Thursday, January 6, 2011



By Jerry Okungu

Nairobi, Kenya

January 5, 2011

The man faced 12 counts on his charge sheet in a magistrate’s court early this week.

A few weeks earlier, he was among the six suspects in Moreno Ocampo’s list. If the local magistrate convicts him, he will either cough up Ksh 12 million in fines or serve a 10 year jail term before he thinks of The Hague trial outcome.

Despite all these trying moments, the amiable Henry Kosgey does not seem to have lost his cool. He has not thrown tantrums left and right blaming every Tom Dick and Harry for his problems. He has not pointed accusing fingers at his political enemies, real or imagined for his problems.

We may remember that when surprisingly his name was included in the Ocampo Six; instead of blaming it on those political rivals bent on “ sinking” his political career before 2012, all Henry could say was that he was ready to go to The Hague where he was sure the courts would clear his name. And the man did not stop there. He took it upon himself to write to Ocampo informing him of his whereabouts and that he would comply with all the stringent conditions the prosecutor had imposed on the suspects. More importantly, he informed Ocampo that he would cooperate fully with the ICC prosecutor throughout the process.

This week, when the Attorney General finally gave the KACC the green light to take him to court; instead of waiting to be arrested and charged before being forced out of his cabinet post; Henry Kosgey did the only honourable thing. He resigned from government that evening and handed his letters of resignation to the two principals as he informed KACC that he would present himself to their offices for action. Unlike some politicians I know, he did not run to Kalenjin elders to rally them behind him against his political enemies. He chose not to be a cry baby in the face of all the problems facing him.

Where other ministers have tenaciously clung to their cabinet posts like a leech despite mega scandals touching on their integrity; where some individuals have been charged with economic crimes in courts of law but vowed that they would rather die than resign or they would not resign because they were “innocent”, Henry Kosgey has seen no need for such unnecessary drama.

For whatever it is worth, the minister’s conduct gives this country hope that perhaps we have reached the turning point in our political behavior. If our leaders can come to their senses that once their names have been soiled, it may be unsustainable to continue being in a public office as they battle their court cases. It is a matter of common sense really. It is pointless pretending to continue serving the public when the same public has lost faith in you.

Looking at Kosgey’s case in perspective, one remembers a long list of those people that have “stepped aside”, resigned, been suspended or sacked during the Kibaki administration. In all these cases, it has been a battle to get them out of office.

We remember those early days when Justice Bosire was presiding over the Golden Berg saga in the early days of the Kibaki administration and George Saitoti’s name kept cropping up especially when Kamlesh Pattni started spilling the beans. The man sat pretty in the cabinet as if those allegations were praise songs in his honour. It was only after Bosire recommended him along with others for prosecution did the President force him to step aside until his case was determined. In other countries, Saitoti would not only have stepped aside; he would have resigned from politics and public life altogether. If he was Japanese, he would have committed suicide because in those Far East countries, a family standing in society is much more cherished than position of power.

A few months later, it was the turn of the then Finance, Justice and Home Affairs ministers to feel the heat from Anglo Leasing scam. The men on the spot were then Vice President, Moody Awori, then Justice Minister, Kiraitu Murungi and Finance Minister David Mwiraria. Comments from these three gentlemen despite tape recordings from the then Ethics Permanent Secretary were disturbing. They disregarded public opinion until President Kibaki forced Mwiraria and Murungi to step aside to allow for further investigations. However, as the two were stepping aside, Vice President Moody Awori called a press conference to swear that he would not take responsibility for the actions of his juniors and that he would not resign. Faced with that embarrassing moment, Kibaki did not have the stomach to sack a man who was much older than him and a political asset at that point in time.

As we wait for the trial of Henry Kosgey, let his mature behavior be a lesson to George Saitoti, Moody Awori, David Mwiraria, Kiraitu Murungi, Amos Kimunya, William Ruto, Moses Wetangula and many more of our leaders that may sooner or later find themselves in similar circumstances. Yes, we may be innocent of crimes we are alleged to have committed at the ICC in The Hague or at a local Magistrate’s Court in Kibera; however, it is not for us to declare our innocence at every village gathering. Let the courts decide.