During the last session of the Serena talks chaired by mediator Oluyemi Adeniji, the Kenya National Dialogue and Reconciliation team signed what we now call Agenda Four. The document simply outlines issues that the country’s leadership was to deal with as part of correcting past mistakes and injustices.
The document identified issues that have divided Kenyans over the years and said to have been responsible for the cycle of violence surrounding elections in the country. These are constitutional and legal reforms; land reforms; poverty, inequality and regional imbalances; unemployment – particularly among the youth; consolidation of national cohesion and unity; and transparency, accountability and impunity.
The agreement stipulates that the coalition government borne of the same talks is to lead the implementation of the reform agenda, working with parliament whenever appropriate. It also says that the main beneficiaries of the reforms, the Kenyan public, must be regularly consulted and their views sought.
Over the few weeks, Kenyans have been pulling on different directions over a sealed envelope containing the names of a few individuals out of the nearly 38 million citizenry. And even more recently, it is possible that most Kenyans have been mentioning the name Obama more times as compared to their own.
Other than the passing of the Constitution of Kenya Review Bill (2008) on Wednesday, the country is yet to make any strides towards addressing the other issues. Issues that are more pertinent that a new constitution which is largely viewed as a ‘how to share political power’ document.
These crucial steps have failed to take form despite the Serena agreement on Agenda Four giving an implementation framework. Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi and Ministers Martha Karua (Justice), James Orengo (Lands), Sally Kosgey (Higher Education), Mutula Kilonzo (Nairobi Metropolitan), Sam Ongeri (Basic Education), Moses Wetangula (Foreign Affairs) and William Ruto (Agriculture) were responsible for the agreement and I believe are still accountable for its implementation.
Kenyans must now demand that the team above offers the necessary leadership that will aid the country in dealing with these long-term issues. Implementing the Waki and Kiregler report may propel the country towards this direction but will do little to avoid a recurrence of the aftermath of the 2007 general elections.
What will keep voters from receiving bribes ahead of the 2012 elections if Kenya does not deal with the escalating poverty in the country? What will keep people from chasing ‘outsiders’ from their regions if Kenya does not institute comprehensive land reforms? Why will the youth not involve themselves in inter-communal rivalry and join militia groups if more than half their population remains unemployed?
Such instruments as the Waki report have ignited communal hatred with the Kikuyus and the Kalenjins claiming they are victims of a political agenda. How then will the country be able to counter communal hatred ahead of the next elections if national cohesion is not anchored into the society? Can ones national identity supersede their ethnic identity?
According to the Agenda Four agreement, a new constitution should be in place 12 months after March 8, 2008. This is four months and three days at the time of publishing this. Most of the other proposed reforms are to be rationalized with the quest for a new constitution making it the most crucial step in the Agenda.
Kenyans must wake up to ensure that a few individuals do not derail the reform agenda that this country badly needs.