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Political parties, lawyers need to display justice from within

Sunday January 27 2019
By KALTUM GUYO

Since the corruption purge began, fingers have been pointed at every corner of Kenyan society — save for political parties and the Law Society of Kenya (LSK).

The efforts of multi-agency units working to eradicate the vice are being hampered by inertia within the political parties and the legal fraternity, who have conveniently remained passive in order to protect their members.

ROGUE MEMBERS

President Uhuru Kenyatta and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, the Opposition leader, have been vocal in lending credence to the war on corruption with other parties following suit. Rightly so.

However, political parties have failed to ensure that those members within their respective parties implicated and charged with corruption and other serious crimes are made to face internal disciplinary measures. That would go to prove their seriousness in tackling corruption and other cases of gross indiscipline within them.

It is unfair to point the finger at the Judiciary or the other arms of government for failure to tackle crime when there is little reassurance from political parties regarding taming their rogue members.

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Charity begins at home. It is incumbent upon political parties to play their part in fighting corruption and serious crimes not just from without but within.

In other jurisdictions, a politician caught in such level of criminality as ours would be made to resign from their seat. Others do so of their own volition to preserve the integrity of the seat.

Some even go as far as taking their own lives (not recommended) for the guilt of the shame they have brought upon themselves, family and country. Japan’s politics comes to mind. Respect for the rule of law and integrity have helped the Japanese to progress to greater socio-economic heights than us.

Political leaders must realise that altruistic politics is much more beneficial to the country than the mishmash style whose desire is to benefit those with “tall relatives” in the party. Political parties must, therefore, put their money where their mouth is and deal with criminality in-house before blaming others.

LSK has not only been inept in taming its members but has also clearly chosen ‘cartelism’ as bedfellows. If there is one agent of change when it comes to justice, it is LSK. But their intimidating reaction over matters that touch their members on corruption issues leaves a lot to be desired.

It is quite amusing that lawyers can spectacularly fail to challenge the State on injustice but a battery of them turns up to form a protective armour around their colleague, however deep he or she is mired in corruption.

MORAL COMPASS

Not realising that, along the way, key principles of law such as contempt of court and conflict of interest are trampled upon right before their ‘learned’ minds.

When lawyers howl at the top of their voice that a colleague charged with any misdemeanour is necessarily political witch-hunt, there lie serious issues of breach of the principle of contempt as it vitiates due process. This is a key factor in law that they conveniently overlook while in pursuit of quid pro quo from their colleagues for when their turn comes in court.

The Judiciary is rotten partly because the corrupt magistrates and judges in there got away with all sorts of misdemeanours as lawyers.

It is no surprise, therefore, to experience the level of corruption and miscarriage of justice in our courts. Lawyers carried their corrupted behaviour to the higher offices because integrity issues were not nipped in the bud by LSK.

Pursuit of justice will be a lost cause if LSK does not keep its house in order and undertake reforms by first instilling integrity at its core.

While political parties and LSK dither when it comes to justice, what suffers is the rule of law and resultant democracy. We seem to run a two-tier legal system and that has come about due to the unfair demarcation created by political parties and lawyers, who have taken the shorter and corrupt route to acquire justice for their clients with deep pockets and members with stronger connections.

Both the political class and LSK should be part of the solution to breathing life back into our justice system that can serve all equally regardless of tribe, religion or class. They should be the ones holding a mirror to the society so that it can be steered towards believing in the rule of law.

It is time to reboot our moral compass by making sure that every organisation or institution plays its part in tackling graft at its heart and help to bolster our justice system.

* * *

The biggest opposition party in Kenya, ODM, has expelled two MPs for supporting the Ruto 2022 presidential campaign.

For a political party led by someone with such enviable pro-democracy and anti-corruption credentials as Raila, one would expect ODM to also expel members facing graft and murder charges.

Such hypocrisy!

Ms Guyo is a legal researcher. [email protected], @kdiguyo

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