Saturday, October 02, 2004

Mr. President: Hold Murungaru Accountable.

By Adongo Ogony

A few days ago, in a small town of Mweiga in Nyeri District, a group of seventy thugs who also happen to be councilors and political friends of Mr. Chris Murungaru invaded a bar owned by a Mr. Jackson Nderitu and according to media reports “pulled down shutters and destroyed stocks worth Kshs 600,000” Phew! That is some serious tuskers going down the drain.

The beef with Mr. Nderitu according to the councilors is that he was not paying rent to the county council. Also the councilors claimed the other crime committed by Mr. Nderitu is that his bar had been turned into a meeting place for the LDP. In the melee and mayhem of the attack a policeman and one of Mr. Nderitu’s aides were seriously injured and hospitalized.

Lets deal with the first claim of non payment of rent, something Mr. Murungaru himself alluded to as a justification for the beastly and illegal behaviour of his friends. Assuming Mr. Nderitu owes money to the council, since when has the Kenyan government decided that they will adopt mafia tactics of debt collection? Is this official government policy? Turning councilors into raving maniacs tearing businesses down and beating people including law enforcement officers to collect rent. Are we missing something Mr. Murungaru?

The real issue of course is the political dimensions of this heinous act. Mr. Murungaru can’t stand the LDP. We know that. The LDP people probably can’t stand him either. All these are beside the point. Kenyans have fought for decades to open up democratic space for freedom of assembly and association. Why is Narc bent on driving us back to the dark days when politicians curved out their personal political zones of control and organized thugs and criminals to brutalize their political opponents who dared to come to those areas? Is this not what led to ethnic cleansing and mayhem we show in parts of Rift Valley and at the Coast? Who are these people reviving political violence in Kenya and what do they want? Kenyans should ask themselves that question, because it is going to be critical as we approach the next polls.

When asked to comment about the allegations that he was part of the scheme to use the councilors to break the law and make a mockery of our democracy, Murungaru retorted rather casually that he is an MP and a Cabinet minister not a councilor.

Then he went on talking about the claim that Mr. Nderitu was the local LDP chairman.

“By the way, where or when was he elected LDP chairman because we have never heard of such a meeting”? Murungaru asked.

First of all, it is none of Murungaru's business where and when LDP folks elect their officials. That is the business of LDP members.

More important, yes Murungaru is not a councilor, but he sounded like he forgot his duties in the cabinet. He actually is the minister in charge of the security of all Kenyans including those who may be members of the LDP or any other political party.

When a minister in charge of security sees nothing wrong when his own police officer is lying in hospital after being injured by thugs who are friends of the same minister we should know we have a big problem in our hands.

Murungaru should have been on the phone with Brig. Ali, the Police Commissioner and the area police officers making sure these thugs who invaded Mr. Nderitu’s property and attacked people are brought to justice pronto. If you are waiting for that to happen, you must have been on a trip to mars for some time. Welcome back. It wouldn’t happen. The councilors are actually heroes in Murungaru’s books. They are patriots collecting debts and disciplining people with bad politics. And we all thought the Moi era of repression was over. Think again.

“If he owes some money to the council, he should pay it.” Murungaru asserted, adding, “The Narc government is not tolerating the impunity that was Kanu’s hallmark, and this man should not hide behind the LDP so as not to pay rent”

Now you see the drift. A cabinet minister charged with keeping as secure is mouthing disgusting excuses why his friends are blatantly breaking the law and engaging in political thuggery. Does President Kibaki condone this behaviour of one of his most powerful cabinet ministers? Kenyans deserve answers. I mean the state of insecurity in the country is terrifying enough as it is without having to put up with a minister in charge of security appearing to promote insecurity. This should not be tolerated at all costs.

All these of course are happening just as we see and hear politicians engage in the worst forms of tribal and ethnic incitement since the 1992 era of Kanu zones and all that rubbish and its consequences which Kenyans will never forget. A good number of those displaced are still in make shift refugee camps, some staying right in Nairobi city at the Basilica.

Speaking in Nairobi recently during a food drive for his constituency, Maina Kamanda, one of President Kibaki’s strongmen in Nairobi declared that Nairobi has its owners and that when they wake up Raila would have nowhere to take refuge. The last time I checked, Raila had been the MP for Langata in the heart of the city for over a decade. Who the heck are these owners?

This is not rocket science. We know that according to political imbeciles like Kamanda, Nairobi is supposed to be a tribal enclave for the Kikuyu community and hence a DP zone. Personally I think this is an insult to the Kikuyu community as a whole and to the residents of Nairobi. To reduce the whole community to a bunch of maniacs who are just waiting for orders to attack the enemies of DP in Nairobi is utter nonsense. But it is none of my business to speak for that community or for any other community for that matter.

The thing that bothers me about the reckless tribal incitement is that it has the real potential to acquire a life of its own and given the political temperature in the country the ugly tribalists in power might just unleash something that would make the government sponsored tribal clashes of 1992/3 look timid in comparison. In a cosmopolitan place like Nairobi, inciting tribal violence can lead to a major disaster. We have seen some kionjo of this in the past and we know there is a lot of idle youth ready for hire by political thugs to cause havoc. We must never give them that chance. If the politicians want a fight let them lock themselves up in that parliament of theirs and duke it out. They can even do it naked if that will give them more satisfaction. We are not interested and the battle will not be televised. Go for it.

We should denounce these people and tell them we are not buying into their project of tribal violence. Have people noticed every time they disagree, politicians always ask the other one if they are man enough to do this or that. What a bunch of morons? What happened to the women? Well be “men” enough and fight your petty wars away from us. We are busy trying to make a living, if you haven’t noticed, while you are busy spending our tax money.

I am stunned that our head of state has never even once come out to openly denounce tribalism and specifically to speak out against the zoning of areas for this or that party. This is dangerous stuff.

About a month ago Koigi Wamwere and a bunch of MPs including his buddy Mirugi Kariuki announced in Nakuru, the formation of an ominous sounding group, known as Jeshi La Kibaki. The very name makes me sick. Thugs upon thugs in Kenya have formed similar sounding groups in the past, some of which were basically death squads targeting human rights activists and opposition figures. How on earth can people like Koigi even with an eroding conscience actually reduce themselves to this level.? And the guy for whom the Jeshi has been formed is conveniently quiet. And you ask me what the heck is wrong with the country?

I am even more disturbed when people who are known to be very close to the president become the champions of tribal zoning of Kenya. When Kamanda made his silly threats he was accompanied by Njenga Karume, a good friend of Kibaki. In fact Kibaki himself was reported to have asked the LDP not to carry out recruitment of members in his Othaya constituency. Wouldn’t it be great if the so-called LDP membership drive would take place safely and peacefully in Othaya. That would be the day, right?

I for one would welcome the DP people to recruit members in my beloved hometown of Bondo as much as they want. Heck that way we might even get the president to visit Bondo town when he comes to open the DP office and may be he could see for himself the problems we are dealing with down there.

The issue I am raising is basically that Narc is busy digging us into the hole of tribal politics and confrontation. Lets be very careful not to fall into that trap.
Politicians who incite tribal intolerance and violence are the worst type of scam we have in our land. We should expose them and reject them. In the meantime it would be good to know that our minister in charge of security does not change his title and become the minister in charge of insecurity. This is not the first time Mr. Murungaru has been accused of promoting political violence.

The same happened when Joseph Kamotho was attacked in his own constituency due to his association with the LDP. Obviously those who beat up Kamotho are still free and the same will apply to the councilors who wreaked havoc in Mweiga.

President Kibaki unless he has his own interests on this matters should have a good long chat with Murungaru and let him know in no uncertain terms that all Kenyans are entitled to the protection of the law. The first duty of any government is the security of its people.

And one more thing. When are the human rights groups and our beloved church and other religious leaders going to start denouncing the tribal zoning of Kenyan politics and more specifically the kind of political violence that happened in Mweiga? May be we should get Moi back to power so that groups like NCCK, NCEC na kadhalika can start once again to speak out and defend the rights of Kenyans.

The writer is a human rights activist.

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