Category Archives: Justice

Choices DO have consequences: Corruption, Impunity and Hubris!

I have just finished reading the article titled Tanzania port project a big threat to Kenya’s economy in the June 2 issue of Daily Nation and concluded that the article is further evidence that Kenya’s future will continue to suffer due to the triple threat of corruption, impunity and hubris; threats that go hand in hand in a circular flow where one feeds the other and creates momentum, while periodically stalled, has continued unabated since the Brits “left” the country in 1963.

http://www.nation.co.ke/oped/Opinion/Tanzania-port-project-a-big-threat-to-Kenyas-economy/-/440808/1869420/-/gpa2ij/-/index.html

The story of Kenya’s culture of “kitu kidogo” is legendary and well documented most recently in the book Wuodha: My journey from Kenya to these United States and in the just-released Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) Report. The latter a comprehensive and detailed accounting of the country’s sordid past, perpetrated mainly by and/or at the behest of the country’s presidents – Kenyatta Pere, Arap Moi and to a lesser extent, Mwai Kibaki.

Speaking from personal experience, corruption at the port of Mombasa when one is trying to release shipment of goods from overseas not only deprives the government of the much-needed revenue, it frustrates well-meaning, industrious and entrepreneurial individuals including non-Kenyans who are not only bringing in the material and revenue, but may also want to start businesses that may in turn create jobs the country so desperately needs. While trying to clear an automobile I had imported from Japan back in 1998, I dealt with some of the rudest, most incompetent and corrupt individuals I have ever met at the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) office in Mombasa and from all accounts, the problems persist to this day! I paid kshs. 5000, (~$72 at the prevailing exchange rate) to three different employees at the KPA, all who refused to process my shipment and clearance documentation because, and I quote: My shipping documentation was missing some very important pages. Customer service representatives at the Japanese company I bought the car from were insistent that they had sent all the paperwork related to shipment of the vehicle and given my experience with Japanese quality control, I did not doubt their claim. Finally after three days of epic frustration and wasted vacation time trying to track down the “missing pages”, I hired a “clearing agent” who laughed as he explained to me that the “missing pages” were the shilling notes the port employees were used to finding surreptitiously slipped between the paperwork they were paid to review and process! As if being fleeced by the good folks at the KPA was not enough, the “agent”, a friend from high school friend, disappeared after I had paid him his fees leaving me to navigate the meandering maze that was the clearing process at KPA! I finally cleared the car through customs exactly two weeks and almost 0.4million shillings later!

The notion that Kenya has done well despite lacking the natural resources abundant in the neighboring countries is a feeble attempt at the tried and true we may be corrupt but we are not as corrupt as Nigeria nor as dysfunctional as Somalia feel-good meme most Kenyans resort to every time someone has pointed out the country’s endemic corruption and dysfunctional government/polity. In a sobering reality-check, the article by Murithi Mutiga compares Kenya to Singapore, a country that like Kenya does not have much arable land and almost no minerals but with a standard of living that is light years ahead courtesy of leadership that has been ruthlessly intolerant of corruption! Additionally, one just has to look at the impact of the corruption caused by the coffee boom of the late 70s and by the elephant poaching that peaked at the same time to get a glimpse of what would happen if a country already reeling from wanton corruption had more natural resources! Countless human lives were disrupted and lost to the ensuing violence and greed as Kenyans, led by their leaders partook in the orgy of “magendo” or coffee smuggling. Similarly, the elephant population of the country was almost wiped out by poaching that reportedly benefitted the current president’s mother! The scale and scope of corruption in Kenya continues to be possible because the country’s past three presidents – Kenyatta Pere, Arap Moi and Mwai Kibaki – have actively engaged in and condoned the behavior. Friends and families of the 3 presidents have then followed their lead or as characterized during the presidency of Daniel Arap Moi, “fuatad nyayo” without shame or fear of prosecution. Finally, the public sensing the opportunity and not wanting to be left behind in the relentless pursuit of “mbesha” also engorged at the trough and the culture of “something small” or “kitu kidogo”.

The country’s history of single-party rule, centralized decision-making and strong almost imperial presidencies has exacerbated the intensity of corruption. The idea of co-equal branches of government – executive, legislative and judiciary – was just that – an idea that has not really existed. Kenya’s presidents ruled with near-dictatorial power and total control of ALL instruments of power. Kenyatta Pere, Moi and Kibaki had their sycophants and/or relatives head the various institutions/branches of government designed to check the power of the executive. They also controlled the country’s law enforcement and security apparatus; a concept that is not unusual if the organizations are used to protect and serve the citizenry. To the contrary, Kenya’s security and law enforcement apparatus have been used to strike fear in the hearts of and murder its citizenry even as the level of insecurity and violence in the country has risen unabated.

The Greek concept of hubris, a seemingly abstract and esoteric has been on full display since Kenya obtained its independence in 1963. Kenya’s ruling class, their families and friends, not to mention their well-heeled supporters have comported themselves with pride and arrogance that is astonishing. The arrogance and flippancy is embodied in the recent and popular expression “Move On”. The expression has been used by supporters of the victorious Jubilee Coalition to urge, more like gloat at those in the opposition, mainly CORD and its supporters to accept the verdict of the Supreme Court of Kenya that awarded the 2013 presidential elections to Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto and “move on” with their lives. From the assassination of those who fell out of favor with the powers that be – Pio Gama Pinto, Tom Mboya, JM Kariuki, Robert Ouko – to the brutal death of the hundreds and thousands felled by violence such as the Wagalla Massacre, the post-election violence of 2007 and the recent clashes in the Tana Delta reportedly fomented by those seeking to maintain their hold on power. From the massive poaching of Kenya’s elephants and pillaging of its other resources as evidenced by the Goldenberg and Anglo-leasing scandals, the country has “moved on” or lurched from one scandal to the next and one tragedy to the next in a paroxysmal waste of its energy and resources while imbuing the perpetrators of said events with hubris and impunity unrivaled since the days of Meidias, a wealthy and well-connected Athenian, in 348BC. The orator and statesman Demosthenes, in an assault case against Meidias, argued that a democracy’s (Athens) viability and that of the institutions therein is imperiled when the wealthy and well-connected undermine the rule of law, by assaulting others (bodily and property) without suffering the consequences. Kenya’s past is littered with examples of the wealthy and well-connected absolutely undermining the rule of law by plundering public resources and murdering opponents without being held accountable by democratic institutions designed to do that.

Kenya is now faced with challenges that it seems unable to deal with, the New Constitution and euphoria of the peaceful elections notwithstanding. One of the very basic challenges facing it is the insecurity that is rocking various parts of the country. Members of the public are now emulating their leaders and taking the law into their hands while circumventing due process. Frustrated citizens now mete out swift “justice” on suspected criminals. As recent as May 31, 2013, three suspected gangsters linked to a wave of insecurity and violence in Kiminini, Trans Nzoia were accosted by the public as they were being transported to the police station and set ablaze. One witness was quoted as saying that “they decided to lynch the three because they had lost faith in the judicial system.” These incidents are being repeated with alarming regularity throughout the country.

http://www.nation.co.ke/News/-/1056/1868914/-/w4jbc7z/-/index.html

Similarly, beyond the quest for security is the quest for an end to impunity as evidenced by the actions of the villagers of Timboni village who “set ablaze four posh houses worth millions of shillings, claiming they were owned by drug barons.” According to newspaper reports, “the more than 1,500 angry residents gathered at a local mosque for afternoon prayers before descending on the four houses.” A spokesman “vowed that the residents would burn more buildings they believed were built with proceeds from the sale of drugs and lynch the owners because they “were frustrated by an unjust system in which corruption had led to the drug lords buying their freedom from police cells and local courts whenever they are arrested.”

http://www.nation.co.ke/News/-/1056/526270/-/u1wkcl/-/index.html

The contention that the fore-going incidents are anomalies and not reflective of the country is belied by the portmanteau “Nairobbery”; a combination of the words “Nairobi” and “robbery” and macabre ode to the “city in the sun’s” never-ending incidents of carjackings, armed robberies and violent assaults. The name “Nairobbery” is now a fixture in the Urban Dictionary and a term used by the respectable magazine Economist!

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Nairobbery
http://www.economist.com/node/1276783

One can imagine the country shaking its collective head and similarly having a hearty collective laugh at the rich irony depicted by the picture of the chairman of the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) Mr. Bethuel Kiplagat handing the commission’s final report to Mr. Uhuru Kenyatta. To begin with, the commission recommended that Mr. Kiplagat be investigated for complicity in the Wagalla Massacre of 1984, the murder of Robert Ouko and the comparatively pedestrian charge of land-grabbing! Mr. Kiplagat was handing the report to President Uhuru Kenyatta whose father Jomo was singled out, also by the commission, for engaging in massive land-grabbing schemes, crimes against humanity including the torture and murder of political opponents Pio Gama Pinto and Tom Mboya while simultaneously sending Kenya on its spiral towards the abyss of tribalism and tribal politics; a tactic he learned from the very “foreigners” he was castigating in the run-up to the country’s independence in 1963! And in the very essence of the maxims the fruit does not fall far from the tree and the one about those who refuse to learn from history, the recipient of the report, Kenyatta Son is now facing his own charges of crimes against humanity having been accused of fomenting the post-election violence of 2007 by none other than the very “foreigners” who taught his father to “divide-and-conquer” Kenya along tribal lines!

Unfortunately for Kenyatta Son but equally fortunate for the victims of those previously exempted from punishment for criminal acts, the impunity Kenyatta Pere enjoyed in the 60s and 70s went the way of the dodo as the internet beamed pictures of the violence and carnage wrought by tribal violence in 2007. Those ghastly images reminded an international community still remorseful because of its inaction in Rwanda of its collective responsibility to protect the weak and powerless within. Mr. Uhuru and his deputy are having to answer charges of crimes against humanity at The Hague, the embodiment of the very foreign institutions his father railed against!

http://www.nation.co.ke/News/politics/The-past-returns-to-haunt-Kiplagat/-/1064/1860186/-/fm7sg5z/-/index.html

Given the fore-going, is it any wonder that Kenya’s landlocked regional neighbors – Burundi, Malawi, Rwanda, Uganda, Sudan and S. Sudan – are actively seeking to re-direct their shipments to Dar-es-Salaam, Bagamoyo and Djibouti away from the corrupt and inefficient KPA-run port of Mombasa? With a Transparency International 2012 Corruption Perception Index (CPI) rating of 35 (100 being Zero Corruption) and a global ranking of 102 (out of 176 countries surveyed), Tanzania, Kenya’s “socialist” neighbor to the south is ahead of Mozambique, the other sea-faring country along the eastern coast of Africa with a CPI rating of 31 and ranking of 123 as an alternate gateway to the afore-mentioned landlocked countries. Similarly, Djibouti with a CPI of 36 and a global ranking of 94 is siphoning off business from Ethiopia, Sudan and S. Sudan respectively.

Yes indeed, choices DO have consequences!

For the record, Somalia’s CPI ranking was 174, Eriteria was 150 and Kenya was ranked 139 – the bottom three countries in the eastern part of the continent. Somalia is the poster-child and definition of a failed state. Eriteria gained its independence twenty years ago in 1993. Kenya celebrated its 50th Anniversary of self-rule also known as Madaraka Day on June 1, 2013 – two days before this piece was published!

http://cpi.transparency.org/cpi2012/results/

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Filed under 2013 Presidential Elections, Corruption, Democracy, Elections, Governance - Kenya, Justice, Kenya, Law & Order, Politics

The AU vs. The ICC: Racism vs. Impunity

The following explanation regarding the raison d’être of the International Criminal Court (ICC) is taken from the court’s home page:

 “The International Criminal Court (ICC) is an independent, permanent court that tries persons accused of the most serious crimes of international concern, namely genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. The ICC is based on a treaty, joined by 122 countries (effective as of 1 May 2013). The ICC is a court of last resort. It will not act if a case is investigated or prosecuted by a national judicial system unless the national proceedings are not genuine, for example if formal proceedings were undertaken solely to shield a person from criminal responsibility. In addition, the ICC only tries those accused of the gravest crimes. In all of its activities, the ICC observes the highest standards of fairness and due process. The jurisdiction and functioning of the ICC are governed by the Rome Statute.”

http://www.icc-cpi.int/en_menus/icc/about%20the%20court/icc%20at%20a%20glance/Pages/icc%20at%20a%20glance.aspx

 The claim that the International Criminal Court (ICC) is “targeting Africans on a racial basis” as alleged by the presiding chairman of the African Union (AU) and Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn should prompt the same analysis and review as the proposal that the ICC relinquish adjudication of the crimes against humanity charges facing President Uhuru Kenyatta, his deputy William Ruto and radio presenter Joshua Sang to Kenya’s judiciary. Africa and specifically Kenya should evaluate the two issues – a “racist” ICC and independent and competent local (Kenyan) adjudication of the country’s president and his deputy along with Mr. Sang for crimes against humanity – with the honesty and objectivity they both deserve.

A quick search on the internet rubbishes Mr. Desalgen’s claim that “99 per cent of those indicted by the ICC are Africans”. While the current active listing of suspects contains mostly Africans; from Congo, Sudan/Dafur, Libya and Kenya, there is also an extensive list of individuals, mostly from the former Yugoslavia who are non-Africans, who have been indicted and either convicted or acquitted by the ICC. Similarly, there is an extensive listing of non-Africans who were convicted and punished for war crimes at The Nuremberg Trials, the precursor to the ICC. Interestingly enough, the Africans facing charges at the ICC were referred to the court by their own people including Kenya’s own Uhuru and Ruto who ended up at The Hague because their colleagues in parliament did not want them to be
vague”!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_people_indicted_in_the_International_Criminal_Tribunal_for_the_former_Yugoslavia

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Axis_personnel_indicted_for_war_crimes

One can make a compelling argument that in a fair world – and we know how fair and impartial life is – Donald Rumsfeld, George W. Bush, Tony Blair, Dick Cheney and Condoleezza Rice would all be in front of a war crimes tribunal because they invaded a sovereign country (Iraq) on the basis of cherry-picked and wrong information. As a matter of fact, I would argue that it is the fear of being arrested, definitely of being embarrassed by protestors, that prevent the afore-mentioned individuals from traveling abroad as regularly and as freely as they would otherwise do. In his op-ed piece titled Many Africans are coming to believe that international justice is selective, Mr. Mutuma Mathiu argues that the International Criminal Court, indeed international organizations such as the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF) and even the United Nations (UN) and its related branches are slanted towards the west, particularly the US, Gt. Britain, France and the EU. While I agree with the very general thrust of Mr. Mathiu’s argument, I would also point out that Africa’s history is littered with evidence of its leaders colluding with the same dastard western governments and international institutions against their very own subjects and political opponents not to mention using Swiss banks and similar off-shore accounts to hide their ill-gotten gains. Kenya’s “founding father” and the current president’s father Jomo Kenyatta perfected the art of using the likes of Mr. Patrick Shaw, a British policeman, to do his dirty (political) work of planting evidence, intimidating witnesses and worse!

http://www.nation.co.ke/oped/Opinion/-/440808/1861062/-/ji9o2wz/-/index.html

http://www.nation.co.ke/News/politics/ICC-targets-Africans-on-race-basis-African-Union-chair/-/1064/1864200/-/14tyb02z/-/index.html

http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20120528042454AAdbSmG

http://www.foreignpolicyjournal.com/2012/05/12/bush-convicted-of-war-crimes-in-absentia/

As amply demonstrated by Africa’s history over the last 50+ years, leaders from Idi Amin to Mobutu Seso Sekou via Jean Bidel Bokassa, Said Barre, Jomo Kenyatta, Arap Moi, Charles Taylor and Robert Mugabe have colluded with western countries and western institutions to abuse their subjects and plunder their country’s resources with an impunity that was near-total! Few objective and fair-minded observers can review Africa’s socio-political and economic past and conclude that its leadership has led Africans with the respect and fairness they deserve. One can even argue that most African leaders have failed, miserably, at improving the lives of their people while lining their own pockets and those of their friends, family and tribe, similarly fattening their bellies while behaving worse than the very colonial masters their forefathers fought so hard to defeat! To paraphrase Jaramogi Oginga Odinga from his book Not Yet Uhuru, the average African is still struggling to prevent fellow (black-skinned) African leaders with vested interests from ruling as successors to the administrators of the colonial days i.e. colonialists.

Idi Amin single-handedly destroyed Uganda, a country once referred to as the “pearl of Africa” first by expelling Asians who were the backbone of the country’s economy before embarking on a pogrom that decimated the country’s intelligentsia and brain trust further diminishing its ability to develop economically and socially. Republic of Congo’s Mobutu Seso Sekou, with help from Belgium and the CIA, overthrew the country’s first democratically elected Prime Minister Élias Okit’Asombo aka Patrice Lumumba who was then tortured and ultimately executed by a firing squad. Kuku Ngbendu wa Za Banga, as Mobutu was also known, went on to squander the wealth of the newly-renamed Zaire, a country that was equally blessed and cursed with an insane abundance of natural resources. The sordid doings of Kenyatta Pere and Moi, hitherto discussed in hushed tones, especially during their reigns have finally been made official and public by the recently-released Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TRJC) Report; an accounting of Kenya’s historical record of gross human rights violations perpetrated primarily by and at the behest of the country’s presidents.

I would thus argue that the key difference between the dreaded west – USA, Gt. Britain, France etc. – and say Kenya, Sudan, Congo, Rwanda and former Yugoslavia is the fact that the former have institutions that are mature and comparatively independent enough to handle matters such as crimes against humanity/war crimes involving the rich and powerful without blatant interference and manipulation from said rich and powerful. Can folks at the AU honestly see Hutus and Tutsis dealing with the very genocide they were both victim of? Indeed  Kenyans were given the opportunity to set up local institutions and mechanisms to investigate and punish those convicted of fomenting the ethnic violence after the elections of 2007. Both principals – President Kibaki and PM Odinga – were in favor of setting up local institutions and mechanisms to deal with the issue but were shouted down by none other than the sycophants of the current president and his deputy. The country seems to have forgotten  the chant “Don’t be vague; go to The Hague”. Its members of parliament (MPs) opted to go to The Hague for a host of reasons including the incredulously self-serving belief that the ICC would take forever to bring charges against those accused or that it, ICC, was a toothless organization, especially when called upon to charge the likes of Uhuru Kenyatta. Finally and most saddening and as evidenced by revelations by the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC), Kenyans were afraid that the accused high and mighty would manipulate and influence the proceedings and resultant outcome as they have done in past high profile cases!

Now that the proverbial chickens have come home to roost, the likes of Kenya’s permanent representative to the UN Mr. Macharia Kamau and the chair of the AU Mr. Hailemariam Desalegn are crying neo-colonialism and racism respectively! It is hypocritical, disingenuous and the height of arrogance. These individuals and the organizations they represent – AU and Kenya – would have some credibility if they had demonstrable track records of actions taken against crimes against humanity and impunity by the rich and powerful. As illustrated above and in a previous posting titled “Be a Sage; Push for The Hague”, neither Africa’s leaders nor Kenya’s have demonstrated an ability to do either – address impunity and crimes against humanity perpetrated by the rich and powerful within them.

It is why the ICC, its shortcomings notwithstanding, is a much-needed and powerful counterweight to the likes of Charles Taylor and Slobodan Milosevic, indeed to Uhuru Kenyatta. Similarly, it is the well-documented history of Africa’s “big men” acting with wanton impunity and the glaring impotence of institutions within their respective countries (including the African Union; the ultimate club for said ”big men”) to hold them in check and accountable that make Mr. Desalegn’s cry of “racism” laughable.

The shoes is finally on the other foot and Africa’s masters of impunity have finally met their Waterloo in the International Criminal Courts and they are now crying foul! I say it is about time they were held accountable.

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Filed under 2013 Presidential Elections, Corruption, Democracy, Governance - Kenya, IDPs, International Criminal Court - ICC, International Relations/Global Issues, Justice, Kenya, Law & Order, The Hague

Our turn to get MPaid!

Kenya’s Members of Parliament (MPs), having rejected the Kshs. 532,000 monthly salary PLUS allowances offered them by the Salaries and Remuneration Commission, are now locked in a battle of will and attrition with the erstwhile “tool of the wazungu”, the country’s civil societies in a confrontation that is both entertaining and instructive. The visual of pink pigs and piglets gorging blood in front of the supposedly august and hallowed grounds of the country’s parliament is side-splitting. It also symbolizes the greed that is par for Kenya’s political leaders. The live tragi-comedy played out in front of Kenya’s parliament that was organized by Kenya’s Civil Society Organisations also resulted in the filing of a lawsuit by the Leader of Majority Hon. Aden Duale, a devout Muslim whose religion forbids its adherent from associating with anything remotely connected to pigs; creatures considered unholy. President Uhuru Kenyatta, to his credit, has already come out against the protestation by the MPs for a salary increase that would see their pay jump from the current kshs. 532,000/month to 850,000/= – a 60% increase! By contrast, the average Kenyan voter takes home approximately Kshs.6,600/month; a figure based on an annual per capita income of $976 – Wikipedia. It must be particularly irking for said “average Kenyan voter” whose euphoria after the Supreme Court ruled the presidential election in favor of the “majority” Jubilee Coalition is slowly turning into a nightmare to wit; it is going to be a very interesting five years for Mr. Kenyatta, his deputy Mr. Ruto and their jubilant supporters!

http://www.standardmedia.co.ke/?articleID=2000083679&story_title=mp-to-sue-for-being-likened-to-a-pig-during-protest

http://www.standardmedia.co.ke/?articleID=2000083610&story_title=drama-as-civil-society-protest-mps-greed

http://www.nation.co.ke/News/politics/-/1064/1852332/-/bky1wx/-/index.html

http://www.nation.co.ke/News/politics/Uhuru-dashes-hopes-for-higher-MPs-salaries/-/1064/1750434/-/mx3s3v/-/index.html

Equally edifying is the hand-wringing, self-flagellation, and Schadenfreude, all in equal parts, taking place in the blogosphere. Bloggers are either livid, resigned or gloating at the “greed” and sense of entitlement on display by those they elected to represent their interests.

Below are comments from cyberspace that capture the essence of the country’s moods:

slycat – May 15 2013 11:00 AM: kenyans ! kenyans! . we never seize to amaze.we voted them in right?.. bend over and take it….the mpigs got this horse by the neck. This is what we get for voting in the greedy. apparently we are not tired of the same old stories..wacha wakule kabisa… eat mpigs. kula kabisa. kula yote..and guess what ?next general election, we will vote them in.

George Manyali – May 15 2013 5:06 AM: What MPs are asking is what is basically enshrined in our tradition and practice. Voters are truly the proponents of this culture. It’s time to break the norms.

Jose Muga – May 15 2013 1:52 AM: Hehehe let us laugh! We are now united finally there is no TNA or CORD. Kenyans are just about timing!

omusoreriOmusawa – May 14 2013 11:31 AM: Kenyans these are the fruits of voting for a party and not individuals…ignorance has brought us here: the reward of greedy MPs.

From afar, I have to say that I am experiencing feelings, albeit reluctant ones, akin to those expressed by omusoreriOmusawa and slycat: Moments of “pleasure derived from the misfortune” of those who are now faced with having to live with the consequences of their choice or vote followed by tinges of sadness about the dysfunction of the country’s politics not to mention the voracity of its political leaders! Former US Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Mr. John Carson was indeed erudite when he offered his now (in)famous clarion call that “elections have consequences!” I would argue that the majority of Kenyans voted these people into office fully aware of the history of the country’s politics and that of its politicians. In a piece titled “Kenya’s Rorschach Test” – https://thetwoninetyonetracker.com/2013/03/15/kenyas-rorschach-test/ – written in late March/early April of this year; I opined that the 50%+1 Kenyans who voted the Uhuru/Ruto ticket into office during the just-concluded elections clearly evidenced their take on Kenya’s culture of impunity and entitlement. With the current hullaballoo over the salaries of their chosen representatives in full effect and the vanquished “cordants” opting to “move on”, I can now announce that the chickens of the aptly-named “jubilants” have started coming home to roost!

I am not sure which candidate/party the two bloggers – Langat and Arufeni – quoted below voted for but their comments are particularly enlightening:

Langat – 15 May 2013 10:56AM: Actually the pigs ni sisi. Tuliwachagua knowing full well what types we were electing – like-minded. The dysfunction is pretending to be outraged yet secretly we admire them & wish/know if we were in their shoes we would do exactly the same thing or worse. The buck stops with us.

Arufeni – 14 May 2013 11:44AM: US legislators earn 4 times the national average. UK legislators earn twice the national average. Both countries have schools that look like schools, not the crumbling hovels many of us voted in. They also have significant social safety nets for the poor. Kenyan legislators earn 45 times the national average. A first time MP whose name I unfortunately forget is on record saying that what people are failing to consider is that the pay is subject to 30% tax – this is in response to today’s protest. We all know the state of service provision.

To further expound on Arufeni’s analysis, I used gross domestic product (GDP) and per capita figures obtained from the (Wikipedia) links provided below and came up with the following:

  • American legislatures – Congresspersons and Senators – earn a base salary that is approximately 3.5x the per capita income of the American electorate who elected them into office i.e. $174,000/$49,922.
  • Kenyan MPs currently earn Kshs. 535,000 or $79,259/year; 81x the per capita income of their supporters. They are seeking the equivalent of $125,926/year – Kshs. 850,000/month x 12/81 ($1 = kshs. 81) or 129x the per capita income of the “jubilants” who elected the majority into office – $125,926/$976! The hapless “cordants” who voted for the opposition have no choice but to “move on” to the pigsty! Ah the tyranny of the majority…not to mention that of Mr. Ngunyi’s numbers!
  • Mr. John Boehner, the Speaker of the House and the 3rd person in line to succeed Son of K’Ogelo and his VP Joe Biden as the “leader of the free world”, receives $223,500/year. The respective GOP and Democratic Party leaders – majority and minority – of the US Congress earn $193,400/year.
  • America, a country with a GDP of $15,685trillion ($15,685,000,000,000) or three hundred and eighty-one times (381x) that of Kenya’s $41,117billion pays its rank-and-file members of Congress $174,000/year.
  • Kenyan MPs, legislating over an economy that is a fraction of the American economy (.00262 – $41,117b/$15,685t) want to be paid 72% ($125,926/$174,000) of what their (American) counterparts are earning!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USA

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kenya

http://usgovinfo.about.com/od/uscongress/a/congresspay.htm

Maybe those dreaded foreigners/wazungu are on to something and are not nearly as bad as they are made out to be! Humor aside, the fore-going comparison between the salaries of Kenyan and American legislatures, while simplistic and a near-apples-to-oranges exercise, is very instructive. The basic analysis provides a useful perspective for Kenyans and their leaders on the subject of remunerations for public servants and the services they supposedly render (to the public). The analysis also provides a window into the raison d’etre for Kenya’s “public servants”.

In my book Wuodha: My Journey from Kenya to these United States published by Friesen Press, I argue that most Kenyan politicians get into public office, not for altruistic reasons, but because it is a proven way to self-enrichment; and not in the abstract or spiritual sense, but monetarily! Perusal of a listing of Kenya’s rich demonstrates the strong co-relation between financial wealth and political power. And far from being a “hater” or jealous of the rich, I applaud those who have been able to “build it” or make money. On the other hand, there is nothing impressive about attaining said wealth illegally or because of who you are and/or who you know! I further argue a point now being proven by the on-going saga in front of Kenya’s parliament and the MPs clamor for more money: That most Kenyans with money/wealth worth writing about most likely used public service as a conduit for acquiring and amassing said wealth.  

I would have to say that Kenyans have finally met their enemy – and it is them! They formed a winning coalition with the votes/numbers to elect those tyrannical MPigs into office. Oh the duplicity, the treachery and capricious tyranny of numbers! It is indeed about time for these MPs to “move on” to other professions unless they believe that “wako pamoja na” a numerically-superior number of protestors who heaven forbid, support their quest for more money i.e. their greed. I hope not! On the other hand, I never thought I would live to see the day when the president and vice-president of the country of my birth faced charges at The Hague for crimes against humanity.

The way I see it is that unless the average mwanainchi or citizen holds her/himself to the highest ethical standards, it is very difficult, indeed highly hypocritical for them to expect their elected leaders to exemplify those high (ethical) standards!

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Filed under 2013 Presidential Elections, Corruption, Democracy, Disparity - Income Distribution, Elections, Governance - Kenya, Justice, Kenya, Life, Members of Parliament, MPs, Politics

People In Glass Houses…

I have just finished reading Ms. Rasna Warah’s piece titled How American governments and corporations colonised oil-rich stateshttp://www.nation.co.ke/oped/Opinion/How-American-governments-colonised-oil-rich-states/-/440808/1850318/-/eo9yfxz/-/index.html – and could not resist creating an anagram as follows:

I replaced the words “American governments and corporations” from Ms. Warah’s article with the words “Kenya’s leaders and politically-connected elites”. I then replaced her term “oil-rich states” with my term “country’s wealth and resources” to formulate the title of my piece: How Kenya’s leaders and politically-connected elites colonized the country’s wealth and resources.

The similarities between how America and Kenya co-opted, bullied and in some cases eliminated opposition in their unrelenting quest for economic resources is uncanny and very eerie! The former (America) executed its “economic hits” in faraway locales; mostly 2nd and 3rd world countries against the Arabs, Latin Americans, Indonesians and Africans. The latter (Kenya) executed its ruthless plunder within its borders, primarily against Kenyans!  Exposing the looting and accumulation of Kenya’s resources by its politically-connected elites should be the unyielding focus of Ms. Warah and her peers (journalists and opinion-makers). That Kenyan taxpayers are just about to shell out over kshs. 4billion to one Kamlesh Pattni of the Goldenberg scandal fame is confirmation that the country and its leaders are yet to effectively deal with the tri-problems of corruption, political patronage and impunity.

The good book, also known as The Holy Bible writes, and I paraphrase: “Let s/he without sin cast the first stone.” A different version of the fore-going verse states: “Why look at the sliver in your brother’s eyes when there is a log in yours?” As a country, we have lulled ourselves into complacency and the belief that “we may be corrupt, but we are not as corrupt as Nigeria!” Kenyans have bought into the analysis that their country is “an oasis of peace and tranquility in the midst of failed states and dictatorial regimes.” I would argue that Ms. Warah’s article, continuing the fore-going meme, is a red herring: A disingenuous diversion from the evils perpetrated by Kenyan leaders against the very people they are sworn to serve and protect. In my opinion, the focus should be on how Kenya’s leaders and its populace have failed to put “their house in order” by learning from (a) their history and (b) the trajectory of other countries, including America, before casting aspersions (on others)! If the intent of Ms. Warah’s piece is to caution Kenya and her leaders against embarking on the path charted by America and her leaders in their never-ending search for resources, then it is not as clearly stated as I believe it should have been; coming at the very end of the piece albeit shrouded in cautions, not against the corruption and impunity of Kenyan leaders, but against the “imperial ambitions” of the “powerful Chinese government.”

Let me insert a line that has become a standard repartee in my postings given some of the responses I have received: I am neither an apologist for, nor do I blindly sing the praises of the “great satan” America. I am not a “runaway Kenyan” as someone recently called me! My history of calling out America’s sordid past and her hypocrisy is well-documented not only in previous postings, but in my self-published memoir Wuodha: My journey from Kenya to these United Stateshttp://www.friesenpress.com/bookstore – self-published because I can already see comments alluding to my works as being “funded by wazungu” as has befallen the likes of Maina Kiai, Prof. Makau, J. Githongo and others who have chosen not to “move on!” As for being a “runaway Kenyan,” I don’t even know what means and efforts to get clarification from the purveyor of that characterization are yet to bear any results – the originator having gone silent – inexplicably – after beginning the exchange with gusto!

I have a copy of Mr. Perkins’s book and I do agree with Ms. Warah: It is indeed a riveting read and does capture the insidious nature and treachery of the US government. A great accompanying read for Mr. Perkins’ book would be Ms. Amy Chua’s World on Fire: How Exporting Free Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability. I also have a copy of Michela Wrong’s It Is Our Turn To Eat: The Story of a Kenyan Whistle-blower co-written with former head of Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission (KACC) Mr. John Githongo. Additionally, I have copies of the following must-read books documenting the insidiousness and treachery of Kenya’s leaders: The Risk Of Knowledge: Investigation into the death of Robert Ouko by William Cohen and E.S. Atieno Odhiambo, Kenya: Between Hope and Despair, 1963-2011 by Daniel Branch and Kenya: A History since Independence by Charles Hornsby  Finally, let me also direct those interested in preventing Kenya’s leaders from emulating the American leaders whose policies are described in Mr. Perkin’s book to the Kroll Report on Corruption in Kenya (http://wikileaks.org/wiki/KTM_report.pdf, the report by Waki Commission (http://humansecuritygateway.com/documents/WAKI_Kenya_Post-ElectionViolenceReport.pdf) and finally, the Akiwumi Report (http://www.hrw.org/news/2002/10/31/kenya-report-politicians-fueled-ethnic-violence)

The very evil Ms. Warah (and Mr. Perkin) accuse American leaders of perpetrating in pursuit of the country’s interests are the very evil perpetrated by Kenya’s leaders since independence, some would argue in pursuit of selfish/personal interests. I would also argue that the one difference between illegal activities by past American leaders and illegal activities by Kenyan leaders is that the latter conduct their nefarious acts with impunity that is near-total, in broad day light AND with the acquiescence of the very institutions designed to check and balance one another! Mr. Kamlesh Pattni, a friend of Kenya’s rich and powerful has just been cleared of any wrong-doing by the High Court even though the evidence that he master-minded the Goldenberg scheme that cost the country over kshs. 5billion and almost brought down its economy is overwhelming! And as mentioned above, in an act akin to rubbing pepper onto an open wound, said Mr. Pattni is set to pocket Sh4.2 billion if the ruling of Ghanaian judge Edward Torgbor on the matter of Kenya Airport Authority (KAA) vs. Kenya Duty Free (KDA) stands! Like they say stateside: The guy Pattni has huevos!

http://www.nation.co.ke/News/Not-again-Pattnis-new-Sh4bn-scandal/-/1056/1849756/-/14axo7az/-/index.html

Using information from the books and reports referenced above, one can offer a point-by-point listing of actions by Kenya’s leaders that mirror the actions of American policy makers that are described in Mr. Perkins’ book. From the grabbing of land; an issue at the center of the post-election violence referenced in Mr. Waki’s report to the assassination of J.M. Kariuki and R. Ouko, allegedly because the two were privy to corruption at the highest level of the Kenyan government – ivory poaching and kickbacks related to revitalization of the molasses plant (in Kisumu) respectively – not to mention the practise of inflating, then skimming off monies from government contracts and World Bank/IMF loans, Kenya’s post-independent leaders have plundered the resources of the country since they took over from another plunderer – the British – with the same impunity that Ms. Warah accuses US policymakers of! Kenya’s leaders have lied to and manipulated international donor organizations who then gave them loans/financial aid, ostensibly for the country, that were then skimmed into personal accounts and the balance used to buy political support thereby prolonging their stay in power! The foregoing behavior of Kenya’s leadership compares point-for-point with that of the “evil” USA in their relationship with the leaders and countries of Latin/South America or Asia!

The same conclusion arrived at by Ms. Warah applies in either situation. To paraphrase Ms. Rasna Warah: American/Kenyan leaders not only got the contracts/loans for the projects, they also ensured that these proceeds from the (host) countries and lending institutions were used to serve their selfish economic and political interests.

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My Brother’s Keeper – POK on Otonglo

http://www.standardmedia.co.ke/?articleID=2000082744&story_title=president-uhuru-pledges-to-educate-otonglo-narrator

http://www.africareview.com/News/Kenya-star-drama-student-wins-presidential-sponsorship/-/979180/1766872/-/7fqoyp/-/index.html

http://www.standardmedia.co.ke/?articleID=2000082845&story_title=why-student-s-otonglo-times-may-be-over

The symbolism of this story has the potential to be a game-changer in the fractured and mercurial relationship/dynamics between two of Kenya’s more storied tribes – Kikuyu and Luo. By reaching out to the young 2nd Former at Highway Secondary School and offering Mr. Daniel Owira “full education sponsorship up to the university level,” the president is holding true to the adage that “to him that much is given, much is expected.” Luke 12:48.

Beyond just offering to pay for Daniel’s education, Mr. Kenyatta “also assured Daniel’s mother, Ms Rose Owiyo, that he would revive her business” and “support Daniel’s elder sister Susan, who works as a volunteer assisting girls in the slums.”

The cynic in me is tempted to and can indeed make a compelling argument that the politician in Mr. Uhuru Kenyatta is doing this as a photo-op and for publicity given his poor showing AND standing with Daniel’s tribe – the Luo. I can also argue that for Mr. Kenyatta, a man with a net worth of several billion shillings, paying tuition and living expenses for the lad to attend a school classified by Wikipedia as “a provincial day school” i.e. a 2nd/3rd tiered institution of higher learning, while supporting the young man’s family (mom and sis) in the slums of Nairobi, is akin to an ordinary Kenyan giving a couple of shillings to one of the many beggars/street urchins running around in downtown Nairobi! Finally, I can make the claim that this deed is a “one of;” a “one time” random act of kindness that while worthy, does little to solve the problems/issues young Daniel’s tableau illuminated – the frustrations of job-seekers who travel from their rural homes to Nairobi after completing their studies not to mention the stark disparity between Kenya’s haves and have-nots or its historically imbalanced regional development.

The above-mentioned notwithstanding, Mr. Kenyatta’s action towards young Mr. Awira and his family is perspicacious on several fronts. The optimist in me sees Mr. Kenyatta’s offer from the following perspectives:

1. A magnanimous act; to deserving and needy humans. A self-proclaimed Christian who littered his campaign with so much religion and religious symbolism that I thought the Republican Party had indeed opened itself to Blacks; Mr. Kenyatta is doing for the least of his brothers and sisters thereby serving the Lord and embodying the teachings of Matthew 25:40.
2. A savvy and adroit political move. A Kikuyu reaching out to a Luo, a Kenyan of one tribe reaching out to a Kenyan of a DIFFERENT tribe can only beget good things given the specifics of this story! The innocuous and nondescript relationships between Kenya’s 40+ tribes is just that – random, everyday and commonplace. On the other hand, given the animus between said tribes; animus that (a) was on full display during the PEV of 2007; indeed has been demonstrated repeatedly over the years, (b) was vividly evidenced by the voting patterns in 2013, and (c) is embodied in the tribal chauvinism that is mirrored in cyberspace – the anonymous underbelly of any society, maybe, just maybe this move by Mr. Kenyatta is the tipping point in efforts to assuage said animus.
3. A timely move given what, in my opinion, is the single most important obstacle facing Mr. Kenyatta and his running mate Mr. Ruto – the charges of crimes against humanity at The Hague. As jingoistic and hubristic as the president’s “Jubilant” supporters may want to be since their candidate’s victory, the specter of facing Ms. Bensouda at the ICC continues to cast a gloomy pall over their celebration since fulfilling the prophecy of the felled Mugumo Tree. The president’s continued efforts towards reconciliation between the tribes thereby the addressing a key element at the heart of the PEV in 2007 – tribal animus – should be looked at kindly by the world’s court (and its principal benefactors America and Great Britain).
4. An act whose symbolism, especially as evidenced by the apparent bonhomie between Mr. Kenyatta and young Daniel during the tour of State House, tells young Mr. Owira that the presidency and the State House are not as unattainable nor as sacred as someone from the slums of Nairobi may think; actually as some of the pompous bloviating sycophants around Mr. Kenyatta make it to be! (Think the impact of Barack Obama’s presidency to black boys).
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yo0I3jiQ8Ew&feature=player_embedded (1.00-1.11)
5. A “feel-good” story that brings together, in a worthwhile union, the two extremes of the country’s various demographics: The rich and the poor, Kikuyu and Luo, privileged and under-privileged, youth and wazee etc.

Like I mentioned in a previous posting titled Getting His Groove? President Kenyatta Fils finally appears to be standing on terra firma as the president of the entire country – in words and in deeds. I will argue that POK (President of Kenya) has made some moves that continue to earn him goodwill with the very voting bloc he needs beyond the usual (regional) suspects. It is goodwill that will go a long way in making Mr. Kenyatta’s presidential mandate more national in appeal. Whether it is walking hand-in-hand with his erstwhile opponent and nemesis Raila Odinga, towards the gravesite of the former Secretary-General of the Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) Mr. Okuta Osiany , at the event held in Nyando, the very heart of Kenyatta’s opposition or telling Daniel that he is now one his “sons” and reminding him, like any father would to, to make sure that he gives him (Mr. Kenyatta) his report at the “end of every term,” the president is definitely endearing himself to this Kenyan.

Well Done Mr. President! Well Done!!

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Filed under Governance - Kenya, Justice, Kenya, Life, Politics, Tribalism, Tribe

Where there is smoke…..

For a man who was once an esteemed and invaluable member of Kenya’s now-ostracized civic society, Chief Justice Dr. Willy Mutunga is beginning to sound like the very sycophants he valiantly fought against back in the days as a student activist and founding member of the University Staff Union (USU) at the University of Nairobi. The Chief Justice’s tendency to respond, publicly and near-instinctively, to nearly every social media commentary by every Otieno, Kamau, Ole Mpaso, Makau, Mbela and Omwami – my Kenyan equivalent of every Tom, Dick and Harry – is not only beneath his office (of Chief Justice), it is also very telling.

http://www.nation.co.ke/News/CJ-Mutunga-denies-bribery-claims-during-Railas-petition/-/1056/1761342/-/7h5e2g/-/index.html

I am surprised that Mr. Mutunga does not have a “thicker” skin or that he did not see this onslaught of criticism coming in the wake of the ruling on the just-concluded petition filed by Coalition on Reform and Democracy (CORD). Add to the ruling which effectively dismayed and alienated if not out rightly angered approximately 50% of the voters, the manner in which the ruling was arrived at and delivered to the eager public and the apparent tone-deafness of the Chief Justice of Kenya’s Supreme Court is actually very disturbing! In a previous article titled Be Sage; Push for The Hague, that argued for keeping the proceedings for the charges facing Mr. Kenyatta and his deputy Mr. Ruto at The Hague instead of moving them to Kenya, I wrote that “I do not put it past the richest man in the country indeed one of the richest in Africa, Mr. Kenyatta, to use his family’s considerable wealth to buy the acquiescence of the Kenyan Supreme Court ergo his outright freedom or considerable reduction in repercussions stemming from the charges.”

https://thetwoninetyonetracker.com/2013/04/14/be-a-sage-push-for-the-hague/

In light of the allegations the CJ is pining about; it is not far-fetched to amend the foregoing quote to read thus: I do not put it past Mr. Kenyatta to use his family’s considerable wealth to pay the justices of the Supreme Court, including Mr. Mutunga, to rule in his favor in the petition filed by CORD! Frankly it was a thought I had while writing the preceding article on the proceedings at The Hague but did not want to come across as a conspiracy theorist extraordinaire!

Why would the allegation that the CJ was bribed by a yet-to-be-named source cause someone who presumably defended a doctoral thesis and is described by Wikipedia as an “intellectual, reform activist” cause him, Mr. Mutunga, “anguish?”
Regarding the CJ’s hand-wringing, the saying “where there is smoke, there is fire” comes to mind. So does Ogbuefi Idigo’s line “a toad does not run in the daytime for nothing” from author Chinua Achebe’s masterpiece Things Fall Apart (Page 20).

Frankly the CJ’s behavior over the past four weeks do not square up with the behavior of someone who famously told the Judicial Service Commission that he wears an ear ring not because of his sexuality but because of his spirituality. The then-candidate for the position of Chief Justice added that there is no way he can remove the ear ring even if he becomes the Chief Justice: He then concluded by saying that if he was told to remove said ring as a condition for getting the job of Chief Justice, he would tell the panel to “keep the job.”

http://mobile.nation.co.ke/Why-former-detainee-won-race-for-CJ/-/1292/1162218/-/format/xhtml/item/3/-/9xwjqk/-/index.html

This may sound a tad harsh, but Mr. Mutunga is acting like a man whose conscience is troubled! The CJ’s claim that he was “most hurt” by the allegation that he had been bribed during the Presidential Petition is, for lack of a better word, lame; definitely not commensurate with the weight of his position! For a man who heads the third co-equal branch of government; to wit access to the investigative muscle of said institution – the Judiciary – the claim that he “did not know where to turn”, presumably when the allegations that he was bribed surfaced, is equally unbecoming of a man who stared down the Head of Public Service Mr. Francis Kimemia when he was barred from boarding a flight and travelling to Dar-es-Salaam until he got a clearance letter from his (Mr. Kimemia’s) office!

http://www.standardmedia.co.ke/?articleID=2000077802

Memo to Mr. CJ:

Life is not fair; just ask Raila Odinga! The vitriol and criticism, indeed the hate spewed by all sides of Kenya’s political divide, especially in the CJ’s favorite medium – cyberspace – comes with the office. It is also part of the vibrant and open (democratic) society you and the likes of Maina Kiai and Makau Mutua fought for; suffered for!

The churlish reaction of the York University’s Osgood Hall Law School Doctorate of Law grad to the allegations of bribery – that his office has “been the target of attacks, slander, libel and outright indecent, vulgar and unacceptable abuses,” especially in the social media belies the CJ’s constant, repeated and I would argue, savvy use of the same (social) media to make proclamations, including announcing the single most important ruling of his court – the decision on the Presidential Petition! Can you say TOUCHE?

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Filed under 2013 Presidential Elections, Corruption, Democracy, Elections, Governance - Kenya, International Criminal Court - ICC, Justice, Kenya, Law & Order, Politics, The Hague

Kusema Na Kutenda – To Say and To Do!

The post-election/campaign tone and messaging of President Uhuru Kenyatta is markedly different than the tone and messaging during the just-concluded presidential campaign, especially immediately after the International Criminal Court (ICC) confirmed charges against him and his deputy Mr. Ruto. The president’s tone sounds more inclusive and atribal. It sound magnanimous and humble and indicative of someone who is coming to terms with the gravity of the office he now holds. In a recent visit to Mombasa, a region that voted overwhelmingly (76% vs. 20%) for his opponent Raila Odinga, The Daily Nation issue of April 26 quotes Mr. Kenyatta as saying that he wants to be “president of all (Kenyans) and work with all for (the) benefit of this nation.” 1 It is a sound bite that sounds great but is markedly different than the subtle and seemingly negative messages delivered at his campaign rallies where he spoke in a dialect spoken/understood by less than 20% of the very populace he claims he wants to work for! 2.

While it is normal for politicians to “reset” their messaging from the campaign and move towards the moderate center once the elections are over, they (politicians) come across as disingenuous when they go from one extreme end of the spectrum to the other on an issue. In the charged and divided polity that is post-2007 Kenya, an environment he helped create by running the type of campaign that his Jubilee Coalition run, Mr. Kenyatta has his work cut out out for him.

1 – http://www.nation.co.ke/News/politics/Ill-serve-without-discrimination-Uhuru/-/1064/1758884/-/cpou6w/-/index.html
2 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=F1rneGyRCcw

For starters, Mr. Kenyatta needs to beat the charges of crimes against humanity he is facing at The Hague, not by trying to circumvent the process, but by letting his high-priced and “foreign” legal team go face-to-face with Ms. Bensouda’s team. I want an objective hearing of the available evidence surrounding the post-election violence of 2007 by a judicial body (ICC) that is not prone to the manipulation Kenya’s judiciary is known for. I want the people who were victimized to have their day in court without fearing for their safety before and after the proceedings. If Mr. Kenyatta and Mr. Ruto are as innocent as they claim to be, then the evidence will bear that out. I doubt that the ICC/West wants to be embroiled in another Omar Bashir-like situation given the verdict of the Kenyan voters; one that was confirmed by their Supreme Court. However, I hope that they (west) continue to hold Mr. Kenyatta’s feet to the fire until the (ICC) process runs its course fulfillment of the prophesy of the felled Mugumo Tree notwithstanding.

It is unfortunate that the nationalism and jingoism reflected by some comments in cyberspace prevents some Kenyans from facing the fact that the country’s institutions, the judiciary in particular, have not been free from manipulation by the rich, powerful and well-connected. It is that reality that birthed the cry “Don’t be vague, go to The Hague” and gave the country the Ocampo Six; now reduced to the Bensouda Three! And while I feel that the jingoism and tribal chauvinism will reach a crescendo if Mr. Kenyatta (and his deputy Mr. Ruto) is eventually cleared of charges at The Hague, I also believe that clearing his name AT The Hague is THE one sure way of inoculating the first government coming after the carnage of 2007 elections and the country’s supposedly “independent” institutions from charges of excessive manipulation by the hitherto “untouchable” rich and powerful personalities.

https://thetwoninetyonetracker.com/2013/04/14/be-a-sage-push-for-the-hague/

Mr. Kenyatta also needs to deal with the internally-displaced persons (IDPs) AND the land issue without the platitudinous and perfunctory “land is a means of production but not something to always fight for. Let us work together in finding a permanent solution to this problem” line from his stump speeches. To quote him: The campaigns are over, it is time to bring the country together. Let me add to that presidential appeal a special plea, a shout-out if you may, on behalf of the IDPs: It has been 5+years already; the IDPs should be re-settled!

https://thetwoninetyonetracker.com/2013/04/11/the-things-he-did-not-say/

With over 500,000 acres of prime and arable land under his family’s name, not to mention a net worth of one half BILLION dollars ($500,000,000 – Kshs. 41Billion), Mr. Kenyatta can transform said wealth into an asset, no pan intended! With most Kenyans accepting the evidence and coming to terms with the fact that the president’s father Kenyatta Pere was the “land-grabber-in-chief,” can you imagine if the president’s mother and Jomo’s 4th wife, Mama Ngina, had taken the opportunity to reach out to the internally-displaced persons she met during this photo-op by offering to re-settle them on a section of the half-a-million acres of land her late husband “acquired” instead of literally running away from the question?

The glow and honeymoon over Mr. Kenyatta’s election is fast-coming to an end to be replaced by the Sisyphean’s work of governing a divided polity. As presumptuous as this may sound, I would advise “my brother Uhuru” to dispense with the platitudes and let his actions do the talking:

STOP SEMARING AND START TENDARING!

STOP WITH THE PROCLAMATIONS AND LET YOUR ACTIONS SPEAK!!

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To Serve and To Protect ALL Kenyans

Some of the comments in response to the article titled “Police siege on Kisumu and Kibera fuelling ethnic hate” written by Otieno Otieno in the April 20 issue of the Daily Nation reflect an ethnic chauvinism that is reminiscent of the racial animus and stereotyping common amongst conservative white Americans towards African-Americans and Latinos here in the US. Comments by bloggers such as Magu Wa Maitha, Mtadao, Frankyzilla, Njanemuiruri, Pikipiki, Zeki Timona and Oldframe that characterize fellow Kenyans as “stone-throwers” or as “having “genes…that invite rioting” or display “the phenomenon of overreacting emotional characteristic..” are similar to the stereotypes that describe others as “thieves” or “dumb”. It is the same bigotry that contends that Blacks are “lazy” and “like water melons and fried chicken”: The same stereotyping that characterizes whites as “serial killers” who like any one of the one hundred and fifty “stuff” listed in Christian Lander’s book Stuff White People Like! To put it bluntly, stereotyping is ugly and idiotic. The behavior should have no place in any discourse – public or private – and those promoting such views should be called out by those of us who want a society where people are judged by the content of their character and not the color of their skin nor the tribe from which they hail.

The bloggers making the argument that the heavy-handed approach to law enforcement by the police, General Service Unit (GSU) and other presidential security personnel is to be expected during “preparation for a presidential visit” or in response to the unlawful behavior of a small section of the population are part of the “law and order” crowd in the mold of William Bratton, Bernard Kerik, Benjamin Hinga, John Michuki, Darryl Gates, Patrick Shaw etc. The strong-arm approach to law enforcement by these law enforcement professionals may have garnered them short-term positive results in New York, Nairobi, or Los Angeles. The same tactics however alienated the very communities they were supposed to be ridding of the crime and illicit activities; the very communities whose inhabitants ended up bearing the brunt of said tactics. I abhor violence and do not condone the culture of “No Snitching” i.e. the unspoken rule amongst some communities to avoid giving law enforcement any information that may help them during investigation of a crime. On the other hand, I can see how police brutality, not to mention fear of retaliation by the perpetrators would foster such counter-productive behavior. It is my opinion that the onus is on those with the power, in this case the police, to break the cycle of brutality and abuse of power so that those they are sworn to serve and protect see them not as enemies, but as friends. The evidence in favor of community policing – systematic use of partnerships and policing techniques that proactively involve the community in addressing conditions that create crime/public safety issues – is overwhelmingly favorable.

I have been within a couple of feet of the “rope line” as former President Clinton “pressed the flesh” in Washington DC i.e. shook hands with the public just before boarding Marine One then Airforce One on his way to Morocco for the July 1999 funeral of King Hassan. In fact, my partner at the time, being from DC, was blasé about the presence of POTUS and inadvertently crossed the security line thereby “contaminating” the previously “sterile” security zone. The ever-present and alert Secret Service personnel hardly flinched or panicked when my friend entered the “sterile zone.” The agent closest to us lifted his left wrist to his mouth and said something into a microphone hidden under his sleeve. He continued to monitor the crowd paying extra attention on me, my partner and her five-year old nephew. I told my friend that she had crossed the security line just as the agent firmly but politely told her to “get back behind the rope ma’am” while simultaneously instructing all within earshot alternately to “keep both hands in front of you and visible please” and “let me see both your hands please.” The agent was calm, professional and efficient. He was also courteous. Needless to say, we all complied, quickly putting our hands in full view of the agent as instructed. I was also impressed with the cool and efficient manner in which the agent handled the breach. Granted not all security breaches go down as I observed on that day but the point is the manner in which this particular episode was handled by the Secret Service (law enforcement personnel) and the indelible and positive impression their professionalism left on me.

The history of acrimony between African-Americans and Latinos on one side and the predominantly white police/law enforcement establishment here in the US on the other side did not happen in a vacuum. The anti-police/anti-authority mind-set that Black American and Latino male have towards the “men in blue’ was caused by the well-documented history of racist behavior and racism within those institutions. Google “Rodney King,” Darryl Gates” and “LAPD” and see what pops up. These same institutions have also made great strides in improving relationships with the communities they serve, not by sweeping their sordid past under the rug, but by opening themselves up to criticism, objective and otherwise from those who were victimized by their brutality and resultant cover-ups. I would also argue that the animus that some communities in Kenya have towards law enforcement and the institutions therein did not happen in a vacuum. Kenya Police, GSU, CID/Special Branch, Nyayo House are law enforcement institutions in Kenya that have a long, sordid and terrifying history of botched and disproportionate responses to peaceful or boisterous and tense gatherings, shoddy and non-investigations of corruption, torture and assassinations not to mention the rampant acceptance of “kitu kidogo” or bribes that one would have to be wilfully naïve and ignorant to disregard said history in any analysis of law enforcement in Kenya.

And before I get mail accusing me of peddling racist, tribal or anti-police views, let me state categorically that the point of this piece is not whether or not Kenya’s law enforcement can do its work by investigating and arresting law-breakers or “stone-throwers” as Luos are derisively called by some commenters. The main point of this piece is to highlight the manner in which the police/authorities have discharged said responsibilities over the years and the consistency with which enforcement has been exacted from one group to the next. Evidence, while sketchy and not as well-documented as it is stateside points to a Kenyan law enforcement establishment that over the years, has been over-bearing, punitive, selective in enforcing the law, corrupt, and a “matundu-ya-uhuru” to be doled out to cronies and tribesmen/women of those in power. The resulting politicization of these institutions is evidenced in the afore-mentioned shoddy investigations of corruption, torture and assassinations not to mention the rampant acceptance of “kitu kidogo” or bribes and a recent addition – extra-judicial killings.

Until ALL Kenyans feel that law enforcement and those who oversee those institutions are impartial arbiters of law and order determined to serve and protect them without discrimination, the anti-police sentiment that is all too common among some communities in Kenya will continue unabated.

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Be a Sage; Push for The Hague!

And all it took was three days after their inauguration on April 9, 2013 for two of the three ICC suspects, through their surrogate deputy UN ambassador Ms. Koki Muli Grignon, to begin a concerted effort to have their trials moved from The Hague to the “the jurisdiction of the nation’s (Kenya’s) judicial institutions” as reported in the article “Newly-appointed envoy leads bid to bring Hague cases back home” that appeared on the April 12 issue of the Daily Nation.

I will remind Ms. Grignon that the sole reason her boss Mr. Kenyatta and his deputy Mr. Ruto are being tried at the comparatively independent and definitely “unbwogable” International Criminal Court (ICC) is because a majority of parliamentarians including the president himself came up with the catchy phrase “Don’t be vague, let’s go to The Hague” in response to efforts by some local politicians who wanted those suspected of fomenting the post-election violence (PEV) in 2007/2008 to be tried in Kenya; a suggestion considered a non-starter by many because Kenya’s judiciary had/has NEVER been free of manipulation by the high and mighty. I am sure Ms. Grignon remembers the cute hook that was all the rage after Justice Philip Waki’s team had completed its investigation of the post-election violence of 2007/2008 and handed its report to President Kibaki in October 2008; the team hand the names of the suspects to former UN Sec-Gen Ghanaian Dr. Kofi Annan. That the current president and his deputy ended up at The Hague instead of the Supreme Court of Kenya is no one’s fault other than that of the Kibaki government; the very government Mr. Kenyatta was a member of as a Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance! I will take it a step further and argue that the “axis of impunity” that Mr. Uhuru Kenyatta saluted and paid tribute to during Tuesday’s inauguration – Jomo Kenyatta, Daniel Moi and Mwai Kibaki – set in motion then entrenched the system of governance that weakened the supposedly independent institutions including the judiciary making it very easy for those who were calling for the PEV suspects to be tried at The Hague to carry the day.

Ms. Grignon is either naïve or believes that the majority of Kenyans who initially sought to have the crimes against humanity cases brought before the ICC are not cognizant of how prone to manipulation Kenya’s supposedly “independent” institutions are! On the other hand, the just–concluded election of two of the three principals facing those very charges may have given said individuals – Uhuru and Ruto – and their surrogate Ms. Koki Grignon the impetus, indeed the gumption or like they say stateside, “huevos” or chutzpah to redouble the efforts to bring the proceedings in front of a judiciary they have more sway over.

I strongly urge Ms. Bensouda and the ICC, indeed the UN Security Council to reject any attempts by the Kenyatta administration to bring adjudication of the PEV charges to the still-suspect Kenyan judiciary and I say this with all due respect to CJ Mutunga and his band of merry men and women. I do not put it past the richest man in the country indeed one of the richest in Africa, Mr. Kenyatta, to use his family’s considerable wealth to buy the acquiescence of the Kenyan Supreme Court ergo his outright freedom or considerable reduction in repercussions steming from the charges. I am not sure who said this but “every man and woman has a price.” With a net worth of close to half a billion dollars or approximately kshs. 41,000,000,000 (forty-one BILLION shillings at the current exchange rate of $1 = kshs. 82/=), no one should doubt the willingness of Mr. Kenyatta and his family to use that formidable wealth to fight, tooth and nail, the ICC.

We have already seen the ICC lose some witnesses who have either recanted their testimony or flatly refused to testify. Some of the recantations happened before the two suspects were elected to the presidency and vice-presidency respectively. Kenyans and their Supreme Court elected and finally arbitrated the duo into office with the April 9th inauguration. I only expect the pressure on the remaining witnesses to intensify as July 9, the day the trials are scheduled to begin, draws nearer. Jonah Anguka’s book Absolute Power: The Ouko Murder Mystery details the brutal 1990 murder of Kenya’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation. In a chapter titled “Convenient Deaths,” (pgs. 219-229), the author writes that following Dr. Ouko’s death, so many material witnesses and people connected to the case died in a manner and at rate that Kenyans were left wondering whether the deaths were by happenstance or “deliberate” targeted killings.(pg. 219) Mr. Anguka adds that the deaths could have been convenient for anyone bent on covering their involvement in the minister’s murder. He then suggests that the deaths of these people may also have been used to instill fear in the minds of potential witnesses. For the record, I counted a total of fourteen (14) people connected to Dr. Ouko’s death who either died or went missing before being questioned by the authorities or shortly thereafter.

Another book – The Risks of Knowledge – co-written by David William Cohen and E. S. Atieno Odhiambo describes the investigation into the death of Mr. Ouko. No one can read Chapter 3 titled “Ouko’s Pain” (pge. 73-89) and not feel how terrified the Foreign Minister was about his personal safety after his return from a visit to the United States as a member of a delegation headed by then-president Moi. Mr. Ouko is described as pleading with Mr. Hezekiah Oyugi, the Permanent Secretary in-charge of internal security in the Office of the President to talk with President Moi and intercede “with the powers on his behalf.” (pge. 77) to which the late PS offers the incredulously callous response: “If you have collided with Nyayo (Moi), shauri yako (tough luck). I give you only two days!” It is a chilling and disturbing read, indeed a sad and painful imploration of a man who knows he is about to die; which indeed did happen shortly after the pleas fell on deaf ears. It also captures the ruthlessness of (our) leaders, including those who profess their religiosity at every opportunity. In a classic tale of “what goes around comes around,” Mr. Oyugi himself later died under extremely mysterious and suspicious circumstances; one of the fourteen people connected with Ouko’s death who either died or disappeared before they could be questioned on the matter.

I have to admit that the Ouko assassination remains very personal for me: He was from Nyahera, Kisumu – the same area as my mother. Uncle Bob as we called him also taught my mom at Ogada Intermediate Primary School, also in Nyahera. Robert’s mother and my maternal grandmother were both from Kano-Kolwa and were very close friends. The point of the fore-going digression on to the death of Robert Ouko is to illustrate the malleability of the Kenyan judicial system the new Constitution notwithstanding. The sad fact is that I could have chosen any one of several national tragedies the country has experienced in the last generation – the assassinations of Pio Gama Pinto, Tom Mboya, JM Kariuki or the multi-billion shillings scandals such as Goldenberg, Anglo-Leasing, Sololo, Grand Regency – to illustrate the incompetence of its judiciary. If the PEV trials of President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy are brought under the jurisdiction of Kenya’s judicial institutions, it is not inconceivable that the two suspects or those around them may choose to play fast and loose and eventually hardball with the local institutions, not to mention the persons tasked with “investigating” the charges currently sitting on Ms. Fatou Bensouda’s docket at the ICC.

Kenyans seem to have a very short and selective memory of events that should be hard-coded in the country’s collective memory. The significant emotional memory of the brutal murder of the country’s former Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr. Robert Ouko and the ensuing joke of an investigation should still be seared in the consciousness and psyche of the country. Mr. Anguka quotes the late Justice Fidahussein Abdullah, a judge on the Ouko Commission who also died in the midst of the “investigations” as saying “(Kenya) is a country where guilty go scot-free, but the innocent (are) incarcerated, where Goldenbergs and Sololo flaunt their wealth and live lavishly but children of the streets arm themselves with faeces to beg, where inciters of violence are condoned but preachers of peace are condemned…Let us stop this rot..now or tomorrow it will be too late.” (pge. 227)

Both Mr. Anguka and the late Justice Abdullah contend that the rich and powerful in Kenya act with impunity that is near-total because they have the money and the connection: Mr. Kenyatta’s mentor is none other than former President Moi, originator of the “Uhuru Project” and the very person Dr. Ouko was begging Mr. Hezekiah Oyugi to have intercede on his behalf.

If the history of Kenya is anything to go by re: dealing with high-profile politically charged legal matters, Ms. Grignon, the country, indeed all who want justice for the victims of the post-election violence should not be naive, they should be sagacious and stay with The Hague – the one entity along with the seemingly indefatigable Ms. Bensouda, that may just be beyond manipulation, at least by Kenya’s rich and powerful.

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Filed under 2013 Presidential Elections, Corruption, Democracy, Elections, Governance - Kenya, IDPs, International Criminal Court - ICC, International Relations/Global Issues, Justice, Kenya, Politics, The Hague

The things he did NOT say

In a three thousand two hundred and forty-four worded (3,244) inauguration speech, President Uhuru Kenyatta devoted only one hundred and seventeen (117) to the issue of land. And of the 117 words addressing the land issue, one can argue that just forty-two – approximately 1.3% of the total number of words in the speech – dealt with the issue from the perspective that has been at the heart of disputes between the various communities in the country. The president said this:

My government will strive to work with all actors to ensure that the issue of land will never again be a contentious or a divisive subject but rather that land will be seen as what it truly is, a factor of production.”

Nowhere in the speech did the president touch on nor propose any solutions to the plight of the internally-displaced people (IDPs). Nowhere in the speech that has been praised and panned alike did Mr. Kenyatta talk about the impact of corruption or the many other isms that have and continue to sap the nation of its will and drive to excel.

What I heard from the in-coming president were lofty platitudinous themes and lines. While these lofty and grandiose alliterations are to be expected in an inauguration speech, that they seemingly came at the expense of what in my opinion were more pressing issues – addressing the issue of land ownership with the seriousness it deserves and not in passing, the still-unresolved suffering of thousands of Kenyans who were uprooted from their homes by the post-election violence of 2007 and the widespread and rampant (official) corruption – is alarming and portends the (misplaced) priorities of the in-coming administration.

I understand that there is a time and place for everything. I also realize that one should never miss an opportunity to make an impact. That the person being inaugurated as president was also the son of the country’s first president added to the momentous nature of the occasion. Additionally, the inauguration of Kenya’s 4th President in the wake of the colossal failure of the election and “inauguration” of 2007 was, in my opinion, an occasion tailor-made for making an impact; illustrating the stark contrast between the transition of power now and then; not to mention that the person being inaugurated was one of three persons accused, along with his deputy, of funding and instigating the crimes against humanity after the same failed elections of 2007! The fore-going three reasons set the stage for Mr. Kenyatta to use the occasion to convey to the country that his administration was serious about the country’s long term progress and stability.

President Uhuru Kenyatta’s inauguration speech should have addressed the tri-headed monsters of land ownership, resettlement of the IDPs and the rampant (official) corruption.

It did not.

Maybe the fact that the three people most responsible for creating, perpetuating and exacerbating the culture of land-grabbing, corruption, nepotism and tribalism were sitting right behind President Kenyatta on the VIP dais dissuaded him from pointedly addressing them.

  • The inauguree and in-coming president, Kenyatta Fils was representing his father Kenyatta Pere, who as Kenya’s founding father has been lionized and immortalized in the annals of the country’s history. I would add to this near-deification of the country’s first president an asterisk and the qualifier that Kenyatta Pere single-handedly created the country’s land problems, not to mention its tribal divisions and the culture of patronage shortly after it gained independence from the British. In a cruel twist of irony reflected in a narrative germinated by the principals of the victorious Jubilee Coalition during the run-up to the just-concluded elections, Kenyatta Son is facing judgment by the same “foreigners” who imprisoned Kenyatta Father in Kapenguria during Kenya’s fight for independence! The more things change, the more they stay the same!
  • Mr. Moi – need I say more?
  • Mr. Kibaki came into the presidency in 2002 with as much goodwill and support as any president of a diverse country would want. Both the goodwill and support was broad and deep. The country was unified AGAINST the one person most Kenyans blamed for the downturn in its economy, social cohesiveness and international standings – Daniel Arap Moi. Fast forward five years later to 2007 and like they say, the rest is history. No amount of revisionism can change the fact that Mr. Kibaki’s “re-election” in 2007 and the surreptitious “swearing-in” under cover of dark amidst wide-spread charges of ballot-stuffing and an assortment of shenanigans combined to convulse Kenya into Rwanda Part Deux.

Like I said in previous posts, I am willing to cut Mr. Kenyatta some slack as he steadies himself into the presidency; a combined Herculean and Sisyphean task if ever there was one. On the other hand, I would be remiss if I failed to listen to and analyze his inauguration speech without pointing out the blatant and glaring omissions i.e. what the in-coming president did not say.

It is my opinion that what Mr. Kenyatta did not say in his inauguration speech does not augur well for his ability, indeed willingness to address and give the issues of land ownership, re-settlement of the IDPs and official corruption the import they deserve.

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Filed under 2013 Presidential Elections, Corruption, Elections, Governance - Kenya, IDPs, Justice, Kenya, Politics, The Hague, Tribalism