Saturday, 1 June 2013

The early consequences of choosing Uhuru, Ruto

Posted  Saturday, June 1  2013 at  15:42

Former US assistant secretary of state for Africa Johnnie Carson has recently become the butt of jokes among the fans of President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto for his “choices have consequences” remark, suggesting Kenya risked international isolation if the ICC suspects were elected to high office.
As it turns out, the major world powers, including the US, appear keen to maintain business-as-usual diplomatic relations with Kenya.
And each time Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto have made the most of this, flying out of the country in turns ever so often or presiding at much-publicised diplomatic events, their followers have gleefully responded with that “choices have consequences” remark!
Yet on the domestic front Mr Carson’s warning is proving very much a self-fulfilling prophesy.
Kenyan taxpayers will have to underwrite the cost of the anti-ICC diplomatic posturing, including bills for luxury jets, British PR consultants and Washington lobbyists – which is no better way of wasting money than throwing it at MPs.
For a people long used to their leaders picking their pockets, that might pass as relatively normal.
A more worrying consequence is the sense of hopelessness among Kenyans amid a growing culture of impunity in public life.
The public indifference to the report of the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) released last week suggests few believe it will amount to anything.
Of course, they are right; expecting the Uhuru administration to implement the recommendations of the TJRC report is like asking it to commit political suicide.
Reinforcing accounts
The report links the President and the Deputy President with the 2007/2008 post-election violence, reinforcing the accounts of the Waki Commission, the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights and the ICC prosecutor.
The report also names the usual suspects implicated in land grabbing, ethnically instigated violence, and other historical injustices by past public inquiries like the Ndung’u Commission and the Akiwumi Commission.
The fate of the TJRC report must also be seen against the light of the emerging assault on institutions set up by the Constitution to fight impunity like the National Land Commission and the National Police Service Commission.
Officials of the National Land Commission last week lamented the Treasury’s decision to give them only five per cent of their budget.
This, together with petty wars with Land ministry officials over office space, are clearly meant to frustrate the work of an institution handed the difficult task of breaking Kenya’s age-old curse.
Meanwhile, proposed amendments to the National Police Service Act 2011 are set to return the law enforcement agency into rogue force not accountable to the public.
Otieno Otieno is chief sub-editor, Business Daily. Twitter @otienootieno

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