In March 2nd, 1975, Nyandarua North MP and assistant minister Josiah Mwangi (JM) Kariuki mysteriously disappeared. He was last seen with Ben Gethi, commandant of the General Service Unit (GSU), the terror-striking ferocious paramilitary wing of the Kenyan military and Police. The car which he was last seen in was found outside the Hilton Hotel Nairobi.
JM who had said that “Kenya had become a nation of millionaires and million beggars” had been Kenyatta’s private secretary. He had witnessed first hand an unrestrained orgy of greed in the inner sanctum of the president’s company. They were busy grabbing land and whatever else was ‘grabbable.’
JM had been vocal against this greed which he said will put this country into chaos. “Let me state here that this greedy attitude among the leaders is going to ruin this country,” he had said.
But as fears for JM’s safety grew, Nation editor George Githii penned down and confidently published an article asserting that JM was away on business and staying at the Hotel Intercontinental in Lusaka Zambia. No one ever got to the bottom of this misleading report except the Standard newspaper which later rebutted the claim after contacting their Lusaka bureau.
The truth is that JM had already been dead a week and his mutilated remains were lying unidentified at the city mortuary. The body which was a gruesome sight was shot five times, the fingers chopped off and the eyes gouged out.
This was Jomo Kenyatta’s administration.
On February 12th, 1990, Cabinet Minister Dr Robert Ouko’s mutilated body was found in Got Alila in Koru near his home. Chief Government Pathologist Jason Ndakai Kaviti claimed that Dr Ouko travelled for seven kilometres, neatly arranged his personal belongings, shot himself in the head and stomach, then set his body on fire and as a final act of death, lay on his back and died.
Several witnesses continued with this narrative that Ouko could have doused himself with an inflammable liquid, set it light and shot himself in the head before the fire reached his body. The same witness asked how he then accounted for the leg fracture Ouko was found to have sustained before death. He said that this could have been caused by walking very fast or running to commit suicide.
Kenyan African National Union (KANU) was the party that was in power when Kenya went through a traumatic phase characterized with unrestrained sleaze, high-profile murders, patronage among other dishonourable acts. KANU was bad. You could be fired over the radio while you were on an official trip.
But of all the evil that characterized KANU, none did damage to the country like they perfected the art of misinformation.
In 2017, we are seeing a resurgence of fake news meant to discredit institutions of justice perpetuated by KANU orphans under the umbrella of Jubilee Party. Jubilee has repackaged the KANU power to misinform than any other current political player. They are always victims, blaming the misfortunes they face on others.
In 2013 general elections, Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto drove across the country castigating Raila Odinga as the one who had engineered their International Criminal Court (ICC) woes. Yet President Kibaki and Prime minister Odinga had pleaded with parliament, where Ruto and Uhuru were members to form a local tribunal. But members of parliament turned down the offer even forming a popular mantra “don’t be vague, go to Hague.”
Only that when six people had been indicted by the court did they start to weep, kneeling down to be prayed for in rallies, composing charged songs and raising the political temperatures just to capture power that would shield them from facing the blade of justice. And they succeeded. In the end, witnesses were intimidated, some were eliminated and the cases collapsed spectacularly. Victims of the 2007/2008 post-election violence (PEV) never got justice.
When they began their first term in office, every time misfortunes hit the country, they blamed everyone else except their inept leadership. When Mpeketoni was attacked in 2014 by the Al Shabaab militia where 60 people were killed, the president quickly called a press conference and blamed the attack on “reckless leaders and hate mongers” saying that the attacks were “politically motivated ethnic profiling. This is, therefore, was not an Alshabbab terrorist attack,” yet days later, the terror group owned the attacks leaving the government with egg on its face.
In a nation that loses a third of its state budget – the equivalent of about $6 billion – to corruption every year, it was shocking for the President to ask the public, Munataka Nifanye? (What do you want me to do?). Yet the instruments of power, including political power, were in his hands. If he isn’t blaming the Judiciary, he is blaming the auditor general, the DPP or other independent arms of government instead of himself.
To Kenyatta, personal responsibility is not found in his dictionary. If something goes wrong, he looks for a quick scapegoat by blaming others.
When the drought hit Kenya in 2016, the government did not blame their failure to replenish the strategic grain reserve. Neither did they blame the massive fraud that was woven into the fabric of the Galana Kulalu irrigation project which was meant to deal a blow to food insecurity in Kenya. But instead, they blamed the gods for not supplying the rains. Yet countries like Israel that are in deserts produce and export more agricultural produce than some fertile nations.
Its however not shocking when President Kenyatta and his deputy Wiliam Ruto immediately hit the campaign to trail after the September 1st Presidential Petition ruling that had their victory nullified. They immediately branded the judges as crooks who will not subvert the will of 45 million Kenyans. They continued the attacks, saying that four people cannot overturn the will of the people. As we head into the repeat elections, they are converting the supreme court decision as a campaign tool. They have filed petitions to have Justice Maraga removed, they have said they will revisit the case, they have threatened to trim powers of the court.
The assault will continue. Misinformation will thrive and democratic gains will be rolled back. In a country where the 4th estate is barely independent, crippled by commercial interests and ethnicity, strong public institutions should come to our rescue. We cannot stand back and watch as Kanu days are slowly returned in the pretext of the tyranny of numbers.
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