KENYA SUMAKU

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Is the TJRC the answer to impunity?

Posted by Popular Ombudsman on July 28, 2009

(A Kenyan speaks)

Last week President Mwai Kibaki of Kenya formed a TJRC (truth, justice and reconciliation commission) and appointed former PS and diplomat, Bethuel Kiplagat, as the commission’s chairman. Mr. Kibaki urged Kenya ’s civil society and all institutions to support the TJRC because, “It’s a key component of the reform agenda agreed on during the Kenya National Dialogue and Reconciliation (KNDR) talks.”

Other members of the TJRC include Betty Murungi, Margaret Shava, Tom Ojienda, Ahmed Sheikh Farah and Tecla Namachanja. Mr. Kibaki also appointed non-Kenyans TJRC: Judge Getrude Chawatama of Zambia , Mr. Berhanu Dinka of Ethiopia , and University of Seattle Associate Law Professor , Ronald Slye of the USA .

Kenya ’s helmsman spelled out the goals of the TJRC: To identify people whose rights were abused in the fighting and mass murders following the rigged elections of December 2007 and decide how they are to be compensated. Mr. Kibaki also directed the TJRC to investigate economic crimes and provide redress of crimes of sexual nature against female victims and recommend prosecutions of persons responsible for or involved in human rights and economic violations and abuses.

Our minds are replete with traumatic experiences borne of the apparitions that descended on our minds upon the sight of our brethrens’ throats being slit open by sword and machete – given up as sacrifice to appease the gods of political greed. Hundreds of thousands were left displaced, their life savings and property destroyed in insolent infernos. Those who survived the killings were condemned to refugee camps in their own country.

Kenyans were fighting a war of blame – killing one another, on one side for Mr. Mwai Kibaki, and on the other, Mr. Raila Odinga. When our dead tolled over 1,500 and millions worth of property gone up in ominous smoke, the two tribal chiefs established a ceasefire through a coalition government. Since the formation of this group of simonists on February 28, 2008, the executive has excelled in strife, deceit, over-expenditure, absolute impunity and broken promises.

It’s a government which has remained blissfully blind to the needs of Kenyans, and especially the refugees created by the war between President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga. It has failed to deliver justice to over 1,500 Kenyans slaughtered upon the altar of political greed.

I figure the selection of Mr. Bethuel Kiplagat to chair the TJRC is the onset of a cold glaucoma dimming away our hope to deliver justice to the victims of the post-election violence. We’re in a dream, wandering in a cave where our leaders are leading us by the hand. Our light playing by the wet flowstone walls – like pilgrims in a fable swallowed up and lost among the inward parts of some granitic beast.

Mr. Kiplagat’s appointment illuminates further efforts by the government to bury our hopes of implementing good governance and sustainable economic growth. It’s a denial of the creation of a human rights culture, eradicating corruption, crime and insecurity. It’s one more tool of absolute deceit – a ploy for the perpetuation of political impunity and the unending exploitation of our resources.

Sadly, the TRJC is a chip out of the old block of absurdity, since Jomo Kenyatta to Mwai Kibaki. It would be a gross understatement to believe the hallmark of Kenya ’s regimes, since Independence , have been epitomes of absolute mismanagement. They have been, and will continue, to put dissenting views in gas chambers.

We know the manner in which many Kenyans lost their unblemished lives. Pio Gama Pinto, Thomas Mboya, J.M. Kariuki, Dr. Robert Ouko, thousands slaughtered in tribal cleansing since Daniel Moi’s schizophrenic episodes of 1991/2 and 1997. Moi’s dictatorship constituted the most ruthless destruction of life and property in the history of our nation.

Every mindless killing of Kenyans either as a group or individual assassination has been succeeded by a commission of inquiry. Instituted to investigate and recommend legal action for those responsible of ending their fellow citizens’ lives and destroying properties worth billions. Yet no culprit has ever been brought to the justice of the law. It’s because top government officials have always been accomplices. And the constitution can’t be used to prosecute sacred cows who are above the law.

Let me remind you of a few commissions. The Kiliku Commission of inquiry into the land clashes of 1991/2 through 1997. More than ten years later, Mr. Kiliku’s findings are still languished on government shelves. The Elijah Mwangale Commission of inquiry investigated the murder of J.M Kariuki, and more than three commissions of inquiry have investigated the assassination of Dr. Robert Ouko. On the other hand, in non-murder cases, the best example would be the unending commissions formed to investigate the fictitious Goldenberg International Company.

The Goldenberg International was a fictitious company to which the Central Bank of Kenya paid a total of 100 billion shillings. After Kenyans lost this colossal sum of money, a few commissions of inquiry have been formed to investigate the Goldenberg International. Let’s briefly examine Justice Samuel Bosire’s Commission of inquiry into Kenya ’s biggest financial scam – the Goldenberg International.

In total, the commissioners and staff who ran the Goldenberg inquiry were paid a total of Sh. 350 million. Justice S. Bosire, as chairman, was paid Sh56,383,333; Mr. Nzamba Kitonga (vice-chairman) Sh38,956,660. 60; Justice Daniel Aganyanya (vice chairman before he stepped aside) Sh.11,883,333. 30; and Mr. Peter Le Pelley (commissioner) Sh49,750,000. Assisting counsel, Mr. Waweru Gatonye was paid Sh. 36,850,000. Dr. John Khaminwa and Dr. Kamau Kuria Sh. 35,300,000 each, and Ms Dorcas Oduor Sh.16,583,333.

It must be remembered the findings of the Bosire Commission were declared null and void by the High Court under the watchfulness of Chief Justice Evans Gicheru. This meant neither the justice system nor KACA Chief, Aaraon Ringera had legal redress to pursue corruption charges in the matter of Goldenberg International.

My point is that it’s the apex of absolute corruption on the part of the government to pay colossal sums of taxpayers’ money to commissions whose findings are never used. If there is legitimacy in a TJRC, the government must be investigated for corrupt payments made to countless commissions of inquiry whose findings are buried in the State House cemetery.

The purpose of Kibaki’s TJRC is to identify people whose rights were abused and decide how they are to be compensated. But it’s yet to be seen how this outfit will compensate the Kenyans who were killed in the post-Dec. 2007 election violence.

It’s not clear how far back the TJRC should go in investigating politically engineered mass killings and isolated political assassinations in post- Independence Kenya . I would start at Independence and comb through the years to the killings of 2007/8.

To start, Kibaki’s TJRC must recommend the arrest and prosecution of President Mwai Kibaki and his sycophants for rigging the elections. Arrest and prosecute Prime Minister Raila Odinga and his followers for inciting Kenyans to kill one another like flies.

Let’s not forget the chairman of KACA, Justice Aaron Ringera, is paid Sh. 2 million per month to investigate and prosecute corruption in Kenya . Yet for being Kenya ’s corruption tsar, the art of corruption is wilier. He’s a criminal who must be investigated by the TJRC for being an accomplice to fraudulent salaries.

The second task of the TJRC is to investigate economic crimes and provide redress in respect of crimes of sexual nature against female victims. This might be the most challenging task to execute because this commission’s legitimacy will be inaccurate if pegged to only the sex-economic crimes following the elections of 2007.

Since Independence , politically instigated clashes have caused hundreds of thousands of deaths in cold blooded murders. And billions worth of property destroyed. It’s, therefore, very difficult to focus the TJRC to the clashes of Dec/Jan 2007/8 in disregard of similar killings of 1991/2 and 1997.

It’s a complex issue to investigate economic crimes committed against Kenyans. Land grabbing and allocation of chunks of free lands to politically correct individuals is foremost on the list of economic crimes perpetrated by our leaders. At Independence , Kenyatta’s sycophants (including Mr. Kibaki), took all the lands vacated by their colonial counterparts. A true TJRC must conceive land grabbing as an economic crime against Kenyans.

If Kenyatta’s regime was corrupt, its nobility was perfected by Moi’s and peaked by Kibaki’s. Moi ruthlessly exploited the youth in political violence, excelled in the culture of land grabbing. And dug bottomless bits into which he channeled public resources.

From Elijah Mwangale’s Commission of Inquiry into the murder of J.M. Kariuki to Kibaki’s TJRC, these commissions have been the biggest economic crimes against Kenyans.

For the better part of his public life, Mr. Bethuel Kiplagat has been a government officer in oppressive regimes. He was PS in the ministry of foreign affairs when his boss, Dr. Robert Ouko was assassinated. He was the High Commissioner to London when Wanyiri Kihoro and Koigi wa Wamwere were falsely detained by Daniel arap Moi.

Mr. Bethuel Kiplagat has seen the true and absolute rape of Kenya . He’s an accomplice to this rape because he served and implemented government policies to the letter. Now he’s been given an opportunity by President Kibaki to further rape our public coffers through the TJRC. It’s absurd, Kenyans. There is no truth, justice and reconciliation in the government’s latest commission of inquiry – Mr. Kibaki’s TJRC.

In conclusion, I entirely agree with former Bahati MP, Koigi wa Wamwere, that the TJRC, “Seems designed to cleanse past and present perpetrators of torture and if possible, post-election violence.” It’s also another corrupt channel through which more taxpayers’ resources will be sacrificed to the gods of greed.

Henry Gichaba, North Carolina.

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