Tag Archives: Post-election violence (PEV)

The Circus Is Coming to Town: Mr. Kenyatta Goes to The Hague Along with “Big Men” and Their Toadies

It now appears that President Uhuru Kenyatta will eschew the trappings of his office, even if it’s just for a few hours and appear before Ms. Fatou Bensouda and the presiding judges at The Hague not as the Commander-in-Chief of Kenya’s Armed Forces, but as a crimes-against-humanity suspect.

The symbolism of this moment is not lost on Kenyans and in keeping with the partisan divide this case has taken since it was first announced, there are those who will look at this moment as the day the one time high, mighty and untouchable of Kenyan society stood before a judge they could not cower or court system they could not manipulate to answer criminal charges against them. Conversely, there are others such as Moi University Lecturer of Media Studies Dr. Omanga who will see Mr. Kenyatta’s summons and appearance before the International Criminal Court (ICC) as classic Kabuki theater i.e. political and legal posturing by the courts ‘ere the inevitable triumph of “us” over “them”. In his article in the Daily Nation, the lecturer compares Mr. Kenyatta’s summons to The Hague as a mere show of valiancy by the world court in the face of pre-ordained defeat i.e. dismissal or indefinite suspension of the case against POK.

In keeping with the African tradition of story-telling to illustrate a point, Dr. Omanga “tanda wilis” the story about a leopard (Mr. Kenyatta) cornering a squirrel (ICC) for dinner; a showdown whose outcome is inevitable (death to the squirrel) or in this case dismissal or indefinite suspension of the case against POK.

True to the hubris and triumphalism reflected in the lecturer’s parable, Mr. Kenyatta is reportedly going to The Hague with a posse of over one hundred and twenty distinguished supporters and toadies. Included in the entourage are four heads of state, at least at last count and an assortment of hanger-ons and sycophants. There are also reports that Mr. Kenyatta will address the court. It is this combination of events that I want to see play out: Frankly I would pay top dollars (or shillings) to bear witness to the optics of (reluctant?) “big man” and budding Pan-Africanist Uhuru Kenyatta, urged on by the quintessential “big men” Presidents Pierre Nkurunziza of Burundi, Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni and Paul Kagame of Rwanda and their sycophants, going mano-a-mano with the hitherto unflappable daughter of Mali and Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda.

I would advise Mr. Kenyatta to harness the collective jingoism of his supporters and caution them against making a public spectacle of themselves and by extension, of him, on the international stage no less. President Kenyatta has seemingly stabilized his presidency and has comported himself with a modicum of competence after a rather rough start. He should continue along that path and take a page from his deputy Mr. William Ruto who has conducted himself with aplomb worthy of a true Moran (tho’ mewonders whether he is actually Masai). The junior half of the digital duo his appeared before the chamber on schedule/as scheduled and for all the bluster and fury at the beginning of the trials, his supporters and their antics have avoided becoming THE news.

Mr. Kenyatta would also be ill-advised to use his chance to “address the court” as an opportunity to lay out his road-to-Jerusalem Pan-Africanist credentials. It is a message that is passé in this era of globalization not to mention information at the stroke of keys. The president should avoid getting on his soapbox and haranguing that the “ICC is a vestige of colonialism” and the other anti-western rant that are frankly hypocritical given his very western-leaning personal and business proclivities.

Indeed this Wednesday October 8th 2014 hearing may be Ms. Bensouda’s last hurrah in the case against Mr. Kenyatta. If that is the case, I would argue that the fact the process played out to its conclusion, the accusations and counter-accusations notwithstanding is something both sides can take “credit” for; as Pyrrhic a victory as it is for those who lost loved ones in the post-election violence of 2007/8.

I am glad that Mr. Uhuru Kenyatta, heir to a share of $600M fortune was compelled to use some of that money to defend himself against the “personal challenge” that somehow morphed into a national issue that brought Kenya on the verge of pulling out of the world courts, the backroom machinations and use of government resources aside.

Finally, it is my hope that these trials were collective shots across the bow of Africa’s “big men” that the era of wanton impunity especially against their people is over.

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Filed under Governance - Kenya, IDPs, International Criminal Court - ICC, Justice, Kenya

The Hague imefika!

D-Day in the form of H-Day came calling for the junior half of the digital duo on September 11, 2013. Kenya’s Deputy President Mr. William Kipchirchir Samoei arap Ruto, stripped of his eagle-eyed Recce security guards and the trappings and reverence that comes with the second most powerful office in Kenya was paraded in front of a panel of stone-faced judges at The Hague (hence H-Day). Juxtaposed with this comeuppance of an occupant of a hitherto “untouchable” office was the futile and frankly simpletonic vote by the country’s legislature to pull the country out of the Rome Statute that formalized the International Criminal Court (ICC). A basic reading and understanding of the pull-out process by the Jubilee-controlled parliament would have informed this band, presumably of lawyers, that the process to pull out from the ICC takes at least one year from the time the UN SecGen receives the letter formalizing Kenya’s exit from the body. But even more pertinent to the raison d’etre for parliament’s desire to pull Kenya from the ICC is the rule that cases already being heard by the court are not affected by a country’s decision to pull out of the treaty! The charges facing Mr. Kenyatta and Mr. Ruto are already being heard by the ICC

For the 1300+ Kenyans who lost their loved ones and the close to one-half million who bore the brunt of the post-election violence of 2007, seeing Mr. Ruto (and Mr. Sang) being held accountable for the pain and suffering they are accused of fomenting and causing must be cathartic. It is something Kenyans have not witnessed since independence: the high and mighty, stripped of their self-importance and protection, being called to account for the crimes they are accused of.

I will forever say this: The impunity and wanton disregard for the human and civil rights of Kenyans that the country’s elite has acted with over the years finally landed them in trouble; with a force that has more power and deeper pockets than all of them combined; and I am glad!

I have to say that the cases against Mr. Ruto and Mr. Sang could have started out much smoother than they did. Ms. Bensouda appeared unprepared and in a moment that harkens back to the petition filed by Mr. Odinga’s CORD Party, as not helped by a tardy witness and an aggressive and bombastic all-foreign defense team headed by Mr. Karim Ahmed Khan. http://www.nation.co.ke/news/Why+Karim+Khan+stands+tall+among+his+peers+in+battle+/-/1056/1988990/-/143p2cgz/-/index.html Evidence from CORD, for those who care, was famously declared “time-barred” by Kenya’s highest court. And while the ruling was deemed within the guidelines established by the Constitution, it left a bitter taste in the mouths of supporters of CORD who felt let down, AGAIN, by a judiciary geared towards serving the rich and powerful and maintaining the status quo!

Fortunately for the victims of the post-election violence and in a sharp departure from the decision made by Chief Justice William Mutunga’s court re: CORD’s petition, the presiding judge at The Hague Nigerian Mr. Eboe Osuji, while admonishing the chief prosecutor Fatou Besouda for her lack of preparedness, decided to adjourn the proceedings and give Ms. Bensouda time to present her first witness rather than use their tardiness as an excuse to completely disallow their testimony. http://www.standardmedia.co.ke/?articleID=2000093331&story_title=court-adjourns-in-ruto-sang-icc-case I would imagine that the decision by Mr. Osuji, who was the principal prosecution appeals counsel at the Special Court for Sierra Leone in the case of Charles Taylor, the former President of Liberia was based on the import of the case; something most CORDians would have wanted during the presidential petition, a case most, including myself, saw in similar light.

At the risk of sounding glib, given the argument hatched by Mr. Katwa Kigen that the case against his client KASS Radio DJ Julius Sang is an assault on the Kalenjin way of life, I am glad that the case is being tried by an African in a courtroom presided by yet another African! http://www.nation.co.ke/news/Kalenjin+way+of+life+on+trial+says+lawyer+Katwa+Kigen/-/1056/1989102/-/7rd3hcz/-/index.html. The infamous “they” say that justice is blind and that “one’s perception is their reality”. I would pay top dollars to hear the Gambian/Nigerian members of the team prosecuting the case against Mr. Sang call out the race-baiting bull&%@t of a fellow African Katwa Kigen! To quote my ten-year old son, that would be “sweet!”

For all the blustery, confrontational and inflammatory utterances by the two principal lawyers – Mr. Khan and Mr. Kigen – the cases against their clients Mr. Ruto and Mr. Sang will respectively run through their course unimpeded and unadulterated: In the case of the deputy president and his boss the president, the cases will be heard by a judicial body that is so far removed from the sphere of their (executive) influence that ordinary Kenyans could never have imagined.

As written in previous articles, the high-priced lawyers, especially the ones representing the two principals, paid for by the fortunes of the country’s richest family, may successfully argue dismissal or acquittal for both the president and his deputy. If that were to happen, I would not be happy. I would be disappointed because to date, no one would have been held accountable for the death and destruction wrought upon the weak and innocent in Kiambaa, Kibera, Kisumu, Nakuru, Naivasha etc. On the other hand and in a uniquely Kenyan meme, if no one was to be brought to account for the hate crimes that shocked the entire world in 2007/2008, I would most likely join fellow Kenyans who have this strange ability to “accept and move on” from one unpopular and grossly unjust decision to the next so long as their “sons and daughters” remain in power.

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Filed under 2013 Presidential Elections, Elections, Failed State, Governance, Governance - Kenya, IDPs, International Criminal Court - ICC, Justice, Kenya, Law & Order, The Hague, Tribalism, Tribe

Stop Politicizing the (fill in the blank)

President Uhuru Kenyatta has told his nemesis Raila Odinga to “stop politicizing” the land issue. http://www.news24.co.ke/National/News/Uhuru-tells-off-Raila-on-land-issue-20130902 The senior half of the digital duo also lambasted the vanquished head of CORD to stop politicizing the value-added Tax (VAT) recently implemented by Jubilee government. http://www.capitalfm.co.ke/business/2013/09/stop-politicizing-vat-law-uhuru-tells-raila/. And if that was not enough, The Hague-bound Son of Jomo may as well accuse Son of Jaramogi, his father’s chief rival, of engineering his summons, along with his deputy’s, to The Hague! http://www.nation.co.ke/news/politics/How+ICC+and+Raila+created+coalition+of+the+accused/-/1064/1634576/-/2r1hjxz/-/index.html Frankly I am waiting for Mr. Kenyatta and his sycophants to call on Mr. Odinga to “stop politicizing” the Syrian government’s alleged use of chemical weapons against the rebels!

The glaring irony is that the same man accusing his chief political enemy of politicizing land ownership, bread-and-butter/economic issues and the on-going trials at The Hague is in point of fact doing the very same thing: Talk about huevos or chutzpah!

Mr. Kenyatta recently “handed” out title deeds to folks in the voter-rich and CORD-leaning region of the Coast. http://standardmedia.co.ke/?articleID=2000093358&story_title=disputes-stalk-president-uhuru-kenyatta-coast-title-deeds&pageNo=2 I am sure he did this out of the kindness of his heart and not because he was looking ahead to the 2018 elections. That Son of Jomo is incredibly altruistic!

The national budget delivered by Mr. Henry K. Rotich, President Kenyatta’s Cabinet Secretary for the National Treasury on June 13, 2013 outlined the broad development policies of the Jubilee coalition including its commitment to seal “…leakages in our revenue collection…and extending the tax base while ensuring efficiency in public expenditure.”http://www.businessdailyafrica.com/The+full+Kenya+Budget+speech+2013/-/539546/1881852/-/view/printVersion/-/535sgq/-/index.html. I am neither an economist nor an expert on budgetary matters but I interpreted the line about “extending the tax base” to mean implementation of a policy along the lines of a value added tax (VAT) the two scions of Kenya’s political titans are wrangling over.

Finally, the one issue that I would bet my Man U jersey keeps Kenyatta Fils awake at night is the one issue he, Mr. Kenyatta, used as a vehicle to Kenya’s presidency! Upon being accused of crimes against humanity by the Chief Prosecutor of the ICC Mr. Ocampo, Mr. Kenyatta and co-suspect Mr. Ruto formed a “coalition of the accused” and with his mother, Kenya’s former first lady Ms. Ngina Kenyatta leading the various “prayer rallies” across the populous regions of Central and Rift Valley, the two accused transformed the summons to The Hague into a tyranny of numbers all the way to Kenya’s presidency; the ultimate politicization of the charges facing the digital duo. http://www.standardmedia.co.ke/?articleID=2000032591&pageNo=1

UK is beginning to sound like George W. Bush and the Republicans, especially in the wake of the 9/11 tragedy when Son of Bush famously told those who decried his gun slinging response to the event and pursuant foreign policy that “they are with us or against us.”http://edition.cnn.com/2001/US/11/06/gen.attack.on.terror/

 Anyone who questions Mr. Kenyatta’s policies or positions on issues of national import is either “a tool of the west,” “anti-development,” “un-patriotric,” “politicizing the issue” or engaging in some yet-to-be-named nefarious behavior.

Memo to Mr. Kenyatta:

As much as you and your supporters would love for him to go away, Raila Odinga is the face and voice of Kenya’s opposition. Like you, he is a politician and looks at most issues through a political lens. Mr. Odinga is as much a “patriot” and “development-minded” as you are. And incase y’all had forgotten, Mr. Odinga is also Kenyan!

Remind Kenyans again how you and William Ruto ended up winning the presidency, CJ Mutunga’s ruling notwithstanding?

What’s that?

You and Mr. Ruto had a “better vision for Kenya?”

Sure you did…and you were able to wrap that vision in an anti-ICC/anti-The Hague/Xenophobic shuka at the various “prayer rallies” held “throughout” the country all the way to the presidency. By running for the presidency despite the charges facing you and your running mate, you dared the criminal court to try (and convict) the president and deputy president of a member state. And while presidential campaigns are by “political”, you Mr. President have continued to wrap your presidency using the same shuka you used during the (political) campaign. You have continued to draw on the energy generated at the “prayer rallies” during the campaigns by continuing to politicize the issue.

“Jamba”, who recently took a position on charges facing him at The Hague…not as a “personal challenge”, but as the “duly elected president of the sovereign Republic of Kenya”? I will help you out: It is you. Mr. President, you famously said that the charges facing you at The Hague were “personal challenges” that will not spill over into your role if elected to the presidency. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/feb/11/kenya-elections-presidential-debate

Well sir you are now the president of Kenya.

That Kenya, ‘ere the decision by The Hague not to run your trial and that of your digital twin Mr. Ruto simultaneously, run the risk of being rudderless were you and Mr. Ruto to face the “foreigners” at the ICC at the same time is the direct result of your politicization of your (collective) charges.

Bw. Rais, it is disingenuous and blatantly hypocritical to accuse Mr. Odinga of “politicizing” issues that matter to Kenya and Kenyans even as you and your sycophants do the same.

Fool me once, shame on you

Fool me twice, shame on me

Fool me thrice; I must be Kenyan!

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Filed under 2013 Presidential Elections, Democracy, Elections, Failed State, Governance, Governance - Kenya, International Criminal Court - ICC, Justice, Kenya, Land, Land Ownership, Politics, The Hague

Kshs. 700Million is NOT enough!

The utter shock and flabbergast over The Treasury’s request for Shs.700 million “for the purchase of building to house an office for retired President Mwai Kibaki…” is only be superseded by Mr. Francis Kimemia’s response/comment during a phone conversation with the Daily Nation on the subject. President Kenyatta’s Secretary to the Cabinet is quoted as saying that he thought the reporter “would say that the Sh700 million is too little…

Publically stating that seven hundred million shillings or $8.5 million is not sufficient to secure an “office” for an ex-president who is also one of the country’s richest men is akin to telling average and poor Kenyans to “eat cake”. If ever there was a public personality in today’s Kenya that was tone-deaf and completely clueless on the nuances of public relations not to mention the public’s perceptions, Francis Kimemia would be that individual. The man epitomizes arrogance, flippancy and poor administrative skills. The only thing more scary but would not be entirely surprising would be if Mr. Kimemia’s actions are at the behest of his boss President Uhuru Kenyatta or reflect his desires!

http://www.nation.co.ke/News/politics/MPs-reject-plan-to-buy-Sh700m-Kibaki-office–/-/1064/1887330/-/12ofmbb/-/index.html

http://www.nation.co.ke/News/Sh700-million-for-Kibakis-new-office/-/1056/1884298/-/qyiifwz/-/index.html

The Shs.700million office building proposed for the retired octogenarian is in addition to the following farewell gifts:

  1. A residence in Mweiga, Nyeri complete with an office wing; allegedly his retirement home.
    1. A petrol station courtesy of the National Oil Corporation,
    2. Four fish ponds from the Fisheries ministry,
    3. An aquarium – Huh? The four fishponds are not enouh?
    4. Two dairy cows,
    5. Four Boran bulls. As a lover of mbuzi, kondoo na kuku, I am offended that no one offered the fore-going livestock in addition to the bovines.
    6. A borehole to be sunk in Mweiga by the National Youth Service.
    7. A library to be established by University of Nairobi at the former president’s home. One wonders which home!
    8. A copy of each of the books published by the same university – in English or Swahili?
    9. 10.   And a partridge in a pear tree!! Okay this one is a joke but I could not resist.

Man things have certainly changed since the days of a golden watch, a potluck and an out-of-tune round of “for-he-is-a-jolly-good-fellow” when one retired!

Added to the fore-going list that rivals the one compiled by the Three Wise Men who travelled from the east bearing gifts for Baby Jesus, the package put forth by the Presidential Retirement Benefits Act also entitles the retired president to Sh195,000 in monthly fuel allowances or 15 per cent of his last salary of Sh1.3 million a month and a house allowance of Sh299,000, not to mention the lump sum payment of one year’s salary per term served or the equivalent of at least Sh25.2 million!

The listed cart of goodies does not even take into account the wealth Mr. Emilio Kibaki has accumulated over the years, especially after independence. The former president was among the lucky few who helped themselves to more than their share of “matundu ya uhuru” during the corrupt 60s & 70s and the sycophantic 80s and 90s when he was the MP of Bahati, Othaya, Permanent Secretary/Minister for Finance & Economic Planning and Vice President respectively.

Mr. Kibaki then spent the five (5) years between 2002-2013 as the Big Man or president who “toshad” as in “Kibaki Tosha” and was supposed to rescue Kenya from the scourge that was Daniel Arap Moi’s quarter century reign of terror. One word, albeit hyphenated and an acronym summarize Mr. Kibaki’s two terms in office: Anglo-Leasing and PEV. During his first term in office, the trained economist presided over one of the largest scandals in Kenya’s unchallenged history of corruption scandals. Anglo-Leasing, as the scandal was referred cost the country an estimated Kshs. 3billion. The scandal also touched the innermost sanctums of ‘Baba Jimmy’s” administration and tarnished his staff including very senior members such as Kiraitu Murungi, David Mwiraria and Chris Murungaru. Mr. Kibaki’s second term in office inauspiciously started off with a dusk time swearing-in ceremony attended by a posse of sycophants even as the country was erupting into tribal violence protesting the rigged election results. It is the violence after the elections of 2007 that give birth to the acronym PEV – post-election violence.

The one ray of hope to emerge from this blatant attempt at fleecing the public coffers albeit legally is the intervention of the National Assembly’s Budget Committee whose members rejected the request. I say “ray of hope” because the chairman of the Budget and Appropriations Committee Mr. Mutava Musyimi told the Treasury “to go back to the drawing board and come up with other options ‘affordable’ to the taxpayer”: A Pyrrhic victory if ever there was one because it gives Mr. Kimemia and his band of accountants and lawyers another crack at weaseling the Shs. 0.7billion from the public who already took it on the chin thanks to the first “digital” budget!

http://www.nation.co.ke/News/politics/Budget-team-rejects-Sh700m-Kibaki-office-proposal/-/1064/1886802/-/wh9ilyz/-/index.html

Even more perplexing is the fact that Mr. Kibaki, the so-called “urbane and sophisticated gentleman of Kenyan politics” and recipient of the basket of goodies has not been heard from on the propriety and probity of such lavish goods amidst the belt-tightening and poverty in the country. Similarly, his successor Mr. Kenyatta has been noticeably quiet on the subject of his predecessor’s gravy train even as his Cabinet Secretary stumbles and bumbles from one scandal to another and his Finance Minister asks Kenyans to pay Value Added Tax (VAT) Bill in his just announced 2013 budget, a bill that seeks to impose a 16 per cent tax on basic commodities including sifted maize flour, sanitary towels, newspapers, journals and periodicals, rice, wheat flour, bread, computers and computer software, and processed milk.

http://www.nation.co.ke/Features/DN2/As-food-prices-rise-brace-yourself-for-an-Unga-war/-/957860/1886176/-/5k1s1uz/-/index.html

I hate to sound like a broken record but choices have consequences and try as the jubilant supporters may, the consequences of their choice of Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto are fast becoming apparent and not in the most-positive of ways.

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Filed under Corruption, Disparity - Income Distribution, Elections, Governance - Kenya, Justice, Kenya, Law & Order, Life, Members of Parliament, MPs, Politics

Sovereignty, Nationalism and Foreign Aid

So in the past 2-3 weeks, Kenyans have observed President Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto, toting the country’s well-travelled tin cup, meet with the dreaded “foreigners” America, represented by Microsoft and Japan to ask for assistance implementing the “free laptop” campaign promise and for modernizing the port of Mombasa respectively. The two principals are seeking help from the very entities (west/foreigners) they repeatedly railed against during the run-up to the 2012 elections for “trying to finish them off”. America and Japan represent the very “wazungu” Jubilee supporters rabidly and stridently accused of usurping Kenya’s “sovereignty” and “finishing off their sons” via confirmation of charges against them at The Hague; an institution that was accused by the revered and objective leadership of the African Union of, shudder the thought, being “racist”!

And while Mr. Kenyatta and Mr. Ruto were unabashedly soliciting aid from the west, their latest paramour and much-loved benefactor-of-the-month China is busy buying scrap metal from chronically unemployed and under-employed Kenyans, some who obtain said scrap metal by destroying their country’s own roads and bridges; infrastructure constructed by the same China using labor from; you guessed it: China! And as if the foregoing incestuous behavior and madness is not enough, Kenyans proceed to buy the sub-standard and disposable Haojin motorcycles, probably built using the (scrap?) metal they initially sold to China, at prices probably much higher than the sale price of said scrap metal in transactions between willing sellers and willing buyers!

http://www.nation.co.ke/News/Uhuru-secures-Microsoft-support-for-computers/-/1056/1871904/-/7i517tz/-/index.html

http://www.nation.co.ke/News/-/1056/1873230/-/w41ehaz/-/index.html

http://www.nation.co.ke/News/Scrap-metal-exports-to-China-up-/-/1056/1872490/-/103b8lqz/-/index.html

While I am happy that Microsoft (USA) and Japan are both willing to assist the very “independent” and “proud” Kenya/Kenyans, that the very people – Mr. Kenyatta and Mr. Ruto – who were vilifying and casting aspersions at the hands they are now asking to feed them speaks to the unbelievable hypocrisy of the two men and should give Kenyans and the international community (ICC) pause about their honesty and integrity, especially with regards to the real and active fear of witness-tampering and intimidation.

Beyond pointing out the hypocrisy of President Kenyatta and his deputy, I would be remiss not to question how the two deals with Microsoft and Japan line up against the very real threats posed by foreign aid as depicted in the book Confessions of an Economic Hitman by John Perkins and World on Fire: How Exporting Free Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability by Amy Chu; the former critiqued by Ms. Rasna Warah in her op-ed piece titled How American governments and corporations colonised oil-rich states.

Demonizing the west while accepting their aid sets the stage for the well-documented history of duplicitous relationships between donor- and recipient-nations not to mention the insidious and potentially corrosive progression of relationships predicated on double-speak. And for those who are tempted to argue that Microsoft is a private company that would not do the (American) government’s “dirty” work, I would point them to the on-going outrage over reports that Verizon Communications, an American company that provides communications, information and entertainment products and services to consumers, businesses and governmental agencies and ostensibly a private company, complied with a court order granted by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) to give the National Security Agency (NSA) details on all telephone calls, both domestic and international.

China, a country with an economy second in size only to that of the USA but with a history of long-term planning and a long-range outlook on relationships appears to be reeling Kenya and Kenyans into its lair at an alarming rate with implications that, while not completely known, have some indicators that should prompt our “digital duo” to proceed with caution.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/guardianweekly/story/0,,2007803,00.html

http://english.caixin.com/2011-11-10/100324752.html

The one difference between the whipping boy de jour and much-maligned west on the one side and China and to a lesser extent Russia on the other is the fact that the former have open/civic societies with mechanisms such as open and free media that would not hesitate to bring attention to any misdeeds and malfeasance by their government and corporations – think Wikileaks and the Pentagon Papers – and for the record, it was a British newspaper, The Guardian, that broke the story about National Security Agency (NSA) data-mining phone numbers from Verizon! Conversely, the latter two – China and Russia – are countries with histories of keeping civic societies on very short and tight leashes. The Russians and Chinese would not hesitate to arrest those with prying eyes/lenses nor are they shy about detaining anyone perceived as “causing trouble” or “threatening national security”; something past Kenyan governments perfected!

Unlike the past when the likes of former president Arap Moi could manipulate the west and organizations such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund to release financial aid by making token reforms only to resort back to status ante of repression and corruption, the era of multi-party governance in Africa and easy access to the Internet has put in place mechanisms that mitigate abuse of aid. On the other hand and as evidenced by the periodic disruption of Internet services by the authorities, several high-profile failures of infrastructure and introduction of sub-standard and/or tainted product into the market, it is not unreasonable to argue that China has yet to demonstrate the level of tolerance to criticism, vigilance nor institution of effective mechanisms that check and balance its leaders. Finally, given Kenya’s past history of impunity and corruption, one can only speculate on how effective the two sides – Kenya and China – will manage the relationship between two countries with demonstrably intolerant leadership and centralized planning.

As previously mentioned, there is a long and ghastly history of imbalanced and extractive relationships between Kenya (Africa) and the west; that of extracting resources from Africa/Kenya only to return the raw and inexpensive material back to their country of origin in shiny packaged and expensive form! Sadly, the jubilant Kenyan consumers seem willing to pay the piper from the east AND from the west and move on now that “their” sons are in power!

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Filed under Corruption, Democracy, Governance - Kenya, International Criminal Court - ICC, International Relations/Global Issues, Kenya, The Hague

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