, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 6 – For the five years he was at the helm of the Judiciary, former Chief Justice Dr Willy Mutunga recalls tough times, such that all he looked forward to was an exit to tranquility.
Though he had no regrets of serving as CJ, his job was no child’s play, which is one of the reasons he says, he will not miss much.
- Though he had no regrets of serving as CJ, his job was no child's play, which is one of the reasons he says, he will not miss much.
- “As I left the Judiciary, for once I felt like I have been chased by something for the last five years and now I am totally safe. I don’t want a situation where I leave then I disappear. It’s like you didn’t like what you were doing,” he explained.
- “I am discussing my retirement benefits… if my benefits are similar to the ones of the Speaker it’s going to be good life so why should I miss anything? I don’t think I am going to miss anything.”
“As I left the Judiciary, for once I felt like I have been chased by something for the last five years and now I am totally safe. I don’t want a situation where I leave then I disappear. It’s like you didn’t like what you were doing,” he explained.
“I am discussing my retirement benefits… if my benefits are similar to the ones of the Speaker it’s going to be a good life so why should I miss anything? I don’t think I am going to miss anything.”
Dr Mutunga took time to recall his demanding moments as the CJ; the 2013 presidential election petition was his toughest moment.
“Before we finalised the petition, the Jubilee crowd was baying for my blood and after we finalised the Jubilee crowd was now praising me and the CORD crowd was baying for my blood. But it didn’t surprise me because whichever way we decided we were damned because we can’t convince people who look at proceedings from ethnic lenses or religious lenses; you can’t really convince them justice has been done.”
“And that is why I have always thought that political disputes in court are very dangerous, they can actually destroy the institution,” he added.
Social media was another eyesore that helped him to develop a thick skin, but he also learned from critics whether they genuinely corrected him, insulted him or framed him.
“It was not a long moment when one guy in a tweet called me ‘Mr Chief Injustice’ and you know I laughed. I said chief injustice? That incident was hurtful but then almost immediately I said let’s demystify this thing about Lord so and so… Lady Justice this and this if you are not doing justice shouldn’t you just be called lady injustice?”
He said his critics reminded him that what mattered most was his work to Kenyans.
“Those moments you say were probably my low moments, they also were moments of inspiration because I did not take them personally and that’s why I stayed in Twitter because Twitter is a leveller. Twitter helped me fight the temptation to have judicial power to get into my head. The critics are the ones who are best friends because they tell you, even if its abusive, they give you a perception that is different and they destroy these egos that people tend to have. They think they are demigods or superhuman beings.”
Though some of the critics were nasty and ruthless, Dr Mutunga listened to them; “I operate on one of Lenin’s philosophy ‘the insane have their sane moments’ so you have to listen because during those sane moments; they might say something sensible.”
His described his time at the Judiciary as ‘a learning curve’ and an opportunity he will forever treasure.
“After you have asked me all these questions about what I regret, my highs and lows, I realise that I am very fortunate to get an opportunity to serve and I don’t take it for granted.”
Before his exit on June 16, the Judiciary was shrouded in a myriad of controversies ranging from corruption to the outright differences among the judges of the highest court.
But looking back at his efforts, he said he had laid a strong foundation that will give Kenya a judiciary that is efficient and trustworthy.
He was happy that the achievements during his tenure were a collective effort of judicial officers giving him the confidence that judicial reforms will prosper.
For him, institutions should never be pegged around individuals, a reason why he willingly gave a chance to the country to replace him as well as ensure smooth transition in consideration of the 2017 General Election and the likelihood of election petitions.
His decision to exit a year before his retirement was also informed by his aspiration to inspire the youth who he believes have the potential to influence change.
“The real engine is that 80 percent of people who are struggling. I think we just reached the precipice – the only people who can force us to go out – is that 80 percent but it must shun the politics of division, ethnicity, gender, race.”
He regretted the older generation in the country hangs on their positions even when it is ripe for them to give others a chance.
“People have their rights to stay. I don’t think I have a message for my generation honestly and I don’t want to give them. My generation – we have betrayed the country.”
For the faith he has on youth, Dr Mutunga is using his Twitter handle to inspire the youth.
“I realise that the past is Chief Justice but I moved on to the future – the tagline is inspiring the youth to create better tomorrows. That’s going forward my passion and ambition.”