Private Letter to Kenyatta
By Azu Ishiekwene
I can imagine your disappointment last week after the ruling of the Supreme Court declaring your election null and void.
Four out of six justices nullified an election in which 10.6 million or 54 percent voted for you as their choice, each Justice assuming the equivalent or more of 2.6 million Kenyan votes. This can only make sense in the maths of jurisprudence.
But all hope is not lost.
I was moved to write after watching an excerpt of your first press conference in which you lamented the “unfair” outcome of the ruling, but indicated that you were constrained to abide by the decision of the court.
As I watched the clip, I wondered what was going on in your mind; the prior discussions you must have had with your family and close aides, especially the Justice Minister, before you faced the press that day.
When Kenyatta was Kenyatta, it was inconceivable that any man born of a woman would nullify an election in which 10.6 million Kenyans had elected him.
You will recall, Mr. President, that until he died of a heart attack 39 years ago, your father, Jomo Kenyatta, was the sun in the Harambee firmament. The grand old man ruled Kenya for 15 years with an iron fist and only permitted opposition to exist, very briefly, as decoration.
It’s not the fault of the court, you see. Your main rival and fifth-time contender for the presidency, Raila Odinga, knows that Kenyatta senior would not have accepted from his father, Oginga Odinga, what you have had to endure at his hands.
Who knows, you may have even been in the same party with Odinga today had certain events not occurred in the mid-1960s that eventually led to the expulsion of Odinga senior from your father’s party. In hindsight, you probably thought that your father’s decision to expel Odinga, who was then his deputy from the party in 1969, was harsh.
Perhaps now, you will begin to understand why your father, a Moscow-trained revolutionary, did what he did. It was not just about the overstated differences between the Luo and the Kikuyu or any economic or ideological differences. The Odinga clan has it for you; they can’t bear being governed.
It’s been said that you’re bitter – very bitter – at the ruling of the court. You have also been quoted as describing the Chief Justice and other Justices of the Supreme Court as ‘wakora’ (crooks and scoundrels), vowing that you will “fix” the court once the election is over.
That statement has led to many unflattering interpretations, including a rebuke from the Law Society of Kenya. It didn’t help matters that not long after your statement, the dormitory where the daughter of Chief Justice David Maraga was staying at Moi Girls High School, was burnt down. She escaped by sheer instinct. For some inexplicable reason, she had decided to stay elsewhere that day.
Mr. President, I imagine that in the face of the unexpected setback following the Supreme Court ruling, the true Kenyatta blood in you might be stirred up. But hold your peace. You don’t have to force your opponents to walk the plank. In spite of the setback, you will win again on October 17.
How? That’s what this private letter is about. Your party, the Jubilee party, has done what Napoleon could not do – providing free maternal care; cleaning up the slums; digitizing public records and opening them up to public access and scrutiny; adding over 325 MW of power to the national grid in two years; and constructing a standard gauge railway from Mombasa to Nairobi, among others.
Of course, the opposition National Super Alliance (NASA) has been sniping at your government for allegedly over-borrowing and failing to transparently account for a Ksh 280 billion (about $2.7billion) Eurobond loan, thereby raising the spectre that this could be another Anglo-Leasing scandal, one of the worst scandals in Kenya’s history.
But, surely, you can understand the mentality of the opposition, Mr. President. These people are poor upstairs. They are posing as friends of the poor for votes, while trying to frame you as the out-of-touch heir of a rich father, whose mother, Ngina, was also one of Kenya’s richest women. It’s jealousy, Mr. President, pure jealousy.
As for the matter at hand, that is, the repeat election of October 17, I repeat that there’s no reason why you should not win again. And the good news is that you can even win without contesting the election.
Don’t be surprised, Mr. President. If you lost by contesting, why do you suppose you cannot win without contesting? I’m not speaking of a political contest, of course. I’m speaking, instead, of a legal contest, taking the fight to the opponent on the same turf where you lost: the court.
I’m aware of the limitations of Kenya’s Constitution; that election petitions have to be dispensed with within 14 days at the Supreme Court and that pre-election matters are decided in Kenya before elections. I’m also aware that you have agreed to abide by the decision of the court.
Yet in what might be your last chance to clinch victory from the jaws of a setback, you must act before the Court publishes its full judgment; you must aim to sterilise the judgment of the Supreme Court and arrest it before it becomes public. If you can do that, Justice Maraga and his brother Justices will have no choice but to review their judgment, eat the humble pie and award your hard-earned victory.
All you need, Mr. President, are the services of a few bright Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs). Since we have the same Common law heritage, it shouldn’t be difficult for them to adapt.
You can get the SANs in trailer loads, if you want. Our politicians line them up all the time for all sorts of cases. And if you excuse my quoting President Donald Trump here, these folks know how to win.
If I may hint at it, Mr. President, for a matter as important as yours, our SANs will bring a forensic focus to bear on the Kenyan Constitution that will reveal the hidden technicalities. Their Lordships will be surprised to find there’s quite a handful, enough at least, to deliver preemptive victory before October 17.
By the time our SANs have finished with the legal technicalities and prayers for adjournment upon adjournment, Mr. President would have nearly completed his four-year second term; and who knows where the 72-year-old Odinga would be by then?
Mr. President does not have to worry about what Kenyans may say about the novelty of seeking legal help abroad. Even if a few Kenyans are unhappy about it, foreign observers including John Kerry and Thabo Mbeki would be too pleased for this saving grace. They know that in a globalized world, help is where you find it. What is new anyway? Is the jury not out on whether or not the Russians helped Trump win?
I must resist the temptation to say more, publicly. Mr. President should rest assured that as he weighs this exceptional approach, his father’s benign spirit is smiling over him, urging him not to throw away the ancient victory over the archrivals.
Delay may be dangerous.
Ishiekwene is the MD/Editor-In-Chief of The Interview magazine and board member of the Paris-based Global Editors Network