Lawyer Miguna Miguna has opposed calls to amend the constitution terming the proposals as a ‘betrayal of the people’ and drawing parallels between the bid and the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI).
In a statement on Tuesday, Miguna dismissed the calls, questioning the timing considering Kenyans are currently grappling with tough economic times.
“This was one of those popular rallying cries that propelled William Ruto to the presidency,” Miguna said in the statement.
“Just one year after the 2022 General Election, with uchumi (economy) still in tatters with the shilling nearly worthless against the US Dollar and the cost of living in the stratosphere, we cannot support another wrong-headed, politically divisive, and costly constitutional change initiative,” observed Miguna.
Lawyer Miguna greets President William Ruto at Kisumu State Lodge on January 14, 2023
The changes were proposed by Prof. PLO Lumumba who argues that the Constitution needs a review through a popular initiative.
Leading a team of scholars and lawyers behind the changes, Lumumba stated that the Constitution needs amendment to align with the country’s current needs.
“Our hand is to come out as we have and tell Kenyans that there is a time and opportunity to re-examine the Constitution,” said Lawyer Lumumba.
The Pan-Africanists made the proposals as the country marked its 13th anniversary on August 27 since the promulgation of the new constitution in 2010.
While addressing the media on the proposals, he pointed out the failure of the government to attain the two-thirds gender rule and recognise marginalised communities.
The proposals fronted by Lumumba and his group touched on;
- The architecture of Parliament
- The architecture of the Executive
- The structure of Devolution
- Constitutional Commissions
- East African Community (EAC)
Flanked by Isaac Kalua of Green Action Party (GTAP) and other activists, Lumumba argued that some positions in government are not constitutional and backed up his argument by pointing at the numerous court cases challenging the creation of the posts.
The positions of Prime Cabinet Secretary (PCS) and that of Chief Cabinet Secretary (CAS) are the most contested as they are not enshrined in the Constitution.
On July 3, 2023, the High Court declared the appointment of 50 Chief Administrative Secretaries (CASs) unconstitutional.
Attributing previous attempts to change the constitution, Lumumba expressed optimism that his proposals would sail through the stipulated constitutional process.
PLO Lumumba speaks at a panel discussion in Rwanda in May 2023.
Attempts to Amend
This is not the first time parties have attempted to amend the constitution. In 2016, Okoa Kenya, a constitution change vehicle created by the opposition fronted several amendment proposals.
The proposals submitted by the National Super Alliance (NASA) included calls to increase revenue to counties, strengthen the National Land Commission, reform the electoral body, entrench ethnic inclusivity, and strengthen public institutions and commissions.
Another unsuccessful attempt was the Punguza Mzigo initiative spearheaded by Thirdway Alliance Party Leader Ekuru Aukot in 2020.
The Bill proposed strengthening devolution, enhancing inclusivity, reducing the public wage bill, enhancing inclusivity, achieving gender balance among other proposals.
It, however, flopped after failing to meet the constitutional threshold.
The latest proposals were on the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) after the famous handshake between former President Uhuru Kenyatta and Azimio leader Raila Odinga.
Recommendations from the 14-member task force included regional integration, strengthening of national ethos, strengthening data privacy, leadership and integrity, electoral reforms, the structure of the Executive, and strengthening devolution among others.