"It’s so sad to watch on TV the outgoing President in rallies heckling, jeering, cursing, insulting and threatening Justice Maraga," grieved an exasperated Kenyan on social media. S/he captured the shock of probably millions of Kenyans wondering exactly what the humble man Maraga and the Judiciary he heads have done to so infuriate the President that he can’t control his temper.
The snarling President is quite different from the jovial, relaxed and approachable ‘laughing’ gentleman Kenyans are used to. This is a different President from the one who advised NASA to go to the same court he now holds in contempt. It’s the same President whose speeches are laced with phrases replete with commitment to uphold “freedoms” and “the rule of law”. No. This ravenous Uhuru Kenyatta is different.
Whatever the snide “outgoing President” quip by that desperate Kenyan is worth, the President has exposed an ideological side of him that few Kenyans are familiar with; traits of a vicious dictator. We all know that anyone can feel aggrieved if they lose a case in court or for any other misfortune.
But for the President to lose composure to the extent of threatening to expunge the Judiciary from the face of Kenya is, to put it mildly, uncharted territory, the proposer rendered unfit to be President. You can’t pretend to swear to respect and protect the Constitution, and at the same time plot to shred the same as takataka (garbage).
Uhuru questioned the Constitution and ought to be cited for impeachment. But that won’t do, however, because he is protected by a parliamentary majority, which he intends to use to make the Judiciary pay for its sins.
The President has spoken with derision, not once, but repeatedly touching on the person of the Chief Justice, the three colleagues who formed the majority to nullify his election and the institution of the Judiciary itself. This is how an enraged Uhuru put it;
“There are a few people who are sitting there thinking they are know-it-alls. Those five, six people should wait for us after citizens decide. Previously I was President-elect. But now Maraga and his trickster colleagues have said that the election is invalid.”
Uhuru was on a character assassination spree.
The Supreme Court was jeered as “a few people”. The judges were disparaged as deluded “know-it-alls”. The implication of a purge of the Judiciary is in the threat “after citizens decide”, meaning when he wins the election. Finally, the judges were insulted and ridiculed as “tricksters”.
Surprisingly, Uhuru spared the IEBC, which in essence led to the nullification. The Supreme Court wasn’t vague when it cited the IEBC for irregularities and illegalities. The President’s venom should have been directed at the commission for not carrying out due diligence, leading to nullification of his election. Instead, he found comfort in protecting them.
Deputy President William Ruto was not left behind in deriding the Judiciary with irony: “Four Kenyan judges staged a coup against the will of the people of Kenya…they booked a prominent place of shame in the history of our country.”
This trajectory to vilify and put the whole justice system into disrepute is unfortunate. The educated conclusion is that the President is running on the promise that should he be elected in the coming rerun, he will obliterate the Judiciary.
The last time the Judiciary faced the ire of the head of state was when President Daniel arap Moi engineered erasure of judges’ security of tenure. The lasting impression the President is now creating is nostalgia for an authoritarian single-party era.
It will be quite a marvel for a country that has won a modicum of democratic transition with a progressive Constitution through the sweat and blood of its patriots to relapse back into dictatorship at the behest of an angry President.
For any conscientious Kenyan intent on protecting the Judiciary and the democratic gains under the new Constitution, and preventing a slide into autocracy, the President has gifted them with reason not to vote for him.