Truth commission must allow justice to take its course

Maybe the election tally records were tampered with. That is what the ODM claims. And that is the reason they cite to oppose tallying the vote again. In the end, though, the question of resolution must be dealt with somehow.

The country needs to know who was the true winner. Some commentators have argued that this is no longer necessary, that it will only aggravate matters, and that we should move on regardless.

That is not good enough. Finding out who the real winner was is the only way to bring closure to the recent madness.

I do not think it is impossible to find that out. The first thing to do is get an independent panel – international or national – to carry out a forensic audit of the vote.

If we believe the tally documents are faulty, we can go back to the actual ballots in every place and compare them with the voter registers. It is possible to get a fairly accurate picture from these.

Rightful president

Once that is done, the quarrel over who should be the rightful president will have been resolved. If it is Hon Raila Odinga, let him have the seat. If it is Pastor Pius Muiru, so be it.

However, what must get priority is punishment for impunity. It is heartening to hear that the two sides in the Kofi Annan-led mediation group are agreed on this point, though I suspect one or two persons in that group may not quite know the gravity of what could lie ahead.

Those who have killed and organised for people to be killed under the guise of political protest must be made to understand there will be painful consequences for this.

I am happy to learn charge sheets are being prepared against some of the perpetrators of the violence.

Likewise, a truth and reconciliation commission, which the mediation group has agreed to, is a brilliant idea. But it must not be used to wipe away the criminality of the killings that have happened.

Evil is evil, and just because someone has “confessed” does not mean one should be let off scot-free. Justice must take its course.

And in this case, the kin of the more than 1,000 dead, and the over 350,000 displaced, most of who lost the fruit of their lifetime labour, want to see the criminals responsible punished in a manner that will serve as a lasting lesson.

That there was an election dispute must not be used as mitigation. It does not follow that if you quarrel with me you have the licence to kill me.

The truth commission should do much more than just provide a forum to air grievances.

That was the mistake made by the South African version that was created after the collapse of apartheid. Ventilating grievances did not seal the deep racial gap that still exists in that country.

Truth commission

Our truth commission should probe the genesis of the ethnic hatred that we saw, which was masked in the misleading colours of post-election protests.

We have to ask ourselves whether such hatred – which by the way did not materialise last year – can be tolerated in a country that seeks cohesion.

Inevitably, the issue of land keeps cropping up. What is greatly encouraging to hear is that land transfers were suspended in the entire North Rift at the onset of the violence.

This basically means some buffoon who chased somebody from his land and occupied it thinking it will be his for keeps is deceiving himself.

It also helps to guard against the displaced people being forced to sell at throwaway prices. This mindset of causing misfortune to others thinking you will acquire free land is part and parcel of the impunity that is destroying this country.

Mzee Jomo Kenyatta gave us some very sound advice at independence: Hakuna cha bure. Nothing is free. That still holds true today.

If at independence departing White settlers were compensated for land that they grabbed by force, it is absurd to propose that Kenyans who bought their plots should get dispossessed because they are not “ancestral” to a particular place.

Anybody coveting those pieces of land must be ready to buy them at market rates, and only if the owners want to sell.

The problem of political fat cats who grabbed large chunks of land in shady circumstances over the years must be treated separately from the case of peasants who migrated from Kisii or Murang’a and bought plots of land elsewhere either individually or through pooling resources in land-buying companies.

Land ownership cannot be divorced from the free enterprise economy we profess to follow.


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