My column this weekend in the Star is published as Why Uhuru Needs a Third Term in Office. For reasons I provide below, I am posting an update to make it an either proposition, meaning, either giving Uhuru an additional one term, or simply extending his current term in office.
Not surprisingly, this column has generated a lot of interest and comments in social media as well as in the Star portal itself. I have not read all of them but have scanned and see the comments are mostly against the idea.
However, many are also missing the point as to why we must have this discussion to begin with. I have replied to some, and in others I have indicated I’ll post an update to provide more context and specifically address why this discussion must be had.
First question I should answer that I am sure is in many people’s mind, is why did I pen this column? Is it because I have been given instructions by the “system” or Uhuru himself as I have seen some people comment? Is it because I have been so instructed by Raila whom I “worship” as other have commented? Or is it sycophancy seeking favors from Uhuru as yet others have suggested?
The answer is, NO!
None of that.
The simple answer is I have done this based on what I know or can surmise from what I know in order to have a discussion we must have about this. As a Facebook friend put it, “[m]y brother Samuel N. Omwenga penned this piece not because he is Uhuru’s sycophant but to elicit debate based on the probabilities in any political arena.”—Josephat Lister Nyaringo.
To this I responded,
Precisely brother and thanks; key here is having the discourse to flesh out what is really at stake so no one is surprised. The discourse provides opportunity for people’s views to be incorporated in a solution that must also be had in tackling what is at the core of all of this: Expanding democracy and inclusiveness in a manner that is not threatening to the system that controls it all and keeps us endlessly stuck in the same vicious, violent circle of elections if their attitude is to rebuff our efforts. More on this as we continue the discourse.
Here is what I know and that is, what we call the system is not quite ready to give up power or give it to Raila or Ruto.
I also know something else that does not belong in the public domain that informs or at least gives more credence to that view. Those who know, know.
That is what I know.
Here is what we all know: President Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga saw it fit to have a handshake for purposes of healing the country’s wounds and bringing us together.
At the core of their handshake deal, is constitutional and institutional reform to ensure a governance system that is more inclusive and less tribalistic while ensuring more even exploitation and sharing of the national cake.
Included in the latter objective is elimination or seriously curtailing cartels and corruption (follow the Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru on what that entails).
Before COVID-19 threw breaks on to put us where we are with everything, BBI was on high gear as Raila led in efforts to popularize it and bring it to fruitful near end where Uhuru was expected to join and bring it across the finish line with full implementation of its core propositions.
That implementation is yet to happen—and from everything we know, it shall be the case BBI shall be implemented as envisioned by both Uhuru and Raila, with the backing and support of all those behind them.
There are three methods or avenues by which the BBI proposals can be implemented:
A. By Parliamentary Action. All proposals that do not implicate the Constitution, meaning, not requiring amendment of the constitution will be approved via normal parliamentary procedures and become law as any other ordinary bill becomes law.
B. By Executive Action. All proposals that do not require constitutional amendment or parliamentary action will be implemented via Executive action as ordinary and normal Executive Orders.
C. Constitutional Amendment. Any proposal that requires constitutional amendment must go through the constitution amendment process.
Based on what I know, we are headed to another constitutional amendment process question is, how?
There are only two options to amend the Kenya Constitution, which are found in Chapter Sixteen: via parliamentary initiative that requires 2/3 majority vote approval upon public participation and deliberation in Parliament or via popular initiative popularly referred to as a referendum.
Previously, it was completely out of question to initiate amending the constitution for BBI purposes through parliament because it was believed Ruto had the numbers to thwart or kill the efforts in parliament.
However, with the recent successful purging of Ruto loyalists from both houses of the legislature, it is plausible now Uhuru and Raila alongside the coalition Uhuru is forming to push his agenda through can get this done—or at least start the process through.
Of course, they can drop the idea anytime and go the referendum route, which is a sure in, given the tools available to both men to make that happen.
Regardless of which route the men take us to implement BBI, one thing is clear and that is, thanks but no thanks to COVID-19 and the uncertainty as to what its full effects would be when it’s finally contained, it will be highly unlikely there will be time left between that and currently scheduled election time for Uhuru to complete or even come close to completing his agenda.
Besides the Big Four agenda whose implementation everyone knows is Uhuru’s priority, what is even a higher priority for him, believe it or not, is making sure BBI is fully implemented.
Uhuru is not alone in this vision; rather, he has the backing and support of a number of key “system” members and drivers who are also tired of power rotation between the Kikuyu and Kale communities and want more inclusivity and an end to this circle of rigged or disputed elections that lead to destruction of property, violence and deaths every five years.
Again, there is another dimension to this that does not belong in the public domain so let me just say knowledge of it makes it even more imperative the solution suggested here.
Given this dynamic, and the reason I have penned this article, we must start thinking and looking for a solution whereby Uhuru and Raila usher in the much needed constitutional changes to implement BBI and, more importantly, remain the driving forces to see full implementation of the desired changes.
All this requires time and resources of which there is not enough between now and August 2022 when the next elections are scheduled to be held.
Although the initial headline for this column said to give Uhuru a third term, that proposition is anathema to a vast majority of people for various reasons, and regardless of any merits for adding the term.
The primary opposition to giving Uhuru a third term is centered on—and rightly so, I must add, that adding another term to expired to terms will be akin to going back life for president times, which we all reject.
However, it is also a fact we would need at least another four years from now, assuming COVID-19 goes away this year, for all these things that needs to be done to be done.
That puts us at having elections in 2024, which means that requires amending the constitution to give Uhuru two more years beyond his current term.
I can hear those of you saying why can’t all these be done in the two years left of Uhuru’s second term, and the complete answer, unfortunately, I cannot give because it would require disclosure of that which I have said does not belong in the public domain and therefore must not be disclosed.
In the time between now and then, meaning between now and the end of the president’s extended period (not added term), the president and parliament with approval of the courts can and must put in place a government of national unity (GNI) whose objective is to (a) make sure BBI proposals become law and (b) the country is fully prepared to make a transition to an expanded and more inclusive democracy by the next election to be held at the end of Uhuru’s extended time.
How the GNI is put in place and consistent with BBI implementation via constitutional amendment is beyond the scope of this article suffice to say there is a way and an easy one for that matter.
Ditto what happens to Parliament as the Constitution requires that parliamentary elections also be held during the presidential election.
That can be dealt with but the focus here is what to do with the presidency.
In this scenario, Uhuru will have two years balance of his presidency, plus another two years which should be couched as “transitional” where GNU will remain intact through the end of that extended time.
Elections will then be held at the conclusion of that extended time and Kenya shall be on a new path devoid of all these ills, electoral violence and deaths we have suffered for decades because of bad politics.
Put another way, this solution of extended Uhuru presidency will provide a win, win, win resolution of this complex issue we are trying to resolve, and is at the core of all of this and that is: tribalism based governance system where power is wielded and exercised by only two tribes at the expense of all others.
Again, I am leaving out a critical element of this that does not belong in the public domain, but I have shared privately with those who need to know and are in a position to influence the outcome of this for them to incorporate it into their own thinking.
Well, there you have it; I hope the case is clearer but leave a comment or question below but, more importantly, please continue the discussion in your own circles for the good of the country.