Having a third baby is no solution to the first two, and Rome wasn't built in a day

Friday October 12 2018

2005 constitutional referendum

The 2005 constitutional referendum where a banana symbolised support (‘yes’) for the draft constitution. The ‘no’ side - oranges - won. PHOTO | NMG 

More by this Author

It seems like we have a government that has devolved but is not working as expected.

In conversations about devolution, a common conclusion is that our problems have devolved as well. As much as we would like it, “We can’t afford it. We have to restructure, and go back to the Bomas draft constitution. Even majimboism looks better at this point, go back to regions: We have too much representation. Overrepresentation does not mean development.”

Others say: “The system is not working – it should not be about my tribe being in leadership. We think of our tribes when we talk about representation.”

How are those screaming for a referendum measuring failure – in terms of too many representatives?

With this referendum, will we still fight for our tribe to be in leadership? If the answer is still yes, we are not solving any problem. We are a tribal country when it comes to power, deeply tribal. So deeply we even stop associating with friends because we feel irritated by their comments during an election period.

The very existence of certain tribes begins to annoy us. Like a tickle in your throat that will not go away. To allow us to co-exist in a comfortable way, families with opposing views on politics ban political discussions at home; friends even stop hanging out in bars. I know of college students (yes, the educated crop sadly) congregating in their tribal cocoons because we are in an election period.

Not to mention church, the breeding ground for tribalism, where prayers are for the anointed ones belonging to a certain tribe, who are celebrated in worship and praised in sermons.

Governance is about goodwill and systems. As a friend of mine said, “If we can’t give money to 47 counties, why do we think creating something else will solve it? We need to forget the idea that if we have more people in government, it will solve issues. Inclusion is too much on people’s minds. We need to care about delivery. If for example, I have two children and I am struggling to feed them, why would I even think the solution would be having a third child?”

People in support of the referendum will try and entice me with the prospect of having a smaller parliament and disguise the real reason behind this, a powerful seat to be added other than that of the president. Using all these glittery words like smaller representation, less corruption and all this reasoning of regions, and adding the prime minister’s position as a by the way.

But all that glitters is not gold, this could be very well be copper. I heard someone say, “Is it just me, or are we celebrating Governor Kivutha Kibwana for doing his job? We have such low standards.”

Devolution has already done so much with such high levels of theft. Imagine if our politicians just worked! Instead of arguing with one another publicly like they cannot just sort their issues with a telephone call, we all know you have each other’s numbers if it irks you so much!

Like right now, we are discussing a referendum instead of the high taxes. What are politicians doing for their people to alleviate the pressures?

Governor Alfred Mutua waived costs for polytechnic institutions in Machakos County, that is something. Can we have more news on that from other counties? The problem with having one leader, in our tribal lenses, is that democracy is all about the majority having their way, so the largest tribe will always win.

Will the referendum solve our pressing issues as a country? No. And is devolution working? Rome was not built in a day.

Nerima Wako-Ojiwa is executive director of Siasa Place. Twitter: @NerimaW