By Blamuel Njururi, Kenya Confidential Editor-in-Chief, Nairobi, January 28, 2020
FORTY one Mount Kenya Parliamentarians today wrote a vitriolic letter intended for President Uhuru Kenyatta‘s attention ahead of the Sagana 3 meeting with Central Kenya leaders on Saturday.
The letter (below) raises pertinent economic issues facing Central Kenya populations, admonishes Raila Odinga and sanitises his partner in 2007-2008 ethnic massacre William Ruto in unsavoury language that has become the trade mark of the youthful generation dominating Kenya’s political stage.
The eleven page letter appears to be a precursor to a well rehearsed dissent towards the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI), Raila presidential candidacy and a deliberate effort to sanitise Ruto as Central Kenya saviour from the destruction of Uhuru (not UhuRuto) government. The letter was signed by 41 Members of Parliament and Senators.
The bare-knuckles letter paints a picture of shifting grounds for a prodigal son returning home after exploits of worldly pleasures to find his abandoned home in desolate socio-economic ruin. The signatories to the letter leave no doubt that there is no love lost between them and the president.
The letter is a clear indication that indeed, minds are being radicalised by Ruto and Rutocrats to a point where Kenya could be the next democracy to witness the January 6 Donald Trump-led type of insurrection in the world’s oldest democracy of United States of America. Kenya is indeed, on a precarious journey towards 2022 General Election and the BBI train is stuck in the wilderness.
January 28, 2021
Hon Uhuru Kenyatta, CGH
President & Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Forces of the
Republic of Kenya
Your Excellency Sir,
RE: SAGANA 3 MT KENYA CONSULTATIVE MEETING
As leaders of the people of Mt Kenya, we appreciate your convening of Sagana 3 consultative meeting with some of the leadership in the region you hail from, and who have unfailingly supported you to the last person.
We commend you very highly for this effort. However, having not been invited to this meeting, and although we were denied an opportunity to speak at the last meeting, coupled with your inaccessibility to us, has necessitated that we respectfully address a number of issues to you through this open letter.
At the onset, we call your attention to the fact, which you must be aware of, that this meeting takes place at a time of serious disquiet in the minds and hearts of the residents of the Mt Kenya region. We also know that you are cognizant of the fact that the outcomes of previous engagements with regional leadership have not led to productive follow-up and implementation. As a result, serious problems facing our people remain unresolved despite the investment of time and effort into deliberations.
As your friends and supporters, we feel that the failures and delays in addressing the issues of our region are due to the fact that you are not receiving reliable briefing on the actual situation on the ground. Without addressing real issues, your administration is unlikely to make much of an impact even with the best intentions. For Sagana 3 to serve its purpose, it is our duty as leaders of the region, on behalf of the people, to acquaint Your Excellency with the issues with clarity and honesty.
At a meeting at the Regional Commissioner’s residence in Nyeri, we presented highly detailed memoranda for every constituency, outlining projects agreed on before the 2017 election. The memoranda were all submitted to Government for coordination and implementation.
No subsequent meeting has made any reference at all to the issues raised nor indeed to the memoranda themselves. As may be expected, none of the projects captured in those proceedings has taken off.
Under President Mwai Kibaki’s administration, we experienced unprecedented rates of economic growth. People had money in their pockets and economic activity was high and visible. This happened despite many serious challenges, including post-election violence.
Today, economically speaking, Mt. Kenya is limping and groaning. People are crying bitter tears. In Nyamakima, Gikomba, Kamukunji and on Taveta, Kirinyaga and River roads, businesses have closed as besieged traders relocate to the rural areas to dress their wounds.
This personal and communal suffering is a direct result of the policies of Your Excellency’s administration. Import and export trade, which employed millions of traders from our region, was viciously disrupted when merchandise that formed the mainstay of countless enterprises was branded counterfeit. It was impounded, seized, destroyed and set on fire (sometimes by the President himself).
Our people literally saw their lives’ savings and lifetime investments go up in smoke.
Another policy of Your Excellency’s administration that has caused profound anguish and destitution was the aggressive demolition of structures housing families and businesses of many people. In the bitter cold of a freezing July, at the height of the deadly Covid-19 pandemic, hardworking Kenyans in Ruai and Kariobangi were woken up to the terrible turmoil of heavy machinery pulverizing their homes, businesses and little hustles.
As much as we appreciate infrastructure improvements and the efforts to spruce up urban areas, the humanitarian and economic impact of wanton destruction of property on vulnerable people has been inordinate.
The road transport industry continues to suffer untold losses due to discriminative Covid-19 restrictions affecting matatus and boda boda transport as opposed to rail and air transport that are operating in full capacity. Our miraa farmers’ access to international markets remains closed as opposed to the government support extended to flower growers (among them the President’s family and friends).
Despite your administration promising to focus on the Big Four agenda post-2017, agenda that would have created millions of jobs for our youth (jeshi), the self-same jeshi now languish in poverty after the Big Four agenda was abandoned in favour of the Small Two Agenda of the Handshake and BBI. (Jeshi ti ngenu).
It is also notable that while past generations of our people have a history of economic empowerment and prosperity in the city of Nairobi, it is during your tenure that our people are leaving the city in droves. From the golden era of the impressive Rwathia Boys, who pulled themselves up to economic success by their bootstraps, to the Nyamakima, Latema and River Road businesspeople of today, our people have always resiliently survived against all odds even against the dark Moi days. It is shocking to note that businesses that have survived the hardest of times in our country’s history are now closing shop under your administration.
If you take time to read the daily news, Your Excellency, it will come to your notice that 10-14 pages of our newspapers are taken up by advertisements posted by auctioneers. They are putting the assets of entrepreneurs, whose pending bills have remained unpaid by your administration for years even after your repeated verbal interventions.
On Madaraka Day 2019 in Narok, you directed that these pending bills be paid forthwith. We are concerned that neither your directive on that occasion nor subsequent orders have gone utterly unheeded – (especially by Principal Secretaries like Water PS Joseph Wairagu Irungu.)
In particular, our worry is that your Cabinet does not heed your directives or worse: That all along, you were engaging in public relations with no intention to keep your word. In the 17 months remaining to the expiry of your term in office, the people pray that you will devote your time and effort to high-impact programmes to spark a rapid revival of the economy.
We look forward to economic growth rates and accompanying welfare impact of President Kibaki’s era.
Guaranteed Minimum Returns
Through Parliament, we as regional political leaders, in conjunction with allies across the country, have made progress in developing the Guaranteed Minimum Returns framework to incentivize agricultural production, food security and economic growth. We appreciate that the Government is now taking the Bills through public participation.
However, there is the risk of the framework ending up as another public relations stunt without the establishment of the Guaranteed Minimum Returns Fund, which would guarantee our farmers a return underwritten by such a fund for their miraa, coffee, milk, tea, potatoes, pyrethrum, rice, ndengu, tobacco and maize, among other produce.
Politics of Deceit and Betrayal
Your Excellency and His Excellency the Deputy President, Honourable William Ruto, set out to end the politics of division and conflict, ethnicity, balkanization, deceit and betrayal, and formalized this shift through the covenant, which inaugurated the Jubilee movement. This was a new and hopeful dawn, not just for our people, but also for Kenya as a whole.
The new political turn in the conduct and practice of politics has, therefore, left us disappointed and outraged. Our people are honourable people, whose lives and livelihoods are based on honesty and trust. Many are devoted Christians. As entrepreneurs and businesspeople, our people’s lives depend on trust and honesty.
The new political agenda propounded by a faction publicly allied to you, which seeks to normalize treachery, dishonesty, deceit and betrayal as defining traits of our region and people is tragic, dangerous and unacceptable. We are honourable people, and we want it to be known always, in word and deed, that we stand for honour, honesty, integrity and trust in all of our dealings.
Another dismaying turn in our politics is the frequent use of abusive and disrespectful language against our people and their leaders. Recent unacceptable outbursts have employed unsavory expressions like washenzi, ghasia, takataka ya siasa and similar unfortunate and extremely unbecoming language. The total erosion of civility at the highest level of leadership is a source of tremendous disenchantment throughout the Mt Kenya region.
Our people are also deeply concerned about your administration’s unprecedented derogation of the Constitution and the rule of law. This has set the pace for current and future administrations to treat the law as an unnecessary nuisance. Consequently, the people’s rights and freedoms would be trampled upon.
We have also noted your sentiments, Your Excellency, that neither the leaders nor the residents of the Mt. Kenya region contributed to your electoral victories in 2013 and 2017. We recognize that you are entitled to your opinion, even if we disagree with it. We, however, invite you to appreciate that in the repeat election after the nullification of your victory by the Supreme Court, none of us was a candidate. Yet for 60 days, we mobilized non-stop and rallied hard on your behalf.
It has also been noted that you have never visited any part of the Mt Kenya region to say thank you to the people for standing with you, and that your tours are increasingly ill-tempered, abusive encounters where the leaders as well as the people are left humiliated. We cannot help but contrast this with your demeanour in Kisumu, where you are a frequent visitor. In those tours, you are unfailingly cheerful and decorous, acknowledging, affirming and respecting the people and their leader.
For 8 years, between 2011 and 2018, you consistently and persistently cautioned us that Raila Odinga was Kenya’s foremost problem, and pleaded with us to send him home for the country to move forward. You were only emphasizing what our people already knew, taking into account his history in the use of violence and ethnic divisions as a means to achieve political power. As a result, he is an existential threat to the economy and national unity.
We must be direct and truthful with you: We cannot sell Raila Odinga in our region or, indeed, any other imposed presidential candidate. You blame the leaders and people of the Mt. Kenya region for being reluctant to accept the Handshake and the BBI. It is not their fault. The successful effort you made to persuade the people and render Raila Odinga unacceptable in Mt. Kenya cannot be undone in your lifetime.
Political Persecution of Leaders
A major factor in the disquiet in the Mt. Kenya region is a result of the harassment and humiliation of political leaders who disagree with you using State agencies, including the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI), Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC), Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) and Asset Recovery Agency.
This persecution extends to the withdrawal of personal security, seizure of protective firearms and brazen threats of serious harm. After intimidation failed, our leaders were removed from parliamentary leadership positions and committees. These positions were given to ODM, the party we decisively defeated in the last election.
The people of our region are not new to abuses of State power. The British colonialists brutalized the region by forceful seizure of land and property, detention and torture, assassination and terror through aircraft bombers, machine guns, rifles, grenades. They were not intimidated. Proudly, they took to the Aberdare and Mt Kenya forests armed with nothing more than pangas and a strong conviction, and prevailed. We are a proud, freedom-loving and freedom-winning people. Also, our people resisted the tyranny of the Nyayo regime.
We do not buy fear, and we naturally resist intimidation. The reaction from the ground is nothing more than the people’s instinctive rejection of tyranny. Our communities are people who believe in persuasion, discussion, consultation and consensus as opposed to coercion and intimidation.
Threat of Violence
A few salient events concern us quite deeply, Your Excellency. First, was your intervention to admonish the DCI and stop his indelicate attempts to weaponize the post-election violence of 2007. Although the DCI’s actions are worrisome in and of themselves, the fact that an officer in the security sector who serves under you could undertake a programme of such a scale without your knowledge is astonishing. Your statement that you read about it all in the newspapers, suggesting that no intelligence brief had escalated it to your attention, leaves many of us with shaken confidence.
We also hope that you have noted the effort to bastardise the Hustler nation narrative, which many of us subscribe to, and misrepresent it as a rich-versus-poor narrative.
Moreover, we bring to your attention the increased visible political activity of Maina Njenga, the leader of the murderous outlawed sect Mungiki, at a time when leaders have been threatened with assassination, and false-flag crimes uncovered. His association with your foremost political allies is also significant and unsettling.
During your address through our region’s vernacular Gikuyu stations, you cited the case of arson where a truck ferrying livestock was set ablaze together with its cargo, as evidence that hustlers are dangerous. The incident you referred to did not occur in Kenya, but at a place called Saki, Oyo State in Nigeria. This particular incident creates worry about whether your government’s decisions, especially those with political implications, are based on sound intelligence.
People want assurances that they are secure. Every time we see Maina Njenga in political activity, the trauma of his reign of terror in Central Province a decade ago is revived.
We are also concerned about the insecurity in northern Kenya, including Laikipia County. After what has been happening in Kapedo, the county is a target for retaliation. The bandits are targeting livestock and food in our stores, especially in Kamwenje, Matwiku, Rubere, Wagwaci, Ol Moran, Sosian and Kimanjo. The security of the county, and indeed the volatile northern Kenya, will be guaranteed by the re-arming of the Kenya Police Reserve (KPR). Incidents of banditry, killings and destruction have increased since the KPR were disarmed.
Your administration has authorized or condoned the harassing, persecuting and threatening of political leaders. A number of them have been subjected to tremendous personal vulnerability. In two of the past regimes in this country, many politicians were detained, tortured and assassinated as casualties of succession struggles. Recent developments leave the ominous suggestion that the worst of our history may be repeating itself. Do not let us go that way.
We watched in disbelief as you declared that inclusivity will be achieved by banning two communities from fielding presidential aspirants because previous leaders have hailed from those communities.
We believe that Kenya is an equal-opportunity republic, where any person can rise to the pinnacle of their ambition lawfully through hard work.
People are raising their children to aspire for the highest possibilities in this country and in the world.
To insinuate that Kikuyus should not aspire for the Presidency, because others have been President, is unfortunate, insulting and selfish. We call on you to use this meeting to reflect and withdraw these unfortunate and ill-considered utterances.
As you have noted, you have an opportunity in the remaining months of your term in office to roar like a lion. Indeed, that is appropriate. The people made you the lion of our community and of Kenya: A courageous defender of our nation’s territory and of its people’s lives, property, freedoms and rights.
We wish you to roar the economy back into life, and take it to Kibaki-era levels of growth, reverse the declining economy, ailing health sector and deal with the elephant in the room of the crippling public debt, and especially the conflicted domestic debt that has strangled the private sector.
We hope that you will set your powerful claws to catch the Covid-19, NYS and Ruaraka land scandal billionaires. Please roar without ceasing and bring to book those responsible for the Medical Equipment Services and mobile clinics in the Ministry of Health, and the botched textbook supply to schools and return our stolen resources. Roar and deal with the inflated cost of infrastructure and glaring abuse of procurement processes, for instance, in the construction of clinics by the Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS).
We want you to roar until you redeem a proud legacy.
In these final months of service as President, your succession is a matter of grave public importance. You are faced with two scenarios that call for astute calculation and wise consideration. Fortunately, you have been a key participant in both historic transitions.
The first strategic choice is the Nyayo Choice. In 2002, President Moi used State power and resources to impose you as his chosen successor. Leaders were pressured, bribed, threatened and intimidated into supporting your imposed candidature. The result was mass revolt by the people and their leaders. It did not end well for you, but it ended well for Kenya.
The strategic choice is the Kibaki Succession. President Kibaki focused all his energy on service delivery and economic development. He did not interfere with the people’s freedom and democratic right to choose his successor. That is how Mzee Kibaki built an impressive legacy of economic success. It is also how the Jubilee Alliance found opportunity, against many odds, of contesting and eventually winning the presidency.
A number of us had the good fortune to serve when Hon Kibaki was President. Owing to pressure of work, leaders could not access him often.
However, accessible, credible and effective agents had been designated to consider and address any pressing issues the people of Mt. Kenya raised through their leaders. Hon. John Michuki, Hon. Njenga Karume, Francis Muthaura, Joe B. Wanjui and Stanley Murage were trusted lieutenants with capability to represent the President effectively in any forum.
We would NOT have written this letter to you if such leaders existed in your government. We have strong doubts that David Murathe and Francis Atwoli are persons of the calibre we have in mind.
Be that as it may, we hope that the issues we have raised form the agenda for consideration at Sagana. This is important if we are to make real progress in advancing your programmes and legacy. If not, we are afraid, this Sagana encounter will be yet another public relations talk shop, where those in attendance will collect Sh5,000 of public funds for no meaningful work done.
That will be unfortunate indeed, given that there is neither time nor money to waste at this point.
Consequently, the mountain will remain restless, dissatisfied, and defiant.
Ultimately, full-blown revolt will be inevitable.
May God Bless Your Excellency,
God Bless the people of Mt. Kenya
God Bless Kenya