Civil Society Has Become Irrational
Forty days ago, I questioned the wisdom of civil society when a section of them went to meet Prime Minister Raila Odinga with outrageous demands that he sacks Internal Security acting PS for disobeying a court ruling, suspend Attorney General Githu Muigai for consistently misadvising the government and sack Police Commissioner Mathew Iteere for failing to eliminate al Shabaab insurgents.
Today, I revisit the issue on a totally different tangent on the basis of a case currently going on in the High Court challenging the eligibility of William Ruto’s and Uhuru Kenyatta’s participation at the next polls while facing trials at the ICC for crimes against humanity early next year.
Now the same civil society accusers have chosen to include Raila, Musalia Mudavadi and Kalonzo Musyoka on the list of those who should be barred at the polls on the basis of their pasts. They are accusing Raila of taking part in the 1982 failed coup against President Moi’s repressive regime. They are questioning Raila’s academic credentials, of being a land-grabber, a fraudulent funds collector, involvement in the 2007-08 post-election violence and nepotism.
They want the son of Mwingi’s presidential dreams scattered for his alleged involvement in the sale of the Somali embassy in Nairobi, contempt of court at one time in his life, abuse of office in acquiring frequencies for his family, defrauding the public through his insurance company and land grabbing in Yatta and Masongaleni.
The civil society has accused Musalia Mudavadi of perjury during the Goldenberg hearings, grabbing City Council land in Woodley Estate, causing loss of millions of funds while he was the Minister of Local Government, participating in the 2007-08 post-election violence and failing to declare his wealth.
These three accusations are in order. However, whether they can stand the scrutiny of a courtroom battle is yet to be seen. For Kalonzo to be accused of participating in the sale of the Somali Embassy in Nairobi, one will have to prove the specific role he played. For example, who did he conspire with to dispose of the property? Did he or his close relatives stand to gain materially through that sale? What exactly did he do to facilitate the sale?
Did he appear in any court charged with fraud connected with the loss of the Somali embassy? If these salient questions cannot be adequately answered by the accusers, the case will hit a brick wall. The accusations against Mudavadi — involvement in the 1990s Goldenberg scam — has been in court more times than many of us can remember. And every time Mudavadi’s name has been linked to Kamlesh Pattni’s scam, the courts have always cleared him.
The question to ask is this: how can we make the Goldenberg scam stick on Mudavadi when all these years he has been found innocent? What more new evidence do the civil society activists have to revive the case against Mudavadi? Raila is being accused of taking part in the coup attempt of 1982 that sought to overthrow the kleptocratic and repressive regime of Moi.
Civil society has turned 360 degrees on this one. Now they are accusing the very man who tried to overthrow the regime the civil society shouted themselves hoarse against — the regime they variously described as evil, torturous and the epitome of dictatorship and corruption.
In accusing Raila of trying to overthrow Moi’s regime, these groups have forgotten the Nyayo House torture chambers, Nyati House and the Kenyans who lost their lives and limbs under the Moi regime. If indeed five leading candidates have questionable past, what guarantee do we have that the remaining candidates have no skeletons in their closets? Should we expect more people to be enjoined in this case?
Today the civil society groups are at crossroads. They are embarrassingly confused. Today we have two groups of civil society. One group is busy defending the Executive against the Judiciary.
Suddenly a section of the civil society would want to stop the Judiciary from exercising its independence in passing judgments against the Executive’s aggressions against the new constitution while the other group is busy taking the Executive to the cleaners using the new constitution.
These contradictions in the civil society movement make some of us believe that both types are mere guns for hire to sing the tunes of their paymasters. They have no interest of this country at heart. Theirs is politics of the stomach.
The writer is a media consultant. firstname.lastname@example.org.