From: joachim omolo ouko
News Dispatch with Father Omolo Beste

The report of the Ndungu Commission on illegal and irregular allocation of public land gives one of the major reasons why Kenyan people opted for the new constitution. Under the old law, it was only the President, who had the right to allocate unalienated government lands, with the new constitution, even though Jubilee government wants to return it back as it were, with the national land commission in place it is going to make this attempt difficult, especially after referendum.

With the new constitution the President cannot exercise his powers without paying regard to the public interest. In any process of allocation, a formal offer of sale is made to an approved purchaser by the Commissioner for Lands and not the president.

The issue of land has been an emotive and sometimes volatile issue in Kenya since independence in 1963, and has dominated political campaigns. The new constitution backs radical land reforms, as well as allowing women to inherit land.

Against the background the 2005 constitution was rejected by Kenyan people. It watered down clauses hammered out at the National Constitutional Conference of 2003-2004. The conference called for a strong prime ministerial role but the revised draft retains a strong presidency.

Those campaigning for a “No” vote argued that power needed to be shared out, so that one person could no longer dominate the country as in the past. This, they said, would help fight corruption – a big problem in Kenya.

President Mwai Kibaki led the “Yes” campaign under the symbol of a banana. The “No” camp claim the orange as their symbol. It brought together seven cabinet ministers and the official opposition party, Kanu.

Roads Minister Raila Odinga, Environment Minister Kalonzo Musyoka and opposition leader Uhuru Kenyatta were its most prominent members. Christian churches, Islamic leaders and civil rights groups back Orange.

The 2005 Kenyan Constitutional Referendum was held on 21 November 2005. The proposed new constitution was voted down by a 58 percent majority of Kenya’s voters. The main issues of contention throughout the drafting of the constitution were over how much power should be vested in the President.

After Kibaki was defeated he dismissed his entire cabinet and deputy ministers. The result was seen as a protest against Mr Kibaki, and there was speculation that ministers opposed to the draft would not be part of the new team.

Campaigners celebrating the “No” vote asked their opponents to join them in drafting a fresh constitution, hence the 2010 constitution.

Although land is still major issue, with the new constitution Kenyans have achieved a lot. Corruption has improved from ‘highly acute’ to merely ‘rampant’. Unlike before when too many of the new ruling elite were out to get rich, rather than govern, the new constitution has prevented this.

Kenya is probably somewhat better off than it was under old constitution. Several ministers involved in corruption scandals who were going unpunished can no longer do so.

Fr Joachim Omolo Ouko, AJ
Tel +254 7350 14559/+254 722 623 578
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