Sunday, August 29, 2010

Kenya on the move with a New Constitution: Implications for Ghana's own review process?

Picture from the Kenyan Daily Nation Online showing "Mr Simon Wachira of Mt Kenya Tourism Circuit [being] assisted to climb Mt Kenya, where he placed a copy of the new Constitution on Friday" 


Let's face it; as soon as some of us hear "Constitution", we automatically go into snooze mode. That's exactly the attitude I had when I heard that Kenya had a new constitution. I knew there had been a referendum on the constitution, I had even caught glimpses of a glitzy ceremony and was sure there had finally been consensus between President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga but frankly, it did not seem too exciting to me. I could not have been more wrong. Shamefully, it was only after I had listened to young Kenyan points-of-view on the constitution aired on BBC World Have Your Say that I actually became interested in the process and its implications.
New Constitution Day: Kenyans Jubilating (Hmmm...where are the women at?)
Source: AFP via the BBC


Not only is this Kenyan constitution cutting-edge for an African democracy, it is particularly poignant coming from a country with a long history of ethnic tension and a very recent history of post-election violence. The constitution also paves the way for similar processes in other African countries. Did you know Ghana is currently undergoing a constitutional review process? In 2010, a Ghanaian Constitution Review Commission was set up. They have commissioners working hard already and also have a pretty helpful website (www.crc.gov.gh).


According to their website:

"The Constitution Review Commission was set up by a Constitutional Instrument 2010 (C.I.) 64 as a Commission of Inquiry to conduct a consultative review of the operation of the 1992 Constitution."



*Sigh* All those 'C's in that one sentence above may elicit instant boredom but we often forget that a constitution provides the sets of laws/rules by which we are all governed and protected in any democracy. Therefore, it is imperative that we take more interest in any constitutional review.

Did you know that the Ghana Constitution Review Commission:
  • Has a radio promo? 
  • Is on Facebook and Twitter? 
  • Has a blog? 
  • Has been criss-crossing the country hearing views and suggestions from ordinary people regarding the constitution? 
  • Has an online submission form on their website? 
Apparently 31,000 submissions have been made so far. This surprises me since I am not sure how seriously people (especially young people) are taking this process.

I do have questions of my own regarding this constitutional review process:

  • Young people (0-24 year olds) form the vast majority of the Ghanaian population and are also those who are going to be most affected by any constitutional changes. How seriously engaged are they in this process? I am talking specifically about the 18-24 year olds? 
  • How are all the submissions being sifted through and narrowed down? 
  • Which suggestions will be deemed worthy to be part of the new constitution or a referendum ? 
  • If a suggestion is not in the government's interest but comes from a sizeable number of people what happens to that suggestion? 
Anyone out there with thoughts on constitutional reviews and amendments? What suggestion would you have for a new constitution?

6 comments:

Nanasei said...

Good points, Abena. Basically, who are watching the watchers? Who's overseeing the work of the CRC? Good question. But at a certain point, someone somewhere ultimately has to make a decision. We can only hope that person/group of persons (hopefully the independent CRC members) make the right decisions that are in the best interest of the majority of Ghanaians.

Abena Serwaa said...

You’re right Nanasei; with most things in life…especially in the Subsaharan Africa, we have to hold onto Hope and Faith!

Boatemaa said...

Abena, I'm ashamed to say I didn't even know about this Constitutional Review business. I suppose my excuse is that I'm too caught up in my day to day. Thanks for bringing it up though. I'll definitely try to stay informed about it going forward.

Abena Serwaa said...

Glad to hear that Boatemaa! Honestly, I only heard about it because I turned on the tv one day and heard someone talking about it...It held my attention for approximately 3minutes before boredom set in. It really is one of those really important processes that is just not that exciting!

YankeeNaija said...

Wonder if Nigeria will have a Constitution review board? I think I need to find out what Nigeria's constitution says. Food for thought Abena.

Abena Serwaa said...

@YankeeNaija Does Nigeria have a similar baord? That's a good and pertinent question! I think finding out more about the Nigerian constitution is a really worthwhile endeavour. What you find may surprise you..