Eight years ago on 27th August 2010, the current constitution was promulgated after years of strife and struggle. Every objective legal analyst agrees that it was such a huge leap from the largely oppressive document that seemed to have been revised over time to favor the president.
The current constitution elevated the people to hierarchical supremacy, with every other institution deriving its mandate from the people. It also emphasized on the rights of citizens as a fundamental tenet. It has been hailed world over as very progressive and liberal.
We could say it was such a revolutionary act that the civil society and the government made it their aim to have this document everywhere and in every format possible. Unfortunately, a huge population of the young generation did not intrinsically interact with the old constitution. Unlike the old constitution that many only knew was bad but couldn’t cite it; you are likely to find a number of ordinary wananchi today, citing the constitutional provisions of the 2010 constitution with astounding efficacy.
If we’re to really appreciate the 2010 constitution, it’s instructive to know how far we’ve come. Having some form of knowledge of the old constitution can help us in measuring the progress we’ve made so far.
Changes from the first Parliament
While so many Kenyans were excited about the 2010 constitution establishing the Senate to oversee county government and National Assembly overseeing national government; it wasn’t the first time we were having a bicameral parliament. The constitution we inherited in 1963 established two Houses of Parliament (The Senate and the House of Representatives).
There wasn’t much difference between the Parliament at independence and Parliament today, except that the membership has increased considerably. Prior to abolishing the Senate in 1966; effectively ending the bicameral Parliament, we had 41 Senators representing 40 districts and the Nairobi Area and 124 MPs in the National Assembly. And while the law did not bar any woman from vying, no woman was voted into the first parliament. During the elections, a total of 1.8 million votes were cast. In last year’s General Elections, we had more than 10 times that number registered to vote.