The Week That Was: Interesting Tidbits…

Here’s a quick recap of recent developments:

Latest on the Constitutional Amendment debate

“The incumbency has lost the power of deciding an election date. Now they want to get it back just one more time through the back door.” – Martha Karua, MP & Presidential Aspirant in 2012 Elections.

The Speaker of the National Assembly ruled that the Cabinet (through the Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister) was within the provisions of the Constitution and Parliament’s Standing Orders to table the Constitutional Amendment Bill which seeks to change the general election date from August to December 2012. This Bill has already been tabled for the First Reading in Parliament.

Since Cabinet’s “logistical reasons” excuse for having Elections in December instead of August has failed to hold sway with us, they’ve now crafted a new reason. Listen to this:
“The Cabinet decided to seek a constitutional amendment to hold the elections in December because President Kibaki’s term expires on December 30, 2012. If the elections are held before that date, the country will not have a President and Commander-in-Chief because, legally, the President’s term would have expired.”

Meanwhile, Prof. Mutua in his weekly “Letter from New York” expresses a real fear that the on-going war against Al-Shabaab could be used to postpone the 2012 elections. He concludes by saying that Kenya’s war against Al-Shabaab is necessary and that’s why Kenya may have to postpone elections if necessary.

With due respect, any attempt to push General Elections to 2013 by invoking the President’s “unexpired term” or “national security” must be rejected in the strongest possible terms. We are aware that MPs, Permanent Secretaries and other high-ranking government officials whose Terms of Office, by and large, are tied to the Elections date would be more than happy to have elections in December 2012 or March 2013 or even much later. But what about the People of Kenya? All the People want is a peaceful, free and fair election – preferably sooner than later, yes?

Evictees awarded over 200 million shillings as damages for violation of their rights

“…The evictions were then supposed to be carried out in a manner that respected human dignity, right to life and the security of the affected…” – Muchelule, J., High Court.

In the case of Ibrahim Sangor Osman & 1,122 others v The Minister of State for Provincial Administration and Internal Security & 10 others [2011], Justice Muchelule sitting in the High Court at Embu has awarded a global sum of Kshs. 224,600,000/= to 1,123 ‘Medina Evictees’ as damages following their eviction from unalienated public land within the jurisdiction of the Municipal Council of Garissa. The court also declared that the petitioners’ fundamental rights as outlined in their petition had been violated by virtue of the eviction from the alleged public land and the consequential demolition of property by the respondents. Read the full case here.

As the dust settles on the Syokimau demolitions, we heard the news of the residents living adjacent to the Eastleigh Air Force Base, who had their flats demolished, to their utter shock and disbelief. It is hoped that this positive outcome from the halls of justice can be relied up by the residents of both Syokimau and Eastleigh as they explore options for legal redress from the State.

Speaking of legal redress…

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The Week That Was: Sepp Blatter and Uhuru Kenyatta Walk into a Bar in Syokimau…

As I step out briefly from the birthday festivities at the DR HQ, I do so to ventilate and share some quick thoughts on several events which have shaped this past week.

Depending on where you’ve lived in the diaspora or visited in Karen, hearing anyone trivialise racial discrimination isn’t something you take lying down. This clearly explains the public outrage and condemnation of FIFA President Sepp Blatter’s remarks that in the case of football, any racial incidents could be settled by a handshake at the end of a match. That would be like Francis Atwoli saying that ethnic and gender discrimination doesnt exist in the workplace and if you’ve been discriminated against, you should just hug it out with your employer or colleague and move on. REALLY?

But the thing about discrimination in Kenya in particular is that more people need to speak out against it so that we can move past labeling and stereotyping and start looking at each other as brothers and sisters working towards building one nation: Kenya. The problem especially with ethnic discrimination in Kenya today is that it is so entrenched in our every day life that it has become accepted as normal and in politics, we accept it simply as the modus operandi. This mindset must change. Do keep in mind that we have a Bill of Rights now that enshrines Equality, which means that if you’re ever discriminated against, you can now go to court and seek damages.

Moving on, Forbes Magazine claims that Uhuru Kenyatta, 2012 presidential aspirant, International Criminal Court suspect and son of former president Jomo Kenyatta, is the richest man in Kenya and 26th richest man in Africa. Does it not bother us to have one surname owning over 500,000 acres of land in Kenya? Okay, that was rhetorical. Frankly, I pray that Mr. Kenyatta never sees the inside of State House in 2012 (although he was born there 50 years ago) because I have a sneaky feeling that Kenyatta would be among those that oppose all broad-based land reform/land redistribution policies that would be made pursuant to the Constitution. All in all, I find it all very sad that he sits on all these huge tracts of prime land, most of it unused, yet we still have displaced persons living in camps all over the country while the government continues to deprive many more of land including the residents of Syokimau.

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