A common misconception our brothers in Jubilee have about democracy is that once people set up institutions, they lose all power over any issues that are meant to be resolved by those institutions.
Yet modern progressive constitutions are very clear that the people are the ultimate authority over any institution set up in the constitution.
It is no coincidence that the very first Article of our constitution states, “All sovereign power belongs to the people of Kenya and shall be exercised only in accordance with this Constitution”.
After first declaring that the people can exercise this sovereignty directly, the constitution donates that sovereignty to “democratically elected representatives” by saying that the people could also exercise their sovereignty through them.
To emphasise to these representatives that they are only agents of the people, the constitution proceeds to tell each and every institution what its work is, how it must be carried out and the principles that must guide that institution when it carries out its work.
Under the Jubilee government however, this trust bestowed upon institutions has been betrayed many times over. Very little regard is given to our national values and principles when institutions are exercising the sovereignty donated to them by the people.
Parliament has been particularly notorious. Using its majority in the Houses, the Jubilee administration has used Parliament to pass laws and motions that compromise the interests of the people on whose behalf Parliament exercises the legislative authority of the Republic.
This is how the National Assembly came to dismiss a petition that was filed against the commissioners of the IEBC (Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission) for mismanagement and corruption.
The petition, filed by Mr Wafula Buke mid-2014, laid out various charges against the commissioners, which alleged that they had failed in their work and that they had been corrupt.
Wafula’s petition was buried in accusations that he had been sent by Cord to fight the commissioners and in the end he was never accorded serious consideration. Jubilee marshaled its numbers in the House and threw out the petition.
Buke’s allegations are being proven correct. For instance, one of the charges was that in the procurement of the biometric voter registration and voter identification devices, the commissioners grossly mismanaged the use of public finances.
There is now before the National Assembly a report of the Public Accounts Committee that has found chairman Isaack Hassan, commissioners Thomas Letangule and Mohamed Alawi guilty of interfering with the procurement of these devices.
The committee also wants full investigations launched against Hassan, the Commission’s CEO Ezra Chiloba and the eight commissioners for the loss of KSh4 billion of taxpayers’ money.
But like it did with the Buke petition, Parliament is again likely to betray the people and decide the fate of the report based on the political interests of Jubilee.
And this is not the only issue on which the people are being betrayed by institutions to whom they have donated their sovereignty. The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission has obstinately refused to charge Hassan and his co-commissioners who participated in ChickenGate with corruption, despite the fact the existing evidence has successfully prosecuted the bribe-givers in a London court.
Is it to mean then that the people are helpless? Is it conceivable that the people who empowered the institutions to work for them have now to sit helplessly and watch as these institutions betray them? Could the servants have now become more important than the masters?
Our constitution foresaw such possibilities and provided the now-greatly-talked-about rights under Articles 37.
Every Kenyan is given a right to assemble, demonstrate, picket and present petitions to public authorities under Article 37.
The purpose of this right is so that the people can communicate to the institution involved their feelings about the actions and decisions of that institution. They are able to communicate what they expect from the institution and also demonstrate the levels of their emotions about the failures of the institution.
We took to the streets to tell the commissioners of the IEBC that they must resign as they have failed in their duty and we have no faith whatsoever in their ability to be impartial in a political contest in which we are contestants.
We wanted to communicate to Parliament that the issue of the IEBC commissioners cannot be decided on a partisan basis to achieve selfish political objectives.
Our message to the Jubilee government was that it cannot protect the commissioners of the IEBC from the law and from a moral and conscientious duty to resign and expect that Cord will foolishly accept to participate in another election conducted by them.
And we went to the streets to tell all Kenyans that they must not sit back and watch their sovereignty abused and their aspirations betrayed by an irresponsible and unaccountable regime. That is why we are returning to the streets on Monday. We are confident that the constitution is on our side as we demonstrate and we will remain defiant and undeterred by the violent reactions of the police towards us.