By Dann Okoth
Alarmed at the slow pace of implementation of the Constitution, civil society groups are re-emerging to reclaim their once vibrant voice in the reform agenda.
Under the banner of the slogan Kenya Tuitakayo, the Kenya We Want, Katiba Mpya, the Citizen Coalition for Constitutional Culture (4Cs-Trust) is spearheading the push to restore the civil society’s lost glory in the entrenchment of the new constitutional order.
The 4Cs-Trust is nudging other civil society groups to form linkages with the Constitution Implementation Commission, the Law Reform Commission, the Attorney General’s office, Parliament, and other constitutional organs for a more robust approach to tackling challenges of the reform process.
Chief Justice Willy Mutunga was one of the founders of the 4Cs-Trust, which in the early 1990s was in the forefront of proposing an alternative constitution and even published a draft in Kiswahili and other local languages.
“We are seeking to actively engage the civil society in securing, defending and nurturing the gains of the new Constitution by enhancing the citizens’ oversight and audit role and insight into constitutionalism and the legislative environment,” 4Cs Trust Executive Director Ochieng’ Khairalla told a forum last week.
Among those who attended the forum to define the new direction for the civil society were a former commissioner with the defunct Committee of Experts Bobby Mkangi and the Reverend Jephthah K Gathaka, who has represented Christians in the reform struggle.
Gathaka is the executive director of the Ecumenical Centre for Justice and Peace based at Ufungumano House, the home of the National Convention Executive Council, which alongside 4Cs and other lobby groups were synonymous with the clamour for a new constitution in the 1990s.
The clergyman, who is also associated with the Kenya National Integrated Civic Education Programme and the Institute of Education in Democracy and other participants at last Monday forum in Nairobi were worried over attempts by some MPs to push the General Election date to August 2013.
They cited this attempt and the nuances around the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission as among the challenges in the reform process, saying it is an example of the stumbling blocks and impunity in the management of the transition.
So much stung by the civil society’s apparent lackadaisical efforts in reinforcing the new Constitution promulgated on August 28, 2010, the 4Cs has declared it is mounting a campaign to take the centre stage in reforms on behalf of the citizens.