Tuesday, December 21, 2010




By Jerry Okungu

Nairobi, Kenya

December 21, 2010

Kenyan politics has gone nuts if not bananas. Moreno Ocampo has muddied the waters of our politics like never before. The little that was left of our camouflaged impunity is now all out there for all to see. We have thrown all caution to the wind and chosen to go back to our tribal cocoons in broad day light and say it as loudly as we can for all to hear.

It all started when President Kibaki chose to issue a press statement declaring that naming the Ocampo Six at The Hague did not amount to indictment. He clearly stated that the suspects would remain in office until the ICC issues summons to the same- for those in government service that is. This veiled disregard for naming people suspected to be the masterminds of the 2008 tragic mayhem was quickly followed by ODM’s collective “moral support” for all the suspects with a rider that the party would stand by them during this trying time.

A few days later, we saw tribal meetings taking place in parts of Nairobi, Rift Valley and Central Provinces convened ostensibly to express solidarity with their own kinsmen named in the Ocampo list.

However, early this week, this drumming up of support took an ugly and dangerous twist; even more dangerous than the hired crowds that demonstrated in the streets of Nairobi in sympathy with Uhuru Kenyatta. These events tell a lot about the nature of our politics in this country. They have exposed our callous nature and indifference to the suffering of the small person who every so often bears the brunt of our violent ethnic politics.

Let us start with the two motions that were filed in Parliament to remove Kenya from the ICC list of countries and to disband the Kenya National Human Rights Commission. The movers of these two motions so happen to be personal friends of William Ruto and members of his ethnic community. The reason they want Kenya to withdraw from the ICC is because three of their kinsmen happen to be in the Ocampo list. The other reason they want Parliament to disband KNHRC is because that human rights body investigated the post election violence and pointed fingers at William Ruto among others as the masterminds of the violence that took place in Rift Valley.

There are several embarrassing things in approaching such a grave matter as the ICC indictment through the lenses of our tribes. First it makes the international community confirm that Kenya is indeed a lost case because impunity is now out there in the open. It convinces any observer that negative ethnic politics is now entrenched in our society. Secondly, it may give Moreno Ocampo and those judges sitting at The Hague reason to realize that the problem in Kenya is much deeper than they thought and that they might as well see to it that these people, innocent as they may claim may as well have been the ring leaders of the post election fiasco.

I have no quarrel with Isaac Ruto and Hon Katter moving motions to disband the ICC and KNHRC from Kenya’s statutes. The question to ask is this: would they have done the same if only Jane Kihara, Ababu Namwamba, Uhuru Kenyatta, Raila Odinga, William Ole Ntimama, Otieno Kajwang’ and George Thuo were on the Ocampo list?

But these two motions do not even go half as much as what came from the mouths of two cabinet ministers from both sides of the coalition. Theirs was the epitome of callousness and downright affront to the intelligence of Kenyans. Theirs was a case of individuals drunk with power and ready to insult Kenyans in broad day light.

It all started with Minister Oparanya of ODM having the audacity to suggest that the Kenya Government should support the suspects financially- pay the costs of their trials in The Hague. As if in response to his counterpart in the ODM, Cabinet Minister Kiraitu Murungi gave a quick rejoinder by asking Kenyans- 5 million from Mt. Kenya to raise a billion Kenya shillings to support Uhuru Kenyatta and Francis Muthaura’s trial expenses.

When one looks at these pronouncements in the context of the plight of IDPs that have been languishing in IDP camps in the last three years, one begins to appreciate how low we have fallen in our morals. One begins to appreciate that we have no credible leadership that we can trust to guide this country from the mess it now finds itself.

If we take Opranya’s statement as a reflection of government thinking since he is a member of the Cabinet, does it mean that the Hague Trials are now a government project? Were these people agents of the state, committed crimes on behalf of the State and therefore entitled to benefit from the State resources? Are these people accused as rogue individuals that abused their public offices and positions of influence to commit heinous crimes against the people of Kenya or are they in court as State agents? Are they not going to The Hague because the government that was supposed to try them failed to do so? What is the role of the Kenya Government at The Hague? Is it a prosecution or defense witness? Has The Hague indictment become the Kenya Government vs the ICC trial?

If Kiraitu Murungi can raise a billion shillings for two suspects, why do we have peasant Kikuyus in IDP camps in the Rift Valley when we have so much money flowing around? Does it mean that cash will only be available when men of power are in trouble? Who will speak for the poor Kalenjin, Kikuyu, Mluhya, Luo, Gusii, El Molo, Dorobo and Mjikenda in his hour of need? Who will speak for the dead 1500 Kenyans?