Martha Karua’s ‘re-union’ with Raila Odinga is underlined by fake friendship

Raila Odinga and Martha Karua

ODM leader Raila Odinga and Narc Kenya leader Martha Karua during a political rally.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

 The choice of Martha Karua as a running mate of Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition Party candidate Raila Odinga has rattled women into a false sense of breaking the glass ceiling. But the fictional “first” showiness that followed is false testimony of Ms Karua’s integrity credentials.

Ms Karua isn’t the first in anything. She wasn’t the first woman to run for president as Charity Ngilu beat her to the tape in 1997. And, while Ms Ngilu performed magnificently and roused the country with her run, Ms Karua’s presidential race in 2013 was a non-event. She garnered a paltry 43,881 votes nationally, to novice Abduba Dida at 52,848.

Not even the first woman presidential running mate either. Dr Julia Ojiambo beat her to the tape as a mate to Kalonzo Musyoka in 2007. In 2013, Ms Winnie Kaburu Kinyua was mate to Prof James ole Kiyiapi.

Ms Karua has held some high-profile portfolios yet none deems her age-mates’ lightning achievements. The self-proclaimed fighter for social justice has had her day in the sunlight; an MP for 20 years (1992-2013) and Cabinet Secretary in two departments (Water 2003-5 and Justice 2005-8). But she still pales against the sterling lights of her contemporaries. She was humiliated by political greenhorn Ann Waiguru in the Kirinyaga County gubernatorial race in 2017 despite her alleged national stature and reform profile.

Women of her generation have made it to the top of the pecking order while Ms Karua malingered as a reform activist. Three women have held fort at the helm of the Third Arm of government: In 2011, Ms Nancy Baraza was first woman Deputy Chief Justice and Vice-President of the Supreme Court of Kenya.

She was succeeded by Philomena Mwilu in 2016. Today, Ms Martha Koome, her acquaintance, is the Chief Justice of Kenya.

Oversaw singular appointment of Kivuitu

Even then, her perfunctory role in the 2007/8 imbroglio stands out. As Justice, National Cohesion and Constitutional affairs minister, Ms Karua led the hard-liner faction of then President Mwai Kibaki’s PNU party. When she reigned, her arrogance knew no bounds; she stoked the embers of post-election violence when she oversaw the singular appointment of Samuel Kivuitu’s team of the Electoral Commission of Kenya by Kibaki. Kivuitu died in February 2013.

This decision coming late in the 2007 election circle torpedoed an agreement to have political parties nominate persons to the commission in line with the famous inter-party’s agreement of 1997. The country would later plunge into violence when Ms Karua bulldozed Kivuitu to announce premature results and swore in Kibaki at dusk.

Ms Karua’s notoriety and arrogant ethnic nationalism would extend to the 2008 mediation Kofi Annan led, where she ruffled the latter by her refusal to share government. It took Annan reaching to Kibaki personally to break the stalemate created by Ms Karua at the Serena talks.

The breakthrough led to the National Accord that ended the violence. In spite of creation of the Grand Coalition Government where Mr Odinga was her boss, Ms Karua continued to deride the Prime Minister with epithets that she shared no traits, values and ideals with him. The current “re-union” is underlined by fake camaraderie.

Her tribulations in the deception-prone Azimio have just begun. Just how she could countenance an unconstitutional promise is baffling. Article 147 (4) of the Constitution clearly provides that “The Deputy President shall not hold any other State or Public Office.” Article 260 on Interpretation says State/Public Office includes that of a Cabinet Secretary. How then would Karua become both a Deputy President and Cabinet Secretary for Justice and Constitutional Affairs?

Clearly, pundits argue, the most a President can give a deputy political clout, is by delegating some presidential functions such as directing and coordinating the functions of ministries and government departments under Article 132 (3) of the Constitution. Fortunately for Martha, that role had been assigned to Mr Kalonzo Musyoka, who gave the promise a backhand compliment.

How could an avowed social justice, human rights, democracy and rule of law defender bow to deception, even as she vowed that “everything will be done under the law” in her acceptance speech? What more shenanigans will Ms Karua take Kenyans through in her quest to appear “The First”? The Martha of yore would’ve told Raila “thank you, but no thank you. It’s not constitutional and it’s not even in the Azimio Agreement”.

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