I followed the Saba Saba rally closely (thanks to Al Jazeera) and here is my comprehensive take.
- Contemporary struggle: In spite of an attempt by media to sabotage and give the programme total blackout – reminiscent of the height of past electoral maplractices, CORD strategically achieved its priority objective of commemorating and essentially initiating a new popular and national struggle for freedom, democracy and good governance in Kenya. No one can now dare accuse the opposition of being asleep on the job. Only good governance can cure insecurity, corruption, tribally-skewed appointments, and other national vices. Tactically, CORD succeeded in forcing Kenyatta to err in knee-jerk reactions and have his Jubilee government coming out in true colors – cementing the need for a modern-day struggle. Kenyatta first agreed to dialogue before the mafia surrounding him and the corruption cartels currently benefiting from Jubilee’s reign forced him against it; Kimaiyo (read Jubilee) attempted to ban the CORD rally – an unconstitutional move which left him with eggs on his face; TNA henchmen like Moses Kuria unsuccessfully attempted to use threats of violence (registering a parallel Jubilee rally) to thwart the rally; Kimaiyo and the entire security apparatus misappropriated 15,000 police officers at Uhuru Park when Lamu residents are still being butchered and overrun by Al-Shabab; Kenyatta’s unseen hand also showed up in Justice Lenaola’s courtroom where the latter attempted to blackmail opposition leaders and curtail Constitutional freedoms for assembly and picketing (mass action) – executive abuse of the Judiciary to undo constitutional freedoms; Kenyatta’s Men-in-Black moment was seen in his thrusting of a propagandist currently charged with ethnic incitement and hate speech (Moses Kuria) to inherit his former Gatundu South Parliamentary seat despite the latter losing primary elections to the widow of the deceased immediate former MP. In short, the launch of this contemporary struggle was largely gifted by Jubilee’s own ineptitude, incompetence and alacrity to take Kenya back to the dark days of suppression.
- Looming Referendum and the OKOA Kenya initiative: The carefully scripted broad representation of luminaries at the rally and the burning message repeated in the day essentially heightened the need for a people-based referendum to address burning national issues, which are now at every Kenyan’s lip – insecurity, mega corruption, tribal appointments, IEBC, and assault on devolution. The constitution of Kenya vests sovereign power in the people of Kenya. The next national forum to address Kenya’s urgent problems is logically a peoples’ referendum. The people are not naïve to assume it is coming easy. That is essentially the new battle and struggle – the people forcing change on an unresponsive government through their own sovereign will expressed in a referendum. The parliament and Senate have time and again demonstrated their sycophantic and moot stance on matters not concerning their pockets. In the face of urgent and legitimate national concerns and an unresponsive Jubilee government, calls for dialogue by the opposition (supported by sections of the religious community, business community, the civil society, and even some members of Jubilee) were rebuffed in front of the eyes of all Kenyans. Jubilee walked right into the bait. The people of Kenya now have a genuine, legitimate and constitutional means of addressing them through a referendum. Kenyans of goodwill must now convene an all-inclusive National Referendum Committee (NRC) to prepare Kenyans for a national referendum on these critical issues bedeviling our nation. There should be maximum participation of the people of Kenya in the referendum process – right from the Ward levels across the country in formulating the referendum questions and collecting the one million signatures for initiating the referendum. This will be good exercise of the benefits of the new Constitution – which gives people the power to choose how to be governed and how not to be governed.
- IEBC: For any referendum initiated by a popular wananchi initiative to succeed, a neutral electoral arbiter is required. This brings up the question of – IEBC! Will the people trust that this current IEBC that is so clearly in bed with the Jubilee administration safeguard their voice on important national matters? Be your own judge. IEBC’s time is up. The Jicho Pevu investigative series clearly showed IEBC’s umbilical cord tied to NSIS and the president’s party TNA, with evidence still lying open at Bomas. Isaak Hassan’s own characterization of the CORD leader during the presidential election petition effectively exposed his personal bias against Raila Odinga and the latter’s political inclinations and ideals. It is about time this openly biased commission is disbanded and reconstituted afresh, using the sovereign power of the people. The IEBC is now a stumbling block to the peoples collective agenda to reform and safeguard their country.
- Commercial boycotts. For the first time in our history, commercial boycotts of anti-people companies may become a feature of Kenya’s national discourse. I see this coming quite soon. This culture has worked so well in America where racists are quickly run out of business the moment evidence comes out. In the US recently, a popular Caucasian food icon Paula Deen was dropped from a national TV show and had her businesses boycotted into oblivion when her racist remarks against Blacks were exposed. Billionaire NBA team owner Donald Sterling is currently facing decisive commercial and social sanctions that threaten to send the octogenarian to his grave in humiliation and at a hefty price for racial remarks against Blacks. In the US, even TV anchors of mainstream media have been forced to reflect the diverse face of America. No corporation is stupid enough to expose itself to ukabila and face commercial sanctions, therefore companies are robustly having minority representation even in their top boards. Kenya should also inculcate this culture whereby tribalists, warlords, and those perpetrating tribal discrimination have their companies profiled to face consumer boycotts and sanctions. Public and private corporations (including parastatals and government departments) with ethnically skewed boards and management must be sanctioned and reformed to keep in line with our new Supreme law (the Constitution). We have plenty of yesteryear ukabila thinkers in Kenya who have been having a field day for 50 long years. People-and-wallet-based sanctions should be extended to companies engaging in kick-backing and mega corruption that bleeds taxpayers – whether it is supermarkets engaging in tax evasion or companies engaging in corrupt procurement – like the one Safaricom is trying to play in with regard to CCTV cameras.
Besides the above, here is a summary of other important things the rally achieved:
- It succeeded in highlighting a comparative and stark reminder of the events of the 1960s (that led to the systemic dismantling of the democratic ideals in the Lancaster Constitution by the Jomo Kenyatta administration) to what we are witnessing today under Jomo’s son Uhuru Kenyatta and his Jubilee regime. The TJRC exposed historic injustices by Jomo, including irregular tribal-based settlements in Lamu, Uasin Gishu, and Nakuru, which are exploding today. Instead of Uhuru redressing them, using well-researched templates such as those offered by TJRC, he is today doubling-down on ethnic incitement, scape-goating red-herrings, while basically doing his own version of fresh ethnic-based IDP settlements in Rongai, Kuresoi, and Narok. Uhuru Kenyatta is following the footsteps of his father in sowing seeds of future clashes while fervently blocking the implementation of the TJRC report. People are being told to bury their heads in sand and move on. Only a fool cannot predict the natural outcome of this skewed trajectory – it is just a matter of time and all the signs are on the wall judging from the 2008 PEV and current events at the Coast.
- The rally speakers reminded Kenyans that Uhuru Kenyatta’s administration hit the ground running by reversing democratic gains of the new Constitution by:
- Killing devolution softly: Denying counties the correctly calculated proportion of funds; imposing parallel County Commissioners to compete with elected governors; stuffing counties with now obsolete tools of the Provincial Administration – some are triggering insecurity to destabilize opposition governors; fighting and weakening governors through corruptly paid MCAs and state-instigated impeachment motions. Kenyans know who is really inciting MCAs across the country to demand from governors all manner of things – whether it is cars, i-phones, foreign trips (quickly approved by National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi) etc. It is the national government that is actually mischievously sponsoring these MCA demands and holding certain governors at ransom. They have almost effectively frustrated Bomet Governor and devolution champion Isaac Ruto into silence – using threats of fake audits and impeachment. This is clearly not the kind of devolution Kenyans envisaged – it is TNA’s (former PNU’s) watered-down and bastardized version. It is a stage rehearsal for dismantling of devolution the same way Jomo Kenyatta killed the majimbo governments in a few short years . Handing over a new constitution that was set to redress important issues such as devolution and land reforms to anti-devolution, land barons like Kenyatta – thanks to tribal prejudices and electoral malpractices – was a very expensive travesty of our conscience and collective will. It is unfolding right before our eyes.
- TNA’s head-long dive into mega corruption – Anglo-leasing, Standard Gauge Railway, other Chinese Infrastructure Contracts, School Laptop project, Security surveillance equipment procurement etc. Alfred Keter made it clear URP is not involved in this mega looting – this is good ‘ol TNA acting alone in characteristic fashion. It is this corruption and massive borrowing that is responsible for the suffering of Kenyans – through resultant heavy taxation of basic commodities. The TNA era has broken a record in massively and mercilessly inflating the price of contracts. They are looting like there is no tomorrow. TNA henchman Najib Balala is today quietly presiding over massive Ken-ren type mining deals with questionable foreign characters which will tie Kenya into future massive debts. As a leading phone company, Safaricom had better tread very carefully with regard to the State-House initiated corruption on super-inflated surveillance cameras – pull back and allow procurement laws and competitive bidding to take effect or face consumer boycotts! These acts of corruption are pinching Kenyans hard in the long-term. Some speakers at the Saba Saba rally tried to make this connection between peoples’ suffering and corruption. It should now be followed by substantive action (against corruption) from CORD – audits, evidence sharing with EACC, LSK, etc and corruption lawsuits. The Judiciary must be put to work on this.
- Heavy taxation of basic commodities (VAT) due to corruption-created budgetary shortfalls and massive borrowing of kick-back-laden loans from China. The price of basics like milk, and the cost of transportation have sky-rocketed under this so called digital regime. The TNA mandarins collecting our taxes need to be put to task regarding over-taxation of ordinary Kenyans through VAT while big businesses like Nakumatt do not pay billions in taxes. The Vimal Shahs and other billionaire merchants and factory owners are probably enjoying Tax holidays thanks to corrupt TNA mandarins at KRA. Make no mistake – these KEPSA folks are not nervous about temporary reduced sales during mass action. They are more worried about exposure and permanent closure of the direct links to TNA which facilitates tax-evasion channels and other instances of incentive-favouritism. The corrupt business class does not want to upset the prevailing connections to TNA that is minting for them billions at the expense of poor wananchi. The people must come in to break these unholy alliances that cloud the line between state and the private sector which has tax obligations. COTU Secretary general Atwoli has complained that Kenyatta is the first President who does not write back to legitimate worker concerns yet corporation CEOs (like Safaricom and other KEPSA affiliates led by the president’s brother Muhoho Kenyatta) are getting direct calls regarding business deals and contracts straight from State House. This is why no one in state cares when bus fares jump by 50% in just 3 months. The introduction of cards for riding matatus and buses is yet another tax-killing scam targeting continued pinching of over-taxed and poor citizens with bonus corporate giveaways to banks associated with the President’s family – which is also benefitting from each MPESA transaction that a Kenyan uses. The state is being used to force the masses to direct their shillings to the president’s family each time a Kenyan buys milk, rides a matatu, exchanges funds by MPESA, applies for Youth Funds, and more.
- Stalling land reforms by introducing amendments to the land laws to remove powers from the National Land Commission to the executive. Kenyatta, heir of Kenya’s biggest land-grabbing families, is now trying to be clever in half – attempting to steal thunder from CORDs referendum push by “promising” to issue 3 million title deeds. The trouble is – the last tens of thousands of title deeds he issued at the Coast (where they hoard hundreds of thousands of acres of native lands), all turned out to be fake. The ground is too smart for these cheap gimmicks. Jubilee barons starting with Uhuru Kenyatta himself are holding the “genuine” (albeit irregularly acquired) title deeds for most speculative land in Kenya – from Lamu, Kilifi, Kwale, Mombasa, and more recently around Turkana. The native people already know it. The Constitution prescribed how to deal with this land problem – Kenyatta and fellow land barons have started dismantling land reforms in the new Constitution, for example weakening the National Land Commission using the Jubilee-controlled parliament and turnaround sycophants like Charity Ngilu. Subsidiary legislation is being made by this Jubilee-controlled Bunge to specifically reverse land reform clauses – such as the requirement for taxing idle (speculative) land held by the Kenyattas in Taita, Taveta, Kilifi, Kwale, Mombasa, Nakuru, etc. These are not the land reforms Kenyans fought for in the new Constitution. Kenyans expected a very strong National lands Commission with teeth. Jubilee has effectively killed the National Land Commission. Kenyans must fight back to retake this Constitutional gain.
- Tribally-skewed appointments are rapidly dividing our beloved country, yet Uhuru has defiantly and arrogantly turned deaf ears to these repeated calls to obey the equity and equality guaranteed by the constitution. Uhuru Kenyatta’s real hallmark is about tribal appointments. Kenyatta cannot even respect the JSC recommendation on appointments of Judges because it does not fit his tribal modus of Jubilee appointments. Right now, Kenyatta has locked out 14 already-vetted Judges from appointment because they come from the “wrong” tribes. The nation is keenly watching. CORD must seriously push and demand the requirement for a National Audit and publication by the Public Service Commission (PSC) of all appointments made in the public service by the Jubilee administration – if not the opposition should start compiling the list pronto – with full details listing names, gender, ethnic backgrounds and respective percentages. This should be compared with the well-written constitutional requirements followed by a series of LAWSUITS in COURTS. Kenyatta is flagrantly breaking the Constitution when it comes to this issue.
- Curtailing media freedom through the enactment of the Media Act. Everyone can see for themselves the effect of this – a cowered press that does the bidding for the government of the day. In addition, Kenyatta himself surreptitiously adopted intimidation and suppression through a frivolous and vexatious lawsuit against the independent Star newspaper – specifically regarding coverage of ICC proceedings. Kenyatta has also virtually bought off sections of mainstream media which are now shamelessly pro-Jubilee.
- Reversing security reforms by amending the National Police Service Act and the National Police Service Commission Act. Saitoti tried – he is dead. Lack of genuine police reforms is why we have frequent tragedies at Westgate, Mpeketoni, Gikomba, Eastleigh, Hindi, Mandera, Wajir, Isiolo, Turkana and other parts of Lamu. A corrupt, tribalized, and politically-focused police force will not solve Kenya’s serious insecurity problems. Our ngoroko-infiltrated police (including the fake Waiganjo types on payroll) would rather run errands for drug barons, Somali warlords, tribal warlords, elephant poachers, cattle rustlers, Ethiopian, Ugandan, and Rwandese intelligence fishing out political refugees, and political hotheads interested in curtailing political rallies rather than safeguard the security of citizens. Another problem is myopic foreign policy and shunning of intelligence-sharing with the West. Kenyatta effectively burnt those bridges and Kenyans continue to pay a hefty price. Keeping Kenyan soldiers known for gross indiscipline in Somalia (the nation watched their antics on full display at Westgate) with generals supplying charcoal and importing commercial merchandise while lower ranked soldiers raping starving Somali women and looting from businessmen will never keep Kenya safe. I am told of horrifying stories of Kenyan soldiers bragging about the number of Somali girls and women they have impregnated. These activities are definitely breeding retaliation and killing sprees which are already playing out in our streets and sleepy villages. This is just common sense.
- Blocking TJRC reforms by amending the Truth Justice & Reconciliation Commission Act to allow Parliament to debate, amend and mutilate the Commission’s Report on historical injustices. Kenyatta has fuataad the Nyayo of Jomo, Moi and Kibaki in ignoring commission report recommendations and basically using the recommendations as templates for devising escape routes and circumventing change. Land-based or political-violence-associated historic injustices could be diffused through these TJRC recommendations but Uhuru himself is deeply involved in the injustices, one of which has him facing charges at the ICC court. By acknowledging these injustices, Kenyatta feels he will be incriminating himself, his family, his political mentors like Moi and Kibaki, and will thus shelf and kill such reports instead.
- Curtailing the Civil Society by introducing legislation to limit foreign funding and free movement of NGOs and sections of the Civil Society in the country. Kenyatta and Ruto believe that a strong Civil Society is what led them to the Hague, courtesy of witnesses interviewed and protected by the NGOs – it is therefore their mission to weaken if not kill many of these pro-democracy and human rights NGOs in Kenya. Stealing elections also becomes difficult if strong pro-democracy NGOs have widespread presence across the country. Uhuru and Kenyatta do not want more confrontations with a well-funded AFRICOG or Mars Group and such. They would rather kill such organizations. By limited foreign funding of these NGOs – the thousands of jobs lost and lost contracts worth hundreds of millions to local suppliers, will not matter to Uhuru and Ruto so long as the end trumps the means and have them rig elections without the watchful eyes of NGOs. Kenyans have to fight back and state categorically that the nation is more important than two individuals currently facing serious charges at the ICC.