Saturday, 27 October 2012

Security is too important to be lost over salary increments!

“Najilaumu Kuwa Polisi” (I blame myself for being a policeman) is a facebook meme that may just give you an inkling of how dire the situation is with our internal security services.  It’s no secret that our police service is one of the worst paying government job groups. It’s actually rather shocking, how a government that considers itself in any way remotely intelligent could put the security of the entire nation in the hands of poverty stricken individuals whose paycheck can barely last a week in our economy.

Who did not see this coming? It was rather obvious from the start of this year that industrial strike after industrial strike would occur given the sluggish nature of our government’s responses when it comes to pay rises. First the doctors, then the nurses, then the teachers, then the dock workers and now, lo and behold the police service is facing an internal threat of a strike expressed as a go-slow.  Here is the thing, the police are not unionized. The last time a security service went on strike in Kenya was when the prison wardens decided to down their tools. The government’s response to that situation was to crush the protest and arrest senior wardens for failing to prevent a strike. Stop. Let’s pause here for a second. The government, knowing very well that they underpay people they count on for security, knowing very well that the work conditions at prisons and facilities for wardens are despicable, crushes the protest and arrests senior officials for failing to prevent the strike. Whose failure was it really?

Here we are playing dice with the lives of Kenyans. It may interest this government and their high ranking officials to know that these policemen threatening a go-slow also intend to go slow on escort services.  What does that mean? It means that even though the “higher ups” thought they won’t be affected by a go-slow, they will be the first to directly feel it. After all, most Kenyans don’t have policemen personally protecting them!

It really does not matter that the police are not unionized. All they have to do is not turn up at work and instantly the entire country is plunged into a state of emergency.  All because some slow witted, irresponsible, irreverent government quack official somewhere is sitting on a document that should release funds already allocated to provide incremental pay rises to the police service.

Maybe all the strikes have eaten the senses of the government till they are deadened. Maybe, just maybe, we are dealing with a no –sense government and leadership.  It does not take a genius to realize how serious security issues in this country are. Lest we forget what happened in Tana Delta only a matter of a few weeks ago. Or even more recently, what extreme horrors we saw committed by MRC. It is at this crucial time, when terrorists, criminals, politically instigated violence and murders occur, that a person thinks he or she should withhold an already approved pay rise, well that tells you what a lack of sense this government has.

Perhaps a go-slow on personal security will quicken the pace of salary payments. I understand some of these officials have up to 4 police escorts at any one time. Some even have 60 policemen to protect them, while the rest of the nation has to share one policeman to every 4000 people or more.  In reality, and on a personal level, most Kenyans won’t actually notice the go-slow; the police service goes very slowly anyway, due to being overwhelmed. I am hoping that the threat to personal security will be so alarming to these “big men” that they respond accordingly.

But, should that fail, it would be best then for us to hope for a state of emergency to occur. Only then would the level of security in Kenya finally become a homogenous concern.  Because it doesn’t take a genius to realize that when you get your salary the first person you should pay is your security guard. In the same vein, it does not take a genius to realize that a country like Kenya which is at war with Al-Shabaab, and is a mere 4 months to a general election, should ensure that the police service is not only paid their dues as agreed upon, but also fully resourced and kitted out. Sadly, we don’t have any geniuses in government, nor do we seem to have people with enough I.Q to figure out these simple facts.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

The day a security guard saved Kenya

Rebecca Kerubo will go down in history as the security guard that brought to an end the career of a newly appointed Deputy Chief Justice. Just by her insistence on performing her job, Kerubo exposed the con that we had all bought, that this particular DCJ was an embodiment of excellence in virtue, integrity, and sobriety fitting for a Judge of the Supreme Court of Kenya.

In fact Rebecca Kerubo should be given a medal of honor, a state party and fĂȘted as one of Kenya’s great mashujaas. Indeed, Dame Beatrice Kerubo is a fitting title for this humble security guard. She did what the JSC, the CIOC and Parliament were unable to do, she tested the character and person of the Deputy Chief Justice, and she found her wanting.

If you recall the debacle of a vetting process that was conducted in the public limelight, not once was the temperament or attitude of Nancy Baraza ever brought into question. Indeed the most crucial question to the CIOC was the question of Ms. Baraza’s divorce and her sexual orientation. It was during this fiasco, that our nation was brought to the brink of disaster by an incompetent and inept panel of trivial politicians, whose main goal during the vetting process was to create a veil of scandalous questioning that appeared to merely humiliate rather than actually reveal what was key, moral and imperative to the particular office.  Never once was the matter of judicial integrity, honesty or respect for citizenry ever brought up.

Of course, there is the issue of whether such character traits can be measured or weighed during a public vetting, as parliament once debated, “how does one put an objective parameter to passion?” nonetheless, the prima facie case stands as such. After passing all the light testing, easy but ridiculous questioning and gaining the appointment to one of the senior most posts in the Judiciary, barely 6 months later the incumbent is proved an egotistical, manipulative, lying and disgusting hypocrite. Were it not for a humble security guard, this is the person who would have presided over judicial matters in Kenya to the detriment of the entire nation.

It is more than a concerning matter, that we have created a situation where the post of the Deputy Chief Justice must now go to a woman. It is worse, that the previous holder of this post was actually the best selected from the women who applied, yet has disappointed us so greatly. We must challenge such retrogressive gender equality measures. In as much as women’s empowerment is key to evolving a better society, surely we must also look for women who excel far beyond what their peers both male and female have achieved in order to appoint them to such a top post.  

If there is one thing that this case has exposed to the world it is the matter of a Judiciary that is not independent. In this, Ms. Baraza is right in withdrawing her appeal and resigning, on grounds that panel of judges was rigged against her.  The judges were always rigged though, even at the time of her appointment. When the Chief Justice selects judges he knows are not impartial or has particular leanings and puts them in an appeals panel that is a display of a lack of independence. 

Indeed, it is a disturbing matter, when the Deputy Chief Justice herself has no faith in the Judiciary. Already, she had been put through a tribunal hearing and exposed, and though she initially felt confident enough to appeal to her colleagues, she realized that it would not be a fair trial because of how the panel was constituted.

How then can we, the ordinary citizen trust this same judiciary that is not trusted even by its former members? How can we have confidence in the next Deputy Chief Justice, if the methods of selection remain the same? Where will we find another Dame Kerubo to save us from arrogant judges who can even whip out a gun to avoid a security check?

Were it not for a Security Guard, a very immoral person would be sitting on the bench in the Supreme Court. Were it not for her arrogance, Nancy Baraza would not have exposed the rigging that occurs on judicial panels. We must thank the gods for small mercies of ridiculous dramas that lead us to uncomfortable truths. There is something very wrong with our Judiciary and the methods with which we select our Judges and it needs to be looked into quite fast. This is the reason why a Judge can make an unconstitutional ruling against a constitutional body and still sit on that bench. It’s time we took these matters very seriously.

Friday, 12 October 2012

When Kenyans Will Make World History

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results,” a quote by Albert Einstein is the best way to define Kenyan electorate behavior.  Indeed, when it comes to voting behavior and selection of candidates to parliament, Kenyans have been stuck in the same cycle since 1997. They look at the political party rather than the person, vote as a tribal block, and vote in the same sort of leadership that they had before. In fact the EXACT same sort of leadership, regardless of whom that person is.

You see it’s the mentality of transitional politics based on tribe rather than actual democratic values. We gang up in political parties that are not national but tribal outfits which then form coalitions or alliances with other tribal political parties, and then that coalition gangs up against another tribe and encourages the electorate to vote against that tribe, and in the blink of an eye party nominations are done without consideration for issues or character and voila! Your new MP in parliament consistently seeks to increase his perks.

You are baffled as to why this happened again, despite the MP having a different face and name? But you used the same formula to pick this person and that formula was blind tribalism and “us versus them” mentality.

In a country where the constitution is flagrantly disregarded by legislators we can hardly say that this nation is democratic in any way, since the very tenets and fundamentals of democracy are in a Nation’s laws.  In a country where the electorate votes based solely on their tribal affiliations and not core issues of governance we are all as undemocratic as we can get, and it’s our own fault.

That’s why when the MPs passed the amendment to the Finance Bill to award themselves over 9 million shillings in a take home package, we only protested for ONE day,  and luckily the President declined to assent to that Bill, and then the next day we went back to watching Mexican soaps on the TV. Even though the MPs have sworn to fight back, and the problem has not gone away. 

In fact we are so reluctant for change that the days after the miserable protest, the headlines in the newspaper were about how two presidential candidates from two tribal parties had a meeting in the aim or hope of supporting each other in the upcoming elections. 

You do the same thing over and over again, vote in leaders from the same mentality who incidentally all belonged to the same political party at one point in our history and since then have never been able to form a truly national political party and you think you are making any sense.

Your tribal leaders ascend to power with intimidation, violence and death and then when in power make laws to enrich themselves while your doctors, teachers, nurses, lecturers and ferry workers go on strike; industrial action after industrial action that one day may lead to a state of emergency, and you protest for only ONE day.

Next year, Kenyans are going to vote in different faces, I am quite sure. They do seem fed up with the faces of the parliamentarians they have now. But they will use the same machinery of politics to do so, and the same tribal mentality, all the while forgetting that all of these candidates at one point came from the pot and only remember their tribe once every 5 years. By 2017, those new candidates will have so desperately plundered the nation via unconstitutional amendments and Bills that the Kenyatta International Conference Center will be sued by Kenya Power for failure to pay electricity bills running into millions. 

Lots of people talk of revolutions and change of leadership in this country. But how can you have a revolution when you keep doing the same thing? You mean you are revolving 360 degrees and returning back to the same spot you started in. A real revolution will begin, when the electorate rejects the ballot because it has the same people and the same political parties under a different name. Tell the IEBC that it is a waste of ink to jot down these people and their tribal outfits on ballot papers. Show that you have democratic power by rejecting a process that keeps you in a cycle of poverty and bad leadership. Abandon your tribal cocoons for the sake of the nation.  Make world history by staying home and not voting!

Until, and unless we ourselves become a truly democratic electorate, we vote in the rotten leaders we deserve and that is why we ourselves lack the tenacity or commitment to protest for more than one day. Because we know, what we are doing to our country, but we do it anyway, and as Albert Einstein said, that is insanity.

Friday, 5 October 2012

When Recusation of Judges Becomes Necessity

“The law is the true embodiment of everything that’s excellent. It has no kind of fault or flaw and I my lords, embody the law.”  Lord Chancellor’s Song, Iolanthe. Indeed, the judge is the human expression of the legal instruments and tenets that guide and rule the society, an extension of that written judicial power and law. The excellence thus of a Judge’s mind is of paramount significance in the execution of that judicial power. 

When Justice Mohamed Warsame issued court orders halting the work of the Judges’ and Magistrates’ Vetting board, in a case where the sacking of Supreme Court Judge Mohamed Ibrahim and Court of Appeal Judge Roselyn Nambuye was being challenged, that very moment he made such a ruling, that was the moment that the excellence of the Judge fell far below the excellence of the law. Indeed, his actions embodied the very impunity that the Vetting board sought to excise and be done away with, in a much needed and much desired Judicial review process.

Were Justice Warsame as validated in law by excellence of action as his role demands, his first and only action when such a case came before him should have been to recuse himself, given the mitigating circumstances and the defending party. But instead, the ruling he made was a blatant disregard of the very constitutional framework that grants him the honor of being referred to as “Your Honor”. 

Every week in this country of ours, we are bombarded with yet another voracious example of utterly humiliating mediocrity from this country’s heads of government; examples of sheer selfishness, of reckless negligence and now of shameless and disgraceful behavior from the pillars of the fabric of society.

‘Since the viability of any judicial system is predicated on the impartiality of the judge, it must either postulate a fiction of absolute virtue, or establish a procedure whereby judges can be disqualified for bias or prejudice.’ Harvard Law Review, vol. 73.

We are far from being able to spin a fiction on the virtues of our judges, hence the need for a Judges’ and Magistrates’ vetting board in the first place. So our only remedy in this situation is to enact procedures to recuse this Judge, who were he a virtuous fellow of excellence in thought, would have already recused himself in the first place. 

Indeed it is the lack of virtues presented by our Judges that has compelled the Vetting Board to sack a few for their soiled integrity.  Let’s be very clear at this point, it is not simply a matter of losing one’s livelihood that is at stake when a Judge is sacked, but a ripping apart of years of vestiges of now seemingly unwarranted respect, honor, value and eminence that the rest of society ascribed to a Judge.  In Justice Warsame’s case, he stripped himself of any of these vestiges of virtue, honesty and integrity before the vetting board could do it for him. After all the question to ask is, if he can make such an unconstitutional ruling that in turn affects his own future review, then what sort of injustices has he handed down that caused him to act in such an offensive manner?

The main issue now in this matter is the question of Recusation of Judges and the grounds for which such action should be necessitated. It is my humble opinion that a mind that uses his position of power to commit a constitutional offense while at the same time sworn by duty and state to protect the tenets of that constitution and the law there in, is quite fractured. There is clearly a dissonance in the cognitive capabilities of one’s process to marry one’s job with one’s obligation in this case and as such I strongly believe that there are psychiatric grounds for Recusation. Anti-excellence in law from a Judge is equivalent to a sociopathic tendency, in my view. 

This nation has no shortage of psychopaths; people whose ability to consider the consequences of their actions beyond their own immediate benefits is gravely limited to the point of non-existent. It is a dreadful shame that such people have found their way into the higher most echelons of power, and worst of all to positions that demand excellence of virtue.  Recusation is one remedy, the other is what the Chinese favor, a bullet, swift and to the point. The only problem is, is there a lawyer with the guts to be the litigant for Recusation of a Judge? Some may say the Kenyan common law lawyers are the bedrock of debacle that Judges are raised from. I only hope that is not true.