We, the Centre for Multi-Party Democracy (CMD-Kenya) have convened political leaders and officials to deliberate on the BBI report. Our mandate as a multiparty dialogue platform necessitates us to convene and engage on the report which is pivotal to the governance reform agenda.
As integral institutions of democratic governance, political parties are key election players with the cardinal role and responsibility of creating, nurturing and sustaining a conducive environment for free, fair, peaceful and credible party primaries/nominations, general elections and by- elections under the 2017-2022 electoral cycle and beyond.
We are committed and determined to observe and promote necessary institutional, policy and Constitutional reforms that will enable the enjoyment of Kenyans’ political and electoral rights as well as restore public confidence in the credibility and integrity of the electoral process in our quest for electoral justice in our beloved Country and Republic.
We wish to urge the adoption of a consultative approach and unity of purpose in diversity with regard to the ongoing public discourse around the proposed reforms.
In line with our mandate, we wish to speak to several critical issues:
We appreciate that the BBI report raises fundamental reform issues that will necessitate Constitutional change.
We strongly recommend that Kenyans get opportunity to decide on any Constitutional changes as contemplated in Article 255 of the Constitution of Kenya 2010. The COK 2010 delineates that Constitutional amendments touching on the functions of parliament; the independence of the judiciary and state commissions; and the objects, principles, and structure of devolved government must be approved by voters in a referendum.
We call upon Parliament to immediately enact a Referendum Law to guide the process should Kenyans opt for Constitutional amendment through a popular initiative.
We also remind Kenyans that although the popular initiative route should be more preferred, the Composition of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) remains in crisis almost two years after the resignation of Commissioners.
2. Comprehensive Electoral Reforms
We observe with great concern that our Country since the re-introduction of Multi-Party politics has continued to suffer from inconclusive electoral reforms which have at best been skewed and/or stalled under various electoral cycles. We are ofthe view that the issue of comprehensive electoral reforms, mainly reforms in the Electoral Management Body (EMB) should be separated from the glamour for re-constitution or disbandment of the IEBC, which must necessarily take a constitutional path stipulated in Article 251, unless the IEBC members voluntarily resigns.
We however, wish to state that reforming the IEBC must be fast-tracked as the 2022 election near. We recommend immediate and comprehensive reform of the IEBC in line with the recommendations of the Kriegler Commission. We have slightly more than two years to the 2022 general elections. Immediate and comprehensive reforms will ensure that an accurate and verifiable Principle Register of Voters (PVR) is prepared in good time and promptly shared/distributed political parties and others to the stakeholders.
3. Inclusive System of Government
There is need for the Country to re-think about the type of electoral system that can reduce negative political competition, negative ethnicity, reduce the gender gaps in leadership & governance and one that can guarantee electoral justice before the next general elections in 2022.
We propose that through the BBI process, Kenyans should engage in conversations and build consensus on the type of government that can minimize the “winner take it all scenario” that has in the past six multi-party elections polarized the country along narrow ethnic and party lines. We need a system of governance that is inclusive, representative and one that is not achieved through negative political competition and violent electoral process.
4. Institutionalization and Strengthening of Political Parties
It is our considered opinion as key political and election role players that the institution of strong and vibrant political party has to be created, nurtured and sustained as a strategy of enhancing democratic governance in the Republic of Kenya. Whereas the Country has up to date held six multi-party elections, political parties as key agents of democracy still suffer from weak institutional and governance structures and poor resource base. Most of our political parties have weak membership, weak internal dispute resolution mechanisms and inadequate funds to run their affairs as national institutions of governance envisaged in articles 4, 10, 90, 91, 92, 103 and 108 of the Constitution of Kenya, 2010 read together with the Political Parties Act, 2011(2016).
We recognize the provisions of Article 4 of the Constitution of Kenya, 2010; which states that the Republic of Kenya shall be a multi-party democratic state governed on the basis of National Values and Principles of governance stipulated in Article 10 of the Constitution of Kenya, 2010.This implies that the pillars of our Republic are political parties.
We recommend a proper funding regime to political parties to enable them undertake their important roles of democratic development.
In conclusion, we call upon Kenyans and other stakeholders to critically review the BBI report with a view of identifying and amplifying constitutional, policy, legal and administrative reforms that are necessary for the Country now and in the future. We assert that for purposes of creating a stable, predictable environment necessary for socio-economic development. Kenya needs to deal with the issues identified in the report once and for all. Isolate the issues that require administrative and policy directive for immediate action and implementation.