10 November 2012

Kenya: How Raila Can Avoid Apologising in Future


Dear Jakom:

Greetings! Your public apology to the Kalenjin community last week may have provided an opportunity for your political opponents to hurl verbal brickbats at you.

But it is also creates a space for you to introspect. With a keen eye on the future, this would vitiate the need for you having to 'come out' again in similar fashion. Here are some suggestions.

First, please chase not after lost causes. The story of Kenya is a narrative about elites who have consistently raped, pillaged and violated the country and then hid behind the carapace of ethnicity to escape taking responsibility thereafter. One of the promises of the 2010 constitution is about ending this.

If you are to be true and faithful to the 2010 Constitution, you need to completely sever links with the guardians and disciples of the old parasitic and predatory order.

There is no evidence that they will ever change. They instead remain firmly rooted to the disingenuous constitutional order of "NO" or hidden behind the mendacious mists of the "watermelons".

Now is the time for you to say "enough" and move on. Although they may enjoy and drag along considerable mobs of ethnic support they also are the vessels through which our old constitution, with all its plagues and pestilences, continues to rule us from its grave.

You need to create moral and political clarity here that you do not provide them with the oxygen to keep us chained to the nightmare of our past.

Second, offer not 'comfort advice'. The four Kenyans currently facing charges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) for the commission of crimes against humanity do so in their personal capacity.

These charges do not in any way relate to Kenya as a country nor are they edicts against the different ethnic communities from which the four hail.

Yet, because of their formidable political clout and muscle, two of them have us with our knickers in a knot; and are likely to use their massive ethnic support as human shields against these charges.

You should be calling them out on this, instead of assiduously courting them with sweet words and juicy entreaties as is currently the case. These are adults of sound mind, immense intellect and immeasurable resources.

Why do they need the support of the Kenyan state whereas the accusations against them have not an iota to do with the same state?

Worse, why would you continue to be part of the charade offering them false hope while it has been made abundantly clear that the only way that their cases can be brought back to Kenya is if the Kenyan government ably demonstrates the willingness and capacity to deal with the allegations against them?

You know what you could do instead of stumping all over the map offering false hope? You could commit yourself to undertake such radical reforms in the rule of law sector that the ICC would be convinced that at last Kenya has the capacity to try the four gentlemen.

Moreover, you could also meaningfully cooperate with the ICC so that it is also clear that there is a new willingness to bring justice to this issue. Now, though tough, this is the kind of leadership a reform icon of your stature should offer.

Third, beware of the double "O". On the one hand, "O" stands for "Odinga" and it questions the role of your nuclear and extended families in your management of public affairs.

I will not dwell too long on this; please revisit Miguna's Peeling back the Mask to understand the import and implications of this conundrum.

And speaking of Miguna: I am also of the view that the way he was sacked and denied any benefits or access to his belongings was profoundly inhumane.

But I will not here dwell on Miguna because he warrants a much longer and more brutally candid conversation. The second connotation of "O" is illustrated in this truncated statement made by one of your political adversaries Ali Chirau Makwere in July 2010:

"He himself is the Prime Minister, Anyang Nyongo is a minister, Kajwang is a minister, Dalmas Otieno is a minister, James Orengo is a minister, his own brother is a minister, 'O' something is a minister, 'O' that one is a minister, 'O' which one is one minister, we the Digos were denied even a position of Assistant Minister, even a directorship in a parastatal, is it tribalism or not...?" This point is brought home by the ethnic audit conducted by the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) in early 2011 that found that 21.85 per cent of your staff are Luos.

It is not that I ignore that the findings of the same report that President Kibaki's office is teeming with Kikuyus. Nor does it mask the national character of the problem of tribalism where the Kikuyu occupy 22.3 per cent of civil service jobs, followed by the Kalenjin (16.7 per cent), Luhya (11.3 per cent), Kamba (9.7 per cent), Luo (9.0 per cent), and Kisii (6.8 per cent).

And that the Kikuyu and Kalenjin combined occupy 39 per cent of the jobs. No: the national character and architecture of the problem, is painfully clear for all to see.

But here's my beef. If you advocate change then you must exemplify the change you would like to see rather than appropriate the behaviour and practices of the status quo.

What I am asking you dear Jakom is to chukua control (take charge) and re-dress this situation because as you can see, it is even being used to both question your reform credentials and poison the public mind against you.

Because of space, I will stop here. There are many other things I would like to share but for now I will let them reside within me. For sure, I will at an opportune moment outline them to you.


Mugambi Kiai is the Kenya Program Manager at the Open Society Initiative for Eastern Africa (OSIEA). The views expressed in this article are entirely his own and do not reflect the views of OSIEA.

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