Saba Saba ideals lost, says veteran politician Charles Rubia

Veteran politician Charles Rubia. He was at the frontline in the fight for the Second Liberation. [Photo: FILE]

Multiparty crusader and veteran politician Charles Rubia says trying to liken the Saba Saba events of 1990 to the rally planned for Monday by Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) was a misapplication of facts.

Rubia, who alongside former leader of official opposition in Parliament Kenneth Matiba, was on the frontline in the push for multiparty democracy, said the Saba Saba of 1990 was a spontaneous uprising out of a long struggle for democracy and fundamental freedoms which began in 1980s.

He said while the Saba Saba of 1990 had the effect of uniting Kenya for the Second Liberation, the current agitation for what is reportedly an anniversary of the day bears the hallmarks of dividing the country.

“To call it Saba Saba is a degradation of that solemn day in 1990 which should, in fact, be set aside nationally in special remembrance of Kenyans’ sacrifices for freedom,” said the veteran politician in a statement.

He said some of the problems being talked about are of chronic nature and cannot be solved through magic, noting that they existed long before Jubilee took office.

“Jubilee did not create insecurity or Al Shabaab or corruption or disunity or any of the others, and no magic through some dialogue will solve them,” he said.

He said the solutions to the challenges lie in sincere, honest and hard-nosed discussions.

“The problems now being named as constituting a crisis were all there in varying degrees – insecurity, rising cost of living, corruption, electoral organisation, etc. Let nobody deceive himself that the attainment of a multiparty system itself is the cure-all; rather it would create the opportunity and forums for discussing them and seeking solutions,” he said.

Rubia said the Constitution which was enacted in 2010 after long and arduous discussions and debates that encompassed all shades of opinion, including particularly those who are in the opposition today, provides opportunities for engaging to solve the issues being raised.

“Let me stress also that during the struggle, nobody had any illusion that the restoration of basic freedoms by itself would solve the country’s basic problems. We must beware of the risk of throwing out the baby with the bathwater, by talking ourselves into a crisis where it does not exist. ‘Management by crisis’, as they call it, is not a way of running a country,” he said.


He also said unlike what is being agitated for as Saba Saba, the 1990 event was a leap in the dark, born of hopelessness because people were taking a desperate action to force matters since personal freedom of any description had been suppressed.

The catalyst of Saba Saba on July 7, 1990, was the infamous “Mlolongo” election of 1988 which shocked the people of Kenya for its shameless and open rigging.

Rubia and Matiba read a strong statement on May 3, 1990, calling on the Kanu government to allow basic freedoms but were dismissed and went ahead to call for a meeting at Kamukunji grounds on July 7, 1990.

Even after applying for a licence, the Government declined to respond, with the administration opting to arrest the leading opposition figures including Matiba, Rubia, John Khaminwa and Raila Odinga three days before the rally.