15 Sep 2005
Kenya's new ultra-expensive constitution is about to enter the referendum stage. Though a bit modified from the version discussed here, Anthony Covington's classic Nation article that caused so much furor in 2002 is worth checking out.
"The world population generally divides into two political groups. There is a group on the Left. They think government should get bigger, as it can do wonderful things for everyone. Then there is a bunch on the Right. This lot swears government should be kept small, as it can do very little for anyone. Ironically the Right often gets elected - and by its performance, always proves its premise is correct.
The National Constitutional Conference (NCC) seems to emanate from the Left. They want increased government so it can do more - especially the things it dismally failed to do from 1962. African socialism of the 1960s could not produce the Uhuru promises: water for all, food security, schooling, health-care and the rest."
The final 2005 draft presents many bad provisions: It's a divisive, wordy and occasionally absurd document. Presidential powers are enhanced to imperial proportions. Medievalist religious courts are multiplied, reckless sops to radical socialists like "Hero Committees" , "National Culture Day" and "maximum and minimum landholdings for all" are inserted, employers (and thus business) are granted no powers vis a vis "workers", the aspect of Government is enhanced and the whole document is hardly friendly to the engines of freedom. These are capital, enterprise, growth and innovation.
It is also near impossible to change once implemented, a foolish rigidity. The entire process has generated to farce with politics ruling and an issue of grave national import looking like a standard election campaign, Kenya style. It's pretty ugly stuff. Voting will be in November and one hopes it's a "no".