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January 17, 2019

Uhuru's Advisers On Diplomacy And ICC Are His Worst Enemies

President Uhuru Kenyatta. Photo/Jack Owuor
President Uhuru Kenyatta. Photo/Jack Owuor

  Though I have been where Uhuru, Ruto and Sang are – in Kenya and not The Hague – and truly wish them well, I advise them to seek the best advice to escape their trap.

Though Uhuru and Ruto supporters believe their every critic is an enemy, wise people know, even shoes of a bad Banian merchant are medicine.

When during the presidential debate Uhuru said his trial was a personal challenge he was not truthful with the nation. For the government to fight for him and pay his legal bills, he has now correctly admitted his trial is a national challenge. That Uhuru and Ruto are now President and Deputy President and government is financing their defense, every Kenyan now has the right to discuss the conduct of the trials.

Even without the consent of Kenyans, the government has been handling ICC trials as state matters advised by Githu Muigai, Amina Mohammed and Macharia Kamau, the Kenyan Ambassador to the UN. But so far, their advice has been unmitigated disaster. On many forums, Kenya has lost one application after another. These advisers must now take blame for all these setbacks and failures of a case that has become a millstone round the neck of Kenya.

For picking these advisers and taking their advice, Uhuru and Ruto must also take blame and ultimate responsibility. When most leaders choose advisers, they only expect consent, sycophancy and praise from them in return for jobs, rewards and favours. Critical advice must however be given even when it is unwelcome and risky.

As President and Deputy President, Uhuru and Ruto and their cases are public property which Kenyan taxpayers are funding and own and have every right to discuss and criticize.

While Uhuru is President, he will be the driver of our matatu, Ruto its co-driver and advisers its conductors. When Uhuru and Ruto drive the matatu recklessly, unlike on the roads where they are passive to a fault, Kenyans must demand the matatu to be driven more safely or it will kill us all.

With the ICC cases, Kenya is in a Safari Rally where Uhuru is the driver and his advisers are the navigators. When advisers give wrong directions, the car skids and veers off the road into a ditch. The people who hired Uhuru to drive their matatu must ask him to change conductors or he will lose the race.

What then must Uhuru and Ruto do to avoid future blunders and losing the race?

Not to lose ICC cases, Kenyans must understand things better. Their driver must observe traffic rules or be red-carded and his navigators must give him better directions. So far, advisers have done a very poor job.

To save themselves from the ICC fiasco, Uhuru and Ruto should look for criticism as people look for medicine. They should frankly look at all areas where they have failed to avoid a future catastrophe. In the past, this is where Uhuru and Ruto have failed.

First, they and other Kenyan politicians engaged in ethnic mobilization of communities for votes and power. This gave birth to post-election violence.

Second, to try perpetrators of post-election violence, Uhuru and Ruto voted for ICC instead of a local tribunal. This is why the trio is in The Hague.

Third, faced with ICC cases, Uhuru and Ruto should not have vied for presidency and deputy presidency. They should have skipped elections to clear their names with ICC first. This is why their case is so complicated today.

Fourth, Uhuru and Ruto should have admitted ICC trials were a national and not personal challenge to allow them to sacrifice for the nation rather than force the nation to sacrifice itself for them.

Fifth, Uhuru and Ruto should never have misinformed voters that if they voted for them, a win in the elections would be a guaranteed verdict to terminate the ICC trials.

Sixth, Uhuru and Ruto should never have claimed to the world that ICC was a neo-colonialist and imperialist court when Kenya had voluntarily ratified its Rome Stature and enjoined ICC as part of its judiciary.

Seventh, the subterfuge of the deferral application was too opportunistic and transparent to win support.

Eighth, the attack on British diplomats in the name of Uhuru and Ruto in the Uansin Gishu County was too crude a bravado and expression of desperation to help the ICC cases.

Ninth, Uhuru and Ruto should not have championed the cause of sitting African presidents not to be prosecuted for crimes against humanity knowing that would turn African leaders into dictators and life presidents and alienate support from them.  

Tenth, Kenyan diplomats have chest thumped so much that they have turned Kenya into a Goliath that cannot win sympathy anywhere.

Meanwhile, Uhuru and Ruto team has made only one qualified victory of winning elections.

The following advice might be unwelcome but pride comes before a fall.

For Uhuru and Ruto to save themselves from further ICC problems, their advisers must base all their advice on truth, never on falsehood or propaganda. Uhuru and Ruto must not defy ICC and refuse to attend trial. Uhuru and Ruto must always listen to advisers of truth like Micaiah and never to lies of 400 prophets of Baal. To save Kenya and themselves from future catastrophe, Uhuru and Ruto must never embrace the seemingly innocent but reckless and dangerous philosophy of “the end justifies the means.”

To succeed, the Kenyan ICC trio and government must avoid fighting on too many fronts. As they say in Kiswahili, if you chase two animals simultaneously, one must escape.

People in war maximize friends and minimise enemies, they don’t make enemies of old friends.

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