Half-truths serve politicians as crimes of the past hold us back

The New Year is here but there is little good news coming from the top tiers in power; just more threats, half-truths, rebukes and unsubstantiated claims.

This may fleetingly excite and entertain the public but it is certainly not the leadership that citizens require. President William Ruto ushered in the New Year in the Coast and then made a flying visit to Galana Kulalu in Tana River where he claimed the mega irrigation project was deliberately sabotaged by connected individuals in previous government.

He didn’t name them nor make any reference to the fact that when the project was launched his current Head of Public Service and his then appointee as Minister for Agriculture, Felix Koskei, was handed the reins to oversee development of the one-million-acre scheme. Five months after the election, events in Bomas on August 14th/15th are still hotly disputed. One newspaper heralded Wafula Chebukati as Person of the Year while Raila Odinga insists the IEBC chair should be hauled off to The Hague.

If the Boma events as reported by this newspaper on last Sunday, were accurate and verifiable then there might be cause for Mr Odinga to appear at the ICC, not as a witness but as an accused. Both Mr Odinga and Mr Ruto want a commission of inquiry established, but each on their own terms, of course. Be that as it may, neither party genuinely desires to have the full truth disclosed. Half-truths serve political interests; full exposé would be self-destructive. Besides, any inquiry would need to investigate not just when results were announced but the days, weeks and maybe months prior to August 9th.

Regretfully, politicians and majority of the public cannot stomach the truth. They find it nauseating and threatening. They fear that truth will destroy the myths, prejudices, idols and hardened positions they have nurtured over the years. It is easier to live with lies and half-truths than face the demands that truth will make of you. We humans have a problem with truth; we don’t know what to do with it. Jesus said the truth will set you free, but he might have added that it will first make you miserable and uncomfortable. Yet truth is liberating but most prefer servitude to freedom.

Anyhow, this may explain Kenya Kwanza’s reluctance to investigate crimes of the deep state that they mouthed so much about during the campaigns. Kenya Kwanza has its own skeletons safely under lock and key and they don’t want anything to disturb them.

Not only are we afraid of the truth but when we stumble on it we don’t know what to do with it. The Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) spent Sh1 billion, collected 42,465 witness statements and produced a four-volume report of 2,210 pages. Their recommendations were accompanied by an implementation matrix. That report was submitted in May 2013, and Messrs Kenyatta and Ruto promised to implement it with the promise of a Sh10 billion budgetary allocation for victims of state violence. As we all know, that is now gathering dust while victims are dying in poverty and neglect. Mr Odinga had been vociferous in demanding its implementation, but he toned-down on his demands after the handshake and settled for the ill-fated Building Bridges Initiative (BBI).

Before that we had the Ndungu Commission of Inquiry that produced more volumes documenting illegally acquired land. They discovered over 200,000 illegal titles amounting to over four million acres in wrong hands. The National Land Commission does its best with limited resources to recover some of that stolen land, but large amounts are still enriching the elites, while thousands remain as squatters. Then we had other reports never released like the Kiruki Report on the Artur brothers.

So who will bother to engage in another commission of inquiry that will produce a report that will be shelved within weeks of its release? Commissions as currently operated are weapons to silence opposition, preoccupy the public and work as an anesthetic to induce amnesia. 

Until the public demands truth instead of propaganda, we remain shackled by crimes of the past and doomed to repeat them.

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