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Politics of gender and how Madam Koome is providing statecraft

Peter Kimani

I will refrain from using the expression by Raila Odinga aka Baba, who claimed that the Judiciary had gone to bed with Prezzo Bill Ruto, because Chief Justice Madam Martha Koome and her Deputy, Philomena Mwilu, are both women.

I will similarly refrain from evoking another catchy headline in the Daily Nation, characterising the departure of Pamela Mutua and others from the helm of the Kenya National Trading Corporation as having had their heads “fried” by the edible oils scandal.

My reason for the latter is because there has been so much talk about another head, that of slain university student, Rita Waeni, 20, being discovered in a dam somewhere in Kiambu county.

So, let’s start from the beginning. CJ Koome met with Prezzo Ruto, reportedly to discuss ways in which the three organs of government can work harmoniously. As a newshound, once upon a time, we’d have been sniffing for details like who served tea to whom — power has to be exercised, isn’t it — and details of what was on the menu.

The departed politician, Martin Shikuku, who was chided by the departed Attorney General Charles Njonjo as She-kuku, meaning a chicken, famously revealed that he did not have ugali when he went to visit the late Prezzo Daniel arap Moi, at the State House, but had fish instead. From thence on, “eating ugali” entered our social and political lexicon. It means getting compromised.

But there is something of value getting lost in the din, as one wise man remarked recently, in the power struggle between the Judiciary and the Executive. Had a male CJ been in charge, we’d have plunged into a constitutional crisis by now, the old man said. Why, a male CJ would be chest-thumping and daring Prezzo Ruto to bring it on. And since the latter is a master of kupiga kifua, he’d have responded in kind.

But because Madam CJ is a woman, and women have a different approach to life, her call for truce disarmed Prezzo Ruto. The same attitude, my wise buddy said, had saved many women from detention in those days dissent was a crime, even though they would call out the dictators in our midst in no uncertain times.

One exception, of course, was the Freedom corner striptease in 1992, when elderly women exposed their nakedness to protest at the continued detention of their sons.  Scribes dashed to interview old folks to understand the meaning of the female curse. Kanu’s end was nigh, they were told. That came to pass in under a decade.

But the State House meeting this week did not involve any stripping, so far as we can tell, and if there was eating of any kind, we’re not privy to those details. All we know is that the CJ received budgetary support to dispense her work efficiently, including the funds for the recruitment of more judges, even though some see this as a ruse to populate the courts with pliant men and women in robes.

That’s a possibility, no doubt, although corrupt judges aren’t corrupt because they were hired under a particular regime. They extort from the citizens because they are corrupt.

The singular conundrum that I can’t quite work out is how the provision of more judges and transportation will quell corruption at the aforementioned entity, the Kenya National Trading Corporation, where I understand some big fish have grown extra big, sipping edible oils that they hoarded instead of distributing to hungry Kenyans.

Well, things are getting clearer now: oil thieves need extra wide load trucks to move from one point to another. And Prezzo Ruto is wise to facilitate their haulage, presumably to jail, once the extra judges sit to work.

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