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Saturday, March 25, 2017

Losing one’s temper is not abuse of office, but sending KRA after Joho is

President Uhuru Kenyatta with Mombasa governor Hassan Joho./FILE

Everyone is supposed to be annoyed if the situation calls for annoyance, and everyone is human and therefore they are allowed to throw a tantrum every once in a while.

The throwing of a tantrum, in and of itself, does not necessarily amount to abuse of office.

Main story: Uhuru abuses power, needs our prayers, declares Raila

It only amounts to opening up oneself to ridicule, because people look at you and they say, “Where is the dignity, where is the decorum that we would expect to go with the office?”

You bring the office into indignity. Indignity in the sense that such an office should be emblematic of national unity but is reduced to an institution that can become a laughing stock and the subject of public ridicule alongside the holder of that office.

So I think we can correctly say that the President invites indignity into the Presidency. That does not necessarily mean the same thing as abuse of office. He falls short of the provisions of Article 10 of the Constitution, not because he has abused the office, but because he has brought opprobrium to the office.

We could say it starts gravitating towards abuse of office when he says “tutakunyorosha” (we will sort you out). And he then doesn’t stop at that. We see that, a few days later, the KRA is beginning to follow up someone like Ali Hassan Joho, writing to his bank asking for his bank statements from 2011, six years ago, in what is clearly an act of witch-hunting.

It is witch-hunting because here is one person who has engaged in a mudslinging match with the President and the Head of State decides that if you think you can beat me in mudslinging, let us try the exercise of power and let us see if you can still beat me. So the President, from completely out of the blue, instructs his officers and tells the Kenya Revenue Authority to go for this man – then that is abuse of office.

And it can only be said to be happening at the behest of the President and that, I think, is tragic.

I had thought after 2002, when the Kanu regime went home, that we would never witness such a thing in this country again. I think this should worry everybody. After they are done with Joho, they will move on to someone else.


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