No room for deals when thousands await redress after State’s injustices 

Residents look at an unidentified body that was floating in River Yala

Villagers stare at an unidentified body that was floating on River Yala in Siaya County on January 20, 2022. Eric Ng’eno writes that some “senior government officials... gloated about extrajudicial killing as bodies floated down River Yala”. 

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

The post-Handshake state, which defined the portion of Uhuru Kenyatta’s tenure after his March 2018 political rapprochement with Raila Odinga, was intentionally assembled to be a terrifically ferocious, randomly violent, viciously repressive administrative and political machine designed to efficiently accomplish tyranny and corruption.

It is no coincidence that Kenyans were terrorised by their own state during those long, dark cold nights of existential apprehension, as a deadly pandemic stalked the land, with arbitrary arrests, raids, crackdowns, operations, demolitions and evictions and extra-judicial murders becoming normalised components of the national ambience.

From all appearances, we are yet to scratch the surface of the gargantuan impunity which became synonymous with the post-Handshake state, and to a considerable extent contributed to its electoral collapse.

The Kemsa billionaires, who were paid for supplying air when Kenyans had neither masks nor sanitisers during the Covid-19 pandemic, the Kianjokoma Brothers’ heartbreaking murders and the callously insensitive Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) campaign will always be emblematic of the excesses of those years.

Tormenting rivals

Some senior government officials were deployed to lead this rapacious, murderous juggernaut. Naturally, they took to this task with such rambunctious gusto and clamorous zeal that over time, they personified hubris at its most inebriated.

They gloated about extrajudicial killings as bodies floated down River Yala, rejoiced in tormenting political rivals, who were christened Tangatanga, and plied with the rankest epithets imaginable.

They also firmly looked the other way in complicit oblivion as colleagues took outrageous liberties with the public purse. The reckless avarice, scandalous voracity and cold-blooded deliberation with which billions of desperately needed shillings were embezzled points to the vicious resolve with which the post-Handshake state approached public financial management.

We are in hock to an odiously extortionate magnitude, our currency has been taking a diabolical battering, the cost of living is steep, and the public budget is tightly squeezed, as a result of this implacable turpitude.

It will take this country many years to recover from the trauma inflicted. It will take a lot of assiduous exertion, complemented by fiscal dexterity, policy flair and political virtuosity to rehabilitate our finances and return the economy to its lost momentum.

Thousands, if not millions, of victimised citizens, await redress and accountability for the arbitrary, vindictive and depraved onslaughts waged by the post-Handshake state in pursuit of its kakistocratic proclivities.

That is why the breathless journalistic leaders and simpering headlines about a rapprochement between former Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i and the government are inappropriate and insulting. In this transparently motivated coverage, the writers indicated that the government has committed to exempt Matiang’i from all accountability on the condition that he maintains a low profile.

By it, the press was suggesting that any investigation and arraignment of Matiang’i would be a function of political vendetta, and not a matter of accountability. Moreover, the upshot of the articles was that the investigative and prosecutorial authorities of the republic were not independent agencies, but mere appendages of political power.

Thirdly, by opting to impute primacy to Matiang’i’s creature comforts in the context of a contest with the government, the coverage diminished and silenced innumerable victims of the post-Handshake state of redress and accountability for them.

Additionally, such articles strongly implied a particularly robust commitment to impunity and tolerance for corrupt compromising on the part of the government, inasmuch as it was profiled as amenable to cynical calculation on the basis of vacuous exigencies and extraneous political considerations.

Finally, the articles suggested that the government cowers in great apprehension at the prospect of a showdown with the former ‘super-CS’.

It is perfectly reasonable to wonder about the extent to which the press coverage projected the political reflexes and strategic calculations that typified the Uhuru administration’s post-Handshake instinctive responses and motivations onto the Kenya Kwanza government, recalling how charges, investigations and tax claims had a mystifying tendency to suddenly vanish once targets saw the light and supported the BBI or joined Azimio.

Telling perspectives

The newspaper stories about some form of understanding and political accommodation exposed very telling perspectives prevalent among fallen potentates of the previous administration insofar as they revealed the manner in which certain expectations were more explicitly grounded in who they are, rather than a rational consideration of material facts relating to the actual operating environment. In other words, the post-Handshake state’s perception of the world is a matter of who they are, and not what it is.

This sort of counterintuitive ideology explains why the post-Handshake state was out of touch to the point of delusion in the pursuit of astonishingly inappropriate policies. It also sheds light on Azimio’s curious political and electoral campaign strategies, which tended to rely on fantastically unrealistic assumptions and projections. Finally, it explains why Azimio are trapped in a denial that favours ridiculous rationalisations over a pragmatic reckoning with reality.

Ultimately, Azimio are also a victim of their own impunity.

Mr Ng’eno is an advocate of the High Court and the speechwriter for the presidency.


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