Forget Ngunjiri petition, what is coming next should worry us
If I was CJ David Maraga, I would not worry about Nyeri Town MP Ngunjiri Wambugu’s petition. I would worry about what will come next. The petition is an exploratory salvo, a shot across the bow.
I very much doubt Jubilee wants to begin serious hostilities against the Judiciary until after the repeat election of October 17. However, the outline of what lies ahead is beginning to take shape. Last week, on the Senate floor, Jubilee senators revealed plans to introduce legislation to restrict the Supreme Court’s powers of determining election outcomes. That is just the start.
Was Ngunjiri acting at the behest of higher forces? I don’t know. Or was he just ventilating the deep bitterness felt by President Kenyatta’s supporters with Maraga’s verdict? Jubilee has taken the trouble to distance itself from his petition, arguing it was an individual’s decision. At the same time, Jubilee figures like Senator Kipchumba Murkomen claim the petition raises “very weighty” matters.
Indeed, Jubilee foot soldiers are not opposed to the petition per se. Their problem is that Ngunjiri jumped the gun. In other words, they opposed the timing, stressing that the party’s undivided focus should be on the forthcoming presidential election. That was the position
There is a grand conspiracy theory in Jubilee circles that the Judiciary has been ‘captured’ by radical elements in civil society.”
Uhuru took when he requested the MP to withdraw his petition. Minutes later, Ngunjiri tweeted that he would shelve it, “for now.”
There is a grand conspiracy theory being weaved in Jubilee circles that the Judiciary has been “captured” by radical elements in civil society. The point they make is that these elements display a raw hatred for the Kenyatta government than can be explained by their normal mandate. They further claim that these civil society groups have successfully manoeuvred their own people to serve as researchers and brain trusts for senior judges.
Speaking on the floor of the National Assembly on Wednesday, MP Kimani Ichung’wa sensationally alleged that these researchers are even writing entire judgments for certain judges. Well, we will know if there is this transference of thinking when we read the full Supreme Court ruling.
Oddly, Jubilee think-tanks don’t seem to hold as much bile against the IEBC, unlike the Nasa fraternity, which has zeroed in on the Commission with laser-like ferocity. Nasa has made the removal of the Commission’s CEO Ezra Chiloba a pre-condition for the coalition’s participation in the coming election. I was fearing Jubilee would counter-attack by demanding the head of IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati which, given his position, would throw the Commission into total disarray. The chairman had caused outrage within Jubilee ranks over his extraordinary memo to Chiloba, which the party is convinced was synchronised with Nasa’s complaints. Chebukati has since backtracked on the memo after four commissioners disowned it.
The assault on Maraga has put Uhuru in an awkward position with voters in Kisii-land, where Jubilee had performed rather well during the August 8th election. When the President met a Kisii delegation in Nakuru last week, he stuck to his guns about Maraga, but explained that this had nothing to do with his relationship with the Kisii community. The answer will come on October 17.
Matters have reached a point where alarmed Uhuru supporters have started to wonder if he has what it takes to navigate through the ongoing crisis thrown up by the Supreme Court’s invalidation of his election. They are astonished that with all the intelligence services at his disposal, he was caught embarrassingly flat-footed by the nullification of the August 8 presidential election.
The Opposition has been running rings around him ever since he took office in 2013. It started early on with the amorphous Baba-while-youwere-away chorus and demands by Raila Odinga for “dialogue.” It escalated to the failed Okoa Kenya referendum initiative, then to the Opposition demos that led to the ejection of the electoral commission headed by Isaack Hassan.
In the event he wins on October 17, Uhuru should expect more of the same for the remainder of his term, including threats of mass action.
Warigi is a sociopolitical commentator firstname.lastname@example.org