Saturday, January 21, 2012



By Jerry Okungu
Nairobi, Kenya
January 18, 2012

 Our constitution seems to have set us on a collision cause with our selves. Very soon brother will turn against brother. Yet, the media in this country seem to abet this kind of conflict from time to time. Quite often we have seen individuals of questionable character rush to the media with outrageous claims and the media are just too happy to carry the story.

Take the case of outrageous claims that Franklin Bett, Margaret Kamar and Magerere Langat are plotting to Kill Miguma! Why would these politicians even conceive this outlandish claim? Any political murder must serve a good purpose with someone standing to gain. When JM Kariuki was murdered, the power elite wanted to get rid of a populist threat. When Tom Mboya and Robert Ouko were assassinated, their rivals in politics wanted to secure their succession plans. Miguna doesn’t fit any of these bills. Miguna is not the politician worth eliminating. He is busy self destroying himself anyway!

In the last several months, Miguna Miguna, the former adviser to Prime Minister Raila Odinga has doggedly entertained us with all manner of theatrics since he was thrown out of the Prime Minister’s office for reasons that were then explained as gross misconduct and general indiscipline. He was accused of insubordination and bad manners. Under those circumstances, it was becoming increasingly impossible for anyone to work with him in the PM’s office. Being a square peg where there were only round holes, time finally came for the square peg to be discarded.

It is true many of us outside the Prime Minister’s office may never know what transpired inside that office during Miguna’s tour of duty. We can only weigh the utterances of Miguna against the official statements of other officers and junior staff that may have interacted with him.  We can also decipher the character of Miguna through the many articles that he authored before and after he was fired. The first lot was in total defense of Prime Minister Raila Odinga as he railed against all enemies of the ODM, real and imagined in equal measure.

Yet, soon after he was fired for antagonizing the very fragile coalition he was hired to manage, he turned his guns on his former boss.

In doing all these things, Miguna as a lawyer probably most heavily relied on Chapter Six of the new constitution that guarantees all Kenyans freedom of expression. However, it would appear like the good lawyer only read part one of section 50 that states that every person has the right of expression which includes the right to seek, receive or impart information. However, he didn’t seem to pay attention to part two of the same section that limits this freedom of expression. He never realized that this right does not extend to propaganda for incitement to violence, hate speech or advocacy of hatred, vilification of others or incitement to cause harm.

He forgot to remember that in the exercise of this freedom, he, like every Kenyan was expected to respect the rights and reputation of others. Has Miguna Miguna in the cause of his writings, debates and public appearances on local TV networks respected the rights and reputation of Raila Odinga his main target?

In his articles either against or for Raila Odinga, has Miguna consistently violated this very freedom of expression by preaching hatred against fellow Kenyans, Raila Odinga included? When he directed his tirade against the then Attorney General Amos Wako at the UN convened ICC review meeting in Kampala, on whose behalf and benefit was this tirade executed? How was that base behaviour to benefit Raila Odinga his employer, ODM his party or the country?

Nobody doubts Miguna’s brilliance as a lawyer; after all we have never had an opportunity to rate him against other lawyers in Kenya. However, there is no doubt that Miguna is a dare devil character that will stop at nothing to defend his boss with his blood, bones and skull if need be. Indeed this is an excellent attribute in situations of war. Unfortunately we are not at war as a nation. PNU is not at war with ODM. Mwai Kibaki has not been at war with Raila Odinga. It is the reason they are in a coalition government in the first place.

Perhaps Miguna would have done a better job had he stuck to his job description- that of advising the Prime Minister on coalition matters. A good advisor works behind the scenes and advises his principal on fundamentals of the day. A good advisor can never be the principal’s spokesman.
That job belongs to someone else with skills and common sense to gauge public mood and deliver the message in a palatable manner.

To be a spokesman for any organization, the first principle to learn is the art of humility, discreeteness and consultation before going public. A good spokesman avoids arrogance, insults or abusive language!

Any political appointment such as the one Miguna Miguna, Kivutha Kibwana and Raphael Tuju got at the start of the coalition government needed sober characters with self respect. This is how Kibwana and Tuju conducted themselves. Decorum and discreetness guided their daily lives.

However, once the advisor finds that he can no longer agree with the principal on issues of the day, those with self respect do the only honourable thing. They don’t wait to be shown the door then throw tantrums. They resign their posts and go on with their lives.

In the case of Miguna, his behavior has left a lot to be desired. He has failed the test of humility. One only hopes that he will recover in good time to pick up the pieces.

Yes, there is life after a stint in a public office. Sell your rare skills to the numerous commissions in dire need of lawyers and leave Raila Odinga alone to go on with his politics. It does not pay to go on creating imaginary enemies even if you are being paid for it!