Wednesday, October 27, 2010



The New Law fells Kenya's Foreign Minister, his Permanent Secretary and Nairobi Mayor

By Jerry Okungu

Nairobi, Kenya

October 27, 2010

This week will be a week to remember in Kenyan politics. It was the week the saw former cabinet minister William Ruto taken to a magistrate’s court to answer charges of fraudulent land deals. And as Ruto sat pensively waiting to hear charges read to him, his former colleague, Moses Wetangula, Minister for Foreign Affairs was on the dock in Parliament facing a barrage of charges against him concerning land transaction deals across the globe. A day later, Moses Wetangula and his permanent secretary Thuita Mwangi threw in the towel and stepped aside as Parliament continued to debate the damning report on the Tokyo Embassy fiasco.

The same day that there was drama in Parliament and in the local magistrate’s court, KACC was not left behind. A day earlier, its officials had nabbed an elusive City Mayor, locked Majiwa in a police cell and hauled him in court for a Ks 280 million cemetery land scandal. Had it not been for the city father’s ability to cough out a cash bail of Ksh 2.5 million, he would have spent another night in police cells.

In Majiwa, an ODM mayor, a Luo and Ruto, an ODM member of parliament of Kalenjin extraction, it looked like there was no case of tribes being targeted or political parties being unfairly harassed.

Much as the Kalenjin MPs had tried to marshal their tribes to rally behind their son, there was no trace of either Luos or ODM bothering to protect Majiwa. It would appear as if both the ODM party leader and the entire ODM fraternity had chosen in the case of Majiwa to let the law take its own cause. However, what was certain was that immediately Majiwa appeared in court and was charged, he definitely lost his mayoral seat immediately because that is was the constitution says. And knowing Nairobi politics, the hungry councilors may never wait for the verdict before they elect a new mayor.

Mose Wetangula’s case was a good example of the tragic hero in Shakespeare’s literature. His attempt to disown his chief officers in the ministry at the last moment when he faced censorship in the National Assembly was in bad taste considering that for the last six months, he has personally appeared before the Parliamentary Committee on Defence and International Relations for the umpteenth time vehemently defending the same officers he was trying to disown.

But perhaps the most pathetic performance in Parliament was that of Hon Dalmas Otieno who unsuccessfully tried to expunge Wetangula’s name from the report basing his arguments on some fictitious currency exchange rates totally ignoring the criminal activities that accompanied the transactions. For Hon Otieno, good old wisdom dictates that certain situations that are beyond redemption are better left alone.

I am not sure if Hon Otieno was invoking the principle of collective responsibility in his attempt to salvage water under the bridge. Or maybe there was a deal somewhere to put up some semblance of support for political expediency. Either way both of those strategies backfired and left Wetangula more vulnerable as they blotted Otieno’s image as a credible politician. In fact I will not be surprised if a clever political opponent will not exploit that Otieno’s parliamentary blunder at the next general elections and accuse him as the one politician that can stand up in parliament to condone graft in the new Kenya.

For some reason, I have this feeling that Kabando wa Kabando, Mwangi Kiunjuri, Deputy Speaker and Martha Karua spoke for many Kenyans across the land. They said what an ordinary Bukusu, Mluhya, Luo, Kikuyu, Giriama, Maasai, Oria or a Mnyagusi could have said. They condemned graft and categorically stated that graft must be dealt with in the new Kenya. They were together in their resolve that anything short of censoring Wetangula and his team would reflect badly on the whole country internationally considering that there were already whispers circulating that deals were being cut among MPs and cabinet ministers; not to mention persistent rumour that brown envelopes were changing hands in hotel lobbies and within the precincts of Parliament.

This country stands to gain nothing from the new constitution unless institutions such as Parliament, the Judiciary and the Executive uphold its dignity and change the way things are done; the more reason why those Kenyans chosen to lead these three arms of government must be seen to have the unquestionable integrity of Ceasar’s wife and the resolve to take some of the most painful decisions; even if the matter at hand involves their closest associates and family members.

In assessing the Majiwa, Ruto and Wetangula sagas, one gets the impression that Kenyan leaders have yet to understand their crucial role in society. To be a leader simply does not mean one owns the public office one holds. That office belongs to the people of Kenya and is held from time to time by different characters at the people’s pleasure. Therefore many leaders would do Kenya a lot of good of they got used to biting the bullet from time to time once they are adversely mentioned in shady deals. This is the only honour they can do to this country.