Friday, June 29, 2007

Why Kivuitu and Gachegu Must Go.

Now that the High Court has spoken and Uhuru Kenyatta is rightfully confirmed as the Official leader of the opposition, should we not be in anxious anticipation of the resignations of both the Registrar of Societies, Bernice Gachegu, and the Chairman of the Electoral Commission of Kenya, Samuel Kivuitu? After all, the panel of judges accused both officers of perpetrating outright illegalities in their apparent haste to do the Kibaki Administration's dirty work.
Today's Daily Nation reports:
In their ruling, the judges said the registration of new officials was “choreographed and became a charade tainted with both procedural impropriety and outright illegality on the part of the registrar.”. . . . Further, ECK chairman Samuel Kivuitu they said, acted contrary to the requirements of National and Presidential Elections Act by purporting to convey a decision of the commission and later rescind it on oath.”
The judges also accused the ECK (which, of course, is loaded with Kibaki loyalists after the President tore up the 1997 IPPG "Gentleman's Agreement" that allowed the opposition a voice in the selection of commissioners) of surrendering its independence by meekly acquiescing to the government's blatant attempt to appoint the leadership of a party in the opposition. As I wrote at the time, the government's actions represented "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."

Given that the stakes are so high and that these two were the very officers tasked to prevent just this sort of mischief, their resignations (or those lacking, moves to ensure their swift removal from office) are indispensable if public confidence in our institutions is to restored. The same fate should befall the mysterious Cabinet Minister who was said to have prevailed upon Ms. Gachegu to register the Biwott faction.

However, this being Kenya, I wouldn't hold my breath.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Predictability of Stupidity

A good many years have passed since President Mwai Kibaki instituted the National Anti-Corruption Campaign Steering Committee under the chairmanship of the Rev. Mutava Musyimi. Last year, the President challenged the members of the largely dormant and ineffective Committee "to come up with innovative ways of ensuring that the general public become an active partner in the fight against corruption". The response? Well apart from the launch of District Anti-Corruption Civilian Oversight Committees (whatever those are) in 9 out of 71 districts in February, precious little has been heard from the supposed anti-corruption stalwarts.

That is, until today. The Daily Nation reports on yet another brilliant innovation. A report from the NACCSC recommends that "a list of shame of people involved in grand corruption like the Anglo Leasing and Goldenberg scandals should be made public and the culprits prosecuted". Ummm.... Hello...! Which planet have these guys been living on? We have had Lists of Shame ad nauseum and simply compiling another one will neither deter nor ensure punishment of the evil-doers.

The Committee goes on to recommend the setting up of kangaroo courts (which Jed Pittman, Pasco County Clerk of Circuit Court, defines as "sham legal proceeding[s] in which a person's rights are totally disregarded and in which the result is a foregone conclusion because of the bias of the court or other tribunal") to deal with cases of illicit brews. Yikes!

According to the Standard, after stating that many Kenyans "feel the Government has done "very little" to combat graft despite overwhelming information on the vice", the committee commended the Government for establishing the Ombudsman’s office, saying reports received from district and national levels "can now be acted upon swiftly". Well, I am yet to see evidence of any accelerated action on cases of grand corruption.

To be fair, some recommendations, such as the proposal to driving licenses be accepted as forms of identification for the purpose of voter registration, as well as the push to initiate a system where traffic fines are paid immediately at specific points to minimise cases of corruption in the traffic department, seem to make sense. However, even there the devil is in the details. Issues of double registration, fake DLs and location of payment points for traffic offenders (I am assuming that the arresting officer is not the intended recipient of fines -that would defeat the whole purpose), need to be sorted out.

All in all, it seems that the NACCSC, like the rest of the myriad outfits set up by the Kibaki administration to fight graft, is nothing more than a very expensive paper tiger (any ideas on their budget and salaries?). Its sole purpose appears to be to generate the impression of an active war on corruption while obscuring the reality that no such conflict exists.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Gathara's World: Season 2

It's been such a long time since my last post and so much has happened that I do not know where to begin.

The Mungiki seem to have faded from the headlines apart from the occasional report of police killing suspected members.

Budget day came and went and Amos Kimunya's speech predictably had more to do with securing re-election than solving the pressing needs of our people.

Again predictably, the ODM-Kenya electoral challenge seems to be fading in the face of continuing bickering, greed and myopia prevalent in its leadership. The stage seems set for another 5 years of lost opportunity under the wholly uninspiring non-leadership of Mwai Kibaki.

Nearly a year has now passed since the court ruling that effectively stopped George Saitoti's prosecution (and not cleared him as some are wont to think). The AG has, again predictably, failed to keep his word that he would appeal that decision.

John Githongo remains in exile, Kiraitu Murungi is still in Cabinet, our hopes of transparent and accountable governance in limbo.

On the international stage, the misguided US War on Terror continues to hobble along, fatally wounded by the adventure in Iraq. George Bush's travails with the English language continue unabated (see here) while his Venezuelan counterpart Hugo Chavez' paranoia gains strength and absurdity with each passing day. Iran still seeks nuclear weapons, Israel continues to bomb and blockade the Palestinians, the Palestinians are still their own worst enemies.

So much has happened yet nothing has changed!

I shall be visiting Washington DC next week to attend the AAEC 50th Anniversary convention. Any ideas where I can catch up with my fellow Kenyans for "one"?