One of the most important issues in democratic practice is citizen participation. The intention is to produce better democratic decisions, which is crucial in the governing process.
The need for the people to know their constitutional duties is obvious. Just as we want to measure our progress on the amount of rights we are enjoying in all aspects, the other side of the scale should measure progress based on the amount of duties and responsibilities we have discharged as a people.
Rights: A citizen of Kenya has a right to:
- Enter, exit, remain in and reside anywhere in Kenya
- Be registered as a voter without unlawful restrictions
- Participate in free, fair and regular elections based on universal suffrage and subject to the constitution, to vote and vie for any elective body or any party post where the citizen is a member
- Own land and other property in any part of the country in accordance with the law
- Be appointed to a public office
- Vie for any elective office as president or deputy president subject to Article 78 and 137 of the constitution – NB: – this only applies to citizens by birth with no allegiance to any other country (dual citizenship)
- Any documents of registration or identification e.g. ID cards, birth certificates, passports, voter’s cards (for eligible persons).
- Owe full allegiance to the state and the constitution of Kenya
- Obey the laws of Kenya
- Pay taxes provided for under Kenyan laws
- Respect and promote national integration, unity and peaceful co-existence
- Promote the values and principles prescribed in the constitution
How can citizens influence governments?
Citizens can influence government through
• Pressure/ Interest groups that seek to influence government policies and decisions
• By lodging Petitions
• By holding peaceful marches/ demonstrations
• The right of access to parliamentary sittings
• By joining political parties and thus influence party politics
• By voting in referendums and elections
What are the citizens’ responsibilities whether or not they have elected representation?
• Citizens must respect, uphold and defend Kenya’s sovereignty.
• Citizens have an obligation to ensure people serving in the independent Commissions are properly vetted.
• Devolution recognizes the right of communities to manage their own affairs and further their development.
• Citizens have the right to propose an amendment to the constitution by popular initiative signed by at least one million registered voters.