NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 30 – Attorney General Githu Muigai has bashed civil society groups accusing them of misrepresenting facts about the country to foreign nations in a bid to seek funding.
Speaking at an eminent persons’ forum on the Kenya Human Rights Agenda where George Kegoro officially took over from Atsango Chesoni as the Executive Director of the Kenya Human Rights Commission, Muigai told the organizations to stop behaving like ‘teenagers’ who are unhappy with everyone around them.
“We cannot be like teenagers externalizing problems, blaming everybody except themselves; let us behave within the NGO community, within government as adults assuming responsibility, looking themselves in the mirror, accepting we are doing things that are wrong and correcting them,” he said.
Muigai added that it was time for the Kenyan narrative to be re-written from the Kenyan perspective and not from the eye of foreigners to give the true picture.
“The narrative that says we have doom and gloom is false, the narrative that says look over the border and that is where you see the life of the Constitution, the life of democracy and rule of law is false—I have been halfway around the world and I can tell you, we need to be able give ourselves credit,” he stated.
He took issue with what he termed as an ‘emerging culture’ among civil society groups that those that made the most ‘noise’ and negatively spoke about the government were the most progressive saying the strides a country makes should not be determined by foreigners.
Muigai who spoke at length over the matter took a swipe at Kenya Human Rights Commission Chairman, Makau Mutua, accusing him of seeking glory from foreign nations yet he was doing nothing that benefited Kenyans.
In an article penned by Mutua in the Sunday Standard titled ‘Attorney General has been misused and should resign’ he wrote: “I can’t bear to watch my learned brother being so humiliated. That’s why I am asking him to resign. Either he’s giving legal advice that’s ignored, or he’s not being asked to give any advice at all. Perhaps he’s giving incompetent or bad advice — what he believes the boss wants to hear. In either case, Prof Muigai needs to pack it in — and bid the AG’s Office adieu. Sayonara. He can’t be such a glutton for punishment — a masochist.”
The angry AG in his response said the country’s history was now being rewritten by ‘sanctimonious, self-righteous and pompous individuals’ who want to make it seem that those who change the lives of Kenyans are not locals.
He singled out Nobel laureate and environmentalist Wangari Maathai as a perfect example of what Kenyans in their own right had done for the country telling the organizations to instead help the government build its structures and enhance service delivery.
He urged young activists not be clouded by the ‘cult of personality’ and keep the eyes on their goals.
“We are making changes, they are not artificial, superficial or dictated by foreigners, they are changes we make because we believe in the future of Kenyans and in the lives of our children…we don’t have foreign accounts, passports or pension plans, our pension plan is the stable republic we want to bequeath to our children,” he stated.
He urged the organizations to ensure their agenda was not determined by sponsors but by their case to better the lives of Kenyans.
He at the same time has defended the government’s decision to regulate Non-Governmental Organizations as necessary action in the face of real terror threats in the country.
Muigai said the perception created that the government was bent on stifling operations of the NGOs was unjustified, arguing the government is justified to take any action to defend the country in the wake of the erosion of the legitimacy of various NGOs.
“We are living in a time globally when the world is less secure. We have to confront the threat of terrorism, it is not an excuse to derogate from human rights, but it is a reality that you can only ignore if you very foolish,” he added.
He further revealed that the government was reviewing the existing laws to ensure the freedom of the NGOs was not curtailed.
Muigai further took the corruption issue head-on by advocating a wholesome approach to the fight against corruption saying the issue was a job for everyone.
He lashed out at civil society organizations that have constantly attacked the government accusing it of corruption saying they also grapple with the issue and should not be the first to point an ‘accusing finger’.
“We must be criticized but we should also confront dishonesty,” he pointed out.
The AG while welcoming the new KHCR Executive Director George Kegoro implored him to stay true to the human rights tradition and serve the people.
“We never started it so that we can vilify others and set ourselves up as some demigods, we started the movement to do good, keep it that way,” he concluded.
The KHRC board vice chairperson Muthoni Wanyeki who addressed the gathering noted that the civil society had deviated from its agenda urging them to revive it and give hope to the people while Chesoni – the outgoing ED – noted that the country was still in a struggle to achieve constitutionalism.