By Maina Kiai

Monday, November 29, 2010


The last few weeks have shown, yet again, the total contempt that “our leaders” have for us Kenyans. They just can’t help themselves, and even when they seem to be on a roll on serious issues, their greed and disdain for us shines through…

Consider the following: First our MPs, who had been making all sorts of seemingly positive noises on corruption and the need for accountability and probity in public management, came up with the idea that this parliament must run till December 2012, no matter what the new constitution says about elections in August! Their rationale being they need the time to do what they are required to do in the new constitution! Of course they did not mention the prospect of working 5 day weeks like the rest of us, cutting out their long “summer holidays” or ensuring there is quorum in parliament as possible solutions to the workload they have. And for good measure, they then brought out their own legal guns—including that master of double-speak Mutula Kilonzo—to interpret that the clear and obvious August date for elections does not really apply to them…!

They think that we can’t see through their games? They think we are too foolish to see that this is all about the money? It’s all about the Ksh. 5-6 million that they will lose once elections are held in August 2012, given their outrageous salaries of about Ksh. 1 million a month. And they know that with the high rate of non-return, many of them will never see this sort of money in their lives again. So they look us in the eye, assume we are idiots and churn out these lies to our faces, not batting an eyelid! Wow!

At the same time they make a power grab to take the role of the Senate, the Governors, and the County governments, and keep it to themselves! Money and Power! These are the two defining issues – nothing to do with a party line! On these two issues they are united and clear that they can continue to fool us! So they try…

Then there is William Ruto. He takes himself to The Hague in a blaze of publicity—thus confirming that he is a person of interest to the ICC—and comes back with a pack of lies and spin and diversionary tactics. He can’t provide a straight answer even to the simple question whether he met Luis Moreno Ocampo. (He did not). He prefers to talk in parables, and give the false impression that he did. Ruto may be powerful, but even he can’t be in London and The Hague at the same time!
Ruto launches into an attack first on the Waki Commission and when that does not seem to fly, he shifts attack to the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights. Accusations made are neither here nor there. His matter is with the International Criminal Court now. So no matter what the KNCHR did or did not do, he must address his issues to the ICC. He is trying to divert attention and play politics with a legal issue. He assumes that we will swallow the spin and lies - from meeting Ocampo, to impugning the credibility of the ICC. Yet he, like any one of us - including the Waki Commission, KNCHR, or you and I - can make information available to the ICC. Which is what he did when he went there.

The ICC’s obligation is to conduct its own investigation using what is in the public domain, and what is not. So they will interrogate and examine the information received from Waki and KNCHR as much as they will interrogate information from Ruto. They’ll decide, as experts without political interests in Kenya, what to use and what not to use.
Bringing Kenyans into his personal legal issues is insulting, and assumes that we are fools who will swallow the publicity stunts and believe him. But please, stay real: Ruto is the one who can’t answer if he met Ocampo or not; the one whose position on the referendum changed with each week. His reasons for opposing the constitution changed with the headline of the day! The “witnesses” he has paraded did not even testify to the KNCHR or Waki!

There are plenty of such ‘leaders’ from Old Kenya. Like the military - who when questioned about possible issues of financial impropriety quickly rush to declare that national security is at risk! We have heard this before haven’t we? Anglo Leasing was based on so called national security! The fishing boat to be turned into a naval ship (we still waiting 6 years since they started the transformation) was national security. Yet we all know that as soon as corruption is entrenched in the military then we are really facing a security risk! How can our air force defend us with planes that can’t fly? How can we repel an invasion with trucks that don’t move? How can we protect Kenyans with a military full of cronies and “bought recruitment” rather than one that reflects the diversity, expertise and professionalism of Kenyans?

But why can they take us for granted so much? Why do we feed their egos and seem so gullible? We not challenge enough. We need to make them know that they can’t take us for a ride and its them who must change and give us respect. Are we part of the problem, because ‘our leaders’ can always hide behind “our own”? We have to ask ourselves – how guilty are we? We can’t be pawns for them – but we are if we support them if and when they make the requisite appeals to our ethnicity….
Part of our problem is our amnesia with our own history. Part of our problem—especially those of us who can access this blog—is that we don’t spend enough time working to organize and relate across ethnic groups. As individuals we are always talking about finding our Mandela or our Obama; but we can only make our Mandela or our Obama as a collective.

There is lots to do, and clearly the spirit of the new constitution has not touched our leaders yet! But has it touched you..?