NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 23 – Prior to the appointment of Willy Mutunga as Chief Justice in 2011, Kenyans had expressed dissatisfaction with the judicial system.
The building that now houses the Supreme Court was a den of cartels and brokers gave offers to clients to handle their case files or make them disappear.
They had connections even to alter court rulings, a system that had killed every little hope of ever getting justice from Kenyan courts.
Justice was only for the rich who could offer bribes while criminals were always people who lacked financial wherewithal to buy justice.
On entry to the building, the stench from the toilets that had gone for several months without cleaning was like the perfect representation of a rotten Judiciary.
When former Chief Justice Dr Willy Mutunga walked into those corridors in 2011, he knew he had inherited a crumbled system and most people had their doubts if at all he would manage to clean it up.
“You know where the task is monumental, the task seems impossible but you have to do something; you have to make sure that the toilets are clean. You have to look for spaces where you can do something.”
In an interview with Capital FM News, he likened the transformation of the Judiciary to the rise of Leicester City Football Club that rose to become the top club in the English Premier League.
“Leicester is important because nobody would have thought they were going to be champions because there were all these big teams, Man U, Chelsea, Man City, Arsenal and others and they were just fighting for survival.”
Without good leadership, team spirit and fans to cheer the players Dr Mutunga explained, Leicester would not have managed to succeed.
“Leicester Football Club is everybody, it’s not just a manager, you have to get the champions, you have to get a constituency… those are the fans who cheer and push people to perform.”
In the same way, he had to provide the right leadership, involve the staff and the public to develop a constituency that would begin the process of reforming the Judiciary gradually.
“It was a journey where I needed to get collective leadership, because there are 5,000 people there, people who believe in the transformation and who would not sabotage the entire process,” he explained.
“And you can only do a thing like that when you have a vision and a framework like the one we had and where you start mobilising the community for change through looking at the past and what was unfair and what people although they didn’t verbalise it but they hated it.”
The immediate area of the reforms focused on terms and the working environment.