The BBI Steering Committee was conscious of working within a national and global context that was dynamic and needed to be taken into account in its work. Many notable dynamics and trends stood out as important to this political and economic moment for Kenyans, in relation to the task of the Steering Committee. Below are some of the leading ones, which we hope all Kenyans will pay mind to as they read, and deliberate on, this report.
1. COVID-19: The COVID-19 pandemic is leading to extraordinary changes to the global health, economic and trading systems. The Steering Committee, in observing the damage to economic livelihoods, and the effect of unemployment and destroyed wealth caused by the pandemic, anticipates that political cohesion will erode seriously across the world, leading to pressure to undertake fundamental political and economic reforms. Kenya, without predicting the pandemic, had already embarked on this path to far-reaching reform with the BBI process. We take note of the BBI reforms recommended in the economic sphere, in healthcare provision, and in making Kenya a more cohesive country. These will be the kind of changes the rest of the world will pursue, while Kenya will be ahead of the global curve due to BBI.
2. COMPETENCE: The Steering Committee observes that successful countries are those whose public and private institutions and processes can consistently produce competence in planning and implementation. It matters little how grand our aims and ambitions as a country are, if we do not find a way to root evidence and competence in how we run government, businesses – small and large – and even our families. We urge Kenyans, and particularly the leadership in the public sector, to build systems that embrace merit while broadening inclusivity. It is especially crucial that political parties actively seek out and promote aspirants to elective office who in addition to their political skills are competent individuals.
3. EQUITY AND EQUALITY: If the object of politics is ‘who gets what, when, how’, as defined by the famous American political scientist Harold Lasswell, Kenyans must embrace legal and political systems that carefully balance between equity and equality. There is no doubt that Kenya has a continuing legacy of marginalisation of some groups and areas, and that this is combined with existing pervasive under-servicing in many parts of the country. It is crucial that the needs of the marginalised and under-served be met, as much as is possible. It is also, however, important to also pay practical mind to the call for equality for unequal treatment, even in the pursuit of fairness, can easily be pushed into new forms of victimisation and marginalisation. A balance is crucial to the health of this republic.
4. EQUAL OPPORTUNITY: It is equally critical on the economic front to focus on the equalisation of opportunity for all Kenyans, no matter their age, ethnicity, religion, or gender, as the primary aim of economic policy. We are not a wealthy country: if you took every property, all the goods, and minerals and magically sold them in a single moment and then divided the proceeds by 47 million, the money would last each of us for an extremely brief time. We must build wealth as a country, and this will be sustainable and successful only if we minimise the barriers to opportunity caused by discrimination, undermining of merit, poor education, and unequal service provision.
5. REFORM: It has become increasingly fashionable in some influential quarters to look down on the Kenyan tradition of working hard to mediate emerging conflicts for the sake of seeking peace and stability. Such efforts are sometimes derided as an uncritical embrace of a destructive status quo, with preference being for extreme actions that can push the country to the brink of escalating, and possibly catastrophic, conflict. We believe that peace and stability are a prerequisite for a successful Kenya. And we urge Kenyans to beware the unintended consequences of actions intended to destabilise the constitutional order; we have seen their dire consequences in our region and should want no part of them. We, as Kenyans, have the intelligence and organising power, to seek and achieve meaningful reforms.
Download the report of the Steering Committee on the Implementation of the Building Bridges to a United Kenya Taskforce Report
The Steering Committee drafted the following twelve bills. Other bills required to give effect to some of the proposed constitutional changes will be drafted.