The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) has distinguished itself as one of the more professional and effective agencies in the war against graft — at least since Twalib Mbarak took over from Mr Halakhe Waqo as the CEO two years ago.
EACC has avoided the political entanglements and the suspect deals of the previous regime. It has also steered clear of the media theatrics and political power-plays of some sister agencies in the criminal justice arena.
Eyebrows were, hence, bound to be raised last week, when the EACC said it had launched investigations into the shambolic Baringo County Assembly vote against the Building Bridges Initiative Referendum Bill.
True, the Baringo assemblymen and women had behaved extremely dishonourably during the chaotic February 11 session, when they became the first county legislators to vote against BBI. They should be properly sanctioned for unruly and violent ‘debate’, which included fisticuffs and converting chairs and other items of furniture into offensive projectiles — which was, certainly, outside the Marquess of Queensberry rules.
In such a situation, it was, indeed, a wonder that the assembly was able to declare an outcome from the purported vote.
However, Ward Reps misbehaving does not fall within purview of the EACC or any other criminal investigative agency. Unless actual corruption is under investigation, the desecration Baringo MCAs visited upon their Chamber should be punished under the appropriate Standing Orders of the particular assembly.
Just like the National Assembly and the Senate, county assemblies, too, should operate under privileges designed to protect the members from harassment or pressure from the Executive or any other forces, including the law and order agencies.
In that regard, the summonses issued to Baringo MCAs and assembly leadership and officials to appear before the EACC are possibly illegal. They are also extremely ill-advised and tone-deaf in the prevailing political environment.
Major Mbarak will be hard-pressed to provide cogent responses to accusations that EACC is becoming yet another State agency being used to harass and intimidate Deputy President William Ruto’s #HustlerNation/Tangatanga ‘opposition’ movement.
It has been obvious, for some time now, that the security agencies are being misused to wage political battles against Dr the DP. There have been many instances where police have disrupted political rallies and processions called by the DP and his allies while keeping a hands-off approach to rival pro-BBI events staged by former Prime Minister Raila Odinga.
To play victim
The uneven approach has played into DP Ruto’s hands. He gleefully seizes every opportunity to play victim and gain political mileage as the ‘ordinary’ man under siege from the mythical ‘System’ and ‘Deep State’.
Every misuse of security organs for political purposes is welcomed by the Ruto team — to buttress the messaging that has made the DP a champion of the underclass, up against an oppressive machinery serving the wealthy and powerful.
This represents an inexplicable reversal of roles, for the DP cut his political teeth as an unapologetic cheerleader of the reactionary establishment while Mr Odinga was always the outsider fighting for the voiceless and dispossessed.
The partisan approach to law and order issues has also been exploited by Ruto allies, who are always quick to cry foul and protest alleged political persecution every time they are caught stealing public funds.
If the EACC thinks that by pursuing the Baringo MCAs it is helping President Kenyatta and his BBI partner, Mr Odinga, it could not be more mistaken. It’s only providing evidence for the narrative that state organs are being used to harass the DP and also to lend muscle to an unpopular BBI campaign that would otherwise be headed for certain rejection.
The ham-fisted manoeuvre also serves to undermine credibility of the only independent anti-corruption agency, whose investigations, arrests and prosecutions will invariably be seen through political lenses.
Meanwhile, history holds many lessons for those who misuse the instruments of State when they wield political power.
President Kenyatta knows that he will not be in power forever. He is on his sunset term and will relinquish the presidency after the elections of August next year. When he leaves office, it could be a time of reckoning for himself, family and associates suddenly no longer enjoying immunity.
That’s how it is today for the DP’s minions, who are crying foul over police harassment, yet not too long ago bestrode the corridors of power with unmatched arrogance. They advocated police brutality against perceived dissidents and exhibited total contempt for human rights, rule of law and the judicial system.
The boot always ends up on the other foot!
firstname.lastname@example.org www.gaitho.co.ke @MachariaGaitho