HOPE FOR KENYA – NCCK Executive Committee Press Statement – 13 Feb 2008

Press Statement by the Executive Committee
Friday, February 15, 2008 by Communications

1. Introduction

The Executive Committee of the National Council of Churches of Kenya has today held an extra-ordinary meeting to reflect on the national crisis and wishes to bring the following message to the nation of Kenya.

We note with deep concern and great sadness that the crisis our nation is going through is the worst we have had in our history. More than a thousand people are dead; nearly half a million have been displaced; and property of unknown value has been destroyed, all in a short period of six weeks.

As a result, our national and social fabric has been torn apart. Kenyans are living in fear. The trust we have had for each other and especially for our neighbours has been destroyed, our identity and national pride as Kenyans has been undermined. Our nation has regressed to pre-modern times where ethnicity is glorified and commitment to national ideals by both political leaders and their supporters are put to question.

Hundreds of thousands of our brothers and sisters are living in squalid conditions in churches, schools, police stations, chief’s offices, shopping centres and other locations where they have run to seek safety. Most have inadequate supplies of even the basic necessities, and the current rains are adding to their misery. This is a mark of unwarranted and unnecessary national shame.

In our reflections, we have noted the following issues of concern:

2. Wrong Value Systems

We reiterate the words of the Inter – Religious Forum that the kind of activity we have seen since the presidential results were announced is sinful, barbaric, retrogressive and self defeating. It is utterly wrong, and should be stopped forthwith. There cannot be a legitimate excuse of stealing, killing and destroying property.

It is clear to us that at the core of this unfortunate development is a wrong value system. As a people, we have not upheld the values that would promote human dignity and nationhood. This is worrying as it reflects a moral breakdown, which is beyond the realm of political engagement and current efforts at resolving issues may be unable to address it.

We regret that we as church leaders were unable to effectively confront these issues because we were partisan. Our efforts to forestall the current crisis were not effective because we as the membership of NCCK did not speak with one voice. We were divided in the way we saw the management of the elections; We identified with our people based on ethnicity; and After the elections, we are divided on how to deal with the crisis.

As a result, we together with other church leaders have displayed partisan values in situations that called for national interests. The church has remained disunited and its voice swallowed in the cacophony of those of other vested interests. We call on church leaders to recapture their strategic position as the moral authority of the nation. We have put in place measures to enable us overcome the divisive forces, and set off on a new beginning. As the church we will do our best in helping achieve the rebirth of a new Kenya.

As the National Council of Churches of Kenya, we affirm the dignity and rights of every Kenyan which must be protected by the government and all national institutions. We urge that measures be put in place through genuine dialogue and discussion which will eliminate and criminalize negative ethnicity and institutionalize peaceful co-existence, inclusiveness, tolerance, patience as the hallmarks of our society.

In this regard political leaders and supporters from all ethnic groups and political parties who fanned, planned, financed or perpetrated the killing and displacement of fellow Kenyans, the destruction of property and peoples livelihood must be investigated, apprehended, prosecuted and punished for their crimes and abuse of the rights of others.

On their part, we wish to remind the members of our security forces that Kenyans will hold them accountable for their actions. Excessive use of force will not benefit the nation.

3. Strengthening Leadership

This crisis has revealed weaknesses in our national leadership. It is extremely saddening that people had to die, hundreds of thousands displaced, properties worth billions of shillings destroyed, and the economy brought to a halt, yet it took international pressure for our leaders to come to the negotiating table. We call on religious leaders and other stakeholders to marshal efforts and craft profiles of the kind of leaders we need and nomination processes to include standards that ensure integrity and credulity of leaders at all levels.

In addition, Kenyans must demand that our political parties are subjected to rigorous audit to eliminate parties who lean on blind ethnic support as bargaining chips in the national political arena.

4. National Structures

The General Elections of December 2007 brought to fore the weaknesses of our national institutions. NCCK urges that as a nation we address these weaknesses, which include:

One, Creation of a Credible and Competent Electoral Commission of Kenya. There must be a genuine contribution by all political stakeholders in how members are chosen and vetted in order to uphold its neutral referee role in our elections.

Two, The Structure and Functioning of the Judiciary. The inordinately slow pace of dealing with election petitions has been given as the reason for subjecting Kenyans into extra-judicial attempts to broker political justice which has cost our nation the shame and destruction we have been through. The judiciary must be subjected to thorough reforms which will lead to the restoration of the confidence of Kenyans in it.

Three, The Conduct of Parliament. The performance of the Ninth parliament was extremely unsatisfactory and its collective selfishness and greed a big surprise to Kenyans. Parliament could soon find itself irrelevant and alienated from Kenyans unless it can demonstrate statesmanship and patriotism that enables members to rise above personal and party vested interests with regard to national issues.

Four, The Civil Service. We commend the civil service for its recent reforms which have led to better service delivery. But nevertheless, we call for sensitivity in appointments and recruitment which must genuinely reflect the face of Kenya in its ethnic diversity without compromising merit.

Five, The Presidency is a symbol of national unity and requires respect from all Kenyans. In the same vein, we urge that the incumbent and all successors demonstrate commitment to the welfare of all Kenyans without any form of favoritism, cronyism or discrimination. The reforms we all await must both preserve its dignity but elaborate accountability to pre-empt abuse of office.

5. Constitution Review

To facilitate the re-engineering of our nation, a proper constitution review is essential.

We recognize that Kenyans now have a golden opportunity to return to the constitution review process, not for grandstanding, but rather with a vision to lay foundations for a better country.

We as NCCK wish to state that the last review process was hijacked by activists and some individuals who hardly represented anybody, while the process was unduly politicized. This derailed the process, denying Kenyans a worthy constitution. We urge for a new roadmap to be developed with a new configuration of sober Kenyans who represent recognized constituencies and who are vetted to ascertain their integrity and competence to ensure the good of all Kenyans. Now that all have seen how reckless some of our politicians can be, they must never be allowed to hijack the Kenyans right to craft their own constitution.

6. Future Use of Land in Kenya

We call on Kenyans to reason at this critical moment. There were approximately 8 million Kenyans at independence. Today, we are nearly 34 million, and can expect to reach 50 million in another twenty years. We, as a people, must realize that we cannot continue to depend on land in the way we do now successfully.

We therefore must agree on how we shall share and manage power, space and resources if we are to have lasting peace and stability in our nation.

We call on the government to move with speed to develop a comprehensive plan of land allocation and management so as to eliminate the contradiction of excessive land ownership by a few people and abject poverty of a greater majority Kenyans.

7. Resettlement of IDPs and Reconstruction

We urge that all political leaders and leaders from other sectors as a measure of minimum good faith jointly visit all the clash areas and destroyed commercial centres.

The resettlement of the Internally Displaced Persons and the reconstruction of destroyed premises and infrastructure to facilitate return to normalcy must then be given priority over the convenience of political players who have consistently pursued personal interest at the expense of public good.

There is also a strong case for de-politicization of ordinary Kenyans lives and economic activity as a key to alleviation of poverty and as part of the far reaching reforms that our current situation demands.

8. Mediation Efforts

Kenya is one nation under God and subject to God’s judgement at all levels of society, both governments and citizens.

As the National Council of Churches of Kenya put our faith in God that He will enable us resolve the current crisis and the underlying issues. Nevertheless, we appreciate the ongoing mediation efforts, especially the African Eminent Persons team led by His Excellency Kofi Annan. In this regard:

i. We demand that the members of both negotiating teams stop treating the lives of Kenyans as cheap collateral that can be traded for political gain;
ii. We urge all the parties in the mediation process to ensure that they negotiate effectively so as to get the best for the nation and for our people;
iii. Further, we urge members of both teams should cease making public statements that can undermine the mediation process;
iv. Appreciating that the outcome of the mediation process may require legal enforcement, we call upon Parliament to prepare to expeditiously enact all necessary legislation to facilitate this;
v. We also call upon all Kenyans to accept and abide by the outcome of the mediation process, and hold their MPs responsible in ensuring that this crisis as well as the underlying factors are resolved.

9. Conclusion

In conclusion, we again remind all Kenyans that this is our country. God gave us a beautiful country and many diverse peoples with incredible gifts. Let us embrace each other as brothers and dwell in peace with each other. We urge that we all sow the right seeds: The seeds of love, justice, peace and unity. The Bible warns that whatsoever a man plants, that shall he also reap. If we sow the seeds of hate, we shall reap death and more hatred.

We call upon all Kenyans to maintain peace and to refrain from revenge attacks.

Let us all work for the betterment of our nation.

Signed on this 13th day of February 2008 at Jumuia Conference and Country Home, Limuru.

Rt. Rev. Dr. Eliud Wabukala

Rev. Canon Peter Karanja
General Secretary
Source: http://www.ncck.org/info_center/itemsview.asp?secid=1&itemid=120

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