Maina Kiai's Column

Maina Kiai's Column

Using Illegal Action to Threaten NGOs Will Only Drive Dissent Underground

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At the height of the Moi repression in the 1980s, the favoured tool to silence dissent, criticism and independent thinking was the use of sedition charges. Anything that was critical of the regime and of Daniel Moi was seen as seditious. Whether it was true or not was irrelevant. The charges were calculated to inculcate a culture of silence and fear. But it did not work, instead sending dissent underground. There were other tools used, too, such as detention without trial, charges of “belonging to an unregistered organisation,” and treason. It is interesting that law was used as an instrument…
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Executive Determined to Bring Back the Discredited Imperial Presidency

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It is getting out of hand. Every so often, a new Bill is published seeking to accumulate more powers and discretion in the Executive. There are the proposed amendments to the land laws that would shift powers from the independent National Land Commission to the Cabinet Secretary for Lands; the bills aimed at giving the presidency the power to hire and fire the top police echelon; the provisions to vest the hiring and firing of the members of the Independent Police Oversight Authority in the Executive and away from the Public Service Commission; the effort by “Executive-minded” Senators to restore…
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Uhuru Has to Apply Same Standard to All in the War Against Corruption

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Kenya can be a funny place. First, Uhuru Kenyatta implores us to support his flouting of a court order to pay teachers an extra Sh17 billion a year because he does not agree with it. Never mind that his oath of office includes respecting and protecting the Constitution, which he flouts with his “can’t pay, won’t pay attitude.” He tries to appeal to “patriotism” in asking the teachers to forego their legally mandated pay rise espousing all manner of comparisons (and errors it seems) to make his case. At no point does he mention the contribution to the huge wage…
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There’s Money to Pay Teachers Only That Jubilee Regime Prefers to ‘Eat’ and Waste

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The “can’t pay, won’t pay” mantra by the Uhuruto regime in response to the Judiciary’s verdict that teachers should be paid more is contemptuous and dangerous. It rubbishes those who take care of our poor children in public schools every day, and also depicts a regime that is fully committed to the return of the imperial presidency that caused this country so much pain and damage over the years. So much so, that eliminating this sort of presidency was the major reason for the demands for a new constitution. Contemptuous because there are funds to pay teachers the extra Sh17…
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We Must Stop Xenophobic Attacks on Refugees to Avoid More Conflicts, War

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For the last year, Western media and officials have persisted in using the term “migrants” to describe the mass of people escaping war and repression in Syria, Eritrea, Somalia, and Afghanistan. But in the last few days these same media and officials have reverted, rightly so, to using the term refugees instead. Technically, “migrant” is the broader term, which the International Organisation of Migration encourages. But that definition allows for prevarication and inaction. And in this most recent refugee exodus, using “migrant” rather than refugee implies racism and xenophobia. For in the 1990s, the mass of people escaping the Yugoslavian…
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Lessons from Malaysia and Why People Always Choose Protests Despite Brutality

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As Malaysian Prime Minister from 1981-2003, Dr Mahathir Mohammed was not exactly known for supporting human rights. He concentrated power in his office, weakened the judiciary, used ethnic divide and rule tactics and deployed the notorious Internal Security Act to detain critics without trial and intimidate dissenters. He was also a leader of the “Asian values” campaign in the 1990s that tried to denigrate the universality of human rights, claiming Asians had their own value system that negated universal human rights — much like the selfish “African values” campaign started by some African autocrats. The campaign failed as proponents were…
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