Kenya’s draft constitution is emancipatory. Shall it be passed, it is likely to stop exploitation in the name of power and make Kenyan bigwigs pay tax for the first time in the history of this country. ‘Eating free of charge and self serving’ rulers will unceremoniously come to an end. The draft constitution, for the first time in Africa, has made it illegitimate for any government official not to pay tax.
Currently Kenyan hebetate law makers pay tax just for Kshs. 200,000 of the Kshs 850,000 they scoop monthly. Guess what, the President’s salary knows no tax! This is but a dirty example of greed, selfishness and corruption. Try to compare this to the heavily taxed monthly salary of teachers, messengers, clerks or nurses.
African presidents and their appointees use a big chunk of the tax levied upon their pauper-citizens. They also hold big sticks when it comes to receiving fat kickbacks in corruption games. Although many citizens in Africa think that their tax money is used for the development of their respective countries, this is not the case. The so-called development is nothing but bigwigs’ tummies. Does it make sense for tax evaders (however sanitized by their constitutions) to preside over tax matters or appoint the commissioners of tax?
The harmonized draft constitution indeed brings in new breath as far as accountability and leading by example are concerned. It has even brought down the age for anybody that wants to run for president to be just 18. In many African countries, presidency is for old guards.
Our current constitutions have created thugs-in-power in the name of privileges. If we need privileges, they must be for all but not for some fatcats as it currently is. Our rulers are robbing us under the constitutions they call ours. This is the source of corruption, ineptness and bad governance. Up to this point, we’ve nary touched the budget of the ministries of defence that are kept top secrets under the pretext of national security ballyhoos. Who’s the threat here between tax evaders and imaginary enemies?
Apart from the constitution of South Africa, the rest of Africa is ruled by carbuncular regimes cribbing their delinquencies under thuggish and backward-looking constitutions. With responsible constitutions, quacks and thugs full packed in politics will venture into other business if not to end up in jails instead of riches as it is now.
Another area the harmonized draft constitution scores high is the issue of devolution. By trimming the power the demigod president used to wage, it will make him responsible and accountable to his people under the law. His cronies and bootlickers will have to find another way of living. The whole African political structure is characterized by exploitation of the majority by the minority. Greedy rulers live in heaven amidst the ocean of abject poverty. This is the major source of poverty and misery in Africa. Without addressing this, all efforts to pull Africa out of its vicious circle of poverty are but nothing. Instead of begging from rich countries, Africa must ape their accountability, responsibility, hard work, transparency and democracy.
To prove my point, I’ll cite a few examples. In my province (here in Canada) MPs, ministers and who’s who have no chauffeur-driven cars. They drive themselves despite serving the government of a rich country. Everybody is accountable to everybody. Citizens pay tax to the government that uses the same for their development. Nobody trusts another when it comes to national matters.
In the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, one regional minister was last year shown the door, convicted and jailed for two years thanks for abusing Canadian Dollars 117,000. Compared to Canada’s per capital, this amount is but peanuts. In Tanzania, the former minister and AG, Andrew Chenge, for example, received kickbacks amounting to one million dollars and he is still the Member of Parliament and a free man! How many bêtes noix like this do Kenya and Uganda have? Over one third of the MPs in Tanzania are facing scandals involving corruption yet Tanzania’s government has nary taken action. Recently, it came to light that over eight ministers forged their academic certificates. Although Tanzanians asked their president to fire them, he squarely refused and ‘did not break any law’ thanks to having much power under the constitution.
Africa needs emancipatory constitutions to forge ahead. These must come from the hoi polloi for the hoi polloi not nawabs in power. It is up to Kenyans to emancipate themselves for powerful political parties in Kenya have ganged up to oppose the clause in the documents that empowers citizenry in the constituency to boot down non-performing MPs. What a shame on the guys who self aggrandize that they are fighting for the hoi polloi! Kenyans need to stay put to see to it they enact the common man's constitution.
Source: The African Executive Magazine Dec. 16, 2009.