The Institute of Participatory Development, a Malindi-based governance Civil Society Organization (CSO) has called for citizen’s participation in the impending constitutional changes proposed in the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) Report.
The Organization’s Executive Director, Mzungu Ngoma, said the Kenyan Constitution is dynamic and requires the participation of all citizens in dialogue if it is to lead to any meaningful changes.
Speaking to the media during the organization’s 20th Anniversary Celebrations at the Malindi Baptist Church on Tuesday, Ngoma said the process should not be left to politicians, who might make changes that suit them at the expense of ordinary Kenyans.
“Kenyans should be properly represented in the process. We do not want to see politicians and senior people in the government driving the initiative. All Kenyans must participate in dialogue leading to fine-tuning of our Constitution and Governance in our nation,” he said.
He lamented that Members of Parliament could not be trusted with the process as they had been a big let-down since many were in leadership to amass wealth instead of serving the people who elected them to the August House.
“I oppose the proposal that Parliament should drive the process because members of the Legislature, be they Senators, Members of the National Assembly or members of the 47 County Assemblies have been thinking about themselves whenever they are given a chance to do anything for Kenyans,” he said.
He added: “My stand and that of my organization is that this process should start from the grassroots level all the way to the national level.”
Ngoma at the same time, faulted the BBI team for not addressing the land question in the Coast Region and the entire country.
“As much as we want to support the BBI Report, if it does not address the cancerous land question in the region, that report is meaningless to us,” he said, adding that a meaningful constitutional changes for the country will only be realized if the issues of land and governance are properly addressed.
His sentiments were echoed by Institute of Participatory Development (IPD) Chairman, Kenson Nyange and land activist, Stembo Kaviha Kikopi, who said the Coast Region has suffered historical injustice in terms of land ownership, adding that they would not support constitutional changes that will not address the concerns.
“If the BBI has not captured the land issues in the Coast Region, when we know very well that the land problem here has become a regional disaster, then it will not serve us,” he said.
He said coast residents would only support the BBI report if it proposes ways of liberating them from being squatters on their ancestral land.
Since the BBI Report was handed over to President Uhuru Kenyatta and former Prime Minister, Raila Odinga last week, politicians have been divided over whether the changes should be effected by Parliament or subjected to a referendum.
By Emmanuel Masha/Jemimmah Buya