Monday, January 31, 2011

Stop treating us like fools

President Kibaki and Prime Minister Odinga need to stop treating us like idiots. When the PM was away in Addis Ababa giving his report on the Ivorian crisis, the President unilaterally decided to nominate Visram, JA, Prof. Githu Muigai and Kioko Kilukumi as the Chief justice, the Attorney-General and the Director of Public Prosecutions respectively. The PM stated that he had not been consulted. The President ignored him and forwarded the list of nominees to the Speaker of the National Assembly. The Judicial Service Commission, and other civil society groups, protested the President's move. His supporters, all drawn from the PNU, argue that the President acted within his mandate under the Constitution. They were joined by ODM rebels who have their own axe to grind with the PM. The PM's supporters have vowed to scuttle the attempt to appoint these three men by defeating the President's plans using 'political and constitutional means' at their disposal. The nominee for the position of Controller of Budget is the innocent bystander who will be taken down by the war between the President and the PM.

But, it is the manner in which the two principals take us for granted that is particularly galling. These two men have done nothing to empower their subjects to become partners in governing. They instead, have elected to make politics the preserve of politicians. We are left to decipher their maneuvers through the prism of statements and exhortations from men and women we have long considered to be the lowest of the low when it comes to honour or respect. The 2012 general elections are fast approaching and these two men have done nothing to ensure that Kenyans are prepared to make judgments and choices from positions of knowledge. Instead, they are content to leave us ignorant of our roles as citizens. We are yet to start joining political parties in droves. We therefore, do not have the opportunity to start vetting the potential candidates for high office. If this is the way they want us to behave, they should not be surprised when come the day we resort to ignorance-fuelled violence and mayhem.

In their private battles, the President and Prime Minister behave as if we have no say in who becomes CJ, A-G or DPP. They behave as if we are incompetent to determine whether or not a person is competent to hold such high office. They believe that we are not ready to take on the role of the final arbiters of the dispute between them. The PM goes around the country with this hangdog look as if we should sympathise with him simply because Kibaki is being mean. Someone should remind him that life ain't fair, and political life in Kenya is especially unfair. People are always going to be mean to him and if he wants us to sympathise with his plight, it is imperative that he makes us his partners, rather that treat us as a vote bank that is withdrawn only on the day of elections. President Kibaki needs to leave his cocoon, surrounded by his cronies from the business world. The men (and it is always men) he surrounds himself with are in the twilight of their lives and they do not want anything that will rock the boat and jeopardise their financial and political empires, empires they have built to serve their own interests at the expense of the national interest. When the history books are written, while we may proclaim his foresight in building roads and telecommunication links, we will remember him more for his political cowardice and weak-kneed response to national crises. No one will call him a hero, save maybe his immediate family.

For far too long, we have been treated as if we were an irritant to be scratched once every five years. The Constitution has changed the relationship between us and the politicians. It is time they started learning that when it comes to matters of national importance, we are no longer content to be informed of decisions already made or deals already struck. We are ready and willing to take up our roles as mediators and decision-makers. If only they opened up the doors to their little kingdoms called political parties, they would have nothing to fear from us. If decisions are to be made, we demand a seat at the table. If deals are to be struck, we demand to be involved in the negotiations. If anyone is going to appoint the next CJ, it will not be simply because the Constitution says so; it has to be because Kenyans have the confidence that the next CJ is man 'they can work with'. Keep treating us like morons, and when we burn down your house, you will have no one to blame but yourself.

Kenya: A Diplomatic Joke

According to this week's edition of The East African, Kenya is now a 'diplomatic joke'. Nick Wachira and Charles Onyango-Obbo compare the diplomatic catastrophe that is the Kibaki government with President Moi's, even when he was held in the lowest esteem by our 'foreign partners'. One of the funnier passages in their article describe how because the US President, Barack Obama is a Luo, he cannot be trusted in his relations with Kenya, especially when he uses the Prime Minister in his interactions. How e have managed to transport our tribal warfare to the distant shores of the United Stated of America, beggars belief.

Kenya is without a doubt the economic engine of the East African Community, of which Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi, and soon, South Sudan, are mere minnows. However, the challenges facing the Kibaki presidency, especially after the flawed 2007 elections, point to a critical failure to use our economic might for our own diplomatic ends. President Kibaki made poor choices in his Foreign Affairs Ministers, first with Raphael Tuju and Moses Wetangula, and today with Prof. George Saitoti. These three men have demonstrated such a failure of imagination, they should be brought up on charges of dereliction of duty, seeing that they spent most of their energies in wars with Raila Odinga than in managing Kenya's relations wit the outside world. Mr. Tuju set the ball rolling when he announced a shift in Kenya's diplomatic objectives, insisting that we had to enhance our diplomatic status in our near-abroad, while cutting back on the international bellwethers of the United States and the European Union. It was on his watch that our China policy took flight and it has only been enhanced under Mr. Wetangula and Prof Saitoti. Today, we have the Vice-President engaging in a flurry of 'shuttle diplomacy' to persuade the African Union that Kenya needs a 'deferral' over the ICC matter and that the AU should take a minute t help Kenya achieve this ignominious end. In the meantime, the Prime Minister has accepted a commission from the AU to mediate in the Ivorian crisis, even after he has publicly called for the violent overthrow of the incumbent, who has refused to cede power after another flawed African elections.The Kenyan security establishment, on the other hand, has not been left out of the picture. Gen. Gichangi's National Security Intelligence Service has been at the heart of the Juba Initiative and other geo-strategic moves. It is involved in the training of Somali security personnel to ensure that they will eventually act as a buffer between the violence rocking Mogadishu and the Kenyan border.

In all this, the President has maintained his Sphinx-like silence, refusing to engage at all in the diplomatic maneuvering taking place in his name. As a result, the Vice-President, the Prime Minister, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, and the Director-General of the NSIS have been acting as if Kenya has multiple foreign policy objectives while in truth it may have none. There was nothing wrong in the PM taking up the AU assignment to mediate in Côte d'Ivoire; after all Kenya had successfully mediated an end to violence in the Sudan and Somalia. What was unacceptable is that the Prime Minister would take his 'I-am-the-equal-of-the-President' position to the international stage, taking up the assignment without agreeing with the President on what the diplomatic objectives would be and how they would be achieved. What is unacceptable is that the Vice-President would engage in a round of shuttle-diplomacy regarding the ICC simply because the AU resolutions of years past had indicated that the Union was willing to cock-a-snook at the ICC without considering the wider ramifications on Kenya's diplomatic capital if the whole mission failed. And now we are faced with the humiliation of having to brow-beat Rwanda and Burundi on the question of who will be the next EAC Secretary-General. The current state of affairs demonstrates that the President and Prime Minister do not appreciate the poor face of Kenya they are showing in international capitals. The fact is, when we started to appoint ex-politicians without diplomatic experience or expertise to represent the country n influential capitals, we had started on the road to international shame.

Now we are faced with the near-certainty that Kenya's call for African Members to the Rome Statute to pull out of the treaty will be ignored. Regardless of what African leaders have told the Vice-President, the AU will be unable to get Kenya its deferral. Regardless of the strong-arm tactic being employed against Rwanda and Burundi, Kenya may not get to appoint the next EAC Secretary-General. If we are not careful in our relations with the Peoples' Republic of China, the US, the UK and the EU may decide to take a hard-line stance towards Kenya's relations with influential world bodies sch as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the United Nations. We will be the laughing stock of not only Africa, but of the rest of the world if we do not correct course. We must all agree that regardless of the domestic political situation, we cannot have the President and Prime Minister, and their acolytes, reading from different scripts when it comes to diplomatic matters. Otherwise, we are no better than Somalia or Myanmar!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Lessons from the Arab street

Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and his family beat a hasty retreat to Riyadh in the face of an unstoppable force of Tunisians tired of the tired, old, authoritarian regime that he and his wife and their family led. The Jasmine Revolution has inspired similar protests in Cairo and Sana'a, but very few political pundits expect that Hosni Mubarak or Ali Abdullah Saleh will find themselves on the next flight to Saudi Arabia, seeing as the dollars from Uncle Sam keep them in power. Kenya can learn a few lessons from the events that are rocking the Arab world, and take steps to forestall what could be a violent revolution.

President Kibaki and Prime Minister Odinga, the heroes of the Second Liberation, are wrong to believe that the revolution that brought down the KANU hegemony is the end of the matter or that the new Constitution will paper over the cracks that are appearing between the governed and the ruling classes. The two are presiding over the dying days of the First Republic and they have the opportunity to midwife the birth of a New Kenya or face the masses in violent protest at the slow pace of change. All authoritarian regimes attempt to 'manage' the pace of change when faced with an intractable populace. After the violence that rocked this country in 2007 and 2008 abated, many assumed that we had seen the abyss and that we would not allow the country to come so close to the brink again. They were, and continue to be, wrong.

When the former Tunisian strongman was faced with the inevitable collapse of his regime, he sacked his Cabinet in the hope that its members could act as sacrificial lambs to assuage the hurt of the people. President Mubarak has, for the first time since he seized power in 1981, appointed a Vice-President. None of these attempts at mollifying the populace has worked. In Egypt, the crowds are still calling for the end of the Mubarak regime. If President Kibaki and Prime Minister Odinga think that a new Constitution and new appointees to the Supreme Court, the Attorney-General's Chambers or the Director of Public Prosecutions are the salve that this country needed after the horrors of 2007, they are truly blind to the changes that this country has undergone since those dark days.

2007 and 2008 exposed the fact that hundreds of thousands of Kenyan youth are desperate for employment, any employment. It exposed the fact that thousands of Kenyans graduate from Universities and polytechnics into a world where jobs are hard to come by, where the rich keep getting richer, while the poor suffer the humiliation of begging for food or a place to sleep. The deals that have been struck since 2008 between the President and the PM have exposed the lie that the political class has the interests of the people at heart. 

It is near impossible today to secure employment in the public service without a 'tall brother'. It is just as hard for one to secure employment in the private sector or the NGO world without meeting some ethnic or gender qualification that is not in the advertisement pages of the newspapers. And even after one manages to secure employment, the cost of living keeps rising so one finds himself in need of a second and a third job just to make ends meet. The state of the nation is dire, and the President and PM are fiddling while the nation simmers like a cauldron on a fire.

These two men sit atop a pyramid of resentment and anger. If they do not do something drastic in the near future, their dreams of a legacy founded on the memory of the Second Liberation or the new Constitution will be covered in the ashes of the violence that is to come. Questions of equity must be addressed urgently. Government cannot deny the hard-working children of the poor the right to attend state-sponsored national schools simply because they attended private 'academies'. While I may disagree with the position taken by the Standard Group and other profiteers, the government cannot simply decide to raze property worth billions of dollars without just cause. 

Newly expanded roads and toll stations are not just causes. New mothers cannot be held hostage in public hospitals after giving birth simply because they cannot afford the cost of giving birth in the first place. It is shocking and shameful that some new mothers spend the first formative years of their new-born children in the clutches of hospital administrators. It is inequitable that hundreds of thousands of young men and women are unable to provide fully for themselves and their families while a few hundred political fat-cats earn millions in salaries and allowances without much to show for their consumption of national treasure while swanning around in chauffeur-driven, tax-paid limousines and living in the leafiest of leafy suburbs.

We may be becalmed at the moment but we are not at peace with ourselves. Hundreds of thousands of our brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers, sons and daughters live in squalor in tented shanty towns while those who swore to alleviate their plight live it up, jet-setting to foreign capitals to deny them their day in court. Day after day brings new stories of security agents executing suspected violent offenders without the due process of law and the state taking a blase approach to the whole matter, announcing that it will not 'negotiate' with criminals. Since when has it been OK to condemn young men unheard? The humiliations endured by Kenyans, and the frustrations they face daily, and the anger that informs their inter-personal, inter-community relations will come to a head and Kenya will burn once more. Only this time, just possibly, that anger will be turned on our overmighty state and then none of us will ever know peace again.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

The need for a body organ market

Would you pay for a kidney if your had failed or were failing? Would you care where that kidney came from? Would you feel a sense of responsibility to live your life according to the dictates of your doctor if you had a kidney transplant? Is it taboo in your community to receive a transplant or to give up a body organ? Are our cultural traditions so hidebound that there would have to be special rites performed on your corpse if it is to be buried minus a kidney or cornea? Would you trust your government to run the body organ system or would you trust a non-governmental organisation? Would you care, therefore, that Kenya had a body organ 'market'?

These are the questions a Kenyan doctor working and living in the United States raised when he suggested that it is time Kenya had a law to regulate the body organ system. In the recent past, we have witnessed harrowing tales of Kenyans dying for want of a functioning kidney dialysis machine. Just the other day, equipment at the cardiac unit of the Kenyatta National Hospital went up n flames and it became apparent that a major component in the cardiac treatment system had been taken out of commission. The slack will be taken up by expensive private hospitals, such as the Aga Khan University Hospital and the Nairobi Hospital. However, these stories simply illustrate the fact that 'lifestyle' diseases are striking more and more Kenyans and at earlier ages than before. Very soon, treating the symptoms of these diseases will not be sufficient; we will need to start considering the question of how, and when, persons can donate body organs and what incentives should be in place for the same to take place with as little conflict as possible.

In the United States and the United Kingdom the system is managed by non-governmental organisations. Given the recent fulminations by the Republicans in the US, many are now familiar with the spiralling costs of healthcare there and the fact that if the US government does nothing to address these issues, the cost of maintaining what they call entitlement programmes (Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid) will bankrupt the state. In the UK, the system is managed by an NGO and the state picks up the cost of the procedures, with patients chipping in according to their capacity. In the US, the patient, until recently when the Obama healthcare reforms were signed into law, paid for everything. Now, their insurance companies will pick up a portion of the cost, or perhaps all of it. However, in both countries, the backlog of patients on transplant lists runs into the tens of thousands, with many dying before they can receive the organ of need. In Iran, on the other hand, there is a thriving organ market, where the patient gets to pay for the organ he needs and the donor is compensated for his act of selflessness. As a result, the deficit for organs in Iran is much lower than in the democratic, civilised West.

In Kenya, these are issues that would need to be ironed out when the law on organ donations comes up for debate in the National Assembly. Stakeholders in the industry including the Medical Practitioners and Dentists Board, the Kenya Medical Association, the Law Society, the KNHCR, the Nursing Board, patients' rights advocates, businessmen, economists, and members of the public must weigh in and give their opinions. The leadership of politicians and other opinion-makers must be seen; they are the ones best-placed to advice their people and stakeholders on not only the necessity of such a system, but of the need to give up some of our dearly-held and cherished cultural shibboleths for the sake of the common good. Of course, if the country goes for a system similar to Iran's, we will need to put in place mechanisms to ensure that the poor and the helpless are not exploited by the wealthy and powerful. Too often, the rich take advantage of the less fortunate to satisfy their own ends. After all, a majority of those who will suffer lifestyle diseases are likely to be wealthy.

An example of the risks of any system is best illustrated by the case of Steve Jobs, the CEO of Apple Inc. Mr. Jobs has recently taken time off from his job to undergo treatment for an undisclosed ailment. He had previously received a kidney transplant. What makes his case special is that because in the US, different states have different rules for organ donation, it becomes very expensive for an individual to get onto multiple lists across state lines. Mr. Jobs, because of his wealth, was able to get himself on multiple lists and somehow to be on top of at least one of them where he eventually found a donor and the transplant conducted. Had been an ordinary American, he would have taken his chances with the California system and hope that his case was considered favourably. But because of his wealth, he managed to use it to his advantage at the expense of someone else, who may have been more deserving. If indeed, as speculation mounts, he was not eligible as a candidate for a transplant, Mr. Jobs may very well have been dead today. And because of his ineligibility, the kidney he may be losing now may have been reserved for someone else more deserving.

Therefore, Kenya must consider very carefully the social, economic, cultural and political aspects of such a law. We must take into consideration that because of the great ignorance of Kenyans regarding this matter, that there is need for widespread education to counter the effects of ignorance-fuelled cultural opposition to organ donation. Our politicians must demonstrate a maturity in their discourse that they have so far failed to do in regards to other weighty matters and ensure that the people understand the necessity for such a law and the need to protect Kenyans from abuse by one powerful group. Only when all these duck are in a row should Kenyans be invited to make their decision regarding the law. If not, we may be in for difficult times in caring for the sick in need of 'new' body organs.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Why reforms in the administration of justice should be a national priority

What does it say about the state of administration of justice in Kenya that even policemen are unwilling to go through the rigmarole of arraigning armed felons in court and instead, choose to blow their heads off in daylight? The Commissioner of Police has warned all armed criminals that his Police Force will not relent in going after them, regardless of the public opprobrium heaped on his head for 'extra-judicial' killings. Indeed, over the past one month, it seems the cops have stepped up their war against armed criminals to a level last seen in 2006, what with young men suspected of belonging to armed gangs and proscribed sects being picked up and later found riddled with bullet-holes in our various municipal mortuaries. The human rights campaigners have raised the issue of the unconstitutionality of executing criminals without the bother of a trial and have rightly pointed a spotlight on the police for this abuse of the criminals' human rights. However, they still refuse to accept that the Kenya Police Force operates in a highly dangerous and politicised environment, where sometimes men and women in high positions usually intervene to 'save one of their own community' from the unwanted attentions of the forces of law and order.

Anyone who has been on the receiving end of a car-jacking or armed robbery will not spare a thought for the three men executed in broad daylight by the police this past week. They will remember with horror of their experiences in the hands of a ruthless gang that took their hard-earned property at the barrel of a gun, using intimidation and violence to get their way. They will remember with anguish that the police warned them that the case would never be solved, because the Kenya Police lacks modern facilities in its campaign against crime, especially violent crime. They will not be sorry to see the bodies of suspected carjackers and armed felons being paraded in front of TV cameras after an 'encounter' with officers from the Flying Squad. Instead, they will cheer on the forces of law and order, whether or not they observe the niceties of the constitution or the Police Standing Orders.

Kenya faces myriad challenges, all calling for hard-to-come-by resources. In the competing attention of various national priorities, the forces of law and order tend to get the short end of the stick. Billions will be spent on the implementation of the constitution, especially in the establishment of the various constitutional commissions as will be spent on the drought afflicting parts of the country. Billions more will be spent on the National Assembly and the infrastructure programme across the country. While the Kenya police and Administration Police have received billions to provide them with habitable homes and new equipment, not much seems to have gone into equipping them to be more effective in the prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of offences, especially armed crime. As a result, while many more policemen now live in proper housing and carry effective weapons and drive around in serviceable vehicles, their training does not seem to equip them to be in a position to competently bring armed felons to justice. The frustrations they face when dealing with armed criminals manifest themselves in the spate of extra-legal executions that we are witness to on a day-to-day basis. Given our inordinate preoccupation with the Hague Six and the 2012 presidential contest, is it a wonder that the Kenya Police are determined to hold their own against gangsters at the expense of the Bill of Rights?

Instead of the Kenya National Commission for Human Rights and its fellow travellers concentrating only on The Hague and the imminent demolition of the Standard Group HQ, it is time they started concentrating on the implementation of the Ransley Report on Police Reforms as well as the reform of the judiciary and the Prisons Service. All these things are interlinked and reform of one institution without reforming the other two will not be of benefit to Kenyans. Only when these reforms are implemented in full will it be possible for the police to retain faith in the administration of justice system and men and women convicted and imprisoned for violent crimes may be rehabilitated so as to reduce their chances of recidivism. Perhaps then, extra-legal executions may become a thing of the past and Kenyans can go about their affairs without looking over their shoulders in fear for their lives or property.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Whom do you trust?

The idea that youth is the only viable criteria to determine whether one should lead a community, a corporation or the state is as misguided as the idea that only age bestows wisdom or experience. Leadership is a complex and complicated matter, and it can only or should only be bestowed upon one who shows maturity in decision-making, strength in committing to a course of action, flexibility on abandoning a faltering course, and humility in accepting the wisdom of others. The politicians calling for a generational change have the right idea but the wrong motives in asking for a re-think in the manner that we elevate leaders to national political positions. In 2013, Kenyans are faced with the task of deciding from a slate of time-worn and up-and-coming ambitious candidates who will lead and who will follow. Prime Minister Raila Odinga and many of his contemporaries are the target of the calls for 'generational change' and some of the brickbats being lobbed at them are well deserved. But it is facile to intimate that simply because he has crossed the 'magic' fifty-year birthday that he should 'step aside' and allow the 'youth' to take over the reigns of leadership.

Africa, as indeed the rest of the world, reveres the wisdom of the aged. There is a reason for this. Many of the mature citizens in our midst have lived life, experienced its ups and downs and reached a point where they are capable of discerning the challenges or risks a particular course of action will engender. However, many of them have lived a life where decisions they have made, actions they have taken, or courses they have pursued have led to misery and death. Sometimes, old age is an excuse to cling on to time-worn ideas that or little benefit in contemporary times. Shakespeare wrote that youth is wasted on the young; the vigour and vitality of the young, coupled with their natural enthusiasm and exuberance for new things have sometimes come to grief, especially when weighty matters in need of intellectual interrogation fly over their heads and in their headstrong rush towards a particular goal they ignore the signs of danger in the paths they tread.

There is no reason why I should repose my faith in William Ruto, Eugene Wamalwa, or Maina Njenga when what they have doe in their youthful lives has been anything but dishonourable or downright criminal. Joshua Kutuny and Simon Mbugua have demonstrated starkly that sometimes it is a mistake to bestow leadership on one who is not ready. Omar Hassan Omar has demonstrated that despite education and involvement at the highest levels of government, youth cannot be translated to good judgment or wisdom overnight. On the other hand, Major General Hussein Ali demonstrates that experience is an important ingredient when faced with personal challenges that endanger personal liberty, and he is a case-study for how the wisdom of the ages can be encapsulated in a single man when he faces the trial of his life.

Critical decisions must be made if we are to successfully steer this country back to the road to civilised government. We will require leadership to make the right choices and mitigate the challenges that we will face in the road to the full implementation of the Constitution. It is imperative that the leaders we choose for ourselves understand that it is no longer OK to play one people against another or take the lives of ordinary Kenyans for granted. Leaders must be forcefully reminded that they were not chosen as of right, but that they were chosen for a purpose. The Presidency or the Governorships or Senate positions are not theirs or their communities; they are the recognition by the people that their experience, wisdom, vigour, vitality, intellect and reputations are required for nation-building and development.

We must debunk the idea that so-and-so 'deserves' to be president or governor or senator. Just because someone has demonstrated that he is a patriot or that he ha suffered for this country is not reason enough to be 'bequeathed' with leadership; only men and women of ideas and wisdom should be chosen. Those angling to succeed President Kibaki in 2012 must demonstrate that they have the people's interests at heart and that they are willing to break with the past to bring Kenya into the future. They must demonstrate that they are capable of generating ideas and that they have the courage, wisdom and strength to implement these ideas to bring Kenya out of poverty, tackle disease, and ensure that we become a knowledge-based meritocracy, capable of competing on the regional, continental and international stage as equals and not as alms-seekers. The current crop of politicians has failed us and it is time we reminded them that regardless of their pedigree or their political experience, in 2012 we will judge them as much on their past achievements or failures as on their age and their ideas for the future. If they are incapable of understanding this basic fact, there is absolutely no reason why we should allow them to stay one minute longer in their current positions. We would be better off being ruled by children in standard three - at least they still appreciate the concept of right and wrong!

What Mr. Ruto can learn from Gen. Ali

Major General (Retired) Hussein Ali, the Postmaster-General, and former Commissioner of Police, who served during the pogroms of 2007 and 2007 was once asked if he would act differently faced with the chaos of the post-2007 election violence and he answered that he would not. He did so so under oath, believing that he was acting as a Police Commissioner should and he had no apologies to make. Now he seeks to ask the ICC to hear him on the small matter of summonses from the Court asking that he be heard before the summons issues on the evidence collected against him so that he gets the opportunity to make his case against the issuance of the summons. The Postmaster-General has taken a less contentious route to challenging the position of the ICC Prosecutor against him, ensuring that he plays by the rules without bringing disrepute to his name or engaging in political gamesmanship with the ICC. Whether we agree with his position or not, Gen. Ali demonstrates that while the matters against him are grave, he will act within the law to ensure that his name is cleared.

William Ruto has not even tried to play fair with the Court. His attempts to prevent the issuance of the summons against him betray a lack of appreciation of the gravity of the charges made against him, equating the ICC process to a political witch-hunt by his political enemies. He refuses to acknowledge that while he may have been treated shabbily by the Office of the Prosecutor, the Prosecutor is not motivated by political or other considerations. The contrast between the approaches of the two men is stark and it raises the question of what it means to be a leader in Kenya. Gen. Ali enjoys enormous respect from the people of Kenya; he is not quite a divisive figure as the MP for Eldoret North. Perhaps it is his military experience, especially his leadership of the various units of the military and the Kenya Police, that continues to ensure that Kenyans remain ambivalent about the ICC's case against him. I would wager that the people of Kenya will continue to give the good general the benefit of the doubt until the case against him is concluded. I would wager further that the Head of the Public Service, while he may be seen as a player in the political arena, may enjoy the same goodwill that Gen. Ali enjoys and Kenyans will also give him the benefit of the doubt until his case too, is concluded.

Of the politicians, only Mr. Ruto enjoys a lower profile than anyone else regarding the pogroms of 2007-2008 and it was all his doing. While Mr. Ruto, Mr. Kosgey and Mr. Kenyatta may be in the same boat politically, it seems that the actions of Mr. Ruto have cast greater doubt over his innocence that over that of the other two. He began the process of raising such doubt when he unilaterally picked a fight with the Office of the Prosecutor when the matter was eventually taken up by the ICC. He compounded the error by making a unilateral decision to fly out to The Hague to confront the ICC Prosecutor and by filing an application to prevent the Prosecutor from applying for summonses to issue against him. All the while he engaged in a high-risk political strategy to cobble together what is billed as the KKK Alliance against the Prime Minister, insinuating his hand in the manner in which the ICC proposed to deal with him. M. Kenyatta and Kalonzo Musyoka, the Vice-President, may not be friends of the PM, no one doubts that the engine behind the KKK machinations is the former Higher Education Minister. Mr. Ruto is determined to link the goings on in The Hague to the 2012 elections and he is playing this script fr all it is worth in the hopes that even if he is indeed indicted and tried at The Hague, and he is unable to contest the elections, he will at least derail the PM's ambitions for high office. Mr. Ruto, perhaps with the blessings of the President himself, seems to have maneuvered Mr. Musyoka to a foolhardy attempt to not only derail trial at The Hague, but to repeal the International Crimes Act and to pull Kenya out of the Rome Statute with the support of the members of the African Union. In all these maneuvers is the spectre of the victory of Raila Odinga in 2012 which neither of the parties to the KKK Alliance is willing to countenance.

The 2012 elections, especially the presidential elections, will not be played according to the rules that have been established since 1963, where ethnic arithmetic seems more important than the wishes of the electorate. With the repeal of Section 2A of the former Constitution, President Moi perfected the art of playing one ethnic community against the other, using positions in government as sweeteners for those who stayed by his side and political isolation for those who did not. He ensured that the people saw the positions as belonging to their 'communities' rather than as vehicles for nation-building or development. As a result, statements issued by political figures ensured Kenyans as seeing the positions as being awarded to them and not to the politicians. However, in 2012, it will not be possible for presidential candidates to make such divisive promises. The president in 2013 will not have a free hand to dish out government positions and jobs as political lollipops for supporting his candidacy. Hence the desire for the brains behind the KKK Alliance to 'rally their people' behind the alliance without consideration for the harm that will ensue from the lofty promises they are already making.

Mr. Ruto should learn from Gen. Ali on how to conduct oneself in public, especially when one's reputation is on the line. It is not enough to inveigle against your persecutors, you must do so using the tools that reinforce that you may be innocent of the charges. You must deliberate carefully before making any statement or taking any precipitate action. Even when you craft alliances to assist in your defence, they must reflect the broad outlines of civilised conduct among leaders and not be seen as a personal vendetta against the community or the reputation of your detractor. If you impute mala fide motives, you must back it up with proof. Most importantly, you must play by the rules, if only to demonstrate that you are willing to be judged by the same rules. Gen. Ali is a study of the calm deliberation that every leader must demonstrate when faced with challenges. Mr. Ruto is a reminder that in Kenya, that ideal is yet to be inculcated in our leadership. Whatever the outcome of their day before the ICC, Kenyans owe Gen. Ali gratitude for his statesmanlike behavior, and nothing but brickbats for Mr. Ruto for making it a point of reminding us that politicians should not and cannot be trusted.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

If the Standard Group was a target of the government, it would not exist today

I agree with the good people of the Standard Group on only one point in their disagreement with the Minister for Roads and the Minister for Lands - that there is something fishy about the manner in which the proposed map regarding the compulsory acquisition of land along Mombasa Road was drawn up. It makes no sense for the map's drafters to skirt the boundaries of Libra House as if it deserves special attention. Unless they can show good cause for the manner in which the plans have been drawn up, suspicion will revolve around the question of which powerful personality is responsible for keeping Libra House from the attentions of the bulldozer drivers who are soon to be unleashed. But that is all I am willing to concede.

Minister Orengo and Minister Bett are correct to infer that there was something fishy in the manner that the corporates along Mombasa Road decided to erect multi-billion shilling edifices after the Ministry of Roads decided to make plans for the expansion of the road. Franklin Bett's assertion that there was a 'WikilLeaks' regarding the plans must be considered seriously, for no one would have dared to erect anything in what would eventually be compulsorily acquired by the State.

Art. 66 of the Constitution provides that "(1) The state may regulate the use of any land, or interest in or right over any land, in the interest of defence, public safety, public order, public morality, public health, or land use planning." Art.40 provides that "(3) The State shall not deprive a person of property of any description, or any interest in, or right over, property of any description, unless the deprivation - (b) is for public purpose or in the public interest and is carried out in accordance with this Constitution and any Act of Parliament that - (i) requires prompt payment in full, of just compensation to the person; and (ii) allows any person who has an interest in, or right over, that property a right of access to a court of law."

The Constitution is thus clear - the State can compulsorily acquire land for public purposes, and for the thousands upon thousands of road users who waste expensive man-hours stuck in traffic along Mombasa Road, the expansion of that thoroughfare is a matter of public interest. The Standard Group claims that the compulsory acquisition and the intended 'demolition of buildings' will have an adverse impact on the economy, being that billions of shillings in investment will have gone down the drain if the plan is carried through to its logical end. 

However, they neglect to point out that billions are lost every year in lost man-hours and delays when workers spend an increasing amount of their valuable time cooling their heels in traffic that moves at snail's pace. Indeed, the Institute of Economic Affairs has conducted studies in this area, and therefore, the assertions of the Ministers is germane - this project is of public interest and must be permitted to go through. Other than the fact that building may be torn down, the Standard Group and other affected parties have failed to demonstrate that absent the compensation that they will surely get from the government, how the planned expansion of the road will affect the national economy.

While many of us remember, and sympathise, with the raids that were conducted on Standard Group premises in 2006, few of us are willing to entertain the notion that the Government of Kenya has set its eyes to the total destruction of a free press by targetting the Standard Group alone. Some of us are unwilling to accept the idea that there is a free press at all. The Standard Group and all the other players in the media are in it for the money and not for a high principle. They may claim that they act in the public interest, but they do not demonstrate this in their day-to-day reporting or in their editorial content. They have consistently refused to hold all politicians to account. They have consistently demonstrated their partisanship when reporting the news. Therefore, if they wish to garner public sympathy for their current plight, they must demonstrate that they have the public interest at heart. Indeed, the 'people' will not be motivated to go demonstrating in the streets to protest the government plans for they do not have an emotional connection to the media conglomerates. That part of their argument must fail too.

The Minister for Lands is correct - the Standard Group and other affected parties have recourse to the law. However, it is imperative that they remember that they may lose; the need for more efficient road links in this country is too great to be sabotaged by the interests of a few. They must swallow their pride and find alternative solutions to their travails, instead of wailing on TV about the unfairness of it all.

The people have spoken!

William Ruto must live by the dictum "no news is bad news." How else do you explain his two mouthpieces going on national TV and lambasting the good judges of the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber II for their ruling on his appeal against the ICC Prosecutor's move to serve him with a summons to appear in the PEV cases? Katwa Kigen and Dr. Kithure Kindiki went to the ICC and asked the Pre-Trial Chamber II to hear out William Ruto, stop the ICC prosecutor from issuing summonses against him and also, rather belatedly, stop him from applying to the Court for summonses to issue in respect of their client. The Court refused to entertain Mr. Ruto's application, arguing that the rule under which the suspended Higher Education Minister had applied to the Court could not be relied on as it would, in effect, consider him a friend of the court, when he quite clearly is not.

Mr. Ruto has all along claimed that the ICC Prosecutor's case is based on tainted testimony and unreliable reports by both the KNHCR and the Waki Commission. Last year when it emerged that two witnesses had recanted their testimony in front of the KNHCR, Mr. Ruto claimed that this development proved that the allegations made against him were baseless and that he should not be target of the ICC prosecutor. However, for him, the train has well and surely left the station and his salvation lies in the trial being conducted speedily and he is acquitted well in time for him to seek the presidency in 2012. It is staggering that all that the Eldoret North MP and his acolytes see is the effect of the ICC Case on his 2012 presidential prospects and not on the substance of the case itself. How can it be that he has been accused of murder, or ordering the murder of thousands, and all he is concerned about is whether he shall be in a position to challenge Raila Odinga in 2012?

One of the most significant promises we have made for ourselves by ratifying the new Constitution is that we all shall live by the rule of law. In Moi's and Kenyatta's eras, impunity was personified by men and women n positions of political power. The idea that anyone could be held accountable for his acts of omission or commission was anathema to the major players in these two regimes. President Kibaki and Prime Minister Odinga do not seem to understand the changes that have been wrought by the Constitution either; they tolerate acts of impunity with their eye on political advantages at the expense of basic justice for all.These are not people who are used to playing by the rules. The ICC process is reminding them that in the small pond that is Kenya they may be big fish, but in the murky waters of the ocean that is the ICC, they are most definitely minnows. This must explain the incredulity with which the PLO Lumumba-led KACC activities has been greeted by the leading lights of the ODM. They are not used to seeing the high and mighty being arraigned in court on charges of abuse of office or any other charge for that matter. How can it be that a sitting minister can be held in court cells together with the purse-snatchers and pick-pockets from the streets? This is unprecedented in Kenya.

Mr. Ruto's lawyers have attempted to put a brave face on the ICC ruling, attempting to explain it away using dense legalese that flies over our heads. What they will not be able to erase is the image of their client being denied what would have been routine in Kenya - that the court recognise that he is a big fish and that he can bend it to his will. Someone needs to inform them that the ICC is not Evan Gicheru's Judiciary, where the high and might are deferred to by the court, but that the ICC will not be swayed by their perceived importance in Kenya, but by the facts of the case and the law itself.

When the Members of the Tenth Parliament proclaim the sovereignty of Kenya, they tend to forget that this sovereignty derives from the peoples of Kenya and not from the National Assembly and that a majority of Kenyans want to see the perpetrators of the PEV tried at The Hague and not in our courts of law, in which we do not have faith. We have decided that in this matter, we will cede our sovereignty to a foreign court thousands of miles away, because we know that back home, justice can be bought; after all, it has been bought in the past. Until the Judiciary is reformed and new blood is introduced into the hallowed halls of justice, we have no reason to put our faith in the robed men and women of the Kenyan Judiciary. Until then, we will be content to cede sovereignty to foreign courts. That is how it is, that is how it shall be. The 'people' have spoken. Deal with it!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Is Kalonzo Tilting at Windmills or Slaying Dragons?

Out and about in Kapsowar, Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka, completely forgetting that he has not been in private practice since 1985, styled himself a legal eagle, advising the good people of the North rift, that he has been jet-setting around Africa trying to cobble together a coalition for the express purpose of scuttling the issuance of summons from the ICC against, among others, the favourite son of the North Rift, Kipchirchir William Samoei arap Ruto (whose mother still cannot understand the furore surrounding his indictment). Present at the same meeting was the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Uhuru Kenyatta, who seemed amused that the VP was going out of his way to reassure the residents of the North Rift as to his sincerity, especially when he claimed that he was a praying Christian and that he has been praying for Hon. Ruto in this, his hour of need.

When the Prime Minister embarked on his necessary but ill-advised rehabilitation programme for the Mau Forest Complex, it opened a rift that has never healed between him and his supporters from the North Rift. Even then, it was quite clear that the majority of beneficiaries of the irregular allocations of land in the Mau belonged to communities residing in the North Rift. Indeed, days after Henry Kosgei, the ODM Chairman, was charged with abuse of office in an anti-corruption court in Nairobi, it emerged that he was also a major beneficiary of these allocations, and that now his land was being threatened with repossession. So, the PM's desire to repossess land from those who irregularly acquired properties theirs in the Mau was always going to be seen as a plot to kick the Kalenjin while they were down. It is this that must have informed the VP's and the Eldoret North MP's desire to cobble together a winning alliance against the PM. In their desire not to be seen as merely opportunistic, they have managed to rope in the DPM, hence the unimaginative media label of KKK. However, it is emerging that the Ruto-Uhuru pair do not trust, nor believe in, the VP. He has an unenviable position: when he was a member of the original ODM, he had committed himself to accepting the results of primaries held by the Movement. However, when it became apparent that Raila Odinga would wipe the floor with him despite the alleged support of elements from PNU, he ditched his friends, maneuvered to have the Party endorse him, ensured that Odinga and his acolytes would in turn form another ODM, and campaigned for himself for the presidency, coming in a distant third. He leveraged the support he had garnered in Ukambani and eastern Province to land himself the VP's post even when the country was going up in flames.

Now he seeks to persuade Ruto and Uhuru that he is a friend who can be trusted when his past is anything but trustworthy. He is not done yet, however. He has embarked on a campaign to paint himself as the anti-Odinga, taking stances that are nuanced enough to create the impression that he understands the masses, and that the PM is well past his prime when it comes to the occupancy of State House. Where the PM is spearheading the rehabilitation of the Mau, a project he endorsed when it suited him, he has now decided that it is in his interests to take a tangentially different route by offering succour to the 'IDPs' affected by the evictions from the Mau. Where the PM has endorsed the ICC process regarding the suspects of the ICC, he has declared that 'government' is working on a diplomatic assault on the Rome Statute and that Isaac Ruto's Motion in the National Assembly to withdraw from the Rome Statute and repeal the International Crimes Act is a 'government project'. This latter adventure has been denied by members of the ODM who declare unequivocally that the Cabinet has not endorsed the machinations that the VP is engaged in at present.

Given the ethnic arithmetics that goes into our general elections, especially our presidential elections, the VP knows he must secure the total support of the people of Ukambani, or all is lost. During last year's Referendum campaigns, he let it be known that while he thought that much of the Proposed Constitution was good, he was uncomfortable with some of its Articles and that he would work very hard to address the fears of the Christian clergy opposed to the Draft as well as those of the peoples of the North Rift regarding the provisions on land. Because of his constant vacillation, he was nick-named a 'watermelon' by some wag and the tag has simply refused to go away. However, because of his watermelon tag, he was unable to declare that he had rallied the people of Ukambani behind him 100%, unlike Ruto who was seen as the leader of the Kalenjin and Uhuru Kenyatta who is seen as a leader of the Kikuyu. The two now doubt that Kalonzo can deliver the votes in 2012 and indeed, when Hon. Ruto declared that the Presidency should go to someone 'under fifty' it was seen as a subtle message to Kalonzo that he should be wary of his tricks.

In Miguel de Cervantes' The Ingenious Hidalgo Don Quixote de la Mancha, the hero of the story embarks on a campaign to slay dragons in order to win the hand of a fair maiden. In his journeys, it is apparent to the reader that the hero is slowly losing his mind, portraying him 'titling at windmills' in his hopeless quest. If the VP is not careful, he will be seen as the indefatigable and hapless Don Quixote and the peoples of Kenya will be well advised to ignore his anti-Raila adventures and, instead, look to the Uhuru-Ruto alliance to offer a credible alternative.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Najivunia kuwa Mkenya - our celebration of mediocrity

When the Kenya Met announced that as a consequence of the La Nina Phenomenon, parts of Kenya would experience drought in 2011, the announcement was met with the usual Government's promise to prepare and take the necessary precautions to safeguard the interests of the people in the areas that would be affected. Those promises have been broken and Kenyans, once again, are horrified by media reports of their fellow citizens starving to death. When the Ministry of Education published the results of the 2010 KCPE examinations, it emerged that pupils from 'private' schools outperformed those from public schools (and beneficiaries of 'free' primary education). It was apparent that, once again, the children whose parents had skimped and saved to provide them with the best possible education would grab the lion's share of positions in our 18 national schools. In reaction to the outcry that 'rich' families were locking out 'poor' families in the provision of the best secondary education, the Minister for Education, Hon. Prof. Sam Ongeri announced that his ministry would reserve only 27.1% of the positions to pupils from private academies, with the remainder for the successful candidates from the public schools.

These two incidents demonstrate, as nothing else will, that in Kenya, that politicians do not have the public interest at heart, but all their pronouncements are geared towards achieving some hitherto unknown and unexplained political goal. How can it be that the Ministries of Agriculture, Special Programmes, Livestock Development, Fisheries Development, and Water and Irrigation are not prepared to address the catastrophic effects of the drought? How come it is only after Kenyans die horrific deaths that they are now preparing a disaster response programme to offer succour and support to those facing death? Dr. Sally Kosgei, Esther Murugi, Mohammed Kuti, Amason Jeffa Kingi, and Charity Ngilu had ample time to prepare to respond adequately to the disaster unfolding in arid and semi-arid areas, especially given the timely warning of the Kenya Met, but they did not. As a result, because of their dithering, and before the machinery of Government is fully engaged, many more Kenyans will die and many more heads of cattle, sheep and goats will be destroyed. The cost to the economies dependent on livestock production will be severely crippled. More importantly though, the Ministers, Assistant Ministers and Permanent Secretaries in these ministries will not face sanctions or censure. It will, in other words, be business as usual.

However, given that these will not be 'new' stories, Kenyans and their 'free' press will focus on the other story, that of 'rich' families usurping the right of 'poor' families to education for their children. The definition of a 'private' school needs to be qualified extensively to bring out the true picture of the situation on the ground. Not all 'academies' are equal; anyone who says so is a moron and his views must be ignored. There is no way that an objective comparison can be made between, say Makini School and a private academy in the depths of Kibera. What they have in common is parents who are or were dismayed by the manner in which the FPE has been managed and chosen instead, to set aside significant proportions of their (sometimes) meagre incomes to ensure that their children attend schools that offer them the best opportunity to pass national exams. In dispensing with meritocracy as a criterion for choosing who attends and who doe not attend a national school, the Minister for Education is sending a powerful message - it is not the effort or the skills demonstrated that secure you your rights, but whether or not you are a member of a powerful political lobby. As Dr. Lukoye Atwoli suggests in today's Sunday Nation, the logical conclusion to this madness is the creation of a private government to address the political, social and economic needs of 'rich' Kenyans.

The Ministry of Education must be held to account for the manner in which it has managed the basic education sector. It has failed to make arrangements for the hiring of additional teachers to keep pace with the explosion of pupils' numbers in classrooms across the country. It has failed to ensure that the best teachers in the public sector are rewarded while the mediocre ones are re-trained, or if they prove incapable of change, removed. It has failed to provide for the improvement of facilities in all public primary schools and as a result, 8 years after the inauguration of FPE, scenes of school-children packed like sardines in inadequate classrooms still continue to dominate. Isn't it a wonder that the private sector has wiped the floor with the public schools? Again, it is almost certain that Prof. Ongeri and his subordinates will keep their jobs and change will be slow in coming to the basic education sector in Kenya.

Now that we entering the final leg to 2012, all Ministers and their political acolytes will be too busy to address the critical policy needs of their portfolios, concentrating instead, on the need to secure re-election, or election to new positions. Kenyans will still starve to death. Successful pupils will see their right to the best education being trashed in the name of 'equity'. And Kenya will continue to celebrate mediocrity at the highest and lowest levels. Doesn't it just make you proud to be a Kenyan?

Friday, January 14, 2011

Where were you when Mututho got his Act together?

Ahmednasir Abdullahi has stated that the Mututho Act is unconstitutional - you cannot control how an adult person will act if his actions do not endanger anyone but himself. It is his right to drink and he will be damned if some uppity lawmaker will decide for him how and when he can do so or for how long. It was just a matter of time before the lawyers got involved.

I am on record as agreeing with the Alcohol Control Act and its objectives. I am appalled that grown men and women, and a few juveniles, are incapable of imbibing without going ape-shit. How many times have we run into people intoxicate beyond belief, making arses of themselves and generally raising seven kinds of hell, putting others not just off, but in danger for their lives. Many bar brawls have been prosecuted because the intoxicated are incapable of moderating their behavior or their inner beasts. It used to be that parents could not bring their offspring to the pub, no matter how inviting it looked or the presence of myriad bouncing castles in the place. It just was not done. remember those days when 'bar and restaurants' used to have a participation with the homily 'no entry to under 18 on the partition'? Mututho's law is proof positive that the majority of beer-drinkers have allowed an undisciplined minority to take over the social space and it is now up to the over-reaching arm of the state to step in and bring back some sanity, if that is possible.

Until we can agree on some basics, it is irrelevant whether the Act is amended or repealed or struck down for its unconstitutionality. Regardless of how much we love our favourite tipple, we must agree that pubs that play loud music and stay open throughout the night are not supposed to be located in residential areas. Regardless of how mature junior seems, it is improper to allow him and his equally immature 'date' to partake of a few down at the local. Regardless of the commercial rights involved, alcohols should not be sold in places where the little ones can see or access. Regardless of how much he is the life of the party, no one should be allowed to get so intoxicated as to be incorrigible or belligerent to the point that he is a danger to himself, and more importantly, to you or me. And regardless of your map-reading and navigation skills, once past a certain point of intoxication, you should not be allowed behind the wheel of an automobile; death awaits you and other road users if you do. If we cannot agree on these simple accommodations, then regardless of the provisions of the Act, we will continue to watch as our nations degenerates further into incivility and anarchy.

The Mututho Act, as with other controversial legislations, was proposed, debated and passed without our participation. When Michael Joseph noted our 'peculiar calling habits', he should have also noted on our 'peculiar civil habits'. We hate to participate in enlightened debate on matters that affect us. We let the debate be conducted and managed by those hyenas in the national Assembly, and then cry 'foul' when they do something that offends us. The few Mwalimu Matis and Maina Kiais among us are like the little boy keeping back the Southern Sea with his finger in the dam in that Nordic Tale. When will we wake up to the fact that if we do not take part in public debate, we cannot claim that we have been deceived? You cannot just leave your civic duty to voting in general elections alone; you must make a point of getting involved in the debate about issues that affect you, your community, your village, and yes, your beer.

While I see merit in Mr. Abdullahi's onslaught against the Mututho Act, he misses the point when he lays the blame only on the overreaching Legislature. Where was he when the Bill made its way through Parliament? Given his propensity to publicity, he should have at least attempted to write an open letter to his MP, urging him to consider the potential constitutional implications of the Bill. So should all of those who are aghast at its provisions, frankly. Now that it is law, we are engaging in another of our peculiar behaviours - blaming everyone else other than ourselves for allowing this law to come into force. Instead of bemoaning the 'loss of freedoms' that we are suffering currently, we should write our MP to propose amendments or outright repeal of the law. That will demonstrate more powerfully than the words of the lazy that we mean business when it comes to how, when and how much we can drink. Otherwise, we should all just shut up and move on.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

This country is greater than any Six Men

Throughout the past twenty-five years, Kenyans have been promised the moon by their political leaders. Frequently, and tragically, the promises have not been kept. Instead, we have been encouraged to lie, cheat, steal, murder and, generally, raise six kinds of hell in the names of our political masters and their interpretation of historical and political grievances. No one has ever chosen to take a principled stand against the fomenters of hatred and violence.

Our nadir came when we set fire to homes and crops, chased entire families from their homes and raped and murdered our way to international infamy. When Waki, J. enclosed a list of twenty names in an envelope and gave it to Kofi Annan for safekeeping, he could not have imagined that the Government he serves would have acted with such callous disregard for the loss of life or property that had occurred. Until the ICC Prosecutor named the six he would seek to prosecute, no one believed that their politicians could so easily forget that blood had been shed, and that thousands upon thousands of Kenyans are still living in abject, soul-destroying poverty.

When Prof. George Saitoti was unexpectedly fired by President Moi as Vice-President of the Republic, he said that it came a time when the individual had to give way for the country. It is a dictum that he and his colleagues in the Cabinet and, generally, in the government have forgotten. This country will survive the indictment and prosecution of the six Kenyans at The Hague. They are not the State and the State is not them. It matters nought that Uhuru Kenyatta is heir to a political legacy tat goes back to our struggle for independence. It matters nought that Francis Muthaura comes from a community where leaders are revered ad their word is taken as holy writ. It matters nought that three suspects come from one of the most war-like communities in our country. The arrogance demonstrated by the supporters of these men, that they deserve some special protection because of their ranks or their tribes beggars belief.

President Kibaki and Prime Minister Odinga must be reminded that regardless of the outcome of the ICC process, we shall judge them harshly if they allow their lieutenants and acolytes to perpetrate a fraud on the people of Kenya. When they signed an accord ending the political stalemate that had seized the nation in 2008, they promised to do all in their power to see that the merchants of death and destruction were brought to book. Their initial attempts to put together a local tribunal to try cases related to the PEV came to nought. They were left with no choice but to support the efforts of the ICC to see justice done for those who lost their lives and property. They promised to support the efforts of Luis Moreno-Ocampo and, initially, they went along with his investigations. Despite the fact that they have somehow managed to prevent men and women in the security and intelligence establish,et from giving their statements, the ICC Prosecutor seems to have cobbled up enough evidence to bring before the Pre-Trial Chamber II. Now the two Principals have realised that they may have bitten off more than they could chew and they wish to spit out the offending bolus from their collective mouth.

Reliable reports indicate that the Government has embarked on a campaign not only to prevent the trial of the Six at The Hague, but that they will also use the situation to pull out of the Rome Statute along with several other African nations under cover of an AU Resolution. When The Hague was used to try butchers such as Charles Taylor and Slobodan Milosevic, there was nary a word from the Government of Kenya. When Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir was indicted for war crimes and genocide in Darfur, they suddenly woke up to the fact that even sitting heads of state were not outside the purview of the ICC. The African Union has done precious little to ameliorate the suffering of hundreds of thousands of Darfuris, and now it will be a convenient fig leaf to hide the shame that was the Kenyan Situation in 2007 and 2008.

An argument has been made that even if the trials are held at The Hague, they will not do anything to address our problems with impunity in Kenya. They may very well be right, but, regardless of the outcome of The Hague trials, it is undoubtedly a watershed that the Government of Kenya is being held to account for what it did and did not do when Kenyans were dying. This is unprecedented. The situation must be appreciated in that context. While we struggle to establish mechanisms and institutions that will serve the nation, we must not forget that our political leaders have existed in a vacuum, doing as they please knowing that they are above, beyond the law or the reach of any authority. The ICC is proof positive that eve f we fail to resolve our problems with impunity, the comity of nations is watching and will step in as and when necessary.

We are all obsessed with the 2012 general elections as if our lives are tied to that one event. The narrative that has been constructed allows for no other measure of our transition or re-birth. None will even countenance or contemplate the absence of Raila Odinga, William Ruto, Uhuru Kenyatta or Martha Karua from the ballot in 2012. We cannot continue to be held hostage to a five-year election cycle as if our lives are tied to the fates of the political class alone. This morning, heads of secondary schools embarked on the job of admitting students to Form 1, facing the reality of thousands of students who will miss places in prestigious national schools because they are too few. Our health-care system is a shamble and tales of children and women dying in hospital continue to appall us on a daily basis. Young men continue to be gunned down for their, admittedly questionable, associations and affiliations without the benefit of due process. But it is the political calendar that occupies our days and our attentions. Until we face up to the fact that government will not exist without our leave, we will continue to be embarrassed when men, women, children are murdered in their beds because of their perceived 'alieness'.

Monday, January 10, 2011

All hail the Republic of Southern Sudan!

If all goes according to the wishes of the majority of the citizens of South Sudan, in about five days they will ratify a decision to secede from Sudan and form the newest nation-state in Africa, South Sudan. Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir, the president of Sudan had promised in 1989 to crush all opposition to rule by the 'Arab' north, and he prosecuted the Second Sudan Civil War (1983-2005) with zeal until the determined forces of the Sudan Peoples' Liberation Army forced him to the negotiating table in 2004. The Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the North and the South culminates this week with a Referendum to determine the question of secession or unity between the North and South.

Dr. John Garang, the charismatic leader of the Sudan Peoples' Liberation Movement and the SPLA, who died under mysterious and suspicious circumstances, dreamt of the day when the peoples of the South would be allowed to determine their destiny and this Referendum is their chance to do so. If they vote for secession, their relations with the North will have crossed the Rubicon and will redefine what it means to be a Southerner in the largest nation-state in Africa.

The series of protocols that make up the CPA are the result of the realization that the North and South could not perpetuate the conflict forever. The South was determined to gain the right to self-determination while the North was determined to dominate the South, come what may. The Referendum was agreed upon when the CPA was signed ad the South is determined to secede from the North when the Referendum results are announced. Kenya has supported the right of the South to secede, seeing in the secession an opportunity to invest in what would be a green economy starting from scratch, offering business in Kenya an opportunity to enter a virgin market and exploit its resources for profit. In the period since the CPA was signed, thousands of Kenyan businessmen have made their way to Juba and other States in the South with business investment intentions and have been among the first to set up commercial enterprises in the South. Many are confident that regardless of the outcome of the Referendum, the North and South will not revert to war again, though tensions remain high.

However, it is the presence of China and India, among others, that will largely determine how the enormous oil deposits in Sudan are exploited. China has long used its veto in the UN Security Council to prevent the passage of resolutions against the Government of Omar al-Bashir, especially regarding the raging conflict in the Darfur region and the settlement of the Abiyei question. In return, it has won lucrative contracts for oil exploration at the expense of other nations. Kenya wants a piece of this pie and is, therefore, busily going ahead with the construction of a second port at Lamu to take advantage of the landlocked nature of the new nation-state of South Sudan. Should the port be constructed, it will spur the construction of vital communication links between the South and Lamu to transport goods and services between the Kenyan Coast and Juba. Even though the distance through Somalia is shorter, no one is confident that the peoples of Somali will find peace any time soon and it would be a high risk to build a road, railway and pipeline link between Juba and the Somali port of Hargeisa. The pacification of the South will also free up a significant proportion of Kenyan security forces to concentrate on the other headaches in the North, namely the Oromo Liberation Front operating out of Southern Ethiopia and the humanitarian crisis in Somalia.

It is, therefore, the national security implications and humanitarian considerations of the South Sudan Referendum that occupy the minds of Kenyan mandarins more than the commercial prospects. Kenya enjoys cordial relations with the United Republic of Tanzania and somewhat cordial relations with the Republic of Uganda. It is its northern frontier that is in ferment because of the tensions in Southern Sudan, Southern Ethiopia, Somalia and Northern Uganda. If all these tensions could be resolved, then Kenya can re-allocate the enormous resources it employs to monitor its frontiers towards alleviating the crushing poverty that afflicts its northern regions. Southern Sudan's peaceful Referendum is the first step towards realising this goal. Let us all pray that it goes off without a hitch, the North and South come to an agreement regarding the Abiyei, the Darfur uprising is resolved and Southern Sudan takes its place in the comity of nations. Then maybe we can start whupping their asses in football, though I am sure they will wipe our asses on the floor with their basketball team - those guys are really tall and athletic!

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Ignore me at your peril

I do not care that you are a Kamba, a Luo, or a Kikuyu when you come to my door and ask me to vote for you. I do not care that your father, uncle, friend, brother, whatever, was a Minister in Kibaki's, Moi's or Kenyatta's government. I do not care whether you are married to one or multiple wives, or whether you are a serial monogamist. I do not care whether you drive around in a Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Passat or a humble Nissan 1200 pick-up. I do not care that you were jailed for umpteen years by Moi or Kenyatta, or that Kibaki authorised the ransacking of your home or office on one trumped up charge or another. I do not care that you are the chairman or leader of your party, or whether you have been indicted by a local or international court.

I care very much whether you display qualities that befit those of a President or Member of Parliament. I care very much that if you are elected Counsellor, Member of a County Assembly, Senator, Member of Parliament, Governor or President, you will serve your constituents with dedication and honour. I care very much whether in your current situation you have made life-affirming decisions that improve the lot of your constituents, employees or shareholders. I care very much that you believe in the rule of law, and that no law is too 'small' for you to obey. I care very much that when you look at your constituents, or potential constituents, you see them as part of a nation and not as an ethnic vote-bank that will bankroll your ascendancy in politics.

I do not owe you loyalty or fealty. You must earn my loyalty by your works and not simply because you and I speak the same language or come from the same backwater. You are not contesting the chairmanship of a club; you want to be my leader in one capacity or another. You want the power to allocate resources ad to determine the pace and direction of development of my fair country. If you are incapable of separating your tribe or personal connections from the loyalty and fealty you ask of me, I am afraid, I shall look elsewhere for a leader. Our relationship is not based on blood or culture, but on trust. If I vote for you, I do so knowing that you will not steal from me and my fellow Kenyans, but that you will do everything in your power to protect my interests and my rights.

So far, you have been responsible for misery and death. Why would I repose faith in you when I cannot trust you to do the right thing when called to do so? You occupy your high office by my largesse, yet you are content in trampling over my rights and imposing terrifying taxes on my income. You have done nothing to ensure that my children eat and sleep in comfort. Yet you swan around in a multi-million shilling limousine, paid for by my hard-earned taxes and sleep in a comfortable home. You are content to claim that because of the demands my fellow Kenyans place on you, you should not pay tax on your enormous earnings, yet you will not extend the same privilege to me and mine own when we support families and friends on one pretext or another. You children study in the United States, or the United Kingdom or any of a number of foreign schools, colleges and Universities, yet my child studies in a half-built, mud shack, taught by an under-paid, under-motivated teacher whose only interest is his paycheck and not the quality of education that my child receives. Your child will go on to be a captain of industry while mine will push a wheelbarrow or eke out a living as a lowly clerk. And for all this you will demand my fealty and loyalty!

"My vote, my right!" or so I was told during the 2010 Referendum. I am putting you on notice. It is not business as usual. For you to get my vote, you must satisfy my every demand. I am not asking you to give me the moon, or heaven; I am demanding that you will play by the rules, live according to a code of conduct that separates you from the weak and he mendacious. My vote is not for sale so do not offer me money or material for it. Show me that you are capable of trust and trust I shall repose in you. Show me that you place the law above petty tribal or personal interests, and I shall vote for you. Show me that you are capable of understanding my life's struggles and that you are willing to alleviate the toil, and you will sit in that high chair. If you are incapable of living according to these simple demands, you are no better than the thief who robs in the dead of night. You deserve the worst that I am able to give you. You deserve to be shunned and ignored. You deserve the death of a thousand cuts. Listen to me for I hold your future in my hands. Ignore me, and you shall forever be dead to me!

Can we change before the polls in 2012?

If this were the United States of America, presidential aspirants would be setting up campaign offices in the 50 states, putting together campaign staffs, identifying potential donors, and gearing themselves up to contest nominations from the various parties. If you believe the USA has only two parties, the Republican Party and the Democratic Party, you will not be the only one. Barack Obama started running for the US presidency as soon as it appeared that the nation was ripe for a black president. He ran what has been acknowledged globally to have been a disciplined campaign, not allowing stumbles to prevent him from seeing the big picture. When he captured the Democratic Party nomination in the winter of 2007, not even John McCain could have predicted that Barack Obama would win with such a commanding mandate.

Kenya goes to the polls in the second Tuesday of August (or is it December?) 2012. The intervening period should be used by the aspirants to establish themselves as potential presidents. However, given the fluid nature of the political parties we have now, it is anticipated that they will seriously start campaigning only in the latter half of 2012. So far, Raila Odinga, Kalonzo Musyoka, Martha Karua, Uhuru Kenyatta, Bifwoli Wakoli, Eugene Wamalwa, Moses Wetangula, William Ruto, and George Saitoti have declared their intention to stand for the Presidency in 2012. None, however, has began laying the ground work for a successful stab at the presidency. Instead, all are concentrating in cutting the legs from under their potential opponents, using their high offices as weapons to undermine their rivals in the hope that by the time the elections are held, they will be the last men (or woman) standing.

The Constitution and the Political Parties Act envisage a situation where the political parties are professionally run, professionally and transparently funded, and where they give the ordinary rank-and-file members an opportunity to weigh in on the potential candidates. If it had been the USA, a series of party primaries would be held between ow and the end of the year to nominate candidates for the various offices under the Constitution. This being Kenya, a facade, instead, will be perpetrated to hoodwink ordinary Kenyans that they have had a say in the manner in which candidates have been nominated to stand for elections. The fiasco that was the 2007 elections was marred partially by the fact that the so-called primaries held by the main parties were anything but democratic. Many of the members of the top organs of these parties have had spectacular falling outs and it is a toss-up that the parties that went to the polls in 2007 will be in existence in 2012.

Again, in the United Sates, the Democrats and Republicans are easily identifiable. The Republicans are the party of God, Guns and against Gays. The Democrats are the party of Big Government, believing that the Federal Government is a force for social change and should be used to level the playing field for all Americans regardless of class or talent. In Kenya, the political parties cannot be identified with any ideology or policy. Neither can the men and women who lead these parties. Other than the usual rhetoric of 'good governance' and, now, 'implementation of the Constitution', what rally do we know know of the political, economic or social philosophies of these men and women? It is this opacity of our political parties that ensures that when they finally reveal their campaign manifestos, they might as well be the same document. They will use different rhetoric, but the manifestos will be the same. This lack of creativity or imagination is the bane of our politics today and explains to a large extent why the political aspirants tend to revert back to the age old banners of tribe and self-flagellation that they have perfected over the course of 47 years.

We keep living the lie that we are a democratic country when everything that we do politically is anything but. Despite the exhortations of the Registrar of Political Parties, none is yet to hold internal elections or fill vacant party positions. None has compelled its officers serving in government to give up their party positions. None has opened up themselves for subscription from members of the public. All continue to operate as the personal vehicles for the leaders; they are used merely as a means to an end, namely, the capture and retention of political power at the expense of national cohesion. Or development. Not even the self-confessed devout Christians serving in government will give up their party positions if it means that they will not be in a position to challenge for the presidency. Until we admit to ourselves that true democracy will only arrive at the expense of our so-called leaders, we will continue to be held hostage to their wishes and desires. We will never move forward, and while a considerable minority will climb up the ladders of financial and personal success, a majority will continue to live in squalor and poverty.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Beware the Ides of March

Threats to the implementation of the Constitution are multiplying on a daily basis. If it is not the machinations of the National Assembly in the vexed question of Constitutional Commissions, it is the Executive, dragging its feet over the small matter of financing the activities of these Commissions, or Members of Parliament threatening to derail the process if one or another of their demands are not met (such as the North Rift-led assault on the International Crimes Act and the proposed prosecution of the Ocampo Six at The Hague). It is also the incessant apathy of the Kenyan public in matters of national importance, refusing to hold their Government to account for its deeds and misdeeds. Witness the manner in which supporters have rallied behind Charity Ngilu regarding the corruption that continues to mire the Ministry of Water and Irrigation, or the ones now rallying behind Henry Kosgey who has just resigned as Minister for Industrialization.

Many commentators are right that the Constitution is not a panacea for all that ails our body politic. The former Constitution allowed a small cabal to hold the entire nation hostage because of their greed. The new Constitution offers us an opportunity to reform key governance institutions such as the Executive, the Judiciary, the Police, our diplomatic corps, our state corporations and our political parties. These reforms require the commitment of all Kenyans to hold their elected representatives' feet to the fire to ensure that the promise of the new Constitution is realised. However, with the Referendum came the end of civic education, and many Kenyans have retreated to their ethnic cocoons, refusing to acknowledge that the implementation of the Constitution and the reform of these institutions are national projects that require our full participation.

Take for example the reform of political parties. Until we develop a sufficiently robust political culture, the political party will be the key vehicle in choosing who will lead this nation and its various governance institutions, including the presidency and the County Governorships. It will be that party that will nominate potential candidates to stand for elections for the various leadership seats at national and county levels. If the citizenry remains apathetic, political parties will continue to be the weak link in reforming governance institutions in Kenya. Our parties are the least democratic institutions of all the governance institutions we have. Their leaderships are frequently chosen on the basis of cronyism and not merit. They are frequently referred to as briefcase outfits, the properties of their leader-owners. The frequently refuse to meet even the basic requirements of a democracy: they do not hold regular internal elections; they nominate candidates on the basis of money and not party loyalty; and they manage information as if the parties were police-states, where information is to be shared with the smallest number of people as possible. As a result, it is impossible to tell exactly how many party members there are, how much they have given to the party, what the party assets and liabilities are, what its sources of income are, what its position is regarding various matters of national importance, etc. Consequently, Kenyans have very low opinions of the various party leaders and their elected representatives.

In the absence of a strong political culture, we are incapable of educating ourselves on the relative importance of various sections of our Constitution. We are incapable of holding informed debate on the various implementation challenges we face, and thereby suggest possible solutions for these challenges. We continue to be unable to discuss the thorny question of tribalism and its effect on governance and national cohesion. It is irrelevant the number of people the National Cohesion and Integration Commission investigates or indicts for offences related to national cohesion, for if we do not participate actively in national affairs, the pronouncements of the Commission will continue to be seen as attempts to undermine one community or politician by another. Instead of lauding the able work of the KACC under PLO Lumumba, politicians have taken the line that the Commission has been 'politicised' and that it is being used to undermine the ODM by the PNU. It was the same reaction when the ICC Prosecutor named his six suspects; he was accused of 'politicising' The Hague Option and that he had become a tool in the hands of the Prime Minister to be used in finishing off the PNU before the next elections.

Our continued absence from national debate and discussion is emboldening the political class to treat us as morons, making wild allegations that they know will remain unchallenged save, perhaps, by their political opponents. We are content to rally behind 'our people' whenever they are adversely mentioned in public, taking it as an affront against 'our community'. In our myopic approach to national issues, reducing everything to claims of favouritsm or bias, we risk abandoning the work of implementation and reform to the vagaries of our perverse politics. If we approach the 2012 elections in this way, the difference between then and 2007 will just be on the scale of violence. Nothing will change, except we will have 47 new hyenas to satisfy in the various counties.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Why Ocampo must proceed with his case

In January's issue of Nairobi Law Monthly, my senior, John Khaminwa, makes startling inferences based on Attorney-General Amos Wako's remark that the ICC Prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, "faces a daunting task in gathering enough evidence to prosecute those who bear the greatest responsibility for the post-election chaos." Mr. Khaminwa argues that because the A-G is an insider, he must be taken to know professionally what he is talking about. That the A-G's statement is proof that the ICC Prosecutor may not be able to gather evidence sufficient to sustain a successful prosecution at The Hague and that he may not have evidence where he thinks he does. He further argues that Kenya has a strong Bar and a strong Judiciary, and that when the Constitution and the legal system are invoked, it may be impossible for the ICC Prosecutor to proceed with his case at The Hague. He calls on Mr. Moreno-Ocampo to seek the opinion of a Kenyan advocate with sufficient experience and expertise to advise him on whether it is advisable to proceed with the prosecution, for he may find that in the light of the changed circumstances, including the appointment of a new director of Public Prosecutions, a new Chief Justice and a new A-G, it may be profitable that Kenyans dealt with the PEV cases on their own, rather than relying on what may eventually be an imperfect investigation and prosecution by the ICC Prosecutor.

It is impossible to know from the public documents released by the ICC Prosecutor what kind of evidence he is relying on for his case. It may be that he recognises that the Kenyan establishment, of which Mr. Wako is an integral part, has willfully and deliberately refused to collect evidence and witness testimonies sufficient to sustain a prosecution and may have interfered sufficiently in investigations into the crimes committed in 2007 and 2008 to warrant the A-G's conclusion that the ICC prosecution would be a failure. It may be that Mr. Moreno-Ocampo has studied the manner in which politically sensitive prosecutions are conducted in Kenya and decided that he is in a position to serve the interests of the Kenyan people better than the A-G, the DPP or the political establishment ever could.

Mr. Khaminwa invokes the spirit of our elaborate new Constitution to warn Mr. Moreno-Ocampo off the prosecution. He is confident that Kenya's Bar, Judiciary and prosecution machinery is now sufficiently robust to handle the investigation and prosecution of offences committed in the PEV. This flies in the face of the realities on the ground. Since the National Accord was signed between Raila Odinga's ODM and Mwai Kibaki's government in 2008, the government has studiously refused to admit that some of its seniormost officials were responsible for the violence that rocked the country. It has done nothing to redress these crimes; indeed, it could be argued that failure to conduct credible investigations and to try suspects within the present criminal justice system is proof positive that the political and legal will to address the PEV is sorely lacking. There was nothing that stopped the Attorney-General's office from ordering the Commissioner of Police to investigate the crimes committed in 2007 and 2008; but, given that senior police officers in both branches as well as senior government officials, as named by the ICC Prosecutor, may have been at the helm of the violence, it would be like the wolf guarding the hen-house. How were they to conduct impartial, independent investigations and prosecutions if they themselves were culpable in the crimes? The failure of the government to set up a credible independent, impartial judicial mechanism to address the PEV should be considered when addressing the question of whether Kenya should rely on the ICC for justice or not.

Mr. Khaminwa ignores the fact that the majority of Kenyans who have been polled by polling agencies support the trial of the ICC suspects at The Hague. This is not a small matter. Even senior advocates of decades experience are convinced that The Hague Option is the most viable. Part of their argument relies on the fact that regardless of the lofty ideals of the Constitution, the country has not transformed itself sufficiently for Kenyans to repose full faith in the Judiciary. Witness the manner in which the Judiciary waded into the boundaries review matter and all talk of a strong Judiciary is suddenly seen as wishful thinking. Mr. Khaminwa is right that the ICC Prosecutor must bring an iron-clad case to The Hague, or the results may be devastating for the nation. Even Mr. Khaminwa must admit that evidence is not based solely on eye-witness testimony, but also on documentary and other circumstantial evidence. If Mr. Moreno-Ocampo relied only on eye-witnesses, he may not even have gotten past the Pre-Trial Chamber when he first requested permission to investigate the Kenyan Situation. The ICC's Justice Hans Paul Kaul hinted as much when he voted against giving the ICC Prosecutor permission to proceed with his investigation.

Finally, it would be foolhardy to presume that the ICC Prosecutor has not taken into consideration the statements and actions of the Government of Kenya, the two Principals, the Six Suspects, the Attorney-General and other persons. Any prosecutor worth his salt must consider these things if he is to successfully prosecute his case. Mr. Wako makes a poor template on which to assess the chances of success or failure of the ICC prosecution. His record as A-G has been anything but stellar. It is no longer moot that Mr. Wako's long tenure as A-G has been a study in gate-keeping on behalf of the powers-that-be and it could be that his statements regarding the strength of the ICC Prosecutor's case may be based on his experience as the master of obfuscation and cant. If it had been left to the State Law Office and the Kenyan Judiciary, this matter may have laid in cold storage for all eternity. It is to our benefit that the ICC Prosecutor proceeds with this matter regardless of the sage advise of Mr. Khaminwa.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Let Kosgey's prosecution be the first shot against the corruption citadel of Kenya

We are at war, make no mistake. 2011 is a watershed year in the War Against Corruption. The opening salvo by the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission (soon to be converted into an independent ethics and anti-corruption commission) was against Henry Kiprono Kosgey for his role in the illegal importation of vehicles that had out-lived their eight-year limit. We will not mention his role in the appointment of the Director of the Kenya Bureau of Standards in the face of opposition from the national Standards Council, his very own Permanent Secretary, and against the interests of the people of Kenya. William Ruto is being tried for corrupt offences he committed in his past, where he was involved in a deal where public land was sold without following due process and the people of Kenya not getting a fair price for the land. George Saitoti, in the dying days of 2010, deemed it necessary to inform the National Assembly of the men he was investigating in connection with the trafficking of illegal drugs. As a result, John Harun Mwau has resigned his position as Assistant Minister for Transport. The KACC set the tone in 2010 when it participated in a ceremony where illegally and irregularly acquired land in Nairobi was handed back to the City Council of Nairobi.

Until the promulgation of the Constitution, impunity in Kenya had become a fact of life. We were resigned to exposes of financial crimes and other abuses of office by our leaders knowing full well that nothing would be done. Indeed, the Goldenberg Affair set the tone for the manner how prominent Kenyans, who had been accused of fleecing the nation of billions in shillings, would walk away Scot-free to enjoy their ill-gotten gains. Ironically, John Harun Mwau was our first anti-corruption czar. he was turfed out by the Moi regime for deeming it within his mandate to investigate a sugar scam way back in the late 1990s. In the decade since his ouster, we have had the lucklustre performance of Aaron Ringera at the helm of the KACC. Under his watch, the Anglo-Leasing and Triton scandals erupted without an investigation file being opened. When monies from the Anglo-Leasing scandal were 'returned', were left ignorant of where the monies came from and who was responsible for the magnanimity.

Under PLO Lumumba, once of the ill-fated Constitution of Kenya Review Commission, Kenyans are beginning to hope that their leaders will no longer walk all over them with impunity. Jakoyo Midiwo, the Gem ODM Mp, is on record that the anti-corruption sword must cut both ways and that it should not target ODM leaders alone. He forgets that the likes of Henry Kosgey dd not cut their teeth in the Orange Democratic Movement, but made their bones under the perfidious regime that was President Moi's. Mr. Kosgey was involved in at least two Moi Era scams: the KES 200 million swindle that took place during our hosting of the All Africa Games in 1987 and the bankruptcy of the Kenya National Assurance Corporation. He is no innocent babe-in-the-woods, but a dyed-in-the-wool student of the Moi Way of Doing Things.

The yet-to-be-constituted National Land Commission will have its work cut out for it, for a majority of the corruption that flourished between 1963 and 2003 revolved around the touchy matter of land. After Independence, President Kenyatta amassed a fortune to surpass all fortunes in land. At one time, it was estimated he owned whole districts. This is the wealth that young Uhuru Kenyatta was born into. Jaramogi Oginga Odinga used the Luo Thrift Association to amass a similarly impressive portfolio, that was inherited, in part, by his sons, Oburu and Raila Odinga. William Ruto and Cyrus Jirongo cut their teeth in the infamous YK '92, amassing fortunes during the period when Kenya was fighting for political and civil rights in the face of a staunch opposition from the operators in Moi's KANU machinery. Mr. Jirongo is a prominent landowner in the Rift Valley, especially in areas surrounding the restive Mt. Elgon where land settlement schemes have foundered in the face of political interference.

The greatest opposition to the Referendum of 2010 came from those who had amassed great property and wealth from the land swindles that were documented in the Ndung'u Report. To reverse these swindles, the NLC ad the KACC must not waver. In pursuing the crooks who stole with impunity, these two commissions must ensure that the land reverts to its true owners, that Kenyans are told the truth about the men and women they call Waheshimiwa. The baby steps that we have taken so far should gradually develop to firm strides in the direction of full disclosure and full accountability. If in the process sacred cows are sacrificed in the altar of anti-corruption, so be it. These are not leaders that this country deserves in its period of transition. Therefore, we must stand fast and offer our whole-hearted support to PLO Lumumba and anybody else who takes them on. For in standing together against impunity we may yet re-discover the spirit of nationhood that so infused this nation in 1963.

As by law established

The members of my profession, the ones with a pompous sense of importance, tend to use phrases whose value has diminished greatly since the ...