the waki report, political expediency and the denial of justice

The Kenyan Premier, Raila Odinga, has bowed to pressure from within his party and made a hasty retreat with regard to the implementation of the Waki Report. (This report was compiled by a commission set up to investigate the post-election violence that nearly plunged Kenya into civil war early this year). This is a huge disappointment and a blow to the pursuit of justice in Kenya. About 1500 died. Hundreds of thousands were displaced, many of whom still live in IDP camps. Don’t we owe these people a public acknowledgment that they were wronged?

Members of both the ODM and PNU have been implicated in the report. Predictably, a cohort of PNU parliamentarians already roundly rejected the report. Now ODM, for the sake of unity (its members from the Rift Valley province threatened a mutiny), has decided to do the same. This means that the Waki Commission will probably join the list of the myriad useless commissions the country has set up since independence to investigate all manner of wrongs and provide recommendations – recommendations which were then rubbished and never implemented. What a waste of time and money!

But there is still hope. And it lies within the Kenyan civil society. The law society of Kenya, among other such civic organisations, should pressure the international court in the Hague, through Kofi Annan, to prosecute those named in the report, unless the government agrees to set up a Kenyan tribunal. The culture of impunity has to be stopped. This report could have been used as a tool for national reconciliation and regeneration. It is sad that political expediency has once again come before justice. It is doubly sad that ODM, a party that has claimed to be for the people, is the same party denying justice to the people.

these not so serious leaders of zimbabwe

It has been ages since Zimbabwe held elections but until now Robert Mugabe (having stolen the elections) and his nemesis Morgan Tsvangirai (the supposed winner) are yet to reach a deal to form a government. This deadlock is not about policy. It is not about how these two men will stear Zimbabwe out of the mess it has found itself in. It has nothing to do with increasing school enrolment, creating jobs or improving post-natal care for rural women. The squabbling that continues to deny the people of Zimbabwe a government is over cabinet posts – posts that are to be filled with men who are as alienated from the struggles of the rural folk as that infamous French queen was. It is a tragedy. It is a total travesty.

The regional leaders are still calling for more summits. Opportunities to spend tax payers money while discussing how to divide that money among the same corrupt men who seem to have completely lost direction and the interest to serve their people.

Do these guys know the inflation rate in their country? Do these guys see how Zimbabweans are suffering in camps in South Africa or in the other countries in Southern Africa?

It is a shame. A big shame. Who cares about who holds what posts? As a the former president of Kenya would say: will this in any way increase the number of utensils in any ordinary Zimbabwean’s house? Whatever happened to policy?

does anyone have the guts to tell kabila the truth?

So Gen. Nkunda and his men have yet again captured an army base in the East of the DRC, further raising questions of the viability of this vast country as a united nation-state. The news reports did not come as a surprise. I have said again and again that Kabila seems unable to take it to Nkunda and his army and because of this I think that the DRC should be split up. Millions of people should not live forever in misery and at the mercy warring armies simply because of King Leopold’s greed several decades ago.

Kabila does not have complete control of the country and because of this the African Union and the UN should consider putting the Eastern part of the country in a trusteeship with the aim of granting them complete autonomy if they so choose in a referendum some time in the near future.

Time will not stand still to wait for Kabila, Nkunda, Museveni and Kagame to resolve their differences. As they, through their surrogates, squabble, millions of real people continue to die or be confined to lives as base as no human being should have to countenance in the 21st century. Addis Ababa and New York have buried their heads in the sand for too long over this matter. It is time to wake up and face the realities on the ground.

Yes, I know this seems as too simplistic a suggestion. Rwanda has a stake in this because of the deposed Hutus in the region – Nkunda himself is a Tutsi claiming to be fighting to defend his ethnic kinsmen from these Hutus. Uganda is involved too, perhaps because of the minerals or just because of Museveni’s need to keep his army busy to avoid discontents at home. It is a complicated mess to put it mildly. But all these other facets of this conflict do not negate the fact that the DRC, a vast country that is the size of Western Europe, is too big to be governed by a weak government in Kinshasa. Kinshasa cannot project its power throughout the country. Period. No society, at least not in the modern political economy, can exist without government. The chaos in the East of the DRC are as much a result of Kinshasa’s ineptitude as they are of foreign meddling by Kagame and Museveni. I say divide the country, or give the East more autonomy and move one.

the waki commission and the need for total truth

I have previously stated my sympathies for William Ruto. But on this one I think the man from Eldoret North is going a bit too far. For a whole minister to go on record and rubbish the work of a highly respected commission is indeed deplorable. I hope that soon enough Ruto will realise that the more he continues to shout from the roof tops about the uselessness of the commission’s finding the more Kenyans will start pointing fingers at him.

It is true that the Rift Valley was the hotbed of the violence and that most of the perpetrators may have been Ruto’s adopted constituents. It is therefore expected that someone from the Rift Valley would come out and defend the perpetrators. But this is not how to go about it. The systemic problems that caused the flare up last January will not be solved by the commission’s prosecution of the perpetrators. I hope Kenyans realise that and that the commission appreciates this fact in its recommendations – I have downloaded a copy of the report but because of a term paper and other commitments haven’t been able to read through it (plus it’s like over 500 pages long!). In light of this fact, I don’t see why Ruto wants the truth to be swept under the carpet this early. He ought to let the truth come out and then we shall deal with the truth as responsible citizens who want a united future for Kenya.

If the people of Rift Valley and their leaders killed innocent Kenyans, Kenyans deserve to know. The victims need to know who these people are. From here we ought then to proceed to why these atrocities were committed and if we are true to ourselves we shall realise that the solution is not retribution but honest reconciliation. It is no secret that land was the issue in the Rift Valley. On this basis, some form of amnesty and redistribution of land can be worked out – but only after the truth has been put out there.

So Mr. Ruto should not be afraid, this only betrays his guilt – whether apparent or real. He should instead advocate for a responsible handling of the reconciliation process. This is his only realistic way of navigating through the tricky issue of the violence. If he however choses to confront the rest of the country by rubbishing the report, he will lose face and his own party might throw him under the bus. More importantly, Kenya may end up further divided with residents of the Rift Valley feeling alienated and marginalised. Nobody wants that. I hope this is clear to William Ruto.

zimbabwean leaders, stop acting childish

Am I the only one tired of the antics of Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai? This struggle over which ministries to give to which party is turning into child play. How hard can it be to agree on which posts to take? This is not rocket science. And what gives these lunatics of leaders the idea that they can continue to mortgage their citizens’ lives as they leisurely engage in inane political fights??

Zimbabweans are hurting – no one needs a reminder about this. And I just read an article about the collapsing school system. This is particularly sad because education holds the key to the future. If Zimbabwean children lag behind they are going to have a hard time catching up and competing in the increasingly globalized labor market – if and when their economy recovers and sanity returns to their country.

Quite frankly, I am simply sick and tired of the circus that is the negotiations. Mugabe and Tsvangirai should be locked in a room without food or bathroom break until they come up with a deal that will work for Zimbabweans and stop the madness that has characterised this once promising African country.

this is total bull, and we should not be scared by it

I just read a BBC piece that the Islamist terrorists in Somalia are threatening to attack Kenya if it goes ahead with plans to train about 10,000 Somali soldiers. Really? Seriously? Are we supposed to be scared by this?

Somalia has been a mess since Siad Barre was deposed in the early 90s. Thugs and war lords have made normal life impossible for millions of Somali from all walks of life. For well over a decade the country has not had a functional government. While I opposed the Somali invasion to ged rid of the Islamic Courts union government, I think that that is all water under the bridge now. And quite frankly in retrospect that might have been a good idea. There is heavy Western investment in Kenya and the last thing we needed was a government that pals around with terrorists, to borrow from that now famous Alaskan.

Training these soldiers, is a good idea. It is time Somalia had a government to impose peace and stability. Due to the rampant clanism in the country, democracy will not work. At least not in the short term. The best thing to do is have a functional government that is moderately legitimate and have it use all human-rights-respecting means to quell the violence and bring some order and civility to Somali life.

Now, these thugs might carry out their threat and kill Kenyans. And I would find it hard to justify sacrificing Kenyan lives on behalf of Somalis – or vise versa. But sometimes we have to stand up for what is right. Kenya should not feel threatened by pirates and common thugs with kalashnikovs. We are stronger and braver than that. I say let’s go ahead and train these Somalis and if these thugs attack us we shall take it to them. We can do it.

the 2008 world hunger index: it is not pretty

So the 2008 world hunger index (WHI) published by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) from the US and Welthungerhilfe from Germany is out and it is ugly. No, I am not talking about the horrible pictures of African children covered in ashes or an emaciated South Asian woman and her child which are prominently displayed in the report. I am talking about the fact that Sub-Saharan Africa still remains the hungriest part of the world. The DRC, Eritrea, Burundi and Niger are among the worst performing countries in Africa and in the world.

Kenya (55th out of 88) is hungrier than Mauritania, a desert country. The least hungry continental Sub-Saharan African country is South Africa.

It is embarrassing that over 10,000 years after humans invented agriculture over 900 million people still go hungry worldwide (South Asia and Africa being the worst affected areas). It is sad that many African countries still cannot feed their own people. A combination of wars, bad politics and a dearth of planning has ensured that millions of Africans continue to go hungry. When are we going to start thinking seriously about agriculture, population control and food stability?