival meetings in the continuing quest to own and control the BBI narrative.
DOCILE TASK FORCE
It will get even messier as each gathering tries to outshout the other and prove that it has more political support in terms of politicians in attendance and the crowds.
Neither carnival will be about reforms to benefit the country; focus will be on the changes that serve the interests of politicians pursuing power.
Conspicuously missing throughout the rallies masquerading as BBI sensitisation engagements will be the merry men and women who make up the BBI Task Force and Secretariat.
It was just last month that President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga extended the task force’s mandate to drive renewed public discourse on the BBI report released the previous month and condense the outcome into actionable statute law, constitutional amendments and policy proposals.
Joint chairmen Yusuf Haji and Adams Oloo have been largely invisible since, as have secretariat bosses Martin Kimani and Paul Mwangi.
It’s time they started earning their pay. To start with, they must come out and disown the BBI rallies so far held and those to come.
While Mr Odinga, Dr Ruto and any other leader retain the right to convene gatherings to push preferred positions and whip up their respective bases, it must be made clear that political rallies called by partisan groupings are not the public hearings envisaged under the BBI mandate.
The task force must then move without further delay to host a series of public hearings, culminating in a national ‘Kenya We Want’ Convention.
It can also set up a platform for collection of views by both snail mail and electronic means.
I’ve looked in vain for such a facility on the BBI website and can’t even find a physical address, so I’ll just place my two cents worth here.
Corruption: Borrow from Italy the investigators, prosecutors and judges who drive the campaign against the Mafia. Institute the death penalty by public firing squad.
RESOLVE PAST INJUSTICES
Representation: Reduce the bloated parasitic class by abolishing the National Assembly and transferring its functions to the Senate, composed of two elected representatives, one man and one woman, from each county.
Security: Bring in Ethiopian forces to drive the war against Al-Shabaab, cattle rustlers, bandits and ethnic militias.
Historical injustices: Revisit the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission report, the Ndung’u Commission report on land grabbing and the Waki, Akiwumi and Kiliku reports on ethnic clashes and post-election violence.
Election conflicts: See above, and bar from elective office any person implicated in fuelling violence or inciting ethnic hatred.
Leadership and integrity: Strengthen Chapter Six of the Constitution and the relevant legislation to ensure automatic suspension of any elective or appointed official facing criminal charges. Wealth declaration forms and tax returns to be made public.
Devolution: Empower county governments by making them responsible for generation of their own revenue instead of dependence on National Treasury subventions.
Inequality: We pay the rich at First World rates and the poor at Third World rates. Force both the government and the private sector to reduce the gap between their highest- and lowest-paid employees.
Social services: Require senior civil servants and elected leaders, and their dependants, to use only public education and health facilities.
Public service: Drastically cut the pay and perks of elected officials to make leadership a service rather than lucrative job.
A lesson from how Nairobi worked like clockwork under essentially volunteer Aldermen such as Charles Rubia, Reggie Alexander and Isaac Lugonzo.
Do-or-die electoral contests: Eliminate the allure of the presidency by borrowing the model of a collegiate, rotational presidency.
Quick; who here can name the leader of Switzerland without asking Mr Google?
[email protected] @MachariaGaitho