Prime Minister Odinga, are you serious?
May 7 2008 at 5:22 PM Jim
My question is – was prime minister giving a personal opinion or speaking on behalf of Kenyan Govt.- We have a long way to go!
By Itayi Garande
THE NEWLY ‘appointed’ Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s characterisation that the political crisis in Zimbabwe is an embarrassment to Africa deserves some scrutiny.
To Prime Minister Odinga we say:
The embarrassment to Africa is also a tiny country like Kenya having a bloated cabinet with more ministers than anywhere else in the world.
Mr Odinga, do you care to tell us why Jendayi Frazer was less vocal about 2,500 people we saw maimed on TV; yet she has strong words for post-electoral violence in Zimbabwe?
We know it’s because you are a U.S. ally in the so-called “War On Terror”. We also know that you have turned over dozens of your fellow countrymen to the U.S. and Ethiopia as suspected terrorists. But judging from the deaths we saw in December 2007-January 2008—and we still see today—shouldn’t you focus on a ‘War On Terror’ in Kenya; i.e. the tribal fighting in your own country?
You say the tribal fighting that happened in Kenya was a result of the stolen election by Mr Kibaki. Why tell half-truths, Sir? Everyone knows the violence that characterised Kenya before the December 2007 elections, only that the world was not alert. The European Union’s chief election monitor in Kenya condemned pre-election violence in Kenya which killed 300 people; even before the elections.
Kenya’s Electoral Commission said since the 1992 elections, violence has pervaded the political atmosphere in Kenya.
Newsweek reported on January 8, 2008: “Throughout much of last spring (2007), in part because of the run-up to the elections but also for a host of other reasons, huge swaths of Kenya were succumbing to a particularly undulant, brutal kind of gangsterism. In episode after episode, many of which were documented by Kenyan reporters, innocent people were beheaded, skinned, raped, murdered and tortured by members of a secretive outlawed sect called Mungiki. In response the Kenyan police and domestic security services began to jail thousands of young men. Human rights organizations began calling attention to the apparent ‘disappearances’ of several of them. The ‘Mungiki threat’ became a national, if not an international, obsession.”
Who’s telling the truth Sir, you or Newsweek?
Why, in your first six months of office, are you already defying your national security minister, George Saitoti, who wants these perpetrators indicted and who wants the continuing violence to stop?
We know that you have also stopped a petition by women of Kenya to investigate cases of deadly violence.
These killings are not figments of our imagination, Sir. These are real, and documented. Ask police spokesman Eric Kiraithe who confirmed police in Kenya killed, in broad daylight, two people who “had been evading arrest and were killed after they ignored orders to surrender” – (BBC website 29 April, 2008). And where is Charles Ndugu Sir? Exactly a month ago, Sir, “the wife of the Mungiki’s jailed leader was found beheaded, sparking deadly riots in the capital and surrounding areas,” yet you haven’t investigated. You had time to meet the MDC and give them advice on electoral victory and ending violence. Are you for real, Sir?
If you are such an expert on taming violence; we urge you to render your expertise to the Sudanese government—where an estimated 300 000 people may have died in a five-year conflict (according to UN under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs John Holmes); and 2 million driven from their homes. We need to remind you, Sir, that the UN Security Council—approached by your friends in the MDC—thinks ‘there’s no crisis in Darfur’ if the way they are dragging their feet is anything to go by.
So when you highlight the case of Zimbabwe, Sir, we feel you are are echoing the words of the U.S. without dealing facts. Only a year ago Kenya was heralded as the symbol of democracy in the region—today it has flip-flopped. It is the epitomy of violence and an academic case study—for the study of ethnic violence in the region.
We know, Sir, that you are overawed by a Sh200 million loan from the International Finance Corporation for building private schools. IFC’s executive Vice President Lars Thunell ‘told us’ through your state paper Sir. And Kenya being the second country to benefit for the programme in Africa after Ghana, you owe them some ‘harsh words for Zimbabwe’—‘and we understand’. It’s a favour for a favour.
Sir, did you know that Jendayi Frazer was playing games with you just this past January (2008)? She initiated the talks between you, Sir, and President Kibaki after admitting that the elections in Kenya were seriously flawed (a polite way of saying they are fraudulent). We saw her on Tavis Smiley’s programme. It is easy to forget that the United States Ambassador in Kenya only weeks before the Jendayi announcement, had declared the elections free and fair.
It concerns us, Sir as young Zimbabweans, who would like to see their country succeed, that you shout about the “Ship of Shame” carrying weapons into Zimbabwe; yet at the height of violence in Kenya, the Bush Administration pledged to provide Kenya with $800,000 in Foreign Military Financing Program funds to pay for further arms purchases. Your country was involved in arms deals of an extraordinary list of weaponry, supposedly for the Kenyan police?
Remember these statistics, Sir: The Pentagon gave Kenya $1.6 million worth of weaponry and other military assistance in 2006 and an estimated $2.5 million in 2007 through its Foreign Military Sales Program.
That’s not all.
Kenya has also been permitted to make large arms deals directly with private American arms producers through the State Department’s Direct Commercial Sales Program. Kenya took delivery of $1.9 million worth of arms this way in 2005, got an estimated $867,000 worth in 2007, and is expected to receive another $3.1 million worth this year.
It gets worse.
In addition, the Bush Administration intends to spend $550,000 in 2008 to train Kenyan military officers in the United States through the International Military Education and Training Program at military academies and other military educational institutions in the United States.
Who is Kenya planning to fight, Sir? Terrorism, maybe?
Would it be out of line again Sir to say that the U.S. government is negotiating base access agreements with the government of Kenya—along with the governments of Gabon, Mali, Morocco, Tunisia, Namibia, Sao Tome, Senegal, Uganda, and Zambia—that will allow American troops to use their military facilities (known as Cooperative Security Locations and Forward Operating Sites) whenever the United States wants to deploy its own troops in Africa.
Does this then explain your position (i.e. Kenya’s position) and President Levy Mwanawasa’s position over Zimbabwe? Or maybe not? If not, why the selective funding? Botswana has been receiving military “biodiversity” funding from the U.S. since 1991. In 2003 it received $4.5 million from the USA for “African regional stability”. Botswana is a stable country—but which plays a role in advancing US interests in Southern Africa, and Kenya, where US interests in Sudan are advanced; $6 million to continue engagement with the Nigerian military on reform, modernization and democratization; and $6 million to continue engagement with the South African military.”
So you want us, Sir to smile when Mr Morgan Tsvangirai of the MDC visits these countries—Kenya, Botswana (where he has sanctuary), Zambia (whose president he wants to mediate the Zimbabwe crisis) and South Africa (his press office)—claiming to have won an election?
Maybe it’s just a coincidence!
If it is then, is it also a coincidence that in August/September 2003, after days of denials, Botswana admitted signing an agreement with America giving U.S. citizens immunity from prosecution by the International Criminal Court (ICC)—under the U.S. Bilateral Immunity Agreements (or so-called “Article 98” Agreements)?
We saw a report by Rodrick Mukumbira from Gaborone which says that, “Botswana later admitted that it did so under arm-twisting.” Why does Botswana want to protect American servicemen and service chiefs from ICC prosecution? I thought America was the forerunner to the Rome Statute that established the ICC? Oh, so America makes and breaks the rules, and ‘arm twists’ Africans to support them?
We all know that, “The agreement was signed on 30 June by Botswana’s minister of foreign affairs, Mompati Merafhe, and the US ambassador Joseph Huggins, 10 days before President George Bush’s visit to the country on 10 July.”
“Under the agreement, Botswana pledges not to extradite American citizens for prosecution by ICC tribunals unless they are established by the UN Security Council or if America expressly consents to the surrender.” (New Africa August/September 2003)
Zimbabwe’s friends, ironically, neighbouring South Africa—which signed the ICC protocols—refused to sign such a deal with America, and reportedly lost around $7m in US military assistance.
Namibia, which has also ratified the ICC treaty, was threatened with U.S. aid withdrawal unless it signed the American deal, but the President (then Sam Nujoma) and his government stood their ground.
Mr Odinga, we know that you have not yet agreed to a BIA with America, but at the rate you are going, who knows what’s next? We hope you stand your ground and not get ‘arm twisted’. We urge you to resist these bullying tactics, Sir.
Sir, remember what Golzar Kheiltash, legal analyst with Citizens for Global Solutions, said: “Under these agreements, all U.S. nationals and non-nationals employed by the U.S. government must be granted blanket immunity. So a Kenyan mercenary in Kenya hired by the U.S. government could not be handed over to the ICC.” Think of the implications of this. This is tantamount to promoting violence and war, Sir. Kenya’s sovereignty and dignity should come ahead of military support and aid from any quarters.
So, Mr Odinga, there you are. When we hear you speak of Zimbabwe as “an embarassment to Africa,” we don’t really understand what you are trying to imply. Maybe you are saying we embarrass ‘you’ by standing strong against America—as that jeorpadises your funding: military and social. Or perchance, you are trying to divert attention—as Kenya was supposed to be Africa’s success story, yet it looks like Africa’s big embarassment.
We say listen to your own people in Kenya. They seem to have sassed out the story much better than you Sir. John Githongo’s efforts in your country—to fight corruption—were met with resistance. That’s an ‘embarassment to Africa’. Ironically, In June 2007, the United Nations even awarded the Kenyan government its “Global Prize for Progress in Governance,” and barely half a year later, there was a bloodbath on the streets of Kenya and widespread reports of ethnic cleansing.
Sir, you have to be careful when people like Paul Wolfowitz, former president of the World Bank, play games with you. He fought corruption with exactly the same determination he supported the war in Iraq. Sir, don’t you think this is bizarre? We will see how his successor, Robert Zoellick, will fair.
Sir, just be careful when Western powers massage their own egos by focussing on issues that bring them bliss: human rights, corruption, etc. and divert attention from issues that cause misery to other people; viz illegal wars (Iraq) and economic strangulation (Zimbabwe’s Zidera).
So Mr Odinga, we would like to learn from you. But when a dinner is hosted in you honour, and rather than playing diplomacy, you attack another leader on the basis of their age, we start losing respect. And when you say, “President Mugabe should emulate President Kibaki’s statesmanship,” after going around the world saying he stole an election; are you saying stealing an election is statesmanlike?
Your words, Sir, are mind-boggling, and very disturbing, especially for a ‘new kid on the African statesmen’s block’. When you label Zimbabwe as ‘pathetic’ what exactly do you mean, Sir, as this word doesn’t seem to exist in diplomacy and is not respectable political parlance. With all due respect, you are starting on a wrong footing. It sounds like a threat when you say you will use ‘all necessary means’ to make sure that President Mugabe retires honourably. How can you mix threatening words like “all necessary means”—remember Malcolm X—and honourably, in the same breath? Isn’t this the paradox of your leadership, Sir? Using violence to obtain power ‘peacefully’ through Kofi Annan.
Is this the manual you gave the MDC, Sir?
Lastly, Sir, you say President Mugabe should learn from President Kufour of Ghana. Why do you read history backwards, Sir? How can a baby give birth to an adult?
You say: “He (President Kufour) came to Kenya when the country was on fire, carried a bucket of water which he poured onto the fire when some people claimed he came for a cup of tea.” Maybe those people saw you having a cup of tea, Sir and thought he was coming to join you. And why did you not carry that bucket Sir, and poured it onto the fire rather than wait for President Kufour, as you were in Kenya already?
In the meantime, we can only wish you well as you start the resettlement of thousands of internally displaced persons in the Rift Valley and Nyanza provinces. Let’s hope your leadership is solid and is not on shaky ground and will not be an ’embarassment to Africa’ or worse still, ‘an embarassment to the world’.