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Azimio's lack of rigour was evident at Supreme Court

Azimio-One-Kenya Coalition presidential candidate Raila Odinga and his deputy Martha Karua present petition documents at the Supreme Court on August 22, 2022. [Samson Wire, Standard]

Anyone who has traversed the world of academia will know that professor Makau Mutua is an intellectual giant.

Both in academia and as a public intellectual, he has made significant contributions, especially on the discourse on human rights, particularly its decidedly racist overtones and pro-western blinkers.

I say the above to preface my disappointment with the tenor of Prof Mutua’s ongoing criticism of the Supreme Court in other publications.

I affirm my tremendous respect for Prof Mutua as a scholar and for his work in human rights generally, including his stewardship of the Kenya Human Rights Commission in the days before human rights became a buzzword devoid of political risks.

But Prof Mutua’s front-seat engagement in raw politics in the 2022 elections has left many of his admirers disappointed. 

By its nature, politics, especially presidential election politics, in whichever jurisdiction, but more so in our part of the world, is largely devoid of principle, packed with dirty dealing and unbelievable compromises, just the sort of stuff the sanitised corridors of academia that Prof Mutua is more attuned to consider abhorrent. 

It is no wonder that having entered the centre of Azimio presidential elections, the good professor chooses to ignore obvious failings of the Azimio campaign and wrongly focusses on the Supreme Court which has no capacity to respond to him.

He refuses to accept that Hon Raila’s dalliance with President Uhuru Kenyatta lost him the edge that had made many of us admire him.

Being perceived as a government candidate lost “Baba” the historical energy of his campaign.

It is no wonder that in areas which are “Baba damu” the turnout in such a consequential election was surprisingly low.

Prof Mutua and his team also refuse to accept that President William Ruto outdid Baba in traditional “Baba zones” especially the critical vote rich basket of Western Kenya thus crippling Baba’s match to the Hill.

Even more critically, the team in which Prof Mutua was a major player, was a hydra-headed camel, in a race that required a cheetah. It was disorganised and grossly disillusioned.

But it is at the Supreme Court that Azimio’s lack of rigour was most evident.

While Azimio boasted of some of Kenya’s best brains, they delivered an embarrassingly weak case.

How does one challenge an election result without producing even one document that proved falsification of results?

What can one say of the false evidence given by some luminaries including John Githongo some of which was copy-pasted from the 2017 petition?

What of the claims about “staging” and replacing results, without even a single Form 34A showing correct results which had been altered?

Who can ever forget the embarrassing presentation on “Jose Carmago” which was supposed to be the ultimate “inflagrante delicto” but which had zero evidential value?

I hold no brief for the Supreme Court but what was the court supposed to do when presented with a shoddy case with, at best, falsified evidence?

Maybe the language of the court could have been restrained in recognition of the social and political import of the case, but that is a minor matter all other things considered.

For Prof Mutua and his team to refuse to introspect on the many failings by the Azimio campaign and instead pretend that the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission and the Supreme Court lost them the election is decidedly dishonest and unworthy of his otherwise stellar reputation for candour.

Waiganjo is an advocate at the High Court of Kenya