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The Waki Report – Implement it Now

From: matunda@hotmail.com To: africa-oped@egroups.com
Subject: Waki Report – a test for us all Kenyans
Date: Sun, 2 Nov 2008 04:58:03 +0000

The latest reports from Nairobi say that some ministers have threatened to resign from government should it implementation recommendations of the Waki Report. It is said that the report on post-election violence in Kenya has identified individuals seen to have fanned conflict in which hundreds of Kenyans lost lives while thousands were displaced. It is further said that the report recommends prosecution of these individuals for human rights violations and (possibly) crimes against humanity.

The violence that followed the December 27, 2007 elections took an ethnic dimension largely because of the manner in which the problem was stated during the election campaign; there was a clear ethnic bent to the campaign in which specific groups were targeted. Moreover, discussions of majimbo (with its historical baggage of ethnically pure regions) set expectations that were dulled following the Electoral Commission’s mishandling of the presidential elections.

There are allegations that some politicians had planned (or rather implied there would be) ethnic cleansing should had they won the elections. The election outcome came as a disappointment and hence the mayhem, murder and destruction of property that followed.

The situation was inflamed by both the media and political leaders that agitated for violence following what they termed a stolen election. The response from the police with extra-judicial killings only worsened the situation. Inflamed passions put the country on a civil war footing. Thanks to the international community and the efforts of former UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, the worst was averted. It will take a long time to attain normalcy in Kenya, despite the unease accommodation of protagonists in the Grand Coalition.

What happened in Kenya following the election has no place in any modern nation, let alone one that boasts of being the most stable and a leader in democracy on the African continent. And sure, not every election outcome is going to favour each one’s expected outcome. It is the reason some get power while others don’t. And those that don’t usually would bide their time and hope to win another day. Losers are also at liberty to challenge outcomes in courts of law. Resorting to violence and mayhem has no place in modern times.

Democracy should be based on the competition of ideas rather than use misguided passion that imperils a nation’s well-being. There is no place for violence in a democracy!

The Waki Report is a test for the country. Specifically, this is a test on whether Kenya is prepared to face the truth of what happened and deal with that truth, openly, transparently and resolutely. It is notable that the report has only made recommendations and in no way condemns anyone! Only the courts will convict where there is evidence; courts will also let free those accused and for which the evidence doesn’t support conviction.

Those fingered by the report need not fear if they did not do anything wrong; a fairly convened court should establish their innocence or otherwise. Only the guilty should be afraid. And indeed, they should pay for their crimes if found guilty!

There is more!

Since 2002 Kenyans have been calling for a Truth & Justice Commission that would revisit ills of the past, establish the facts and truth thereof; and ensure that the nation comes to terms with the evils that have been committed since the founding of the nation. To date, this call has fallen on deaf ears. I posit that our failure to come to terms with our history has failed the nation; and that we are now paying the costs of failure to learn from the lessons of our past!

This is a past in which leaders did what they did with impunity, be it under Daniel Arap Moi or Jomo Kenyatta; here there was detention without trial, extra-judicial killings, looting of public coffers and land grabbing that left those entitled to land destitute. There is plenty of dirt in this past!

It is no wonder that those accused of human rights abuses did what they did in post-elections violence; they perhaps were looking at the past and saw that others got away with crimes they committed and they too thought they could get away with it!

In the lead up to the 1992 elections there was widespread ethnic cleansing with people displaced from their homes; in the name of reclaiming ancestral lands. More accurately, it was to rid areas of opposition support as Moi and his cohorts gunned for re-election.

No culprits were identified! No justice was done for the thousands of victims that lost their lives and property!

We saw a repeat of the same in the lead up to 1997 elections. Once more, no culprits have been fingered; and yet there victims – both dead and scarred! These too have yet to see justice done.

There is more.

Kenya has seen political murders in the past. Famous examples include Pio Gama Pinto, TJ Mboya, JM Kariuki and Robert Ouko. In the latter three cases, government did put in motion what was seen as fickle attempts to get to the killers! Yet, justice has not been seen to be done!

One must ask: how long will this continue!

Some time and some place, this must stop! The Waki Report provides a chance for us to stop this impunity of crime!

Kenyans MUST seek the implementation of the report to the letter. Kenyans MUST also seek that those fingered are treated as fairly as necessary to ensure justice is done.

Simply put: implement the report with as much transparency as necessary.

The report should be implemented for the sake of justice, for those that paid with dear lives and for the future of the nation. The country cannot afford to sweep under the rag its dirt every time things happen. And this has happened too many times with commission reports gathering dust while a placated and complacent populace sits back absorbing injustices as they happen and ceding their rights to those trampling on them with impunity!

It must stop some time; some place. And that time is here; it is now!

Related links:

Election Controversy Must not Warrant Senseless Killings

Kenya: Roots of Conflict & Hope for the Future

© 2008 Matunda Nyanchama can be reached at matunda@matunda.org

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