Institutions are created for the purpose of resisting change, that’s their main function. And they preserve all kinds of things that one doesn’t want. But how you get rid of them I do not know.
Professor A. J. P. Taylor
Last week, Gikuyu, Embu, and Meru Association (GEMA) convened a conference for leaders from its various communities in Limuru and the ostensible objective of the meeting dubbed Limuru II was to endorse Uhuru Kenyatta as their presidential candidate and to explore possible ways and means way of delaying the ICC process to enable Uhuru to vie for the presidency in the forthcoming general elections. In the end, the leaders adopted a human rights argument for postponing the ICC process and gave a thinly veiled threat of violence should the ICC process jeopardise Uhuru’s chances of vying the presidency.
The stark reality is that all legal options for preventing a full trial at The Hague are but exhausted. These are therefore, desperate times for the Ocampo Four and desperate times call for desperate measures. Apparently, the only thing that can delay a full trial now is ‘extraordinary circumstances’ and there isn’t any at the moment but that doesn’t mean one can’t be engineered. The surprise replacement of the forthright and overachieving justice and constitutional affairs minister Mutula Kilonzo with a spineless novice who will no doubt be a puppet is part of a grand scheme to create exceptional circumstances. The forged British document which created hullabaloo in Parliament was clearly calculated to inflame the public in the hope of creating artificial extraordinary circumstances that will stall the ICC process.
Limuru II however, was the deadliest political brinkmanship move yet calculated to spark extraordinary circumstances. Speakers at the conference brazenly inflamed their audience against the ICC conveniently labelling it imperialistic, the Prime Minister, Raila Odinga, and the UK, our former colonial masters.
The human right argument that was adopted to push for the postponement of Uhuru Kenyatta’s trial at The Hague is as misplaced as it is arrogant. The leaders gathered in Limuru contended that Kenyatta’s right to be elected will be infringed upon by the ICC process contrary to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. They further contended that the ICC process will deny Kenyans the right to vote for a candidate of their choice. That position is simply an absurdity because anyone charged in a court of law with a felony, though innocent till proven guilty, has legal constraints that limit or restrict his rights and freedoms. As a matter of fact, any such person is normally remanded in custody or is remanded on bail. How then on earth can the GEMA leaders in Limuru demand that Uhuru be prosecuted at his convenience when he is charged the most serious crimes known to man? Such a demand is not only untenable, it is sheer arrogance.
That arrogance was also unwittingly directed at Kenyatta’s comrades in the G7 Alliance. As far as the GEMA leaders gathered in Limuru are concerned, Uhuru Kenyatta was going to be in the ballot paper come what may. Personally, I have no sympathy for members of the G7 Alliance nevertheless I freely offer my advice to them: when you eat with the devil, eat with a big spoon –no pun intended!
Kenya as a whole also bore the brunt of that arrogance. As a nation, we are staring at the prospect of suffering the indignity of electing a president suspected of committing crimes against humanity yet there are able and reputable national leaders within the Gikuyu, Embu, and Meru communities that GEMA could support if they must support someone from their respective communities. By fronting an ICC suspect, it is obvious that the leaders in attendance at the Limuru II conference have no regard for our national values and Chapter Six of our new constitution means nothing to them.
Another group that bore the brunt of those GEMA leaders’ arrogance are the Embus and Merus. It is no secret that the Gikuyu community have hegemonic control of the GEMA and they are the sole beneficiary of GEMA. President Kibaki, a Kikuyu, is a beneficiary of the GEMA support. The late Njenga Karume, a Kikuyu, was the patron of the GEMA. Limuru II endorsed Uhuru Kenyatta’s candidature, a Kikuyu. Maina Njenga, a Kikuyu, is seeking to replace the late Njenga Karume. One would have thought that the next Patron of the GEMA would be from either the Embu or Meru communities and Kikuyu’s would not be dreaming of the position let alone being in contention for it but that is not the case. The Embu and Meru people must ask themselves what is in it for them.
GEMA is an institution that was created and exists for the purpose of resisting change by advancing and protecting the interests of home guards aka Mount Kenya mafia. However, the sons of Mau Mau freedom fighters aka Mungiki, have become enlightened and they now want what is rightfully theirs. In the words of their former leader Maina Njenga, the sons of home guards must give way to the sons of Mau Mau freedom fighters. Limuru II ended unceremoniously because the convenors disallowed the audience to be addressed by Maina Njenga. That was a clash between the old and dying and the new and budding. GEMA has no place in the new-found Kenya but doing away with it won’t be easy.