The emergence of the East African Centre for Constitutional Development: Kituo cha Katiba (KcK) in 1997 was a logical embodiment of an historic opportunity for the people of East Africa to reshape their social contract with their governments. Since the opening up of political space for democratisation in East Africa and Africa as a whole, the people have progressively, though painstakingly, been empowered to hold their governments accountable and have their aspirations, welfare needs and other rights promoted and protected.
The founder members of KcK having recognised that an emerging culture of constitutionalism requires an organisational apparatus and strategic focus to make progress, commissioned consultations by the Center for Basic Research (CBR) that targeted diverse respondents in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.
The process brought to the fore the imperative for promoting the active participation of civil society in good governance and democratic development and in the process ingrain a culture of constitutionalism. It is around these guiding principles that strategic interventions were framed by KcK. Additionally, the 1999 East African Treaty establishing the East African Community (EAC) confirmed KcK’s relevance as a regional body focusing on research, documentation, networking and advocacy on constitutionalism, good governance and democratic development.
Inaugural Kituo cha Katiba Strategic Objectives:
- Advance the science, processes and art of constitution making, constitutionalism and democratic governance through basic, comparative and applied research.
- Commission state-of-the-art studies on various dimensions of constitution making, constitutionalism and democratic governance in the region.
- Promote the values and an ethos of constitutionalism and gender equality and equity throughout the East African region.
- Highlight and address the plight of disadvantaged social, cultural, economic and political groups in the region, including minorities, refugees and people with disabilities.
- Collect and compile the testimonies of prominent East Africans intricately involved in the processes of constitutional evolution and development in the region and to foster the contribution of grassroots operatives to these processes.
- Host an annual lecture by a prominent East African on constitutionalism and constitutional development in East Africa, and to widely disseminate the text of the lecture though out the region and beyond.
- Undertake information collection, data banking, archiving, publication and dissemination through the mechanism of seminars, workshops and conferences, and to promote the use of new forms of media and electronic technology in fostering public debate and dialogue.
- Create and maintain a directory of individuals and institutions committed to the ideals of constitutionalism and democratic governance.
- Encourage, support and facilitate the reform of school and university curricula incorporating aspects relating to constitution making, constitutionalism and democratic governance.
- Act as a regional watchdog for the protection, promotion and enhancement of constitution making, constitutionalism and democratic governance.
- Dr. Willy Mutunga, Kenya.
- Prof. Kivutha Kibwana, Kenya.
- Prof. Chris Maina Peter, Tanzania.
- Prof. J. Oloka-Onyango, Uganda.
- Hon. Lady Justice Solomy B. Bossa, Uganda.
- Fr. John Mary Waliggo, Uganda.
Inaugural Secretariat 1997-1999: Ms. Harriet Busingye - Executive Director
- Ms. Damalie Nakate – Youth Officer
- Ms. Margaret Kalule – Secretary
- Mr. W. Nsubuga - Accountant
- Ms. Ann Nakonde – Asst. Accountant
- Mr. Matovu – Driver
KcK particularly targeted women and the youth as marginalised groups in constitutional development within the region.
The programme aimed to mobilise youth with the view to promoting national and regional youth initiatives that build and enhance democratic leadership and values and to widen understanding and generate consensus on constitutional issues of interest to young people. A workshop was held in Kenya in March 2002 in collaboration with the National Youth Movement.
The Youth Conference on Governance and Democratic Practice took place in Mombasa with the collaboration of the the East African Youth Council, (EAYCO). The goal of the conference was to empower youth with leadership and management skills with the aim of enhancing their democratic practice. The forum drew a dynamic group of youth within the region including leaders of the East African Youth Council (EAYCO), NGOs, internship students, several youths vying for parliamentary seats in the 2002 elections, parliament, and government. The event generated a diversity of views, and the participants resource materials suited to their needs, perceptions, values, that was to be used as a point of reference in disseminating the acquired knowledge to their peers.
In 2001, KcK undertook empirical research on Gender and Employment to make a case for the establishment of the Equal Opportunities Commission in Uganda, the only constitutionally- provided Commission that had hitherto not been established. In Tanzania, KcK reviewed the constitution and evaluated the extent to which the government had honoured its obligations in realising the vision for a free and equal society, as a recognised development goal. KcK held workshops in collaboration with stakeholders sharing similar objectives, namely the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) in Tanzania, and the Uganda Women’s Network (UWONET) and the EAYCO. In all these for a, KcK mobilised participants from a multi-disciplinary background.
KCK's Gender and Constitutionalism project was founded on the premise that despite women's critical importance to the continent's survival, they continue to be marginalised. The goal of the project was to widen the capacity of gender activists and sympathizers to appreciate gender equality as a critical framework and ideological tool for development, good governance, progressive constitutionalism and social change.
1. Leadership Training
Kituo cha Katiba in collaboration with the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) in the United Kingdom conducted a leadership training program for women lawyers in East Africa. The fellowship program was a joint initiative of Dr. Tade Aina and Dr. Joseph Gitari of The Ford Foundation Nairobi, and Prof. Julius Ihonvbere of The Ford Foundation New York. The program aimed at widening the capacity to use law as an instrument for the promotion of human rights, democratisation, and social change. Furthermore, the program sought to promote more interaction and solidarity among the three women lawyers’ associations; FIDA (Uganda), FIDA (Kenya) and the Tanzania Women Lawyers Association (TWLA) on one part and Kituo cha Katiba and CDD as advocacy centers on the other.
The program further aimed at taking advantage of the emancipation agenda that calls for the representation of women in decision making. This was against the backdrop that participation of women in vast numbers may not change the nature of the democratic function from that of a patriarchal model to one based on egalitarianism, where there is no change or questioning of the ideological framework. In addition, the lack of comprehensive information was being used as a pretext to constrain the participation of women lawyers in vying for government leadership positions. Therefore, the program aimed to facilitate women in East Africa to join the debate in order to influence thoughts and practice of policy makers, by redefining political participation.
Specifically, the program objectives were:
- Promote the professional and intellectual growth of the three associations to utilise the constitution in achieving gender parity, in instituting cases of public litigation and the provision of appropriate legal counsel.
- To develop African women jurisprudence and voices in human rights and democratic studies, as well as lay a foundation for challenging the existing ideological framework upon which patriarchal political participation is based.
- To research and assist in analysing the critical constitutional questions that involve gender and engage the policy arena in the analytical debate.
- To provide engendered empirical and analytical data, grounded in African experiences as a lobby tool for engendering the political content and process.
In the year 2000, 6 women lawyers enrolled for the program at the Universities of Sussex and Leeds in the United Kingdom, namely: Ms. Vum Ligate, Ms. Enid Nambuya, Ms. Beatrice Ngozi, Ms. Lillian Keene, Ms. Robina Namusisi and Ms. Miriam Namutebi.
2. Training in Democratic Governance
KcK initiated a program on Non-profit governance in East Africa targeting sixteen decision makers identified by the Ford Foundation. The aim of the training was to strengthen the democratic and effective governance of the Non-profit sector as a means of increasing its moral authority and act as a check and balance to government. The training also aimed to address the dearth of training materials and professional guidance in non-profit governance in East Africa. With many of the leaders learning on the job which results in wastage of time, resources and avoidable conflicts, the training was appreciated as a strategic and direct intervention that would facilitate democratic practice and in turn stimulate improved productivity of NGOs.
3. Former Board Members:
Tanzania (main land)
4. Former Executive Directors;
- Ms. Harriet Busingye
- Ms. Judy Kamanyi
- Ms. Maria Nassali