As mentioned before, I first met Hon. Martha Karua (HMK) in 2003 in connection with a case related to the 1998 bombing of the US Embassy in Nairobi.
HMK was the lead attorney representing the victims, I represented the lawyers in pursuing the case in the US.
In connection with that matter, I traveled to Nairobi and upon walking into her office, this unassuming lady with somewhat of a cautious smile welcomes me and tells me to sit iwhat I was surprised to be a rather small chair and very small office—compared to my own corner office on K Street back in Washington, DC.
HMK would shortly thereafter be appointed to the cabinet, however, I doubt she returned to work from that small office ever again but would not be surprised if she did for she is that humble of a woman despite the rap she gets, including the not too complimentary one that she was the only man in Kibaki’s cabinet.
I actually like HMK notwithstanding what she did or said during the PEV crisis and think she is presidential material as I have documented in my series on her, especially in Who Is Martha Karua Part IV where I offer an objective evaluation of her leadership ability.
That notwithstanding and for what it’s worth, during the crisis, I remember making several calls to HMK in the naïve belief I could at least express my views not necessarily as a partisan but as a fellow Kenyan and sincerely so but all my calls went unanswered and so were calls to a few other people I knew who were close to Kibaki, including one I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry when I was watching him with a big smile on his face as Kibaki was questionably being sworn as president.
To say that I was angry with HMK as anyone can be short of hating someone would be an understatement which only got worse as the days and weeks went by during the crisis when HMK really showed us the worst in her, even though she now claims she was merely zealously representing her client.
That may be a good explanation for her conduct in hindsight but any lawyer would tell you advocating for one’s client or zealously representing one also has its limits and I am sure even HMK would admit she went way too far past that limit.
Be that as it may be, however, HMK has sufficiently atoned to some, if anything by her disassociation with the Kibaki crew and that remains so regardless and notwithstanding the fact she did not do so expressly out of remorse for her role during the crisis but for other reasons of which that was of no consideration.
Whether HMK fully atones, especially to the eyes of those who were directly or more indirectly affected by PEV than the public at large, however, can only be known or become apparent to all, depending on what she does when things heat up for the next general elections.
I last saw HMK sometime earlier this year at Sankara where she was being interviewed by some TV station I now don’t recall which and even though we had a small chat and she promised to meet up and catch up on things politics in the course of my trip that time, that meeting did not materialize but I have a keen suspicion she is ducking because she’s afraid when all is said and done from such a meeting she’ll may be singing Awambo tu.
So, let me appeal to her via this public medium as I would if I were sitting across from her, and this is really the point of this series: a message to all these candidates I have had the pleasure to interact with in one way or another:
Dear Hon. Martha Karua:
Those of us who happen to know you beyond what is projected in the media know that you are first and foremost a very good mother and even though you have been described variously in connection with your political activities, you are actually a down to earth, humble lady who has been blessed with a sharp mind and decided to put it to good use, including in the political arena where women are supposed to be seen not heard and thus your being labeled as the only man in the Kibaki cabinet.
The label was actually intended to slight you because women are not supposed to be men and vice-versa but in my view it’s a complement.
Your feistiness, resolve and intellect are all assets much needed in Kenya among not only our current crop of women in leadership but all those to come and even our constitution anticipates as much.
As I have noted above, you’re clearly presidential material and if circumstances were different, you’ll be ideal to be elected as our first woman president this election circle.
Circumstances are, however, not conducive for your being elected president this time around; the next round, maybe, but not this time and I am sure or at least hope you’ll agree with the following reasons as to why:
First, notwithstanding your right or anyone else’s to vie for any public office as long as you are qualified to vie under the law, as a Kikuyu you and our other brothers and sisters from your community should find it in your hearts or simply by being fair to give us a break from yet another Kikuyu presidency.
When I or anyone else like minded who says this, it is not out of spite, dislike or hate of the Kikuyu community; far from it.
I love all Kenyans regardless of tribe and have nothing against any one community from assuming the highest office of the land but, given we have already had two presidents from your community in a period spanning almost 50 years, it’s only fair and just that other communities be given the opportunity to lead, if anything to validate the proposition the presidency is not a birthright to some but not others.
Second, as I have also noted above, you were clearly scarred with PEV and even though you have done quite a bit to distance yourself from that dark period, including your separation from the Kibaki administration, PEV is still fresh in a lot of people’s minds such that it’s simply unlikely they’ll be dashing to the polls to vote for you.
The wiser thing to do is to simply continue on your journey of recovery and redemption as I would call it such that in another few years, say by 2017, you’ll actually be in a better position to vie where PEV would clearly be far behind us albeit not forgotten and we would have had the break we really need from yet another Kikuyu presidency.
Part of that journey should be, in my view, working with someone like Raila and ODM to ensure their election and to be a part of that new government in a key role but one in which this time you’ll be poised to do things that unite and develop the country than as was the case in your last role in the Kibaki administration when the opposite was, in fact, what you’re so far associated with.
Third, and I state this as objectively as anyone objective can, Raila is actually the better qualified of all those vying for the presidency, including yourself and I strongly suspect all of you know or believe the same much as you may not wish to publicly admit.
Rather than ganging up or joining forces to deny Raila the presidency for no good reason other than the fact he is Raila, the wiser thing for politicians like you to do is to simply put on hold your rightful ambition to be president and try to get this man elected and let the country take a breather from this partisan politics and siasa ya kumalizana and for once focus on development issues.
Raila has said he would like to be president for one term if anything to ensure the constitution he so gallantly led in efforts to bring to life is fully implemented.
Five years is enough time not only to fully implement the constitution, it’s also enough time for each one of you vying for the presidency to really shine so that come 2017, Kenyans can have the luxury of picking among those who have proven themselves as worth the honor while rejecting those otherwise.
I have no doubt you’ll be positioned to be a very strong contender for the presidency in 2017 upon working together with Raila and helping him get elected in 2013; in fact, I strongly believe that will be the case.
Indeed, if you support anyone else, unless you become their running mate, you can count two terms for that person, that’s 10 years, add another 10 for their running mate, if it’s not you and with that you can see the choice you’re faced with is to wait 20 years to have a serious crack at becoming our first female president, or work with Raila and wait for as little as 5 years to do the same thing.
The choice is very clear to many of us; let’s hope it’s equally as clear to you
These then are my thoughts HMK and I truly and sincerely hope you can give them serious consideration and make the right call as to my plea.
Dear Hon. Uhuru Kenyatta:
I hope you have read what I have said to HMK for much of it also applies to you, especially as it relates to being a Kikuyu and giving us a break from yet another Kikuyu presidency—at least this round.
You, however, have two additional issues that wiser counsel would dictate that you not seek the presidency at this time.
The first one is actually related to the “Kikuyus kindly give us a break” issue and that’s simply the fortunate or unfortunate fact that you are the son of our first president the late Mzee Jomo Kenyatta.
When you vied for the presidency in 2002, you were defeated primarily because people saw you as a Moi project and not because you’re Kenyatta’s son.
In other words, Kenyans had had enough of Moi it didn’t matter to them whether you were Kenyatta’s son or the son of some poor peasant in Gatundu; they just did not want the continuation and perpetuation of the Moi regime as he had shamelessly tried to shove you down our throats, even you surely would agree you were not ready for prime time.
That was in 2002.
In 2013, and I say this objectively and without any malice or ill-motive, being the son of our late president Jomo Kenyatta is an insurmountable road-block made worse only by the fact most Kenyans—including leading progressive Kikuyus are saying we need a break from yet another Kikuyu presidency.
This fact alone should make you pause, if not altogether abandon your quest for the presidency at least for now.
But there is more, and even more serious and decisive consideration and that is, the fact that you remain charged with serious crimes at the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Many of us have taken the position being charged alone is not and should not be a disqualification for you to vie for the presidency or any other public office.
As I noted earlier in this series, if we are to embrace the rule of law, we must embrace all of it, including the doctrine of innocent until proven guilty.
However, this does not mean you cannot in your own judgment reach the conclusion—and wisely so, if you ask many—to simply postpone your quest for the presidency until after you have cleared yourself with this serious charges, which you may as well as some of us have predicted in the past.
This will be wise because it would show and prove for all that you actually do have your country at heart and care for it than simply pushing forward with this quest notwithstanding the charges, which can only mean or be interpreted to mean you want to be the president no matter what the country be damned.
In other words, you’ll be flipping the middle finger to the whole country, including sadly PEV victims while at the same time saying you want to be their leader.
The two don’t go together; you either acknowledge you face very serious charges and try and clear your name or you proceed as if these are trumped up charges without any basis or that you don’t care about what happened in PEV.
Few will disagree doing the former is the way to go and not the latter.
It does not mean if you chose to postpone your quest for the presidency that therefore you cannot be relevant in Kenyan politics or that you cannot contribute in any way toward building a Kenya we want.
Notwithstanding the ICC process, there are any number of things you can do short of running for president that can actually boost your political profile such that if you are acquitted at trial, you can easily ride even on that fact alone to State House.
For example, you can join efforts to have your friend—and I say so with some confidence based on what I know that, despite what you have said about Raila in the past, you actually don’t see him as your enemy and neither does he.
In any case, even if you have been and even if you still consider yourselves enemies, it’s often said and rightly so that in politics there is no such a thing as permanent enemies, only permanent interests.
With that in mind, I don’t see anything that can prevent you from working with Raila and ODM to help elect someone you were at least one time good friends with and let him serve the nation for the one term he says he would and let you and those who make wise decisions in 2012 await your turn.
Finally, and to repeat what I have said to HMK, Raila is actually the better qualified of all those of you vying for the presidency and one would have to assume all of you privately or among your confidants admit as much but not publicly, of course.
Rather than ganging up or joining forces to deny him the presidency for no good reason other than the fact he is Raila, however, the wiser thing for politicians like you to do is to simply put on hold your rightful ambitions to be president and try to get this man elected and let the country take a breather from this partisan politics and siasa ya kumalizana and for once focus on development issues.
Your turn will come because Raila has said he would like to be president for one term only if anything to ensure the constitution he so gallantly led in efforts to bring to life is fully implemented.
Give him support and at least that much time and if he’s elected and goes about doing what he has promised, namely, ensuring full implementation of the constitution and starting or finishing many of the things he promised in 2007, you should focus on defending yourself at the ICC and spend the remaining time to the next general election really proving to the nation your leadership abilities and be prepared to duke it out with whoever thinks they can beat you in 2017.
That’s the level of politics we must elevate our politics to, namely, having candidates vying for office evaluated and voted according to their leadership ability rather than what tribe or class they belong.
Indeed, by simply putting your quest for the presidency on hold and throwing your support behind Raila, who is clearly the most qualified of all those vying for the presidency and has, in fact, earned the honor to be so elected, you’ll have in your own right set yourself apart as a leader worth bestowing the same honor someday.
These then are my thoughts Mr. DPM and I truly and sincerely hope you can give them serious consideration and make the right call as to my plea.
Dear Hon. William Ruto:
I would assume by now you know I have written enough about you on my blog to publish a small book.
This is because I find you to be a very smart politician yet one who has done things that simply puzzle the mind over time.
I do not wish to regurgitate what I have previously written about you but will make the following observation by way of a summary:
First, anyone would be mistaken to dismiss you as a political lightweight or wannabe; you’re not and you have every right to ambitious and to contest the presidency much like everyone else who believes they have what it takes.
I have continuously postulated that you must have decided at the inception of the coalition government that, if you were not going to be the PM you had hoped to become had Raila been sworn as president or if you were not going to become some powerful individual in Raila’s administration, then you had to find a short-cut way to become president or at least become more powerful than being one in a forest of 45 ministers.
Nobody can blame you for that from a strictly political strategy point of view.
In fact, it was a very smart move, except it failed.
Now, that quest having failed, you find yourself in a unique situation:
First, there is the ICC looming over your head and before I say much of what I hope to, let me say what I have said repeatedly and that is, even though you have been charged with serious crimes at the ICC, I do not believe based on my own legal analysis of your case that you will be convicted.
That’s not to say you won’t but there is a very good, in fact, highly likely that you’ll walk free from the ICC, if you mount the right defense and otherwise not jeopardize your case guaranteeing a conviction as you almost did earlier this year.
As I have also said in the case of Uhuru, neither you nor he should be barred from vying for the presidency or any other public office simply because you face these serious charges.
However, as I have also said in the case of Uhuru, you can and should remove yourself as a candidate on higher moral grounds than what the letter of the law says or provides.
Second, putting ICC aside, the only scenario by which you get to State House as president is if Uhuru were to agree to be your running mate and even then, it’s not an easy path, given a number of factors I need not get into because I am sure you know very well what they are.
Uhuru is the only person who can be your running mate and potentially produce a situation whereby you are elected and sworn as president.
There is no other person vying or not vying you can team up with you being at the top of the ticket and find yourselves in State House as president and deputy president; not one and, again, I am sure you fully know the reasons why no need to go into any detail here.
Given this bleak prospect for you to State House as president, the only other option you have to maximize your political capital and the best one, actually, is to throw your support behind someone who must win the presidency.
This can be at best as a running mate or simply good old fashioned political backing in resources and energy.
If you vie as running mate with someone who loses or if you support someone who does, you’ll be in political limbo for five years because the constitution says so.
For this reason alone, you should carefully consider who to align yourself with and anyone being sincere and objective will tell you that person is none other than Raila.
Yes, you have said some nasty things about him and even tried your best to bring him down but, all that’s now in the past; what matters now is the future and, as I have said to UK, there are no permanent enemies in politics; only permanent interests.
Raila has said he wants to be president only one term primarily to finish the journey to constitutionalism and establishing good governance he has been fighting for all these years.
Rather than ganging up against him to deny him the presidency for reasons that clearly have nothing to do with his leadership ability, why don’t you join forces with him, help him get reelected but this time sworn as president?
If and when Raila is so reelected and sworn as president, why won’t you continue working with him as you would have done to that victory and help him reach objectives you commonly shared with him back in 2007 and, in doing so, would you not be setting yourself up for an easier pathway to the presidency than you ever would?
An objective person would say so.
These then are my thoughts Mheshimiwa and I truly and sincerely hope you can give them serious consideration and make the right call as to my plea.