Cockfight between Executive and Judiciary has no winner

President Uhuru Kenyatta with Judge of the Court of Appeal Justice Hellen Amollo Omondi after she took her oath of office at a swearing-in ceremony held at State House, Nairobi, Nairobi on June 04, 2021. [PSCU, Standard]

If various arms of government were cockerels, the people from the Goldmine (Ikolomani) would pay their last ounce of the precious metal to enjoy the entertainment.

While bullfighting has been a major sport in Ikolomani, cockfighting is picking up in Kakamega County – especially popularised by one Ayub Alulu from Bukura. While varying versions of bullfighting have been in existence from as far back as 711 AD, entertaining royalty and lowborn alike, cockfighting is a unique “sport” that has attracted mainly the lower end of society.

In the Philippines however, it is a major sport with designated arenas known as cockpits, where crowds gather for this pastime entertainment. To many of us, it may seem absolutely strange that adults should be beguiled to watch two cocks fight, and be so thoroughly entertained!

Yet, in like manner, it is strange that many Kenyans seem to be enthralled by the apparent cockfight between the Executive and the Judiciary.

Like Kakamega cocks, these two arms of government have been employing their sharpest clows, clearly intent on tearing off the comb or crest from the head of each other. And like in any cockfight, the situation has been getting ugly and bloody as the fight persists.

It is alleged that the Executive has tried to use the purse strings to tie the legs and wings of the Judiciary. At some point it was even claimed the Executive was attempting to put the Judiciary under its armpits, and carry the poor bird with its head facing east. Though no legally admissible evidence has been adduced, these and other similar perceptions are strong, especially in the court of public opinion.

On the other side, the Judiciary has been proudly flapping its newly grown pinions on the face of the Executive. With its claws recently sharpened and strengthened by the Constitution, the Judiciary is proving to be a deadly cock – akin to those reared by Ayub Alulu. It has not only stirred a cloud of dust in the face of the Executive, but appears intent on pecking out its eyes through a series of stinging rulings.

What is unfortunate is that just like in any cockfight, the current battle serves no beneficial purpose. There is no gain for either side, even upon attaining a much fought for victory.

Let me be very simplistic about this. If the Judiciary is strangled or starved to death, the Executive will not be any stronger. In fact, the Judiciary is not only constitutionally indispensable, but is a practical necessity for social cohesion. Fact: Where there are no legally established and trusted adjudicators, people resort to mob justice – an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.

Likewise, if the Executive is crippled through unnecessary legal hurdles, the Judiciary ultimately gains absolutely nothing. Yet, it will have tampered with the body that holds a critical fiduciary duty in the governance and management of the affairs of this nation. Fact: Where there are no trusted stewards, people scamper and fight over resources. They resort to the law of the jungle – survival for the fittest.

Looking through these lenses, it beats logic that these two critical arms of the same government should engage in what amounts to nothing but a cockfight. To this end, Chief Justice Martha Koome must be commended for being more circumspect in trying to resolve the apparent Judiciary-Executive duel.

The Honourable CJ has on several occasions – including during her interview – publicly declared that she would prefer to sit at the table of dialogue rather than at the cockpit of fights.

While she has been branded by some as a spineless chicken, a critical leadership trait is the ability to choose your battles. The real chicken is the one placed by unknown hands into an arena and pitted against a fellow chicken, then fights to death over nothing – simply to entertain the crowds.

Like Kenny Rogers once sang, “Walk away from trouble if you can. It does not mean you are weak if you turn the other cheek…You don’t always have to fight to be a man.” Therein is great wisdom that we hope our leaders can adopt for the sake of a united government and a united Kenya.

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