In the 2013 election, Jubilee’s Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto ran against International Criminal Court Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda. The two Jubilee honchos spun a yarn tying CORD’s Raila Odinga to their ICC woes. They charged that Raila was in collusion with the ICC and the West to deny them tenancy at the State House.
Of course that was a bunch of hooey – Raila had nothing to do with their tribulations at The Hague. But it was an effective lie. The truth was Ms Bensouda, like her predecessor Luis Moreno Ocampo, believed the Jubilee duo belonged to a prison cell at The Hague for crimes against humanity. Five years later, Kenyatta and Ruto have found another convenient scapegoat – Chief Justice David Maraga.
During the 2013 election, Kenyatta and Ruto wrapped themselves in the flag of Afrocentrism. They cried racism and pointed to the ICC – which they called a white man’s court based in a white man’s country – as the return of colonialism.
Kenyatta invoked the image of his father – the Burning Spear himself – in chains at Kapenguria in a white man’s prison unjustly convicted by the British Empire for seeking to break the yoke of colonialism and free Africans. In this clever narrative, Kenyatta enlisted the African Union – a club of dictators – to save his hide. The AU happily obliged and hypocritically charged the ICC with “hunting Africans.” The specter – imagery – of whites hunting Africans conjures up painful history.
It’s indisputable Jubilee’s strongholds of central Kenya and the Rift Valley voted to the last man – and woman – for their kith and kin. Kikuyus and Kalenjins were convinced a Raila victory would have their sons on the next plane to The Hague for a date with Bensouda.
They were played like a flute by Kenyatta and Ruto. It was that bilious ethnic mobilisation and the shenanigans at the IEBC that robbed Raila and his running mate Kalonzo Musyoka victory. The Supreme Court in a decision that will live in infamy compounded the error without any credible explanation. The hoi polloi and mere earthlings like me were left to speculate what demon had visited the Supreme Court.
On September 1 2017, the Maraga Court removed the stain of the 2013 decision when it held that the IEBC had colluded to rig the election. Raila, Kalonzo, and their NASA brigade were vindicated in spite of corrupted international observer missions that had falsely given the August 8 poll a clean bill of health.
The nullification of the presidential election was a first for Africa. Kenyans owe a debt of gratitude to CJ Maraga, DCJ Philemona Mwilu, Justice Smokin Wanjala, and Justice Isaac Lenaola. While I accept the dissents by Justice Jackton Ojwang and Lady Justice Njoki Ndung’u, I must say I find them wholly without an iota of jurisprudential merit. Since the historic judgement, Jubilee has come completely unhinged.
In particular, Kenyatta and Ruto have gone off the rails. They’ve called Maraga and the Supreme Court’s majority “crooks” and “scoundrels” whom they will fix after they are re-elected. Kenyans are aghast at such dangerous bloviation by the top Jubilee leaders.
Kenyatta’s sense of entitlement is stunning. Prior to the ruling – which he must thought was a slam dunk – Kenyatta was full of bravado and braggadocio as he taunted Raila to accept the ruling of the Supreme Court. He obviously wasn’t ready to drink his own medicine. Kenyatta would do well to remember that although Raila was deeply disappointed in the 2013 ruling, he never attacked CJ Mutunga.
In Kenyatta’s eyes, CJ Maraga and the Supreme Court are the new Bensouda and the ICC. It’s clear that Kenyatta and Ruto intend to whip up the emotions of their ethnic strongholds by running against CJ Maraga and the Supreme Court. Their argument is simple and easy – the people elected them but the “unelected” CJ Maraga and the Supreme Court stole their victory in collusion with Raila and NASA. They duped their supporters in 2013 with a similar argument, and they are trying to dupe them again with a similar tall tale. My two cents – I don’t think the people will buy this nonsense on stilts again. Take this to the bank – CJ Maraga and the Supreme Court are wildly popular now.
Finally, Kenyatta and Ruto would do well to remember it’s unbecoming for grown men to throw tantrums in public. If they continue to do so, Raila and Kalonzo will beat them like a drum. The Supreme Court has put Kenya in the annals of world history. The people of Kenya will make history again in 36 days.
- Prof Makau Mutua is SUNY Distinguished Professor at SUNY Buffalo Law School and Chair of KHRC. @makaumutua.