Until we confront poll injustices, nothing will ever hold us together

Maina Kiai by Maina Kiai
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The effects of the March “handshake” between Raila Odinga and Uhuru Kenyatta are still unknown except that it calmed tensions substantially. It is easy to bask in this calmness and assume things are “normal,” and the economy is all ready to take off.  

That will be a grievous mistake. Part of the calmness is the shock within the bigger part of Kenya disaffected and angry for decades of election theft, marginalisation, graft and repression.

That angry part is still undecided whether the handshake was a betrayal and selling out of their hopes by Mr Odinga, or whether it meant to move the country forward by recognising and dealing with the grievances.

How things progress will depend on whom Mr Odinga selects for the task force, how much time this team is given, and what he does to get some of his key allies back together. The people appointed will be a huge indicator.

If they are people with unknown credentials in reforms and the struggle for a better Kenya, then Mr Odinga will have problems maintaining his support base. And in that team, it will be crucial that there are people who are dogged, determined and known for seeking electoral justice for 2017 and 2013.

Until Kenya comes to terms—no matter the figures—with what happened in 2017 and 2013, nothing will ever hold us together.

There is no other country where election after election is literally a civil war waiting to happen. We may stop it sometimes but unless we deal with justice and truth, it will always haunt us. The good news is that there is a lot of material on this already.

The scrutiny reports from Supreme Court are a good starting point, even for 2013 if we use the report prepared by observers rather than the one prepared by the then Registrar of the Supreme Court. There are studies and documents that are waiting to be unfurled in a fearless and independent review, something that Jubilee—which claims it won both times—should welcome.

And that means opening the server, again something that Jubilee should welcome if only to affirm the win it claims. The task force should also have a limited time frame.  

All the issues listed in the handshake agreement have been explored, discussed and written about. The task force should not look to resolve the issues but rather outline the roadmap that needs to be taken to resolve the issues.

And here, the discussion on whether or not to amend the Constitution will be crucial. But that decision should only be made after a serious survey is done on what has worked--or failed--these past 8 years with the Constitution.

Is it because of lack of clarity of some provisions, or because those in power have deliberately ignored the Constitution?  Where the Constitution has been ignored or violated deliberately, what consequences attach? Is that not, in and of itself, an indictment under Chapter 6 of the Constitution and abuse of oath of office?

Some like William Ruto have already defined their position that nothing should be changed. But that position is clearly driven by personal and selfish interests, which is already a breach of the Constitution.  He should not be underestimated because his history shows a person with few scruples in getting what he wants the consequences notwithstanding. But if we make decisions to benefit one person, then we may as well close shop and auction Kenya to the highest bidder.

I hope that corruption is sky high on the agenda of the task force, for we know now the consequences of the looting done. We are mortgaged to the hilt, paying off our taxes because a few took our money in NYS, SGR, Eurobond, Mafya House and land grabbing. Our towns and cities do not have drainage systems, or any way to harvest the rain waters that are killing people across Kenya.

We say that these are acts of God but we know that it rains every year but never plan ahead! If this handshake does not result in a process that gives us truth and justice for elections, accountability for the killings around elections including the assassination of Chris Msando; a reckoning for those violating the Constitution, and for engaging in corruption, including grabbing of hotels, then it will have been a waste.

*****

I was at the airport this week amidst the rain which exposes the shell that is the touted Terminal 1A. How can a terminal of international standards not have a roof-cover that protects passengers from the rain as they arrive and queue to enter the terminal?  

It could be an architectural defect, but it also could be a result of cutting corners so as to “eat”.  And as for Terminal 1E, few things are more embarrassing as the first sight of Kenya! We were told that this was to be temporary but in Kenya, it could mean that the money was all eaten already.

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