Sunday, September 01, 2013

We are what we decide.

It shall reverse the gains being made by the Jubilee Government on land, national unity, devolution, economy and security. The will of the people must prevail over ICC. Parliament is the custodian of the will and sovereignty of Kenyans. - Kipchumba Murkomen, Sunday Nation
In 2002, Uhuru Kenyatta stood in the general election as a candidate for president on the Kenya African National Union ticket as a "project" of President Moi, or so it was claimed. Besides him were Musalia Mudavadi as his choice for Vice-President, and William Ruto as part of his robust campaign team. Then, as in 2013, Kenyans were told that the elections were Kenya turning the corner on historical injustices.

In 1963, two years after Jomo Kenyatta was allowed back into public life by the colonial government, Kenyans witnessed the lowering of the Union Jack and the hoisting of the Kenyan flag. Prime Minister Kenyatta promised to fight the good fight in eradicating the triple threats of illiteracy, poverty and disease. He also promised to realise the dreams of the freedom fighters whose campaign in the Mount Kenya and Aberdare forests for land and freedom had led to internal self-rule. In 1964, realising the benefits of power, Kenyatta led the country in declaring itself a republic and he became its first president. He would die in office on 1978 without having realised the dreams of freedom fighters and having failed abysmally in dealing with illiteracy, poverty or disease.

In 2007, after a disastrous final year as President, Mwai Kibaki decided to stand in the election to retain his position as President. Uhuru Kenyatta, betraying his party KANU, decided to sit out the contest. Mwai Kibaki was controversially re-elected. The declaration of results was the spark that led to wide-spread violence. Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto, this time, were on opposite sides of the contest. Uhuru Kenyatta supported Mwai Kibaki. William Ruto did not. Indeed, William Ruto was at the forefront of declaring the illegitimacy of the Kibaki re-election.

In 2008, Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga announced a truce, brokered by Koffi Annan and a panel of eminent African personalities. Mr Odinga was appointed as Kenya's only second Prime Minister. William Ruto expected to be appointed a Deputy Prime Minister. He was not. But Uhuru Kenyatta was. Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga appointed a commission of inquiry under the chairmanship of Philip Waki, a Judge of the Court of Appeal, to inquire into the violence of 2007 and 2008. The Commission prepared a widely accepted report in which it implicated politicians and businessmen alike for the violence. A secret list of financiers and planners of the violence was prepared, ultimately handed to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court after Kenya repeatedly failed to find a judicial mechanism that would investigate and prosecute the suspected masterminds. Among the indictees were Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto.

Between 2002 and 2008, neither Uhuru Kenyatta nor William Ruto showed any desire to solve the historical problems bedevilling the country. They took no steps, in their positions in the government or their political parties, to address the problems that affected the majority of Kenyans. When they campaigned together in a coalition in 2011 and 2012, they made many promises. Redressing historical injustices was not one of them. Now the government is in their hands while they still face the indictments at the ICC and their trials are imminent.

Between 2008 and 2010, Mwai Kibaki attempted to forestall their trials at The Hague. He failed. The two have since then attempted to conflate their indictments with their election as President and Deputy President. As have the leading intellectual lights of their political parties. Kipchumba Murkomen carries on with that project. He goes further to argue that the original indictments, in the face of the collapse of the cases against other co-accused, has morphed into a vendetta by the Office of the Prosecutor against the President and Deputy President and risks "[reversing] the gains being made by the Jubilee Government on land, national unity, devolution, economy and security."

Mr Murkomen tends to ignore the evidence on the ground. The election was not as unanimous as he makes it out to be. Kenya has a population of forty million. The registered voters, depending on which figures you rely on, are about 12 million. Uhuru Kenyatta barely got a majority of the vote, and the allegation of election voodoo over whether he actually got the bare majority required will linger for the rest of his presidential term.If Mr Kenyatta had gotten over 60% of the vote, we would not be questioning the legitimacy of his election win.

What gains Mr Murkomen is talking about regarding land, national unity, devolution, the econmy or security, only he can see. While Mr Kenyatta carries on with the well-trodden scheme of issuing title deeds (bringing into question the place of the National Land Commission), he has failed to address the circumstances that have all but guaranteed that land administration will continue to poison relations among Kenyans for a long time to come. The results of the general election and the renewed calls to disband the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, are proof that national unity is still a ways away. So too on the question of devolution. Members of his own coalition feel very strongly that the National Government is an impediment to the smooth implementation of devolution. On the economy, while it might be booming for the few who can afford foreign holidays, the bulk of the youthful population is unemployed. When over half the youth cannot find jobs, the economy is very much a work in progress. On security, Kenyans continue to remain unsafe. Mr Murkomen and his colleagues in Parliament enjoy the best security money that we don't have can buy. The majority of urban Kenyans continue to live in fear for their safety and that of their property.

Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto were indicted by the ICC before they were elected. Their election was not a referendum on the legitimacy of their indictments. Indeed, the Tenth Parliament made it explicitly clear that it wanted the indictees to be tried at The Hague. This blogger believes that the ICC is a neo-colonial tool designed to keep the developing world from ever developing. But no one held a gun to Kenya's head to sign and ratify the Rome Statute in 2005, and no one held a gun to Parliament's head to send the indictees to The Hague in 2010. In this case, the ICC did not conspire to destabilise our country. We did that all on our own.

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