Paralyzed Media in a Paralyzed Country

By Adongo Ogony

The events in our country in the last few days have been beyond insanity by the Uhuru government.

After issuing countless threats to NASA leaders to avoid swearing in Raila Odinga as president promising to arrest him and get him hanged the Swearing in came in January 30, 2018. It is an event that will be etched in our collective consciousness for generations to come.

What this will lead to we do not know. The cynics are doing what they do best. They think this was nonsense which will lead nowhere. Unfortunately for them some of us do not have the luxury of cynicism. We live in the here and now.

What has happened so far is that President Uhuru seems to have lost his mind. I know saying something like that can get my house bombed. If Uhuru is going to order his cops to bomb the houses of everybody who can’t stand Uhuru like they did with Miguna Miguna, very soon Uhuru may run out of bombs.

We are many as was seen in Uhuru Park on January 30, 2018. The government might have to designate all the tax money they collect to stocking up on weapons to destroy the NASA supporters. That is no easy task so good luck with that.

On January 30, 2018 Uhuru’s government stormed in media houses and switched off some of the biggest news providers in the country including NTV.
For the last few days some of the biggest names in Kenyan media namely, Larry Madowo, Linus Kaikai and Ken Mijunga have reportedly been hankering in the toilet at Nation House to avoid being arrested mainly for doing their job.

The media houses have hardly or meekly raised their concerns with the government. If this was the Moi era in the 1990’s the media would be screaming bloody murder. But it seems Uhuru gets a pass. I wonder why.

It is astonishing that the media houses have not even gone to court to get their TV outlets freed from the clutches of the state. Activist Okiya Omtatah is the one who had the guts to take the matter to court while the media seems to be enjoying being shut off by Uhuru. It is really absurd.

Omtatah who got a court order to re-open the networks was stopped from delivering the court order by the new gestapo in town and of course Uhuru’s government is very comfortable showing complete contempt for the court orders.

Are they going to start arresting judges who issue these court orders?
Watching the pictures of the destruction of Miguna’s house it looks true that the police commandos bombed their way in to house and was just tearing the place apart. That is an act of terrorism. There is no other way to define it even to those who are blind to the need for justice in our country.

Now the police boss is saying Miguna Miguna called himself the General of an outlawed organization (NRM) and they had to arrest him. That is complete rubbish. What Miguna said or did not say is irrelevant. What matters is what the cops found in Miguna’s home.

Did they find army tanks and weapons that Miguna was piling up for war against the state? No they didn’t. That is what counts in a court of law if we will still have them after Uhuru is finished with his moment of pure madness.

As we speak the Kenya government owes Kenyans who survived the Moi abuses something close to Kshs1 billion. They are struggling to pay it. I am personally one of those victims still waiting to be paid after winning my case in 2014.
Now with the new wave of gross violations of human rights the Kenyan taxpayer will be in for another Kshs 1 billion to the victims. The state abuses people and we pay.

But that is nothing compared to those who are getting killed outright. Today we have a report about a 14 year old shot by police in Kibera and that is on top of hundreds already killed since August 8, 2018.

What we saw on January 30, 2018 is that when Kenyans are left alone they can hold peaceful rallies and protests and then just go home.

My real fear is that with the recklessness going on and politicians security being compromised right, left and centre very soon one of them is going to get killed and what may follow after that is unthinkable. We are playing with fire near a tank full gasoline. That never ends well.

I saw an editorial from the Daily Nation entitled “Stop humiliation of opposition leaders”. The editorial is about oppositions leaders state provided security and personal licensed guns being taken away by the state. This is not a simple act of humiliation. This is dangerous abuse of the rights of Kenyans who are by law provided with security. Let’s call a spade a spade for once.

If any of these politicians whose security is being compromised get shot even by thugs we can easily set the country aflame. Even stupidity has limits if you still want to function. Let’s stop playing around with the lives of Kenyans even if some are perceived to be from enemy tribes or communities. Kenyans all pay taxes.
Let me leave with the following awakening words of Pastor Martin Niemoller

o First they came for the Communists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Communist
Then they came for the Socialists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Socialist
Then they came for the Trade Unionists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Trade Unionist
Then they came for the Jews
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Jew
Then they came for me
And there was no one left
To speak out for me.
That in a nutshell is where Kenya is right now. So speak out wherever you are even in the media. Please. It is for your own survival.

Adongo Ogony is a human rights activist.

The Significant and Laudable CORD Resolution Against Nyumba Kumi

Cord Principals after the Joint PG Meeting

When the government formed a committee to oversee the implementation of the so-called Nyumba Kumi initiative, its Chair was named as former Provincial Commissioner Joseph Kaguthi, a child of the repressive KANU regime and a student of the unaccountable, colonial and corrupt Provincial Administration that brought untold terror in the grassroots. If anyone needed any proof that the bills of rights is under serious threat, then you got it right there! Thankfully the CORD joint gubernatorial and parliamentary group meeting held on 19 Nov 2013 has outrightly opposed this ill-conceived Nyumba Kumi initiative.

The formation of Nyumba Kumi implementation Committee which was supposedly prompted by the terrorist attack on the upmarket Westgate mall is in the pipeline. Many saw this Westgate attack as a gross failure of Kenyan security organs more so as a statement of a weak intelligence service. Others saw Westgate as a carefully planned inside job meant to justify Kenya’s push for deferral of ICC cases facing the President and his deputy. To its credit, CORD also gave the Jubilee President – Uhuru Kenyatta a 14-day ultimatum to immediately constitute a Westgate Commission of Enquiry. Sources say fearful NSI and KDF are blocking since it will force their guilty bosses to testify in an open hearing, possibly with extremely embarrassing revelations expected.

But let’s face it! Nyumba Kumi is illegal under the current constitutional system. It is obvious that it intended to tighten government grip on free movement, free speech and free association of its citizens. There is little doubt that Nyumba Kumi is nothing but mass surveillance which will ultimately lead to a totalitarian state where political dissent is mercilessly crushed in the name of safeguarding national security.

Nyumba Kumi comes hot on the heels two draconian laws being crafted by Jubilee government. One is the widely condemned Miscellaneous Amendment Bill 2013 which outlines changes to the ways NGOs can operate and the repressive the Information and Communication Amendments Bill 2013, which would give a government body powers to impose hefty sanctions on the media. The former law is still in debate stages in parliament, while the latter media law is awaiting presidential assentation. In all of these cases, the ultimate aim is to exert control. NGO’s act as watchdog especially on political class that often comes together on a matter of mutual interest. Media, although presently heavily partisan and compromised, is the voice of the people and all that is there remains as a means of highlighting societal ills. On top of this, police and judicial reforms as envisaged by 2008 AGENDA 4 have been sabotaged by impunistic forces within the system. (Remember they even sneaked in constitution clauses prior to printing of 2010 constitution!). To cap it all off; the OP, KDF, NSI and KPS still retain their large budgets that are mostly unaccounted.

CORD has likened Nyumba Kumbi to a police state, a situation often described as one in which the government exercises rigid and repressive controls over the social, economic, and political life of the people, especially by means of a secret police force. Nothing underscores the intention of the Jubilee government to make Kenya a police state more than the Nyumba Kumi initiative. This plan will find a responsive provincial administration ready to bond with!

Add this to the fact that despite constitutional demands and a court order that the Government should restructure the provisional administration to accord with and respect the system of devolved government established under the new constitution, this has not been done. Both Kibaki and Kenyatta regimes appear hell bent to retain the Provincial Administration and have crafted retrogressive laws to entrench relic provincial administration in the counties without any due respect to devolved units.

Nyumba Kumi is tantamount to mass civilian surveillance which is the pervasive surveillance of an entire population. Mass civilian surveillance is often wrongly justified as necessary to fight terrorism, to prevent social unrest, to protect national security. It has been widely criticized as an affront and violation of the bill of rights, an unwelcome infringement of citizen privacy and for limiting civil and political rights and freedoms. The fact of the matter is, while all citizens deserve security, it is the responsibility of government to provide that security without infringing on the rights of its citizens.

Picture this. The worst dictator of the last two centuries Nazist Adolf Hitler, had his own Nyumba Kumi initiative supervised by the then dreaded German Ministry for State Security, commonly known as the STASI (abbreviation German: Staatssicherheit, literally State Security). STASI was the official state security service of the German Democratic Republic or GDR, colloquially known as East Germany. It has been historically described as one of the most effective and repressive intelligence and secret police agencies to ever have existed. One of its main tasks was spying on the population, mainly through a vast network of citizens turned informants, and fighting any opposition by overt and covert measures including hidden psychological destruction of dissidents. Hitlers draconian laws and policies (which included a Nyumba-Kumi like initiative) resulted in World War II and sadly also in the deaths of at least 5.5 million Jews, and millions of other people whom he and his followers deemed racially inferior.

Kenyans must rise up and fight to protect constitutional gains of the 2010 constitution against the Jubilee onslaught. The answer to insecurity is police and judicial reforms, and full implementation of 2010 constitution.