Liberty in Kenya under ‘Dr’. Robert Godec is Dead.
“We must be free or die,
who speak the tongue that Shakespeare spake,
The faith and morals hold that Milton held…………”
So wrote William Wordsworth nearly 200 years ago yet today, many Kenyans from both political divides are now agreed, our freedoms are being increasingly eroded, violated
and trampled upon by the despotic regime.
The shutdowns or limitation of TV coverage on still legitimate political parties is deeply worrying. It reminds of “Liberty is ill in Britain” written by Oxford University’s Professor of Jurisprudence, Ronald Dworkin in 1988, not a Britisher but a much respected American academic.
He wrote and I quote “ The very concept of liberty is being challenged and corroded by the Thatcher Goverment”, he goes on, and adds that neither the Prime Minister nor her Government show the slightest dismay about it. Although the US born academic giant wrote his opinion piece in 1988, he could as well have been referring to the present day Kenya under Mr. Uhuru Kenyatta and his paranoid regime.
One: The wicked American Imperialist Connection.
In the Opposition, in the courts, in education, in broadcasting, in the National Assembly, in the Senate, in private business, and in private morality, everywhere Uhuru appears, quite literally, to be taking liberties. In Kenya just like in the Britain under Mrs. Thatcher, the very concept of liberty and electoral justice are being challenged, corroded and violated by and neither the US’s Ambassador Mr. Bob Godec nor UK High Commissioner Mr. Nic Harley or their governments show the slightest dismay about it.
The two envoys prefer to watch the unfolding political crisis in Kenya with their eyes wide shut. Certainly, they want their cake and their halfpenny in form of Sh 300billion road project. However, this makes them look like a dinner guest who will not leave and in the eyes of the majority of Kenyans disillusioned with corruption, graft, bribes, tribalism, theft and insecurity, Godec represents the wicked American imperialism.
He is an imperialism extremist who is not moved by impact of the deadly cycle of the electoral injustices not even as liberty is being extrajudicially killed by Uhuru. Instead he continued to behave like a Jubilee radio analysts with the visa power to flash around on the faces of those opposed to the illegitimate president. It matters less that Kenya is again ruled as an autocracy under a tribal tyrant, just like in the early 1960/70s with America support.
A support that prepared a development for Kenya to be ruled by imposter and usurpers through election injustices. A support that endorsed one-tribe-rule and an imposition an ethnic hegemonic rule. All this is a relevant fact to keep in mind today when history again seems to be in the hands of the US, a country famous for ‘exporting’ democracy and known to have away to go before ensuring one of its most basics human rights at home. The same US is now a grateful bedfellow with African brutal tribal despots who do not hesitate to literally take liberties.
Two Raila’s Power:
Why does Uhuru government careless of the importance of our liberties? Because Uhuru and Ruto themselves have no innate commitment to them, they are quite willing to see them eroded if it is politically expedient to do so.
There is a more subtle message here: and it politically expedient: That Raila’s power comes not from MPs, not from IEBC, not from diplomatic Corp, not from the Supreme Court, not from the conference, not from coalition, not from his ethnic group, not from a party, not from the instrument of power, not from the military, not from the police, not ethnic militia, but from the People of Kenya. This is the uncomfortable truth Godec and the US foreign policy cannot change.
The point about the Raila swearing in that riled Uhuru and Ruto is that it is the lamp that shows that freedom burns. Moreover, the swearing in has largely confirmed that Raila is the embodiment of the Kenyan nation and its yearnings and that the world heard the hope in people’s hearts on that day. It was also a declaration by the
people of Kenya that they have resolved to bring down Uhuru and his paranoid regime, but Uhuru and his discredited, unpopular and falling government is determined to bring down the people. These are the only options as well as the genesis of the current crackdowns and shutdowns.
This is the epic of the 3rd and final liberation and to stop now is harder than to continue and to go forward, because to go back means facing the deadly cycle of electoral injustices with all its severe impact on our social life. It potents civil strife, and death at the hands of the violent and brutal police ready to keep imposters in power.
It is obvious the momentum is irresistible and regime loyalists are daily quietly switching sides to NASA to the chagrin of Uhuru. But the dictator, having branded NRM as a terrorist organization and armed gangs, refuses to budge and instead has employed iron fist tactics against free speech. But NASA is not about to back down in fear of brutal crackdown either. The resistance has intensified since the NRM ban was imposed. Now Uhuru is looking to the West for a premium cover. What could break the stalemate? International intervention is unlikely.
Godec has amassed the diplomatic troop against NASA. Raila’s tanks move on Illegitimate presidency while the dogs of war the ‘Godec paratroopers are firing heavy diplomatic artillery such as ‘traveling visa missiles’, withholding donors fund for political operations. Despite the public window dressing by the envoys, it is clear that there’s little appetite anywhere for Godec Paratroopers to fight against the pro-electoral justice forces led by President Raila.
It obvious that the likelihood of the outside world applying a diplomatic tourniquet to help stop the ethnic tyrant from bleeding out his own people is wavering. This is evident in way the US ambassador and the British High Commissioner, Mr. Nic Harley are watching the hardening of positions with their eyes wide shut.
Uhuru Ruthless Crackdowns:
Innocent citizens on protest march continue to face ethnic profiling, brutality, violation of human rights, unlawful arrest and detention, imprisonment, exile and being kept incognito and killed. These are not the acceptable images, a tyrant would wish the international community to watch on the national TVs headlines. TVs shutdowns then became a viable priority strategy.
There are too many other things to worry about by Uhuru, but not protecting and respecting personal liberty, a feat that requires courage and impeccable democratic credentials and ideals which Uhuru lacks totally. This quality can only be found in President Raila. He has in past risked his personal liberty for good of the Kenyan society.
But Uhuru is child of a raving autocrat and brutal leader who ruled this country with scorched- earth dictatorial policy. A good number of Kenyans do not know where Uhuru was conceived, but they could confirm that he was born and brought up in an environment in which the mutilated bodies of political leaders, students and church leaders with legitimate divergent views would be trampled upon by the herdsmen in the Ngong Forest, where, only last week, his government took TJ Kajwang for court hearing. It was the period when critics some former prison cellmates of his father would simply ‘disappeared’ while on ‘business trip’ to Uganda or Zambia.
Uhuru watched passively like an underdog watching an over dog in a Russian Roulette when men of strong opinions and convictions for liberty like Raila Amolo Odinga and Kenneth Stanley Ngindo Matiba clung precariously onto a nose wheel of a Germany charter aircraft at Moi international airport, Mombasa in the early 1990s to save the fiery Muslim preacher and pro-reform crusader Mr. Sheikh Balala from being deported to Germany by Uhuru’s godfather, Mr. Daniel Moi.
It is imperative to note that Sheikh Balala like Miguna Miguna is Kenyan Citizen by birth, a fact which was within Moi’s knowledge just like it is within Uhuru’s knowledge that Miguna Miguna is Kenyan by birth. But anyway they were deported by the despotic regimes.
Democratically speaking Uhuru is a man of unorthodox speculations. He is robustly reactionary and a red-eyed neo-imperialist compliance. Many recognize his manner is more reminiscent of a warrant officer, a weakness that has made him failed big time as a candidate for the important and complex subject of liberty.
Based on foregoing background, Uhuru therefore is incapable of understanding why the freedom of thought and expression is so crucial that hard questions should be decided in favour of liberty. He can not worry about the public’s rights to know.
Let us examine these charge Kenyans have leveled against Uhuru and see how they stand up. I know his ‘digital parrot gangs’ also known as the PSCU will react with their weird heckling.
Three: Uhuru’s TV Shutdowns
First, let’s look at the charge by NASA that Uhuru has ordered television or broadcasting shutdowns and crackdowns on NASA supporters and members of NASA government and that Uhuru seems hell bent on cutting the NTV, KTN and Citizen TVs in particular down to a size if it is reasonable, accurate, fair, truthful and called for.
I will start from a position of mild unease. But I think we are not fighting a war against the terrorists and that normal civil liberty may not be applied. We are fighting against entrenched electoral injustices and its perpetrators in the government who are determined to stifle unconventional opinions, criticism which it finds unwelcome, facts which it finds embarrassing…. and to dismantle institutions which it feels unable to dominate and manipulate.
Frustration has been felt by tyrants since television became part of the mass media and private television stations licensed to operate on commercial basis. And it is understandable. To have to accept a private organizations such as KTN, NTV and CitizenTV which tell you, when you come to power through electoral injustices that you have serious legitimacy questions hanging over your head, that it is economically and politically viable to hold dialogue with Kenyans, that your police force is killing innocent protesters, that you should stop politicizing security agencies, that you should stop criminalizing politics and criticism and that such bad habit carry with it the risk of instability, require a deeper understanding and respect of principles and practice of civil liberty.
Beside the K24 aka Kapropaganda24 and KBC aka kazi bila chukula, the three TVs are known to frequently put on very serious programs criticizing government and then ask the government for another increase in its advertisement tenders and frequency. This is not easy. In the past, specifically, in the grand coalition, Raila and Kibaki swallowed their pride, recognized that TV stations’ independence was the envy of the Africa continent, and did nothing.
Not John Michuki, the then minister for internal security. After stealing Raila’s victory in 2007, Kibaki, then, like Uhuru now, directed Michuki to order the shutdown of TVs so as to throw a total blanket over the heinous acts committed by Mungiki-police in parts of the country. The proscribed sect was reportedly working in tandem with police in Naivasha and other sprawling slums in Nairobi during the post election violence in 2007/8
Later, the man Mrs. Charity Ngilu, once described as a colonial relic, ordered the raid at the KTN studio because the KTN rattled a snake. He was privately heard boasting that he had fatally ‘bitten the KTN’s ‘loose’ tongue. But like Matiangi, oddly somehow little did Michuki know that the Press was like the tortoise, and that his ‘vernon’ could fall flat on the back of the tortoise upon which it did nothing. This was manifested itself clearly in that KTN is alive but Michuki’s vernonous tongue had be cut off permanently never to speak again until Jesus comes back. The ruthless and brutal regime he represented is as dead as dodo.
Presently, Matiangi and Uhuru are orchestrating a campaign of disinformation attacking the TV stations’ integrity and impartiality. In current affairs reporting since they reopened through a court order, which the authority first treat with contempt and disdain for close to two weeks, it is now a shadow of what they were.
An additional method of drawing its teeth has been unprecedented, to slander, politicize and paint in bad taste the Board of directors of the three TV stations by falsely accusing them of taking part in coup against the Uhuru government, whatever that means. Uhuru now appears to demand a say in appointments of new members of the board of directors more in tune with his government’s own thinking in total disregard of private business ethics and practices.
Uhuru seems determined to ensure that the commercial channels must be brought to heel at any cost, one, by the abolition of the self- regulatory policy and the coming of deregulation which will inevitably lead to making of very many fewer public service advertisements and other programmes,and transferring to the TV stations willing to be instruments of state disinformation and slander.
In addition viewers are likely to experience the heavy hand of state censorship. The TV political analysts programmes are going to be oftenly pulled before transmission, the absurd clamp down on any discussion of the successful swearing in of Raila, the unlawful and illegal deportation of a citizen, NRM general Miguna Miguna, the secondment of state security agents as new chief censor for all imported and local television fictional material at the communications commission of Kenya. All this adds to a regime stampeded by the success of Raila swearing in and is busy engaging in state harassment to cover up it own shame.
More recently CS Matiangi has silently proscribed any television interviews with supporters of NRM, difficult to enforce and liable to be counter-productive. The question is; will the proscription still apply if President Raila takes his seat in the People’s Assembly’s National Convention and makes a speech there?
Four: Uhuru Crack down on NASA Leaders.
The absurd crackdown on NASA supporters, the clandestinely way of applying the Official Secret Act, the National Security Act and other instruments of oppression by CS Matia’ngi, make the whole emphasis on this is negative, not positive. It is ruthless, dictatorial, tyrannical and brutal. Matiangi wants to decide for Kenya, not how much, but how little, they can be told.
Yes, even which police station you are being detained is now a official state secret under ‘official secret act’ Not a Freedom of Information Act, but a ‘ preservation of secrecies act’. The CS shamelessly think Miguna Miguna whereabouts should fall under this act.
Under this draconian laws, which is only known to Matiangi, it will be harder than ever for malpractices in government to be exposed. A citizen or a civil servant could be sent to prison for exposing information which is perfectly harmless. For instance, supposing a police constable had sought out Miguna Miguna’s relative to inform him that he was being held at Lari police station, the poor policeman would be severely punished in accordance with Matiangi’s draconian orders!!
Worse, it will be no defence to argue that the disclosure has uncovered serious crime, so in these cases, Matiangi’s secret laws appear a mere licence for illegality. The only hope is that sensible magistrates will decline to convict. Again this is tall order indeed, knowing how the noose is getting tighter and tighter by day on the judiciary neck.
Yet even as I write this, the parliamentary committee on justice and the attorney-general and the internal security ministry are rumoured to be drafting a proposal to dispense with one of the most fundamental safeguards for the accused in the Kenyan criminal law, the right to silence.
If interrogations in this country were conducted by magistrates rather the neo-Gestapo in the name of Flying Squad, as they are in the inquisitorial system in France, there would be no objection. But in our adversary system the police regard themselves as part of the prosecution process, the accuser, prosecutor and the judge and there exists a very real danger, and it has often happened in the past of police putting words into a suspect’s mouth which he or she has in fact not said. A danger, too, of a suspect saying something foolish in haste rather be thought to have said nothing.
Fifth: Gagging Civil Society:
The gagging of the voice of the Civil Society Organizations since 2013 has been consistent and ruthless. The paranoid regime use every weakness in the CSO as a reason for making it weaker still and every act of political extravagance committed by a few CSOs as an excuse for also penalizing the innocent ones by crippling their operations through arbitrary ban and closure of their offices. This is strategically executed in order to transfer more power to the centre through the NGOs-Co-ordination Board.
As a result, CSOs in Kenya are now the only civil society in East and Central Africa to be derived of their own administration, while in the non- governmental affairs which is the role of CSO is to some degree being transferred to the internal security ministry.
Another spoke in the wheel of CSO has been the introduction of the infamous ‘disclosure of source of aid fund’ which forbids an NGO to intentionally receive donor’s fund without disclosing the details.
It will also an offense to promote good governance which means that an NGO official who speaks uncritically of the NASA and Raila government or stocks a book in its library in which NASA/ NRM visions are discussed will be liable to prosecution. Matiangi’s decrees are classic, almost unbelievable, example of what has historically always been regarded as the most dangerous and contemptible form of censorship, simply disapproval of the contents of what is being said. Kenyans are resistance emerging dangerous form of dictatorship.
As a NASArite I would have thought it far better to encourage, even promote NRM to take up stable, permanent political operations, right at the centre rather than push it to go in for the covert operations to which so many of its members seem prone. But this kind of reasons cannot enter Matiangi’s closed mind.
Sixth: Diminished Parliament.
Many Kenyans from the non-ruling tribes confess to being shocked by appearance of light- hearted casualties with which long established safeguards of the individual citizen in the law of our country are being chucked away without serious unease or debate inside or outside parliament.
The latest to be jettisoned are chairmen of the parliamentary committees. There seem to be two causes at work. One is dictatorship alarm always unwise counsellor about such things free speech, freedom of expression. Mention these, and everything apparently goes. The other is the bad habit of keeping keeping progressive law reform Bill on the burner, into which cabinet for security can handily pop additional draconian items without the proper necessity for prior parliamentary debate upon the principles, or indeed the details.
Kenyans cannot overlook the fact that having the power to legislate, the 12th Parliament has given in to blackmail by the executive, and now the cabinet secretary is getting into bad habit of taking away individual safeguards in Parliament first and then claiming blandly to have a precedent. The diminishing of the role of the parliament, under Uhuru can therefore be seen through an elaborate intense squeeze on the legislature.
The objective of the government is to force parliament to become more integrated with partisan political and economic goals, to enact laws and policies government that favour and protect corrupt cartels running international corporations and their local tenderpreneurship, rather than the critical, cross-grained unfashionable ideas a great society would expect their parliament to provide. Kenyans now fear great damage to the functions of legislation, oversight and representation. It is a further example of the shift of power to the absolute presidency.
Sixth: Attack on Judiciary.
What particularly worries Kenyans is the attack on the Judiciary, which many believe is next to come, having been threatened by no lesser a person than Uhuru himself. You can already see the right- wing social media led by the president strategic communications unit preparing its case by finding figures that show the judiciary is expensive and cause long delays in cases, that they are on the whole opposed to the judiciary and so forth. It is very much the same sort of campaign that preceded the attack on broadcasting, which began on the social media and was orchestrated by Mr. Matiangi.
The new curbs that have been placed on public protests by the little- known Matiangi’s public order act, public protests like those of the Raila JKIA March Massacre, No Reform No Election essentially have been the lifeblood of much social reform. Raila has said that history is full of warnings against suppression of these rights. Yet the decree is designed to make public protests more difficult by giving the police additional disciplinary powers.
For first, they will require three weeks’ notice of any demonstration while waiting for clearance from the State House, they can change venue at will or disperse it at will. ( a demonstration against Bob Godec outside the US Embassy loses point if police shifted it elsewhere) and they now have the additional weapons of charging with threatening behavior and or disorderly conduct anyone whose behaviors or conduct they imagine is likely to”harass, alarm or distress them.
As the burden of proof, contrary to all tradition, is to be on the defendant. In kidnapping and holding Miguna Miguna as hostage and subsequent exiling him, one can see what power the police have been given by Matiangi. All of the foregoing adds up to a loss of personal liberties and a transfer of political power to the centre hitherto unknown in Kenya life since 1992.
When a government which is struggling with legitimacy question has been in the office as long this one and has no opposition to speak of and no assertive judiciary officials, the temptation for them to do whatever they wish to do to manipulate rather than manage must be very great.
There could be hardly a better example of the truth of the saying about absolute power corrupting absolutely than that now being exercised. No previous president including Mr. Moi at the height of his rule in the multipartyism, has dominated and manipulated the cabinet, parliament and judiciary to the extent of the present illegitimate president.
Let’s end, as we began, with Oxford’s Professor of Jurisprudence, Ronald Dworkin. “The essence of liberty is not precise boundaries or mechanical tests but an attitude: that freedom of conviction, thought and expression is so crucial that hard questions should be decided in favour of liberty as far as possible….that government should bear the onus of demonstrating that any interference with any part of the information is really necessary”
By Oginga Randiki