In seeking legitimacy, Jubilee is going down the wrong path

Maina Kiai by Maina Kiai
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Illegitimate regimes that lose the support or fear of a sizeable part of their society have a whole host of problems but few options. 

They can’t wait out the challenges they face, hoping that time will help, and their use of law to punish dissenters always looks like a witch-hunt, no matter what. 

It is worse when the regime asks us to obey laws as they disobey court orders with impunity. 

For when regimes show that disobeying laws and court orders is okay, then others follow suit, as Kenya Airways is purported to have done with an order to reinstate engineers. 

Soon ordinary people will have no compunction to avoid criminality because the state itself is criminal, which partly explains why crime and violence rose so dramatically in Kenya after the 1988 mlolongo elections that took our elections to an all-time low. 

These sorts of regimes have basically two options: The first is to reach out and negotiate with those who do not recognise you, so that the dissenters can transfer some of their legitimacy on you. 

But that takes a big personality and a long-sighted vision, without the encumbrances of a fragile ego. 

It takes sobriety and some integrity. And it takes loyalty and love for the country that is bigger than for self. 

The second option is to act tough and try to instil fear and silence in the population so that even if they do not accept you, they are too cowered to challenge you.

This option calls for re-instituting oppressive measures, ignoring court orders and laws, beating up people mercilessly, and creating crimes where none exist. 

It could also extend to assassinations and extreme brutality.

The Jubilee regime is at exactly this point now, scrapping around as it realises that the October “selection” added nothing to its legitimacy. 

In fact, it contributed to eroding it more, especially with the incredibly low voter turnout that caused the IEBC to keep changing its turnout figures, and which did not finally bury Raila Odinga politically, as Jubilee had hoped. 

The option Jubilee has taken is not surprising given the personalities of those in power. 

Every action they take now makes clear that not only is it an illegitimate regime, but they know and recognise that illegitimacy themselves.

Unfortunately for Jubilee, the strong arm measures they are taking come too late. 

We are now at a moment when we know what freedom and space is and we have enshrined that in the Constitution. 

It comes when Kenyans have tasted the benefits of their blood, sweat and tears.

It is a time when we can see the powerful struggles of others, from South Korea to Hong Kong to South Africa to Malaysia and know the impact of people power. 

We know the worst of Moi’s brutality stopped being effective after the 1988 mlolongo elections, which instead sent erstwhile regime supporters like Kenneth Matiba and Charles Rubia into the camp of dissenters.


The brutality and arrests around saba saba of July 7, 1990, only de-legitimised Moi more — rather than weakening dissenters. 

It was only then a matter of time before he met his reckoning and the display of anger and hostility towards him on December 2002 will surely have rattled him. 

The countermanding of a court order by Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i will come back to haunt him, as his hubris makes him the perfect fall guy.

If only his PhD was in common sense!

The media blackout was juvenile and showed weakness, not strength. 

But the unprecedented actions against Dr Miguna Miguna take the biscuit.

For how can a full blooded Kenyan be deported from his own country, and when there is an order to produce him in court? 

What is most incredulous is the idea that you can punish people for “assisting” in an event that is not criminal! 

If you did think it is criminal and are prepared to embarrass yourself trying to make the case that the 'swearing-in' was a crime, then surely should you not start with the person sworn in? 

And if you do charge Raila Odinga, then please also charge every priest and pastor who has taken an oath for their work!

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