The Anglican Church of Kenya on Tuesday called on politicians to separate the ongoing debate on proposed constitutional reforms from the 2022 presidential succession and restrain themselves and their supporters from incitement and divisive politics.
The Church however, noted that though it had not made a decision on whether to support either Punguza Mizigo or the Building the Bridges initiative (BBI), any amendments to the Kenyan constitution should be people-centered.
The Anglican Church of Kenya, Archbishop Jackson Ole Sapit said the current debate on Punguza Mizigo and BBI constitutional reforms should be structured in a manner that will not polarize the country along political and ethnic fault lines.
“All proponents of reforms should clearly bring out key issues for review and discussion. All suggestions on the amendments should come from Kenyans. Politicians must stop engaging in debates that may cause dangerous political hatred,” said the Archbishop.
He said it was a mark of disrespect for some governors, senators and members of parliament to ignore President Uhuru Kenyatta’s call for unity and hard work to bring development during his remaining three years before the 2022 general elections.
“It is time that political class realized that they are annoying Kenyans by putting the country in perpetual campaign mode since the last generation election. Kenyans want President Kenyatta given ample room to initiate and complete development projects that will improve their living standards. The Anglican Church of Kenya calls on leaders to respect the head of state and focus on work instead of politics,” Archbishop Ole Sapit stated.
The Anglican Church of Kenya leaders are meeting in Nakuru to discuss issues affecting the country including the imminent Mau evictions, corruption and its impacts on Kenyans. It will also deliberate on issues coming out of the Punguza Mizigo and the Building the Bridges initiatives.
The three-day national conference at Kabarak University has attracted over 2,000 participants, including Bishops and Clergies from ACK’s 41 dioceses across the country.
The ACK head reiterated that the church fully supports the government’s war against corruption and related economic crimes. Ole Sapit said the church supports transparency and equitable distribution of national resources.
On the Mau eviction issue, the Archbishop said the Church supports the protection and conservation of water towers in the country. He, however said that the eviction has to be done in a humane manner.
“Whether those in the forest are residing there illegally or accidentally, the exercise should not be politicized and the families be treated in a humane manner,” Ole Sapit said.
The Bishop noted inasmuch as the church supported an audit on the implementation of the 2010 constitution, any call for a referendum should benefit all Kenyans and not just a section of political leaders.
“Mwananchi is languishing as a result of the current constitution. We need to stop forthwith hate speech whose consequences have nearly torn this country apart.
“Crude power games in pursuit for the highest office in the land and politicians mongering war and propaganda that’s causing tension in the country must be shunned by the Kenyan electorate. We need peace and tolerance in the country,” he said.
“Responsible leadership is charting Kenya on a recovery path from divisive politics, tribalism and corruption following new interventions. We are all obligated to promote cohesiveness so that in 2022, people will sell their party manifestos instead of dividing the country along regional and ethnic lines,” said Archbishop Sapit.
Sapit said that living in Kenya in this era is expensive as a result of too much money going to pay political leaders hence the need for a referendum.
“A lot of money is going on the wage bill. If there is any way we can cut overspending through the referendum we need do it now and quickly,” he added.
The Punguza Mizigo campaign by Third Way Alliance Party led by Dr. Ekuru Aukot seeks a constitutional review to reduce the burden and cost of governance currently being borne by Kenyan taxpayers.
The Third Way Alliance party says its goal is to reduce the cost of running Parliament from current Sh.36.8 billion to Sh.5 billion annually.
This will save the taxpayer about Sh.31 billion every year. The party is also proposing a seven-year term for the President down from the maximum of two five-year terms.
To address gender inequality, it proposes Kenyans elect one man and woman from each of the 47 counties into the National Assembly. It also wants to abolish nominations to the county assemblies and Senate.
The party also proposes the Senate to be an upper house with veto powers and an increase in county revenue share to 35 per cent from the current 15 per cent.
The BBI task force was formed on March 9, 2018 after the handshake between President Uhuru and Opposition leader Raila Odinga that ended political hostility.
BBI has been gathering views on ethnicity, lack of national ethos, inclusivity, devolution, divisive elections, security, corruption, shared prosperity and responsibilities and rights.
BBI is to make proposals on policy, legislative and constitutional changes as well as on institutions necessary to address the nine challenges.
They are expected to make far-reaching proposals touching on political, economic and social architecture of the Kenyan society.
Raila’s brigade is keen on law reforms and like Jubilee, backs a parliamentary driven democracy as opposed to the presidential system where the winner takes it all.
The ODM Chairman, John Mbadi proposed an arrangement where the Prime Minister exercises full executive authority, with the President as a ceremonial Head of State.
ODM wants an executive system where the powers are shared between the Prime Minister and a Council of Ministers.
By Anne Mwale