In a week that produced a historic ruling on integrity, honour and fitness to serve by the tribunal investigating suspended Deputy Chief Justice Nancy Baraza, our Cabinet came up with a Bill on integrity that attempts to pull us back to the bad old days of the Moi/Kibaki rule.
The watered-down, toothless Cabinet Bill was not unexpected, for sitting at the table is a collection of individuals who are allergic to integrity, have indictments for crimes against humanity on their heads, and are involved in massive corruption scandals, all determined to avoid accountability, even if it means trashing the Constitution that they swore to protect and promote, or keeping us at the back end of history.
It is the “uta do?” approach from the Cabinet that really irritates. Kenya has moved on, but they don’t get it. They may have the power now, but they should ask Daniel arap Moi or Philip Moi what can happen when that power goes, as it surely will.
It is in their interest to make Kenya as fair and just as possible, always imagining their worst enemy in power.
But they will not win, for the momentum in the country is shifting against impunity, arrogance and corruption.
The ruling against Nancy Baraza is one indicator — and a big one too — but others include the responses to the ongoing debate on whether William Ruto and Uhuru Kenyatta should contest the presidency, given their indictments on crimes against humanity.
These have overwhelmingly been positive on the side of accountability and integrity, though there has been lots of personalisation.
Of course, some of those against Ruto and Kenyatta on the ballot would probably have a different view if their preferred candidate were the one indicted by the ICC.
So let’s be clear. This debate is not about Ruto and Kenyatta: If Musalia Mudavadi, James ole Kiyapi, Raila Odinga, or Martha Karua were to be indicted by the ICC, my position would be exactly the same.
It is plain silly to think that we are not desecrating our Constitution and country by having leaders indicted for the most serious crimes in the world.
What makes this more absurd is the fact that were Kiyapi, Karua or Odinga facing murder charges in our High Court today, and had been found to have a case to answer, as the ICC accused persons have, you can be sure they would not be on the ballot.
And there would barely be a debate about that. But somehow — and perhaps only in Kenya — can someone charged with the more extreme case of crimes against humanity try to force their way onto the ballot!
It is ironic: That one charge of murder, or corruption even, can remove someone from the ballot, but grave charges of mass killings, forced displacement of thousands of people, and rape of hundreds of women does not? As my old professor Bondi Ogolla would say, “The mind boggles!”
And make no mistake: indictments by the ICC, having gone through the first judicial phase, are vastly different from allegations that anyone can make in a column, a book, in a speech, or in a drinking spree at the local bar.
Allegations that are not tested by competent investigators and judicial processes cannot be the basis of decisions on integrity.
This is why anyone with evidence must be encouraged to submit it to the ICC. This is not just a moral duty; it is a patriotic and legal one. And it’s easy enough for anyone who can use a computer:
The ICC website has a simple process for anyone to provide information and evidence. I hope that as many people with inside information use it if they are serious, and not just engage in publicity stunts for selfish political reasons that reduce their standing in society.
I am glad that, ultimately, decisions on integrity will be made by the Judiciary, the one credible public institution that seems to get what is expected from our Constitution.
And I am glad that the Nancy Baraza ruling provides a persuasive precedent, for the courts, on further defining integrity, honour and suitability, going beyond the idea of conviction alone.
For integrity, in common sense and law, is about making sure that public servants — including judicial, executive and legislative officials — are people who bring honour to Kenya and Kenyans, and reflect our aspirations rather than the reality of 50 years of dictatorship, arrogance, greed and impunity.