BY RAILA ODINGA
I have been a way for a couple of days. While I was away, the President spoke on historical injustices and corruption, among other issues.
Let me congratulate the President for finally acknowledging in his State of the Nation address that the long-standing historical issues contained in the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation report are holding our nation back and need to be addressed once and for all.
We have long advocated this. We have long pleaded for the full implementation of the TJRC report in its original form. Now that the President has come around to see the point, the report must be implemented expeditiously and with all honesty.
The President’s apology should therefore only be the beginning of a whole process that must be inclusive and bipartisan in dealing with historical injustices.
Historical injustices in Kenya started at independence way back in 1963. Individuals, families and communities have since suffered various forms of injustice in varying degrees to this day. Their grievances cannot be addressed by an omnibus apology that makes equal all forms of abuse and all victims and that seems to believe that you can buy justice with money.
Kenyan’s will recall that even with the Grand Coalition Government gone, we in CORD have continued to call for a return to the full implementation of Agenda Item Number 4 as contained in the Peace Accord of 2008 which was meant to address historical injustices through various long term solutions and institutional reforms.
With the new Constitution in place and with a concerted focus on land and institutional reforms, the full realisation of Agenda Four is critical for the future stability and prosperity of the country.
We are wanting in fostering national cohesion and the elimination of feelings of exclusion and marginalisation. Yet dealing with these issues is critical to the future of Kenya as a united nation-state. Because Jubilee has pursued a deliberate policy of exclusion and marginalization, we decided to put inclusivity as part of our referendum agenda. The President’s apology and acknowledgement must now be followed by the following:
1. Apologies to specific living victims for specific incidences. A blanket apology does not meet the needs of victims to see the state as genuinely concerned about the abuse that they have suffered.
2. The State must now set up a mechanism that will:-
a) Identify victims and assess the injuries they have suffered and borne over the years.
b) Compensate the victims for their injuries as far as that is possible through clearly spelt out budgetary provisions that makes the compensation a right and not a favour.
c) Make restitution (return) of property that had been illegally taken from victims and the general public.
d) Investigate incidents of injustice and prosecute perpetrators of those injustices where they are still alive. In the alternative, the State must set up a mechanism through which perpetrators can seek and be granted amnesty for the injustices they have caused.
The process must end with the promulgation of laws and policies that will safeguard against a repeat of any injustices in the future.
On corruption, we appreciate the President’s acknowledgment that what we have been saying never was noise after all.
However, we find the so-called report of the EACC a fraud on the people of Kenya. We find the President’s move to table names from the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission before Parliament and to seek those named to “step aside” a discomforting reminder that the more things change in our country, the more they remain the same.
It is a sad reminder of Justice Aaron Ringera and Kiraitu Murungi’s excited but ill-fated so called Radical Surgery of the Judiciary in 2003 which turned into a witch hunt and a white wash whose sole aim was to pack the same institution with loyalists and home boys while destroying reputations of others through rumours and innuendos. In the end, nothing changed in the Kiraitu-Ringera Judiciary.
With this latest step, in which the President borrows again from his predecessors by failing to sack those he has power to sack while admonishing those he has no powers over, the war on graft has once again been cheapened and turned into a game of musical chairs.
The move should convince all that it is business as usual and soon, all those who have stepped aside shall troop back to their seats and make up for lost time. The President is acting as a whistleblower, not an Executive authority.
1. The document the President tabled in Parliament is not the “Report” required by the Constitution or the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission Act. Article 254 of the Constitution and Section 27 of the Act refer to a “Report” of “the Commission”.
2. Section 4 of the Act defines “the Commission” as “the chairperson and two other members”.
3. The President brought to the House a dossier given to him by the Chief Executive Officer of the Commission. This is a serious breach of the Constitution and a cavalier attitude towards the duties, responsibilities and status of the Presidency and the Legislature. It turns EACC into a bandit organization and a fire fighting tool of the Executive at the beck and call of a besieged presidency seeking redemption by hook or crook, contrary to the constitution and expectations of Kenyans.
4. The ‘report’ has no structure in time or institution. Some of the most recent incidences of corruption like “chickengate” are left out. Executives long accused, long resigned and long absolved from accusations and in fact vindicated and compensated by a court of law are still listed for action.
5. It is unclear why the EACC would quickly concoct a dossier and give it to the President to undertake a political activity but fail to compile from the same dossier an investigation report to give to the Director of Public Prosecutions recommending prosecutions. The only conclusion we can draw is that this is politics and business as usual that is meant to hoodwink Kenyans into believing that corruption is now being fought.
6.”Stepping aside” is a cruel joke when the stakes are so high, the losses so painful and the source of accusations so controversial. It is a method used by the past Presidencies to placate public anger and not take any action. There is no difference in Kenya between the President requiring a person to “step aside” and the President setting up a Commission of Inquiry.
7. What Kenya needs from the President is action that is genuine, logical and consistent with the demands of the constitution. Even as he is revealing names, the President is still on the other hand appointing people with corruption issues to serve his government.
8. The recent appointments he has made to the Judicial Service Commission are a clear indication that the President gives no regard to the issues of corruption and integrity where his political interests are concerned.
9. It is for the same reason that he has deliberately left out the IEBC and other sacred cows in the presidency from the list.
10. We are witnessing institutional failure and dysfunction in government never seen even in the worst of times in our history. It is now getting clearer that Jubilee’s sole agenda was the Presidency as some kind of self-help enterprise. The balance of Jubilee’s term will be one nightmare after another. Our country is losing it.