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It wasn’t me! Kimemia says as truth team officials dismiss claims in new explosive book

By Nzau Musau | Sep 15th 2018 | 3 min read
Former Secretary to the Cabinet Francis Kimemia. [[Boniface Okendo/Standard]

Former Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commissioners expressed mixed feelings on revelations contained in a book published by their former colleague Ron Slye on the inner workings of the commission.

And former Secretary to the Cabinet Francis Kimemia categorically denied ever calling Slye or any other commissioner to change the report, saying he probably needed to “re-examine his mental status”. “There was nothing of that sort. First I was not a commissioner. Second, I could not have called all the commissioners to do their work. Third, why did he have to wait for all the years to make the allegation?” said Kimemia, now the Governor of Nyandarua.

For Commissioner Ahmed Farah who bore the brunt of Slye’s writing, the man was a lone ranger who “pretended to know much but he did not know anything”.

“He has the right to write what he wants to write but I used to tell him the truth. I told him we were colonised by the British but we would not accept to be colonised by the Americans. I also told him to go write the truth report of the Americans,” Farah said.

He also conceded: “He wanted us to abuse Mzee Kenyatta over small issues, which were not going to add any value. And even if that were true (that Kenyatta grabbed land) you do not say it that openly… you have to understand the history of the country.”

Prof Tom Ojienda concedes that although the relationship among commissioners was “sufficiently collegial” they sometimes disagreed bitterly on some issues. He however denies being influenced into changing the report. “I did not receive any call from either Kimemia or OP or discuss any changes with anybody outside the commission. All the changes were based on the mandate of the commission and in pursuit of objective truth, not sensation,” he said.

Ojienda explained his initial opposition to the changes were based on fear of interference but that when he later reasoned about the proposals, he agreed to them. “It’s true that I never used to take an obvious, predictable stance on any issue. This indeed is a true reflection of who I am as a liberal and free mind who is not chained to a particular camp,” he said.

According to commissioner Margaret Shava, the draft land chapter contained “fundamental factual and editorial errors”.

She also says the chapter “departed markedly from agreed practice in approach and language” and was unreasonably delayed.

“I was shouted down and not allowed to speak when I tried to raise these issues, as I chaired the session where I, according to my usual practice, gave all commissioners the opportunity to air their views first,” she says.

Shava says although commissioner Slye was there when tables were banged against her opinions, he neither shouted nor protested at the dramatic departure from the norm. She said she knows nothing about threats or bribes.

Secretary of the commission at the time, Tom Chavangi Aziz, however says some of the things said of him by Slye are true. He agrees that he rushed to the printers to secure the report from interference.

Asked whether it’s true that the OP interfered with the writing of the lands chapter through calls to commissioners, Chavangi somewhat admitted.

"In any case if the OP called, then it was to inquire as to the extent of the report for handing over to the president, before lapse of the term of the commission," Chavangi said.

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