Sunday, February 19, 2012

Even those who opposed constitution can lead

PHOTO/ FILE  Mr William Ruto
PHOTO/ FILE Mr William Ruto  
Posted  Saturday, February 18  2012 at  19:41
  • The Reds embraced new set of laws hoping that the contentious issues would be sorted out in due course
There is a theory being propagated by certain politicians that those who voted ‘No’ in the constitutional referendum in 2010 cannot be trusted to manage the implementation of the new laws and, therefore, should not be elected to a leadership position.

They argue that those who did not support the then proposed Constitution are ineligible because, by voting against it, they confirmed they had no confidence in the same and, as such, are unfit to lead under the new dispensation.
Given a chance, the proponents of this unfortunate theory would ban all those who voted ‘No’ from participating in the coming elections.
Obviously, such thinking belongs to a category of leaders who, in victory, would alienate, marginalise and persecute those who did not vote for or support them.
This is a demonstration that an exercise of a simple democratic right to choose can, thus, land people in serious trouble with their leaders.
For those who may not be aware, I was among the almost three million Kenyans who voted ‘No’ at the referendum and have no regrets whatsoever.
The contest was between those in the Red camp who proposed that Kenyans “reject, amend then pass” the new laws while the Greens proposed that we “pass then amend later”.
There was consensus that there were contentious issues in the document that needed to be addressed and the only difference was that the Reds wanted the issues dealt with before, while the Greens insisted the issues could be handled after the passage of the new laws.
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The Greens won and, as democrats, we conceded defeat and embraced the new set of laws as any self-respecting Kenyan would do.
Together Kenyans started the implementation process while hoping that the contentious issues would be sorted out in due course.
Unfortunately, there are those who seem to be suffering from the hangover of the referendum contest and want to perpetuate it in an attempt to cloud the minds of Kenyans about the choice of leaders needed to take this great nation to the next level of development.
These people need to be reminded of the cardinal principle of freedom of choice enshrined in our Constitution and embedded firmly in the holy books.
It was as constitutional to vote ‘Yes’ as it was to vote ‘No’. In any case, the ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ were choices given and guaranteed by the constitutional review framework as legitimate options carrying no punitive consequences when exercised.
To now turn around and attempt to mete out some punishment by trying to disqualify others from leadership on this account speaks volumes of the democratic credentials and tolerance for alternative views of the proponents.
To try to assign status to Kenyans on the basis of how they voted is as myopic as it is simplistic and tyrannical.
Those championing this unfortunate crusade should be told in no uncertain terms that the referendum is over and Kenya has a new Constitution for all irrespective of how they voted at the referendum.
Whereas such people voted for the Constitution, they tend to overlook some of its salient points such as the robust Bill of Rights, including freedom of conscience, belief and expression, as well as of political choice.
It is a pity that people with this attitude believe that they are entitled to lead and have arrogated themselves a pedestal from which they dictate to Kenyans who and who not to elect.
The new contest in town is the contest for the leadership of Kenya.
At the elections, Kenyans will be looking for men and women who will match what they say with what they do.
People with demonstrated performance track records are needed to take charge of their affairs.
This contest is going to be about ideas, programmes, and policies that will create new opportunities for millions of young people who have no jobs, no access to credit and no hope; eliminate the shame of millions who suffer and even die of hunger, and grow the economy by double digits so as to lift millions of people out of poverty.
There is no room for cheap talk about how individuals voted in the referendum. The leadership of Kenya is serious business engaging serious minds on matters ideas. Wake up and smell the coffee.
The writer is the Member of Parliament for Eldoret North.Welcome to the new Kenya.

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