Root causes of Kenya’s problems

Kibaki at State House, Nairobi.

Kibaki at State House, Nairobi.

While President Mwai Kibaki will be remembered as the man who bungled an election so badly that the winner will never be known, Prime Minister Raila Odinga has the dubious distinction of inciting ethnic cleansing in full view of the media.

The 2007 elections were the first under a Kibaki presidency. The 2002 polls that got him into power were organized under the tenure of former president Daniel arap Moi. The maladministration of the 2007 elections by Kibaki makes former president Moi look like a Swiss democrat – which he is not.

President Kibaki lost his supporters for failing to protect them from marauding ethnic militias. According to the Commission of Inquiry into Post Election Violence, chaired by Justice Philip Waki, the government knew in advance that ethnic violence would erupt in parts of Kenya regardless of who won the 2007 elections. No action was taken and the result is at least 1,000 dead and hundreds of thousands unable to return home.

But then, this was not the first of Kibaki’s blunders and neither will it be the last. Kibaki won the 2002 elections under the National Rainbow Coalition (NARC), a movement uniting most of Kenya’s politicians. Within one year, NARC was dead thanks to his moribund leadership. A politician who turns hope into despair can hardly be described as inspirational.

The disappearances and killings of thousands of Kenyans especially in the past two years is another cause of anger among Kenyans. Thousands of men and women have been grabbed from their homes in Nairobi, Central Province, Mount Elgon, Mandera and the Coast. The youths were tortured, killed and their bodies dumped in the bushes to be devoured by wild animals.

At the coast, Kenyan citizens were abducted from their homes by security forces and secretly flown to Ethiopia allegedly for sponsoring terrorism. Even the Ethiopians admitted that there was no evidence against the Kenyans but it took over a year for the Kenyan government to facilitate their return to the country.

Prime Minister Raila Odinga shares responsibility with Kibaki for Kenya’s woes. His personality-based battle for the presidency directly and indirectly led to the deaths of thousands of Kenyans.

A five year presidential campaign based on agitation against the Kikuyu ethnic group largely contributed to the violence that rocked the country after the 2007 elections. Between 2003 and 2007, Raila blamed the Kikuyu for his problems with President Kibaki. Diplomats, free from the delusion of reform espoused by the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), say the party was mostly an anti-Kikuyu alliance.

At the Coast, Rift Valley and Western provinces, Raila’s and ODM blamed poverty on the presence of Kikuyu settlers and business people. Unfortunately, poor rural youth believed the propaganda and voted for ODM in large numbers expecting to get land, shops, jobs and business opportunities. During the 2007 campaigns, Raila referred to the Kikuyu as ‘the enemy.’

As Raila was busy lighting ethnic fires, his first born son got engaged to a Kikuyu woman. Another son of Raila’s is close to a grandson of the late President Jomo Kenyatta and buddies with the son of a former top detective – all Kikuyu. Raila Odinga has gone into joint business with prominent Kikuyu personalities.

The other characters who comprise Kenya’s ruling elite are not any better. Most of them are linked to corruption scandals and ethnic incitement. Others are afflicted by poor character. Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka supported ODM’s ethnic-based campaign until he left the party a few months to the election. William Ruto has been implicated in ethnic violence and could easily find himself at the International Criminal Court. Musalia Mudavadi is widely viewed as a spineless politician whose claim to glory is his family name.

Uhuru Kenyatta, son of founding president Jomo Kenyatta, has also been blamed for ethnic violence and could end up alongside William Ruto at The Hague.

Politicians who wanted to form an Opposition to challenge President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila have been accused of hoarding millions of bags of maize, thereby driving up prices for the staple food. Incidentally, the politicians got approval from the Agriculture Ministry – headed by William Ruto.

Its not enough for legislators to decide to pay taxes and assume that Kenyans will be happy. The tax issue is a mere manifestation of a much bigger problem of impunity and lack of respect for the people. Even if the politicians succumbed to pressure and paid taxes, they will find another means of exploiting Kenyans.

Kenya does not have credible leaders at the current moment. The nation needs a complete change in leadership. None of the current crop of leaders should ever be allowed to hold any position anywhere in the republic. Kenyan leaders have reached the end of their usefulness: they cannot produce new ideas, but will merely recycle ethnic garbage to divide and conquer Kenyans.

Kenyan leaders are not for the prosperity of the people but are interested in pursuing the status quo of privilege for the few. That explains why government appointments only benefit their family and friends. The President, Prime Minister and cabinet ministers have filled the government with their brothers, sisters, wives, girlfriends, cousins and grand children.

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Baby boom a side-effect of poll violence?

The Kenyan population is increasing rapidly in recent months as a pregnancy wave sweeps across the country.

No. This is not a tongue-in-cheek story. It is the result of discussion in offices, bars, salons and roadsides. The fact is that almost every other woman walking the streets and footpaths of Kenya today is … PREGNANT!

Experts say a society that has experienced war, as Kenya did early this year, inevitably sparks off a baby boom. According to scientists, this is an evolutionary adaptation meant to ‘replace’ lives lost during instability.

Conversely, societies that are peaceful record low birth rates. In this sense, Europe and Japan come to mind. At the extreme, you have countries in Eastern Europe including Russia where birth rates are so low that the overall population is in steady decline.

In January 2008, most people were confined to their homes due to raging violence between police and protestors and between ethnic groups. It is generally thought that forceful confinement to the home was conducive to baby-making. People simply had nothing else to do!

Since the month of August, a sharp increase in births has been recorded in most hospitals compared to a similar period last year. But how do you explain the continued high birth rate and new pregnancies?

The signing of the Grand Coalition Cabinet in April 2008 brought a sense of relief to the entire country. Just when things were bad, peace was restored. Kenyans celebrated the New Year in April because January 1st was the beginning of the chaos. The sense of elation was so high that some people took leave from work and went on holiday. It goes without saying that innumerable babies were conceived during that month.

On a sobering note, thousands of women were raped during the orgy of ethnic cleansing. Those who fled into IDP camps were coerced into sex by aid workers. The unspoken reality is that many of these women became pregnant and will suffer the lifetime trauma of raising babies from the experience.

Abortion is illegal in Kenya even for victims of rape. Apart from the legal aspects of abortion, majority of Kenyans are religious in character, making abortion a sin equated to murder. That is not to say that illegal abortions do not occur but many women probably are scared of it.

Another explanation for the conspicuous pregnancies in the country is simply social momentum. Human beings copy what others are doing and if people notice their friends and relatives expecting babies, they are likely to want a baby as well. Therefore, the current baby boom will persist for months to come.

There’s another factor that explains the pregnancies. It should be recalled that between 1975 and 1990, Kenya had the highest fertility rate in the world. Most families during that time had at least 5 children.

The question is: what happened to all those children? Well, the children of the 1980s are today’s young adults and they are starting their own families! So, you have this huge pool of people born in the 70s and 80s who are now having babies.

Should we expect another baby boom in 25 years? Probably so!

Nothing learnt from post-elections violence

The next General Elections in Kenya will be marred by violence, rigging, voter intimidation and bribery.

Unless steps are taken, the next polls will usher the end of Kenya as we know it.

ODM grassroots elections held last Monday show that Kenyan politicians learnt nothing from the 2007 election violence and continue with their usual tactics of bullying, hiring goons, holding parallel elections and seeking favors from top party leaders.

Excerpts from Kenyan media:

Daily Nation

In Kisumu, councillor Robert Otuge of Kolwa East ward in Kisumu East constituency, together with 14 others, were accused of destroying property worth Sh500,000 at the home of Mr John Osumba in Manyatta estate on Saturday.

In Migori, two men were picked by police after two rival groups clashed at Pap Ndiege Village in Nyatike constituency.

Member of Parliament Edick Anyanga described the polls as free and fair, while his opponents claimed they had been rigged.

In Sabatia, Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi went in unopposed as did Planning minister Wycliffe Oparanya in Butere.

East African Standard

Violence, parallel elections and logistic hiccups marred ODM branch elections in many parts of the country.

In Samia, violence between supporters of Cabinet Minister Paul Otuoma and his rivals scared off voters, who had hoped to elect branch officials.

In Vihiga, supporters of area MP Mr Yusuf Chanzu and those of former legislator Andrew Ligale held parallel elections. The returning officer, Mr Jonathan Angote, however, said Chanzu was elected unopposed.

In Rongai, there was confusion as supporters of MP Luka Kigen and those of his rival Joseph Kimetto also held parallel elections.

In Taveta, two groups held parallel elections. One faction led by Mrs Ruth Lelewu held elections on Sunday while another led by former Taveta MP Basil Criticos held polls on Monday (When did Criticos join ODM?).

Giant cabinet fails over Waki Report

Kenya’s giant 42-member cabinet failed this week to discuss a judicial report implicating its members in violence that killed 1,500 people.

A Cabinet meeting called by President Mwai Kibaki on Thursday was widely expected to decide a government position regarding the report. Currently, the coalition parties – Kibaki’s PNU, Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s ODM and the Vice President’s ODM-K – are split on what to do about Judge Philip Waki’s recommendations.

The Commission of Inquiry into Post Election Violence (CIPEV) was formed as part of the peace agreement between Kibaki and Raila following disputed elections in December 2007. Violence between their supporters resulted in 1,500 dead and close to half a million homeless.

CIPEV has implicated at least six close allies of the President and Prime Minister in the violence, which involved lynchings, hackings, gang rapes and mutilation.

The suspected ethnic warlords in the cabinet have denounced the Waki Report. So strong was the backlash in ODM that a split was imminent after party leader Prime Minister Raila Odinga, supported prosecution for planners of violence. In this, the Prime Minister was seen as pre-occupied with the Naivasha violence where people from his Luo ethnic group were attacked. Apparently, Raila did not realize that in calling for prosecution for Naivasha violence, he would inevitably open the door for ODM supporters elsewhere to face justice over crimes against humanity.

ODM Members of Parliament openly defied their leader as they closed ranks to protect their own. Meanwhile, PNU initially dismissed the report for recommending trials for supporters of President Kibaki. The Waki Report says that a meeting was held at State House to plot the Naivasha attacks but PNU and Kibaki deny such a meeting took place. As PNU puts it, the chaos at Naivasha and Nakuru was retaliation by the Kikuyu for similar violence targetting their kinsfolk in ODM strongholds.

As so many of Kenya’s politicians are implicated in the post election violence, its beginning to appear that a government-led prosecution will be difficult to commence. In effect, the government would be prosecuting itself.

However, the Waki Report has a self-activating mechanism: Should the Kenyan government fail to act by December, the task of prosecuting Kenya’s cruel and corrupt leaders will automatically fall under the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague. Already, media reports quote the ICC’s chief prosecutor saying he is ready for the work.

Many of the displaced are yet to return to their former homes as ethnic tension persists in the countryside. Its not only the victims of violence that want justice. There are fears that without punishment for inciters of ethnic cleansing, worse troubles are in store for the country. The next General Election is due in 2012 and presidential campaigns have already began along ethnic lines.

Kenya’s politicians are reportedly having sleepless nights as they await what is described as the “Hague Express.”

Kenyan politicians will face trial

By the Daily Nation

As Kenyan politicians resist moves to pay taxes, the International Criminal Court has warned that it will take over the cases of the names contained in a secret envelope handed to Kofi Annan.

Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said if Kenya failed to try the suspects of post-election violence, then the court will move in to start investigations and prosecute those involved.

If the Government starts the implementation process from tomorrow, it has up to February 28 to enact the laws and form a local tribunal. However, if it fails to start the process, the envelope will automatically be handed over to the ICC on March 1 – the end of the 135-day timetable contained in the Waki report.

More on this story from the Daily Nation >>

Raila, Kalonzo reject Waki Report

BY Michael Mumo and Bernard Momanyi (Capital FM)

The Waki report on post-poll violence got further bashing on Thursday, after Prime Minister Raila Odinga beat a hasty retreat and led 75 Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) MPs in rejecting it.

Mr Odinga, who has been vocal in pressing for the full implementation of the report, chaired a four-and a-half hour ODM parliamentary group meeting which declared that the report had “incurable errors, defects and fundamental constitutional contradictions.”

The Prime Minister sat to the right of the Parliamentary Group Secretary Ababu Namwamba as he read out the statement. Mr Namwamba said contents of the secret envelope that was handed over to the chief mediator of the Kenya peace talks former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan could not be subjected to legal proceedings or investigation within or outside Kenya.

“ODM being part of the coalition government will resist and stop any rendition or surrender of Kenya citizens to a tribunal outside its territory as the national jurisdiction and national systems have not collapsed.”

The position taken by ODM came barely hours after the American and German Ambassadors urged President Kibaki and Mr Odinga to implement the Waki report in full as a way of ending the culture of impunity in Kenya.

But speaking elsewhere, Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka appeared to take the same route as ODM, saying report should not be implemented in full since it would open up wounds that had started to heal.

Mr Musyoka said it was regrettable that several people were killed during the post-election violence but warned that if careers of politicians implicated in the violence were destroyed it would be detrimental to the healing process in the country.

More on this story from Capital FM news >>

Rejection by Kenya’s government of the Waki Report on post election violence is likely to cause discontent among a public eager to see justice amidst rising ethnic tension sparked by a fractious ruling elite.

The Commission of inquiry into Post Election Violence implicated senior politicians allied to President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga in ethnic clashes that killed over 1,000 Kenyans early this year. The violence was a result of disputed elections between Kibaki and Raila. International mediation efforts led by Koffi Annan brokered a coalition between the two in March. However, blame over the violence continues.

The Commission was chaired by judge Philip Waki who recommended the prosecution before an international tribunal of all politicians linked with ethnic incitement and financing of the clashes.

Prominent careers in political toilet

The Waki Report on post election violence has consigned the careers of Kenya’s top politicians into the toilet of collective memory among the citizens of the republic.

Indeed, the post election violence that killed at least 1,000 Kenyans and made half a million refugees in their own country has irredeemably tainted Kenya’s top political leadership.

Citizens across the republic are pondering in groups how they could have allowed themselves to be manipulated by a conniving class of political hypocrites who are now engorging themselves on the country’s meagre riches, while belching out incredible statements of forgiveness.

For the past five years, Kenyans were fed an endless diet of ethnic hatred by politicians unable to see far beyond their distended bellies. Ethnic groups were incited against each other, and made to believe that their poverty and misery was caused by the opposing side. Come the elections of 2007, five years of instigation erupted into an orgy of violence.

State authority collapsed in most parts of the country, especially the Rift Valley, Western and Nyanza provinces. Government offices were looted, police officers killed and infrastructure blown up. Thousands of people were attacked, raped and killed as property went up in flames. The blame for the near collapse of Kenya falls on the political classes, whose selfishness has astounded the international community.

Now, the chickens are finally coming home to roost for Kenya’s cruel and corrupt leaders thanks to the Waki Report on post election violence. Of course, the political players would rather turn the Waki Report into toilet paper, but it is they who are going down the political sewer tubes, hopefully, for good.

As the Waki Report explains, President Mwai Kibaki cannot escape blame for the sorry state of affairs Kenya finds itself entangled in. His weak leadership allowed the rise of demagogues across the ethnic divide who exploited the resultant vacuum to raise hateful temperatures. Kibaki’s behavior can be described as negligent at best and incompetent at worst.

In the future, Kenyans will remember Kibaki more for his weak leadership than for anything else. Kibaki spent his first term in office trying to make the economy grow, which it did briefly in 2006 – 2007. However, all that growth was destroyed within the first three months of 2008, in effect negating all of his handiwork.

Kenyans will recall Kibaki as a leader who failed to unite the people, who allowed corruption to fester during his term of office, and who allowed impunity to rule. The deaths of 1,000 people in ethnic clashes will forever blot all recollection of his memory. The callous killings of 500 Kikuyu youths for alleged Mungiki membership will not be forgotten any time soon. If anything, the only reason the Kikuyu voted for Kibaki was because there did not exist a viable alternative.

And the reason why that alternative did not exist was because Prime Minister Raila Odinga was making bellicose statements that only added to ethnic incitement in the country. Moving across Kenya describing the Kikuyu as “adui” or enemy is not exactly the hallmark of a statesman. Raila and his ODM party made the Kikuyu a scapegoat for all of Kenya’s problems.

The violence of 2008 was largely the consequence of such loose, irresponsible talk. Though Kenyans are credited for having short memories, its highly unlikely that Raila can comfortably win the country’s presidency because of his recent past. Hardly surprising then, that his lieutenants are proposing that the president be elected by parliament. Its easier to convince 222 legislators to vote for you than to campaign for votes among 18 million voters. For that, Raila’s place in the political toilet is guaranteed.

It is impossible for the likes of Uhuru Kenyatta, William Ruto, Najib Balala and Musalia Mudavadi to make it into the presidency. Their reputations have irredeemably been scorched through their links to violence. Even though they may not have engaged in actual acts of violence against other Kenyans, the fact that they did little to stop it implies guilt by association. Instead of stopping violence in their constituencies, they kept quiet. Mudavadi even went for holiday at the coast.

Kenyans should realize that the path towards achieving justice for the victims of violence will not be easy. The guilty parties have in their control vast wealth and power which they will use to frustrate prosecution. In any case, the Attorney General is one of their own and he has already described the Waki Report as lacking in evidence.

Faced with the prospects of international prosecution, the Kenyan ruling elite is banding together while calling for a “homegrown” solution. Political entities named in the Waki Report should not be allowed to continue with their endless proselytizing at the expense of innocent lives among the majority poor.

Just a few months ago, clarion calls of, “No justice, No peace” rent the air as the political elites exploited ordinary citizens in the battle for state control – and the rewards that go with it. At the time, intellectual mercenaries-for-hire wrote acres of newspaper columns trying to explain that the absence of war was not peace.

Now, the same same intellectuals are trying to justify the inexcusable, claiming that prosecuting the masterminds of post election violence will disrupt peace and spark off fresh chaos. If these academics could not value peace early this year, why is peace suddenly so important to them now? For behaving like characters of loose morals who will do anything for small money, these pseudo intellectuals have earned their place in the national toilet.

Amidst the recriminations of Kenya’s zero leadership, who will be the winner? For once, the ordinary Kenyan has seen that the political class do not care about the people’s interests. The exposure of the rotting carcass of Kenya’s leaders is good news for those hoping for a leadership revolution in the country.

A new class of fresh, untainted and committed persons is sorely needed to lead the people into an epoch of unity and prosperity for all. The Waki Report should be the starting point for the much-needed political purge. Yes, it will be painful but what is the alternative?