Wednesday, 28 April 2010
Kenyans, Reject This Draft
Since the arrival of Christian Missionaries in Kenya in the late 19th century, the church in Kenya has consistently worked for the welfare of Kenyans. At every stage in the life and development of our nation, the church has sought and promoted what was good for the indigenous Kenyans. The growth and spread of the church which continues to date attests to this.
It is therefore with a heavy heart that we, the Christian church leaders, share the following message with the people of Kenya.
2. Collapse of the Consultations with the Government and Rejection of the Draft Constitution
During the review process that began in earnest in 2009, the views of the Christian church in Kenya have consistently been ignored by the organs of review. The draft constitution that is currently awaiting publication therefore faces a blanket rejection by Christians at the referendum.
Having participated in three meetings with the government, we note with sadness that the greatest hindrance to a resolution of the contentious issues is not legal technicalities but rather the lack of political will. We indeed are now convinced that the government’s call for consultations was meant for purposes other than resolving the cardinal issues in the draft. We therefore formally inform Kenyans that the church will not continue engaging in the talks and will instead focus her energies on educating the people of Kenya on the meaning and implications of the cardinal issues and campaigning for the rejection of the draft.
We here remind all Kenyans that the cardinal issues we are referring to are:
i. The right to life of the unborn children is not protected
ii. The Bill of Rights is adulterated to exempt persons professing Muslim faith
iii. Kadhi’s Courts are entrenched in the constitution
iv. The principle of separation of state and religion has been removed
v. The principle of equal treatment of all religions by state has been removed
vi. The right to preach and convert from one religion to another is not guaranteed
vii. The right to determine employment on the basis of one’s religion has been compromised
viii. The people of Kenya will be forced to apply international conventions without approval by Parliament
3. Kenyans Heed Warning
We wish to remind Kenyans of the story recorded in the book of Acts 27: 9 – 12, 41:
Much time had been lost, and sailing had already become dangerous because by now it was after the Fast. So Paul warned them, “Men, I can see that our voyage is going to be disastrous and bring great loss to ship and cargo, and to our own lives also.” But the centurion, instead of listening to what Paul said, followed the advice of the pilot and the owner of the ship. Since the harbor was unsuitable to winter in, the majority decided that we should sail on, hoping to reach Phoenix and winter there… But the ship struck a sandbar and ran aground. The bow stuck fast and would not move, and the stern was broken to pieces by the pounding of the surf. The soldiers planned to kill the prisoners to prevent any of them from swimming away and escaping.
In the same way, Christian church leaders have warned time and again that the current constitution review process will result in institutionalization of injustice and eventual disintegration of the society. However, this voice has been ignored thus highly exposing the country and its people for generations to come.
We here warn again that the draft constitution currently awaiting publication by the Attorney General will not establish justice as the key foundation of our nation. History teaches us that any society that is based on injustice is bound to be unstable, riddled with conflict and eventually degenerates into civil strife. We advice all Kenyans to vote against this draft constitution at the referendum since the cabinet has closed the door that would have costed nobody anything.
Further, we appeal to the people of Kenya, the media and the political leadership to allow all Kenyans to freely express their views on the draft constitution. The threats and demeaning media coverage made against people opposed to the draft is unjust and should cease forthwith.
4. Constitution Review Process
Whereas there are some among us who are accusing the church of being anti reform, we hereby recapture a history of our engagement in the constitution review process:
The current push for review of the Constitution of Kenya can be traced back to 1986 when the church vehemently spoke against the queue voting system. We in the church pointed out that the system would be unjust, a fact that was proved in the 1988 General Elections that to date remain the hallmark of everything elections should not be. From then henceforth, church leaders spoke out openly calling for reforms that would grant Kenyans wholesome justice and democratic space.
Kenyans will recall that the church backed and indeed provided a safe space for the political reformers who pushed for repeal of Section 2A in 1990/1991 leading to a restoration of multi party politics in the country.
After the 1992 General Elections, the church continued to push for a new constitution, recognizing that the mere repeal of Section 2A was not enough to restore justice and democracy in the country. And so while the church adopted the position that the 1997 elections should not be held without comprehensive reforms, political actors negotiated amongst themselves and adopted the Inter Parliamentary Parties Group (IPPG) agreement. This however was a mere Memorandum of Understanding and so failed to ensure justice for Kenyans.
The Ufungamano Initiative was formed by church leaders in 1999 as it emerged that despite the IPPG agreements, the government was not committed to institutionalizing a people-led constitution review process. It was in good faith that Ufungamano Initiative coalesced with the government-instituted Constitution of Kenya Review Commission. When the process moved to Bomas, church leaders warned that the process was flawed and would not give Kenyans an acceptable constitution. The draft developed there was rejected by Kenyans at the referendum in 2005.
In the current phase of the review, the church has been at the forefront warning that the exclusion of Kenyans from the process would lead to a rejection of its product by the people.
The constitution review process was meant to facilitate the adoption of a constitution that would facilitate better lives for Kenyans. However, politicians drafted a law that locked out other Kenyans from the review process. We call upon all Kenyans to reject the draft at the referendum.
May God have mercy on our beloved nation.