Saturday, October 11, 2008



October 11, 2008
The Standard

The report of the Commission of Inquiry into Post-Election Violence (Cipev) chaired by Justice Philip Waki is ready. What remains is a date with the President for official hand-over, dispatch of a copy to the Panel of Eminent African Personalities who brokered the power-sharing deal, and making it public.

From May 23 when it was gazetted, it was clear its mandate was not only monumental but bore the possibility of turning Kenya around. It was embraced as the one commission that would wade through the implosion into waves of killings, displacements and dispossession on an unprecedented scale, following the dispute over presidential election results.

It was welcomed as the cure for a nation scarred by deep-seated feelings of historical injustices among certain communities, and tense inter-ethic relations.

The commission’s job was cut out in its law as passed by Parliament alongside the National Accord and Reconciliation Act on February 28.

Its task was to investigate the causes of post-election violence, identify state action and the role of other actors during the genocidal putsch, and recommend what ought to be done to prevent a recurrence.

Of course, like the many commissions the Government has set up, and whose recommendations were left on the shelves at the mercy of our collective amnesia and inaction, the Waki Commission, too, was met with cynicism and little enthusiasm.

Like Justice Johann Kriegler’s Independent Review Commission, which curiously returned the no-winner verdict, Waki’s team, too, risks being accused of serving as a mere safety valve for Kenyans to vent accumulated anger. Once the report is received it could go to the archives, all because we fear to confront the truth.

Even before the report is released the point must be made that because the nation bled, and we are still not even sure we are out of the woods, and given that national reconciliation and healing was left to the Provincial Administration, this report must rise above the rest.

The Big Fish

That is the only guarantee, and which falls firmly in its terms of reference, that we have a roadmap on how to avoid the pitfall and shame of killings and displacements associated with politics. Sadly, even as the report goes to the President, some of those who were internally displaced are still in camps.

It is our feeling of uncertainty over our future ethnic relations, along with the chilling fear it is fragile and could implode again in the season of heated politics, that we tell the Waki Commission the nation won’t go for safer options.

This includes prescribing Solomonic wisdom, where a mother gives up her child to an impostor instead of allowing it to be cut into two so each can ‘have’ a half.

But it will not be enough for Waki to unmask the perpetrators and reasons for the violence only in relation to the elections. He must break the cyclic wave, assuage the anger of the so-called ‘host’ communities, and ensure fairness and justice. He must also nail the Big Fish.

But this would all be in vain if the recommendations are not implemented to the letter.

Seemingly aware of this, Waki himself said recently: "We have no control over the implementation of our recommendations. But this commission is different in certain aspects; different in its conception, its constitution and in the manner the report will be submitted."

Waki and his team must have made the best of their truth gathering and recommendations. If it turns out they did not, or if the Executive pushes it under the carpet, then as a nation we shall continue to sit on a time bomb.