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Former CJ should hold his peace if he doesn't plan to vote

By Kathleen Openda - Jun 24th 2022
Former Chief Justice of Kenya Willy Mutunga during an interview with The Standard in Nairobi. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

Retired Chief Justice Willy Mutunga is an elder in this country. His word is taken seriously by many Kenyans. So, when he speaks and says that neither William Ruto nor Raila Odinga have an answer for Kenya’s problems some Kenyans will take him seriously. And that is fine. But why dismiss the two leading candidates without offering a firm alternative?

Dr Mutunga repeats in the interview that he would have preferred Kivutha Kibwana but the governor of Makueni County declined to run for president. Mutunga himself chickened out – he says he didn’t have the energy for the campaigns.

At least he supports the candidature of Martha Karua. But how can one support the deputy presidential candidate without supporting the presidential candidate?

There is nothing wrong with critiquing the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Alliance and Kenya Kwanza Alliance leaders and even the promises they are making to the electorate. Politicians aren’t angels. Politicians haven’t really delivered on the many undertakings they have made to Kenyans since independence.

Yet, Kenyans need to elect them every five years. On August 9, Raila, Ruto, George Wajackoyah and Mwaure Waihiga are on the ballot paper. The former CJ should make a choice instead of hiding behind phrases like, ‘Why should I vote?’

Constructive criticism

Do Kenyans need the cynicism of the elite who simply dismiss politicians as liars as the former CJ is reported saying? Yes, Kenyans are being lied to by politicians. Kenyans have been lied to for decades about development, justice and unity, etc.

But are they alone in this lie? Can one say that the civil society or the civil service or the professional class has always stood with and served the interests of ordinary Kenyans?

What the likes of Mutunga need to do at a time such as this is to give constructive criticism. It is the right of the retired CJ not to pick either of the leading presidential candidates. He can choose not to vote for any of the four presidential candidates.

He could even decline to vote at all. But he should measure his words about the candidates on offer. Raila and Ruto carry the aspirations of millions of men and women who follow them politically.

They represent different dreams for many Kenyans, even if they have served in the same government before.

Is it really fair to simply dismiss the Raila-Martha team as unlikely to make any significant changes because it has around it people who behave like ‘crocodiles in a pool’?

Unless the CJ Emeritus was quoted out of context or unless he is simply being cynical, this is not how one would expect a man who knows Kenya’s politics better than millions of Kenyans to speak.

To dismiss all and sundry who have offered themselves on the political field and harp on about someone who rejected advice to contest the presidency sounds disingenuous.

Ms Openda is a communications consultant, ODM Secretariat

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