Saturday, July 20, 2013



P. Anyang' Nyong'o

It does not take a lot of imagination to notice that the IEBC failed Kenyans badly in the March 2013 elections. That this was done to favour the TNA presidential ticket is no guess work either. As soon as the election was on all organs of state security were mobilised to take care of any public protest against the doubtful results. That too is no subject to guess work: ordinary Kenyans are privy to the knowledge.

What is more disturbing is that after peace loving Kenyans accepted the dubious Supreme Court ruling these same state security organs now serving the Jubilee regime do not want to leave Kenyans alone. They still feel uneasy about "the big lie". They want to keep on prying into what Kenyans are thinking so as to be sure that there is absolute acquiescence to "the big lie".

That is not surprising to those of us who have studied the genesis and evolution of totalitarian regimes that derive their legitimacy from regimented support and loyalty where to criticise such a regime is equivalent to treason. Owalo is just but the first victim: as we learnt from both the Kenyatta and Moi regimes, many more Owalos will soon follow if we don't stand up now against this creeping political intolerance and repression.

It is interesting to read the summons that the CID originally issued to Owalo and what was reported in the Standard of the twentieth of July. In the original letter to Owalo, no mention was made of the so- called March Movement. On the July twentieth rendition of why the CID wants Owalo the Movement is now the main issue. If so, why was it not mentioned earlier so that Owalo could be clear on the treason charge he was being accused of? Why change the goal post after the CORD leadership called the bluff of the CID?

To begin with there is nothing wrong at all in starting a movement in Kenya called the Movement. I would like to join such a movement if its aim is to clean up the IEBC, guarantee Kenyans free and fair elections, safeguard our democracy, uphold constitutional government, keep security forces away from adversely interfering with the democratic process and promote justice and human rights. The more such movements we have in Kenya the stronger civil society will be.

But I can understand why the CID is weary about the mention of such movements by any Owalo, Kariuki or Cheruiyot. Kenyans are so alert to their democratic rights that when the state has ignored or trampled on such rights in any way state organs will do all in their power to conceal the deed. When they fail in the concealment project, they resort to cajoling, frightening, repressing or even eliminating critical citizens. The constitution now prohibits detention without trial, but the other types of repression are still open to such bodies as the CID.

So where do we go from here? Let nobody within the state think that citizens cannot demonstrate. That is our constitutional right. It does not matter whether somebody on Kiambu Road or Vigilance House thinks such demonstrates can mimic Tahir Square; that does not in any way make them illegal or treasonable. In any case when it comes to a point where Kenyans resort to the Arab Spring style of changing our political regime it is not the people who will be doing something strange; it is the regime itself which will have long gone astray to invite the wrath of its citizens.

The feeling I get is that a good number of Kenyans feel they ran a race that they never finished. This feeling is further reinforced by the inability of the IEBC to tell the truth, pure and simple. The old adage that statisticians can lie successfully with figures has completely eluded the IEBC mandarins to the extent that they can blatantly refuse to swear to tell the truth.

Now what would be wrong for Wambui, Wamugunda and Mwakilenge to go to the streets demanding that Kenyans deserve an IEBC that can not only do its job fairly and perfectly but also stop lying when it has failed to do so? Why should such a public expression of genuine concern for accountability in government be regarded as treason?

Once a government feels and says that somebody is plotting to overthrow it the citizens ought to realise that the government has done something wrong it is trying to conceal or it is just about to commit treason against its own people, like abrogate the constitution for example. It is our duty to speak our minds on such issues or wait to suffer the terrible consequences of totalitarianism.

We remember the old story in fascist Germany where Hitler was picking up his critics one by one and sending them to the gas chambers. At first he came for the intellectuals, and the rest of society kept quiet. Then when he realised that not all intellectuals were bad and that it was mainly the Marxists who were uncompromising, he decided to target the Marxist intellectuals. The rest of society still kept quiet thinking that the Marxists had gone too far. Then he realised that most intellectuals and Marxists were Jews so he went for Jews en masse; the rest of society thought the Jews were strange anyway. Then he went for anybody who was not an avowed follower and sycophant: it was now too late but but to suffer the consequences of fascism whoever you were.

Having suffered for speaking against political repression before we are not afraid to do so today. Having been in the trenches we are not afraid to go back there to defend our hard won constitutional rights and the constitution itself. So we are with Owalo and against the apostles of fear mongering and repression.