Monday, July 21, 2008



By Jerry Okungu
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
July 21, 2008

The iron lady from Gichugu in Mt. Kenya region is breathing fire and brimstones. The tough talking political operative who almost slapped Raila Odinga in Parliament a few years ago over the Bomas Constitution is at it again. This time, her guns are trained on former comrades she defended to the hilt. She is defying President Kibaki the way she defied Raila Odinga five years ago.

Kenya needs honest politicians such as Martha Karua. The good thing about Karua is that she doesn’t know how to play her political cards under the table. Martha can decide to support you simply because you are the fall guy. She can also do it to spite other political operatives she considers her opponents on the political arena.

Karua pointed her guns at the Liberal Democratic Party in the early days of NARC coalition to stop the LDP brigade from sending Kibaki packing prematurely. She was the most dogmatic and articulate defender of the beleaguered presidency. And she did this consistently even after the regime lost the referendum, which in other countries would have sent the government packing.

As she did this epic battle, she wasn’t even powerful enough. She was a mere Water Minister who had no direct control over the direction the constitution review would take. At that time, the big guns from Mt. Kenya region were Chris Murungaru, Kiraitu Murungi and David Mwiraria. These were the inner core kitchen cabinet that had the ear of the President.

The referendum aftermath was earthshaking enough. It shook the President to the bone. In a fit of anger, President Kibaki dissolved the cabinet rather than Parliament. He fired the entire LDP Ministers rather than DP ministers that had misled him. He renamed the cabinet and raided KANU and Ford People parties to fill vacant cabinet posts. The only LDP minister who survived as the VP was Moody Awori. In this rearrangement, Chris Murungaru was relegated to the back bench becoming the first Anglo Leasing casualty. Temporarily retained with reservations were Kiraitu Murungi and David Mwiraria who were still left with Anglo Leasing stones hanging around their necks.

During this temporary reprieve, Martha Karua was elevated to the powerful Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs as Kiraitu was relegated to the Ministry of Energy having failed to steer the constitution review to its logical conclusion. However, for Kiraitu Murungi and Mwiraria, this first Kibaki reshuffle was a mere stopgap measure pending eventual relief of their cabinet posts.

As was to be expected, Martha Karua assumed her new office with gusto. Initially she gave Kenyans including this writer the false impression that she was independent minded enough to conclude the constitution review that Murungi had failed to deliver. However, as it turned out, several attempts, including the Bethuel Kiplagat Task Force on the Review came a cropper under her watch.

She became more intransigent with each passing day. She made sure she dashed the hopes of Kenyans for the new constitution in the first term of the Kibaki regime.
She began to see the implementation of the Bomas Draft as a ploy to give the then LDP leader the premiership through the back door and she made sure that door was locked and bolted properly. And she had an array of right wing lawyers masquerading as human rights and constitutional lawyers to help her fight her battles.

Now that the iron lady has made her intentions known, those who want to challenge her had better be prepared; especially from the PNU and its affiliated parties because the lady is a damn good fighter. One more thing; the people opposed to her presidency are not only from her area but from her side of the political divide. She knows the terrain and her enemies better. That is why the war is likely to be bloody and destructive not only to her but also to the political homogeneity of the Mt. Kenya region.

Her defiance of Kibaki in refusing to dissolve the flower party can only explain one thing about Martha Karua. She has looked around and seen nobody worthy of inheriting Kibaki’s mantle. She has seen opportunists in Uhuru Kenyatta, George Saitoti and Kalonzo Musyoka; people who she thinks cannot do battle and win against Raila Odinga’s troops if ODM remains intact come 2012. Whether she wins the primaries and ultimately the presidency in 2012 is another matter.