Maina Njenga

From Left: Maina Njenga, Babu Owino, Achilo Ayacko and Moses Otieno Kajwang  attend ODM National Delegates Conference held on February 26, 2022 in Nairobi. 

| Francis Nderitu | Nation Media Group

Azimio scoring own goals with Mungiki alliance

It is a hallmark of civilised society that any persons associated with violence, organised crime, murderous tendencies and activities that in general are a threat to peace and security are shunned.

Even if not in jail because they somehow manage to outwit the criminal justice system, they are still avoided and generally not allowed to mix in polite society.

All upright, self-respecting persons, particularly those in positions of leadership and conscious that they have reputations and images to protect, make special effort not to mix or otherwise associate with characters who are far from paragons of virtue. 

A simple adage holds that you are the company you keep. If, therefore, you are seen to be in close partnership with known leaders of a notorious criminal gang, then your very own righteousness must be called into question.

That is the only conclusion one can draw when Raila Odinga, Martha Karua, Kalonzo Musyoka, Eugene Wamalwa, Jeremiah Kioni and other key leaders of the Azimio la Umoja coalition are seen to embrace the leader of the proscribed Mungiki gang.

Now, Maina Njenga may say that he long ago embraced new beginnings as a disciple of Christ and folded the murderous cult he founded and led for a long time. 

The sins of Mungiki, however, cannot be easily forgotten and forgiven, especially for those who felt the fury of its violent rampages, extortion, murder, criminal cartels and sexual violence across most of the greater Mount Kenya region, extending to Nairobi and parts of the Rift Valley.

In any case, it is doubtful that Mungiki, though declared a proscribed movement, ever folded or otherwise ceased to exist.

Njenga simply declared that he was no longer the leader and ceased open promotion of the outfit, which also halted some of its more brazen public proselytisation of supposedly traditional religious beliefs.

However, the cartel that still runs protection and extortion rackets afflicting public transport systems, construction sites, land sales, commercial transport and other business operation is still very much active in its traditional areas of operation.

The hordes that came out in support of Njenga when he was summoned to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations headquarters over last week and his subsequent appearance in court, bear testimony that Mungiki is very much alive.

We must presume that what we are seeing in expressions of solidarity with Njenga on his latest brushes with the law are by extension expressions of solidarity for Mungiki. 

That is applied on the same principle that anyone today coming out to support Pastor Paul Mackenzie is by extension supporting the extremist preaching, brainwashing and zombification that has led to well over 200 of his followers starve themselves to death on false promise that they would meet Jesus.

It is the same as expressing support for the violent extremism espoused by a core of radical Islamic preachers whose Jihadist ideology feeds the indoctrination responsible for the US Embassy, Westgate, Garissa University and Dussit D2 terrorist attacks which killed hundreds of innocent Kenyans.

The Azimio movement may well be on a noble mission geared towards ensuring electoral justice and speaking up for the downtrodden and voiceless. If it is so desperate, however, that it must look to Mungiki for support, then it alienates many Kenyans who will want no association with a gang or cult forever tarred by a violent criminal past. In any case, it is difficult to see what value Njenga brings to Azimio. 

He, admittedly, does command a fanatical following, but successive failures in his quest for a parliamentary seat expose the fact that, politically, he is vastly overrated.

The only thing the strange association has achieved is present Kenya Kwanza leaders such as Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua and Cabinet Secretary for Interior Kithure Kindiki the golden opportunity to depict Azimio as a movement promoting the resurgence of outlawed criminal gangs.

In fact, it is apparent that the criminal charges filed against Njenga—being a member of and hosting meetings of a proscribed movement—have no legs to stand on. They were filed not because of sudden discovery that he still leads Mungiki, but merely to place him in the spotlight and play up his new associations with the Raila group and, allegedly, former President Uhuru Kenyatta. 

The usual diatribe coming out of Gachagua’s mouth is very revealing. So was the status report issued last week by the Interior CS, fulminating against forces allegedly sponsoring revival of Mungiki.

But he ignored, until questioned by journalists, that his Kenya Kwanza colleagues were also sponsoring the same misguided jobless youth to go on violent rampages against Azimio leaders, notably the invasion and stock theft on a Kenyatta family property.

If, indeed, the Kenya Kwanza youth wingers posing as the new Kenya Police leadership are directed to arrest and charge Uhuru, Ruto and anybody else over Mungiki links, they must also not spare Gachagua, National Assembly Majority Leader Kimani Ichungwa and other regime extremists who publicly incited violent attacks on political foes.

For now, however, Azimio is scoring own goals with linkages that would repel any self-respecting persons fed up with the government they so enthusiastically voted for, and now ready to listen to alternate voices.

And this at a time when all it has to do is smugly sit back and watch a clueless and planless government stew in its own lard over misguided economic recovery policies that will only sink the country deeper into the morass.