Sunday, 3 December 2017

The Libyan Slave Market in Perspective

African migrants in Libya.
Courtesy: Al Jazeera.
“Slavery as an institution that degraded man to a thing has never died out. In some periods of history it has flourished: many civilizations have climbed to power and glory on the backs of slaves. In other times slaves have dwindled in number and economic importance. But never has slavery disappeared.” – Milton Meltzer

The recent revelation by CNN about slavery in Libya is an affirmation that this inhumane act is inherently embedded in humanity.

Across civilizations, slavery has transcended different generations with its form and nature varying from crude, to subtle and more nuanced ways of human oppression.

From the ancient civilizations to modern times, slavery has been used as a mechanism to enrich the oppressor and impoverish the oppressed. The oppressed - the slaves - are subjected to forced labour used for the production of goods or offering services to enrich the lives of the oppressor - the slave masters.

In ancient civilizations, slavery was less of a commercial affair with slaves mainly captured to render domestic services to the royalty and political leadership of the kingdom, chiefdom, fiefdom, aristocracy or any other form of headship or socio-political organization that was in existence.

With increased realization of the benefits from trade and trade related activities, the trajectory of slavery shifted and incorporated the commercial aspects that led to the exchange of human beings in markets with monetary value attached to them.

Presence of various forms of social discrimination such as slavery, racism, xenophobia and tribalism in modern times can only be understood from a historical perspective. It is through historical account of events that the foundations of these social processes can be uncovered.

Emergence and re-emergence of the afore-mentioned forms of discrimination is not an event but a process.

Existence of vestigial structures from the previous social, economic and political institutions that promoted and encouraged these negative social processes guarantee their re-occurrence based on the historical cycle and existence of social fault lines.

The historical cycle, in simple terms, refers to the act of history repeating itself which was well stated by the intellectually gifted German, Karl Marx that “history repeats itself first as tragedy and second as farce.”

Therefore, to understand the social and economic basis of the current Libyan slave trade, it is fundamentally important to revisit the pre-colonial and post-colonial social and economic organization as well as institutions in Libya.

Pre-Colonial and Post-Colonial Libya
During the pre-colonial period in Libya, slavery existed in the North African country. Additionally, Libya was also used as a major transit route to ship the slaves captured from Africa’s interior into other parts of the world especially the Middle East and the Far East.

Slave trade that involved the major Libyan cities and towns was aided by the Indian Ocean slave trade and the Trans-Saharan slave trade.

Historical records indicate that slave markets for slaves sold during the Indian Ocean trade were in Persia, and the cities of Medina and Mecca.

The case was the same with slaves traded during the Trans-Saharan trade who were mostly sold in the Middle-East, in the Arabian sphere of the world.

Historians collectively refer to the trade in slaves during both the Indian Ocean trade and the Trans-Saharan trade as the Arab slave trade due to the nature of the trade and destination of the slaves.

Tripoli, Libya’s capital city, was a major slave trade route and one of the largest slave markets in Northern Africa during the pre-colonial period. In this period, the slaves were sold in public a situation similar to the recent account of slavery events as documented by CNN.

Post-colonial Libya has been characterized by two major political events that have shaped the country’s economic, social and political landscape. The hallmark of both political events was regime change.

The first event was the bloodless coup d’├ętat under the leadership of Colonel Muammar Qaddafi that toppled the monarchy led by King Idris I. The revolution and leadership of Qaddafi culminated in the establishment of the Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya that lasted from 1977 to 2011.

Libya’s second political event was the Libyan civil war that began in 2011 after the invasion by the NATO forces led by USA, United Kingdom and France that led to the murder of Qaddafi and subsequent regime change through the establishment of the National Transitional Council.

Qaddafi’s administration and the Jamahiriya government presided over a period of social and economic prosperity.

Since the 2011 civil war that was driven and fueled by sinister motives of the NATO states, Libya’s social, economic and political systems have collapsed.

Geographically, Libya borders Chad, Niger and Sudan to the south. Libya’s southern population especially in the Fezzan region has a significant composition of black people. A good proportion of Libya’s black population in the south is made up of migrants whose main countries of origin (before the NATO sponsored rebellion in 2011) were Niger and Chad.

In terms of development, the Fezzan region lags behind other regions in Libya though more developed than Niger and Chad.

Being more developed than Chad and Niger, this acted as a pull factor that occasioned the immigration of Africans from Niger and Chad into southern Libya.

With the outbreak of the civil war instigated by the USA and her allies, Fezzan region and other parts of Libya have become ungovernable with rampant incidences of lawlessness.

A stable Fezzan region under Qaddafi guaranteed sustainable livelihood at least for a significant number of Africans in the northern side of Niger and Chad.

Collapse of the economic, social and political systems in the Fezzan region and largely Libya has led to a state of economic desperation and destitution for the populations of Niger and Chad that depended on and reaped from the economic prosperity and socio-political stability of Libya under Qaddafi.

The consequence of the collapse of the social, political and economic order in Libya and the Fezzan region is the massive number of migrants seeking to get to Europe via Italy.

This high number of migrants who have fallen victim to slavery depended on Libya’s economic prosperity under Qaddafi. Economic prosperity in Libya during Qaddafi’s era trickled-down to Niger and Chad and this managed to keep low the number of migrants from these countries.

Current Situation
Currently, Libya has no substantive government in place with the leading political entities being the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) led by Prime Minister Faiez Serraj with its base in Tripoli and the Libyan National Army (LNA) under the leadership of General Khalifa Haftar.

Besides these two political groupings, there are other political formations that are factions of the leading political units as indicated by a report published by Al Jazeera.

At the moment, there are at least 700,000 migrants in Libya as estimated by the International Organization for Migration (IOM). A larger proportion of these migrants are on their way to Europe and they mostly originate from Niger, Chad, and Sudan among other West African countries such as Nigeria and Cameroon.

With lawlessness prevailing in Libya due to socio-political and economic instability, the various political groups ranging from the UN-backed and “internationally recognized” GNA to other militia organizations have resorted to illicit economic activities for survival.

Among the illicit economic activities include smuggling/trafficking of people, smuggling of fuel and the illegal mining of gold.

According to a report by the International Crisis Group, smuggling/trafficking of people in Libya generates annual revenues ranging between $1 billion and $1.5 billion. The same report documents that smuggling of fuel across Libya generates about $2 billion per year with fuel being sold at $0.02 in the black market lower than the official price set at $0.12.

It is the over $1 billion worth economic activity of smuggling/trafficking migrants across Libya that is the genesis of the slave trade.

Smuggling and trafficking of people in Libya has been taking place since 2012 with no substantive government in place. The smuggling has since degenerated into slave trade with the captured migrants being treated savagely.

Emergence of slave trade in Libya can also be partly attributed to legal and policy measures adopted by the European Union and the acclaimed Government of National Accord to intercept the migrants on their journey to Europe.

The resultant effect has been the retention of the migrants in Libya by the smugglers and traffickers of people. With a massive supply and glut of migrants in their retention facilities, the human smugglers and traffickers in Libya have resorted to sell them through public auctions.

A fundamental concern in the wake of slave trade in Libya is whether the ‘Africa Rising’ narrative is more of a myth than reality of which the former holds.

If Africa is indeed rising, then the benefits from the social, political and economic development generated by ‘Africa Rising’ ought to be witnessed in all African countries with the lives of the economically vulnerable Africans improving significantly.

‘Africa Rising’ is mythical as well as a misrepresentation and misstatement of facts since it is only a few African countries and a certain cadre of African people that are on the rise. If Africa was rising collectively, then economic conditions in Niger and Chad would be very conducive such that there would be no or extremely few migrants crossing Libya seeking to get to Europe.

Way Forward
Repatriation of the migrants to their countries of origin is only a temporary measure. The African Union must take responsibility and ensure that countries where immigrants originate from have stable and functioning economies that work for all.

Foreign non-African institutional entities such as the European Union, the International Organization for Migration and extensively the United Nations must show full commitment by working with governments where migrants originate from to address the ‘push’ factors.

The UN must stamp its authority on countries like the USA that promote foreign invasion and subjugate the territorial integrity of other states which is a violation of the UN Charter. The unnecessary civil wars and civil unrests have done more harm than good and the crises facing humanity at the moment could be avoided if the self-anointed “world prefects” such as USA chose to prioritize and pursue peaceful means to solve conflicts.

Slavery and smuggling/trafficking of people should be highly criminalized with very high costs of punishment attached to the promoters of this vice.

Dealing with slave trade in Libya calls for a multi-pronged approach including an end to the nonsensical foreign invasions and promotion of tangible socio-economic development in countries such as Niger, Chad among others.

Slavery must be condemned and it must fall including human trafficking!

Friday, 27 October 2017

The Resistance Movement must Birth the Third Liberation

The flag of the Republic of Kenya.
Image: Courtesy
Regarded as an enigma in Kenya’s politics, former Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s contribution to the political and economic liberation of the country cannot be understated.

Loved and loathed by many, and whose brand of politics cultivates the Raila mania frenzy and elicits the passionate hatred that is Raila phobia, the scion of Kenya’s first Vice President was instrumental in birthing the Republic’s Second Liberation.

The hallmarks of the Second Liberation were the re-introduction of multi-party politics in 1991, after the landmark repealing of the famous Section 2A, and the promulgation of the current progressive constitutional dispensation 19 years later in 2010.

Unfortunately, the full implementation of the Republic’s progressive Constitution has been hijacked by political forces nursing the Moi-era hangovers and keen on promoting the status quo.

In his quest to ascend to the presidency, Mr. Odinga’s political journey has been episodic.

These episodes range from his own political mistakes, rigged presidential elections, re-uniting with erstwhile political nemeses and making unexpected political declarations like the historical “Kibaki Tosha” not forgetting the detentions he was subjected to by Kenya’s second president, Daniel Arap Moi, a corrupt oligarch.

Having fervently championed for the realization of the Kenyan Dream through various political vehicles from the Forum for the Restoration of Democracy (FORD) to the National Super Alliance (NASA), Mr. Odinga’s political career takes a homestretch but the 72 year old firebrand politician seems not to be giving up on his dream for a better Kenya.

This follows his latest political move to transform the NASA coalition into a ‘National Resistance Movement’.

Kenya’s Liberations
The tenets that informed the struggle for the First and Second Liberation were solely anchored on the need for political and economic emancipation of the oppressed Kenyans.

With the first struggle being the fight for the Republic’s independence, it was envisaged that the life for the common man – the average Kenyan; the hoi polloi – would reflect the political and economic liberation that was granted by the British imperialists 54 years ago in 1963.

After independence, however, it quickly turned out that Jomo Kenyatta’s administration was in fact a disgraced institutional set up, a colonial relic for that matter, whose mission was the promotion of crony capitalism through corruption and illegal acquisition of public resources.

Ever wondered why Jomo Kenyatta became wealthy and other heroes of the First Liberation such as Bildad Kaggia, General Baimunge among others died while struggling to unchain themselves from the manacles of poverty? Jomo Kenyatta and his cronies were the enemies within.

Initiatives and activities intended to spur economic growth and development during Jomo Kenyatta’s era were largely based on political affiliation with the regime’s sycophants and loyalists rewarded with a number of ‘projects’.

Jomo Kenyatta’s crackdown on political dissenters such as the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, and the assassination of fiery revolutionaries such as Pio Gama Pinto and J. M. Kariuki as well as gallant politicians like Tom Mboya and Ronald Ngala was an affirmation of the existence of an imperialist under a Black man’s skin.

In a nutshell, Jomo Kenyatta’s presidency was characterized by political and economic exclusion that resulted in a few illicitly wealthy demagogues, millions of economically destitute patriots and deeply disillusioned political leaders whose aspirations for a politically and economically liberated Kenya were thwarted.

Moi’s presidency was an assortment of a political pantomime and despotism largely due to the inferiority complex and paranoia that Kenya’s longest serving president suffered from.

Arap Moi religiously followed Jomo Kenyatta’s footsteps coining the dubious philosophy dubbed as the “Nyayo Philosophy” meant to promote peace, love and unity. However, it turned out that the ideological maxim of Nyayoism actually propagated economic mismanagement and political exclusion with the old man’s paranoia concentrated on fixing the dissenting voices and amassing illicit wealth.

It was during his presidency in the 1980s and early 1990s that the struggle for the Second Liberation took shape. The Forum for the Restoration of Democracy (FORD) – originally founded by the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, Phillip Gachoka, Masinde Muliro, Martin Shikuku, George Nthenge, and Ahmed Bamahriz – exerted pressure on Moi to institute political and economic reforms.

One of the critical junctures of the Second Liberation was in 1991 when Daniel arap Moi bowed to pressure and repealed Section 2A of the Constitution that led to the re-introduction of the multi-party political system. However, 26 years later, the Republic is littered with political parties that are not founded on definite ideologies and whose lifespan is directly depended on its founder/leader.

The second critical juncture of the Second Liberation was the political obliteration of KANU in 2002 that culminated in the formation of the NARC government with Mwai Kibaki as president.

Despite reviving the country’s moribund economy, Kibaki failed to deliver a progressive constitution to Kenyans as promised, fashioned tribalism and of course allowed corruption to blossom.

This led to the 2007/08 post-election violence in which the presidential election was rigged in favor of Mr. Kibaki. This event was the third crunch time after the dawn of the Second Liberation whose eventuality was the formation of the Grand Coalition government with Kibaki as president and Raila Odinga as Prime Minister.

An outstanding achievement of the Kibaki and Raila led coalition government was the promulgation of the current Constitution in 2010. The Republic’s Constitution is wholly progressive but its key component is devolution, a politico-economic concept advocated for by Mr. Odinga.

A politically progressive doctrine that was to be included in our national Constitution but was quashed by Mwai Kibaki’s camp and William Ruto during the constitution making process is the Parliamentary system of government.

Such a system would be ideal for the Republic in view of the tribal political formations that compete for the presidency in the case of the current Presidential system.

Four and a half years under the Jubilee administration, corruption has been rife with no tangible effort made to tackle this vice despite the existence of a number of governance institutions as stipulated by the Constitution.

Under the presidency of Uhuru Kenyatta there have been several attempts to drag the country to the dark days of Moi and Jomo Kenyatta. His administration has effectively put into use large doses of propaganda (the PR we’ve witnessed) that is confusingly and annoyingly packaged as “development record”. This effective use of propaganda mimics the classical Communist propaganda.

But it isn’t a surprise since the Jubilee Party has been closely benchmarking with the Chinese Communist Party. This is the genesis of the propaganda lately escalated by the involvement of international PR firm, Cambridge Analytica.

Jubilee Party’s propaganda bears semblance with similar “PR” schemes engineered by Daniel Moi who even went to an extent of publishing the Kenya Times newspaper to religiously brainwash the citizens with political garbage.

Fast forward, following the flawed repeat presidential election presided over by the broken and rotten Independent Electoral & Boundaries Commission (IEBC), the country remains deeply divided with nearly half of the electorate disillusioned by the electoral body.

It is a stinking shame to have the ignominious IEBC with its crooked commissioners presiding over an election even after the chairman, Wafula Chebukati, laid bare the intrigues and machinations within the commission.

With electoral malpractice and political hubris having transformed the NASA coalition into a ‘National Resistance Movement’, the country awaits with bated breath to see ‘what next’. This is certainly the political zero hour to birth the Republic’s Third Liberation.

The Third Liberation
Since the ‘Uhuru Park Declaration’ whose prime highlight was the formation of the ‘National Resistance Movement’, Jubilee propagandists have framed the movement as a “rebel movement” keen on pursuing its political agenda by instigating violence. This is absolutely a warped view and a figment of imaginations of the hell-bent Jubilee Party surrogates.

Apart from Raila Odinga pursuing his own political interests, it is true to state that the Republic urgently needs social, political and economic reforms in line with the national Constitution and through a referendum.

There is need for the broken healthcare system to be fixed. The argument that county governments are responsible for healthcare is fundamentally flawed and utter nonsense.

As long as we don’t have a responsible national government keen on instituting a healthcare system for all, even the devolution of health services will fail fantastically.

By the way, Rwanda is on course to fully implementing the universal healthcare system while East Africa’s ‘most progressive’ state is grappling with endless strikes by health workers. The Republic’s third estate is subjected to poor health incommensurate with the taxes they pay to the national government.

In addition, the Third Liberation must institutionalize the Parliamentary system of government which effectively works with Kenya’s national political architecture that is purely based on shuffling the tribal cards.

The Third Liberation should be a movement out to liberate the country from the yoke of corruption both at the national government and the 47 county governments. Why should we have people running governments yet they allow corruption to flourish under their watch?

This is sanctioning cronyism and theft of public resources, a clear violation of the social contract that binds the relation between the governor and the governed. Kenyans must certainly be angry enough about corruption.

Corruption’s twin problem, that is the existence of the ‘permanent government’ often referred to as the cartels must be annihilated with the Third Liberation. The crony culture propagated by the cartels must be zealously fought if the Republic is to progress socially, economically and politically.

Furthermore, the Third Liberation must bring to an end the culture of defective electoral processes and systems that perpetuate political exclusion. The electoral body’s affairs must be managed by morally upright Kenyans.

Just like the IEBC, all public institutions have a chronic deficiency of people with unrivalled integrity which is a malady that must be rectified by the Third Liberation. This will be made possible by religiously sticking to the provisions of Chapter 6 of the Republic’s Constitution on Leadership and Integrity.

But who will make the Third Liberation a reality? Will it be the politicians or the people’s power?

Politicians or the People’s Power?
With the ‘National Resistance Movement’ being the brainchild of Raila Odinga, he is expected to naturally provide leadership to the cause of this political movement.

Of keen interest, however, is whether his co-principals – Kalonzo Musyoka, Musalia Mudavadi and Moses Wetang’ula – will fully embrace Odinga’s latest political strategy. The three senior politicians never fought for the Second Liberation and hence are ‘strangers’ with the former Premier’s revolutionary ideologies.

In the 1980s and 1990s, Kalonzo Musyoka, Musalia Mudavadi and Moses Wetang’ula were dining with the corrupt despot, Daniel Moi. Wetang’ula’s flirtation with the oligarch came after he represented some of the orchestrators of the failed 1982 coup in court.

Even as I highly doubt the commitment of the three to lead the way to the Third Liberation, all the forward-thinking Kenyans must come forth and seize the moment to liberate the Republic through non-violence means.

Peaceful revolutionary messages cannot be effective if at all there is no critical mass. I come across majority of the common folks lamenting about poor governance and all the malfeasance rampant in the national government and the county governments but who end up voting along tribal lines or whose ballot decision is artificially wrecked.

Fermentation of the Third Liberation calls for a new generation of leaders. Perhaps more youthful leaders need to take a pivotal role by clearly pointing out the socio-political and economic ills and endlessly agitate for transformation of the Republic.

Disappointments, however, are bound to occur since a significant number of Kenyan youth are ethnic fundamentalists. Informal education acquired through the primary socialization process is a breeding mechanism for highly spirited tribalists. No wonder formal learning institutions are ethnic enclaves.

All in all, talking we must at this moment but the embers of the Third Liberation should not be allowed to flicker out. The oppressed majority must seek for political and economic emancipation through peaceful means.

Viva Troisieme Liberation! Viva Mouvement des Personnes!

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Kenya’s Current Political Stalemate Calls for Dialogue

Anti-IEBC demonstrations in Kisumu.
Photo: Courtesy
With the uncertainty of the October 26th repeat presidential election growing day by day, the animus between the ardent supporters of Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga also seems to be on an upward spiral. This politico-legal conundrum is a consequential effect of the unwillingness by the Independent Electoral & Boundaries Commission (IEBC), the Jubilee Party and the National Super Alliance (NASA) to engage in a constructive and comprehensive electoral discourse. 

The electoral body, IEBC, has shown complete lack of effective leadership in steering discussions between the two leading political camps. Apart from the cosmetic show of concern by IEBC to initiate and mediate talks between Mr. Kenyatta and Mr. Odinga, the top leadership of this commission has been inconsistent in charting the way forward in regard to the processes and systems leading to the presidential election.

Hard line positions adopted by the Jubilee Party and the NASA coalition are in fact the fundamental basis of the quandary that the country faces. The amendments to the election laws by the Jubilee Party are hell-bent and only meant to trigger chaos in the country. One doesn’t really need to be a rocket scientist to take notice of the ill motives that fuel the Uhuru Kenyatta-led party in pushing for the ‘convenient’ amendments to the election laws.

Jubilee Party’s move highly qualifies as party dictatorship which was the political order during the hey days of the grand old party, KANU, as highlighted in a recent article. The Speaker of the National Assembly Justin Muturi and his Senate counterpart Ken Lusaka, lack the leadership and resolve to preside over the order of business in Parliament particularly at this time. Their failure to provide effective leadership is deeply rooted in the political religiosity that they bear as dictated by their masters.

NASA’s demands, the now famous irreducible minimums, are credible and valid but can all of them be implemented at the moment? Methinks it is impossible to implement a number of the irreducible minimums but at least fundamental changes are necessary since the Supreme Court ruled that the outcome of the nullified presidential election was characterized by illegalities and irregularities.

Weak leadership by IEBC and the Speakers of Parliament to facilitate dialogue within an institutional set up has resulted in the ‘peaceful’ street demonstrations by supporters of Raila Odinga.

‘Peaceful’ Protests
Protests by a section of the supporters of Raila Odinga have been marred by incidences of violence with cases of deaths, injuries, looting and vandalism of property reported. The hallmark of these protests has been the failure to stick to the prescribed laws hence a justification of the subversion of the spirit of constitutionalism.

Take for instance the rogue police officers who have killed and maimed a number of the demonstrators and other innocent Kenyans not involved in the protests. Since the state is riddled with a high degree of complicity we are yet to see the killer police officers being brought to book.

Protesters who infringe on other people’s rights through destruction of property and looting should not be killed. In any case, the law is pretty clear on the course of action to be taken against such individuals with their prosecution guaranteed but not the kind of political persecution we are witnessing. Police brutality must be condemned and not condoned.

Mainstream media seems to be selectively cautious in reporting some of the cases of police brutality. Despite the fact that the police force is intimidating mainstream media from reporting on the inhuman acts by the police, they (media) must come to the realization that they have the right to uncover the injustices. I was expecting to see constant reporting about the act of criminality in which a vehicle rammed into innocent and peaceful protesters. The police officers are yet to arrest the driver of the vehicle. The mainstream media should not hesitate in singling out the rogue police officers.

Presence of a militia group that masquerades as ‘Nairobi Business Community’ raises elemental concerns in regard to the maintenance of law and order and the role of the police in protecting people’s lives as well as property. How did we get to a point in which a gang assumes the responsibilities of the police officers? It is either Kenyan police officers are incompetent or this gang is politically insulated or both.

In my view, the ‘Nairobi Business Community’ is a militia apparently being used by politicians to settle political scores, an affirmation of the heightened political differences and enmity between the leading political camps.  Its dreaded members are ferried in mini-buses to the capital’s central business district to strategically protect 'business interests'. This shouldn’t be the norm in a country that claims to have a progressive constitution with constitutionally mandated institutions.

The recast of the 2007/08 violence script is inevitable due to the re-birth of a police state and hard line political stances. As the scions of Odinga and Kenyatta square out for their political interests, the ghosts of a failed state and a banana republic are within vicinity.

In the event that Mr. Odinga fails to participate in the repeat presidential election and Mr. Kenyatta wins then the legitimacy of the latter’s administration will be seriously dented. Furthermore, Mr. Odinga’s withdrawal will be followed by intensified calls for self-determination (secession).

The negative perception of the governance institutions among Kenyans, depending on one’s political affiliation or way of thinking, is bound to rise. There is no doubt that the National Police Service will continue being perceived as a police force. IEBC’s ratings will also plummet as the electoral body seems to be a spineless institution rocked with suspicions among its senior officials. The Judiciary is already perceived as “enemy of the people” among the majority of Uhuru Kenyatta’s supporters. Mr. Kenyatta promised to “fix” the Judiciary after his ‘victory’ was annulled and his sentiments, as echoed by other elected representatives from the Jubilee Party, signal the institutionalization of Executive despotism.

Way Forward
Short-term and long-term politico-legal solutions will be impossible if dialogue is not embraced. With the current impasse, dialogue involving the IEBC, Mr. Odinga and Mr. Kenyatta is crucially important. The IEBC must put its house in order and deliver a free, fair and credible election.

As the possibility of pursuing the secession cause by the NASA coalition and its proxies looms, that is in case Mr. Odinga fails to contest for the election, dialogue will be the most effective way to solve the issues that drive the calls for self-determination. As I documented in a previous article, secession isn’t good for the Republic but the political and economic exclusion practiced by all the administrations since 1963 make it seem a reality and an eventuality.

For the long-term, national dialogue is critically important and the outcome of this should be the adoption of a Parliamentary system of government that would effectively address the possibilities of Executive absolutism, help to establish politically civilized political parties among other short-comings of the current presidential system.

As Winston Churchill stated that “to jaw-jaw is always better than to war-war”, we must embrace dialogue at this juncture or perish altogether. The sooner we sit on the table and engage constructively, the better for the country’s present and posterity.

Friday, 29 September 2017

Why Kenya is Courting the Path of KANU's Dark Days

A file photo of all the four Kenyan presidents.
Image: Courtesy
 “History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce”. Those are the words uttered by one of the world’s outstanding intellectuals and ideologues, Karl Marx. A classical illustration of Marx’s sentiments cannot be found any further in the Western world other than in Kenya, a country that is suffocating under the yoke of corruption and negative ethnicity.

Under KANU, the Grand Old Party (GOP) of Kenya’s politics, plundering of public resources was the order of the day. In the forty years that the cockerel party graced the country’s politics, the oligarchies of Jomo Kenyatta and Daniel Moi had a dubious yet exceptional distinction of not just looting and fashioning tribalism but also curtailing political and personal freedom of their real and perceived enemies.

The repetition of history as a tragedy first took place after Daniel Moi ascended to the presidency with his not-so-clever yet golden philosophy of “following in the footsteps of Jomo Kenyatta”. In following the footsteps of Kenya’s first president, a well-known tribalist and corrupt personality, Moi perfected the art of personalizing the government and the country.

He did this by gagging the political activists, dissenting politicians and even the media. Moi’s word was law a twin semblance to Jomo Kenyatta’s administration. Kibaki’s presidency never overcame the ghosts of corruption and negative ethnicity but at least overshadowed his predecessor’s through remarkable growth of the economy.

The farcical repetition of history has taken place under the administration of Uhuru Kenyatta. In the four years as president, corruption is at its apogee with the plum positions in government being mostly given to members of the Agikuyu and Kalenjin communities, the major political constituencies of the Jubilee Party.

Additionally, it is on record that there have been attempts in the last four and a half years to curtail freedom of the media among other stupid acts of intimidating members of the opposition and other dissenting voices. In fact, it is under the presidency of Uhuru Kenyatta that there has been a re-birth of the nuisance of hosting political delegations at State House and the State Lodges akin to Jomo’s and Moi’s eras.

It isn’t a surprise at all bearing in mind that the old man from Baringo and the matriarch of Kenyatta’s family, Mama Ngina Kenyatta are the key behind-the-scenes advisors to Uhuru Kenyatta. Just like the older Kenyatta and Moi, these delegations have turned out to be political orchestras of parading broke political failures seeking to gain some financial windfall and party stalwarts being energized to exercise their sycophancy with a lot of fury.

Recent Happenings
Former president Daniel Moi, after enduring a series of frustrations by the dissenting voices, publicly stated that KANU will rule the country for 100 years. Likened to a giraffe by the doyen of opposition politics, Jaramogi Ajuma Oginga Odinga in his autobiography Not Yet Uhuru, Moi had indeed seen the country’s political future. In the Jubilee Party, I see the reincarnation of KANU famed for legendary corruption with a phenomenal honor of tribalism.

Legislation of the Security Amendment Act in 2015 and the Elections Amendment Act in 2016 without incorporating the participation of legislators from the minority side, illustrate the dead set approach adopted by the Jubilee administration. As a matter of fact, the final motions in the National Assembly to adopt the afore-mentioned laws were preceded by heavy deployment of the police officers.

Selective application and the hell bent interpretation of the law are rife under the era of the Jubilee administration. It is evidentially clear that members and proxies of the opposition who are deemed to have broken the law are treated in a demeaning manner than the surrogates of the Jubilee Party. There are two instances to demonstrate this antiquated political move.

First, peaceful demonstrations by supporters of the opposition are usually marred with violence with the police officers being responsible for instigating the chaos and confusion. This was the case after the announcement of the outcome of the annulled presidential election and most recently, during the short-lived anti-IEBC demonstrations. Protests by Jubilee supporters after the historic ruling by the Supreme Court were peaceful but the police appeared to be acting on instructions from above not to interfere with the fanfare and were even tempted to join the demonstrators in castigating the highest court on the land.

Secondly, the drama surrounding the arrest of Babu Owino, a sophomoric and perhaps an eternally intoxicated politician, following his foul remarks against the president offers some insights on the selective application of the law. Though I do not support Owino’s remarks, the capture and re-capture mechanism employed to ‘teach him a lesson’ should also have been equally used to tame the filthy and incorrigible hate monger, Moses Kuria.

Why does Moses Kuria propagate hate speech yet he seems not to be worried in fact, going to an extent of bragging that the authorities can’t apprehend him? Is it because he represents President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Gatundu South constituency in the National Assembly?

In a video clip doing rounds on social media, the functionally illiterate governor of Nairobi County Mike Sonko, is heard to be uttering obscenities directed at Babu Owino with no action being taken against the former. Double standards by the authorities must fall!

Denigrating attacks against the Supreme Court and the Judiciary, as outlined in a recent article, are reminiscent of the politically warped and perilous thinking during KANU’s regime. We have outlived the era where the Judiciary was an extension of an inept Executive but we are slowly drifting towards the dark past.

A stinking shame and revelation is the party dictatorship that the Jubilee Party seems to be fantasizing with. Still fuming with the majoritarian ruling by the Supreme Court, the threats by the President’s party to check on the powers of the Judiciary seem to be taking shape. The backward and notoriously dangerous legal attempt to allow for any judge of the Supreme Court to swear in the president has no place in modern day Kenya and it will be battled out using a two-pronged approach; through the courts and in the trenches.

Other proposals in the pipeline to amend the current election laws, as proposed by the Jubilee Party, constitute a political travesty. There is lack of proper moral understanding and standing in cementing the country’s democratic gains. Subverting the Constitution based on reckless and wretched short-termism is an exercise in futility.

Cheap thinking by the Executive prompted the withdrawal of the police officers assigned to provide security to former Prime Minister Raila Odinga and former Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka. The flippant and witless remarks by Fred Matiang’i, the Cabinet Secretary in charge of Interior Coordination, that the government will not restore the security of the two political bigwigs is outrageously ignorant and arrogant. This extraordinary ignorance and incredible arrogance is typical of the “Kanuism” ideology of yesteryears. The “Kanunization” of Kenya’s current political architecture is not only evil but also selfish. Creation of a police state is surely taking shape.

Police State & Third Liberation
With the establishment of a police state in the offing, the Constitution is set to be watered down through fatuous legislations and amendments as well as unconstitutional acts. Who wants to live in a country in which one’s activities are closely monitored by the state? Is Kenya turning into a ‘Museveni Republic’ or the dreaded days of the feared Special Branch effectively used by Daniel Moi? These acts of paranoia and dogma by those running the affairs of the state are an impediment to Kenya’s progress and eventual politico-economic prosperity.

Frustrations harbored by the oppressed may erupt into an uncontrolled spurt of mass action that will be the genesis of Kenya’s Third Liberation. In any case, the Third Liberation will be a political and historical juncture firmly informed by and founded on the negatives of political exclusivity, political excesses and negative ethnicity.

Occurrence of the Third Liberation will be a struggle against the cumulative ills of the past and present governments whose eventuality would involve hallmark changes to the Constitution with great focus on the total transformation of the electoral and political systems. Perhaps, the sweeping changes of the Third Liberation are needed to restore morals and sanity in the country’s political leadership.

The attempt to institutionalize a police state and a government that embraces the “Kanuism” ideology is totally unacceptable. For the politically upright and astute citizens this is a moment to jealously guard the country’s hard-fought political gains.