In March last year, the government, through then Internal Security permanent secretary Francis Kimemia, banned all criminal organisations.
The list of these banned organisations included the Mungiki and the Mombasa Republican Council. Since then, Mungiki, perhaps the most dreaded groups of all the banned groups, has disbanded.
That is according to its former leader Maina Njenga, who is today a self-declared born-again Christian complete with a church of his own.
Critics are, however, far from being convinced he has changed. His rhetoric remains quintessentially virulent, and his political ambition betrays a struggle between the old and the new Njenga.
As for the MRC, the group has become unapologetically bolder with time. But President Kibaki in recent addresses to the nation has been affirming the government’s position that the groups remain illegal, and their attempts to divide the country will not be tolerated.
Mr Kimemia’s Gazette notice warns that anyone associating with these banned groups risks life imprisonment. Is the Gazette notice still valid, and does the government still own it?
If so, the politicians currently prostrating before MRC in the hunt for votes should be charged for associating with an illegal group.
MRC insists it’s pursuing a just cause, top of which is Coast people’s land rights. All of us buy into their agenda. People of the Coast need land with title deeds.
Of late, though, MRC has been associated with both verbal and physical violent expression of their agenda. The declaration that no elections will take place next time at the Coast; the burning of the Electoral Commission’s property; attacks on police officers; the Pwani si Kenya mantra with its secession clarion call, are pointers to the unveiling of a guerrilla movement.
But this aggressive pursuit of the Coast people’s rights by a group outside the purview of the law is superfluous, and here is why.
In 2010, Kenyans mid-wifed a very progressive Constitution. Chapter 11 is committed to devolving both political authority and resources to the grassroots, complete with people-driven structures to oversee it.
The Bill of Rights (Cap 4) and Land and Environment (Cap 5) further reinforce the people’s right to fully enjoy the fruits of independence. Once rolled out in full, the Constitution is sure to address, in a structured manner, the rights MRC is agitating for.
So, why is it jumping the gun? What is the hurry? To me, the problem lies with failure of leadership at the Coast. Elected leaders have chosen to lead from behind.
They should be educating the electorate on the strengths of the new Constitution, and how it aims at addressing their historical grievances fundamentally.
But the politicians are behaving badly by massaging MRC, who are the cause of potential danger to national security. One cannot help but sympathise with our police in view of the dangerously confusing signals being sent by a section of the political elite concerning MRC.
Police Commissioner Mathew Iteere has pointed out the security danger we expose the whole country to by embracing groups we purport to have banned.
Mr Mwalulu is a former Taveta MP (email@example.com).