To the Rt. Hon. Prime Minister:
Heri na fanaka za mwaka mpya.
I hope and trust you are well.
We all received your New Year message in our living rooms via satellite hook up to India where you are currently on a 10-day official visit.
As we linger at the door step, about to enter next year which is already this year; as I write these lines in the flickering flames of the almost burnt out candle that is 2011; we know that 2012 is pregnant with hope and trepidation; 2012 may be a harbinger of promises or a receptacle of uncertainty.
Eons ago, the ancient Mayans of the Americas boldly predicted that the World as we know it would be extinguished on December 21, 2012.
But humankind, having survived many a doomsday prediction, is confident of marching on in the quest for social progress, deepening prosperity and widened democratic vistas.
As Kenyans, we wait with bated breath, for the ICC pronouncements on the fate of the Ocampo Six even as we await our courts to rule on whether we go to the polls in August or December.
In the penultimate Kenyan presidential race, you, Raila Amolo Odinga, enter 2012 as the candidate everyone wants to vanquish.
I could wander and meander, pondering and wondering over this and that; however, knowing your tight schedule, let me cut to the chase and reveal the reason for this open letter to you from me.
I am writing over the matter of Miguna Miguna, your personal advisor and a joint secretary, along with Professor Kivutha Kibwana, for the Grand Coalition Government of Kenya.
As you are all too aware, the matter of his abrupt suspension without pay from his official duties has elicited and excited a lot of comment, discussion and debate all over Kenya-in homes, work-places, matatus, newspaper columns, letters to the various editors and all over cyberspace, the blogosphere and other social media outlets and networks.
I am the founder and administrator of Jukwaa, which since its inception in August 2005, has emerged as among the most focused and disciplined Kenyan online discussion forums.
The matter of Miguna Miguna’s suspension has dominated the political interventions on Jukwaa for over three months now.
Being a diverse forum, the views expressed in Jukwaa have ranged from passionate support to outright denunciation of either Miguna Miguna or yourself with a new thread on the subject being launched on a weekly if not daily basis, with several interventions from Miguna himself jumping in to clarify, skewer or augment yet another riposte, rejoinder or broadside.
In these rambunctious digital free for alls I opted not to play the role of the detached and bemused umpire, but rather, waded in and out of what was frequently an all out mud wrestling match.
What was Onyango Oloo’s considered opinion in the matter of Miguna Miguna’s suspension by your office Dear Prime Minister?
Well, I said several things which are needless to reproduce in this essay in their entirety.
But perhaps this posting dated 5:45pm, October 20, 2011 neatly crystallizes my thoughts:
Miguna is a close friend of mine and a political comrade.Given the tortured angst evident in the excerpt above, it was with considerable relief and exaltation that I greeted the December 28th announcement that you had, in your capacity as Prime Minister, fully reinstated Miguna Miguna to his job.
So is Adongo.
I regard James Orengo and Raila Odinga as political comrades as well.
The fall out between the Prime Minister and his former political advisor has been well chronicled here in Jukwaa.
Since we are constant contact, Miguna knows my views.
Onyango Oloo believes that Miguna was mistreated by the Prime Minister in terms of the way his suspension was handled from the very outset. He should seek and secure redress. He has a right to be angry and ventilate his rage.
As a Kenyan, he also has a democratic right to express his views and articulate his political differences with anyone, including Raila Odinga.
I too have a track record of being very public and candid in my views. In the past decade, I have written and published Open Letters to among others, Mwai Kibaki, Kiraitu Murungi, Adhu Awiti and yes, Raila Odinga (way back in 1999).
Where perhaps I differ with Miguna is on how to handle contradictions.
I am using “contradictions” here in the Marxist sense because those of us from that dialectical and historical materialist school of thought firmly believe that life itself develops organically through the resolution, over time of contradictions in the complex, holistic interplay between thesis and anti-thesis segueing into a synthesis at ever higher levels.
Marxist-Leninists recognize two forms of contradictions:
ANTAGONISTIC and NON-ANTAGONISTIC contradictions.
Examples of antagonistic contradictions are those between master and slave; feudal lord and landless peasant; colonial governor and rural squatter; neo-colonial dictators and anti-imperialist cadres.
Antagonistic contradictions cannot be resolved except through revolution and drastic social, economic and political transformations.
Non-antagonistic contradictions are those differences and tensions that can be resolved peacefully, amicably, through dialogue and so on.
Illustrations of non-antagonistic contradictions can be the differences between friends; the tension between parents and their teenage offspring; lovers’ tiffs; ideological debates between comrades or arguments between business and professional associates.
While it is true that that some of the contradictions cited in the above paragraph can graduate to irreconcilable hostilities the fact of the matter is that this is the exception rather than the rule.
Now when it comes to the vuta-nikuvute between Raila Odinga and Miguna Miguna, what is the nature of the contradictions?
Are these antagonistic or non-antagonistic?
In my private, one on one conversations with Miguna, I have argued that the tensions, hostilities and conflicts between the duo are NON-ANTAGONISTIC.
I have argued that those of us who are part of the progressive camp in Kenya are on THE SAME SIDE WITH RAILA AMOLO ODINGA.
I have argued that whatever misgivings we have about the Prime Minister, we cannot wily nilly EXPEL HIM FROM THE REFORM CAMP.
Is EVERYBODY in the Kenyan reform camp a card carrying Communist?
Some of us are socialists, some are social democrats. Many are liberals and dozens upon dozens are nationalists and sincere women and men of faith (Christian, Muslims, Hindus etc), well meaning decent Kenyan citizens who do not care much about ideological distinctions and what not.
We are UNITED by our COMMON VISION.
What is that binding glue?
At the moment I would posit that ANY KENYAN who genuinely believes in the Kenyan Constitution and works strenuously for its faithful implementation is in the PROGRESSIVE and REFORMIST CAMP.
Note: I did NOT say “revolutionary”.
Does my above definition of progressive Kenyans in the REFORM CAMP include or exclude Miguna Miguna?
Does it include or exclude Raila Odinga?
Those are rhetorical questions.
Indeed, here is part of an e-mail message I sent to Miguna Miguna on December 29, 2011 reacting to what I thought was very good news from your office:
Whichever way you look at it, the public announcement from the Office of the Prime Minister that you had been exonerated and reinstated with full salary and benefits is a BIG VICTORY and vindication, not only to you as a person but to all progressive Kenyan people…in this context….you must factor in the fact that you are not just Miguna Miguna; you are part of a wider, if amorphous ideological collective which has a long term agenda in reshaping this country in a positive, progressive direction…That is why I was somewhat perplexed when I got an SMS message from Miguna Miguna’s phone inviting me to a press conference convened at his Runda residence here in Nairobi.
By now you are familiar with contents of that event which have been archived in this Jukwaa link.
Since I was there I witnessed everything live.
What stood out for me was this key passage from Miguna Miguna's statement:
On Tuesday, December 27, 2011, from about 12:15 p.m. to 3:15 p.m. – a whole three hours – the Prime Minister and I met, in the presence of a mutual friend, at the Serena Hotel, in the City of Nairobi. It was the Prime Minister who called me, personally, and requested for the meeting.Which was a preface to Miguna’s stunning revelation that after that cordial, comradely and principled interaction between you as Prime Minister and Miguna as your personal advisor, SOME of the mandarins from the Office of the Prime Minister tried to scuttle that gentlemen’s agreement.
We had a courteous, respectful, dignified, cordial and professional meeting, which when it concluded, we – the two of us, alone - unanimously agreed, in good faith, that the Prime Minister would make the following announcement, that day, personally or through his office, before he traveled to India.
The agreement was in writing, and was witnessed by the mutual friend. It was to be unconditional and to be implemented immediately without any delay whatsoever. Both the Press Statement and letter of reinstatement were to contain the following terms:
1. That the suspension of Mr. Miguna Miguna, the Prime Minister’s Advisor on Coalition Affairs, be rescinded, unconditionally, with immediate effect, since it was determined that all the allegations against him were unfounded;
2. That Mr. Miguna is hereby ordered reinstated, forthwith;
3. That all arrears, emoluments and accrued interests owed to Mr. Miguna, be paid to him, forthwith; and
4. Upon resumption of duty, Mr. Miguna would be reporting DIRECTLY to the Prime Minister.
We agreed that I would approve - as to form, nature and content - all statements and/or letters that would be issued with respect to this matter.
There were no other terms or conditions the Prime Minister and I agreed on, apart from the four items above.
By now, even a goat herd in Kabartonjo, a crocodile hunter in Garsen, an omena monger in Oriang’ Kogweno; a mutura vendor in Mukurweini, a traditional circumciser in Chavakali and a hair saloonist in Gongoni just north of Malindi knows that Miguna Miguna has publicly declined the overture to reinstate him.
What happens next?
But wait a minute, which offer did he decline?
Was it the face to face offer you gave him at the conclusion of your three hour meeting at Serena?
It cannot be.
On that occasion, you not only shook hands to seal your verbal concurrence, you went ahead and captured the essential elements of that agreement in writing-an act witnessed with a formal signature by the person Miguna refers to as “a mutual friend.”
Miguna did NOT decline YOUR offer to reinstate him with full salary, arrears and benefits to his job.
So what did he refuse?
Well, if we go back to Miguna Miguna’s statement we see the answer to the above question in black and white.
Here is the relevant passage:
I have declined to accept the decision to reinstate me, on terms and conditions contained in the letter by one Abdul Mwasera, dated 27 December 2011.Miguna Miguna is clearly adamantly opposed to the startling terms and conditions of Abdul Mwasera’s letter.
Given the background that Miguna laid out during his press conference, it was astounding, nay, shocking to peruse the following letter from Mr. Mwasera which was one of the annextures to Miguna’s press statement:
But why did Mr. Mwasera, an employee in your office who is actually quite junior to Miguna in the first place communicate to Miguna terms and conditions which were diametrically opposed to your Gentlemen’s Agreement at Serena Hotel?
Was he acting on his own?
A highly placed source who is familiar with your Permanent Secretary Mohammed Isahakia’s style of writing confided to me that he saw Isahakia finger prints all over Mwasera’s letter-almost as if Isahakia dictated the letter to Mwasera word for word.
For obvious reasons, I can not disclose the identity of that individual.
Whether he was acting on his own or not, what was the MOTIVE of Mr. Mwasera’s misleading and provocative correspondence which clearly misrepresented your own express instructions?
Was it an attempt to ridicule you, to tarnish your reputation by portraying you as a person who cannot keep his word of honour?
Foolhardy and suicidal as it may seem, one cannot rule out that bizarre possibility.
What is more plausible in my opinion is that one, Mwasera was not acting alone and two, that letter was a DELIBERATE act of provocation by conveying to Miguna he had NO OPTION but to REJECT outright.
Again in my candid opinion it is BECAUSE SOME INSECURE, POSSIBLY TAINTED MANDARINS IN THE OFFICE OF THE PRIME MINISTER DREAD THE RETURN OF MIGUNA TO HIS OLD JOB.
They may have ordered the busaa, changaa, muratina, mnazi and champagne too hastily to celebrate what they assumed was the “final exit” and “good riddance” to Miguna Miguna.
That thought is nauseating, stomach churning, in other words DISGUSTING to me.
Contrary to what some online (and offline) pundits who claim to be in your corner posit, Miguna was a VALUABLE ASSET and STRATEGIC ALLY who defended you tenaciously and consistently often alone while some of the aforementioned mandarins and ODM appartchiks played it safe or even surreptiously slept with the ideological enemy.
It is my argument that the desperate attempt to get rid of Miguna by some of the schemers in your office is driven by a crass need to protect their parochial turf, bolster their networks of graft and that these shenanigans have NOTHING to do with advancing your interests either as Prime Minister or presumptive President in 2012.
I can describe them as a millstone destined to drown your political ambitions.
If I had my way, I would hang millstones around THEIR NECKS and DROWN them for sure-either in Lake Victoria or the Indian Ocean.
I took a break from writing this essay just now to watch the 9 pm December 31, 2011 news on the various television channels where I noticed the latest spin from the same forces of impunity embedded in the OPM distorting the truth that they tried to get in touch with Miguna in vain-where the facts of the matter are that Miguna tried to repeatedly get in touch with the key people in that same office with none of them picking his calls.
The same spin continues to trumpet that the Office of the Prime Minister has “accepted Miguna’s decision”.
Rt. Hon. Prime Minister, do these sentiments reflect your views, instructions and advice?
I sincerely hope not.
What message are you sending to all those intelligent, hardworking, diligent, honest, politically committed and socially conscious professionals and other Kenyans who rallied to your presidential campaign in 2007 like Miguna Miguna?
What message are you sending to those of us on the Kenyan Left who have believed that you are the only consistent voice and face of reform in mainstream Kenyan politics?
What message are you sending to Kenyans in the diaspora who fund raised for you; campaigned for you; gave up their jobs and careers to come and work for you? Who voted for you in droves?
Miguna is just one among hundreds who did that without hesitation.
Is a kick in the teeth their only reward?
Was this alleged “reinstatement” nothing but a cynical trap to defang Miguna Miguna?
Was it a crude joke designed to push the final nail in Miguna’s political coffin?
Rt. Hon. Prime Minister Raila Odinga:
Miguna is not just a son of the Nyando people who has in laws in Gem and Migori.
Miguna Miguna is a son of the Kenyan political struggle.
Miguna has political brothers and sisters who have spent more than half of their lives fighting for a new Kenya over many decades-some going back over thirty years.
There is a saying popularized by the massive South African trade union movement COSATU:
An Injury to One is An Injury to All.
To paraphrase, an injury to Miguna is an injury to all those patriotic and progressive Kenyans who have been supporting you because they saw you as a beacon of democratic reform.
Mheshimiwa Waziri Mkuu:
Let me close by reminding you of a powerful speech you gave on August 18, 2011.
Remember this was the evening you assembled many of us-ex political prisoners and detainees; Nyayo House survivors; veterans of the December 12 Movement (Pambana), Mwakenya, Kenya Anti-Imperialist Front, Me Katilili Revolutionary Movement, Kenya Patriotic Front, Kenya Anti-Imperialist Front, Kenya Peoples Union, Kenya Socialist Alliance to name just a few. At the high table with you and its immediate environs, were people like retired Archbishop David Gitari, Edward Oyugi, Ida Odinga, Mwashengu wa Mwachofi, Betty Murungi, Koigi wa Wamwere, James Orengo, Gitobu Imanyara, Oduor Ongwen, Ngotho wa Kariuki, Reverend Timothy Njoya, Davinder Lamba and Peter Anyang’ Nyongo.
Remember what you told us?
That the electoral battle in 2012 would pit the forces of REFORM against the forces of REACTION.
Dear Prime Minister, let me ask you this humble question:
Are some of your senior and prominent staffers among the forces of reform or the forces of reaction?
How about Miguna Miguna?