BY JOAN WANJIKU,NAIROBI, 20TH JAN,2022-The Supreme Court has been told the bid by Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) proponents to amend the Constitution would convert the document into “a piece of a toilet paper”.
Lawyer John Khaminwa mounted a spirited argument before the seven-judge bench of the Supreme Court on Thursday submitting that BBI was the brain child of a crop of unimaginative politicians.
“Whenever you have a poor politician who runs short of ideas, the immediate thing he will tell you is that let us amend the Constitution and that is what precisely happened with the first Constitution. It was amended so many times and it seized to be a Constitution, it was not better than a toilet paper at all,” he said.
The seasoned lawyer and human rights defender who represented Kituo Cha Sheria, a human rights non-governmental organization, told the court it was regrettable that BBI was engineered by the a section of “phony politicians” out to perpetuate selfish interest.
“We have now current politicians and there is very little really to admire them for. Most of them you get the impression that they are job seekers and they come up with things like amending the Constitution because they want to continue to being in power. They seem not to be having much that they can offer to the country,” he said.
Dr Khaminwa accused proponents of the initiative of trying to promote ethnicity and marginalization in the country by creating and reserving few positions to some tribes.
He said it was a fallacy that Kenyans were made to belief that the document, once implemented, would help in the attainment of inclusivity and prosperity. He cited the creation of Prime Minister Position and two deputies as a wider scheme to create positions for a clique of politicians form certain regions.
“The small tribes will be discriminated against, the majority will discriminate the small tribes of the country,” he warned.
“Let us not buy the idea when they tell us that we shall have a more stable, cohesive if we implement the BBI Bill by giving jobs to certain individuals,” he said.
Khaminwa was among a group of lawyers who mounted a successful case both at the High Court and the Court Appeal that led to the nullification of the BBI process championed by President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga.
The High Court and the Court of Appeal in 2021 ruled the push for constitutional amendment in the country was unconstitutional, null and void.
The proposed reforms came about following a rapprochement between President Kenyatta and his erstwhile opponent Odinga and a famous handshake between the two men after post-election chaos in 2017 which left dozens of people dead across the country.
The BBI aimed to restructure the so-called winner-takes-all electoral system, by expanding the executive and parliament to more evenly divide the spoils of victory.
But it was seen by critics as a way to enable President Kenyatta — who is barred from running for president again in the August 9 vote — to remain in power by creating the post of prime minister.