Quick action, arrests and prosecution will beat prayer meetings, peace calls any day

Sunday August 6 2017

Independent Boundaries and Election Commission (IEBC) Chairman Wafula Chebukati

IEBC data centre and infrastructure boss Chris Msando. He was strangled, autopsy revealed on Wednesday. FILE PHOTO | FRANCIS NDERITU | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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Scorpion wants to cross the river to the opposite bank but cannot swim, so he asks Frog to help ferry him across on his back.

Frog knows Scorpion for long and doesn’t trust him. I won’t carry you, because you sting, he tells him. For this once, replies Scorpion, I won’t sting, because you are my benefactor, can’t you see? How could I ever do something like that?

Frog is persuaded and the voyage begins, first smoothly, but right in the middle of the big drink, the dreaded sting comes. Ouch, says Frog, you said you wouldn’t sting me; you lied. Too bad, answers Scorpion, I am just Scorpion and that is what Scorpion does.

Goes to show that creatures don’t change their nature simply because of some pledge they may have made to mend their ways. A thief does not stop stealing just because he has been persuaded of the evil of thievery. It has been suggested that a kleptomaniac will, if he lacks someone to steal from, pick his own pockets to quench his thirst. It is too compulsive and visceral.

We are witnessing this behavioural phenomenon around the elections in Kenya the campaigns for which have been raging on for a few weeks now. The fear has always been that the violence of 2007/08 might erupt again, given the intensity of the campaigns and the rivalry of the two main protagonists.

To try and parry such an eventuality, leaders have held prayer meetings, calls have been made for all to exercise restraint and neighbours have watched with bated breath, hoping that this one, like the one five years ago, will go down smoothly. Last week I wrote my own personal prayer here.

But now it looks to me like the daggers are out, especially after the gruesome assassination of Chris Msando, a key ICT expert with the electoral body who may have had important cyber information affecting the outcome of the election. This may be idle speculation, and if it be that, let me be among the idlers. It just smells fishy.

So fishy, in fact, that talking heads on Nairobi TV shows have even suggested that the security minister who died suddenly a few weeks ago was also done in. If that were true it would portend serious trouble in the offing, the “canary in the coalmine,” signalling that the deep, dark pit is filling up with poisonous fumes. Action, swift and resolute, is needed to thwart any further descent into mayhem.

To begin with, a full and thorough investigation into Msando’s death is indicated in order to bring to light all those involved in the heinous crime and expose their principals and what their true incentives were or are.

Fat chance of that happening, do I hear someone saying? They did not solve Pio Gama Pinto. Not Tom Mboya, not Ronald Ngala, not JM Kariuki, not Robert Ouko.

Why would they bother with Msando? More than a thousand people perished in 2007/08 and the ICC in the Hague ran out of witnesses; who is this Msando?

If that resigned feeling gains the upper hand, then we may expect the worse on and after 08/08. People will see brute violence as a political prop to be deployed at will by those who have the ability to get away with murder, literally speaking. Impunity breeds that arrogance that makes its practitioners believe there is no power, temporal or divine, that can touch them.

That arrogance will not be cured by prayer meetings, nor will it be wished away by Kenyans of goodwill. It must be sought in a fearless and relentless pursuit of justice, and I suggest Msando is a good place to start. One feels that this young computer guru has all the makings of a martyr, with a life cut short in its prime just because he wanted to ensure the integrity of the voting process.

Quick action, followed by the requisite arrests and prosecution of those involved, will go a long way to assure Kenyans and their friends all over the world that the demons of political assassinations are now being exorcised. If that fails, goodness help us all.

In the future, Frog will not listen to the pleadings of Scorpion, and that may be the season of the great floods.

All the best, Kenya.

Jenerali Ulimwengu is chairman of the board of the Raia Mwema newspaper and an advocate of the High Court in Dar es Salaam. E-mail: [email protected]