Narrative about 2007 PEV victims distorted

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BY NGUNJIRI WAMBUGU

One of the prevailing perceptions today is that the Kenyan government has completely forgotten the Kenyan victims of the post-election violence.

In fact, whenever anyone challenges the continued existence of the Kenyan ICC cases the response, usually made with a lot of confidence especially by a certain select group of self-righteous Kenyan NGOs, is ‘what about the victims? The Kenyan Government forgot them! These cases, as imperfect as they are, are the only solution these victims will ever have!’

This argument has been repeated so many times that it has become ‘truth’ in many quarters, locally and abroad. Well, apparently it is a big lie!

This last week I got schooled on the 2007 PEV situation by Mr Ronald ‘Ronnie’ Osumba, last year’s deputy presidential candidate on the Kenya National Congress (KNC) ticket. Ronnie has a social platform called ‘Onward!’ that advocates for change through action and information on issues important to Kenyan citizens. Over the last couple of weeks they have conducted a candid audit of the status of the 2007 Post Election Violence victims as part of the conversation of where Kenya is, seven years since the PEV.

What I learnt from him is simply astonishing.

Most of us know that the 2007 Post Election Violence was one of the worst incidences of civil violence the country has ever experienced since independence. We also know that in its wake it left an estimated 1,300 lives lost, 663,921 people displaced and 80,000 houses destroyed, countrywide.

A total of 350,000 of the displaced people sought refuge in 118 camps, while another 313,921 were integrated within communities across the country. A further 1,653 IDPs crossed over to Uganda, where they were received as refugees.

However most of us do not know that amongst the 2007 PEV victims close to 100,000 individuals; or slightly above 37,000 families, received a Sh25,000 cash payment for house reconstruction from the Kenyan government. We do not know that over 170,000 households; or over 440,000 individuals; received Sh10,000. We also do not know that close to 900 households received Sh400,000, and that over 8,000 families were resettled on government land.

I personally did not know that over 122,000 trauma victims received psycho-social counselling, or that there have been numerous convictions for gender-based violence cases!

After speaking with the ‘Onward!’ team I have now also learnt that over 21,000 families received farm inputs; including 350 fishing gear units and 50 grade cows given to fishermen and farmers in Homa Bay. I also know that five boreholes were dug and a full health centre constructed; 167 schools were constructed, and a housing project for over 2,500 families was put up in Turkana, while another over 4,500 families benefitted from house construction on government land elsewhere.

I have also learnt that the ‘Rudi Nyumbani’ project, which some are now using to crucify the Nyeri County MP, benefitted over 74,000 families. I also must sincerely admit ignorance of the fact that the Kenyan government has spent close to Sh15 billion on PEV victims since 2008!

Of course it is not all rosy. For example though all the 118 recognised IDP camps have been closed, there are additional camps that were not officially recognised that are yet to be acted on. There was also a problem with registration of especially integrated IDPs, including a challenge that some of these integrated IDPs stayed with friends and family for a year or two then were no longer welcome where they had sought refuge; then went back to the camps only to find that registration had ended. Then there are still those IDPs who are refugees in neighbouring countries.

It is therefore not the perfect picture; but it is also not the perfect failure that has been sold to us locally and internationally by some, as a justification of the narrative of how the Kenyan government has failed its citizens. I therefore greatly commend ‘Onward!’ for this initiative and hope that they will get public platforms to share their findings.

I also challenge those who have been deliberately crafting the false narrative that Kenya is not in control of the aftermath of the 2007 PEV. Ignorance might be bliss, but truth will always ‘out’, at some point.

***

I have been following this debate about Nyeri County MP Priscilla Nyokabi having ‘fixed’ Uhuru at the ICC with a lot of interest. She strenuously refutes each allegation; and I believe her. What I cannot understand is the motivation driving those behind these allegations.

Let us assume for a minute that they are right, and she was/is an ICC witness. What they are doing would then amount to witness intimidation, which becomes evidence for claims the ICC Prosecutor has previously made but failed to prove; that her witnesses are being intimidated by people associated with the President. So how does this help Uhuru Kenyatta’s case?

These attacks on Nyokabi are terribly short-sighted and unbelievably stupid; unless someone wants the case to continue for their own reasons.

(Wambugu is a Director of Change Associates – a Political Communications Consultancy)

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