Wednesday, June 25, 2014


So the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) - the main Opposition entity in Kenya - is determined to go ahead with its highly divisive and controversial country-wide rallies against all Government security warnings?

It was not without reason that the Uhuru Administration announced it had cancelled the opposition rallies in Eldoret and Narok this weekend called by Raila Odinga to protest the Government's refusal for a national dialogue over crucial matters affecting the country.

However, one does not need to be a political or security strategist to understand why the Jubilee Coalition is opposed to these and other CORD mass gatherings.

Everyone knows these are not normal times. The country is under attack from terror groups domiciled in Somalia and from sleeper cells within the country. Many people have lost their lives during the past year from brutal gang attacks perpetrated by our enemies, the last one being the Mpeketoni massacre in which more than 60 people were murdered.

In addition, clan clashes and cattle rustling in some parts of northern and western Kenya have heightened insecurity, and continue to cause deaths and displacements and hardships to innocent men, women and children.

All this while politicians go around the country spreading vitriol and inciting people to violence. A number of leaders from both sides of the political divide now face criminal charges resulting from their use of hateful language.

It is my view that these rallies will further polarise the population on partisan and tribal lines and subsequently invite anarchy. That is why I feel CORD should heed Government calls and abandon these meetings for the sake of the country. If the Opposition fails to accede, then it must be prepared to take responsibility for any loss of life and destruction of property that may follow.

Even some of CORD's most ardent members in and outside Parliament are worried about these rallies and have urged restraint. But hardliners in the opposition, led by Raila himself, want to hear nothing of it. No wonder CORD is a divided house over this issue.

The kind of chest-thumping displayed by CORD - and its "wapende wasipende" (whether they like it or not) rhetoric - is not only a show of reckless defiance but a recipe for chaos in a country that is already facing many other challenges that require the urgent attention of authorities.

True, every Kenyan has a constitutional right to free speech. But hiding behind the Constitution to engage in activities that are clearly a danger to peace is unpatriotic and myopic.

And that is my say.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014


The single-party era is gone perhaps never to return; Daniel Arap Moi, who is usually blamed for having plunged Kenya into a dictatorship is no longer the President; and detention laws that saw many people sent to prison for long periods of time no longer exist.

That is why I was astounded by the absurd rumours circulating in the social media speculating on the possible arrest and detention of CORD leader Raila Odinga soon after President Uhuru Kenyatta had appeared on television to explain the Mpeketoni massacre.

The politically-savvy Kenyans had interpreted the reported deployment of additional security personnel to some parts of Nairobi such as Kibera and Mathare; and to parts of Western Kenya such as Bungoma and Kakamega, as evidence that an arrest was indeed imminent.

The rumours had some semblance of credibility because the areas chosen for the reported deployment are generally perceived to be CORD strongholds. The chorus therefore was that security personnel were deployed there to contain possible demonstrations expected to follow the arrest.

There is no provision under the constitution for arbitrary political arrests and detention without trial. A definite charge under the Penal Code has to be preferred. So unless, Raila and other opposition leaders commit an offence of a criminal nature, no one can touch them.

The only thing the CORD brigade has to do is to be careful in their utterances because charges such as incitement have broad interpretations and could be used to lock them up.

But having said that, I am at a loss - like many Kenyans - over where our country is headed to. For close to a year, our biggest concern has been terrorism and how to deal with it. Indeed, more than one hundred people have been killed through terror acts.

However, we now seem to be crossing over to a sensitive territory in which some of us are talking about "ethnic profiling" and "ethnic cleansing" in relation to the Mpeketoni killings, the kind of language used during the 2007/2008 post election violence and during other tribal clashes before that.

Those were also the same phrases that took Rwanda through a protracted civil war. I don't think we Kenyans want to go there.

After dozens of attacks blamed on terrorism in various parts of the country and a huge loss of lives and destruction of property let Mpeketoni be the last. But to achieve that we all need to pull together as a nation and not be distracted by political, tribal or religious differences.

That is why I feel strongly that Raila should - despite his determination to continue - cancel all the remaining political rallies and find other less confrontational avenues of airing his views.

And that is my say.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014


If there are people out there who thought Raila Odinga had changed - because of age - from a revolutionary agitator and tormentor of President Daniel Arap Moi in the 1980s, to a softy too exhausted to return punches, let them think again, because current political events do not support that line of thought.

If anything, Raila, a one-time political fugitive and detainee, and currently leader of the opposition Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD), has mellowed with time; and in the process acquired a sting that is more potent; a determination that is more resolute; and a following that is exceedingly more fanatical, almost cultist. 

Even at his advanced age of 70 years, Raila seems far from hanging up his boots. His recent three month-long sabbatical in the United States appears to have injected some kind of magical energy into a man who, not too long ago, was boring us with incessant complaints about a stolen election.

Instead of whining about a lost opportunity, Raila has now decided to wage an all-out war against the Jubilee Government of Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto, perhaps with the intention of making life as difficult as possible for the two to enjoy restful nights and spare time to implement their development agenda.

What Uhuru and Ruto initially thought was a political gimmick on the part of Raila intended to win public sympathy following the controversial Supreme Court ruling that favoured Jubilee, has now turned out to be a nagging headache threatening our stability. 

With a growing list of "to do" items on its in-tray, the Government appears to be under siege both in and outside Parliament. It is obvious too that the political and psychological damage likely to arise from the upcoming country-wide CORD rallies, is more than what the Jubilee Government - or any African government for that matter - is capable of absorbing.

The threat of increased insecurity both from within and from without the country cannot be ruled out because nothing will stop elements of evil from riding on the rallies and causing deaths and damage. And that is the reason why I am opposed to the planned gatherings.

The Jubilee Government may have been slow in implementing its core policies since taking over more than a year ago, but it deserves a chance. The prevailing toxic political landscape will not help to make things better.

Nevertheless, I hope security agencies will ensure maximum security for people attending the rallies as well as those, like me, who want to be left in peace.

What Uhuru and Ruto must do now - as a matter of urgency - is to put on their thinking hats and come up with a broad-based solution before this circus turns ugly.

And that is my say.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014


If what Mithika Linturi is telling Kenyans has traction, then Devolution Cabinet Secretary Anne Waiguru is as good as roasted.

The Igembe South Member of Parliament is telling us that he has in his pocket enough parliamentary votes to send Waiguru home in what could be the first successful case of impeachment involving a Government Minister since independence.

In a rare show of bravado never seen in Kenya's political circus, the flamboyant legislator has snubbed all attempts by his seniors in the Jubilee Government led by President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto, to persuade him to drop the Motion that seeks to punish Waiguru for allegedly violating the law. A meeting called by the President at State House this week failed to nudge the fiery politician into toeing the Jubilee line. He made it clear he would not be cowed.

From what we gather, Waiguru's biggest sin was her decision to send packing the National Youth Service Director Kiplimo Rugut, a Kalenjin, and replacing him with Dr. Nelson Githinji, a Kikuyu. In Kenya's divisive lingo, Waiguru, who is a Kikuyu, is guilty of tribalism.

Since then, the Rugut matter has dominated political discourse in the corridors of Parliament and in public fora, and is threatening unity in the Rift Valley, a vote-rich region that contributed immensely to the victory of the Jubilee Coalition in 2013.

It is not that Rugut was sacked altogether. No, he was only transferred to another department where he continues to serve albeit in a different role. Since the days of the colonial civil service, staff transfers in government have been viewed as routine carried out for a variety of reasons. As the official in charge of the National Youth Service, Waiguru was within her mandate to make the changes, even though Linturi and others think otherwise, citing the principle of regional distribution.

The Waiguru case is a litmus test for President Kenyatta. My worry is, if Waiguru is removed what will prevent other overzealous legislators from doing the same to other Cabinet Ministers? In my view, impeachment is not the answer to mismanagement problems. In any case, all Cabinet Secretaries were thoroughly vetted by Parliament and found suitable to serve.

This is not to say the National Assembly should be a sitting lame duck that ignores violations of the law by senior officials. However, as they carry out their constitutional oversight duties, legislators must not be seen to be attempting to destabilise the government, and cause more suffering to wananchi.

The time and energy spent over this matter could be put to better use in service delivery to Kenyans,

And that is my say.

Sunday, June 1, 2014


If I was a teacher and I was asked to grade CORD's rally last Saturday, I would give the opposition coalition an A plus in crowd pull, C in substance, A in noise-making and D in protocol

There is no doubt that the Uhuru Park rally held to celebrate Raila Odinga's return from a two month sabbatical in the United States was humongous, comparable - in my opinion - only to the congregation that ushered in the opposition National Rainbow Coalition at the same venue on 14 October 2002.

The human mass at the historic grounds was befitting "Baba" and was definitely what the doctor had ordered for a coalition which, only a few weeks ago, was on the brink of oblivion. But the chaos seen at the meeting; from poor crowd control, to protocol bungles, to repetitive content, and most importantly to the absence of a clear change message - played havoc to wananchi's high expectations for a substantive political shift.

It was obvious then that the cacophonous chants of "Uhuru must go" and "bado mapambano" (aluta continua) were not purposeless. They were well choreographed to embarrass the President.

What the people - some coming as far away as Busia on the border with Uganda and Mombasa on the Indian Ocean - wanted to hear was a message about "revolution"; of "taking over State House"; of the "Arab-like Spring". They certainly were not interested in the beat-up talk about corruption, insecurity and high cost of living, issues the opposition itself has failed to provide alternatives. That's why the crowd was restless and unquiet, unwilling to listen without clamour to anyone including, at some point, Raila himself.

More than once the meeting appeared to be out of control. Even the most significant piece of news of the day; the request to President Uhuru Kenyatta to convene a national dialogue came out jumbled. Co-leader Kalonzo Musyoka talked of a July seven parlour while Raila spoke of a sixty-day ultimatum. Nor did it come out clearly from the speeches whether CORD wanted  a meeting to discuss the prevailing challenges only or the opposition's inclusion in government as well.

That is why as he responded to the request during Madaraka Day celebrations the following day, Uhuru appeared not to know exactly what CORD wanted. It was refreshing that before the end of the day, Raila had fired a statement to the media clarifying that he was not interested in negotiating a place in government but in discussing matters of national concern.

In the past we have seen at opposition rallies fairly efficient arrangements on matters protocol with a well-defined line-up of speakers from the lowest to the highest. But the Saturday meeting was devoid of such finesse and the result was close to chaos as multiple leaders congregated near the microphone each wanting to speak.

To me the rally was an anti-climax and fell far short of what we had been told to expect. It was a victory for democracy though and a confirmation that political meetings can be held peacefully without cause for alarm.

However, with the euphoria of Raila's return now fast drifting into history, it remains to be seen what CORD's next strategy will be. Holding public rallies across the country without a clear message of tangible change will only drive opposition supporters further into a state of restlessness and give the Jubilee coalition a head start as we approach the 2017 elections.

And that is my say.