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Is Wamalwa serving as justice minister for all?

By By Dominic Odipo | November 12th 2012

By Dominic Odipo

Stupid questions sometimes lead to very stupid answers. “Ten elephants”, that was the standard answer our high school physics teacher used to give for all questions he considered stupid.

But, at the same time, the Catholic brother from Cincinnati, Ohio always tried to inculcate into us the value of asking questions, all of them, stupid or not.

“It is only by asking that you get to discover whether or not your question was stupid. Remember Sir Isaac Newton’s ‘stupid’ question about why that apple was falling to the ground on its own?”

Today we want to ask Mr Eugene Wamalwa, the MP for Saboti and Minister for Justice and National Cohesion, a few stupid questions. It is only by asking that we shall get to know whether or not these questions are actually as stupid as they might sound.

First, is Wamalwa the Minister for Justice for all Kenyans or is he just the Minister for the justice of Mr Uhuru Kenyatta, the TNA party leader and presidential candidate?

Second, when Wamalwa flies to Dar-es-Saalam and Bujumbura to help consolidate the support of the Tanzanian and Burundian leaders for Mr Kenyatta, is he doing this in his capacity as Kenya’s Minister for Justice and National Cohesion or in his private capacity as Uhuru Kenyatta’s political acolyte?

Third, if Wamalwa continues to identify himself so closely in public with Uhuru’s political and legal fortunes, to what extent can he be expected to act fairly and impartially in his official duties at the Ministry of Justice if any matter regarding Uhuru comes up to his desk for action?

Fourth, if Wamalwa is the Minister for Justice for all Kenyans, why is it that we have never seen him photographed visiting any IDP camp in this country or giving a comprehensive statement on how his ministry intends to ensure that our national web of justice covers all Kenyans, everywhere?

Fifth, does Wamalwa not know yet that the more he is seen to be following and kow-towing to Uhuru Kenyatta, the faster his political support base in the former Western Province, particularly among the Luhya, will disappear?

Does he really not understand that the Luhya people, especially his Bukusu brethren — the proudest, wealthiest, most educated and largest Luhya sub-tribe — do not like to see their leaders publicly playing the role of lapdog or cheer leader-in-chief to other leaders from elsewhere?

Has he not learned from the lessons left behind by the likes of Elijah Mwangale, Nathan Munoko and Mukhisa Kituyi on the one hand and his late bother Michael “Kijana” Wamalwa and, above all, Masinde Muliro on the other?

Uhuru Kenyatta has been indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for a number of very serious crimes. It is because of this indictment (not guilt, for that we don’t know yet) that he was compelled to resign from his post as the Minister for Finance.

So, if Wamalwa is following him all over the place, singing his songs and doing his bidding, to the exclusion of any other Kenyans who may have suffered irreparable damage as a result of some of the crimes for which Kenyatta has been indicted, exactly what sort of Minister for Justice are we dealing with here?

And just what sort of justice is all this leading us to?

Cheer leader-in-chief

When Wamalwa flies off to Dar-es-Saalam or Bujumbura in the aid and comfort of Uhuru Kenyatta, is he officially on duty or is he listed as having taken one or two days off? If he is listed as being on duty, then why doesn’t he try and balance these official absences off by stopping for just a few minutes to visit even just one IDP camp?

The answer to this question is obvious. There is virtually nothing that he could tell these IDPs now, five years after they were forcefully thrown out of their homes due to circumstances totally beyond their control. They obviously no longer trust him. They believe he has already taken sides on this national judicial balance. In their estimation, this country no longer has a substantive, impartial and full time Minister for Justice.

For any man to rise to the highest level of Luhya leadership, two basic conditions must apply. First, he must be perceived as standing and leading on principle, not merely on the basis of his wealth or whatever monetary or other gains he stands to reap from the position.

And, second, he must not be perceived to be playing the role of somebody else’s lapdog, no matter who that somebody else happens to be. On these two defining conditions, Wamalwa appears to have already failed the basic Luhya leadership test. He cannot now presume to lead the Luhya or look them in the eye and ask for their support.

Nemesis, the old Greek godess of retribution, appears to have struck the youthful MP for Saboti both too fast and too early.

Those currently courting Wamalwa as someone who will bring along Bungoma and Trans-Nzoia counties under their political leadership do not seem to understand the political sentiment now ruling on the ground in Luhyaland. Once Wamalwa openly comes out as somebody else’s number two, three or whatever, his support base among the Luhya will evaporate overnight.

There will be no Bungoma or Trans-Nzoia counties to be delivered. That is just the way it is. The writer is a lecturer and consultant in Nairobi.

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