Having watched and listened to lawyers in the post August 8 election period, I am convinced they don't deserve the hallowed 'learned friend' title. Not because they are unschooled, but because they come through as bemused. How else can one explain the fact that lawyers read the same clauses, sections, subsections of the Constitution and each sees different things from an exact set of words?
Today, the twin issues of secession and swearing-in of a people’s assembly president, whether legit or otherwise, have our lawyers undecided. The understanding of the law by the man who has earned the sobriquet 'amicus curiae' and pro-Jubilee lawyers on the matter of secession is markedly different from the understanding by NASA lawyers. After clarification by law professor Makau Mutua, it turns out that as much as Jubilee says secession is illegal, it is not, and that the Kenyan Constitution does not envision a crime called ‘high treason’. By simple logic therefore, the prof argues that what is not explicitly barred by law is legit.
NASA’s commitment to secession and the swearing in of Raila Odinga as the people's president revolve around the question of Uhuru’s legitimacy following the October 26 election in which the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission declared Uhuru the winner, having garnered 7.5 million votes from a possible 19 million. Conveniently, Jubilee leaders suffer amnesia in regard to the 11.5 million uncast votes and constantly talk of ‘the people of Kenya’ having unanimously endorsed President Uhuru. This condescending attitude is not only grating on those who did not vote for Uhuru, it is insulting to a majority.
The attitude reignites the feeling of exclusion by many who can only express their displeasure by seeking surcease from an oppressive relationship through divorce. Jubilee leaders must realise just how powerfully the cliché “the people of Kenya have decided” advocates the concept of secession. We know Kenya has a population of 45 million, or thereabouts, because population statistics are manipulable as a political tool to propagate certain beliefs. However, let us concentrate on the registered 19 million voters.
‘The people of Kenya’, from the perspective of the millions who cannot countenance Uhuru’s win refers specifically to the 7.5 million who actually voted for Uhuru. Where does that leave those who did not? Can they really be part of what they actively detest? Doesn’t that possessive ‘the people of Kenya” tell them they are intestate?
Leader of Majority in Parliament Aden Duale has repeatedly said Jubilee does not need NASA to transact business in Parliament. That means the millions who voted for opposition legislators do not matter in the scheme of things and their concerns are of secondary importance. As constituted today, Government appointments are a good reason for session. How can only two communities, as decried, hog everything, without communicating some message? And even now, while many are complaining about the domination of Kenya by only two regions, North Imenti MP Rahim Dawood proposes that Ruto should pick Kiraitu Murungi as his running mate in 2022.
These, and other pressing issues must be addressed, yet hubris, protectionism and the ‘macho’ feeling in those wielding power don’t create an enabling environment. A majority of Jubilee leaders are fixated on the false notion that dialogue is about sharing power. Threats on those asking for secession will not solve the problem. Instead, they could just force it underground where it will continue to grow.
Outlawed groups like the Mungiki and Sabaot Land Defence Force did not die because they were proscribed. They are actually strong, circumspect and bidding their time to unleash terror when the opportunity avails itself. The story of dreadlocked men suspected to be Mungiki killing people in Kisumu vouches for this, especially in the face of police inability to tell Kenyans who the men were, and the denial by the police that they were not involved in the orgy of killings.
Those latching onto patriotism must understand that patriotism thrives where equal opportunities exist. Patriotism draws succour from what one can be proud of in a country. How, for instance, can people exhibiting the extreme, demeaning measure of poverty, having jiggers infest their hands and legs 50 years into self-rule be patriotic? What patriotism do you expect from people who watch the police kill their kin for no good reason? ‘Protecting our territorial integrity’ is another tired tale. Al Shabaab breach our territory at will, at their pace and place of choice. What our security services do is count and collect the bodies. Not very encouraging. Only candid dialogue will get us out of this quagmire.
Mr Chagema is a correspondent at The [email protected]