Wednesday, October 27, 2010



She is our modern day Good Samaritan in our unsafe neighborhoods

By Jerry Okungu

Nairobi, Kenya

October 26, 2010

Her relatives call her Mother Teresa. She has earned this nickname due to her perpetual passion for empathy with the suffering and strangers in distress.

I have never met this rare Kenyan but her story in the Sunday Nation touched me. It reminded me that in this country of selfish, mean and greedy humans, there are indeed still a few good men and women. All we need to do is to look harder in the slums, suburbs and rural areas to find them.

A story is told when Maurine one Sunday morning received an early morning call, that someone, a stranger was badly hurt and needed some urgent help. The caller interestingly turned out to be “Mother Teresa’s” relative.

When she got to the scene, what she saw was horrifying enough. A young lady was lying naked in a pool of blood possibly raped before being battered by her attackers.

The first thing that occurred to Maurine was that this was a Nairobi Women’s Hospital case because a rape attack was the very reason that hospital came into being. However, transporting the victim from Umoja’s Eastlands across the slums to the up market Kilimani area where the hospital is situated posed more logistical problems. Her victim was so badly injured that it was impossible to imagine transporting her in a Matatu.

The only lady who had a car and who Maurine knew declined to help because the victim’s blood would stain the seats of her beautiful machine! And with only Ksh 50 in her pocket on a Sunday morning, Maurine’s quick thinking was to exploit the onlookers that had gathered to see the naked body. In no time she raised enough cash to hire a cab to Nairobi hospital.

If she thought getting her victim to Nairobi Women’s Hospital would solve her problems, she was wrong again. The Nairobi Women’s Hospital staff was not keen to offer medical services to a “badly injured rape victim!” They called it Hospital policy. They even refused to offer a stretcher to get the poor woman from the taxi that ferried her there. Instead they advised Maurine and friends to take the woman to Kenyatta Hospital.

With no more money to take another taxi trip to Kenyatta National Hospital, it was a miracle that Maurine’s entourage finally got to the public hospital too late for the victim to be saved. She succumbed to her injuries.

Two lessons here; that woman at Umoja that refused to give a lift to the dying woman by the road side reminded me of that Pharisee of old bypassing a fellow Jew by the roadside after having been battered by highway robbers. Had it not been for the Good Samaritan, the Jew would have died.

The Nairobi Women’s Hospital behavior during this incident is not only horrifying but sends a chill down our spines. It shows how deep greed and meanness have obscured the many good intentions and noble ideas we have come up with from time to time. I’m not sure if Madam Jordan, the mother of Michael Jordan will be pleased to hear this story and how the hospital she is associated with handled it.

Negative characters aside; what even touched me more was the fact that Maurine on hearing that the stranger had died, did not give up on her and go home. She thought it was her duty to get the identity of the woman so that she could get in touch with her relatives lest the body is disposed of to some common grave. Despite her personal financial challenges, she ordered a DNA test for the girl, got details of where she came from in Nyanza and with that information, she went to face book to trace the relatives.

As luck would have it; someone who knew the relatives of the girl contacted Maurine and made it possible for her to contact the family that was already desperate to find their missing loved one. As I write this story, a very grateful family has finally laid to rest the body of their beloved relative.

Looking at this story; what can I say drove Maurine Murenga to go to these lengths to save a stranger; and even after failing to save her life, did everything to prevent her body from being buried in a common grave? More importantly; now that we know that her relatives call her Mother Teresa, what is it that makes this woman have so much passion and love for fellow human beings in a city that is so full of cruel and murderous characters?

To tell you the truth, Maurine’s heart must be the legendary heart of gold if there ever was one. In a city where hardly anybody does anything for anybody for nothing, here is a soul that expends her meager finances to see to it that others in helpless circumstances get the help they need.

If there is indeed one Kenyan that deserves to be honoured as a national hero, here is our perfect heroine for future medals and national honours!



By Jerry Okungu

Nairobi, Kenya

October 27, 2010

A few weeks ago I complained that the rest of East Africa, Kenyan and Ugandan media in particular were giving the Tanzania elections a raw deal. Now, just three days to the elections, there are hardly any stories capturing the mood of Tanzanians with regard to the possible outcomes.

However, to be fair to the media in Kenya and Uganda, I must admit that my online scans on what Tanzanian media are saying on their own elections are not much to go home with. There is a tendency on the part of Tanzanian papers to take partisan stands depending on which party one supports. For this reason, the emphasis has been on who caused violence in a political rally or who really is trailing in this or that opinion poll.

Attempts by Mujadala organizers to get presidential candidates to debate issues at public forums have met with stiff opposition from the ruling party CCM. Instead the party has chosen to go directly to the electorate rather than sell its policies and programmes through the electronic public debates.

The Tanzanian elections this year are crucial in one sense. It is the first time that there is a real possibility that the CCM that brought independence to the country 48 years ago may lose power to an opposition candidate that has not been on the political scene for long. It is worse if you imagine that the man under threat is Jakaya Kikwete whose first presidential election was an absolute landslide.

Much as Wilbroad Slaa caused a lot of political ripples in the past few weeks, Tanzanians, especially the CHADEMA supporters must remember that one week or even one day can be a long time in the life of a politician. Opinions can change overnight to the benefit or detriment of a single candidate. And like they say, in politics, it is not over until the fat lady has had her last dance.

We in Kenya know better than to celebrate either way. We must be mature enough to support our brothers in Tanzania in their efforts to elect their new leaders. In so doing, we must respect their political maturity and believe that after 48 years of Uhuru, they have indeed come of age and are capable of electing their leaders in a transparent, fair and free process. What we would advise against is a chaotic situation like we witnessed in our country in 2007.

If in the opinion of Tanzanians, they feel that time for regime change is now, let that be their decision. However, if Tanzanians are happy and are satisfied with Jakaya Kikwete and CCM leadership, it is their prerogative to make that choice and proceed with continuity.

Early next year, possibly four months from now, our neighbors in Uganda will be holding their elections. Unlike in other years, this time around, the number of presidential candidates has risen to 50 that includes the four main contenders; Yoweri Museveni, Kizza Besigye, Bidandi Ssali and Norbert Mao.According to this newspaper, Ugandans can only think of the four top candidates as worthy of attention while the remaining 46 are mere jokers.

It is true Uganda is just going through the second face of multiparty politics, having tested waters in 2006. And the lesson these political parties seem not to have learnt is what Kenyans went through between 1992 and 2002 during which, despite its unpopularity, a fractured opposition could not dislodge KANU from power.

As things stand, Yoweri Museveni is almost assured a return to the State House for another five years considering that no matter what happens , the opposition votes are already fragmented to unviable units. In fact, some of these presidential candidates will be lucky to garner enough votes in their constituencies to get them to parliament. It would appear as if some of them are already headed to the peripheries of political activism until Kaguta decides to retire from active politics.

As I sat in my house watching a local TV news bulletin, I was amused to watch in the man of the moment, Yoweri Museveni rapping away in his first music album. Whatever the circumstances, the man who put together that piece of work is a brilliant political operator. That song alone, despite its quality that may not make it go past the first week of Tusker Project Fame, is a sure political campaign master stroke that the NRM has come up with. I’ll not be surprised if it becomes a hit song in the entire region if not a global phenomenon with M7 being the first head of state to release an album while in office!

As East Africans, let us pray that the Tanzanians go to the polls and elect their leaders in a peaceful manner this week. In the same manner, let our Ugandan brothers and sisters shun violence, ethnicity and hatred and conduct a peaceful campaign so that the best man or woman may win the election. As Kenyans, we urge them not to go the way we went. In stealing elections and killing each other thereafter, everybody loses and comes out with a bloody nose!



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.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010



New Vision
Kampala, Uganda
Monday, 25th October, 2010

Mary Karooro Okurut

Mary Karooro Okurut

YESTERDAY was nomination day in Uganda Some of those aspiring for the highest office in the land presented their credentials to the Electoral Commission (EC) at Mandela National Stadium Namboole.

Four aspirants – Yoweri Kaguta Museveni of the National Resistance Movement (NRM), Kizza Besigye of the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), Bidandi Ssali of the Peoples Progressive Party (PPP) and Norbert Mao of the Democratic Party (DP) are now officially presidential candidates.

Candidate Museveni was the first to be nominated at 10:00am and thereafter addressed a mammoth crowd of his supporters at Kololo Airstrip.

The rest—Dr. Abed Bwanika of the People’s Development Party (PDP), Beti Kamya of the Uganda Federal Alliance (UFA) and Dr. Olara Otunnu of the Uganda Peoples Congress (UPC) are expected to be nominated today, bringing to seven the number of candidates.

It will also be a confirmation that the other 46 aspirants who picked nomination forms were simply trying to remind us that no matter how serious life may be, there is always a humorous side to it after all. With 53 people picking forms, there was a danger of reducing the presidential race to a comedy of sorts. There should be a limit to how far democracy can go.

In particular, the office of President must be given the respect it deserves, so that people recognize the high responsibility it carries. As people rightly put it a decade or so ago, the presidency is not about having fun; it is carrying a grinding stone – olubengo.

The huge traffic jam that engulfed the city (thanks in part to numerous diversions of traffic to enable presidential aspirants get to Namboole without much ado) was a bad idea and a huge bother alright; but maybe it was just as well that a fitting statement was made, drawing attention to all and sundry that something extraordinary was afoot.

These two days of nominations are another testimony democracy reigns in Uganda and that power belongs to the people. With more than nine million registered voters on the NRM members register (three million of whom are party officials spread all over the country), the ruling party can safely talk about more than half of the 15 million-strong national voters register already in the bag, at least for the presidency.

Since all that a candidate needs to win the presidency is a vote more than half of the ballots cast, we can safely talk about an assured victory for Candidate Museveni.

What remains is to have him persuade the remaining voters to his side to remove any shadow of doubt. The other task for the NRM as a party will be to translate the huge support enjoyed at presidential level to support for the party’s parliamentary and local government candidates.

Already the party enjoys more than two-thirds majority in Parliament and more than 80 per cent of the local governments. And for good measure the party had already signed memoranda of understanding with most of the independent MPs and LC 5 chairpersons. Most of these later agreed to contest on the NRM ticket in their various constituencies. This gives the NRM a huge headstart over all its other rivals put together.

In addition, the headstart is helped by the fact that the NRM is the only party with 100 per cent presence in every constituency at all levels of competition in this race. The other parties are struggling to come up with candidates in most of the constituencies for the simple reason that they have neither grassroots support nor structures countrywide.

For most of these parties, the few areas they managed to raise candidates, they had no primaries to talk about and their flagbearers sailed through without anybody to oppose them. These are hardly a threat.

The fragmentation and general weakness of the opposition are some of the other key factors working in NRM’s favour. Fragmentation in the sense that the opposition vote – which has never been much by the way - may well be divided among six candidates.

The NRM has done enough to secure its nearly 60 percent vote in the last election and even venture into unchartered waters (the young people better known as the Museveni generation because they were born after 1986 and most are new voters).

Furthermore, the party has addressed the causes of its poor performance in northern and eastern Uganda and should be able to win back lost support in these areas.

The weakness of the opposition should further be seen in the lack of internal cohesion which means most of the parties are suffering from internal strife. Besides, the so-called Inter-Party Cooperation (IPC) that was expected to breathe down NRM’s neck was greatly weakened by the exit of DP and UPC.

With a divided and disorganised opposition, the road to victory for Candidate Museveni is straight and smooth; a done deal.



Monday, 25th October, 2010

By Darious Magara and Andrew Ssenyonga

New Vision

Kampala, Uganda

DEMOCRATIC Party presidential candidate Norbert Mao has promised to revive state-owned enterprises to replace those that were sold off by the Government.

He said this was the best way to deal with poverty and unemployment. “Why did the NRM government sell Nytil, Uganda Commercial Bank and other government enterprises?” asked Mao.

He was addressing his first campaign rally at Kawempe growers market hours after he was nominated as a presidential candidate.

Mao said in Kenya, the government is still running commercial banks. “Why can’t this be implemented in Uganda?” he wondered.

Mao said the sale of Uganda Electricity board was a wrong decision because power tariffs are now unaffordable for the local people.

He said DP will revive cooperative unions, which will help people save and invest.

On education, Mao said the party would emphasise quality besides improving access to education.

Mao also told DP supporters not to be afraid of the infamous Kiboko squad. “We have a solution for the Kiboko squad. I will hit anyone who puts his hands on me,” he vowed.

Mao said DP is now governed by the youth, who stand against intimidation and harassment orchestrated by the state. He said they must work hard to force the Museveni regime out of power.

Mao, who was flanked by his wife Naome, was introduced to the rally by former party president John Ssebaana Kizito. Takuba Kabuye was introduced as the DP flag-bearer for the Kampala mayoral seat.

Supporters were happy that Mao addressed them in what they called good Luganda. “Mao has it all. He is a good leader, young and speaks good Luganda,” Kabuye said.

Mao also sounded a reconciliation message to the party stalwarts, who are opposed to his leadership.



Monday, 25th October, 2010

By Andante Okanya and Brian Mayanja

New Vision, Kampala, Uganda

THE presidential candidate of the People’s Progressive Party, Jaberi Bidandi Ssali, has said he is the saviour Uganda needs today to succeed President Yoweri Museveni who liberated the country.

Speaking at his first campaign rally at Kamwokya Park Yard Market in Kampala yesterday, Bidandi Ssali, 73, said Museveni should bring an end to his illustrious political career as the time for liberation was over.

“Museveni came to liberate Uganda. I have come to save it. He has done his best, but he has gone off the rails of proper leadership,” Bidandi Ssali said.

Bidandi Ssali, who was accompanied by his wife, Susan, said he was compelled to return to elective politics in 2008 after realising that the country needed a new breed of leadership.

In November 2004, Bidandi Ssali resigned as the second vice-chairperson of the NRM after the party’s national executive committee endorsed the removal of presidential term limits.

Bidandi Ssali, the longest serving local government minister in the NRM government and former political strategist and confidante of Museveni, was dropped from the Cabinet in 2006.

In 2008, he formed PPP, and was endorsed to contest for the presidency in February this year.

The veteran politician defended his relationship with Museveni.

“There is no bad blood between me and Museveni. It is the principles that are my main concern. That is why we disagreed and fell out,” he said.

Flanked by officials from his party, Bidandi Ssali took a swipe at the ruling NRM, arguing that the recent controversy that was witnessed in the party’s primaries gives them no moral ground to continue running the affairs of the state.



FDC's Kizza Besigye promises federo
Monday, 25th October, 2010
Besigye receiving his nomination papers from EC boss Badru Kiggundu

Besigye receiving his nomination papers from EC boss Badru Kiggundu

By Conan Businge and Jeff Lule

New Vision

Kampala, Uganda

THE Forum for Democratic Change president, Kizza Besigye, has promised to resolve the federal issue in the first year of his administration if he wins next year’s presidential election.

“We will make sure the federal system of governance question is resolved in my first year as president. It is not only Buganda which needs federo, but also other people in the country,” Besigye said.

He was addressing his supporters at Nakivubo Stadium shortly after being nominated as a 2011 presidential candidate yesterday.

Buganda has been agitating for a federal status, a contentious issue, at every election.

Besigye said if a federal system is adopted, power and resources shall be shared equitably between regions and the central Government.

Besigye, who is also the Inter-Party Coalition presidential flag-bearer, promised to return all Buganda Kingdom expropriated properties.

Besigye, who twice petitioned court over results of the 2001 and 2006 elections, vowed not to return to court should he lose the race in a free and fair election.

“We have today (Monday) appeared before the Electoral Commission which we did not believe in. We will only accept the results of the general elections on condition that they are fair,” he stated.

Besigye said after putting the Government on pressure, Buganda’s FM radio, CBS, was re-opened. “But that is not enough. The Government must compensate the workers and owners for losses and inconveniences faced during the radio’s closure,” he added.

The FDC leader, who said he will not die soon as his enemies predicated and wished, was escorted from his home in Kasangati, a city suburb, by hundreds of supporters chanting FDC and IPC slogans.

Besigye and President Yoweri Museveni’s convoy bypassed each other at a Police check-point in Nakawa.

Museveni, who was under tight security by the Presidential Guard Brigade, commanded by his son, Lt. Col Muhoozi Kainerugaba, was returning from the nomination ground.

Besigye was instructed by the Police to pave way for Museveni, much as some of his supporters resisted the directive.

Museveni repeatedly waved his party’s symbolic salute of the ‘thumb-up’ to Besigye’s supporters, who in turn waved their V-sign.

Besigye also met Norbert Mao, the Democratic Party’s flag-bearer, on Jinja Road as he returned from nomination.

In both incidents, the supporters did not clash.

Besigye, who was on two occasions blocked from driving through the city with his supporters by the Police, reached Nakivubo Stadium at about 4:00pm.

He was diverted towards Queens-way roundabout by the Mobile Police Patrol Unit and Anti-riot Police, contrary to demands from his supporters to drive through the city.

The constables, who were armed with shields and batons, also used their water tankers and pick-ups to block the road.

Thursday, October 21, 2010



By Jerry Okungu

Nairobi, Kenya

October 20, 2010

October 10 2010 came and passed quietly. The day that was celebrated for 26 years as a public holiday to commemorate the day Daniel arap Moi came to power was not observed this year. It was a normal working day. The new constitution had seen no reason to retain it.

This week, Kenyatta Day holiday also went the same way, only that it was renamed Heroes’ Day to commemorate all those Kenyans that struggled not only for independence but others that led the struggle for the second liberation.

As Kenyans gathered at the Moi Stadium to celebrate their first Mashujaa Day, they were treated to a rare oral history that traced the struggle for Uhuru and other national achievers into four phases; the Kenyatta phase being just one of them. The fact that the day dedicated to Kenyatta was transformed into a Heroes’ Day spoke volumes. It was a pointer that Kenyans were now ready to rewrite their history to reflect the true picture of their past as opposed to what used to be dished out to them as the only correct version. And it was gratifying to note that the meaning of a hero was expanded to include those that had excelled in sports, music, the arts, academia, media and sciences unlike in the past when they were conditioned to see heroes in the military , police force, politics and civil service.

However, just on the eve of the first Mashujaa Day, the biggest casualty of the new constitution was William Ruto of ODM party who until Tuesday evening was the Minister for Higher Education, Science and Technology. The abrasive minister from the Rift Valley was late last week found by a superior court to have a case to answer in a fraudulent land deal he grabbed and sold to Kenya Pipe Line Company for over a million dollars in late 2001 when he was a powerful KANU operative under Moi.

The new constitution is very clear on how to deal with public servants that face court cases of criminal nature. They must either resign or be forced out of government pending the hearing of their cases.

The higher court passed a verdict that Ruto must be arrayed in a local magistrate’s court to answer charges in two weeks. He was away in Japan on official duty at the time. However, on his return to the country last weekend, he called a press conference to swear that he would not resign. It was the same stand he had taken in February this year when the Prime Minister suspended him when he was implicated in the maize scandal that saw prices of maize meal go through the roof when he was Agriculture Minister. At that time, political differences between President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga saved his skin. Kibaki as the appointing authority rescinded Raila’s decision on the grounds that the President was not consulted on the matter.

In a meeting at Harambee House between the President and the Prime Minister that lasted almost 90 minutes on Tuesday this week, the two principals emerged from the meeting tightlipped. However, one hour later, a bulletin from State House was faxed to all newsrooms announcing a minor cabinet reshuffle in which William Ruto was the only casualty.

If this is a pointer to the way issues of corruption and other economic crimes will be handled, one can say that more blood is likely to be spilled among the elite of Kenyan politics.

As things stand now, Foreign Moses Wetangula and his Permanent Secretary, Thuita Mwangi are under siege over the shady Japan deal in which Parliament claims US $ 20 million changed hands between Wetangula’s ministry officials and their agents in Japan. And the fact that they have defended the deal for close to six months is a pointer to the possibility that they knew why they were adamant that Kenya got value for its money.

As the Wetangula Report is awaiting debate in Parliament, the Kenya Anti Corruption Commission has also moved in to conclude its investigations with the possibility of taking both the minister and his permanent secretary to court. If that happens, the President will have no alternative but to sack both of them just like he has done before with at least six cabinet ministers since he became the President of Kenya eight years ago.

The reason the new constitution may be a terror to political impunity is because it empowers an ordinary citizen at no cost to himself or herself to taken any government official including the President to court if that person feels that a part of the constitution is being violated. For this reason, top leaders in government, especially the President and the Prime Minister would be weary if ordinary Kenyans started dragging them to the local magistrate’s courts. For this reason, matters of graft, incitement to violence and other politically related crimes may no longer be swept under the carpet either by the courts or the Execute as was the case before.

If this culture of vigilance takes root, Kenyans may as well have found a cure for political impunity that has impoverished them for nearly half a century.



By Jerry Okungu

Nairobi, Kenya

October 20, 2010

As I lay in bed to sample Mashujaa Day, I imbibed with interest the names that scrolled on our TV screens. I felt extremely good because unlike in the past, I could associate with Kenyans one would call true heroes. Perhaps the ones that excited me most were the cadre that was outside the orbit of the usual suspects- civil servants, military officers, DOs, DCs, PCs and politicians. This time round, our sportsmen, academia, media personalities, musicians and ordinary peasants took their place of pride among the elite. It was equally thrilling to see the perennial whiners- the Mau Mau veterans and their survivors in the list of honours.

However, there was something drastically wrong with some media stations. It would appear like they had not come to terms with the new Kenya and the fact that this day was no longer a Kenyatta Day. This weakness was particularly obvious with one TV station that took 90 minutes talking about Jomo Kenyatta through the eyes of his nieces, aid de camp and the Mzee’s Social Secretary. One would have expected the media to break with the past and really delve into the other Independence heroes that Kenyans had neglected for nearly half a century.

For me I would have loved it more if some investigative journalist brought me a full expose’ of the life and times of Dedan Kimathi, the real General Mathenge and other Independence heroes we have never showered with praise for fifty years. That one hour on Kenyatta could very well have been for the widow of Dedan Kimathi, that old lady that has kept the memory of her husband alive against all odds.

On Citizen TV, the interview with the late James Kangwana and Hassan Mazoa on how VOK handled Kenyatta’s death was brilliant. Perhaps it was the only aspect of Kenyatta’s story that most Kenyans who were alive then were not familiar with. It was brilliantly told by people who were in charge of the only broadcast station then.

However, bringing Rev Njoya in the studio on Mashujaa Day was a dumper for Citizen TV. Though a good speaker and a revered activist, the good Reverend has the tendency to get carried away and start maligning other political players with claims that are easily disputable in a court of public opinion. Yes, Rev Njoya may have been the first to call for multiparty system way back in the 1980s, but he was not the only one. The likes of Ngugi wa Thiongo had already been thrown into detention much earlier for demanding reforms even when Kenyatta was still alive.

Having said that, we need to define the meaning of National Heroes in order not to get into the trap some media houses fell into this week. And even then, those technocrats that draw up the list of those to be honoured should be careful with the criteria they use to prepare such a list. Let us make this list truly reflective of our diverse society but more importantly, let it not be diluted such that every Onyango, Kamau and Mutiso finds themselves in it.

In my opinion, every political leader, civil servant or soldier does not deserve to be honoured simply because the individual attained the highest office at some point on the land.

In Japan and other Far East countries, leaders commit suicide if they are mentioned adversely while in office. We have cases of prime ministers and cabinet ministers that have taken their lives to preserve the honours of their families rather than drag the names of their families in the mud with prolonged prosecutions. Such leaders are never recognized as heroes.

In Germany today, even though Adolf Hitler is their most famous leader of all time, his atrocities during the Second World War cannot allow Germans to honour him.

It was therefore curious to see names such as Daniel arap Moi being bandied as our heroes after witnessing the devastation he and his cabal visited upon this land for a quarter century. How can we celebrate the Second Liberation heroes that were tortured by Moi’s machinery yet invite Moi to join them in the roll of honour?

Let us agree that when we next search for our heroes, we will look for character, integrity, service to fellow men and sacrifice for the common good; not thieves, land grabbers, fraudsters and people who organized for fellow Kenyans to be tortured, detained and even killed in cold blood. If included, such characters can only make us treat our new heroes with contempt.

Finally, before the next Mashujaa Day, let the media scout all corners of Kenya. Let them go beyond Nairobi and Central Kenya to find more interesting and deserving unsung heroes that all Kenyans can identify with.



By Jerry Okungu

Nairobi, Kenya

October 21, 2010

There was a time in this country when the business community, NGOs, the civil society and the government could never see eye to eye. In fact there was a time when the NGO sector coined a new language for public and private sector operators. They called them state actors and no-state actors that to describe this relationship between the two. State actors were people in government while non state actors were a combination of the business community, the civil society and non-governmental organizations.

In the years prior to the Grand Coalition, no government could do anything right in the eyes of the civil society and the business community. The government was permanently on a sinning mode. If there was corruption, nepotism, ethnicity, misuse of the tax payers’ money, poor labour relations, hunger in the land, rains failed to come or taxation went up; it was all the government’s fault. Whenever banks hiked their lending rates, oil cartels raised pump prices and transport operators raised fares unfairly; it was the fault of the government.

At no time could the gullible public imagine that an NGO, a Civil Society Organization or even a private business enterprise could just be as corrupt, fraudulent or practice tribalism and nepotism with abundance and get away with murder.

If you have worked with a State corporation, a private company and an NGO like I have done at one point in my life, you can begin to appreciate the hypocrisy with which we can sometimes condemn what we call “government excesses” while at the same time turn a blind eye to our own transgressions.

This bad blood between state actors and non-state actors could perhaps be the main reason we have failed to develop as a country. Any society where the main actors are preoccupied with undercutting one another and pulling in different directions is bound to suffer under-development for a long time.

In developed countries, the roles and functions of various state and non-actors are well defined. The state is there to provide a level playing ground and a conducive environment for businesses and humanitarian services to thrive. It is merely a service provider in core areas such as infrastructure development and maintenance of law and order. The private sector on the other hand is to cultivate and develop the production of goods and services as the NGO world provides for humanitarian and watchdog services so that neither the state actor nor the non state actor engages in acts of exploitation or repression of the larger population.

As the collector of taxes, the government is the biggest business partner to the private sector. If it decides to build infrastructure such as housing, roads, power lines, railways, ports and communications links, it turns to the private sector and investors for such supplies. Therefore in an ideal situation, the private and public sectors are like Siamese twins that are joined together at the hip. One cannot survive without the other.

Since the Grand Coalition government came into being, perhaps its single most important achievement has been the innovative idea of having the Prime Minister hold a quarterly meeting Round Table meeting with members of the Business Community. In these meetings, industry leaders discuss openly the challenges that they face in conducting business as they grapple with reform programmes brought about by the new government.

I have not in the past attended such Round Table meetings. This week I was glad I attended and saw the kind of cordial relations that have come about due to this open discussion. Of course we all know that the Grand Coalition is hardly three years old. But if one were to ask for one tangible achievement this initiative has achieved; it is that it has brought about harmony between government and the corporate sector like never before.

As I listened to progress reports delivered by Dr. Edward Sambili of the Ministry of Planning, Mr. David Nalo of the Ministry of East African Community and Hon Najib Balala, Minister for Tourism, I saw a level of openness between the two sides that is definitely a new phenomenon in the relationship between the government and the private sector.

Patrick Obath who spoke on behalf of KEPSA was at ease congratulating the Coalition for bringing about the new constitution and hoped that the new law would bring the much needed wind of change on the land of Kenya. What was equally apparent was that the progress reports given by ministry officials including the Prime Minister’s personal response were so detailed that very few corporate chiefs around had anything to add.

But perhaps in future, let the venue be truly a round table format with progress reports sent to participants in advance such that when the Prime Minister and his team arrive, it is really a round table discussion.

Finally, if 19 permanent Secretaries and 9 cabinet ministers can spare 6 hours to engage the private sector on matters of national interest without resorting to blame game; it means we have come a long way. Can this innovative idea be replicated for the NGO and Civil Society organizations? Yes, they too need the Prime Minister’s attention if this country has to move forward.

Friday, October 15, 2010



Sale of Soroti flying school land
Thursday, 14th October, 2010

By Barbara Among
PRESIDENT Yoweri Museveni has stopped the sale of land belonging to the East African Civil Aviation Academy (Soroti Flying School).

The land has been under dispute between the academy and the Uganda Land Commission. While the academy argues that it needs the land to expand, the commission went ahead with the sale.

“We have plans to lengthen the runway, which is now 1,800 metres. We need it for our aviation plans,” Museveni told a gathering at the academy on Wednesday.

The Government plans to rehabilitate and upgrade four airfields into airports. They are Soroti, Gulu, Kasese and Arua. A new airport is to be built in Ntugamo at Rwentobo, Museveni said.

“Going through Entebbe interferes with business, especially when somebody is in a national park like Kabalega and has to come to Kampala (to fly out), instead of Gulu. Uganda is developing fast, exports will pick up. We need to expand air infrastructure.”

The President, who launched six new Skyhawk aircraft, said training pilots is expensive, especially in Africa, where training facilities are inadequate and most governments invest little money in it.

“The weaknesses come because some ministries don’t know how to prioritise. There is no money to cover all matters but when it comes to prioritisation, there is no way we can fail to rehabilitate an academy like this one. The academy will be rehabilitated and developed fully,” he announced.

He said pilots for civilian airlines and for the army are on high demand and advised the trainees to be disciplined and avoid alcohol and prostitutes.

According to the academy’s acting director, B.D. Wandera, sh17.5b is needed for basic rehabilitation and re-quipping the school.

He said the academy had got six new single-engine aircraft and was replacing old asbestos roofing with pre-painted iron sheets. Training has been hampered by inadequate funds. Night training is also impossible for lack of appropriate lighting.

The Inspectorate of Government is investigating the sale of the land. The sale came into the limelight in August when MPs from Teso sub-region petitioned the Prime Minister, Apolo Nsibambi, to halt the transaction.

In September, Nsibambi ordered the land commission to stop the sale of staff houses and land belonging to the school.

A total of 31 housing units were to be sold off. They are located on Kyoga Avenue, and on Harper, Komollo, Bisina and Esunget roads in Soroti town.

Thursday, October 14, 2010



By Jerry Okungu

Nairobi, Kenya

October 13, 2010

Three different newspapers published in Dar es Salaam cannot be wrong especially if one of them, the oldest, belongs to the CCM. They are all saying more-or-less the same thing; that there is uncertainty and anxiety in the air. They are all expressing fear that Bongoland’s elections may be rigged in favor of the ruling party based on the mood in the country that seems to be craving for regime change in the land of Mwalimu Julius Nyerere.

Signs that all is not well are clearly brought out in the latest opinion results conducted by Research and Education in Democracy in Tanzania(REDET), a state owned research center housed at the University of Dar es Salaam, Synovate of Kenya and several online surveys conducted by Daily News, Uhuru Publications and ThisDay newspaper published by Reginald Mengi’s outfit.

In the run-up to the Kenyan elections in 2007, we had a similar scenario where opinion polls became the centre of vicious debates, claims and counter claims of doctored results depending on who or which party was favored or dismissed by the polls. Whenever an opinion poll favored PNU, other parties and their supporters dismissed it as cooked. On the other hand, if another pollster published results that favored ODM, other players routinely dismissed it as bogus.

On the other hand, the Kenyan public were routinely treated to a measure of the popularity of presidential candidates and their parties through the sizes of their rallies that at times were beamed live on local television stations. Therefore if the polls did not reflect what the masses saw on TV, they always disputed such results.

Claims of preplanned rigging of results as already alluded to by Wilbroad Slaa were typical in Kenya just months before the elections. Plans to use the police and the provincial administration to be election monitors for PNU the ruling party were equally on the cards. It was these strange developments, coupled with public pronouncements that PNU would not concede defeat that led ODM to announce very early that the party would only accept defeat if the elections were free and fair. On the other hand, if the results were rigged, the party would mobilize its huge following countrywide for mass action to protest the results.

Looking at the Tanzanian election campaigns this year, there are signs that the country is reading from Kenya’s script. If already, a CCM high ranking official has declared that Wilbroad Slaa will not be the fifth Tanzanian president, it must be because there is something he knows about the election outcome that other Tanzanians are not privy to.

On the other hand, the intervention of the military chiefs to warn Tanzanians against causing chaos must have sent chills down the spines of many people in that country. Ordinarily, the military in Tanzania just like in Kenya are supposed to be apolitical in such circumstances. To meddle in the political arena at such sensitive moments can only remind us of the Zimbabwe scenario where prior to the elections, the military came out to announce that they would not mount a military guard for anybody other than Robert Mugabe.

In East Africa, Tanzania has had the best history of political stability despite its population being highly politicized. For this reason, it has earned the respect of many international organizations because of its peaceful political transitions. In fact it is only in Tanzania where we would have had four retired former heads of State had Mwalimu Nyerere not passed on suddenly in 1979.

Regime change like we have had in Kenya and Ghana in the recent past is not something easy to achieve in Africa especially if a whole ruling political party has to be thrown out of power. In Tanzania’s case, the task is even more daunting because CCM is the party that ushered in independence 49 years ago and many Tanzanians born after independence now nearing their 50s have grown up knowing only the ruling CCM.

In 2000, Ghanaians resolved that Jerry Rawlings’ party had to leave power after two decades. They gave power to John Kufuor’s opposition party. Eight years later, Ghanaians made another about turn and returned power to Jerry Rawlings’ party by electing Atta Mills in 2008 as Ghana’s new president. Such regime change can only take place once multiparty politics, democratic governance and political maturity has taken root in society.

In Kenya, the only time we effected regime change was in 2002 when the nation overwhelmingly voted KANU out of power after ruling the country for 40 years. Had the opposition parties not resolved to work together, perhaps this feat would not have been realized.

As we wait to see the outcome of Tanzania’s results on October 31, a few facts must be driven home for our brothers and sisters. They must be reminded that Tanzania is bigger than Jakaya Kikwete or Wilbroad Slaa. If it is the will of the people of Tanzania to return Kikwete to power through majority vote, so be it. However, if the same Tanzanians decide that the moment for regime change is now; their decision must be respected by those in power including the armed forces.

As an East African, I need a peaceful and prosperous Tanzania; not a chaotic one.

Okungu is the CEO of Kenya-Today in Nairobi



By Jerry Okungu

Nairobi, Kenya

October 13, 2010

Moses Wetangula, Thuita Mwangi and one Mr. Mburu have been named in rather unflattering ways by the Parliamentary Committee that investigated public spending on buildings in Tokyo, Brussels and Abuja. After so many months of the Committee’s investigations, it now emerges that the deals in Tokyo and Brussels had not passed the test of integrity. Unauthorized individuals chose to overlook the laid down procedures of procurement and spent public funds without authorization. What is more, it is now emerging that the same officers have not been very honest with the Kenyan public in the past.

As an observer with no access to most of the documents that are in the hands of the Parliamentary Committee on Defence and Foreign Relations, I have no business stating categorically that a crime was committed by the four gentlemen at the Foreign Office. However, after following the bitter exchanges between the accused and committee members, I have my doubts that some wrong was not committed in Tokyo and Brussels.

As a Kenyan who pays my taxes diligently to Kenya Revenue Authority, I welcome Moses Wetangula’ s invitation of KACC to jump in and carry out a thorough audit and where possible, take to court any individual, Wetangula included if found culpable of any wrong doing. However, inviting KACC to do their part is not enough. Personal integrity demands that once a public official’s integrity has been questioned publicly, the only honorable thing is to either resign or step aside as investigations are conducted. Remaining in office under such circumstances does not add value to our governance culture. It can only undermine it.

Just as we grappled with the Tokyo saga, another drama was unfolding at our KEBS offices where for months a war of words has been raging over the appointment of a new Managing Director. The players in this saga have been the Minister for Industrialization, his Permanent Secretary, an Assistant Minister in that ministry and the chairman of the Board of KEBS. In this tussle, the three gentlemen have taken the Minister on in his appointment of one Mr. Kosgey as the new CEO of KEBS. As the tussle intensified, the KPMG CEO joined in the fray in condemning the Minister for picking a candidate who was not shortlisted.

What sounded strange was that as the Permanent Secretary, an Assistant Minister and KEBS Board chairman ganged up to condemn the Minister’s decision, several Board members broke ranks with their chairman to support the Minister in this tussle.

We as Kenyan observers may never know the boardroom struggles that may have taken place behind closed doors before the war of words spilled over in to the public domain. However, one thing is for certain; the intrigues to secure the job for one of their own cannot be apportioned to the Minister alone. It would appear as if there was an elaborate plan involving the Permanent Secretary, an Assistant Minister and the chairman to secure that job for one of their own; and it would appear like the Minister and his confidantes in the board were all aware of these counter intrigues.

If one looks at the ethnic background of the CEO of KPMG, the KEBS board chairman, Industrialization Permanent Secretary and an Assistant Minister assailing his boss, one cannot help tracing an ethnic agendum even if one conceded that the Minister indeed flouted recruitment rules. One more thing; did KPMG indeed shortlist former retirees some of whom had been removed from public service under unclear circumstances? Did KPMG conclude the recruitment process or was the firm terminated before it submitted its final results? If indeed its services were terminated by the board, can they come out clean to tell Kenyans why such a reputable firm’s services were terminated prematurely?

As things stand, the fiasco at KEBS has left every player with a bloody nose. Personal and institutional integrities have gone down the drain. Nobody is going to come out a winner. Now we cannot trust that the candidates that were shortlisted were the best. The process tainted their integrity. The board of KEBS has not come out any better. In other countries such inept behaviour would have forced them to resign; but this is Kenya. The Permanent Secretary and the assistant minister would have been sent packing if indeed this was another era. Their ethnic ego has gotten the better of them and driven them to insubordinate their minister. And when you look at it, you must ask yourself where they draw their power from to insubordinate their Minister and still remain to serve in that same government. It is the kind of reckless impunity that has been the bane of this regime.

Much as we wait for KACC, NCIC and the CID to move in and probe the Tokyo saga and KEBS shame, the President should move in and show this nation who is boss. He should move with speed and read the riot act to these individuals who think this country owes them the air we breathe.

Okungu is the CEO of Kenya-Today



By Jerry Okungu

Nairobi, Kenya

October 14, 2010

I like John Michuki’s politics. It is straight and to the point. The old man from Muranga does not know how to go around the bend to make his opinion known. His no nonsense approach to issues is what makes Kenyans say they will miss him when he finally bows out of active politics.

Remember that it was John Michuki who in the early days of the NARC regime reminded Kenyans that DP advocated for the Prime Minister’s position simply because the party was not sure Moi and KANU could be dislodged from power. However, when the two were finally shown the door, there was no need for Kenyans to keep asking for the premiership. At that time he likened politics to a piece of fresh liver that must be juggled in both hands all the time lest it drops down.

When the Artur brothers appeared on the scene and were linked to the Standard Newspaper raids, John Michuki, unlike the then Minister for Information & Communications, Mutahi Kagwe, came out in the open and told a stunned nation that the Standard raid was a government operation adding that “if you rattle a snake, prepare for the snake bite”.

At the height of the Mungiki menace when murders were the order of the day in parts of Rift Valley, Nairobi and Central Provinces, John Michuki as Minister for Internal Security went after the thugs with unprecedented resolve. His security forces hunted and summarily executed the sect members without apology to anybody. In his mind, he was executing what the law said.

As Minister for Transport, Kenyans remember with nostalgia how he went after the lawless matatu operators with unprecedented zeal. In a matter of weeks, all public service vehicles fitted speed governors and seat belts. For the first time all matatus had yellow strips while touts and drivers were forced to wear uniforms apart from obtaining certificates of good conduct from police stations.

This independence of mind is what made Michuki be the last person to join the Referendum bandwagon never mind that his friend Mwai Kibaki was leading the Yes campaign. When he finally joined the campaign in his Muranga home town, he had no problems reminding the President he was joining the Yes campaign for his friend’s sake and not because he believed in the new constitution.

It was therefore very much in his character to choose his Muranga base to remind Kikuyus that after President Kibaki is gone, the tribe should rally behind Uhuru as the next tribal chief. And for this he has earned his fair share of condemnation from among his ethnic community he was talking for.

However, before we condemn Michuki for being a tribal chauvinistic, let us remember that despite the new constitution, none of the 42 Kenyan communities has shed that tribal skin from our national politics. We are still embroiled in tribal alliances such as the Kamba- Kalenjin- Kikuyu Alliances. Kambas are still struggling to find a flag bearer for the presidency as the Luhya MPs have for the umpteenth time converged to vow that 2012 is their year to produce a president.

This desire for a tribal supremo has its origins in Kenyan politics dating back to the 1960s when Kenya attained independence.

At that time, defacto regional or tribal leaders were all well known and respected nationalists. We had Jomo Kenyatta from Central Province, Harvester Angaine, the self-styled King of Meru from Meru, Jeremiah Nyagah from Embu, Paul Ngei from Ukambani, Ronald Ngala from Coast, Masinde Muliro from Luhyaland, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga from Nyanza, Daniel arap Moi from Kalenjin and to some extent John Keen and Joseph Murumbi from Maasailand.

With the passing of time, these heroes of the 1960s have been replaced by new ones either from the same families or new ones have emerged outside those royalties such that today we have Mwai Kibaki from Central, Raila Odinga from Nyanza, Musalia Mudavadi from Western, William Ruto from Kalenjin, William Ole Ntimama from Maasailand, Kalonzo Musyoka from Ukambani, Kiraitu Murungi from Meru and Joe Nyagah from Embu. Meanwhile, it is not yet clear who leads the Coast region. Therefore if Michuki is worried that there will be a void when Kibaki leaves the scene, it is very much within the parameters of Kenya’s tribal politics.

As it is, the loudest violent noise has come from my neighbors in Luhyaland who feel pained that for the last 47 years, other communities have used them as a ladder to climb to the presidency. Much as there is merit in what they are saying; it is also true that for the 47 years, nobody has stopped them from seeking the presidency. That is why it is also refreshing to note that for the 2012, they have offered no less than five candidates. Whether they realize their dream or not; is another matter altogether.

Another thing, in 47 years of independence, only two tribes have produced a president which makes the question of latter untenable. However, one thing is for sure in these utterances; if we don’t tone down on our ethnic rhetoric, the unity of this country even under the new constitution will always remain a mirage.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010



Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
By Morice Maunya

Our reactions to Lt. General Abdulrahman Shimbo, the Chief of Staff of Tanzania People’s Defence Forces (TPDF)’s utterances, which have aroused such heated reactions with regard to the ongoing election campaigns—analyses, comments, criticisms as well as praises--- must be frank, fair and without fear.

In order to do that it is important to put them in their proper context and time-frame.
On Tuesday September 21, 2010 the Chairman of the National Electoral Commission (NEC) Judge Lewis Makame held a media briefing in Dar es Salaam to tell Tanzanians about NEC’s assessment of the ongoing election campaigns.

Judge Makame was reported to have said: “Political parties have focused on educating voters on their policies and manifestos, as well as introducing their aspirants.”

It was reported that NEC had “hailed” the campaign trend up till then, despite some reported violations of campaign ethics, such as skirmishes after some parties violated their rivals’ timetables, some parties conducting campaigns after the 6pm deadline, some political parties harassing journalists and some media airing or publishing distorted information contrary to media ethics.

“NEC hails campaign trend” summed up a newspaper headline, and that was the correct assessment of the overall campaign situation thence far. Some irregularities were there, but the general picture was nonetheless commendable.

On Friday, October 1, 2010 came Lt. General Shimbo’s “stern warning”, in which among other things he declared that the security organs had noticed that there had been signs of violating the law during the campaigns, instigating violence and threatening the peace that has endured in the country for so long.
Given that General Shimbo’s statement—reportedly on behalf of all national security organs—came exactly ten days after NEC’s assessment, we must critically examine what transpired during those 10 days—between September 22nd and October 1st to warrant the validity and sincerity of the security threat assessment.

The “major” security incidents reported during that period included an event in Musoma where the chairman of Civic United Front (CUF) in Musoma Urban District, Didi Msira Koko reportedly narrowly escaped death after he was attacked by unidentified persons.

Koko, who is vying for Iringo ward councillorship under CUF ticket, claimed that the attack was politically motivated although the police ruled out political motive.

But Koko was reported to have said: “The attackers were mainly youths who had attended a campaign rally addressed by the CCM presidential candidate. They asked me why I had attended Kikwete’s campaign rally and demanded that I must declare that I agree with CCM’s policies”.

During the same period, some members of Tanzania Labour Party (TLP) allegedly caused chaos and injured one Makale Joseph, a member of CCM at Himo town in Kilimanjaro region. The incident reportedly took place soon after TLP Chairman; Augustine Mrema had unveiled a new party branch at Njia Panda area in Himo constituency.

During the same week, two CCM members were reportedly stoned and injured at Mtoni area, Zanzibar shortly after leaving a campaign rally addressed by the CCM residential candidate in Zanzibar, Dr. Ali Mohammed Shein.

These were the main security incidents reported by the media during that period. True, there could have been many other unreported security threats, because the security organs have their own intelligence reports and other means of gathering information, which are usually a secret.
But by any measure, the reported incidents neither hindered the continuation of political campaign peacefully elsewhere in the country nor amounted to escalation of violence.

However, it is also during this period that the CHADEMA presidential candidate, Dr. Willibrod Slaa announced having “discovered” an alleged plot to ensure that the ruling party, CCM wins the forthcoming presidential general election by whatever means.

Dr. Slaa claimed to be in possession of a waraka (circular) dated 19th September 2010 to security organs, regional and district commissioners and directors of district councils “instructing” them to ensure the ruling party’s anticipated victory.

Lt. General Shimbo’s statement came a week after Dr. Slaa’s damaging allegation. Neither the government nor the security organs have refuted or challenged Dr. Slaa’s claim—at least in public.
It is under this context that we have to try to critically examine the top-ranking army officer’ utterances, supposedly on behalf of all the security organs.

The first question is whether the security incidents reported above warranted the army’s intervention in the campaign process. That is, whether the isolated skirmishes and violence reported in Musoma, Kilimanjaro and Zanzibar were likely to cause generalized instability and threat to national security and peace.

In the case of Musoma, the police were reported to have ruled out political motive, so it should be treated as a criminal incidence which the police are obviously capable of and effective in dealing with.
The Kilimanjaro and Zanzibar incidents were apparently readily contained by the police and did not degenerate into further violence. The assumption here as well was that the police were able to take appropriate measures in time to contain politically motivated violence from spiraling into generalized chaos.

This is the reason many people have argued that the army’s statement is “superfluous” under the given circumstances, unless they had some undisclosed security threat reports. But for the ordinary citizen, nothing extraordinary really transpired during those ten days after NEC’s assessment of the campaign trend to justify Tad’s posture.

On the contrary, NEC had not expressed concern that the campaigns were heading in the wrong direction; that the country was likely to succumb to election violence and chaos. If that was the case, then there would have been enough justification for TPDF to decide to team up with the police and other security organs to ensure peace.

Those praising Lt. Gen. Shimbo’s remarks have reminded Tanzanians that TPDF, in addition to its prime function of securing the country’s boarders, has a role to help ensure internal security.
A weekly newspaper last week reported an interview with an undisclosed retired senior army officer who spoke about TPDF internal rules which authorize “aid to civil authority” when the country’s internal security is at risk.

Nobody is questioning those internal rules, which could help the country to maintain peace and security when needed, but obviously what is troubling the minds of many people is whether the security status in the country at present justifies the concept of “aid to civil authority” or the idea is far fetched for the moment.

Also, civilians are not aware of the army’s internal rules or their code of conduct during election campaigns, so it is upon the soldiers to explain up things so that they are not wrongly accused.
But the people are aware of the provisions of the constitution under which the Armed Forces as well as National Electoral Commission were created.

One would suppose that the security services should provide the necessary intelligence and support to NEC to ensure that it gives the correct assessment of the campaigning situation, because it is the institution entrusted with monitoring the conduct of the election campaigns as well as announcing the election results.

But if NEC gives it assessment and after ten days the security organs also comes up with their own assessment, which do not totally augur with NEC’s opinion, this apparent contradiction gives room to multiple interpretations.

There are people who are now inclined to believe Dr. Slaa’s claim that the security organs have been instructed through a “circular” to ensure that CCM wins in the forthcoming general election.
In their press briefing, the representatives of the top army and police brass did not categorically refute those claims, although Lt. Gen. Shimbo said they were not aligned to any political party. But that is not enough to discount the allegation that a “waraka” was sent to them.

By the time of writing this article there were reports that CHADEMA had appealed to the international community—through diplomats based in the country—to help ensure that fairness prevailed during the forthcoming general elections.

We were once again thrown back to the typical African syndrome where fairness in elections is only guaranteed with intervention from outside, as we have seen happening in many other countries including Kenya and Zimbabwe.

Why is it so difficult to sort things out ourselves? To borrow from Uganda’s president, Yoweri Museveni: “What is Africa’s problem?”

For Tanzania, fears about the army’s thinly veiled participation in politics is not good at all for our international reputation as a democratic and peaceful country.

Worse still, it is just a few days ago that we heard in the news that US President Barrack Obama had showered praise to our president, Jakaya Kikwete for good governance.

Now, with the emerging allegations of political dirty tricks left hanging in the political atmosphere our reputation for “good governance” is certainly on the spotlight.

Those challenging the presumption of “our smooth façade” are not only the activists like FemAct—which represents some 50 local human rights organizations—but even some distinguished intellectuals as well as neutral observers.

FemAct insist that Lt. Gen. Shimbo’s statement on behalf of the security organs was meant to intimidate voters and must have been instigated by a certain political party.

But CCM's campaign manager, Mr. Abdurrahman Kinana, has denounced efforts to implicate his party with the alleged plan to enlist the security forces to help CCM win.

Mr. Kinana, himself a retired army colonel, has said such talks are tantamount to questioning the integrity of our uniformed corps who know very well that they are not supposed to be biased.

The constitution says: “It shall be forbidden for any soldier to be a member of political party; but he shall have the right to vote as mentioned under section 5 of this constitution…
“For the purpose of this section ‘soldier’ means a soldier employed under temporary or permanent terms by the Defence Force, Police Force, Prisons Force or National Service”.

If our security organs want everybody to ensure peace, they must stay neutral in politics as the national constitution demands.