Friday, September 28, 2012



By Jerry Okungu Nairobi, Kenya September 26, 2012 Hon. Ferdinand Waititu is the MP for Embakasi and Assistant Minister for Water. In effect, he is a member of the cabinet appointed by the President of Kenya to that prestigious post. However, before the police arrest him, before the Director of Public Prosecutions charges him and before President Kibaki sacks him, there is one thing that Kenyans can and must do- strip him of his Mheshimiwa status because he has soiled that title beyond recognition. Instead, Kenyans should give him fresh titles such Ferdinand the street fighter or even better still, Ferdinand the goon! Because that is how he has behaved since he was elected MP for Embakasi. Some people have likened his behavior to primitive energy but I think it goes beyond that. The man simply has no clue what quality leadership is all about. He has never heard of words like role model, accountability and the need for personal integrity or self respect. In fact of all the politicians that have to date been charged with hate speech, Waititu beats them all in terms of raw character. While he was holed up in Parliament trying to fake an apology to avoid police arrest, there was a curious footage where he had in the past been interviewed by one of the local TV journalists. When asked why he was always breaking the law by joining slum dwellers in violent activities, he said something to the effect that instant justice saves one from going through the long road to the courts with money and time wasted. This footage told us something about Waititu- that he cares less about the laws that he and fellow MPs pass in Parliament. On this account alone, he is unfit to be a law maker. Ferdinand Waititu is a violent politician. And he is not the first one Kenyans have ever elected. We have many of such undesirable characters on both sides of the political divide. In Nairobi, we had his predecessor, the late Mwenje whose violent theatrics bordered on the absurd. He was elected repeatedly despite his hooliganism by the same Embakasi constituents. At that time, Waititu was a councilor horning his violent skills as he embraced Mwenje as his role model. But because the authorities allowed Mwenje’s violent antics to flourish, Waititu realized that indeed violence and impunity pay in politics. And he has gotten away with murder on more than three ocassions in the past in the full glare of television cameras. But because the police had always arrested and released him without any charge, he had come to believe that indeed he was above the law. When it comes to violent politicians one clearly remembers Sonko’s antics in Nairobi when an elected MP can go ballistic, roll himself several times on the dusty streets of Nairobi or hit a brick wall several times in the full glare of the public and TV cameras. If these stunts were meant to attract media attention, they sure attracted media coverage but for the wrong reasons. However, despite his thuggish behavior, Sonko is better known for his philanthropic deeds. He often pays rent and power bills for his constituents. Just this week, he transferred several of his deserving patients from public hospitals to Nairobi Hospital and paid for their treatment in cash. A rare good deed indeed! In 1992, Kisumu City elected the most violent civic leader in history. Councillor Oile turned Kisumu into a war zone for the better part of his life as a mayor. For this, the residents of Kisumu nicknamed him Oile Ninja! All of Oile’s mayhem happened at times under police supervision. He enjoyed police and state protection because his goons were fighting the so called antigovernment forces in Kisumu City. This violence only stopped with the passing away of Oile Ninja. These hate mongers of our time have devised one clever way of escaping prosecution especially if they are politicians holding cabinet appointments. First they will go into hiding or seek refuge in sanctuaries such as parliament where they know they are protected. And as they buy time plotting their next move, they hurriedly prepare hollow apologies such the one Waititu treated us to this week. After that they will be smuggled out of parliament possibly in the boot of one of their colleagues before rushing to court at the earliest opportunity to block the police from executing their arrests. This scenario begs for serious debate. Should a fellow MP abet the escape of a wanted criminal like Waititu without that MP committing a felony? Isn’t the MP who smuggles a colleague from parliament and into a safe place defeating the cause of justice? Why can’t the law charge the accomplice? When an MP like Waititu has been declared wanted by the police, and the same MP rushes to court to obstruct justice, why can’t the courts order his arrest and hand him over to the police in order to record a statement and a charge sheet prepared? It is about time Parliament stopped practicing decadent parliamentary privileges that can’t apply in our country. Parliamentary privileges only work where self respecting personalities are elected to parliament. Such privileges cannot promote the rule of law where thugs, touts and goons are elected into parliament. In Charles Njonjo’s time, Waititu would have been plucked from the precincts of parliament and hauled into court a few hours later.