Thursday, December 21, 2006

Gold Digger

And here's the Bush Administration's retort...

The Devil is an Ass

Here's another gem from Hugo Chavez to go with his "Devil" rant at the UN. Almost makes me think that Kibaki's silence on issues might be a blessing in disguise. Going by his recent remarks, I don't expect he would be any more dignified.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

My Thoughts on the Benghazi Six Verdict

As promised, here's my take on the Benghazi Six case. Unfortunately, I have so far been unable to ascertain the Libyan side of the story. All news agencies (including, perhaps surprisingly, Al Jazeera) seem more interested in interviewing EU and Bulgarian government officials and the relatives of the 5 Bulgarian nurses. I saw no mention of the Palestinian doctor's relatives or the 11 Libyans who had been charged alongside the nurses. No interviews of Libyan officials, no analysis of the rules and procedures of the Libyan justice system. Based on the skewed coverage, it seems that there is a media consensus that the Libyans are either wholly incompetent or that the outcome was a foregone conclusion based on political considerations and not on evidence.

Now, on the face of it, the verdict does seem suspect. After all many pre-eminent scientists, including the co-discoverers of the AIDS virus, have trashed the state's evidence. One of the world's most prestigious science publications, Nature, claims to have acquired a copy of a document written by five Libyan physicians in 2003 that is the cornerstone of the prosecution's case, had it translated into English and presented to independent experts for assessment. All agreed that its accusations were unsupported by fact and riddled with suppositions. The trial has been lampooned by Amnesty International, Lawyers Without Borders, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the EU, Germany, the US and Bulgaria. However, without hearing from the Libyans, I am unable to come to a definitive conclusion. I have to rely on the credibility of the media, scientists, the governments of the West, international NGOs and the UN.

The scientists are, to my mind, the most believable of the lot. Their consensus points to the innocence of the accused. However, the scientific evidence has to be subjected to the rules and procedures of the court (remember the OJ Simpson case?) and I am ignorant of those.

How about the governments and international NGOs? The Benghazi case mirrors the trial and conviction of alleged Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi. That trial too was denounced by Professor Hans Köchler, who was appointed as UN observer by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, as a politically motivated "show trial" and "a spectacular miscarriage of justice". None other than Lord Fraser of Carmyllie, who drew up the 1991 indictment against the two accused Libyans and issued warrants for their arrest, has cast doubt upon the reliability of the main prosecution witness, Tony Gauci. Lord Fraser criticised the Maltese shopkeeper for being "not quite the full shilling" and an "apple short of a picnic".

In fact, evidence points to the framing of Libya as a scapegoat in that incident where 270 people lost their lives after a bomb exploded on board Pan Am Flight 103 as it overflew the Scottish town of Lockerbie. In 2005, a retired senior Scottish police chief gave defence lawyers a signed statement, which confirmed the claims made in 2003 by a former CIA agent that his CIA bosses actually wrote the script to incriminate Libya. He accused American intelligence agents of planting a circuit board fragment, identified as part of a sophisticated explosive timing device made by Swiss firm Mebo and only supplied to Libya and the East German Stasi. In an interview with Al Jazeera, Tam Dalyell, the former Labour MP who played a crucial role in organising the trial at Camp Zeist in the Netherlands, declared that Libya had nothing to do with the bombing. He accuses Iran of contracting the Popoular Front for the Liberation of Palestine - General Command (PFLP-GC) to carry out the atrocity, in retaliation for the downing of an Iranian civilian airliner by a US Navy warship. On July 3, 1998 Iran Air Flight 655 was shot down by the U.S.S. Vincennes killing all 290 passengers and crew as the plane flew over the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf. In spite of the fact that the US ship was at the time of the shooting operating illegally in Iranian territorial waters, the plane was flying within an internationally recognised air corridor, and the US military issuing a statement holding the crew accountable for the shooting, the US refused to apologize and to accept responsibility and liability for the incident. At a news conference on 2 August 1988, then-Vice President George H. W. Bush declared, "I will never apologize for the United States of America — I don't care what the facts are". There was nothing in the way of punishment for the crew of the Vincennes. On the contrary, they were awarded combat-action ribbons. The air warfare coordinator on board, Lt. Cmdr. Scott Lustig, received a commendation medal for his ability to "quickly and precisely complete the firing procedure"--the same firing procedure that shot down Flight 655. In February 1996 the US agreed to pay Iran US$ 61.8 million in compensation ($300,000 per wage-earning victim, $150,000 per non-wage-earner) for the 248 Iranians killed in the shootdown in a successful bid to discontinue a case brought by Iran in 1989 before in the International Court of Justice. This pales in comparison with the US$10 million per family compensation paid out by Libya over the Lockerbie incident.

Why do I bring up these two cases? First, to counter the impression that the Western courts are more reliable than their Libyan counterparts in dispensing justice. The Lockerbie verdict demonstrates that they are just as prone to political pressure as are the Libyans. Therefore holding the Benghazi Six trial in Western capitals, as has been suggested, is no guarantee of a fair verdict. Secondly, to demonstrate that the West has a history of shielding it's nationals from the legal consequences of crimes committed in other countries. Bulgaria is in line to join the EU and I don't expect the EU to uphold justice when it is their potential citizens in the dock.

And thirdly, to show that the value the West places on the lives of citizens of other countries is much lower than that they place on the lives of their own citizens. This is best demonstrated by comparing the compensation paid by the US in the Iran Air Flight 655 case, with that demanded of Libya in the Pan Am Flight 103 case. Effectively the family of each adult victim on board Pan Am 103 would receive 33 times the equivalent sum of the family of each victim on Flight 655, whilst each child or senior citizen on Flight 103 would receive 66 times the amount received by the families of their counterparts on Flight 655. It is thus unlikely that the West would lose much sleep over the lives of 426 Libyan kids who may or may not have been deliberately infected with AIDS.

In the same way, the deafening silence of the media, Amnesty International and Lawyers without Borders on Al Megrahi's plight is a telling indictment of their credibility. Apart from a few dissenting voices, there has been no press coverage of the scale we are witnessing now. Lawyers without Borders have not sent anyone to assist with Al Megrahi's defence and I couldn't find a single statement on Amnesty International's website condemning the conduct of the case. He continues to rot in a Scottish jail, serving out his life sentence (parole is at least 20 years away), awaiting the results of a review of his case by the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC), which has been looking into his case since 2004.

The UN though has been consistent in condemning both verdicts and so I choose to take their word. Combined with the consensus of the scientific community, it leads me conclude that it is most likely there has been a miscarriage of justice in Benghazi. I will await the results of an appeal to the Libyan Supreme Court to see whether the Libyan Judges agree with me.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Benghazi Six Sentenced to Death

The BBC is reporting that 5 Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor have been sentenced to death a second time for deliberately infecting over 400 Libyan kids with the HIV virus. The Benghazi Six, as they came to be known, who have been in custody for 8 years, had had their initial conviction quashed by the Libyan Supreme Court on Christmas Day, last year and a re-trial ordered.

On December 7, 2006 the respected journal Nature published a new study which examined the mutation history of the HIV virus found in blood samples from the children, and found that they had likely been first infected years before the Benghazi Six arrived in Libya.

The Bulgarian foreign minister has expressed concern at the verdict and also doubts over the competence and independence of the Libyan judicial system.

The EU, which Bulgaria is set to join, has rejected the latest verdict and has called for Libyan authorities to exercise "humanitarian clemency". Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Abu Minyar al-Gaddafi has proposed releasing the six medics if, in return, the convicted Pan Am Flight 103 bomber Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi, currently serving a life sentence in a Scottish jail, were to be released and $5.7 billion compensation were paid to Libya for the care of the HIV-infected patients.

I will be posting my thoughts on this case later.

Penis Envy and AIDS

Just a thought on the new front the Ministry of Health plans to open in the war against AIDS. The Standard reports that the Ministry is seeking ways of promoting male circumcision after a study involving 2784 HI-negative men in Kisumu demonstrated a 53% risk reduction in circumcised males as compared to the uncircumcised.

I wonder how this will go down in Luo Nyanza where traditional customs such as wife inheritance and more modern practices like the Jaboyo system, have conspired to provide the HIV virus ample opportunity to wreak havoc. The Luos do not traditionally practice circumcision and there have been cases in the past where unruly mobs from other communities have forced the cut on Luo men in their midst.

In the light of this, is it not predictable that any attempt by the government to encourage circumcision (whatever the merits) would likely be viewed as yet another attempt by a Kikuyu-led government to impose Kikuyu ways on the Luo? Especially now that we have a Luo-Kikuyu fight in the offing following the break-up of NARC?

The confrontation between these two ethnic groups has been a consistent thread running through the history of independent Kenya. From the Kenyatta-Odinga standoff in 1969 which led to the Kisumu riots and Kenyatta's vow never to return to Nyanza, to the break-up of the original FORD occasioned by the return of Matiba and his decision to go it alone in 1992, to the current ODM-NARC-K confrontation, the off-again, on-again alliance between these two tribes has set the tone of country's political discourse.

It is my fear that the MoH's proposals will be seen through the prism of this history.

Monday, December 18, 2006

The Devil Stalks Langata

What does it say about our government when a self-confessed former leader of one of the most notoriously violent gangs, one that is responsible for the murder of tens of innocents, holds a press conference and declares that he is "capable of using full force to counter both police and ODM-Kenya"?

Listen to the Word of Mungiki-leader-turned-Muslim-turned-evangelist Ndura Waruinge, as reported in the Standard:

"I am going to stop at nothing until I make sure I express my feelings. I was peaceful until provoked and now I want to let Raila know that fire shall be returned with fire and I will make sure that I stop all the ODM rallies that will take place in Nairobi until I am given a chance to hold my rally....I told Raila to choose the plate he wants to use and from today all the sympathisers of ODM and LDP, who include police officers should know that I am capable of using similar force. This is just the beginning of a long battle."

Declaring that he no longer intends to comply with regulations requiring him to seek permits from the police for his rallies, he continues: "I will go there directly, I was testing the waters and now that I have come across provocative Raila youths soon I will show them what I am best at."

Truly, we all know what he's best at. Just ask the victims of the Kariobangi Massacre about the feelings this man wishes to express. It is a mystery to me why this guy is still a free man after the chaos and death his hoodlums have wreaked. He, along with his fellow "Men of God" Gilbert Deya and Paul Khamlesh Pattni deserve a special place in the filthiest dungeon the Kenyan justice system can come up with. However, I don't expect that President Kibaki (or anyone in his administration) will soon sprout a backbone and do the needful.

According to the Daily Nation, Ndura Waruinge has been arrested in connection with the Kibera violence in which 3 people lost their lives. No word of government intentions to prosecute him for his past crimes.

More NARCotics

Prof Kivutha Kibwana is once again giving verbal evidence of his hypocrisy. Not content with making bad law and re-writing history, the Environment and Natural Resources Minister who is also acting Minister for Lands is, according to a Daily Nation report, promising one those posts to the Meru "for their trust and support for President Kibaki". He is also reported as asking the Provincial Administration to refrain from political neutrality and favour NARC-Kenya interim officials because "it is the party in power". This from the guy who once incited mass action under the pretext of fighting for democratic change. It is most disheartening (though not surprising in this era of Orwellian "Animal Farm" politics) to hear him championing tribalism and favouritism.

Oh...and someone should disabuse him of the notion that NARC-K is the governing party. I think he long ago took leave of reality.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Low Standard(s)

The Standard has published this article from its Managing Editor, Quality and Production, Okech Kendo. Physician, heal thyself! The article is truly awfully written. And this from the guy in charge of quality. Small wonder our journalistic standards are so low.

This being my 100th post, I have a few awards I would like to dish out.

Elder of the Order of the Broken Promise:
Mwai Kibaki

Elder of the Order of the Lazy Bum:
All Ministers whose ministries ranked within poorest 10

Elder of the Order of the Broken Tooth:
John Michuki

Urchin of the Order of the Shameless Elder:
Khamlesh Pattni, Nicholas Biwott, Daniel Arap Moi, The Arturs, Gideon Moi, George Saitoti, Kiraitu Murungi, Moody Awori, David Mwiraria, Chris Murungaru

Elder of the Order of the Shattered Dream:
All Kenyans

More later.

Elder of the Order of the Lazy Bum

In a previous post, I stated that "the government has shown no inkling to punish or sanction any of the poorly performing ministries named in the recently released review of Government departments". Boy, was I wrong!

According to the Standard, three of the worst performing ministers Soita Shitanda (Housing), Mr Gideon Konchellah (Immigration) and Mr Moses Akaranga (Public Service), have just been awarded the Elder of the Order of the Golden Heart of Kenya in "recognition of outstanding or distinguished services rendered to the nation in their various capacities and responsibilities."

A working nation indeed! Only in Kenya. In the true spirit of Christmas, we have collectively turned the other (butt)cheek.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Pastor "Miracle Baby" Deya Arrested

The BBC reports that evangelist Gilbert Deya, who claimed to have created pregnancies through the power of prayer, has been detained by the British authorities under an arrest warrant issued by Kenya where he is wanted for child trafficking. Now it up to a British court to decided whether he gets to join his wife in a Kenyan jail. Deya has managed to evade justice for over two years. Only a miracle (or Amos Wako's legendary incompetence) can save him now.

Kibaki Rejects Pay Increment

According to NTV, Kibaki has refused his proposed pay increment citing "more urgent projects that need the funding." Well done! However, I wish he had adopted this line of thinking from 2003 and vetoed the MPs salary awards.

Now if I switch to conspiracy theory mode, I am tempted to think that the whole affair was designed to make Kibaki out to be a man of the people. Surely, would they have awarded him a payrise in public without him asking for it (or at the very least without his knowledge)? Something smells not quite right....

Goldenberg -The Scandal That Never Was?

On Jamuhuri Day I had an interesting discussion with a prominent lawyer friend of mine who's involved in one of the many Goldenberg cases pending in our courts. He tells me that Kenya didn't lose a single cent in the Goldenberg scam and that, on the contrary, we got some much needed foreign exchange.

The way he tells it, following the end of the Cold War and the suspension of donor aid, Kenya needed quick cash to plug the gaping hole in our budget. A World Bank accountant (I've forgotten his name) came up with a scheme whereby the World Bank would provide compensation in hard currency for fictitious exports by Goldenberg, and then the Central Bank would purchase the same dollars for Kenya shillings which the government could print in infinite quantities. In the end therefore, while we did suffer the inflationary consequences of printing money, the "free" dollars from the World Bank helped tide us over in the lean years of aid suspension. In effect the real loser was the World Bank and this accounts for the fact that no successful prosecutions have been secured over the scam.

I have difficulty believing this version of events principally because everyone who has investigated the scam invariably comes up with figures of between Kshs 13B and Kshs 68B that we are said to have lost. Also, as I understand it, the 15% export compensation was paid, not by the World Bank, but by the Kenya Government. And the lack of successful prosecutions is simply down to the political mathematics of both the Moi and Kibaki administrations.

Anyone who could explain the mechanics of the scam and the money lost in simple English?

Monday, December 11, 2006

Performance Reviews and Kimunya's NARC-otic Rant

Not only is President Kibaki receiving a humongous pay rise (unconnected, by the way, to any performance review), the government has shown no inkling to punish or sanction any of the poorly performing ministries named in the recently released review of Government departments. Apart from naming and shaming the relevant Ministries, that is.

Now, it's all very good to name and shame. However, according to the DPM website, Permanent Secretaries and Accounting Officers did sign performance contracts on 7th February 2006, detailing the goals and targets they were expected to meet, and promising sanctions for non-compliance. Such contracts (and the review) are not worth the paper they are printed on if these officials are not fired for failing to fulfil them. Not transferred, FIRED!

And how about holding the Ministers responsible for the performance of their ministries? Are they not part of the "working nation" and shouldn't they have to justify their obscene salaries?

On a different note, Mambo's Blog reports that Finance Minister Amos Kimunya thinks "the good old story that there's no water in Nairobi taps is gone. Everyone is getting water". Speaking at the Kenya Diaspora Investment Forum in London, he also said that corruption was a thing of the past. Well, I think the poor Minister assumed his audience did not read Kenyan newspapers. Water rationing is a hard fact of life in Nairobi and his Justice and Constitutional Affairs counterpart would probably disagree with the notion that Kenya is corruption free. After all, she did publish a "List of Shame" and included several of her Cabinet colleagues in it.

And, interestingly, Jimnah Mbaru, when asked at the same forum whether economic growth can only be guaranteed under a Kibaki Administration, is reported to have said that no fundamentals had changed since 2002 -except the election of Kibaki. I have maintained in my posts that NARC is an impediment rather than a facilitator of economic growth. Sure they are less of an impediment than KANU ever was, but an impediment nonetheless. It now seems that no lesser personage than the Chairman of the Nairobi Stock Exchange agrees.

Friday, December 08, 2006

From Hero to Zero: The Fall and Fall of the Kenyan Opposition

How the mighty have fallen! Listening to the sycophantic fawning of Dr. Mukhisa Kituyi during the debate on the President's salary, one would be hard-pressed to imagine that he was the scourge of the Moi regime. In 2002, just the whiff of power was enough to get Dr. Kituyi to abandon his long-held (and I think genuinely held) principles. During the chaotic NARC nominations, I read with disbelief reports of him raining blows on another candidate who presumed to present his nomination papers. Then shortly after the electoral triumph of NARC and his elevation to the Cabinet, he was caught on national TV promising a fat government job to the Sabaot community. Just consider the words of William Ruto (not exactly an angel himself) during yesterday's Parliamentary debate: "In 1997, when I came to this House [Dr. Kituyi] could not afford to hire a car, but he now flies in a helicopter."

Dr. Kituyi's moral descent mirrors that of other former opposition and civil society luminaries such as Kiraitu Murungi, Martha Karua and Kivutha Kibwana. The question is, what is it about the Kenyan system that makes hyenas out of erstwhile sheep? Or were they never sheep to begin with? Why do we get internationally renowned lawyers such as Amos Wako and turn them into thieves (or abetters of thievery)? How come that formerly staunch defender of Press freedoms, Martha Karua, has, since she came to power, herself filed over 15 cases in court against the very same press? Why does the man who more than any other personified the fight for a people-driven constitution, Prof. Kibwana, turn around and try to foist a bastardized version on the people?

Before I am accused of ODM bias, I seem to remember Prof. Anyang' Nyongo defending the MP salary increment which was the first act of the current Parliament. This gentleman once famously spoke of those "incompetent to govern", referring to the KANU regime. Yet when he was placed in a position of authority, he did the exact same things they were doing.

When Raila Odinga dissolved his NDP party and joined KANU, he became one of the most vociferous critics of his former comrades-in arms in the opposition. As a Cabinet Minister, he once called for the prosecution of James Orengo and his Muungano wa Mageuzi comrades for treason. Their crime? Holding a series of anti-Moi rallies which had been banned by the police on "security" grounds -the same thing Raila's ODM colleagues were doing on Tuesday.

Now, I am not talking here about the Kibakis, Saitotis and Michukis of this administration. We already knew them to be incorrigibly corrupt and dictators at heart. I am asking about those who for many years and at great cost to themselves, fought against the tyranny of KANU, only to turn around and perpetrate the very same tyranny on the mwananchi. I think what we have here is not just a case of a few rotten apples but a systemic failure. And this leaves Kenya more vulnerable than during the KANU days. At least back then we had hope of an alternative, and yes, better government. Back then, we we had a vibrant civil society which could inspire and mobilize the people to fight against injustice. In fact, in the face of the ineffectual and divided Parliamentary opposition, civil society became the de facto check on KANU excess. However, in the euphoria of 2002, we allowed this movement to be decapitated. Its leaders all cashed in their chips and jumped ship. Now they are all arraigned against us with no one standing with us.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Mugabe-nomics in Kenya

Yet another example of NARC's commitment to alleviating poverty. According to the Standard, the government has committed to the demolition of buildings and businesses worth Kshs. 5 billion at Mlolongo township to make way for the expansion of the Nairobi/Mombasa highway. This brings back disturbing memories of the 2004 demolitions which were to pave the way for the now fictitious bypasses. I wonder how destroying livelihoods improves the lot of Kenyans.

The fact is unscrupulous people have "grabbed" the road reserves and either developed or sold them to other unsuspecting investors. The government, under Moi, was largely complicit in this orgy of looting. The way to correct this state of affairs should not be Mugabe-style land redistribution. Considering the amount of money that has already been invested, the number of jobs that this investment has created and the fact that many of the affected investors are twice or even thrice removed from the original illegality (the owners of one demolished petrol station valued at Kshs. 70 million and employing 30 bought the land from the NSSF), the government should have approached this matter in a different way.

In Nairobi, buildings worth billions of shillings were reduced to rubble to implement plans that were over 30 years old. Estates like Runda did not exist when those plans were drawn up. Wouldn't it have made more sense to redraft the plans to take account of the "facts on ground" and then go after the individuals who grabbed the land in the first place? We could attach their assets as compensation instead of punishing innocents.

Similarly, the bulldozers at Mlolongo should never have been dispatched before alternative routes for the road were considered. And I have seen no evidence that that happened. Neither have I heard talk of compensation or plans to address the inevitable suffering this will cause. And all this from the very people who were shedding crocodile tears over Mo1's kiosk demolitions.

GoK AIDS Day Goofs

In a recent post, I decried the government's early World AIDS Day present to criminals (or would-be criminals) afflicted with the disease. Today brings news of yet another gift, this time to teachers. According to the Nation, Teacher Service Commission Secretary Gabriel Lengoiboni has promised that HIV-positive teachers will "get transfer requests approved automatically while those seeking early retirement will also have their terminal benefits prepared within a short time". As all who have dealt with the TSC will no doubt attest, this is no small award. Many teachers wait for years to get their transfers or benefits. And now every AIDS patient has jumped the queue.

I acknowledge the havoc that AIDS has wreaked in our communities but I am unable to see how this is helpful. After years of fighting AFRAIDS, it seems we are now being asked not to treat sufferers same as anybody else, but to shower them with pity. We were once told that with proper medication, care and nutrition, people with AIDS could be just as productive (and just as criminal) as the next person. However, now the government has opted to make them out to be "dead men walking".

These government edicts reinforce, rather than fight, the stigma associated with the syndrome. They further the view that those with the disease are different and lesser than the rest of us. That the disease renders them incapable of coping with the daily challenges faced by the rest of us. Just as the physically disabled rightly resent such notions (remember "disability is not inabilty"?), so those with AIDS should resent this government's characterisation of them. What they need are not condescending nods to their condition but the means to continue living full and productive lives.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

NARC-otics in a Plastic Bag

The NARC government has come up with a new scheme to control the plastic bags that are polluting our environment. The Nation reports that the Kenya Bureau of Standards will revise regulations to increase the thickness of plastic bags. The price of these bags will more than double in mid-January. One might reasonably expect that this will reduce the public's appetite for these bags. However, one would be wrong.

In a typically self-defeating move, the cost will only be passed on "indirectly" to the consumer. This essentially means that commodity prices will be marked up to reflect the increased cost of the plastic bags.

Instead of asking shoppers to pay directly for the bags when and if they want them, the government has chosen to charge all consumers regardless of whether or not they make the environmentally sound decision to reject the bags. This is unlikely to result in fewer people asking for the bags at the supermarket counter. For that to happen, consumers who make environmentally foolish choices would need to bear the full cost of those choices, not share the burden with those who chose otherwise.

A direct, and thus voluntary, payment for these bags would automatically result in fewer plastic bags coming out of the shops and even fewer ending up in the garbage dumps. After all, one is unlikely to throw away something that he/she has paid good money for.

An involuntary charge has the effect of subsidising bad behaviour and punishing responsible choices. And this at a cost of 2000 badly needed jobs. Way to go Kivutha Kibwana.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Has Corruption been Legalised in Kenya?

"The AG as the principal legal adviser of the Government entered into a contractual agreement with the Nedermar Technology BV. This in essence locked out all agencies from the deal. KACC cannot move in now to investigate the security contract."

So declared Mr Justice Joseph Nyamu of the High Court when he stopped the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission (KACC) from investigating businessmen Andrew Burnard Pritpal Singh Thetty, who are suspected to be harbouring crucial information relating to the Kshs 2.7 billion Anglo-Leasing security contract.

Now, I'm no lawyer but that sounds like the High Court is saying that any deal that meets with the AG's approval cannot thereafter be investigated by other agencies. Since the AG advises the government on all deals, the verdict essentially means that no government contracts can be investigated. If I'm right, then the doors of hell have just been kicked wide open. Any lawyer who can help decipher this?

Theatre of the Absurd

Guess who's the new Official Leader of the Opposition? None other than Nicholas Kipyator Biwott. Yesterday afternoon, following the Registrar's acceptance of his list of KANU officials, the "Total Man" sauntered into Parliament and, to applause from the Narc Government's front bench, sat in the seat formerly reserved for Uhuru Kenyatta. In a shocking turnaround, the man who more than any other personified the corruption of the Moi era is now the one to lead the way in vetting the Kibaki administration.

According to the Standard, the Registrar of Societies, Bernice Gachegu, had initially turned down the request to ratify the election of Biwott as Kanu Chairman but succumbed to pressure from an unnamed Cabinet Minister. The registration thus appears to be the culmination of meetings between Mo1 and Kibaki and amounts to a Government attempt to appoint the Leader of the Opposition.

This needs to be opposed by everyone, not because we have love for KANU, but because it represents an existential challenge to our hard-won democracy. If the Government is allowed to get away with determining the leadership of opposition parties, then we are on our way back to the days of de facto one party rule. The ridiculous vista of government ministers applauding the (s)election of the man supposed to lead the way in scrutinising their actions speaks volumes. The government seeks a free hand to do as it will without the encumbrance of a parliamentary opposition.

The unnamed Cabinet Minister (Uhuru in his press conference implied it could be Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Martha Karua) should be prosecuted for abuse of office and relieved of his/her position. The Registrar of Societies should likewise go. If she cannot stand up for what is right, then she doesn't deserve the job. The President should come clean and tell us what was discussed in the meetings with Mo1. If indeed this was on the agenda, then Kibaki should also go. The blood of the many who died in the cause of democratic governance calls out for this.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Donde Daughter Released?

There's a report over at Mashada that Donde's Daughter has been released by the Malaysian authorities. No word on her less well connected associate.

MPs Hitch Another Ride on the Gravy Train

It's all snouts to the trough as MPs prepare to change the misguided Constituency Development Fund Act to give themselves more power over the management of the Fund. According to the Nation, not content with appointing their wives and relatives to the CDF Committees, the legislators
"have proposed the removal of the fund's national management committee, which has an oversight role in running the scheme and want it replaced with a new team to be under their control. The committee is responsible for disbursing the money to constituencies, ensuring prudent management of the fund and vetting annual reports, among other duties.
If MPs have their way, the committee will be replaced by a nine-member National Constituencies Development Fund secretariat comprising officials they have employed."
But surely we can count on the Comatose-in-Chief to veto the bill, eh? Ha!

Is Judith the new June?

Remember when Mo1's family and his Cabinet Ministers were always in the news, involved in one scandal after another? Well, the more things change, the more they stay the same. First there was the alleged non-daughter's association with the Arturs saga. Now, the Nation reports:
President Kibaki's daughter, Ms Judith Wanjiku, and Defence minister Njenga Karume yesterday lost their bid to be excluded from a Sh40 million suit in which allegations of fraud have been made against them.
We have already several reincarnations of the "Total Man" (including a "Total Woman"). I'm just waiting for Kibaki's version of Gideon.

Safaricom, The Bitter Option

A new twist to the Safaricom saga. According to the East African, Mobitelea Ventures Ltd. was, at least till 2000 a non-trading arm of Telkom Kenya. It would seem then that Mobitelea acquired a stake in Vodafone Kenya Ltd. (which by then was wholly owned by Vodafone Plc) sometime between March 2001 and May 2002. This implies either of two things.

One, that Telkom, through Mobitelea and using public money, bought shares in VKL thus increasing its effective shareholding in Safaricom to 70% without informing the public. It then sold the equivalent of 5% of that shareholding back to Vodafone Plc generating $10 million and again failed to report this. It would also mean that contrary to its declarations, Telkom actually effectively owns 65% of Safaricom and is trying to hide that 5% from us.

Or two, Telkom had by then quietly sold (or given) Mobitelea to someone who then managed to convince Vodafone Plc to sell them a piece of VKL on the hush-hush. This begs many questions. Whom did Telkom sell (or give) Mobitelea to (a search conducted by The EastAfrican at the Company Registry to determine ownership or directorship of Mobitelea Ventures came up with nothing), why and for how much? Were the proceeds declared in the company's accounts? Can Telkom so easily dispose of a public asset without informing anyone? Why doesn't the company come clean and reveal whom it sold (or gave) Mobitelea to?

The fact that Mobitelea is now said, again according to East African, to be associated with Mo1 and his clique suggests that the latter may be the case. If so, then there is a clear suggestion of solicitation. According to Justin Muturi, chairman of the Public Investments Committee of parliament, Vodafone Plc acquired the stake in Safaricom without going through a competitive bidding process. Was this because they forged a thieves' bargain to subsequently sell (or give -I haven't come across any evidence that Mobitelea actually paid anything for a stake in VKL and neither has Muturi) some of those shares to Mo1 and his crew? Why did Vodafone agree to buy back its shareholding in VKL so soon after disposing of it?

Whichever way one looks at this, and contrary to pesa tu's protestations, it stinks to high heaven. His extremely simplified shareholding structure, which leads him to conclude that "only the shareholders of the involved parties VKL, Vodafone Plc and Mobitelea Ventures ( as opposed to Telkom shareholder, Joe public) can. . . . be aggrieved", is only fit for simpletons.

A Positive Moody on HIV

Are you HIV-positive? Then this is your lucky day. According to a report in the Standard, Moody Awori has given you carte-blanche to commit any crime without fear of incarceration. Apparently, the wisdom born of age (I choose to call it senility) leads him to believe that a "stay in prison would incarcerate [you] twice." And it doesn't stop there. If you are already resident in any of our prisons and have more than two years of your sentence to serve then your release shall be prioritised so you can "spend time with your family." Of course your HIV status obliterates any chance of you re-offending or otherwise posing a threat to society. Whoever heard of HIV sufferers committing crimes? Why do you think they are called HIV-positive? It is an obvious reference to the peculiar effect the virus has on the conscience. Or so the VP would have us believe.

Another Kenyan Busted for Drugs

When it rains, it pours. Last week brought news of two Kenyan students, Ms Deborah Donde (former MP Joe Donde’s daughter) and Ms Maureen Gathoni arrested in Malaysia for drug-related offences (they are due in court on Friday). Now the Standard reports that another young Kenyan female student has been convicted of drug trafficking in Guangzhou, China and sentenced to life imprisonment. Ms Oliviah Singaniabe Munoko, 26, was convicted on her own guilty plea for trying to sneak 1.896 kg of heroin from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to China. She was lucky to escape with her life considering that the offence carries the death penalty and China leads the world in state sponsored executions.

Considering that Kibaki was in Beijing recently, could this be the reason for what Foreign Affairs Minister Raphael Tuju described as a "lenient but tragic" sentence? Did the President raise the issue with his Chinese hosts? It is also unclear whether the GoK supplied her with legal aid as it is currently doing (according to a Majonzi comment on kipepeo) in the case of Donde and Gathoni. It does not escape me that having a prominent relative in Kenya entitles one to unmitigated public sympathy and also confers the "right" to certain state benefits. Those of poorer stock are mostly abandoned to the fates.

Shadow Boxing: Kilonzo vs Wako

Amos Wako has just received a black eye from the Shadow AG Mutula Kilonzo in the first round of their legal bout over Kenyan nominee to the East African Legislative Assembly. Sitting in Arusha, The East African Court of Justice granted an interim injunction restraining the clerk of the Kenyan National Assembly and the Attorney-General from recognising the nine nominees from Kenya, whose names were forwarded to EALA in Arusha "as duly elected members".

The suit was filed last month by Kilonzo Advocates and Associates. During the hearing before a panel of five judges, the plaintiffs from Nairobi said they were aggrieved by the procedure applied in the nomination of the Narc candidates and wanted the selections revoked. Their legal team was led by Kilonzo, while Wako stood for the defendants.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Looking Back

Remember the good old days? Days of the "Unbwogable" NARC? January 2003 seems like a whole ice-age ago. Here's an excerpt from the article Kenya Elections Hailed Worldwide written by Ghanaian journalist Ofeibea Quist-Arcton way back when. Brings tears to my eyes.
..."The positive thing about Kibaki is that he is very strongly against corruption. (Here) everything depends on what the president says and does over the next 100 days," said political analyst John Githongo. "The most important thing is to restore the confidence of Kenyans in their own institutions," said Githongo, echoing a widely held view that placing honest and capable people in top jobs and public institutions must be a top priority for Kibaki to restore public confidence.

"The past regime was all about corruption and repression, physical repression, causing fear - people in Kenya have always feared government. If Kibaki can change that, he will have done very well," Githongo concluded.

Kenyans appear to be ready to give Kibaki the benefit of the doubt and the chance to honour his promises. The world community is certainly wholeheartedly behind Kenya's new president. The African Union hailed the 'political maturity' of Kenyans and their leaders for their peaceful and democratic election. The former colonial power, Britain, the United States and others have lauded the conduct of the polls and pledged their support.

Kenya's success has been praised as an important example to other African countries...
However, almost presciently, she asks:
'Has Kibaki bitten off more than he can chew in promising a new Kenya?... The obvious answer is 'of course'. But what else could he have done? Kibaki has inherited a country, saddled with an economic recession, riddled with corruption, dogged by insecurity and home to old and poorly performing infrastructure. Surely Kibaki had to promise the Kenyan people he would change all that. What option did a veteran opposition leader have as he campaigned to occupy the country's top job?

...Of course, whether Kibaki can deliver on even half of his plethora of promises is another question. Only time will tell. But if he can raise the morale of Kenyans, boost the economy, provide free primary school education, restore confidence and transparency in the government, the judiciary and other central institutions, honour his pledge of zero tolerance on corruption - and sanction all those who transgress - then the new government will have made an encouraging start.
It's now time to bring out the score card.
Raise the morale of Kenyans_______Fail
Boost the economy______________Pass (I'm being generous here)
Free primary school education______Pass (I'm being very generous here)
Restore confidence and transparency in the government____Fail
Honour his pledge of zero tolerance on corruption and sanction all those who transgress___Fail

2 out of 5. That dog don't hunt.

The Rattled Snake is still Biting

The Standard reports on yet another example of Kibaki's idea of expanding democratic space. Not satisfied with conducting illegal raids on the Standard Group's premises and confiscating or destroying private property, the NARC government is now trying to drive them out of business.

This pathetic attempt at censorship now puts NARC in the same league as the youth league of Namibia’s ruling party South West Africa People's Organisation (SWAPO) which in September 2002 asked state authorities not to buy advertising space in The Namibian because it ran a cartoon portraying President Nujoma as a dog attacking British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Birds of a Feather...

Believe it or not, Bro. Paul Kamlesh Pattni is taking the leap into Kenyan politics. According to The Standard, he is set to take over the chairmanship of the Kenya National Democratic Alliance (Kenda) party during the party's Delegates Conference in December. You just can't keep the pigs away from the muck. President Pattni, anyone?

The Gospel according to Michuki and Mungatana

More idiocy from the NARC government. As reported by The Standard, Internal Security Minister John Michuki and Justice and Constitutional Affairs Assistant minister, Mr Danson Mungatana, think that allegations of "massive corruption" are "falsehoods". Mungatana went on to claim that "The alleged corruption incidents attributed to Kenya are just mere press reports."

OK. I guess Anglo-Leasing really is "the scandal that never was", 3 Cabinet Ministers were forced to resign for nothing and President Kibaki's own anti-corruption czar was imagining things when he published his dossier and fled the country. Mungatana's boss, Martha Karua is investigating people based on nothing more than "press reports" and VP Moody Awori was off his rocker when he said that there was "grand corruption at the highest levels" of the government.

Where can I get whatever it is that these guys are smoking?

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Iraq: The War of the Imagination

Just read a fantastic, if lengthy, exposition on how the situation in Iraq got to be where it is. The funny thing is, the whole idea of Saddam's WMD, the reason given for the invasion (and the reason I supported it) hardly merits a paragraph. Neither does oil, the reason many I consider conspiracy theorists think the war was waged. Apparently Bush and his advisers were getting high on their own supply.

We are well down the road toward this dark vision, a wave of threatening instability that stands as the precise opposite of the Bush administration's "democratic tsunami," the wave of liberalizing revolution that American power, through the invasion of Iraq, was to set loose throughout the Middle East. The chances of accomplishing such change within Iraq itself, let alone across the complicated landscape of the entire region, were always very small. Saddam Hussein and the autocracy he ruled were the product of a dysfunctional politics, not the cause of it. Reform of such a politics was always going to be a task of incalculable complexity.

Faced with such complexity, and determined to have their war and their democratic revolution, the President and his counselors looked away. Confronted with great difficulties, their answer was to blind themselves to them and put their faith in ideology and hope - in the dream of a welcoming landscape, magically transformed. The evangelical vision may have made the sense of threat after September 11 easier to bear but it did not change the risks and the reality on the ground. The result is that the wave of change the President and his officials were so determined to set in course by unleashing American military power may well turn out to be precisely the wave of Islamic radicalism that they had hoped to prevent. Read the full article.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Another Krammy Celebrity Meltdown

To Tom Cruise's couch jumping and Mel Gibson's anti-Semitic rant, you can now add this. Ladies and Gentlemen, for your viewing displeasure I give you Seinfeld's "Kramer" (Michael Richards) self destructing on stage.

Monday, November 20, 2006

More Veiled Threats to Bloggers

Just as I was beginning to think that perhaps I had overreacted in this case, the following spam comment was posted on this and other blogs (including Alexcia's).
Egypt arrests another blog critic
Ayyoub's blog has posted criticism of the government
Police in Cairo have detained a blogger whose posts have been critical of the Egyptian government.
Rami Siyam, who blogs under the name of Ayyoub, was detained along with three friends after leaving the house of a fellow blogger late at night.
No reasons have been given for Mr Siyam's detention. The other friends were released after being questioned.
Human rights groups have accused Egypt of eroding freedom of speech by arresting several bloggers recently.
BBC Arab Affairs analyst Magdi Abdelhadi says blogging in Egypt is closely associated with political activism in a culture where democratic freedoms are severely restricted.
Bloggers are at the centre of Egyptian political activism
In recent weeks, bloggers have been exposing what they say was the sexual harassment of women at night in downtown Cairo in full view of police who did not intervene.
Mr Siyam's host on Saturday night, Muhammad Sharqawi, was detained for several weeks earlier this year.
The most recently detained blogger, Abdel Kareem Nabil, was detained in Alexandria on 6 November and was charged with disrupting public order, inciting religious hatred and defaming the president.
Amnesty International says Mr Amer appeared to have been detained for expressing critical views about Islam and Egypt's al-Azhar religious authorities.

I find it hard not to believe that there is a concerted campaign to intimidate bloggers who are critical of the Kibaki government. It seems that the above comment is meant to serve as warning. The same guy (or gal) who posted it also posted other spam comments portraying Kibaki in a positive light.

I refuse to be cowed by such underhand tactics and will continue to express my views plainly. I urge all other bloggers to do the same.

I am growing weary of all these pro-Raila/Kibaki spam comments. Any suggestions on how I can stop them without making it too hard for legitimate readers to comment?

Whitewashing Moody Awori

In February, the Law Society of Kenya said it would act if the AG delayed in prosecuting those named by John Githongo and demanded that VP Moody Awori resign over his role in the Anglo Leasing scandal. Nine months later and despite Wako's inaction on the Githongo dossier, the LSK's words have proven to be an exercise in verbosity. The LSK's hypocrisy was further exposed today when the VP was an honoured guest at the launch of their Legal Awareness/Legal Aid Week.

Inviting tainted politicians to preside over such functions, as we see almost daily on our TV screens, sends the wrong message. The government may be unwilling to prosecute them but that is no reason for the rest of us to acquiesce in the plunder of our resources. What the LSK has done is tantamount to whitewashing the VP. It is shameful and deserves to be condemned by all.

I call upon all bloggers and lawyers to make some noise about this. At the very least, let us force them to explain themselves and thus pass an unmistakable message: We will not distinguish between the corrupt and those who harbour them.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Man Bites Dog...

Interesting stories courtesy of Headlines on Things that Matter:

Do you have the balls for a kidnapping? This guy no longer does.

Who needs a dentist when there's superglue? Not him!

Wanna join the International Order of Old Bastards? You're too late to see the strippers though!

Why finding porn on the net is not as easy as you might think.

Warning: Old Bastards and Internet porn addicts may be on this flight. No breastfeeding!

Is your wife driving you potty? Why you should always keep her in the loop.

I knew it. The Ref's always to blame.

Persistent Sexual Arousal Syndrome

A disease all sexually frustrated women would die for? This from Mainichi Daily News:
(By Ryann Connell)
November 16, 2006
Growing numbers of Japanese women are afflicted with an illness that gives them orgasms virtually 24 hours a day. And with suggestions that it could be deadly, the women hardly know whether they're coming or going, according to Shukan Post (11/24).
"If a guy simply taps me on the shoulder, I just swoon. Even when I go to the toilet, my body reacts. I'm a little bit scared of myself," one woman sufferer tells Shukan Post.
Another adds: "When I got on the train one day, I could feel blood gushing toward a certain part of my body and it felt so good I almost let out a moan. It was sheer murder when everybody got pushed into the carriage."
Yet another woman has her say. "Even the vibration of my mobile phone is enough to set me off," she says. "My friend said there's something called Iku Iku byo (Cum Cum Disease). I guess I've got that."
What may be afflicting these women, the best-selling weekly says, is an ailment called persistent sexual arousal syndrome (PSAS). Read More
Artificial insemination, sperm banks, single parent families, working mothers.... and now this! Are men becoming irrelevant?

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Wagging the Nuclear Dog

A follow up to my post on Nuclear proliferation. According to truthout Guest Contributor Bill Quigle:
Three men protesting the presence of weapons of mass destruction in North Dakota were sentenced to federal prison terms of over three years and ordered to pay $17,000 in restitution by a federal judge in Bismarck. The three dressed as clowns and went to the Echo-9 launch site of the intercontinental Minuteman III nuclear missile in rural North Dakota in June 2006. They broke the lock off the fence and put up peace banners and posters. One said: "Swords into plowshares - Spears into pruning hooks." They poured some of their own blood on the site, hammered on the nuclear launching facility and waited to be arrested....During their trial, the men openly admitted to trying to disarm the nuclear weapon. They pointed out to the jury that each one of these missiles was a devastating weapon of mass destruction, a killing machine precisely designed to murder hundreds of thousands. Testimony by experts about the illegality of these weapons of mass destruction under international law, and their effects, were excluded by the court and never heard by the jury. Read More.

The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which the US loves to quote in relation to the nuclear activities of North Korea and Iran also states in Article VI:

"Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a Treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control."

When, in the closing years of the last century, India called attention to the requirement for complete nuclear disarmament by all under this provision, the Clinton Administration said its implementation was "unrealistic" though the collapse of the Soviet Union a decade earlier had ended the nuclear arms race. The US (and all other nuclear powers) therefore is also in breach of its "international obligations" in this regard and has little moral authority to demand that others comply with the NPT. However, instead of taking steps to remedy this, the US is locking up citizens who are bold enough to point out the inconsistency.

But this is far from an isolated incidence of non-compliance. The NPT has been repeatedly violated by the nuclear states in pursuit of narrow political interests.

According to a report by John Burroughs, Executive Director Lawyers' Committee on Nuclear Policy the 2000 NPT Review Conference came up with an "unequivocal undertaking by the nuclear-weapons States to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals leading to nuclear disarmament to which all states are committed under Article VI." Don't hold your breath though. The report states that "during the Conference, diplomatic talking points released by The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists revealed that US negotiators advised Russia that keeping its nuclear forces on alert is a good idea". Why? "Under 'any possible future arms control agreement,' the talking points say, Russia, could maintain on 'constant' alert a 'large, diversified, viable arsenal', sufficient to mount an 'annihilating counterattack' in response to a US first strike, regardless of any 'limited' US national missile defense system." Of course, the US could then use the same argument to justify its arsenal's continued existence. We thus have here the nuclear powers colluding to eliminate the possibility of their ever having to comply with their "unequivocal undertaking".

Under Article I of the NPT "each nuclear-weapon State undertakes not to transfer to any recipient whatsoever nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices or control over such weapons or explosive devices directly, or indirectly; and not in any way to assist, encourage, or induce any non-nuclear weapon State to manufacture or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices, or control over such weapons or explosive devices." However, in 1976, a US Senate committee uncovered secret US heavy water exports to India which paved the way for India's nuclear weapons programme. According to Wikipedia, in March 2006 The UK's Foreign Office admitted that in the 1950s and 1960s, Britain made hundreds of secret shipments of restricted materials- including samples of fissile material (uranium-235 in 1959 and plutonium in 1966) as well as highly enriched lithium-6 which is used to boost fission bombs and fuel hydrogen bombs- to Israel. A BBC Newsnight investigation also showed that Britain shipped 20 tons of heavy water directly to Israel in 1959 and 1960 to start up the Dimona reactor, constructed with French help in 1956.

The UK and France are both declared Nuclear States and signatories to the NPT. Their conduct simply proves that the NPT is a byword for global domination by the nuclear powers; a scheme to keep such weapons, and the political power they convey, in their hands and in the hands of their friends. They never intended it to "facilitate the cessation of the manufacture of nuclear weapons, the liquidation of all their existing stockpiles, and the elimination from national arsenals of nuclear weapons."

Created, in Paul Leventhal's words "for a world of thousands of nuclear power plants and of multi-billion-dollar deals (French plans to export reprocessing plants to Pakistan, South Korea and Taiwan; Germany's pact to supply reactors, enrichment and reprocessing plants to Brazil; U.S. and European plans to provide the Shah of Iran with all the reactors and reprocessing plants he wanted; and Japan's plan to achieve energy independence by acquiring more plutonium than contained in the arsenals of the superpowers)" the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty ---with its seamless arrangement of assured nuclear supply built upon pledges from the non-weapon states not to produce nuclear weapons and from the weapon states to negotiate in good faith to get rid of theirs---was supposed to take care of all problems. That world has not materialised. I repeat the assertion in my earlier post that the NPT is obsolete and we need a new treaty to govern the use of fissile material for the benefit of all humanity.

Nuclear weapons cannot be disinvented. That much is plain. However, a situation where a few countries countries are allowed to continue to develop, possess and threaten the rest with these weapons is just as "unrealistic". The continuing proliferation and the duplicity of the nuclear states has proven this. Any new treaty must ensure that all states are treated equally and must disband the so-called Nuclear Club. All existing WMD must be consolidated under control of a central, international authority with the legal obligation and mandated to to fire in retaliation immediately a nuclear attack on any country, for any reason by any other country is confirmed.

As fantastical as this might sound, it is the only sure way to temper the global appetite for WMD. And because terrorists lack the capacity to develop WMD and rely on "rogue" states to provide them with the material and technology, such temperance would no doubt reduce (and hopefully eliminate) the possibility of nuclear-armed terrorists. On June 26, 1946, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, soon to be India's first Prime Minister, declared: "As long as the world is constituted as it is, every country will have to devise and use the latest devices for its protection" including nuclear technology. The NPT has achieved little more than the attempted stratification of the prevailing order. It needs to go.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Sudan Wakes Up and Smells the Koffi

UN peacekeepers may finally be headed to Darfur! However, the devil is in the "clarifications".

ADDIS ABABA, 17 Nov 2006 (IRIN) - The Sudanese government has ‘agreed in principle’ to the deployment of United Nations peacekeepers in the western region of Darfur alongside African Union forces, officials said after a high-level meeting in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa. Read more.

Kibaki Must Go

Received this email from a friend in Germany.
Today, while waiting for a lecturer, some africans almost laughed me out of town for kibaki's actions!!!!!!! Apparently, they have all read and seen on BBC how Kibaki has brought back to power Saitoti and [Kiraitu].....right at the front and [in the] face of international top-dogs!!!!! Apparently, NEPAD recently chided him for not doing much on corruption....and then this!!!!! Very interesting how being Kenyan no longer elicits " you guys can run..." or "habari....." or "jambo....."!!!! Only pity and curiosity [over] how such non-sense spouts out of Kenya. They know all the scams...Goldenberg, Anglo, you name it. I was really surprised. I wonder if Obaks can gain anything from Saitoti...Do you think he has a voting block???????? naja....Kenya politics.....And I read the Daily Nation editorial.....Woefully acquiescent.

It's hard to disagree with the sentiment that Kibaki has made Kenyans a laughing stock. And I fully subscribe to the outrage and sense of betrayal evident in the email. Kibaki must go. It is the only way to rescue our country from the jaws of these crocodiles and teach whoever comes after him that we will not tolerate such shenanigans from a government that promised so much and delivered so little. I am normally not one for sloganeering but I'm increasingly partial to the tune of "Yote Yawezekana Bila Mwai."

Overheard in a Bar

A few of the things I overheard at the bar yesterday. I am not vouching for the truth of any of these statements.

"When Kibaki arrived the UN headquarters with Koffi Anan, he ignored Wangari Maathai's outstretched hand of greeting. Later in the day, she learnt that she had been fired from Cabinet."

"There's this lady who intends to bribe the judge and prosecutor in a court case where she is accused of being found in possession of illegal timber. Apparently, she claims she bought the timber from another judge and that the matter only got this far because the Forestry officer who arrested her refused her Kshs. 20,000 bribe."

"London-Harare is British Airways most profitable route -but they don't want you to know that!"

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Islamofascism in Kenya

Just came across this report on some Christians who were charged in a Nairobi court of inciting Muslims to violence.
NAIROBI – A Nairobi court has acquitted two U.S. evangelists and their Kenyan counterparts of charges of inciting Muslims to violence.
Orisio Andrew Saucier and Paul Eddie Garcia of Calvary Baptist Church were declared free men by Kibera Principal Magistrate Hellen Wasilwa, who noted that the anti-Islamic literature used by the defendants was similar to anti-Christian literature in Muslim bookstores that, neverthless, did not cause Christians to raise charges of “incitement to violence.”
I find the idea that Islam is somehow immune to criticism to be an affront to secularism and applaud the Kibera Principal Magistrate Hellen Wasilwa for standing up to the demagoguery of the fanatics. It is a pity that the police and prosecutors could not do the same.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Broken News

Just watched NTV news and heard Sophie Ikenye declare that "police suspect [Kshs. 200,000 worth of Bhang recovered from a newspaper delivery van enroute from Kisumu] was being transported to an unknown destination." To suspect that contraband found in the back of a van at a police roadblock is being "transported" seems to me to be the height of inanity.

But Ms Ikenye is in good company. Today's Standard tells us:

[In an exclusive interview on Monday, Raila Odinga] named eight prominent personalities he claimed are co-plotters in a 'conspiracy' to take out the Opposition politicians ahead of next year’s General Election. He named one of the Artur brothers, a senior Cabinet minister, a Member of Parliament for a Nairobi constituency, a political activist, a senior police officer, two unfamiliar people and a recently retired senior police officer.
Wow! Could they be any more specific? Now we have been unquestionably informed. When I think of all the lives sacrificed for press freedom...

On a lighter note, anyone remember the howlers on KBC (or the then VOK)? A newscaster once referred to the late Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu as "Chausiku". Another presenter spoke of the "rallying ass" Patrick Njiru (he meant "rallying ace"). Leonard Mambo Mbotela commentating on a soccer match: "Goooooal!! Mpira umetoka nje!"

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Intimidation or what?

Listen to this article Listen to this article
Today I received 24 spam comments (which I promptly deleted) highlighting the purported achievements of the Kibaki goverment accompanied by the following warning:


Now is this an attempt to stop me expressing my contempt for the NARC government? Is there a campaign underfoot to silence bloggers who might be critical of the Kibaki government? Keep in mind that as Chris recently reported "Internal Security Minister John “Standard Raid” Michuki ... booked a full page advertisement in the East African Standard to warn all those who are reporting “sensationally and arrogantly on the country and the government to tone down."

I for one will not give in to Gestapo tactics. Kenya is my country and this is my blog. I will not allow anyone to curtail my right to freely express myself. I totally agree with the American writer Edward Abbey's sentiment: “A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government.”

So Mr. Anonymous, you know who I am, what I do and probably where I live. I am sure we can continue this conversation in the privacy of your torture chambers. Till then, I would be happy if you performed an unnatural sexual act on yourself and stayed away from my universe.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Donald and the (Lame) Duck

Listen to this article Listen to this article
By replacing Donald Rumsfeld after Tuesday's electoral "thumpin'" by the Democrats, President George Bush has unwittingly confirmed his lame-duck status. Coming just a week after declaring that the Defence Secretary would remain for the full term of the Bush administration, the move shows that the end has come much sooner than anticipated.

The loss of the House of Representatives, and perhaps the Senate, will put the brakes on the President's legislative agenda and herald an era of Congressional witch-hunts. The knives are already being sharpened. The Democrats will demand their full pound of flesh and I don't think Rumsfeld (though undoubtedly a heavyweight) measures up. Subpoenas will soon be making their way to Administration officials inviting them to bare their breasts for the monumental failures in Iraq.

And for Republicans looking to the 2008 elections, Bush has become the millstone around their necks. During the just concluded campaigns, the President found himself shunned by many Republican candidates, his endorsement considered akin to the "kiss of death".

I expect the White House will be a very lonely place for the next two years.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Getting Away with Genocide for Dummies

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia is expected to take 17 years and cost an estimated $100million per year prosecuting war criminals who killed 200,000 people.

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda is only expected to take 14 years and cost a relatively measly $24 million per year prosecuting those responsible for the genocide of 800,000 - 1 million Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

The Khmer Rouge Tribunal (KRT), will only take 3 years and cost about $20 million per year to try those responsible for the deaths of 3 million Cambodians.

The more people you kill, the lower the incentive the international community has to spend time and money prosecuting you. Or just don't kill people in Europe.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Selective Amnesia in International Justice

The death sentence handed out to Saddam Hussein, while fully deserved, is just the latest chapter in the sorry history of the selective application of international law.

The charge of “crimes against humanity” was first articulated in reference to the Armenian Genocide of 1915-18. According to Wikipedia:

"On May 24, 1915, the Allied Powers, Britain, France, and Russia, jointly issued a statement explicitly charging for the first time ever another government of committing "a crime against humanity". This joint statement stated:

"[i]n view of these new crimes of Turkey against humanity and civilization, the Allied Governments announce publicly to the Sublime Porte that they will hold personally responsible for these crimes all members of the Ottoman Government, as well as those of their agents who are implicated in such massacres".
However, the Turks were never formally prosecuted under international law. The failure to hold them to account paved the way for the Nazi Holocaust. In 1939, just before the Nazi invasion of Poland and the beginning of WW2, Adolf Hitler told his generals, “The aim of war is not to reach definite lines but to annihilate the enemy physically. It is by this means that we shall obtain the vital living space that we need. Who today still speaks of the Armenians?”

Following WW2, war crimes trials were organised at Nuremberg and in Tokyo to prosecute the surviving Nazi and Japanese leaders. One of the charges they faced was, ironically, crimes against humanity. Chief Prosecutor Robert Jackson described them thus: “Four great nations, stung with injury, stay the hand of vengeance and subject their captive enemies to the judgement of the law … one of the most important tributes that Power has ever paid to Reason”. However, according to Cesare Romano, of the New York–based Center on International Cooperation, "[the trials'] ultimate legitimacy rested on the victor’s right to decide the fate of the defeated enemy rather than on law”. The London Charter of the International Military Tribunal, the decree that set down the laws and procedures by which the trials were to be conducted, defined that only crimes of the European Axis Powers (Italy, Germany and Japan) could be tried. It was also held that it would not constitute a defense to argue that the Allies had done many of the same things the Axis Powers were being accused of. In fact, "one of the most important tributes that Power has ever paid to Reason” turned out to be nothing more than revenge cloaked in a veneer of international jurisprudence -victors' justice.

More recently, though the systematic persecution of one racial group by another, such as occurred during the South African apartheid government, was recognized as a crime against humanity by the United Nations in 1976, not one of the apartheid era leaders was ever sent to the Hague. While ad hoc tribunals were set up to try those responsible for the genocide in Rwanda and "ethnic cleansing" in the former Yugoslavia, none was established for SA. In fact, the "Great Crocodile" P.W. Botha, who oversaw some of the worst atrocities, died peacefully last week without ever so much as apologising for his crimes. In fact, South African national flags are flying at half-mast and the government offered to grant him a state funeral inspite of his pooh-poohing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission set up to probe apartheid abuses and the fact that the defunct flag of apartheid South African still flies outside his home (According to Wikipedia, the symbolism of the flag defines South Africa as an inherently white nation, recognizing the country's British and Dutch ethnic roots, but offering no symbolic recognition of the black majority).

Widespread colonial era abuses in Africa have similarly not merited investigation by the international community. Neither have the massacres in Mao's China, Stalin's Russia, Pinochet's Chile. According to Niko Kyriakou, the Cambodian government has since 1997 sought the UN's help to create an international tribunal to bring to justice about a dozen living suspects, most in their early 70s, for their roles in the starvation, forced labor, arbitrary killings, and torture that were the hallmarks of Khmer Rouge rule. However, nine years later, no Khmer Rouge figure has stood trial for the deaths of up to 3 million Cambodians between April 1975 and January 1979.

As reported by the UN's IRIN, in the aftermath of the First World War French and British moves to try Kaiser Wilhelm II were successfully opposed by the USA which feared a breach of head-of-state impunity. While nowadays this idea of impunity is discredited, there are still a few former leaders who seem immune from prosecution. As former Liberian strongman Charles Taylor languishes in a cell at the Hague, Ethiopia's Mengistu Haile Mariam, who directed the ``Red Terror'' of the 1970s lives comfortably in exile in Zimbabwe and Indonesia's Suharto, widely believed responsible for the deaths of twice as many people as Saddam Hussein and Slobodan Milosevic combined, lives free in a posh residential district of Jakarta. Closer to home, Kenya's Daniel Arap Moi, whose tenure saw ethnic cleansing campaigns affecting thousands in parts of the Rift Valley, continues to enjoy his well-padded retirement package undisturbed by thoughts of answering to any international tribunal while many of his victims languish in refugee camps awaiting resettlement by the new government.

And, 60 years after Nuremberg, no US President will ever stand trial for waging what many experts on international law consider to be "a war of aggression" in Iraq nor for the bungled occupation that has cost, according to recent estimates, well over 650,000 Iraqi lives (this is more than double the number of Iraqis killed by Saddam). No General, Cabinet Member, Senator or Congressman will ever be held to account for the torture (a war crime) of both Iraqi and suspected Al Qaida detainees even when this is now the declared and congressionally approved policy of the country.

One would truly have to be blind to believe that international justice is blind.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Stating the Obvious

Some mind-numbingly obvious facts:
Bush may be faking it.
Kambas need not fear competition from the Germans.
Women are grumpier than men.

Lowering the Standard?

The Standard reports:
The Controller and Auditor General released a damning report on how billions of shillings of public funds were lost in dubious deals in the 2004/2005 financial year.
Billions they said. In the relevant paragraphs, the paper then offers details of how that money was siphoned off:
In the Controller and Auditor General’s report, the Office of The President and the Ministry of Water are indicted for paying out Sh21.3m for the installation of lifts that was never done...
The ministry [of Water, presumably], too, is under pressure to explain how it paid Sh57.8 million for a case in which it had been sued by a laboratory firm, although it did not provide details of the case...
The report also faults the Office of the President for overpaying the contractor engaged for projects at Administration Police College at Embakasi and General Service Unit at Kibish.
The report details how the Government lost Sh26 million after the two contractors in the separate projects, were overpaid...
In the same ministry, the auditors discovered that Sh674,000 was paid to various officers as monthly meal allowances for working to reorganise the office of the Public Communication Secretary. The report points out that the duties the officers performed were the same as those under their substantive appointments and were done during normal working hours.
Now do the math. I make it Kshs. 105.774 M lost in underhand deals. This is not a pittance but neither is it "billions." I have no love for the Kibaki Administration but if we are to change the way things are done in Kenya, we have to start with ourselves. Sensationalising and falsifying news reports is a definite no-no. I hope that it was an honest mistake or that perhaps a paragraph containing the rest of the scandals was mislaid (you never know with these snake-rattlers!)

A No-Brainer for No-Brainers

The Daily Nation reports:
Next year's General Election may have to be delayed if a referendum on a new Constitution is held in September, the Electoral Commission said yesterday.
ECK boss Samwel Kivuitu said if the proposed Constitution is ready by October next year, it would affect the big poll.
"Parliament will have to decide whether to sit for a few more months. If we get a constitution by October, then Parliament will either postpone its implementation or they delay the election."
With humongous tax-free salaries for a job with absolutely no work involved and the very real possibility that voters will be baying for blood, Kenyan MPs have everything to lose and nothing to gain by insisting on a timely General Election. I wager that the pigs (apologies to pigs) will keep their snouts in the trough for an extra year.

Surprise, Surprise!
MPs [shamelessly] united in pouring cold water on a report which evaluated their work in the House. Nyatike MP Ochola Ogur (Narc) caused some comic relief when he said not all MPs could speak in Parliament at a go. "Sometimes we stand here, ready to contribute, but fail to catch the Chair's eye. Listening also amounts to doing work," he said as members roared with mirth.
A merry band of thieves they are. Laughing hyaenas (apologies to hyaenas).

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Sleeping with the Enemy?

Ever wondered where Iraqi insurgents are getting their weaponry? Well, according to the Associated Press, a new report to Congress says the Pentagon cannot account for 14,030 weapons – almost 4 percent of the semi-automatic pistols, assault rifles, machine guns, rocket-propelled grenade launchers and other weapons it began supplying to Iraq since the end of 2003. Looks like Uncle Sam is still in the business of ensuring America's enemies are well armed.

Who Dares Rattle The Kenyan Oligarch

According to the Daily Nation, less than 3 days after Internal Security Minister John Michuki's home was attacked by gangsters, 43 suspects have been arrested and an entire security team, including the Kangema district officer, the officer in charge of the local police station, and all regular and Administration police officers from the division, has been transferred.

If only the security machinery would be as quick when dealing with crimes against the taxpayers who fork out for their salaries. When was the last time anyone heard of a mass transfer of officers after any of the all-to-frequent rapes, murders, carjackings or robberies? But an attack on the home of one chap who has already been provided (at our expense, mind you) with GK issue bodyguards, a GK issue firearm, who pays no tax on his GK issue salary. . . . and all hell breaks lose. Kenya is truly an oligarchy.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Veiled Habits

Courtesy of Andrew Sullivan's blog, I found this interesting article by Karen Armstrong comparing Jack Straw's criticisms of his veiled constituents in supposedly multi-cultural Britain to the Victorians reaction to habit-wearing Catholic nuns. Now, on many issues, I'm inclined to agree with Sullivan but on the issue of the Muslim veil he seems to be standing on rather shaky ground. He writes:

In a free country, I absolutely defend the right of any woman to freely choose to wear the chador, wherever she wants. But no-one is proposing banning it. And in public schools, where people have to teach students, I can see a reason to restrict it, because it is an impediment to doing your job. Facial expression matters in teaching. So does a clear voice.

Where is the evidence to show that veiled teachers are less effective than unveiled ones? Or is it an intuitive judgement that Sullivan makes? In that case, how is he different from Jack Straw and the others who see veiling as an affront to Western cultural sensitivities? In fact, in this case, I think Sullivan has become significantly worse. At least Straw and his gang haven't sought to couch their objections is pseudo-scientific proclamations.

When I was in secondary school, my maths teacher was a sari-clad Indian beau. During her lessons, the sari would ride up giving us a tantalizing glimpse of her magnificient midriff. Now, at such moments, I can guarantee that my fellow students (it was a boys school) were interested neither in her facial expressions nor her clear voice. By that score, I guess Sullivan would also be for the banning of saris in classrooms. And while we're at it, why not get rid of all beautiful teachers? Classroom crushes can be such a distraction after all!

Monday, October 30, 2006

Kenya Vision 2007

Any illusions we might have had that the Kenya Vision 2030 programme, which was launched by President Kibaki yesterday, had nothing to do with next year's elections were firmly dispelled by El Presidente himself. According to the Daily Nation:

"Although President Kibaki said he was optimistic that the development goal would be achieved, it will depend on how the country manages its affairs in the next five years."

The next five years? Could it be mere coincidence that that would cover most of a second term? Sounds very like a plug for reelection. Gone is "A Working Nation", from now till he renews his lease at State House it'll be "Kenya Vision 2030". And then I predict a deafening silence regarding implementation.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Thanks a Bunch, Mo!

As if we needed more proof that Mo Ibrahim's prize has made Africa an object of derision. The story has turned up on Wierd News along with reports such as Woman Taking Driving Test Crashes Car In License Office, Physics Professor Destroys Vampires With Math, German Motorist Obeys Navigation System, Crashes Car and my personal favorite, Online Users Poke Ridicule On President Bush after the US leader, in an interview earlier this week, admitted using thegoogle (on his internets, I'm sure) to check out his Crawford ranch. No wonder he has such a hard time getting accurate military intelligence (an oxymoron if I ever heard one) on anything! Here's the video.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

The GOP Elephant Has a Short Memory

Keith Olbermann tells it like it is in this commentary on the Republican Party's terror tactics.

The key to terror, the key to terrorism, is not the act - but the fear of the act. That is why bin Laden and his deputies and his imitators are forever putting together videotaped statements and releasing virtual infomercials with dire threats and heart-stopping warnings. But why is the Republican Party imitating them?

When, last week, the CNN network ran [the above] video of an insurgent in Iraq, evidently stalking and killing an American soldier, the Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Mr. [Duncan] Hunter, Republican of California, branded that channel, quote, "the publicist for an enemy propaganda film" and that CNN used it "to sell commercials."

Another California Republican, Rep. Brian Bilbray, called the video "nothing short of a terrorist snuff film."

If so, Mr. Bilbray, then what in the hell is your Party's new advertisement?

Schroeder on Christiano-Fascists

"The problem begins when political decisions seem to result from a conversation with God. If you legitimise political decisions in this way, then you cannot respond to criticism or suggestions by changing policies or introducing nuances, because doing that would be to betray God's orders received during prayer." When former German Chancellor Gerhardt Schroeder wrote this, he was not referring to "islamo-fascist" terrorists or the Islamic Republic of Iran but rather to the administration of G.W. Bush.

As reported in rediff news, in his memoir, Decisions, My Life in Politics, Schroeder says that Bush would constantly refer to his Christian beliefs, and "again and again in our private talks it became clear how. . . . ruled he was by what he saw as a Higher Power." He adds, "We rightly criticise that in most Islamic states there is no clear separation between religion and the rule of law. But we fail to recognise that, in the US, the Christian fundamentalists and their interpretation of the Bible have similar tendencies. . . . When (a leader) takes political action directly from prayer, in other words from a dialogue with God, it can be problematic for a democracy."

In two weeks time, when they go to the polls, we'll all find out whether the Americans have learnt their lesson.

9/11 Foretold in 1998?

Another remarkably prescient 1998 quote, this time from Philip D. Zelikow, the executive director of the 9/11 Commission (Hat Tip: ICH):

“In the Nov-Dec 1998 issue of Foreign Affairs he (Zelikow) co-authored (with the former head of the CIA) an article entitled “Catastrophic Terrorism” in which he speculated that if the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center had succeeded ‘the resulting horror and chaos would have exceeded our ability to describe it. Such an act of catastrophic terrorism would be a watershed event in American history. It could involve loss of life and property unprecedented in peacetime and undermine America’s fundamental sense of security, as did the Soviet atomic bomb test in 1949. Like Pearl Harbor, the event would divide our past and future into a before and after. The United States might respond with draconian measures scaling back civil liberties, allowing wider surveillance of citizens, detention of suspects and use of deadly force.”

The Times They Are A-Changin'

"Stay the course" is out. "Changing tactics" is in. No, I'm not talking about Iraq. At least, not directly. In the battle for hearts and minds, it seems the US has accepted that the keyboard may be mightier than the Tomahawk Cruise Missile. I received the email below two days ago and I'm posting it here with Spc Erickson's permission. The website he refers seems to be a great source of information on the US military.


My name is SPC Chris Erickson with U.S. Central Command Public Affairs. I came across your blog, Gathara’s World, today and noticed your interest in different topics, particularly a post on Al Qaeda.

As a member of the US military, I like seeing open discussions on the happenings of the world, although many times I’m not able to get involved (especially if it gets political). I’m sure you’ve come across it in the past, but if you haven’t, I’d like to invite you to check out our web site, It’s one more resource for information and you’re free to use any of it (video, audio, photos and articles) in conversations on your blog. We also have a portion of the site set aside called “What Extremists are Saying”, which can serve to keep people knowledgeable about what’s being said.

Also, if you would like, you can be added to our mailing list. We send out news stories and press releases about US military and coalition forces operations, humanitarian and reconstruction efforts. This information is also available via RSS on our site. Most of the time we can get CENTCOM information out to bloggers before it appears in the main stream media.

I appreciate your time today and I do look forward to hearing back from you

Spc. Chris Erickson
Electronic Media Engagement Team
U.S. Central Command Public Affairs