Thursday, March 31, 2005

Stumbling on a Kenyan Political Gem at an Islamic Site

Have you ever visited the digital home of the Khilafah?

I zoom around the information superhighway a great deal. Not infrequently I do a double take when I find information and analysis on Kenya in the unlikeliest of nooks.

Take for instance this obscure nest that I was rummaging through a few minutes ago- around 1:08 am EST on this last Thursday, which happens to be end of March as well.

There I was, snooping around the internet data mining for background for this very essay that is unfolding before your eyes. Earlier in the evening, I had been intrigued by
a story in the East African Standard reporting that the Kenya government was about to sign a pact with the United States with the east African country granting blanket immunity to potential American war criminals
. Of course I was apoplectic, and started gnashing my teeth and sharpening my cyber panga, vowing to reprise some of the sub-themes of a June 23, 2003 essay where I had angrily called for Kenyans to haul Uncle Sam’s arrogant ass to the World Court.

All was set for this digital salvo from Quebec I promised myself, between silent clenched teeth.

Or so I thought.

Because that was before I collided head first into one of the most brilliant and searing critical dissection of contemporary Kenyan political wrangles within the context of global geo-political contests. And no, this was no navel gazing admiration at Adongo Ogony’s brilliant skewering of the latest exploits of the doomed NAK gang at the KDP blog.

Nor was it a sneak preview from the latest edition of Africa Confidential or Africa Analysis.

What astounded me was the SOURCE and LOCATION of the analytical piece.

I mean, who would have THUNK it, as some deliberately semi-literate Americans are wont to ask quizzically with a glint and twinkle in their mischevious eyes.

I pride myself in reading widely, but even I was not quite prepared to find this piece ensconced in a site dedicated to the promotion of an Islamic theocracy.

The site is called

And here is an excerpt that explains what the concept of khilafah is all about:

The Khilafah is the global leadership for all the Muslims in the world. Its role is to establish the laws of the Islamic Shari‘ah and to carry the da‘wah of Islam to the world.

The Khilafah is also known as the Imamah, both terms have the same meaning. Several sound ahadith mention them with the same meaning, neither of the two terms has ever differed in meaning in any Shari‘ah text i.e. the Qur’an or the Sunnah of the Prophet (Salallahu Alaihi Wasalaam), these being the only Shari‘ah sources. It is not compulsory to hold to the term of Khilafah or Imamah, but rather it is compulsory to hold to the meaning of the term.

The establishment of a Khaleefah is an obligation upon all Muslims in the world. Performing this duty, like any of the duties prescribed by Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’Ala) upon the Muslims, is an urgent obligation in which there can be no choice or complacency. Negligence in performing this duty is one of the greatest sins, for which Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’Ala) punishes severely.

The evidence that the appointment of a Khaleefah is obligatory upon all Muslims is in the Sunnah and the Ijma‘a (consensus) of the Sahabah.

Click here for more information.

I could say a lot more about the article in question.

But it is better to simply let the piece speak for itself.

Here it is.


What do you think?

Quite something huh?

Tubonge baadaye.

Nakitoa kwa sasa.



Onyango Oloo

Who Needs Parliamentary Sheep Committees (PSCs) ?

By Adongo Ogony

"You cannot put goats in a committee of sheep.."

Those were the sentiments of Chris Murungaru talking about the new Kibaki strategy of ethnic cleansing in the committees of parliament.

Murungaru as usual probably had no clue about the sad imagery he was painting on how the Kibaki regime intends to move forward with the affairs of the nation. Apparently the President needs a bunch of sheep to mbee their way fuataring his Nyayo on everything including the new constitution that Kenyans have fought and died for in the last decade and a half.

Let's reflect a bit on what is going on with the Narc/DP government.

What really is the big deal with the Parliamentary Select Committees?

I will restrict myself to the PSC on the Constitutional Review.

Two weeks after Kibaki made his last ceremonial promise to ensure the completion of the constitutional review process, Kenyans have been treated to a macabre juggling and twisting as members of the Kitchen cabinet and prominent characters within Kibaki’s DP party have gone full stretch invoking crude tribalistic techniques and outright intimidation to tell us how they intend to carry the president’s agenda in the next one year or so. It is a frightening menu stinking of sheer incompetence and myopic thinking stuck in the sixties and seventies politics that thrived on fear of the presidency and misplaced tribal supremacy . It is a strategy that will fall on its face much sooner than later, but don't tell that to Kibaki and his handlers. They wouldn’t know what you are talking about.

Back to the PSC on the constitution.

Kiraitu Murungi has decided obviously with wise counsel from the big honcho that the PSC on Constitutional Review needs massive ethnic cleansing. They need at least half the membership of the PSC to be certified members of the DP party or sheepish followers of the same (Murungaru's words not mine). The rest must also be those of a different sheep variety who will follow orders from State House without question.

As a result stubborn characters like

Raila Odinga must be kicked out of the PSC and very soon from the very government they helped to bring to power. Who will replace the likes of Raila?

In comes the likes of

Paul Muite who is not a Narc MP but who fortunately comes from the "right tribe" and is ready and willing to sell Wanjiku for two pennies to make the president happy. Never mind that Muite was a colossal failure as a chair of the PSC during the Bomas III when Bomas delegates told them over and over again that they don’t give a damn what the president wants in the constitution but rather care for what the majority of Kenyans want in their new constitution.

The first thing that strikes me about this whole sad episode is that nobody has told Kibaki and his people that the PSC is completely irrelevant in terms of the new constitution. What is the new PSC going to do that the previous ones hadn't been able to do? Haven't the PSC already completed its task leading to that fraudulent constitutional amendment bill which we are going to get thrown out by the courts?

What else does Kibaki expect the PSC to do?

Are we going to start the review process all over again?

I don't think so.

Why should Kibaki and his DP party invest so much political capital and stoke the ugly flames of tribalism for such a useless entity just to pull a prank on Raila and the LDP?


They don't know what else to do and everybody is beating about the bush like a lost hunter hoping some rabbit is going to emerge from nowhere. It is not happening folks. This sleep walking politics is beginning to look really bad and at this rate Kibaki should stop worrying about Raila. He has a whole nation pretty pissed off as it were already. Raila must be a very lucky man. When your worst enemy is Chris Murungaru, a man despised even in his own backyard where he recently called a failed meeting to swear allegiance to him you should just smile and never utter a word.

The attempt to tag Raila as the reason Kenyans do not have a constitution is not new. It is as old as the DP government which we thought was supposed to be a Narc government. Of late the need to demonize Raila on the constitutional review has acquired increased urgency as Kenyans from all walks of life begin to challenge Kibaki directly to stop playing games and leave Kenyans alone to determine their constitution.

The nonsense that the Bomas Draft is about giving Raila the PM's job as per the infamous MOU is a tired gimmick and looses credibility each day as the Narc era comes closer to its end. Kenyans know that they demanded the PM long before something called Narc came into existence leave alone the stupid MOU that Kibaki used to dupe his colleagues into supporting him. The one thing I have always said is that when you see a general in the army cheating his own comrades who fought with him/her you should never trust such a general.

Well the attack on Raila reached new dimensions when Francis Muthaura in concert with Kiraitu Murungi came up with something called the "cabinet position" on the constitution. What the duo forgot is that way back in 1999 Kibaki himself with Kiraitu in tow rejected anything called a cabinet or government position on the constitution and walked over to join the Ufungamano group. The argument then was that the cabinet or government had no business telling Kenyans what their constitution should be. What happened boys?

What we know for sure is that the entire cabinet, the whole government so to speak as well as all MPs were delegates at Bomas and if the delegates did not accept some of their proposals it is water under the bridge. It is ridiculous for Murungi and the civil servant Muthaura (who should be in retirement as per the laws of the land) to come up and keep hawking the so-called government position on the constitution after the delegates at Bomas completed their work. If every group that presented proposals at Bomas were to revive every proposal they made we would be starting the whole process all over again. Is that what Kibaki wants? May be.

Something else happened in the last couple of weeks that is pretty scary for our democracy. Once again just like we saw during the Kenyatta regime particularly during the crisis following the assassination of

Tom Mboya in 1969 and later of

(JM's son John, at a press conference in 2000)

Josiah Mwangi Kariuki in 1975 we see a section of our politicians grouped under the usual tribalistic formations claim they are the self-appointed supporters of the government. Norman Nyaga the other day using his own Kibakometer decided to call a meeting of those they had decided were the real supporters of the government.

During the Kenyatta era this kind of nonsense was frequently used to mobilize support for the grand dictator. In fact during the Kenyatta era the activities included taking oaths to support Mzee Kamaliza by all means necessary. I don’t know if Nyaga administered any oath at the Milimani hotel but I believe it is just a matter of time before the crude tribalists in the Kibaki regime start oathing supporters to fight Raila and other real and imaginary enemies.

The way it works is as follows:

A leader becomes unpopular with the people. The leader panics and has no answers for the issues the people are raising. The leader turns to his tribal base for support. The “smart” ones within the tribal base try to look for outside “sheep” to make the support team look a little less obviously tribal, and viola a self appointed team of government supporters is cooked. The trouble with this kind of groups is that they tend to be fascistic. They often claim the monopoly of patriotism to cover up the fascist intentions of suppressing genuine opposition to their leader whom they treat as a god who can do no wrong. I am not so sure that such archaic methods of power grab are going to work in present day Kenya. As a matter of fact I think the Nyaga Dream Team of Kibaki supporters suffered a major blow when just a tiny fraction of the 222 MPs were available for the meeting. The real flop of the Nyaga nonsense is that he probably still thinks this is 1966 when his old man was a member of the Kenyatta cabinet. Dream on Norman and good luck.

Sometimes after Kibaki came to power many Kenyans were under the impression that Mzee was not well. Of course every Kenyan is aware of the tragic accident that caused major injuries to the president just before the 2002 General Elections. However issues of ill health has plagued the president ever since. There were rumours of the president suffering a stroke just after taking office. I was personally alarmed during one of the activities after

the death of the VP Michael Kijana Wamalwa when the president failed to show up even after the red carpet had been spread out and had to be unceremoniously folded.

There were those who blamed the treacherous activities of the Kibaki government on self centred tribalists around the president who were taking advantage of his ill health to run the country on his behalf. In fact I was in Bondo town when our

current VP Moody Awori was chased away by irate members of the public who couldn’t stand his dithering on the constitutional issues. By way the most well received speaker at that massive rally was Mary Ngaru, an LDP activist from Thika who thrilled the crowd by talking directly to the youth and the women and asking them if they had seen any signs that their lives would improve under the Narc rule. The crowd responded with a massive NO that could be heard miles away. The consensus at the meeting by the MPs or at least what they told the crowd was that Kibaki was a good guy surrounded by evil characters that were up to no good. Personally I don’t buy this argument. I believe Kibaki is a healthy and sane individual who must take full responsibility for the numerous failures of his government particularly on the constitutional review process.

However today I am prepared to concede one thing. Kibaki is in a deep political coma. The man is beyond redemption. We have been keeping the president on a political feeding tube as he vegetates in his political coma for two years now. The decision we have to make is like that of the family of Terri Schiavo in Florida who had to decide whether to remove her feeding tube and let her die in peace or keep her fixed on the tube indefinitely. In the Schiavo case as tragic as it is it is a matter for the family to decide.

What then do you do when a whole president is in a political coma and is relying a feeding tube? The trouble here is that unlike the Schiavo case where her coma causes her great pain and discomfort as an individual in our case when our president twists and turns in his coma the whole nation has to bear the pain and trauma of this most tragic disability.

I suggest it is time for the nation to make decisions as to how long we have to keep our president surviving with the political feeding tube as we suffer the pain of his political incapacitation.

One more thing, I had the great pleasure to actually read the whole Bomas Draft last week. In the past I had read it in bits and pieces but boy reading the whole thing is a real eye opener. Congratulations to Bomas delegates. That is one hell of a beautiful constitution. Of course it can be improved. But one thing struck me reading the draft. The real deal in Bomas is devolution of power into the regions. I do not blame Kibaki and his friends for being opposed to the Bomas Draft. That thing is scary if you are in power unless one is a truly selfless visionary who is ready to put the interests of Kenyans above their own. It is not surprising that only those not in power, DP during the Kanu era and now Kanu and the LDP can wholly support what Kenyans wanted in their new constitution.

Devolution would put an end to the repressive Provincial Administration that has been used since the ukoloni era to perpetuate control of all regions by the central authority.

Devolution will ensure that the regions are governed by elected and accountable premiers who are answerable to the people as opposed to the present situation where the regions are governed by PCs DCs and DOs who are answerable only to State House.

Devolution will ensure that taxes paid by Kenyans and other development resources are not heaped on Mr. Mwiraria’s Treasury so that Mwiraria becomes the baba na mama of how we spend our money and develop our country.

Devolution will ensure that a portion of our VAT and payroll taxes as well as gas rates and other forms of government revenue are allocated to the regions to promote development.

Worshippers of presidential monarchy, some of whom seem to think Kibaki will be in power for ever will continue lying to Kenyans that devolution is creating huge unmanageable bureaucracies that are too expensive. What they don’t tell you is that we already huge bureaucracies in each province and district as we have agricultural/forest/water/roads officers na kadhalika. The only difference is that present bureaucracies are administered from State House and are not accountable to the people they serve but to their political masters in power. Today if we are fed up with the PCs and DCs the best we can do is plead with Kibaki to remove them, which never happens. With elected premiers they will be toast if they don’t do their job.

What we have in Kenya today is really a rotten system of government. Even in the United States where they have a presidential system there are 50 states with elected governors and house of representatives. If the people of California do not want their governor they don’t go to George Bush, they go to the polls and elect a new one. The system in Kenya today which Kibaki and his cohorts want to perpetuate by mutilating the Bomas draft is actually a feudal bastardized presidential system where the president controls the lives of every Kenyan through the Sub Chief to the Chief to the DO to the DC up to the PC and all the way to State House dominated by a man who only appears in parliament once every six months to deliver a speech and go back to sleep. This has to stop and it will wakened wisipende. Have a good Katiba Day.

The writer is a human rights activist.

Monday, March 28, 2005

The Elephant in the Kibaki’s Living Room

A Jeremiad from Onyango Oloo in the Montreal Wilderness

Easter is winding up all over Kenya.

This Sunday, some of Kibaki's staunchest allies-the Christian clergy who have been shielding him from the rest of the wananchi clamouring for the passage of the Bomas Draft-I am talking about venerated robed figures like

Ndingi Mwana a Nzeki and Benjamin Nzimbi-used their pulpit time to demand from Kibaki what millions of Kenyans have been hankering for since December 2002.

These earnest calls take place against the heart stopping back drop of the chilling discovery that a 300 strong secessionist army is gearing up to unleash guerrilla warfare all over the Pwani province.

For some of us, we absorb these news developments with a certain weariness, having warned over six months ago,that the failure of NARC to follow through with some remedial action to implement the recommendations of the Akiwumi Commission will ensure that there are more, not less bloody massacres of innocent Kenyans in the name of ethnicity.

As if that situation was not grave enough, we see the Kibaki regime further antagonizing, instead of engaging potential allies like the pastoral and indigenous communities like the

Maasai who have been fighting courageously for their democratic, cultural and land rights and calling for new laws to supplant the old, racist colonial land grabbing edicts that marginalized Kenyans all across the land of their most tangible birth right- land. Of late we have seen
Kibaki's own ministers like

William Ole Ntimama stand up defiantly for their communal interests
, while denouncing their fellow NARC MPs who seem to rile the Maasai community with their sabre rattling trumpeting state terrorism.

Meanwhile, all over Kenya, in total mockery of NARC’s pre-election pledges, over one million Kenyan children are still out of school;
horrid conditions at the EPZ slave factories Mombasa are exposing Kenyan workers to lung disease
; millions of Kenyans living with HIV/AIDS are reportedly facing a bleak future after the WTO recently cut them off life saving drugs; 2 million Kenyans may be starving by August 2005; even as hundreds, possibly thousands of Kenyan women and girls fall victim to unscrupulous organ harvesters and sex pimps who lure them out of the country to rob them of their kidneys, livers, hearts, dignity and very lives; even as the Kibaki-NAK clique grows increasingly wary of its former friends in the civil society sector even as a cross-section of Kenyan NGOs and social justice formations become increasingly restive and assertive about their democratic rights;

And this is the time, believe it or not, that Mwai Kibaki chooses to make two wacky and hoary internal gaffes:

Shutting out his LDP coalition partners from a NARC strategy session and rebuffing his own DP mandarins and their plan for inner-party revitalization in anticipation of the looming implosion of the fractious governing coalition.

To call NAK Supremo Mwai Kibaki a political nitwit of the highest order is woefully and scientifically imprecise-the polygamous Othaya MP is simply a clueless marionette strung along by the Kiraitu-Karume-Michuki-Murungaru gaggle of desperate, scheming, tribal minded puppeteers, a pathetic rag doll swaying perilously in the tempestuous political maelstroms that currently bedevil Kenya; our head of state is quite possibly off his poor rocker, in other words, completely unhinged, which is to say: stark raving mad -in my humble, but as always, ever candid opinion.
I continue to be mystified as to how the Kibaki regime cannot see how close Kenya is to exploding in open civil war with all the bottled up historical injustices, the simmering land feuds, the frustrations over the long promised constitution, the parlous human rights situation, the sordid picture of mounting grand graft and the chronic infighting within what is supposed to be a governing coalition with a huge popular and democratic mandate.

While Kenya gets ready to burn, arrogant, chest thumping ministers are sauntering around the country threatening to arrest a prominent envoy, bullying a respected civil society leader to do the investigative work that is the preserve of the government’s own policing bodies and our benighted President appeals for divine intervention to solve Kenya's ills.

How pathetic and dangerous!

Clearly neither Kibaki nor his beleaguered regime is up to the task of solving the myriads problems facing Kenya.

They should do the honourable thing:

1. Pass the Bomas Draft.
2. Dissolve the Doomed Coalition.
3. Call Fresh Elections fought on separate party platforms.

In the meantime, like I said yesterday, progressive Kenyans can take some lessons from Zimbabwe...

Onyango Oloo

Saturday, March 26, 2005

How About a Kenyan Zvakwana?

Onyango Oloo Muses on the Possibilities of a National Mass Democratic Movement Inspired by a Southern Example...

A few days ago, on Tuesday March 22, 2005 to be precise, I accidentally stumbled across what is quite possibly the most exciting social protest group operating in Africa right now.

It is called

Zvakwana/Sokwanele and it is a grass roots movement whose Shona/Ndebele names translate to "Enough is Enough!"

Here is how they describe themselves:

Who we are

Zvakwana/Sokwanele is a non-partisan, non-profit group of passionate people – volunteers and visionaries – working to keep Zimbabweans informed about breaking news, including civic campaigns and public meetings and events. We have an activist wing that engages in non-violent civic actions.
The words zvakwana and sokwanele are vernacular for "enough is enough".

What we stand for

This organisation intends to create space for freedom of movement and expression in Zimbabwe through acts that defy the repressive regime.
The organisation's objective is to achieve a system of governance that will:
•remove the propensity for human rights abuses,
•ensure the rights of the individual are upheld regardless of gender, religion, race, sexual orientation or political persuasion
The organisation will conduct itself in a manner that upholds the International Charter of Human Rights and be guided by the recently formed International Court of Law.
The organisation is committed to non-violent means of expressing its civil disobedience activities.

Activities will be undertaken in a manner that takes cognisance of the oppressive environment currently imposed on the country by a repressive regime and its unjust laws.

We call on all Zimbabweans to take courage and defy any person, state authority, organisation or business that infringes the basic rights of you, your family and your loved ones.

Zvakwana describes itself as a street level action group which uses civil disobedience to advance their goals.

On this link you will see 7 guidelines for non-violent civil disobedience.

The group is NOT NEW. There was an article that appeared about Zvakwana almost a year ago in the London Observer.

And here is an article on Zvakwana that was carried by the progressive news wire, IPS in October 2004.

The Zimbabwe Independent had this to say about the group while the Zimbabwe Observer noted the following...

The Financial Gazette from the same country covered Zvakwana's plans to spoil the vote during the upcoming March 31st elections in Zimbabwe.

Radio Netherlands did the following story on Zvakwana while pointing out the class limitations defined by the digital divide in Zimbabwe.

Earlier this month they took direct aim at one of Mugabe's key African allies, Thabo Mbeki of South Africa in this frank and blunt statement.

Zvakwana is giving out

free mobile/cell phones...

together with recharge cards...

And is connected to the independent radio station SW Radio Africa.

In a country devastated by the HIV/AIDS pandemic it is interesting how they have infused a safer sex motif into their social activism by distributing the

Z revolutionary condom whose motto is "Get Up Stand Up!" a phenomenon that has seen Mugabe's regime accuse the UNITED STATES of fighting the ZANU-PF administration with

condoms, a charge vehemently denied

by Zvakwana itself as well as the American based manufacturer of the condoms.

Zvakwana/Sokwanele is active as we write these lines. Here is something they posted on their website today, Friday, March 25, 2005.

Can a Zvakwana Sprout in Kenya?

Most certainly!

In a sense, the revolutionary clandestine tradition in Kenya goes back longer and deeper than Zimbabwe which became an independent nation only in 1980. By that time, there was already a vibrant underground scene in Nairobi, Mombasa and other parts of Kenya. Whether they went by monikers like the March 2 Movement, Cheche Kenya, the December Twelve Movement, or later the Kenya Anti-Imperialist Front, Mwakenya, Me Katilili, the February 18th Movement and other covert formations, all these groups had one thing in common- they were all patriotic, anti-capitalist and democracy seeking and all of them identified with the most effective underground movement in Kenya's history-the Kiama Kia Muingi that coordinated the Mau Mau War for National Independence in the 1950s.

After the horrendous state thuggery and repression against Kenyan activists between 1982 and 1987, several cadres of the above movements left the country to set up cells in exile locations like Dar es Salaam(the birth place of the Me Katilili Revolutionary Movement on June 8, 1988- I know because I drafted the original manifesto together with the late Kaara wa Macharia, Adongo Ogony and others) Harare (the headquarters of the Kenya Anti-Imperialist Front whose leading lights including Prof. Micere Mugo and Dr. Shadrack Gutto) London (the based of Ukenya whose core members included Ngugi wa Thiongo, Abdilatif Abdalla, Wanjiru Kihoro, Yussuf Hassan, Shiraz Durrani, Wangui wa Goro and others) New York (the lair of the Muungano wa Kupigania Demokrasia Kenya with key cadres being the late Mwakdua wa Mwachofi,, Wangari Muriuki, Mwangi wa Githinji and others) Dar es Salaam again( an external regional headquarters for the regrouped Mwakenya with folks like the late Mwangi Thuo, Kinyua, "Mao" and others.

All these groups complemented the earlier and continuing efforts of home based activists from an earlier period like Zarina Patel, Kathini Maloba, Njeri Kabeberi, Oduor Ongwen, Mwandawiro Mghanga, Karimi Nduthu, the Mungai brothers (at least four of them!) Tirop Kitur, Nganga Thiongo, Young Kihara, Kamonye Manje, Kamoji Wachiira, Edward Oyugi, Willy Mutunga, Alamin Mazrui, Sultan Somji and many others.

Of course things have changed considerably in the last eighteen years or so. One of the most significant turning points was the historic victory wrested by the stubborn democratic struggles of the Kenyan people which forced the Moi dictatorship to repeal section 2 A of the constitution in December 1991 to pave the way for the reintroduction of legal multi-party politics and even more significantly the December 2002 electoral victory that swept away the 39 year old KANU dictatorship. Our people's collective national struggles have widened the democratic and political spaces to an extent that would have been unimaginable during the dark days of one party state terror.

At the structural level, many of the above named underground stalwarts are now leading members of Kenya's vibrant civil society sector- a fact which is simultaneously a blessing and a curse.

It is a blessing in the sense that for instance when Onyango Oloo was in Nairobi between September and October 2003, he could simply walk into the offices of the Kenya Human Rights Commission and he would have access to any computer at KHRC- including that of the then Executive Director himself- Willy Mutunga. He could take a matatu to the offices of SODNET and access the research materials done by comrades like Prof. Edward Oyugi or go over to the Release Political Prisoners joint and hang out with former Kamiti, Dar es Salaam and Nairobi comrades in arms who were now running one of Kenya's most effective pressure groups- that is when he was not visiting Njuguna Mutahi at People Against Torture, Muthoni Wanyeki at FEMNET or Oduor Ongwen at ECONEWS Africa. Onyango Oloo could and did call the residence of the Wundanyi MP, Mwandawiro Mghanga home and was welcome to spend the night at the home of a veteran anti-imperialist couple of Kenyans of South Asian heritage.

In other words, this was in sharp contrast to the time in 1994 when I was in Nairobi and some comrades literally could not afford to get on the bus to attend a workshop in South B. The activists of the 1980s had become more stable and institutionalized and many of the things we used to sneak and lurk about in years past were considered too mild by the younger, even more militant activists of the 21st century like Amanya Wafula, Dorcas Atieno, Gitahi Githuku and other stalwarts of the Kimathi Movement.
But here was the Achilles Heel of the Kenyan civil society sector. As we have pointed elsewhere, the fact that many of these NGOs, CBOs and human rights/social justice groups were fueled by funds from American, Canadian, British, German, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Japanese and other overseas donor agencies often made them bite their tongues as they navigated "safer" avenues of political involvement or coddled their former NGO colleagues like Kivutha Kibwana who now found themselves emerging as intolerant hawks in the venal Kibaki administration.

Nevertheless, there has been a dramatic sea change since the beginning of 2005. The honeymoon between the NARC regime and sections of the Kenya civil society sector appears thankfully to be over as old comrades seek each other again for bouts of frank engagement. The consolidation of the Multi-Sectoral Forum on Reform aka the Yellow Movement is the clearest indicator that things are looking up in a positive way as far as grass roots political organizing is concerned.

Objectively, the conditions for the emergence of a Kenyan version of Zvakwana are already present:

At the recent opening of parliament police clubbing peaceful pro-democracy protestors to a bloody pulp;

John Michuki (who was a notorious anti-Mau Mau police torturer in the 1950s) ordering Kenyan police to shoot to kill;

The continued stonewalling on the constitution;

The repressive state tactics used against the Maasai and other indigenous groups fighting for their land rights;

The reemergence of the so called "ethnic clashes";

The mushrooming of grand graft in the Kibaki kitchen cabinet;

The bullying tactics of the Murungarus and Kimunyas against the Gladwell Otienos and David Makalis;

The expose by Amnesty International that the Kenya government is a loyal junior partner helping the United States to torture and otherwise violate the rights of people alleged to be "terrorists";

The parlous socio-economic circumstances;

The vocal voices of militant Kenyans in Sweden, Canada, the United States and around the world;

Taken together all these factors have led to a situation where the democratically elected government of Mwai Kibaki is now employing the same fascist tactics of the Moi-KANU dictatorship to stifle dissent.

The upshot of all this is that it is not only possible, but more importantly NECESSARY for a Zvakwana to sprout in Kenya.

How to go about this?

Well, if it is going to be a real Zvakwana, I am hardly going to blab and blather about its structure and logistics, vision and goals, strategies and tactics on this public blog, am I now?

PS: Please check out this article by Dr. Patrick Bond and this other one by Prof. Gerald Horne for additional critical perspectives on the Zimbabwe situation.

Onyango Oloo

Thursday, March 17, 2005

The Kenya We Don’t Want

By Adongo Ogony

I find it insidious and quite frankly annoying that while

Kibaki was busy promising Kenyans a new constitution

his goons known as Kenyan police were busy

battering and arresting peaceful demonstrators whose only crime was to demand the same constitution Kibaki was talking about.

This state organized hooliganism was carried by dozens of news media outlets around the world.

First of all, Kenyans are tired of Kibaki’s promises on the new constitution. We have had numerous promises before since Kibaki came to power and nothing has come of them.

What is new now?

Absolutely nothing.

The reason we do not have a new constitution as everybody knows is because Kibaki and his buddies in the DP who so eloquently asked the CKRC in the year 2000 to reduce what Kiraitu called the "imperial powers of the presidency" and establish an office of the PM to be head of the government, made a full 360 degree turn once they tasted power and today refer to an executive PM as a joke.

"It is, I should emphasise, we are retaining the Presidency as the focus of the sovereignty of this nation and the focus for the structure of government. We have reduced powers allocated to the President–everyone is agreed that the concentration of too much in the hands of the Presidency is what has created a lot of problems with which we are faced now in this nation. We have sought to redistribute those powers. One change which we have proposed, is that the Vice-Presidency will now also become an elective office so that during the elections, a presidential candidate would nominate his running mate who would the vice-president and they would run together so that the public have a chance to vote for a team, and that would give that particular office some status. We have proposed that the President and Vice-President should not be members of parliament but in order to make sure the government is seen in Parliament and is questioned day to day on major and urgent issues which come to Parliament, we have proposed the creation of the office of the Prime Minister who would the person whose party alone or together with other parties in a coalition to command a majority in Parliament. The Prime Minister would be the one to run the government on a day to day basis and he would sit in Parliament and would have to be elected. He would also be available for questioning on anything that the government is doing is failing to do. In this way we are giving more status to Parliament as distinct from the way it is now where the Head of Government is not available in Parliament for questioning. I think this will strengthen the democratic practices and above all if things go wrong, Parliament would have a chance to correct them before they go too far."-

DP Chairman Mwai Kibaki at Ufungamano, 2nd of November, 2000

In fact Kiraitu told the CKRC that the presidency in Kenya had more powers than the governor during the nasty colonial era.


Kiraitu wants all those powers and more and he has the full support of the president. That is why we do not have a new constitution. How does Governor Murungi sound to you my fellow Kenyans?

The gimmick of so called contentious issues is a creation of Kibaki and his people who bolted from the NCC plenary session like cowards instead of taking their issues to the floor of the plenary so that the NCC itself could identify the contentious issues as is stipulated in the CKRC Act 2001. Since then Kibaki has taken the nation through hoops and all sorts of tricks including the dubious government of tribal disunity which he now runs.

So when Kibaki says he is committed to making sure that Kenyans have their new constitution the question we should ask him is this: Which constitution do you want Mr. President? Is it the democratic and progressive one you proposed to the CKRC in March of 2000 or is it the one you have fought for almost recklessly since you came to power, which gives you all the executive powers? The answer to that question is the key to unlocking the constitutional stalemate; forget the propaganda about partisan interests.

Mr. President, if your answer to the question above is the former, then we already have a new constitution in the name of the Bomas Draft. If your answer is the latter then this could be the worst timing for you. The corruption saga has revealed to Kenyans that the extremely powerful presidency is the origin and the biggest stumbling block in dealing with corruption. As long as the president is still baba na mama we can forget about the war on corruption. From what Kenyans have seen in forty years all a person needs is to be a friend of the president and they can rob Kenyans as mush as they want. Ask Minister Ndwiga and his goat-eating story. By the way did you say those words Mr. President? I mean the goat eating business.

Let me go back for one second on the clobbering of the demonstrators. We need to know this: How can the government tell us they are committed to fighting the

violence in Mandera and Mai Mahiu when Gen. Ali and his boss Michuki see nothing wrong with unleashing police thuggery against non-violent demonstrators? When is the government of Mheshimiwa Kibaki going to stop this barbaric behaviour of police beating people simply for speaking their minds or demanding their rights? Just a week ago policemen shot and killed Maasai men who posed no danger whatsoever to the cops.

To my friend

Maina Kiai and the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights:

We need answers and action from you.

This is getting out of control. If the Kibaki’s people think they can intimidate Kenyans and stem the tide of mass action, they should have a long chat with Moi and his security agents (whom Kibaki retained). It will never work. Kibaki can reopen Nyayo House Torture chambers, but that will never stop Kenyan patriots from telling Kibaki and his government that we are tired of words. We need action on the constitution. Enough already.

Now to the Keter Bill. I support it and I am actually happy the MPs amended the no-confidence part to require a 65% support to sail through. I was a little nervous that just with a 51% vote the MPs whose records are hardly better than that of Kibaki would send any president parking. The people of Kenyan elect their president and when they screw up like Kibaki is doing they will hear from us. In fact I don’t trust the MP’s even to be the ones to elect a PM as proposed in the Bomas Draft. I have often argued that I would prefer the PM to be elected as a running mate of the president. This eliminates the two centres of power excuse being peddled by the likes of Kiraitu but more importantly it will allow Kenyans to directly elect both their head of state and head of government at the same time. On the Keter Bill, I feel sorry for the DP dinosaurs who completely oppose the bill ati to protect Kibaki. The DP is going to be lonely on this one. Wake up guys and smell the coffee.

One more thing before I forget.

Mr. President:

When are you going to denounce tribalism and tell your GEMA friends that you are not a Kikuyu president but rather a Kenyan president? Or may be I am wrong. I was just wondering.

The important thing about the Keter Bill is that our MPs should not take their eyes off the ball. The real issue is to resolve the Bomas Draft and get to the referendum. We know that Kibaki folks smuggled that fraudulent amendment to get 51%, which could allow as small as 30 wakoras in parliament to write a new constitution for us. The good news here is that when Kiraitu betrayed his friends after the Naivasha Accord he completely lost their trust. Well they say there is no trust among thieves. It is hard to trust Kiraitu so I don’t blame them. The bottom line is that the Naivasha Accord is dead, but believe it or not Kibaki is going to do everything he can to revive it. My point is that the Keter Bill would be completely irrelevant if we had the new constitution, but since we may never have that new constitution during the Kibaki misrule we need the bill to take away the powers of the president to manipulate parliament to serve his personal agenda.

Let me also say something about all this drama about the Ouko Inquiry. I am appalled that there is a stiff campaign to discredit the Sunguh Committee and to scuttle their report. First let me say I have a lot of concerns about the behaviour of Mr. Sunguh and some committee members. I am particularly dismayed with reports that Sunguh invited some of the witnesses to his house and tried to influence their evidence. If true that is a completely disgraceful act and Sunguh should be reprimanded by parliament. However I find it silly that people want Sunguh to be a qualified investigator, a prosecutor and a judge all at the same time. This is nonsense.

It is not the business of Sunguh or his committee to find anybody guilty or innocent. That can only be done in a court of law. The job of this committee is to tell Kenyans who the suspects are, based on evidence gathered. Once the Committee fingers the suspects, remember the key word here is suspect, then it is the job of Gen. Ali and Wako to carry out a thorough and professional investigation to determine if there is enough evidence to convict any one in a court of law. I found the argument by Macharia Gaitho of the Daily Nation that Gen. Ali will need concrete evidence to arrest anybody a little out of place. I thought it was the job of the police to gather evidence. Since when did we change our laws so that wananchi and committees are supposed to provide evidence before suspects are investigated and arrested? Is this not the same ridiculous argument by our AG and even the president asking people to provide evidence before action is taken? What exactly do we pay the police to do?

Like my friend Onyango Oloo said, when powerful people commit crimes including murder and grand theft we form commissions of inquiry but when ordinary Kenyans commit crimes even something as minor as eating someone’s chicken (without permission of course) they are headed to jail. I think there is already enough evidence in the Troon report and the aborted Justice Gacheru report for the police to be conducting investigations with the help of any other agency (Scotland Yard, FBI etc) to take the culprits to court. Instead we are wringing our hands about Sunguh nailing the culprits. The reason we have these commissions is because of the corruption and incompetence of our police force and the A.G’s office. The police in Kenya and the A.G are only allowed to investigate certain crimes but not others and they are happy with that. What a shame.

For those crying tears of blood because one of the apparent suspects Mr. Biwott was not given adequate chance to defend himself let me assure them that if indeed Biwott is charged in a court of law he will have all the chances and time he needs to defend himself. Lets us understand that the PSC is not a court of law. By the way I was wondering I hope those who killed Ouko gave him at a little due process and a chance to defend himself before they pulled the trigger and lit the fire. I hope they allowed Wuod Seda to at least say his last prayers. Even the executioners in the death row allow the convicted to say a few words before being fried.

The real deal about the Ouko saga is that nobody in government is interested in who killed Ouko anymore. Politics has intervened in our transition justice program and all sides in parliament need the support of suspects in the Ouko murder. Everybody is safely home. How nice? Now Impunity can stand on the rooftop and tell Kenyans loudly: “I am here to stay folks, get used to it” We will see.

Now what can we do. Number one as usual I am truly proud of the brave souls of the Yellow movement for daring the goons of Gen, Ali and letting the nation know that the battle for a new democratic constitution is going up a notch.

Secondly I am hoping that as soon as Kiraitu publishes that fraud called the Constitutional Amendment Act 2004, Kenyans will take it to the constitutional court. I think we should focus on two areas. One is to challenge the 51% vote requirement as unconstitutional. I mean if parliament cannot amend the constitution without 65% of all members how can they actually write a new constitution with only 30 MPs out of 222.

Forget the nonsense that parliament will only meddle with 20% of the Bomas draft. Such promises have no basis in law. Parliament is giving itself the right to draft a new constitution for us. What this means is that if Kenyans reject the Kiraitu/Kibaki draft we may never get a constitution. This makes a mockery of the constitutional provision that the sovereign people of Kenya have a right to change their constitution. Kiraitu’s bill is basically saying that the sovereign people of Kenya can change their constitution only if they agree with what parliament has drafted. So who is sovereign? Parliament or the people of Kenya. According to Kiraitu bill Kenyans become subordinate to parliament in the constitutional making process. This is a complete fallacy and a mockery of the law. I am confident that even in our messed up courts the chances for victory is huge.

Secondly we should subject the amendment to the Njoya test. Based on the ruling in the Njoyas case by Justice Ringera and co it would appear to me that parliament has no right at all to amend the Bomas Draft regardless of the percentage. Lets take this thing to court and open that frontier of battle.

Of course we all know that the real battlefield for a new constitution lies in what our friends of the Yellow Movement did on the day Kibaki opened parliament. Mass action and only mass action will give Kenyans a new constitution. The problem is to organize it nationwide. This is the challenge I am sure all Kenyans are prepared to face. Wembe ni ule ule.

Finally let me ask my good friend Mwandawiro Mghanga the parliamentarian representing

the Wundanyi Constituency

a small favour.

Comrade Mghanga:

Could you please stand up in the floor of the house and ask Mr. John Michuki our new minister responsible for internal security why the police are still beating and killing Kenyans who have committed no crime at all. Why are demonstrators like the ones in Ukunda Kwale and those outside parliament being harassed, tear gassed and arrested by police? What happened to our rights of assembly and freedom of speech? Why should our police use so much resources and personnel to apprehend peaceful demonstrators instead of dealing with criminals (robbers, carjackers, muggers etc) who are terrorizing every corner of the nation? What are the priorities of our police force and the OP other than the navy tanks? I think it is a tragedy that in 2005 the Narc government is sending people to beat up on those demanding the same constitution they promised two years ago and counting. Please Ndugu Mghanga get us some answers to those questions. The nation needs to know what is going on with the tax money our people give to the OP. Is it to facilitate our oppression or is it for our security? This is urgent Ndugu Mghanga. Get some help from your fellow MPs to get answers to these pressing questions. How about talking to some of those so-called reform minded MPs? Are they still in parliament or more importantly are they still reform minded enough to say no to police brutality? That is the question. Now lets here the answers. Shall we. Better be soon.

The writer is a human rights activist.