In Minimum Qualities, Attributes and Skills Our Next President Mus Possess, I set forth an objective criteria that should be used to evaluate presidential candidates in deciding who among them should get our nod to be our next president.
In that blog, I noted as follows:
To be sure, leadership is a subject that has been studied for centuries and many scholars have tried to define what it is exactly but none has had lasting acceptance.
Analyzing these studies is beyond the scope of this piece but I have drawn from these studies qualities, attributes and skills (QAS) I believe are essential and a must have for the person we elect as our next president and these are:
- Religious Conviction
- Honesty, Trustfulness and Integrity
- Firm Educational Foundation and Wisdom
- Experience and Exposure
- Inspiration, Vision and Self-Confidence
It is my belief applying these QAS to select our next president will result in the election of the most apt and suitable president at this time in our history.
I then go on at length in that blog, expounding on what these qualities entail and why I think they are apt, if applied properly, in helping us choose an ideal or at least the best leader we can have under the circumstances, given the candidates we have vying for the presidency.
I now apply these qualities and evaluate the candidacy of Hon. Martha Karua (HMK), in this next to last series on her (see my archives for earlier parts).
I will, in the future, analyze other candidates as well.
- Religious Conviction.
I don’t have much to go by here other than HMK’s own declaration during an interview with Jeff Koinange on K24 during the referendum in which she emphatically declared that she is a Christian.
How much or less of a Christian she is, I just don’t know and neither her or anyone from her campaign has responded to my phone call and SMS seeking input for this next to last piece on her.
I would therefore simply give HMK the benefit of doubt and say being a Christian, she has been exposed to the teaching of Christianity, especially as it regards to treating others with compassion and love.
2. Honesty, Trustfulness and Integrity.
This is a tough one and not just for HMK, but for everyone running for president, or for any public office for that matter.
All politicians are not honest or trustworthy to begin with, so do most people believe and except for a few here and there, few people would believe most, if not all politicians have not been involved in questionable transactions of one kind or another, or otherwise engaged in conduct that may be said to adversely reflect on their honor and integrity.
In the end, this may be a question of degree, as opposed to absolute terms.
Be as it may be, the direct question to ask about HMK and all others seeking office, for that matter, is does she pass the threshold set forth under Chapter Six of the Constitution and my answer is, yes she does.
I have no doubt many can look back to HMK’s conduct post-election 07 (PEV) and conclude HMK is the most dishonest, untrustworthy and certainly without any integrity and that would be on the surface, the appropriate conclusion to reach, but there is more to it than that.
There is no question, HMK came across during those grim days as shrewdly cold and recklessly inflexible, all the while advising Kibaki to take the most of hardline positions while the country was about to plunge into civil war, not to say anything about people having already been burned in churches and their homes with streets and homes still on fire.
This was clearly not something you would expect from an honest person and one with honor and integrity; you would have expected such person, at the minimum, to be reconciliatory and accommodating, given the facts known then and that is, Kibaki had flagrantly stolen the elections.
I know the media, and out of respect for the reconciliation finally reached, refer to the 07 outcome as “disputed” or that “nobody knows who won” but there is little doubt in anyone’s mind that Raila won the elections by far, Kibaki and crew just made sure he was not sworn as president.
For her hardline position, and advising Kibaki not to relent even under the tremendous pressure being applied from everywhere, and despite the obvious need to so relent, if anything, to stop the violence, one can and should rightly say or conclude that HMK was then wallowing at the height of impunity.
It therefore would be easy to conclude HMK lacks this trustfulness and honesty elements, when evaluating her leadership ability, solely based on her conduct post-election but I think this would be unfair.
HMK’s honesty, trustfulness and integrity, must be measured in totality, meaning in examining her complete personal and professional, including her political life.
Starting with her conduct during PEV, this is clearly her biggest stain on her trustfulness, honor and integrity but she has explained her conduct as being driven by a desire to serve her master as zealously as she could.
In other words, in her quest to please Kibaki, HMK crossed the line without knowing to a level of zealotry that completely ignored or disregarded reality.
Or put differently, HMK was for impunity before she became against it but unwittingly so, according to her explanation.
If this is her explanation, it is understandable and forgivable, especially given the fact she has since decamped from the Kibaki regime, even though listening to how she puts it, her distancing herself from Kibaki has more to do with not standing Kibaki’s kitchen-cabinet than anything related to her PEV conduct or role.
I’ll give her a pass on that.
Beyond PEV, I have not heard of HMK as being implicated in conduct unbecoming an honest and trustworthy public servant with integrity to boot.
I dismiss as not particularly relevant stories reported in the media about HMK being car-jacked in car she was only with a priest and no security detail near or anywhere around, if anything on double standard grounds: no man would be held to account for anything of that nature, even if the inferences and insinuations from the incident were true.
Besides the issue of impunity I discuss above, I have never heard anyone accuse HMK as being corrupt or harboring corruption and that being the case, I would give her at least a passing grade on integrity.
That being the case, I therefore would have to conclude HMK meets the integrity threshold under the Constitution and cannot be disqualified to run for president on this ground.
3. Educational Foundation and Wisdom
HMK studied law at the University of Nairobi from 1977 to 1980. Between 1980 and 1981 she was enrolled at the Kenya School of Law for the statutory post graduate law course that is a prerequisite to admission to the Kenyan roll of advocates and licensing to practice law in Kenya.
HMK therefore has the requisite educational foundation and wisdom to be elected president
4. Experience and Exposure.
After graduating from Kenya School of Law, HMK worked in the Judiciary as a District Magistrate rising to a Senior Resident Magistrate at the time of leaving the Judiciary in 1987.
During this period, she was in charge of Makadara Law Courts from 1984 to 1985 and Kibera Law Courts from 1986 to 1987 when she left to start her own law firm. In the year 1987 Martha Karua formed Martha Karua & Co. Advocates which she operated till the year 2002.
While in practice, Karua presented many pro bono cases notable among them the treason trial of Koigi Wamwere and the late Hon. Mirugi Kariuki.
HMK is credited for having significantly contributed to the development of family law and especially the distribution of matrimonial property as well as constitutional and administrative law.
HMK was a member of the opposition political movements that successfully agitated for the reintroduction of multi-party democracy in Kenya in the early 1990s.
Kenya was at the time under the authoritarian rule of KANU, the only legally recognised political party in Kenya at the time, and which was led by then president Daniel arap Moi.
HMK joined Kenneth Matiba’s Ford-Asili party but lost the party nomination ticket to the wealthy and influential former Head of Public Service Geoffrey Kareithi.
HMK was then offered a ticket and support by the Democratic Party of Kenya (DP) elders who wanted a clean break from the Kareithi – Nahashon Njuno rivalry.
Karua won the 1992 general election to become the MP for Gichugu constituency, which she has represented since, and in doing so, she became the first woman lawyer to be popularly elected to Parliament.
In 2002, HMK joined Raila and other “KANU Rebels” who split from KANU and formed the political coalition NARC that won the 2003 General Election in Kenya and defeated Moi’s Uhuru Project, effectively putting an end to KANU’s nearly four decades of choke-hold on power in Kenya.
To be continued.
In Part V, I conclude the series on HMK