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1627 words - 7 pages

There is great hope for many patriotic Kenyans who exercised their democratic and fundamental right to make an appointment with great history, in giving birth to a new constitution, that will create new legal and political frameworks to anchor the struggle of social justice and new democratic state in Kenya.

But the national question for progressive forces after 21-gun salute on 27 August 2010 to promulgate the new constitution is on how to build strong social movements to breathe life into the new constitutional text. As noted before and during this referendum campaign, Kenyans were mobilised individually to come and participate in the referendum vote – as happens every time during the ...view middle of the document...

Professor Yash Ghai has argued in an article posted in the Oxford Journal on Transitional Justice (OTJR) debate on the challenges of establishing constitutional order in Kenya that ‘The constitution can’t achieve anything by itself: like Marx’s commodities, it does not have arms and legs, it must be mobilized, acted upon and used’. This political dictum confirms to us that we must construct organic social movements as political, social and economic instruments to be the arms and legs to mobilise and organise the exploited masses to act and use the new constitutional framework to bring fundamental social change in Kenya.

It is good to note here also that the new constitution has not altered the fundamentals of neocolonial political economy that introduced Kenya society to inequality and extreme poverty, although it creates the illusion of a social democratic state, with a progressive bill of rights and economic social rights anchored in the constitution. This is only a token of legalism language, within liberal bourgeoisie democracy that cannot solve the problem of historical exploitation, marginalisation and social inequalities, that manifest in crime, homelessness, unemployment, environmental destruction and poverty-linked disease that is killing our people everywhere, in our slums, estate and villages across the country.

The new ratified constitution indeed has a positive aspect of elite consensus, on structure of devolved political power in the 47 created county assemblies with 15 per cent of the national budget allocated to all the 47 counties collectively as devolved funds. This has created a political space for the right to organise and democratise development in the local level, which progressive forces can utilise to advance the cause of national democratic revolution, from below.

But the opened economic political space calls for alternative political leadership and new strategies for grounding the people’s struggle within the new political environment. This comes with the challenge of building a new democratic institution: To breathe values into these institutions calls for the participation of social movements that will pressure and democratise the state and inject values of patriotism and accountability into the public service. It also requires the development of alliances in county assemblies between the trade unions movement, the women’s movement, the small farmers’ and fishermen’s cooperative movements, as political social forces to revitalise popular resistance. This must be rooted in mass base movement to confront the inherently violent neoliberal capitalism economy that is present phase of imperialism, in today’s Kenyan economy (as Professor Issa Shivji one of East Africa’s original thinkers, and organic intellectuals, has argued in his recent book, ‘Where is Uhuru?’, a reflection on the struggle for democracy in Africa, and the pitfalls of liberal reforms (the third generation or rights-based constitutions) p61. On...

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