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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Cankers within the State: Poaching and Growing Corruption 1963-2011

PROGENITOR OF CORRUPTION: When Kenyatta’s nephew Muigai
married Mathenge’s daughter in 1976, Kenyatta’s wedding present
was a large tract of government land. 

An excerpt from historian Charles Hornsby’s latest book Kenya: A History Since Independence (1963-2011). Get your copy from Bookstop Ltd, Nairobi; Books R Us, Nairobi; and Educate Yourself Ltd, Nairobi. Enjoy!

Kenya was now a place of increasing corruption and inequality. Civil servants enthusiastically exploited the opportunity that the (Duncan) Ndegwa Report had given them to engage in business. The Kikuyu-dominated wabenzi (Mercedes-Benz people) prospered, protected by the state and unrestrained by Parliament. The ‘action’ was now in resource extraction: poaching, charcoal and mining.
Poaching
The 1970s were the worst period of poaching in Kenya’s history. With the support of senior government figures, Kenya’s abundant wildlife was slaughtered for the export of ivory and skins to the Middle and Far East. In mid-1973, at least 500 elephants were killed legally each month. However, receipts in destinations such as Hong Kong suggested that at least 345 tonnes of ivory had been exported from Kenya in 1973, indicated the death of at least 15,000 elephants in a year, three times the official number. There were wide discrepancies between estimates of the number of elephants left, from 150,000 to only 40,000. Ten thousand rhinos were killed during 1973–9, 80 per cent of the remaining population.

Sport hunting was still legal, but in 1973, Chief Game Warden John Mutinda finally withdrew all elephant-hunting licences. Western concern over poaching was rising, with television reports and articles devoted to Kenya’s problem and its causes in state corruption. There were high-profile arrests, including a Somali picked up with the tusks of 525 elephants in his baggage en route to Hong Kong. Eventually, Tourism Minister Juxon Shako banned ivory export by anyone except the government in August 1974. However, exports continued.
One problem was that the Kenyatta family itself was implicated in both poaching and ivory exports. Margaret Kenyatta, Kenyatta’s daughter, was chairperson of the United African Company, one of at least 10 companies exporting ivory despite the ban. Ivory could earn Ksh. 300 (US$36) per kilogram, making one elephant worth thousands of dollars. Other valuable items included zebra pelts (5,000 of these animals were shot illegally within 320 miles of Nairobi in six months during 1975) and colobus monkey skins. In 1975, two men were found in possession of 26,000 colobus monkey skins (more than the total remaining population today).
However, dealers could buy both police inaction and the needed documentation, of which there was an inexhaustible supply. The monkey skin owners were acquitted after they produced ‘valid’ permits. It was widely believed that much of the poaching that decimated the elephant and rhino populations was organised and carried out by the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife. An expatriate official identified both assistant ministers – one being J. M. Kariuki – as buying ivory direct from game department headquarters for export.
There were later suggestions that officials, police sharpshooters and the Kenyatta family were involved in a vertically integrated the poaching cartel. A Samburu MP alleged in Parliament that there were in fact very few poachers outside the ministry. In 1976, Parliament established a Select Committee to probe malpractices at the ministry, but nothing came of it in the face of state obstruction. In May 1977, all sport hunting was banned. However, the loss of hunting revenue further damaged the ability of the ministry to combat poaching.

Bizarrely, Mau Mau veterans, denied most forms of recompense for their losses, had been allowed to poach since the 1960s through the issue of ‘collectors’ permits’, which allowed them to carry as much ivory as they wished, under the polite fiction that it was of Mau Mau vintage. These permits were finally cancelled in 1977 under pressure from environmentalists. In the same year, the African elephant was listed under Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
Destruction of Kenya’s tree cover, soil erosion and changing rainfall patterns also became public issues. The felling of trees for land settlement and the production of charcoal were particular problems. Charcoal was now worth K£1,000 per tonne in the Middle East, and 80,000 tonnes a year was exported by 1975. Eventually, after dockworkers refused to load more ships, the government was forced to introduce a total ban on charcoal exports, to replace the partial ban in force (which meant that only senior figures such as PCs could carry out the trade).
Growing Corruption
Kenyatta’s fading grip made corruption both easier and safer. Civil servants’ freedom to conduct business allowed officials to reward themselves and to misuse state resources for private gain. Bribery was now required to obtain most licences, permits or quotas, particularly for foreigners. By 1975, the government itself was inveighing against the collapse in civil service mores.

The Ndegwa Report was widely blamed: Overnight, Government offices became ‘official’ quarters for commercial transactions and heavy private deals. Government vehicles became means of private interests. Government ‘stamps’ and licenses became commercialised… massive corruption had finally crept with devastating impact into one of the most prestigious of Civil Services in Africa. Parastatals were particularly prone to abuse, especially the East African Community’s organisations, as the victim was remote.
For different reasons, the big urban councils were even more corrupt and incompetent than the central government, since they were less internationally visible and accounting standards were lower; Mombasa Municipal Council was dissolved in 1977, while in the same year the first probes began into Nairobi City Council’s procurement practices. Land grabbing – the process of selling or giving state land to private individuals, to develop or sell – was becoming more common, though it was less politically charged than it was to become under Moi, when the supply of undeveloped land had run out.
When Kenyatta’s nephew Muigai married Isaiah Mathenge’s daughter in 1976, for example, Kenyatta’s wedding present was a large tract of government land. Such technically legal processes were supplemented illegally in most local lands offices, as cartels stole land, destroyed and forged documents, and sold the resulting plots on to others. In August 1975, the British Sunday Times ran a series of exposés of the avarice of the Kenyatta family. It detailed how the family had forced the sale of the Inchcape trading group (which included the Ford vehicle franchise) to a consortium including Udi Gecaga, Muigai and Kenyatta’s son Peter Muigai Kenyatta, the price to be paid in instalments out of profits.
The article included an excellent display of the Kenyatta family, and further exposed the family’s involvement in ivory exports, and the impossibility of collecting debts owed by the ‘royal family’, as they were now known. It also detailed how Kenyatta personally approved the purchase of large farms by his family, exempting them from review by land control boards. It listed the vast farms the family had acquired in the Rift Valley, including six farms owned by Kenyatta himself, a 26,000-acre farm owned by Mama Ngina in Kiambu, and her farm in Rongai next to Kenyatta’s own.
The Sunday Times described how Mama Ngina had been buying land on the coast that was used to build two hotels, while Kenyatta himself built Leopard Beach Hotel, which was registered in a Swiss company’s name. It revealed that in 1972, Mombasa Municipal Council had waived all rates on properties owned by the president and his family, and had listed 11 more properties in the area. The paper also described how the family operated through overseas frontmen such as George Criticos and Asian lawyers and accountants. The international casinos were also of interest. In 1967, a company for Italian investors linked to the Mafia had established the Nairobi International Casino, with Fred Kubai and later Peter Muigai Kenyatta and James Gichuru as shareholders. In 1973, it faced competition from another casino on the outskirts of Nairobi. The Sunday Times revealed that while Kenyatta’s name did not appear on the registration papers, he owned the site and the building, and received a third of its profits.
Kenyatta’s niece Beth Mugo, meanwhile, had become involved in the gemstone business, and had obtained the right to sell gems to foreigners at Nairobi airport. Just as the Kenyatta family was becoming rich, so those close to Mzee also demonstrated their power. The Sunday Times named Coast PC Mahihu as owning the Bahari Beach Hotel and Rift Valley PC Mathenge as owning the Coral Beach Hotel. Eliud Wamae part-owned the Kenya Beach and the Ngong Hills hotels. John Michuki and Mugo, meanwhile, were involved with a German hotel group.
The backbench put up a determined but futile fight against this trend. In May 1975, in its post-Kariuki murder peak of independence, the Assembly defeated government opposition to establish a third anti-corruption Select Committee; Martin Shikuku became its chairman, and for the first time in Kenya’s history, all its members – including minister Omolo-Okero – declared their wealth. However, the government soon undermined it, and on 24 June, Parliament killed the committee it had established only weeks before. Parliament could no more control the elite’s depredations than could the government itself.

The Public Accounts Committee continued to castigate ministries for overspending against budgets, with the figure rising to US$13 million in 1974–5. Ministries were criticised for failing to recover loans, bypassing tender procedures, misusing grants, uneconomic investments and poor accounting. Although lip service was paid to efficiency, the political will for root and branch reform was missing. The churches too complained at the growing ‘get rich quick’ culture and the damaging effects of corruption and nepotism, but the elite were beyond moral censure. Patronage and nepotism were increasingly the way business was done. If you did not know someone, then business would be very difficult. It was common for politicians to ensure that allies, friends, relatives and people from the same ethnic group and sub-group as themselves received jobs or contracts, which would provide them with income and in turn buttress the politician’s career.

Indeed, it was almost essential that this happened: if everyone else was doing the same thing, failing to do so would disadvantage your community and weaken your finances and electoral viability. Ministers also prioritised government projects to assist their own constituencies or districts. It was common for water projects to be sited in the constituency of the water minister, roads in the district of the public works minister and so on. Kenyatta permitted this, as it stabilised and channelled conflict and patronage, and left him and the central bureaucracy as arbiters of who would gain and lose.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

BREAKING: This just in from our mole at Limuru 2B

"Njenga gets on stage. For 10mins its utter madness. Chants of "Chairman!" Flags waved. Guys screaming. I've just witnessed mass euphoria. The hate for Uhuru is scary. The passion for Njenga is scary. This is a ticking timebomb. I worry..."

If Ruto's recent application to the ICC makes you want to cry...


A DESPERATE MAN: Ruto has applied to the ICC
to postpone his trial till after the 2013 election.
You can't miss reasons to laugh. There are reasons galore. But for the moment, look for the most hilarious ones because they'll be plenty of opportunity to cry later.
When the ICC delivers its verdict.
Because if you decide to laugh at each and every reason the Ocampo 4 proffer, you may expire due to asphyxiation.
The four are not under the delusion that they are dealing with a Kenyan court, headed by the most acquiescent judge who may agree to write his judgement in a hotel room booked for him in advance. In that case, they would have the cases tried in a court of their choice with judges of  their choice in the tribunal.They would be allowed to nominate the special prosecutor to boot.
Ruto is, his lawyers say, presently in the process of reconciliation to ensure a pacific nature of the election. He had already started it immediately it became clear that his nemesis of the 2007-8 period, Uhuru, was also in the same boat with him. His joint appearance with Uhuru, and the type of decent cultured language they used in the prayer-peace rallies attest to the fact that it was not only Ruto, but also Uhuru, making serious efforts towards reconciliation. It is to the duo's credit that all IDPs, without exception, have been resettled wherever they were hounded out from.
Muthaura's reasons, however, are a tad different. He doesn't give a damn about reconciliation or peaceful elections. He is worried about himself. Attending court in the Hague means a disruption of his life (unlike the IDPs'), stress him (IDPs are too naive to be stressed), and his health may also be affected (IDPs are fit as fiddle). He was kind enough to make his preferred venue known - Kenya or Tanzania.
Ruto and Uhuru's arguments are valid in that the ICC shouldn't wreck the dream of Kenyans to elect one of them as their president, and hence the request for postponement. If a Kenyan court bars them from contesting on ethical grounds, it will be just a matter of disregarding the decision. It will be possible for the judgement not to reach the IEBC and other relevant agencies, too.
The most valid of all is Sang's prayer. Kass FM can hardly do without him during election time. In addition, he may suffer irrevocable loss if the trial is not postponed. All his witnesses, engaged neck-deep  in the 2007 election related activities, are now also neck-deep in the preliminary activities for the 2012/3 one. 
Kenyans  must be thankful to the Ocampo 4 for  being frank and transparent in their moderate appeals to the ICC. Note that they did not specify the bench should have Visram, Gicheru, Ringera and Chunga sitting, and suggested Kilukumi as special prosecutor. However, they regret  it is only after the prosecution surrenders all the witness lists and evidences that they can take a definite decision on whether or not to honour the summons.
Tail piece: The four gentlemen are negotiating with prosecution to admit to a few charges to reduce the time span of 100 years to 99 years and six months. If they could admit guilty to all the charges, it would take only 6 months.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Monday, May 21, 2012

ANC mad at racy portrait of Zuma


The ANC called the painting "distasteful and indecent"
JOHANNESBURG — A portrait of President Jacob Zuma posing as Lenin with his genitals hanging out has sparked outrage in South Africa, but the gallery on Friday refused demands from the ruling ANC to take it down.
Zuma's African National Congress has demanded that the private gallery in Johannesburg withdraw the "distasteful and vulgar" portrait by satirical artist Brett Murray.
But the gallery won't budge.
"They (the ANC) feel its so-called depiction of our president has been defamation towards his character. Our lawyers have written back to them saying we will not remove the painting," Goodman Gallery spokeswoman Lara Koseff told AFP.
The red-yellow and black painting entitled "The Spear" depicts Zuma mimicking a pose by Vladimir Lenin in a Soviet era propaganda poster, but with his penis exposed.
The polygamous president generated national debate when he married his fourth current wife last month. He has 21 children, including several out of wedlock.
Zuma's office on Friday said it was "shocked and disgusted at the grotesque" piece of art.
"We are amazed at the crude and offensive manner in which this artist denigrates the person and the office of the president of the Republic of South Africa," Zuma's office said in a statement.
It said Zuma was an architect of the freedom of expression enshrined in the country's laws but that such rights were "not absolute."
"Nobody has the right to violate the dignity and rights of others while exercising their own," the statement added.
The ANC also said it was "extremely disturbed and outraged by the distasteful and indecent manner in which Brett Murray and the Goodman Gallery in Johannesburg is displaying the person of comrade President Jacob Zuma".
It vowed to go to the courts for an order to censor the painting.
But constitutional law expert Pierre de Vos said the ANC had slim chances of a court victory.
"Given the protection for artistic freedom in the constitution and the many exceptions in our law made for the expression of such artistic creativity, I am am almost 100 percent certain that the ANC's proposed legal action will not be successful.
"In a democracy, courts seldom order the censoring of a work of art -- even if that work of art makes fun of the president and his philandering patriarchal ways," he said
Koseff said the collection running under the title "Hail to the thief" was "a very satirical look at contemporary South African politics... of the disillusion of democracy within the country".
Murray did not answer repeated calls to his phone.
The painting was bought by a German private collector for 136,000 rands (about $16,000) a day before the exhibition opened.
The Congress of South African Trade Unions, an ANC ally, said it was "disgusted at the demeaning portrait".
"This picture is offensive and disrespectful not only to an individual but to the democratically elected president of South Africa and therefore to the whole country and the people of South Africa," complained the fiery labour movement.
A promotional flyer described Murray's collection as "acerbic attacks on abuses of power, corruption and political dumbness" and "attempts to humorously expose the paucity of morals and greed within the ruling elite."

GEMA: The Myth and Lies of the Kikuyu Connection

The coronation of Uhuru Kenyatta
as the GEMA presidential candidate.
Photo/Jesse Mwangi
BY CHARLES WACHIRA

"Gema is going round telling Kenyans only a Kikuyu can lead this country again. This is misleading... We had a Kikuyu as the first Head of State when the country attained independence and now we have a Kikuyu as the president. Who says that other women outside the Mt. Kenya region have not borne children bright enough to lead this country?" — Charles Njonjo
"You first murdered Pio Gama Pinto, and you told us that he was simply a Goan, then you murdered Tom Mboya and you went ahead to explain to us that he was a member of the Luo community, today we are finally burying one of our own who has also been murdered by the same government, what are you going to tell us this time round," asked a distraught, Mama Habiba, one of the many anonymous mourners who had turned up during the interment of Josiah Mwangi Kariuki, a flamboyant and populist politician at his Gilgil farm, in the Rift Valley.
Recalling this unraveling incident that took place in 1975, Wanyiri Kihoro, now a lawyer but formerly a legislator and political detainee, says this single sanguinary blight in the chequered history of Kenya, pervasively brought to the fore the existing estrangement existing between the governors and the governed at the time, nicely defining a chasm that cut across the ethnic, religious and gender aisle.
"Mama Habiba hailed from Majengo area within Nyeri County. When she spoke at the funeral, she captured the looming mood of the country," explains Kihoro, then just one of the ubiquitous students drawn from the University of Nairobi who had attended the burial of J.M, as the legislator was fondly known; an event which signally indicted the establishment under the peremptory heel of President Jomo Kenyatta of committing the heinous crime.
A sanctioned parliamentary inquiry headed by the late Elijah Mwangale, a former Foreign Affairs Minister, into the murder revealed that Kenyatta's underlings held the quintessential smoking gun.
Then the international media speculated that the murder of the gregarious MP, a man widely thought to harbour presidential ambitions, had the latent effect of stirring a people-led revolution, jettisoning the plutocracy that underlined the Establishment of Kenyatta.
To date, 37 years after the grisly murder, not a single soul has been persecuted; a phenomenon that sorely symbolizes the anaemic and enfeebled stature of Kenya’s judicial arrangement.
When the current President, Mwai Kibaki -- himself a Kikuyu and the only Cabinet Minister drawn from the Kenyatta Government to attend the funeral -- ascended to the presidency in 2002 the world was inauspicious that the JM file would be rifled out, triggering a much-waited-for but belated public inquiry into the murder, bearing in mind that during the emotive funeral Kibaki had publicly proclaimed that "even if it takes 100 years, we will get to know who killed J.M."
With no follow up to date, 10 years after been elected President, Kibaki's words will immortally be remembered by generations to come as part of the legacy of a politician who, in times of convenience, sought the I.D. of a recidivist addicted to hyperbole.
For, after all, politicians all over the world cherish nothing better than getting an opportunity that allows them to be seen as casting their lot with the underdogs. Veritably, President Kibaki is analogous to this tribe. "The irony was that JM Kariuki belonged to the Kikuyu community, just like Kenyatta himself. And so did Mr. Kungu Karumba who, coincidently, had been incarcerated together with Kenyatta prior to independence, but who disappeared without trace soon after Kenya got independence.
And the Government of Kenyatta was thought to be behind the disappearance. But the most telling of events was the fallout between Kenyatta and his acolytes with Mr. Bildad Kagia, also a former prisonmate of Kenyatta, who also happened to be a Kikuyu. He suffered political persecution for the sin of bearing an ideological bent that identified itself with Socialism, while the inner circle of the Kenyatta regime favoured a rapacious form of larceny that was conveniently wrapped up as capitalism," says Wanyiri.
Tellingly, the assassination of JM, the disappearance of Kungu and ostracization of Kagia, all exclusive members of the Kikuyu community, by a Government whose reins were in the hands of arguably one of their own, opens up the seminal query of whether the Kikuyu community can truly be labeled as being a homogeneous society as some people would wish to believe, or whether the term heterogeneous is much more suitable.
Fact: In big measure, its believed that the guerrilla warfare, famously referred to as the Mau Mau (1952 – 1958) war, which is widely thought to have speeded up the departure of the invading British colonial Administration, leading to Kenya’s independence or "Uhuru na Bedera" in 1963 remains relevant today as a classical study of the disparate mosaic that is the Kikuyu nation. For example...
As the protracted war, whose central theater was within the Mt. Kenya region -- a forested swathe of real estate settled predominately by the Gema community-- got underway, cold acts of fratricide morphed with unparalleled zeal as members of the community opted either to become quislings (Home Guards) of the British army aka "Kamutimus" or, alternatively, freedom fighters (Njamba cia ita).
It was rather telling that even on the eve of independence, the differences between these two groups subtly played out behind the scenes as some of the former freedom fighters temporarily balked in leaving the forest, arguing that land -- the resource which had led them to the war front in the first instance -- which had been expropriated by the British and the local quislings must be handed back to their rightful owners. In a way, what the freedom fighters were expressing was an axiom that pontificates that the absence of war does not amount to the possession of peace.
Kenyatta, who scandalously denied having been part of the gallant Mau Mau freedom army and his oligarchy -- disproportionately stitched up of Home Guards -- understandably thought the thinking of the Mau Mau remnants was basically farcical.
It is popularly believed that a sizable number of the intransigent fighters were eventually tracked down and mowed down under a hail of gunfire by Home Guards who had been handed a tacit go-ahead by Kenya’s inaugural first government. The vile incident has remained a hush-hush affair in government circles for rather obvious reasons.
Unfortunately, the historical burden of being a member of the Kikuyu community -- because vicariously, that’s what it is -- has not escaped the ivory towers too where occasionally, biased interpretation or interrogation of the role played by members of the Kikuyu community in emancipating the country from the clutches of British imperial rule has remained a dubiety. Can you imagine?
For according to a derisory lot of enthusiastic sophists who occasionally view history through ethnic lenses and sometimes appear to ail from self-inflicted amnesia, the Mau Mau war was simply a tribal affair (read Kikuyu) and had nothing to do with the granting of independence in 1963.
A random pick on the academic works of Professors William Ochieng' and Bethwell Ogot and Dr. Henry Mwanzi will attest to this, with the celebrated and internationally acclaimed local novelist Prof. Ngugi wa Thiongo -- a Kikuyu elder -- receiving arguably the short shrift for highlighting the nationalistic valour displayed by particularly the Mau Mau during the war leading to independence.
Said the local Weekly Review magazine of October 1984: “Historians have been taking him (Prof. Ngugi wa Thiongo) to task over what they see as a distortion of history in his novels, particularly in regard to the role of the Mau Mau and that of the late Jomo Kenyatta in the struggle for Kenya’s independence. Led by Professor William Ochieng, now famous for his passionate dislike of Ngugi’s work (some say it is personal), other prominent historians who have taken time out to discredit his literary achievements include Professor Bethwell Ogot and Dr. Henry Mwanzi.”
Elsewhere, the senseless murder of Tom Mboya on July 5 1969 doubly triggered an ethnic backlash whose aftermath continues to reverberate to date, as the world noted a burgeoning of an intractable political relationship between Mboya’s Luo community and Kenyatta’s Kikuyu tribe, which has transcended the passage of time.
It turns out that a small cabal imbibed with hubris that had the ear of President Kenyatta -- exclusively drawn from the Kikuyu tribe, and which traced its ancestral roots to Kiambu County -- believed that it possessed an ethnic linage blessed with an entitlement to rule the country.
"Events took an ugly turn after 1969. A powerful and influential group, surrounding a senescent President Kenyatta, was intent on retaining power at any cost. It is now public knowledge that the membership was made up of Mbiyu Koinange who happened to be Kenyatta's brother in law, including serving as the Minister of State; Dr. Njoroge Muigai, who headed the powerful Ministry of Defence, and who coupled up as Kenyatta's personal doctor; Ngengi Muigai, who happened to be a nephew of the President; and the late Dickson Kihika Kimani and Njenga Karume -- two heavyweights who were arguably Kenyatta's alter egos. Coincidentally, all these guys, including the President himself, hailed from Kiambu," says Mr. Koigi Wa Wamwere, a former legislator and political detainee.
According to Koigi, after the murder of Mboya, an internecine plot with heavy ethnic undertones was executed by the group which witnessed the coerced act of oathing taking place in parts of the country with the target been locals of Kikuyu extract.
"Kikuyus of all persuasions were forcibly given an oath and were also required to pay KSh. 5 for the exercise. The event which began in late 1969 running up to 1972, had a clarion call that pontificated that the Presidency of the country was the exclusive business of those born in Kiambu County. Leadership of the country would never pass River Chania, they foreswore. Gullible Kikuyus were made to believe that their collective safety would only be assured if a Kikuyu remained President," explains Kihoro.
Today its logical to state without watching your back, that the forces intent on keeping the presidency within Kiambu county were at the time throwing straws against the wind, in other words they were engaged in perpetrating a rearguard action.
Why?
Simply because since Kenyatta’s death, his two predecessors so far, trace their roots away from the Kiambu region.
And if Kihoro is to be believed, the oathing at times went horribly wrong, like when worshippers of the Presbyterian Church of East Africa (PCEA) based in Naivasha, Rift Valley, -- almost all of Kikuyu extraction -- refused to take the oath, arguing that their faith forbid them to embrace atavistic practices such as oath taking. As a result, they were allegedly summarily shot dead.
Seeking a ballast to further entrench possession of redoubtable power, Kenyatta in his twilight years forced the hand of then Attorney General, Charles Njonjo, to register an organisation that would ostensibly advance the economic, social and political goals of the Kikuyu people, including their related kindred, the Embu and Meru.
This led in 1971 to the registration of GEMA (an acronym for Gikuyu, Embu, and Meru Association) Holdings.
Ironically, despite Njonjo being a Kikuyu himself, he overtly displayed a punfunctionary interest in the goals of GEMA Holdings. Privately, he held the top membership of the organisation in severance. And as proof of his disdain for the group’s goals, in 1976 he saber rattled the leadership of the organisation, with a sophistry that spelt out that to "imagine, think or compass" the death of a sitting president would be considered a treasonable act.
At the time, the GEMA leadership was plotting to snooker the automatic ascendancy of the Vice President -- Daniel arap Moi, a chap who cut the sorry image of a wooden character with a disposition cut out for the sticks alone -- to the acme of power, notably the presidency, in the event Kenyatta’s health suffered irreparably, or if he became incapacitated or in the extreme, died in office.
Suffice it to point out that upon the death of Kenyatta in August 1978, a hesitant Moi received a popular mandate to run the country, thus throwing a spanner in the works for the 1976 change-the-constitution group which, beginning in August of the previous year, had embraced an itinerant character as it traveled the length and breadth of the GEMA territory, preaching a gospel that sought to stymie the inchoate ambitions of the then Baringo Central MP, a geographical locale ensconced within the vast Rift Valley country.
A year later, an emboldened Government under the heel of a now confident arap Moi issued a legal writ banning all tribal organizations, GEMA Holdings being the exemplar. But bad blood between Moi and Njonjo saw the duo break up, catapulting Njonjo to political wilderness for close to 15 years. Today, a rejuvenated and reinvented Njonjo is hogging public attention with invectives towards a resurrected GEMA raising the specter of carrying out an old war by other means.
Said this former Constitutional Affairs Minister recently, "GEMA is going round telling Kenyans only a Kikuyu can lead this country again. This is misleading….We had a Kikuyu as the first Head of State when the country attained independence and now we have a Kikuyu as the president. Who says that other women outside the Mt. Kenya region have not borne children bright enough to lead this country?"
Njonjo was alluding to the endorsement of Uhuru Kenyatta, the political scion of the Kenyatta household, by a cross section of political, business and spiritual leaders drawn from the GEMA fraternity, as the preferred Presidential flag bearer for the Mt. Kenya region, the ancestral home of the GEMA populace.
The elections which are scheduled not later than March 2013 have also drawn in three other candidates from the region who have also declared publicly that they too will be running for the country’s top seat. "This endorsement is bad and should be discarded if we want Kenya to be free of tribalism," said Dr. David Gitari, retired Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Kenya.
Both Njonjo and the retired man of the cloth are widely thought to be batting for Prime Minister Raila Odinga, a member of the Luo community in the forthcoming Presidential race, despite the duo tracing their ancestral to the Kikuyu community. Like Uhuru, Raila also traces his roots to a powerful political dynasty that is equivalent to a local Croesus. "Rubbish" is what Justin Muturi, a confidant of Uhuru thinks of the assertions of Njonjo and company.
Charity begins at home, he says, providing a somewhat fitting anecdote. "When Raila ran for the presidency in 1997 on a National Development Party (NDP) ticket, the voter turnout in his ancestral Luo Nyanza was an overwhelming 98%, and five years later when he famously endorsed Kibaki for the Presidency, voter turnout in Luo Nyanza dwindled significantly to about 60%.
What does that tell you about the voting patterns in the country? And even in Europe the belief that all politics is local resonates very well as witnessed in the UK where the Liberal Democrats opted to form a coalition government with the Conservative Party despite having more in common with the Labour Party. Why? Because Gordon Brown, the leader of the Labour Party, is Scottish, while David Cameron is English, just like the leader of the Liberal Democrats. It’s therefore a total fallacy that when members of the GEMA community meet, the conclave is labeled tribal but when other communities meet to discuss their affairs it’s considered OK.
Also one needs to recall that when Raila visited parts of Luhyaland a while back, he reminded the audience that he belonged to the linage of Nabongo Mumia, adding that it was now 'their time' to lead. Why was this public pronouncement not given latitude, but when we as GEMA people say Uhuru Kenyatta will be our Presidential flag bearer, people make all sorts of noises? When Musalia Mudavadi sort endorsement for his presidential ambition, did he not initially seek blessings from his ancestral Luhya backyard?"
Even Muthui Kariuki, a media advisor to Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka, who identifies himself as a Kikuyu elder, says there is nothing wrong in an ethnic group meeting to chart their way forward. Pointing out that not all Kikuyus are members of GEMA because entrée into the organisation requires one to purchase a membership card, Mr. Muthui says ethnicity should be the least of factors when deciding whom should led the country.
"It’s totally wrong for anybody to suggest that someone should not run for public office simply because they hail from a certain community. Mature democracies eschew that sort of archaic thinking. Look, I taught Mr. Peter Kenneth, one of the presidential candidates, in Starehe High school, here in Nairobi. If one needed a reason to back him up, I believe I posses all the required qualifications. He happens to be a Kikuyu like myself and I am very well acquainted to him, as well. But I believe that as a country we should avoid parochialism. Lets vote in, the best possible candidate because our destiny as country is intertwined. If we vote in a capable leader, the entire spectrum of the country benefits and the converse is true. As a Kikuyu elder, I find nothing wrong with GEMA people congregating together."
Veritably, a legion of GEMA naysayers are agreed about the relevance and role of the outfit today, arguing that the organisation is quintessentially a club catering exclusively for the interests of elitist drawn from the Mt. Kenya region, alone. "GEMA is a club of Kikuyu aristocrats. Non elitist leaders from the Kikuyu community such as the late Prof. Wangari Maathai, Paul Muite, Peter Kenneth, Martha Karua including myself cannot be admitted into the organisation.This is because our interests and those of the Kikuyu aristocrats are different. When Mr. Maina Njenga, formerly leader of the Mungiki sect, initially attended the Limuru One discussions, he was denied an opportunity to address the attendees. Why? Because he is a member of the hoi polloi class. It is therefore mischievous to say all Kikuyus are members of GEMA," says Koigi.

Friday, May 18, 2012

EXCLUSIVE: A PNU cabinet Minister infected me with HIV/AIDS


The PNU High Command.
A real life story narrated to the Kenya Daily Post. I've tried to re-write it as best as I can without altering the content, but gave up eventually. All spelling and grammatical errors are not mine. - Ed. 

Elizabeth Wanjiru ‘Shiro’ is a young lady whose life history has unfolded in a way she never envisioned. 2007 was a big year for her. She was a young, beautiful, healthy, perfectly endowed and charismatic student at the University of Nairobi. Her zeal and ambition in life was overflowing. Elizabeth was quite vocal and active in campus politics. An avenue that her fellow female mates refrained from. She pushed for agendas and actively participated in motions in the university’s political sphere. This made the then Secretary General of SONU, G.G Kariuki, notice her.

Kariuki approached her with a proposal. He wanted to have her in a project dubbed as ‘Vijana na Kibaki’ - an initiative aiming at conglomerating the youth in support of Kibaki’s second presidential bid. The young individuals were meant to advocate for the president to have a second term in office and in reward, were flooded with hefty allowances. Shiro like many other University students, survived on a shoe string budget. Making some cash outside the pocket money she received from home sounded like the ideal plot.

She was the only female in the 8 member group. Her presence in the group was meant to alter the composition of the group to seem like it was gender sensitive. The group kicked off with a lot of vigour. Days flew. Contacts were made. Her presence was felt...

*……*…..*……*…..*

One day, a youth meeting was held at the PNU headquarters bringing together diverse campus representatives. The meeting was only meant for those in PNU’s pay roll. In attendance were individuals such as Sylvester Kweyu, the then Kenyatta University Students Union (KUSA) chairman. Additionally, Mike, who was a Secretary General of one of the Universities, was also in the congregation.

The meeting went on well until KU’s Mwenda Gitobu noticed that Mike was in the congregation. He shot up halting the meeting, firing accusations that the meeting had been sabotaged by ODM snitches.
Note:  At the time, bad blood was precipitating between ODM and PNU. The situation was nasty with some individuals swearing to die to keep their partisan loyalty alive.

A scuffle mushroomed between the two groups causing chaos in the area. The meeting was being held at a house next to the DOD (Department of Defence ) along Lenana Road, where the PNU HQ’s were located. Other executive officials of the party were in attendance and were situated in an office just opposite the press area where the youth were. A trail down the headquarters led to some rented external public toilets.

Having heard the noise made from the scuffle, a powerful PNU Cabinet Minister came to calm the situation down. Since time immemorial, the Minister has always held top respected positions in Government. His influential nature calmed the situation down.

Shiro in a bid to ease the chaos tension, walked down to the loos to relieve herself. Coincidentally, Mheshimiwa also headed to the ‘Public loos’ to take a breather. There, he met the beautiful Shiro and introduced himself. The two gave each other their compliments and exchanged numbers. A friendship bond was formed. Little did she know that this friendship would grow to something more.

*…..*……*……*…..

Shiro forged ahead viewing that the meeting with the Minister was just but a contact she had created. The  following week she attended a PNU meeting at Manor House situated in Manor Lane in Karen.(Manor is a posh exclusive avenue where a fairy tale wedding was once conducted by Kiss 100 as a reward to its avid listeners.) The group of 8 campus representatives spent the night there. However, on the day that the group was meant to leave, the PNU Cabinet Minister called up Shiro. He told her that he had sent his driver to pick her up as he longed to see her again.

True to his word, he sent an exquisite limousine that drove her to the Serena Hotel where the two had late lunch and spent some time getting familiar with each another.  They continued their rendezvous and sooner than later, they became more than friends.

Years passed. Kibaki retained his position as the president of the Republic. The Post Election Violence almost consumed the country. By the time the situation had calmed down, Shiro was through with campus. Hungry for a job, she consulted the Mheshimiwa who through his influence got her a job at Kenya Re-Insurance. Shiro was not the type to date young men who she deemed to be immature. She now had herself a rich sponsor (Mheshimiwa) who bought her a lavish car and a beautiful apartment in Nairobi’s South B area. How to spend money was what the big question for her now was. Her love life with Mheshimiwa flourished...

However, in 2010, she began falling ill. A flu wouldn’t leave her. One day as she was driving from her parent’s house in Thika, she decided to check in St. Francis Hospital in Mwiki. The doctors carried tests on her and after taking her blood samples found out that she was HIV positive. She was shocked beyond belief. She had been faithful to Mheshimiwa; had he not returned the favour? No. Intriguingly, he was quite aware of his health status and had kept it a secret. He had ruined her years of hard work and spiked her future.

Late last year, she called Classic 105 Breakfast show and narrated her ordeal to Maina Kageni and King’ang’i in the morning. As she spoke, one would tell that she was in so much pain. Her conclusion in the show was simple: if she went back in time, she would never hook up with the Minister. In her words, "He gave me everything that mattered then, but took away everything that I need now..."

Elizabeth Wanjiru has vowed to go public in 2013 (After elections) and tell her story, even naming the Minister. She aims at campaigning against the animosity that influential politicians subject innocent girls to.
We at the DAILY POST thank her for giving us the exclusive interview at 680 Hotel in town. We will continue supporting her emotionally.
All the best Shiro!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Interesting turn of events at The Star today

Just this morning, I logged on to The Star website and loaded this page. As things go, work took over, and wasn't able to finish the article. Whereupon, I sent the link to one of my trusted sources to muse at, but alas! The page has been brought down, complete with a 404 error. Thankfully, I still have it loaded and here are snapshots of the entire article.

What do you think?








Friday, May 4, 2012

NEWSFLASH: THE EAST AFRICAN COURT OF JUSTICE HAS NO CAPACITY TO TRY KENYAN ICC CASES

Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto need to change lawyers
if they are serious about winning their cases.
Sorry, boys. - Ed.

By Jerry Okungu
Nairobi, Kenya
May 3, 2012


I watched the EALA parliamentary debate in Nairobi on the ICC cases. I thought the debate was pathetic, ill-informed and downright pedestrian. I could as well have watched that kind of debate in a beer hall or in an assembly called Bunge la Wananchi somewhere in Jeevanjee Gardens of Nairobi.

First of all there are a few basic facts of the ICC Kenya cases and the state of Arusha Court that the MPs completely ignored in their attempt to appease their appointing authorities. They forgot to realize that trying to get the cases back to Kenya or Arusha was an exercise in futility. The horse had bolted a long time ago.

If they really cared for Kenya and wanted cases tried in Arusha, they should have suggested that in 2008 when Kenya was fumbling with a tribunal in Kenya. If they had moved with speed and informed Kofi Annan and the UN that the structures of the Rwanda Court - which was winding up could be converted to a Kenyan court, the whole world would have listened. They never did.

These EALA MPs live in Arusha. They should be aware that just changing the mandate of the EACJ does not make it a criminal court of international standards. To convert the court from its current status - that of merely interpreting EAC Treaty and its protocols to an international criminal court cannot be accomplished in a year or even two years. It will need new buildings, maximum prison cells for holding the accused and tons of money to hire and recruit lawyers and judges of international repute. More critically, well trained and credible criminal investigators and prosecutors will have to be in place to conduct thorough investigations. Or will the EACJ simply borrow the now maligned Ocampo investigation files from the ICC?

All these preparations take time and are very costly. Does the EAC have ready cash to do this or will it still go to the usual foreign masters that they now accuse of running a colonial court for Africans at The Hague? If the EAC’s own institutions are currently partly funded by donor funds, will the same donors fund a court in Arusha when there is a ready court in The Hague just for four Kenyans?

Even if we were to assume that the trials would be heard by the current judges who are all political appointees of the summit members, will there be any credibility in these hearings? Will there be justice in these courts? What will stop them from pandering to the whims of the regional heads of state? What will stop our regional judges from being partisan and biased in favour of the accused in Kenya just as the EALA members appeared to be during their debate?

During the EALA debate in Nairobi, it was evident that the real motivation for EALA legislators to get cases to Arusha was a mere political PR to please a section of the Kenya government and had nothing to do with genuine search for justice for post-election victims and their villains.

During their debate, the legislators demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt that they had no clue about the political dynamics of Kenya, hence their emotional contributions about baseless conspiracy theories. It was the kind of argument we would have expected from primary school kids in their school debates.

The one MP that seemed to make sense was Hon. Lododo from Kenya but his voice of reason was drowned in a din of hecklers that seemed to have been coached and choreographed to win the debate at any cost.

For the benefit of our honourable members at EALA, Kenyans are tired of this ICC debate. We want it concluded so that we can move on with our lives. Four Kenyans cannot hold our country at ransom for years. They have a chance to prove their innocence at The Hague just as two of their colleagues did during the pretrial. If need be, they need to change lawyers if they are serious about winning their cases in the next round.

However, EALA and the EAC Heads of State are at liberty to set up a regional tribunal to try 5,000 other suspects of post-election violence which the Kenya government has refused to prosecute.

Trying the four suspects in Kenya is fraught with a myriad logistical problem. Kenyans have no capacity to contain riots that may affect the trials. Examples abound when during the pretrial at The Hague, close to 100 MPs travelled to The Hague to show solidarity with the accused. And how did they show that? They went singing and making fools of themselves on the streets of Amsterdam after they had been locked out of the courtrooms. Imagine what they would do at Arusha next door! There would be lorry loads of rented crowds waiving banana leaves every morning travelling to Arusha. There would be no peace in Arusha during the trials.

Just last week, Kenya got the taste of rowdy supporters when leaders of the Mombasa Republican Council were arrested and taken to court. The police spent the whole day battling supporters that were bent on invading the courts! The same rowdiness greeted the police when they arrested and charged the Mungiki leader with robbery with violence in Nairobi the same week.

Kenya is too volatile for the trial of the four suspects locally. It is better to even consider a country like Ghana, Senegal or Morocco as possible trial venues if all we are against are trials on a European soil.

jerryokungu@gmail.com