Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Leave Ngilu be

Ukambani has some of the strangest political figures in Kenya. John Harun Mwau has been accused of amassing his great and mysterious wealth from the trafficking of narcotics. Of course, no proof has been adduced to support this accusation. Prof Philip Kaloki, one of the Vice-President's most ardent acolytes, has failed to offer any proof that his 'professorship' is genuine. Kiema and Charles Kilonzo frequently butt heads with the leader of their party, sometimes playing footsie with the leading lights of other parties but coming to his defense when someone from his political backyard challenges his leadership. So too, it seems, is Mutula Kilonzo's on and off relationship with the V-P. It remains to be seen whether his recent statements are a ploy to clear the way for the V-P to gain where Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto lose. The remaining men in Ukambani politics are as silent as the graveyard, with the occasional mummers of V-P support from David Musila. Then we have Charity Ngilu, Mama Rainbow. Ever since she scared President Moi with her presidential bid in 1992, she has been a force to reckon with in Ukambani politics.

Mrs Ngilu was not the first woman in Ukambani politics. That dubious honour goes to the Moi Girls of Agnes Ndetei and Nyiva Mwendwa, and with the ascendancy of Wavinya Ndeti, she is unlikely to be the last. But she is the first to have independent national fame, first as the head of the Social Democratic Party and next as the member of the ODM Pentagon, despite the fact that she remains the party boss of the National Rainbow Coalition (NARC). Despite the tremendous odds women leaders face in Ukambani, Mrs Ngilu has not only managed to hold on to her constituency general election after general election, she has carved out an independent and fearless identity that threatens the received wisdom of masculine wisdom and leadership. She is a tribute to the indefatigable female spirit in the harsh environment of Ukambani, both political, economical, developmental and ecological.

Mrs Ngilu's recent very public falling out with the Vice-President has revealed that the deep gender schisms that prevail in Ukambani are yet to be resolved. Women leaders are still treated with suspicion and if it was not for Mrs Ngilu's national profile, she would have long been relegated to the political sidelines. Unlike in other parts of the country, especially since the death of Ukambani kingpin Mulu Mutisya and the retirement of General Johnson Mulinge, there is no political dynastic tradition. Those attempting to make Kalonzo Musyoka the undisputed head of Ukambani politicians refuse to accept that Mrs Ngilu, with her principled stand against the Moi hegemony and her record of national service, has created a political narrative that is more attractive than the V-P's. While Mr Musyoka was busy as one of the leading lights of KANU and one of President Moi's blue-eyed boys, together with the likes of JJ Kamotho, Sharif Nassir, and Ezekiel Barng'etuny, Mrs Ngilu was a lioness of the Second Liberation, taking the fight to the likes of Kalonzo Musyoka and the other acolytes of the KANU regime. And she paid a heavy personal price for her stand, suffering at the hands of the government.

The men, especially the men of the Wiper Democratic Movement, determined to cut Mrs Ngilu down to size must be reminded that they do not speak exclusively for the peoples of Ukambani. The good people of Kitui Central have reposed their faith in her since 1992 and there is nothing that suggests that they are about to look for different representation in the immediate future. There is, therefore, at least one constituency in Ukambani that is yet to fall under the spell of Kalonzo-for-President that is being perpetrated by the V-P and his acolytes. She has every right to take steps to protect her national and local political constituency. She has deduced from the actions of the V-P and his acolytes that they are not happy with her unwavering support for the Prime Minister, and lately, the Deputy Prime Minister, Musalia Mudavadi. She is not persuaded that Kalonzo Musyoka has what it takes to be Kenya's next President. She has every right to support the politician of her choice. It is not automatic that she will support the V-P simply because he and her come from the same region. If the Wiper Democratic Movement wants Mrs Ngilu onside, it must stop trying to kneecap the political fortunes of the Member for Kitui Central and instead, try to persuade her that theirs is the political ship of the future, and not ODM. If they cannot do so, they will lose. And so will the Vice-President.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Whether UK and The Hustler should stand for the presidency is not the issue

Is Mutula Kilonzo's stand on the pre-election disqualification of Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto principled or premised on some long-term strategy to get Kalonzo Musyoka to the head of the line? Mr Kilonzo is undoubtedly a deft hand when it comes to the practice of law but he is still very much the novice when it comes to the practice of politics in Kenya. His long stint as one of President Moi's sharpest legal advisors blinded him to the shortcomings of the edifice that President Moi built. He stood by Moi's side, offering him advice on a myriad of matters, and watched silently as the country was riven with political and ethnic divisions. When he was first nominated to Parliament by KANU, it was only because Moi said that he could. It had nothing to do with his non-existent political skills, but by his ardent demonstration of loyalty to the system that had for decades been used to steal from the Kenyan people. It is not lost on many that Mr Kilonzo and Mr Musyoka were loyal subjects of Moi's system. So, is his stand on the eligibility of Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto to stand for the presidency principled or a strategy to keep the way clear for Mr Musyoka to prevail over Raila Odinga at the next general elections?

The High Court lifted the gag order it had placed during the hearing of case challenging Mr Kenyatta's and Mr Ruto's eligibility to stand for the presidency while their ICC trial hangs fire. So, despite Mr Kilonzo's statements regarding the eligibility of the two, it falls on the High Court to rule whether they may stand for the presidency. He is not the final word on whether the two are eligible. His is only an opinion and it can only be challenged in the realm of a robust public debate. This is the missing ingredient in the making of the Second Republic. Kenyans are still held hostage to the old way of doing things, where loyalty to the ethnic community trumps public debate on the eligibility of persons to stand for political office in Kenya. It is for this reason that the apparatchiks of the Gang of Seven were apoplectic when Mr Kilonzo suggested that Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto were disqualified from the presidential contest. Rather than acknowledge that Mr Kilonzo makes a legitimate statement of fact, they are busy looking for an ulterior, ethno-motive to challenge his opinion. It is also not lost on many that a majority of the men fulminating against Mr Kilonzo come from Mr Kenyatta's back-yard, if not from his ethnic community. Their threats against Mr Kilonzo and Mr Musyoka betray their ethno-chauvinism, that they are incapable of countenancing the possibility of a person from another community succeeding Mr Kibaki at State House.

There are those who fear that the disqualification of Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto from the presidential contests sets the stage for the whittling away of democratic gains made since 1992. They argue that it is undemocratic to prevent the people from exercising their sovereign right to elect the candidates of their choice. They argue that the disqualifications in the Constitution are sufficient to weed out the men and women who should not be elected to public office. They point out that where popular candidates have been excluded from elections, nations have fallen to civil strife and war. Egypt and its Muslim Brotherhood and The Ivory Coast with Alassane Ouattara are mentioned. However, they refuse to accept that Kenya is learning from the mistakes of its peculiar history. Since Independence Kenya has suffered at the hands of popular politicians, whether they were guilty of heinous crimes or not. It is not outside the realm of sanity to ask whether the Second Republic could survive the election of a president accused of heinous crimes, even if that candidate has not been convicted of the crimes in question. In such circumstances it is perhaps fit and proper that despite the demands of a majority of voters that candidates facing charges of crimes against humanity are excluded from the election. Kenyans cannot be trusted to make the right choice. They have not done so in the past and there is not proof to show that they will do so in the future.

The Second Republic cannot be founded on crimes against humanity. It cannot be helmed by men and women who have been accused of committing crimes against humanity. It cannot be kneecapped by calls to protect the candidacies of men accused of crimes against humanity. If for nothing else it is fit and proper that the debate over the candidacies of William Ruto and Uhuru Kenyatta is being carried on in public. They stand accused of serious crimes. They are undoubtedly popular. But Kenyans must be allowed to debate the veracity of their candidacies. They should not simply be given a free pass simply because it is the democratic thing to do. Those days of simply going along to get along are long gone. It is time the naysayers accepted this and moved on.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Before it is too late

The recent developments with the Gang of Seven and the ODM, especially as reported by Kenya's independent and fearless media, creates the impression that the next general elections will be between the Prime Minister, Raila Odinga, and whoever the Gang of Seven chooses as their standard-bearer. It is completely lost on the chattering classes and the punditocracy that Martha Karua, Raphael Tuju or Peter Kenneth have offered themselves for the presidency. Nor do they seem to have taken seriously Mutava Musyimi's candidacy. To be fair to the 'gentlemen of the press', the no-hoppers in the presidential race have not done much to galvanise the public to rally to their causes. Despite Martha Karua's indefatigable cross-country travels, she does not seem to have excited the public imagination with regards to her presidential agenda or her campaign. The public does not seem to have forgotten, nor have they forgiven, her hard-eyed defense of Kibaki's 're-election' in 2007.

Despite the opportunities offered by the Constitution none of the candidates are yet to articulate clearly what their platforms entail. It remains unclear what their stances are on the economy, education, nuclear energy, water or food security, insecurity, health-care, public service, or the war in Somalia. They have all been pretty tight-lipped about the status of compliance of their political parties or what role they envisage for the members of their parties, other than the nomination of the next candidate for the presidency. Their complete lack of political ideology save for the acquisition and retention of political power betrays the fact that their goals have little to do with the wishes of the people. Or their consent.

It is the question of consent that should guide their political maneuverings. Leaders who have the consent of the people may lead a great nation. It remains unclear whether Raila Odinga, Martha Karua, William Ruto, Uhuru Kenyatta, Raphael Tuju, Musalia Mudavadi, Mutava Musyimi, or Peter Kenneth enjoy the consent of the masses in their political wanderings across the nation. The images beamed to our TV screens every night merely show rows of adoring and adulating 'delegates' whose role is not to question the will of the leader but to endorse whatever decision he makes, regardless of merit or practicality. The method of choosing the delegates, whether at constituency or county level, is shrouded n mystery and conspiracy. Without the consent of the people and in the absence of a truly independent and free press, the leaders lack the legitimacy to impose their ideas on the peoples of Kenya. The next general elections will only be unique for being held under a new Constitution. Otherwise, the rules under which elections have been held since 2002 remain the same where the people are merely the vehicles for the 'leaders' to ascend to political power.

The men and women promising a complete break to the past are too wedded to their past to offer a truly revolutionary path forward for the nation. By their actions and their statements they betray the fact that they consider Kenyans as nothing more as the repositories of their ideas and ambitions. The people are not to be trusted with decision-making, not even in the choices they will make in the voting booth. They are merely to be persuaded to see things from the leaders' perspectives and nothing more. Their role in arriving at a political settlement that benefits the nation is to be kept at a minimum. This is the tragedy of the Second Liberation. The lions of the Second Liberation have morphed into the Establishment that they swore to destroy. They have become comfortable in the trappings of power and they are loath to relinquish them. They are not the promise that is Kenya. It is time we learnt this lesson before it is too late.

Why not the 50/50 Gender Rule?

The capacity of the media to state the obvious is staggering. The capacity of women leaders to repeat the obvious beggars belief. If it is now dawning on the media and women leaders that political parties routinely sideline women in their leadership, the future of the country is in ever greater jeopardy than we ever appreciated. Looking at the line-up of political parties in Kenya, one would be mistaken for thinking, and believing, that Kenyan women are yet to graduate from primary school, let alone secondary school or university, or that they have scaled the heights of the private sector. The men who have traditionally called the shots in KANU seem to be calling the shots in Kenya's political parties. Even Martha Karua's NARC-K or Charity Ngilu's NARC, regardless of the leadership of the two lionesses of Kenya's Second Liberation, are dominated by men and seem to pursue agendas that have been championed by men for decades.

The Constitution delivered a shock to this system of patriarchy when it mandated the equality of the sexes, ordering that no more than two-thirds of any gender could occupy elected or appointed positions in the public or private sector. Now, while political parties serve a public purpose, they are arguably private organisations. They are not established by law but they are regulated by statute. Officials of political parties are not public officials, but they are responsible for the nomination and election of public officials. They must, therefore, abide by the Two-thirds Gender Rule and ensure that no more than two-thirds of any one gender occupy offices in the parties. This is a rule that has apparently been flouted by all political parties and continues to be flouted 18 months after the Constitution was promulgated.

Despite the hype that accompanied the promulgation of the Constitution, its implementation is not going to be easy or without challenges. The Two-thirds Gender Rule is one example of the paradigmatic changes that will need to be made to ensure that many of the gains of the Second Liberation are protected. The changes upend many received orthodoxies, the least not being the primacy of the masculine gender in the destiny of the nation. The place of women leaders in defining the next phase of the development of the nation has been affirmed by law, but it will take a complete change in how we view the place of the woman in national development to ensure that everyone plays their proper role going forward. Many pundits have speculated that the recent wave of gender-based violence against men is a sign that the family structure is being destroyed by the spectre of women taking their rightful place in leadership.

The next general elections must elevate as many women as possible to the National Assembly, the Senate and the 47 county assemblies. The formation of the next government must also follow this path: more women must be appointed to the Cabinet and as Principal Secretaries. It is not just about ensuring that women form at least one-third of the leadership of the nation or that women's issues receive attention from the government, but it is also to ensure that women are recognised as part of the fabric of the nation no longer in need of coddling or patronage. It is unconscionable that half the population is not reflected in leadership or decision-making. It is time that even the mightiest of the mighty accept that the time for the old rules is over and that women have valuable contributions to make in the governance of the nation. It is time that they became part and parcel of the national narrative.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Who cries for Kalonzo Musyoka?

It is impossible to sympathise with Stephen Kalonzo Musyoka, the Vice-President, in his current plight with the other prominent members of the Gang of Seven. They have been looking for a reason to jettison the V-P for some time now. Ever since Uhuru Kenyatta made that crack about some politicians behaving like hyenas hankering over the hanging hand of the unsuspecting, Mr Musyoka was always on thin ice. When the Minister for Justice declared that the Constitution and the law of Kenya were clear that Mr Kenyatta and William Ruto could not and should not offer themselves for the presidency until their ICC trial was over, they found the perfect reason for putting pressure on Mr Musyoka to leave their gang. 

Mr Musyoka is scrambling to salvage the situation, going so far as to write to the President asking him to sack Mutula Kilonzo, though it is difficult to see which grounds he will advance to make his case. He has also promised that Johnston Muthama would be dealt with through the 'internal mechanisms' of the Wiper party. Mr Muthama's sin, it appears, was to tell the people of Ukambani what they had known all along: that with the departure of the two, Mr Musyoka stood to gain and perhaps take the presidency at the next general elections.

The Gang of Seven was always founded on the wrong principles. It's reason for life was primarily to keep Raila Odinga from the top job. Other than the fact that the major partners in the Gang were all former KANU die-hards, there is no ideology that weds these men together. They have done nothing to demonstrate that their sympathies lie with the people of Kenya or for the challenges that the nation faces as it seeks to implement the Constitution that at least one of them rejected during the referendum campaigns of 2010. Mr Musyoka, the senior-most member of the Gang of Seven has consistently played second fiddle to Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto presumably because of his perceived weaknesses. 

For instance, it is widely presumed that while Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto command large followings in their respective political backyards, Central Kenya for Mr Kenyatta and the Rift Valley for Mr Ruto, Mr Musyoka barely commands the loyalty of half the peoples of Ukambani. Even in his Kitui home, he has to contend with the indefatigable Charity Ngilu, one of his most ardent opponents. In Kangundo and Mbooni areas of Machakos, Mr Musyoka relies on the popularity (and money) of Mr Muthama and Mr Kilonzo. In Makueni County, Prof Philip Kaloki, one of his allies, faces challenges from the down-but-not-out and recently resurgent Kalembe Ndile. Nor can he count on the support of Kilome's John Harun Mwau, a man who has stood alone ever since his first foray into elective politics in 1992. It also does not help when it is perceived that Mr Musyoka does not have and cannot raise the finances to support a lone-wolf presidential campaign without the assistance of Mr Muthama and his cronies in the gemstone industry.

Mr Musyoka has consistently been on the wrong side of history since 2005 when he engineered the break-up of the original Orange Movement. His decision to stand by Mr Kibaki in the aftermath of the 2007 general elections demonstrated as nothing else had done so far that he was willing to grab whatever opportunities came his way. The irony is not lost; Mr Musyoka's greatest asset in the Gang of Seven was his willingness to do whatever he could to deny Raila Odinga the presidency is his greatest liability in preserving his position in the Gang of Seven. His decision to jettison his erstwhile allies in the Wiper party demonstrate that he still does not get it. Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto, so long as they remain in the cross-hairs of the ICC prosecutor, are political liabilities, especially if the IDP remain in camps living in the abject conditions that the government has left them to. Mr Ruto's political nomadism is proof that just like Mr Musyoka, he will do what it takes to ascend to the presidency. He has persistently moved from one party to the next looking for a vehicle that will take him to State House and with the URP he has found himself the perfect vehicle.

Now Mr Musyoka finds himself in a quandary. The list of people he has betrayed in his ascension to the V-P's office is long and growing longer. I doubt whether the memories of the betrayed are as pigeon-like as the V-P thinks. Therefore, Mr Musyoka finds himself not only fighting to persuade Mr Ruto and Mr Kenyatta to allow him to participate in their 'primaries', but he finds an unlikely coalition arrayed against him. Even if the majority of the people he has betrayed are portrayed as minnows, they will become a formidable force when they join hands and perhaps join with Mr Odinga in denying Mr Musyoka the presidency. This is a race of incumbents, even with the inclusion of Raphael Tuju. All the major players are or were serving members of the Executive so the general election is a referendum on their performance not just in government but in their parties. Mr Musyoka faces a great challenge in rehabilitating his political fortunes. It is difficult to sympathise with him.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Political evangelism

Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
- Matthew vii: 21

Since the Pre-trial Chamber II of the International Criminal Court comprising Judges Ekaterina Trendafilova, Cuno Tarfusser and Hans-Peter Kaul confirmed charges against William Ruto and Uhuru Kenyatta, among others, the pair has been on a whistle-stop tour of the nation, men of the cloth in tow praying loudly for their salvation from the clutches of the ICC Prosecutor. The images of William Ruto and Uhuru Kenyatta on their knees with preachermen laying hands on them in prayer have been on the front pages of our newspapers for the past few weeks. Absent from the pages of these same newspapers, even inside the papers, are images of the men, women and children living in abject conditions in makeshift camps, all but forgotten by the people of Kenya.

Traditionally, as the Archbishop of Canterbury found out in the past few months, the church has always been a refuge for the weak and the downtrodden. In Kenya, this tradition is all but forgotten; the church is the refuge of the high and mighty, a place for 'networking' and entrenching the overlordship of the ruling classes. It explains why the Kenyans living in Internally Displaced Persons' (IDP) camps have faded from our memories, while the men accused of causing their plight receive the red-carpet treatment from bishops and reverends wherever they set foot. 

It is why the vocal church leaders of Kenya find it easier to hobnob with the members of the reviled political class and persistently shun the 'others'. I am yet to see images of John Cardinal Njue or Archbishop Eliud Wabukala, or the leaders of our megachurches visiting with the IDPs or offering them the comfort of their coffers. The IDPs are left to organise what spiritual and material solace they can find, with what resources they can scratch together. In the midst of their suffering, forgotten by the majority of Kenyans, they have taken extraordinary steps to organise worship amongst themselves, while the leaders of the visible church in Kenya lay hands on the high and mighty.

Perhaps we have misjudged the major churches in Kenya. Perhaps what they do to offer comfort and solace to the IDPs is done away from the glare of the media cameras and they have made extraordinary sacrifices for the sake of the IDPs and we are being uncharitable when we suggest that they are blind to their plight. Perhaps it is the proliferating evangelical churches, seeing an opportunity to get closer to the powerful of the land, that are taking advantage of the legal plight of the ICC accused. But it still fails to account for why they see the ICC duo as more important, in need of divine intervention, than the Kenyans living in the IDP camps.

The men of the cloth that have taken it upon themselves to inject a dose of religion into the political process by coat-tailing after the ICC duo have decided that the fate of the particular sects rests in the hands of the pair more than it does in the hands of the Almighty. They represent a change in evangelism that was initiated when KANU finally lost its iron grip on the nation and was cemented with the bloody 2007 campaign and its equally blood-soaked aftermath. Their role is no longer to offer moral and spiritual leadership to the parched masses, but to participate robustly in determining the political future of the country. They have wandered so far from the straight and narrow that they will need binoculars to find their way back. Many of their comrades have decided to join active politics, using the rhetoric of politics to beguile their congregations to elect them to political positions. It is the weak and downtrodden that are paying the price for this change in mission statement. It is a sad time for the Christian faithful and one day soon they will realise just how much they have lost.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Time to face reality

It is a rare thing to see political parties marching in lock-step over anything of significance. Therefore, it is exciting to see PNU, the PNU Alliance, Wiper Democratic Movement and sundry elements of the G7 and G47 joining hands to bring down the Minister of Justice, National Cohesion and Constitutional Affairs a peg or two. The good minister's sin, it seems, has been that he has taken a hard look at the provisions of the Constitution, applied a legal mind that has been honed over two decades, and proclaimed that the leading lights of the anti-Raila brigade cannot, and should not, put themselves forward for the presidency while they still face the prospect of an international trial for crimes against humanity. Mutula Kilonzo, the minister in question, happens to be the Secretary-General of the Wiper Democratic Movement, whose leader happens to be the Vice-President and a member of the triumvirate determined to stop Mr Odinga from becoming Kenya's fourth president. 

The Vice-President's colleagues, Uhuru Kenyatta, the leader of KANU and William Ruto, the ODM deputy leader and, apparently, leader of the United Republican Party (which factions of the republic the party wishes to unite remain a mystery for the rest of the nation), are the reason why his party apparatchiks are determined to teach Mutula Kilonzo a lesson. These disparate forces are determined to bring a censure motion against the justice minister for his public statements that not only contradict what the Attorney-General has publicly stated but also what the Wiper Democratic Movement's leadership (bar Mr Kilonzo, of course) have stated, that is, that Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto are free to put themselves forward for the presidency of Kenya, regardless of the indictments at the ICC hanging over their heads (and their political fortunes).

The irony is not lost that while Wiper Democratic Movement styles itself as a 'democratic' party, and that it espouses 'democratic values', it has decided to muzzle its Secretary-General for making uncomfortable remarks, going against the spirit of a free exchange of ideas. Lee Kinyanjui, one of the more vocal members of the censure Mutula movement is quoted as saying that the motion will be before the National Assembly even before they engage in the rigmarole of prayers; they are that determined to show Mutula Kilonzo the door. One must pause and ask, "Doth the lady protest too much?"

Until the promulgation of the Constitution, Mutula Kilonzo had rarely demonstrated a capacity for reading the public mood and acting in that interest. He was frequently castigated for placing fidelity to the law above placating the public, whose clamour for reforms only grew louder the more he went about his duties. Once the Constitution was promulgated, however, what was Mr Kilonzo's Achille's Heel became his standard, and for once, his strict constructionism of the law is in line with the public mood. As Martha Karua's successor to the justice ministry, Mr Kilonzo tried in vain to advise the Don't Be Vague, Go to the Hague Brigade that it was a bad idea. Together with the President and Prime Minister, Mr Kilonzo attempted to get his colleagues in the august House to amend the former Constitution and enact legislation to establish a local tribunal to try those who would be found to bear responsibility for the violence that brought so much pain and misery to hundreds of thousands of Kenyans after the 2007 general elections. At the time, of course, it was unknown who would be indicted and many, perhaps with disguised Schadenfreude, hoped that it would be Mr Odinga and members of the ODM. They saw his and President Kibaki's attempt at setting up a local tribunal as a blatant attempt to set the stage for manipulating the courts in Mr Odinga's favour.

They must be kicking themselves for this gross miscalculation. Mr Odinga may have called for mass action when it became clear that he was being robbed of victory but no one has been able to link him directly to the violence that ensued. No one has been able to show that Mr Odinga paid or organised marauding gangs to attack his political opponents. To date, other than the call for mass action, Mr Odinga remains blameless for the violence. The Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC, however, is convinced that Mr Kenyatta, Mr Ruto, Joshua arap Sang and Francis Muthaura bear responsibility for the violence and is determined to prosecute them before the ICC. The narrative has now changed. Those that were loudest in calling for an ICC trial are now determined to paint it as a scheme by the Prime Minister, the US President and the Prosecutor of the ICC to cut short the promising political careers of Mr Ruto and Mr Kenyatta, and their public statements at every ostensible prayer rally they have attended highlights this fact. Thus, every time the justice minister opens his mouth and states that they are barred, by the Constitution and the law of Kenya, from standing for the presidency, they see the Prime Minister's hidden hand in the justice minister's statements. The man that warned them of the folly of an ICC trial has now become their bitterest enemy and new reasons continue to be fashioned for why the minister speaks as he does. Indeed, one of the new reasons to come to light is that Mr Kenyatta refused to bend the law in Mr Kilonzo's favour when the Kenya Revenue Authority demanded back-taxes that run into hundreds of millions of shillings.

The censure Mutula brigade is playing fast and loose with the memories of long-suffering Kenyans. When he brought the Constitution Amendment Bill to Parliament in 2009, Mr Kilonzo offered the naysayers free legal advice; the ICC was a court that could not and would not be manipulated by the suspects. They refused to heed his warnings. When the Proposed Constitution was still in the process of being harmonised, he warned them against the inclusion of certain clauses including the International Law Clause that makes international law part of the law of Kenya. Again, they refused to heed his warning. When various Bills were introduced in the National Assembly to implement the Constitution, they refused to ask the justice minister for his legal opinion, determined as they were to fashion political clauses that would benefit them down the road. For them to cry foul at this stage and turn a stridently deaf ear to the minister's opinions on whether the two may or may not stand for the presidency is the height of hypocrisy. The censure motion is an attempt to turn back the clock and pull the wool over Kenyans' eyes. It is time that someone called them on it and forced them to face reality.

Poverty and Illiteracy are the real sins

The Culture Wars are the bread-and-butter of conservative politics in the United States. Railing against abortion, the assault on religion and the right of the people to bear all types of arms, conservatives in the US have made the Culture Wars the Rubicon of Republican politics and it is a brave Republican that goes against the grain to argue that the Culture Wars are a waste of time. Charles Kanjama, writing in The Standard on Sunday rails against the "war on morals" by the "inundation of the contraception campaign" (We should not lose the war against social immorality, 12 February 2012). He is correct to argue that there is an ongoing war in Kenyan society where hedonism and immorality are on the rise while traditional family values are being eroded at an alarming rate, but his prescription for the malaise is wrong-headed, and just plain wrong.

Social conservatives in Kenya warned against the moral risks of ratifying the proposed constitution in 2010. Their arguments failed to persuade a majority of voters and the proposed constitution was duly ratified in August 2010 and subsequent;y promulgated in a colourful ceremony televised internationally. 18 months later, no studies have been advanced to show that abortions have risen or that homosexuality has ensnared even more Kenyans than before. The proposal by the Mayor of Nairobi to legalise prostitution is now being used as a red herring to attempt to persuade Kenyans that the fears engendered by the Constitution are indeed real and coming to life as we sit idly by.

To take one strand in Mr Kanjama's proposition, that contraception is the bane of Kenya's social fabric, one must agree that contraception has led to greater levels of immorality and contributed to the breakdown of the family. One must turn a blind eye to the debilitating poverty and illiteracy of the people and the proliferation of media that promotes hedonism at the expense of moral and spiritual growth. Mr Kanjama, whom I must assume is a member of the Roman Catholic Church in Kenya, refuses to admit that the ability of families to plan when and how many children to have has liberated them to pursue interests and activities that will reduce poverty and increase their literacy levels. Before the advent of the condom and the pill, it was impossible for mothers to decide adequately when to have children, or even how many. That was the preserve of the husband and to that end many women were consigned t home-making roles only, denying them their rightful places in the workplace and as contributors to the national well-being. No one will deny that the millions of Kenyan women in the work place contribute to national development and that their voices are vital in shaping the destiny of this nation, whether for ill or for good. More girls are attending university than ever before and their education is vital to strengthening this country, more than all the prayers made at the alter of the No Condom Campaign.

The presence of homosexuals, prostitutes, rapists, child molesters, murderers, thieves, liars and cheats is not just down to the pro-contraception campaign or the pro-choice campaign advanced by non-governmental organisations with ties to foreign backers. Poverty and illiteracy have ensured that these moral problems continue to have a stranglehold on the lives of millions of Kenyans. Very few Kenyans wish to be associated with these sins, for that is what millions of Kenyan Christians see them as, and very few would wish to legalise homosexual relations or prostitution. But simply denying that their causes are not just psychological or spiritual but also environmental fails to admit that poverty and illiteracy are far greater moral sins than the aforementioned. The solutions proposed by the conservative culture warriors of Kenya fail to take into account their role in perpetuating the fraud that belief in God, and a rigid adherence to His Word, is all that is required to reverse the moral decline in this nation. What is needed is a robust programme, a campaign if you will, to lift the millions of Kenyans languishing in poverty and illiteracy out of their squalor and setting them on the path to a proud and successful nation.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Why not?

Why anyone would legalise prostitution in Kenya defeats logic. The largest population of hypocrites in the world is not going to agree to a proposal to legalise an activity that tens of thousands of men engage in at least once in their lifetimes. Nor are their wives going to sit idly by and admit that for one reason or another they permit their husbands to seek comfort in the paid arms of another. George Aladwa, the Mayor of Nairobi, set the cat among the pigeons when he suggested that there are benefits to bringing the world's oldest profession into the light of day. The reaction from the legions of hypocrites was swift as it was overwhelmingly negative. The Mayor swiftly walked back his proposal and indicated that a robust programme of rounding up the women (and their clients) who carry on this profession and charging them in court would be initiated. Prosecutions, he assured us, would target both the prostitute and her clients.

However, we need to seriously consider whether the Mayor had legitimate reasons for making the proposal. The overwhelming opinion is that he did not. After all, no woman would want to admit on her tax returns that she makes her living on her back nor would her parents wish to admit to their friends that their daughters are prostitutes, walking the streets of Nairobi. I suspect that they would also be shunned in their respective houses of worship if they were to openly advertise that their profession included taking money for sexual services. I can almost see the men of the cloth railing against the moral decay that is the City of Nairobi.

Should be the State's job to police the morals of the people of Kenya? That is an argument that has been made since the British brought us the rule of law and Victorian values. WE police all manner of activities and behaviors. It is no longer acceptable for men to take the life of another; we leave that to the due process of law, where accused persons are charged in a court of law, prosecuted and if convicted, prosecuted. It is the same case with such moral questions as thievery or lying while under oath. So, it is right and proper that our society decides whether prostitution should be permitted or not.

We cannot run away from the fact that there are tens of thousands of women and young girls who earn their living from the world's oldest profession. They work under some of the worst conditions in the world, not knowing whether their clients will turn into monsters and commit some of the most unspeakable acts known to man. Women of the night have been maimed and murdered in the course of their work and society turns a blind eye to their plight because of its perceived moral superiority. It can be argued that it is hypocritical to criminalise this activity when we know for certain that men and women, even those who's moral probity is beyond reproach, employ the services of courtesans on a regular basis. A few years ago, prominent legislators were caught prowling the streets looking for the services of women of the night. Stories abound of the legions of college and university students who pay for their studies through profession. We know profession exists, we know (roughly) who engages in it, we know (roughly) who the customers are, and we know that it is not going away. So why not legalise or, for that matter, de-criminalise the profession?

Of battered husbands and changes in the family structure

We snigger and make salacious comments every time we read about the men that have been attacked by their spouses or live-in girlfriends. We pity the men for being victims of domestic violence and shun them, even if it means that they continue to suffer in silence. We refuse to admit that the traditional family structure, where the man is the breadwinner and the wife is the home-maker, no longer holds true for all families. Traditionally, the man worked and provided or his family, and exercised dominion over his home, making key decisions for the family without reference to anyone else, not even his wife. He could 'chastise' his wife for challenging his authority without being accused of being a monster. Indeed, some men used the more conservative sections of the Epistles of St Paul to justify such 'chastisement'. But in the modern world, where men and women frequently work outside the family home, and women are now in charge of a large part of their lives, the traditional ideas that underpinned marriage must be re-examined.

The most vocal victims of domestic violence seem to emanate from Central Kenya and the image of the Nyeri wife wielding a rolling pin or a knife against her husband has gained popular notoriety. Examining the plight of the husband in Central Kenya one is struck by the profound changes that have taken place in family life. Charles Onyango-Obbo, writing some time back in the Daily Nation, argued that the emancipation of the women in traditional African society has contributed to the emasculation of the man, especially when men are increasingly suffering the embarassment of being unable to provide for their families due to straitened economic times. Women now, especially in the rural areas, are the primary providers for their families. They face great frustration in their home lives when their husbands are incapable of performing their duties as husbands, fathers or members of the community. They are frequently to be found indulging in excessive consumption of alcohol, impairing their judgment and rendering them incapable of managing the affairs of the home, leaving their wives to take charge. In such circumstances, regardless of what the bible says, women are no longer the helpers of their husbands but their equals and the trend in recent months of men getting walloped by their wives is an indication that they are demanding to be treated as equals.

Society still expects young men to take wives at a certain age, ideally between the ages of 27 and 35. Many of the young men in this age-group, in contrast to their parents and grandparents, are just starting out in their careers and do not own the houses they live in or the farms they work. Many have been persuaded that a hedonistic lifestyle is their birthright, hence the bacchanalian approach to 'having fun'. By the time they are getting married, many young men are used to being treated as gods, to be obeyed without showing any inclination to providing to the welfare of their families or their communities: they only live for themselves. They pretend that even after their marriages, they shall continue to live life as they did before, spending hours away from their wives and young children in bars watching foreign football matches or some other sporting event. When it comes to making decisions about their families, they leave it all to their young wives, who frequently have careers of their own. In a society where we no longer teach young persons how to resolve conflicts or how to make proper decisions, why should we be surprised that young wives are taking on the role of husbands and chastising their spouses for failing on their marital duties? The legions of young wives who throng the evangelical churches do not receive the guidance that will help them in their marital lives; churches have frequently become vehicles for get-rich-quick schemes that do nothing for their spiritual well-being.

It is time we addressed these issues openly and honestly. We must begin the arduous process of not only accepting the image of the working wife, but that she is no longer the subservient member of the family but an equal partner with an equal stake in the fate of the home. And we must equip our youth with better communication and decision-making skills in order to safeguard the family as the primary institution of the community. The image of the battered husband is the clarion-call for a new form of family and we must heed the call or suffer the consequences.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Devolution, the A-G and his detractors.

What do we expect of the devolved government? There are men and women, traipsing abroad in the land making promises of what they will do as governors or senators without having a clue as to what devolution is, what it means or what it will do. They make promises based on three generations of political received wisdom without considering, first, that devolution, unlike the Sixties' version, is an entirely new form of governance that Kenyans are experimenting with and, secondly, that unless it is well-implemented, it is set to be the most expensive mistake Kenyans have ever made (or will ever make). Public discourse over the past few months has revolved around the question of who or what is sabotaging devolution and of late, the culprit has been identified as the Attorney-General (and his State Law Office).

After Mzee Jomo Kenyatta's death, politics in Kenya underwent a sea-change. What had been a gradual personalisation of the State in the presidency, was made manifest in the twenty-four years of President Moi's and KANU's rule. Development, as an agenda, was the exclusive province of the Head of State and Government. His word was final as to where roads or schools or hospitals or anything would be built. The central government became the all-encompassing octopus that we all came to know and fear. It's mandarins were represented everywhere, directing the development of even the smallest projects conceived in the name of the people. IN time, the people stopped being the reason for the existence of the government, and instead became nuisances to be handled and managed with an iron fist, especially when they became restive and demanded a say in the way their lives were being shaped.

The Bomas of Kenya Constitutional Conference set the pace for the changes that would be finally entrenched in the Constitution by the Committee of Experts in 2009/2010. A process that had crept up on the central government by the inauguration of the Constituency Development Fund was finally realised when devolution was entrenched in the Constitution. The structure of devolution, which the Ministry of Local Government-appointed Task Force on Devolved Government attempted to deconstruct in the months following the promulgation of the Constitution is one of the most ambitious political projects Kenya has ever attempted, more significant than the defeat of KANU in 2002 or the crisis of 2007/2008. For the first time in three generations, the destiny of the peoples of Kenya is in the hands of citizens at the grassroots level, where significantly larger sums of money than had been allocated under the CDF will be managed without the overbearing hand of the central government by the people at grassroots level. Devolution is the final step in empowering citizens who have been ignored by their government and to give them a real say in how and where public monies will be expended.

The accusations being levelled against the Attorney-General must be seen in the contest of a debate over how devolution will be implemented. The A-G, being the principal legal advisor to the government, speaks for the government and acts for the government when he makes decisions regarding the manner in which devolution will be implemented, including the enactment of laws that will bring this dream to fruition. However, he does not act alone; he does so with the full knowledge of the government, offering his advice where it is needed and bringing into effect the decisions of the government. His decisions are not final; neither are the Cabinet's. These decisions must be placed in the crucible of the National Assembly, where the people's representatives sit. It is here that the decisions and actions of the A-G and the Cabinet will either be vindicated or abandoned. Anyone that only speaks of the role of the A-G without considering the actions of the National Assembly should be the one to be accused of ulterior motives.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Enact legislation to change the Sub Judice Rule

The Civil Procedure Rules make provisions for when a matter that is being considered in a court of law can be discussed (or not). The Constitution protects speech and the individual's right to know. Mr Justice Lenaola, while hearing a suit that considers the question of whether Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto may contest the presidency, has ordered all public discussion of their candidacies to cease during the duration of the trial. This is known as the Sub Judice Rule and it has exercised the blogoshpere like all things these days tend to do.

In Kenya, matters under active litigation are heard before judicial officers, without a jury as is common in other jurisdictions like the United States. The rule is meant to preserve the dignity of the court and the litigants by preventing the members of public from ridiculing them during the period when the matter is being considered by the court. However, with the new Constitution, the freedom of the people to free speech and expression and their right to be informed of matters of national importance, this rule comes up against the demand of the people to be allowed to comment, whether fairly or not, on the matters before the court.

Justice Lenaola, no doubt alive to the fact that legislation is yet to be enacted that would give life to the freedoms and rights and freedoms enshrined in the Constitution, fell back on the only legislation that addresses this knotty issue: the Civil Procedure Act. The commentators in the mass media and on the web refuse to accept the fact that there is no legislation to give life to the freedom to free speech and expression or the individual's right to be informed. Therefore, until a law is enacted to do so, the Sub Judice Rule will continue to be applied as and when the Court determines that it is best to do so. The reactions to the ruling of the court refuse to take into account that the enactment of legislation to implement the Constitution has been left to the devices of the politicians. Their antics have ensured that the process of enacting legislation is held hostage to the presidential ambitions of the political class and that the needs of the people play second fiddle to their ambitions. Therefore, such legislation as to give life to the freedom of speech and expression or the right to know has not been considered or even actively pursued. The men and women riling against the ruling must take a step back and acknowledge that they too must bear the blame for the situation that obtains today.

Policing and the civilian head

Many have misunderstood the apprehension the National Police Service has over the appointment of a 'civilian' as the Inspector-General of Police. As one of the last institutions to be reformed, the Kenya Police has very little to recommend it. It was indicted by both the Waki Commission and the Kenya National Commission on Human rights for gross human rights violations at the height of the post-election violence. It continues to perform poorly in rankings of corrupt institutions, both nationally and regionally. It has been accused by serving officers, former officers, and academicians and activists for being hide-bound and resistant to change, using tactics and methods that were employed during the colonial era and the dark days of Nyayoism. That it must be reformed goes without saying. But the debate over whether the reforms will be conducted by a civilian outsider or a ranking officer is yet to be properly done.

The obvious advantages of having a civilian as the new Inspector-General cannot be gainsaid. He will not be a product of a corrupted and corrupting institution and he will breath fresh air into an institution that has rejected calls to modernise. He will have no loyalty to any politician or other authority and he will be able to dispassionately oversee the overhauling of policing that is so desperately needed, so that the police service is a partner in crime prevention and law enforcement. But a glaring disadvantage is ignored by those who wish to see a civilian as Inspector-General. Without the loyalty and support of the rank-and-file of the police service, his reforms will at best be rejected and at worst sabotaged.

Eric Kiraithe, the syntactically-challenged Police Spokesman, argues that policing is not just about crime-prevention, crime investigation or law enforcement. In addition to appreciating the environment within which the police operate, he must be able to make sufficiently sage judgments regarding how to allocate police resources. He must also be capable of leading by example, and understand the needs of the officers he will command. It is for this reason that a policeman with years of experience and who appreciates the circumstances that motivate the police would be justified as the Inspector-General. The corruption and criminality that is engaged in by the police force is a result of the environment in which it operates. Police officers are usually paid a pittance for their services and they live in squalor. Police 'lines' are some of the most dispiriting residential areas in the country and the fact that the likes of the KNHCR and other human rights organisations refuse to acknowledge this makes it almost certain that corruption and criminality will not eradicated even with a civilian I-G.

The reforms every one is talking about will not amount to much until we acknowledge that we have paid for the police force we have and if we want a first-class force, then we must be prepared to devote considerably more resources to its modernisation. Until that happens, only a person who knows the ins and outs of the police force and Kenya's peculiar brand of policing will make the best choice as the Inspector-General. A civilian only interested in eradicating corruption and criminality among the rank and file, and who sees things only from the perspective of an outsider is likely to be ineffective. This is the debate we should have.

On Councils of Elders

Dr Lukoye Atwoli makes an interesting point this Sunday (Councils of elders pose a threat to democracy, Sunday Nation, 5 January 2012). He argues that "When citizens start feeling that the elected government is unable to address their needs, and they turn to unelected "councils of elders" and vigilante groups, the integrity of the state is imperilled." He argues that it instructive that these councils usually show their colours only in election years, making pronouncements on one matter or another of national interest. He is, of course, correct to challenge the legitimacy of such unelected groups, seeing that they conduct their affairs in secrecy and without being accountable to anyone.

The institution of the council of elders predates the mzungu in Kenya; but, that we have chosen a republican constitution, with an elected government, and a robust Judiciary, it makes no sense for these councils to purport to speak for the same people represented by elected leaders in the National Assembly. Their existence is proof positive that much work needs to be done to ensure that the writ of the State runs large. 

Consider the recent statements by two councils of elders published in paid newspaper advertisements over the past week on the confirmation of charges of the ICC Four by the Pre-trial Chamber II of the ICC. They purport to speak for the peoples of Central Kenya and take a dim view of the confirmation of charges against Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and Head of the Civil Service Francis Muthaura. The two councils, in their opinion, and after a careful interrogation of the facts and evidence adduced before the Court, that the ICC Prosecutor is playing politics by accusing men who were not the primary perpetrators of the violence that rocked the nation after the 2007 general elections. They claim to have proof that others should have been indicted by the Court and that it these unnamed others who should stand trial for the chaos. Dr Atwoli asks if they have this information why did they not ask to be enjoined in the suit and present this information to the Court?

Unlike an elected representative, whether at national or civic level, councils of elders are not representative of the needs or wishes of the communities they purport to speak for. Their interests lie in ensuring a particular narrative, regardless of the public mood or public opinion. Quite frequently, these groups are sponsored by sitting or former elected representatives and their motives frequently dove-tail with those of the professional politicians who sponsor them. Even the venerated and feared Njuri Ncheke has fallen victim to the vicissitudes of political competition, purporting to endorse one political aspirant at the expense of others in the interests of the Ameru. 

Quite recently, when William Ruto was installed as a Luo elder, the chairman of the Luo Council of Elders denounced the ceremony as it had not been endorsed or authorised by the council. It will not escape notice that that council has been a hive of political activity ever since the Odingas decided to involve themselves more actively in its affairs and that unless Raila Odinga endorses Mr Ruto's installation, it will lack the legitimacy that it deserves.

Indeed, I would not look at councils as different from vigilante groups. They delegitimise the recognised systems of power allocation and dispute resolution and reject the Constitution or the laws of Kenya. Purporting to speak for the people and with the wisdom of the ages, they reject that the people have elected representatives to do precisely what they are doing. If as Dr Atwoli posits, they are the recognition that the State has failed and continues to fail its citizens, then their grubby tentacles will continue to encircle the people and blind them to their iniquity.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Build the port

Lamu District on Kenya's coast is one of the poorest districts in the country. The poverty levels, illiteracy and childhood mortality rates are staggering. Divided into two constituencies, Lamu has been ill-served by a succession of KANU and ODM MPs for a decade since the end of the KANU hegemony in 2002. Mwai Kibaki's government, recognising the strategic position of the district, has earmarked the port of Lamu for expansion with a view to giving Kenya a gateway into South Sudan and Ethiopia. The proposed Lamu port will be one of the largest public infrastructure projects in Kenya since the construction of the Turkwell Gorge Dam completed in 1990.

The project, however, faces opposition from environmentalists and cultural conservationists. They argue that Lamu's Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site, will be destroyed if the project proceeds as it is presently conceived. They are determined to block the project for the sake of conserving and protecting Lamu's unique environment and culture. They argue that other poverty reduction strategies being pursued by the government should be given time to work, as they have worked in other districts over the past decade. Some point to Kajiado District, recently identified as Kenya's wealthiest as a pointer to the changes that the government's strategies have brought to poverty-stricken districts. They ignore the fact that the port is part of a larger economic and political strategy that will not only benefit the district, but expand trade into Kenya's largely ignored North East.

Their arguments, while merited, must be seen in context. One reason why the Coast has been restive ever since Mwai Kibaki was elected president lies in the fact that poverty levels and other socio-economic indicators have not improved in the decade of Mr Kibaki's presidency. This has contributed to the persistent popularity of secessionist groups such as the Mombasa Republican Council and the recruitment of youth into banned local and regional groups such as Somalia's al Shabaab. The development of the port, if managed effectively, will not only lead to job-creation but also political stability and general improvement in the quality of life for the residents of the Coast, and not just Lamu district. The possibility f closer economic and political ties with the Republic of Sudan, that of South Sudan and Ethiopia cannot be downplayed; Ethiopia and South Sudan are set to become Kenya's largest trading partners and better transport and communication links between these three countries will ensure that the resource-based conflicts between communities living in the border areas are reduced, or even eliminated entirely.

While the ecological impacts of the project must be mitigated, they cannot be the sole reason why the project should be abandoned. Neither can the impact on Lamu's Old Town. Kenya's rich cultural diversity is rightfully a source of national pride, but the fact is it rarely benefits the people who live and work around such sites. If Lamu's Old Town is the engine of the tourism sector in Lamu, its impact on the standards of living of the people of Lamu district should have been greater. However, despite the presence of many luxury lodges and hotels in Lamu district, tourism has not improved the lives of the peoples of Lamu. No colleges of culinary arts have been established and the children of the people of Lamu continue to be educated without the benefit of resources or investment. Their living standards are what they were twenty years ago and the presence of doctors is significant for their absence.

Of course care must be taken to protect what Lamu has today and to ensure that the impacts of the proposed project are mitigated as far as possible. But the project must be allowed to proceed. Its benefits to the people of Lamu, the Coast and the nation are too great for this chance to be abandoned. The knock-on effects of the project on the lives and livelihoods of the people will be far greater than if the district was preserved a sit is today. This is the right thing to do.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Memories of Okiki Amayo

It is difficult to respect a political party that is named Wiper, even if it is a name that resonates with certain parts of the country where the populace is prone to a certain level of syntactical challenges. It is downright impossible to respect the party, or its apparatchiks, when it goes out of its way to publicly verbally chastise one of its leading lights, who happens to be its Secretary-General, and is the nation's second-seniormost legal practitioner (or is it third, after the A-G and the CJ?) Therefore, none should feel shy about ridiculing the Wiper party (like I said, a stupid name). When Mutula Kilonzo speaks, he does so after having practiced law, brilliantly by all accounts, for over two-and-a-half decades, and in his capacity as the Minister for Justice, Constitutional Affairs and National Integration. Even his most ardent critics must acknowledge that the Justice Minister knows exactly what he means when he says what he says and it will be a poor man's bet to bet against him being right.

The verbally incontinent members of the Wiper party (I can't get over how stupid that name is) have attempted to parse what the Minister has said, but they must now realise this cannot be successfully accomplished. They have attempted to compel him to take back his words, again without success or even the chance of one. Now they seek to initiate disciplinary proceeding against him for his statements regarding the viability of the candidacies of Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto in the next general elections now that the International Criminal Court has confirmed charges against them. The main thrust of the party hacks' grouse is that by making what are surely legal pronouncements, Mr Kilonzo has complicated the political field for the Wiper party leader, the Vice-President, by creating the impression that Kalonzo Musyoka is secretly happy that his two erstwhile allies may be eliminated from the presidential campaign by an ICC trial and that only he will benefit, especially if the vote-banks held by Messrs Uhuru and Ruto are transferred to him en bloc.

Instead of marshalling their arguments in a coherent manner, even if only to shore up the political structure erected by their party leader, the Wiper apparats have merely reacted in a jingoistic manner, spewing vitriol for the man who dares point out the emperor's nudity. "As a party, we are not pleased ..." are words that should be ridiculed by one and all. Why they have not taken advantage of the dozens of lawyers who agree with their assessment of the legal environment, especially now that this point of view dovetails perfectly with their desire to keep the Veep's political options open, remains a deeply shrouded mystery. Despite the certainty with which the good minister has expressed his opinions, the matter is not so cut-and-dried and it will take the determination by a court to lay the matter to rest. The fact that the Wiper party (stupidest name ever) fails to appreciate this window of opportunity or even to exploit it must explain why their reaction to the minister's public utterances has been overwhelmingly KANU-like, that is, heavy-handed with a whiff of Okiki Amayo's KANU Disciplinary Committee's tactics.

This party, just as KANU did in the 2007 general elections, is making a fool of itself. It has managed to conflate the traditional ethnic arithmetic of elections past with the snowball's-chance-in-hell of a Kalonzo presidency and determined that even where their seniormost members stray from the Kalonzo-ordained script, they shall be yanked back in line and forced to toe the line. It is just too bad that they party does not really have the power to do much and it will eventually dawn on them that it is better to have the Minister in the party tent pissing out than the reverse. If they are foolish enough to kick him out of the party, and he decides to peddle his skills to the surviving ODM, Mr Musyoka may have more than a disgruntled ex-wiperist on his hands; he'll have a full-blown insurrection that he will struggle to control. For the moment, the other Kilonzos, Kiema and Charles, are quiet; if Mutula Kilonzo's insurgency becomes a fireball, they may decide to throw in their lot with their namesake. And then things may get out of control.

Listen to what Gen Z is saying. Hear them.

Kenyan Gen Z seized the moment that was made for them and threw down the gauntlet at the feet of the Kenyan State. With the memory of the bi...