Our Judiciary has stood tall in push and shove for democracy

Supreme Court Judges during the presidential petition on September 2, 2022. [David Gichuru, Standard]

The political and electoral saga that has gone on in our country these past few years can tease us with tedium. It even infuses into us a sense of hopelessness. Like the mythical Sisyphus, we have struggled to get it right since independence, yet we never seem to get it right.

We are permanently shooting at a moving object, the Kenya we want. We start to get tired of these tussles. We want to move on. To switch off the TV. To stop reading newspapers.

We want to look for something less toxic. We feel drained. The daily news saps us of energy. We feel tired. ‘When will these fellows get done with these things, and allow us to go on with our lives,’ we ask? 

The presidential petition now before the Supreme Court is only the latest in our unending struggle to get it right. It is a factor of political and legalistic processes that have gone on for at least four years.

This, however, is only if we should think in terms of the toxic campaigns and messy interpersonal relations they have yielded in the political class. 

Our political competition speaks of decades of yearning for a better country. There are today people as old as 40, who cannot remember witnessing contributions of people like the late bishops Alexander Muge, Henry Okullu, Manasses Kuria, John Gatu, Ndingi Mwana a’Nzeki, and David Gitari. These were true champions of a better Kenya from the ecclesiastical world.

Competition from the political class has been colossal. Leaders have come and gone. Older Kenyans will remember JM Kariuki, Jean Marie Seroney, Chelagat Mutai, George Anyona, Mashengu Wa Mwachofi, Martin Shikuku, Mark Mwithaga, Yunis Ali, Kassim Mwamzandi, Elijah Mwangale, Ken Matiba, Charles Rubia, Ahmed Bamariz, Francis Nthenge, and of course Jaramogi Oginga Odinga. The list is long. 

The passing on of champions of a better Kenya in the gone days potentially drives us towards a sense of despair. Could we even be tempted to look at them as failures?  Did they chase after a futile wind of a better country?

Numerous constitutional amendments and a promulgation of a brand new constitution – among other efforts –  have not made us a paradise on earth.  

Yet, it is not all futile. Looked at from a different perspective, our struggles are healthy. They are good for our country. For, history is likely to remember us as a generation of builders. 

The worth of what we are doing today will be measured in history. Franz Fanon’s famous words in The Wretched of the Earth have been frequently recalled. ‘Each generation must discover its mission, fulfill it or betray it, in relative opacity.’

 Ours is the mission of builders. We have difficult choices to make. Foremost is the choice between gratifying ourselves today, or sacrificing for future generations. When some people choose not to vote, they slow down the movement.

When others steal the election, or try to steal it, they also slow us down. But this also gives us opportunity to test the stability of our institutions and our faithfulness to them. 

In 2010 we got a new Constitution. Over the past 12 years, we have subjected it to strong shocks. We have also seen Parliament come close to caving in to the Executive.

The 12th Parliament was especially tested. It was whipped from State House. It survived out of the stubbornness of a strand of bold MPs, largely from Mt Kenya and Rift Valley. They risked everything for their conscience. 

The Judiciary, too, was tested by an often offending Executive, and equally rogue elements of the Legislature. The conduct of some independent institutions suggests they have not understood their mission, or they have elected to betray it. The Judiciary remains the exceptional entity that has remained firm to its calling.

The presidential petition that comes to conclusion on Monday is yet another test for the pillars of Kenya’s democracy. Yes, the Judiciary and the Constitution are on trial, once again. The worth of the decision from the Supreme Court, this Monday, will be measured in history.

Dr Muluka is a strategic communications advisor.