Professor Makau Mutua is a Dean and SUNY Distinguished Professor at SUNY Buffalo Law School and Chair of the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC). He also pens Sunday Nation article which mainly revolves around the politics of the day.
I have always found Makau Mutua's articles and twitter outbursts wanting and falling short of the level of analysis expected from a person who has attained the academic level of a professor of law. His articles are often uninformative offering no new information, offers no intellectual analysis, limited entertainment value and his opinion tends to be misleading for a nationwide read newspaper. A good example is this week's article on Deputy President Ruto's perceived stalking of President Uhuru. Compare that to other articles by the likes of Dr Mukhisa Kituyi or Muriithi Mutiga or the other opinion writers.
The Nation stopped taking Mutahi Ngunyi's articles whose articles most people found highly analytical entertaining and politically predictive of political occurrences and re-alignments. You cannot place Makau Mutua's in this league. At best they should be Facebook posts or blog rants. His articles are either misleading or keeps regurgitating the same statements or repeating what is common knowledge to Kenyans and passing it off as revelations.
A few samples from his recent articles;
December 2nd 2012: Why the Uhuru-Ruto alliance is a ticket to nowhere
A “political merger” of TNA and URP is nonsense on stilts. It won’t take a step without collapsing into a heap. That’s because oil and vinegar don’t mix .... Don’t be fooled that the wily and cunning Mr Ruto will be Mr Kenyatta’s bride.... There’s growing evidence that Mr Ruto may not hold onto the Kalenjin, especially if he plays second fiddle to Mr Kenyatta....
The risk for Mr Ruto — if he becomes Mr Kenyatta’s sidekick — is loss of face among the Kalenjin. This opens the door wide for Mr Odinga to scoop up Kalenjin votes.... It will also strengthen the hand of two key regional players — Industrialisation minister Henry Kosgey and Agriculture minister Sally Kosgei — against Mr Ruto. Mr Odinga may even pick one of the two his running mate. This could likely doom Mr Ruto’s political career....
I can see why Mr Kenyatta sees Uhuru-Ruto ticket as a plausible strategy out of the ICC and a roadblock against an Odinga presidency. Except it isn’t. I think it’s more like a suicide pact.
December 9th 2012: Power deals: An open letter to Raila and Uhuru
This article purported to be a letter to Raila and Uhuru but turned out to be a a history lesson of Raila and Uhuru's political careers that is common knowledge in most Kenyans minds. The article did not even address Raila and Uhuru directly as you would expect a letter to.
December 16th 2012: Why the new election agreements are doomed
My crystal ball tells me that the two major pre-election pacts - built on Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta - are sure to implode. They will self-cannibalise and self-destruct because they must. They will go "poof" in a nanosecond.
Don't just shoot the messenger - I am just "reading the tea leaves".... Only a space cadet would believe that Cord and Jubilee have any staying power....I've no doubt they (Uhuru and Ruto) can't govern together even if they were elected.... What's more, Mr Ruto doesn't believe Mr Kenyatta's promise that TNA and URP will share the spoils 50 - 50.
Make no mistake - Jubilee only works with Mr Kenyatta at the top. Mr Ruto and Mr Mudavadi's UDF are mere "tenants." Mt Kenya MPs made that clear. That's why Jubilee will scatter to the four winds...
... This is nothing short of a tragedy (CORD's inclusion of non-reformers Henry Kosgei, Sally Kosgei, Franklin Bett, Wetangula, Kalonzo and Maina Njenga). There'll be blood-letting in CORD as these political vultures vie for influence. Mr Odinga can't keep them all happy....Only God knows what will happen if he passes Mr Musyoka for Mr Kosgey. I bet the latter will rush back to Mr Ruto in the TNA-URP alliance. And I don't see how he picks Mr Kosgey over Mr Musyoka. Hell will break loose. That's why I think Mr Odinga should skip both and pick Martha Karua.
CORD and Jubilee are doomed planes flying over the Atlantic without Radar. Sooner or later a tragedy is bound to occur.
December 23rd 2012: Gay and lesbian Kenyans are a social reality
Another of Makau Mutua's pet subject that does not resonate with a majority of Kenyans
Last Saturday, I was humbled - and deeply honoured - to be recognised with a gay rights award. The unexpected award brought many tears of joy to my eyes. I was deeply moved. The Kenya National Gay and Human Rights Commission, an NGO, hosted the first annual gay and lesbian awards, or GALA.
But this is what my crystal ball tells me - such haters (of the gay rights movement) are an endangered species. Their real estate is shrinking, and fast. They belong not to the future, but the proverbial dustbin of history.
December 30th 2012: Kenyans must think hard before casting ballots in March
This is what my crystal ball tells me should Kenyans elect the Kenyatta-Ruto duo: Kenya’s international image will change overnight - like flipping a switch. The country will be twinned with Sudan and every reference will be to Mr Kenyatta’s and Mr Ruto’s indictment by the ICC. That will be the world’s reference on Kenya.
This is gargantuan - we will have lost the public relations war even before we open our mouth. We will be shunned and ridiculed internationally. People will say we are ruled by warlords....
Mr Kenyatta, Mr Ruto and senior officials won’t be allowed to travel abroad. Kenya will die diplomatically. We will become a pariah nation - isolated. We’ll become the butt of jokes in the world. But even worse, our economy - which is externally-oriented - will come under severe sanctions....
Methinks Kenya’s coffee, tea, minerals, flowers, and other valuable exports will be banned. Investors and foreign banks will flee, and local ones won’t be allowed to transact with their counterparts abroad. Kenyans in the diaspora may be prevented from making remittances. International hotel chains may shutter. Foreign airlines will desert Kenya and tourists may dry up. Kenyans related to government officials won’t be allowed to either travel, or study abroad. It could get worse. Foreign aid, the United Nations, and World Bank largesse could be pulled. Diplomatic missions are likely to get out of Nairobi....
Very soon, essential commodities will become scarce - and expensive. There will be mass layoffs. Unemployment will skyrocket. Crime will increase, as it does when economies tank. Corruption, which is terrible now, will become a way of life. There will be no incentive for growing cash crops. Farming will die. Kenyans are likely to be exposed to poverty levels never before seen. Social unrest usually follows such economic contractions.
January 6th 2013: Why loser of March election may not concede defeat
My crystal ball tells me the ghost of the 2007 election may come back to haunt the 2013 polls. That’s right – the jinx of 2007 may bite us again in March. I wish I had more cheery news, but I don’t. The “tea leaves” are telling us something sinister – let’s read them without emotion, or tribal myopia.
Mr Kenyatta has got his fanatical supporters to drink this laced Kool-Aid. Their delirious devotion to Mr Kenyatta may not allow them to accept defeat. This is especially true if Mr Kenyatta balks at the results.
Will IEBC perform under pressure in March? Fourth, one can imagine a beleaguered IEBC chair in March faced with surging mobs of Jubilee and Cord supporters, each furious that “their man” actually won. Does Mr Hassan have the fortitude to speak with authority and finality?
The opposing sides will exploit any appearance of weakness in Mr Hassan and the IEBC to make unreasonable demands, including rejecting the results. They will cry fraud – whether real or fake – to discredit the results....
But I am afraid that a Cord-Jubilee contest is likely to split the vote down the middle. An evenly split vote is a recipe for chaos, even if the winning party barely scores 50 per cent plus one. In fact, it’s better no party wins in the first round and that one – either Mr Odinga or Mr Kenyatta – is knocked out and ineligible for the second round.
This could defuse a terrible standoff. The hope is that either candidate wins with a commanding majority to make it impossible for vote-stealers to cook up a false result. That’s what could send Kenya off the cliff. Let’s hope not.
January 13th 2013: History will judge Kibaki as Kenya’s best president
Another common knowledge history lesson with only one crystal ball revelation "When history is written, Mr Kibaki will go down as Kenya’s best president."
January 20th 2013: Ndemo’s remarks amount to suppression of free speech
Notice how Makau Mutua defends his crystal ball as churning out truth. With benefit of living through March 2013 one can clearly tell where the truth was.
Dr Ndemo seems to have been particularly riled by my column (“Why loser of March election may not concede,” Sunday Nation, January 6, 2013). He charged that as a “distinguished Kenyan” I was scaring away investors. I thought what I wrote was plainly clear to every honest thinker. How does “shooting the messenger” kill the message?...
Dr Ndemo would rather impose censorship than speak truth to power. He wants Kenya to be Orwellian — conceal the truth through propaganda, misinformation, manipulation and surveillance....
Dr Ndemo’s attack on me was nothing short of an attempt to overthrow the new Constitution....
The timing of Dr Ndemo’s attack is curious. It wasn’t clear he was accusing me of hate speech. If so, why only mention me by name while identifying hate blogs? His attack seems part of a larger political campaign to discredit and silence me and other human rights defenders....
The PS must be honest to himself. It’s not my column opposing impunity — or warning Kenyans about the dire consequences of making unwise political decisions — that will harm investment
January 27th 2013: Perhaps we should postpone the March General Election
No one, and no single institution, is ready for the elections. Only a goddamned fool would go down a cliff with a car that’s got no brakes. There is a real danger that peace would be seriously disturbed during, and after, the elections. Take this to the bank – Kenya is too fragile a state to withstand violent clashes in every corner of the country. If we love Kenya – and we do – let’s debate about the need to extend the date of the elections until we are reasonably ready.
Fifth, Kenya doesn’t have sufficient security apparatuses to effectively deal with violent breakouts all over the country during and after the elections. The competence and effectiveness of our police service has been brought to question. Look at their inability to deal with localised terror in Tana River.
Multiply that by a factor of 50 during the election and let us, in all honesty, say if they will be able to restore order. Unless the primary elections are repeated to produce credible results, there will be both “intra” and “inter” party violence. You will have URP folks fighting TNA candidates, and ODM candidates fighting Wiper ones. And then you will have Cord candidates going after Jubilee ones and vice-versa. The whole thing is likely to degenerate into mayhem...
But I prophesy nothing, let alone doom. I am rather giving a warning about what is likely to happen. It’s cockamamie to lay aside realistic analysis for wishful thinking. It’s foolish. It’s like rejecting warnings not to drink hemlock – then gulping it – and hope to survive.
February 3rd 2013: Why Ruto may have to struggle to win Kalenjin vote
You’ve often heard parents warning children not to bite more than they can chew. Methinks Jubilee deputy presidential nominee William Ruto should heed this wisdom. Even though “Samoei” is his middle name – I don’t know how he got it – he’s no Koitalel.
The Nandi – let alone the Kalenjin Nation – may desert him. That’s because he seems to be a rebel without a cause. I mean a cause “his” people can dig. He has overplayed The Hague sympathy card.
He has tried to emotionally extort the Kalenjin. Will they see the light?....The Kalenjin don’t want to be isolated. Then Mr Ruto made a strategic blunder. He gave up his presidential bid, and agreed to play second fiddle to Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta. Subordinating himself to Mr Kenyatta again – as he did in 2002 – didn’t go down well with “his” people.
... Because the elder Moi – and President Mwai Kibaki – could be the forces behind UDF presidential candidate Musalia Mudavadi. That’s why Kanu will work its rear end off to get Mr Mudavadi and UDF as many votes as possible in the Rift Valley. Its (KANU) vast networks and patronage over decades by the Mois have deep roots. It may be time for the Mois “to collect”.
... It’s clear now that Mr Ruto’s iron grip over his backyard has been loosened. I believe his value to Mr Kenyatta is greatly diminished.
... Mr Ruto seems to have forgotten this lesson, and the chickens may be coming home to roost. This means the vote in the Rift Valley may be more unsettled than people think.
....They are all – and I mean all – fronted by ethnic barons. But it seems some groups – like the Kalenjin – are willing to let go of the “tribal djinn”. I bet Mr Ruto didn’t count on the Kalenjin refusing to drink this intoxicant.
February 10th 2013:Why Kiyiapi’s shot at the presidency has been overlooked
Another common knowledge article. Did Nation readers require a half page article to decipher the following: " Prof Kiyiapi is a victim of tribal math on which presidential elections are won, and lost."
February 17th 2013: Four reasons why Kenya can’t be ruled from The Hague
I have been utterly flummoxed by recent comments by the Jubilee presidential candidate Uhuru Kenyatta, and his running mate William Ruto. The pair has boldly stated that it will govern Kenya from The Hague. I was shocked by the lack of public cry.
Oh hum – people just shrugged. Are you freaking kidding me? Is Kenya a nation of such naives?
...But there’s one nasty factoid – the accused must – that’s must, not should, or ought to – appear in person. This requires residence at The Hague. Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto had better buy a house at The Hague.
... To this daunting fact Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto have said – no problem. That’s because they reckon their cases won’t run concurrently. This is nothing but a bald faced untruth told to a gullible electorate.There’s no merit, or an iota, of truth to such an untruth. Neither Mr Kenyatta, nor Mr Ruto, set the court’s calendar. So it boggles the mind how they know – in advance – that their cases won’t run together. Their argument wouldn’t hold water even if their cases were only days apart.
... You can take this to the bank – you probably won’t see either of them again for perhaps five years, or more, once they board the KLM flight to The Hague before April 10. I take no delight in stating these facts, but facts are stubborn things.
... Fourth, I have written before that there are dire consequences for electing leaders facing charges for heinous crimes at the ICC. I keep on hearing the argument that nobody should tell Kenyans how to vote. Others say that they will vote for The Hague duo justto spite America and Europe. That’s unwise. It’s like a child threatening to jump over the cliff if it doesn’t get a cookie. It’s self-defeating logic.
We’ve seen what happens when countries elect, or are ruled, by pariahs. That’s loading a gun and shooting it at your head. The US and Europe have a right to choose partner states. Methinks the US or Europe can’t justify dealing with an ICC suspect president.
February 24th 2013: Why a run-off may decide Uhuru-Raila contest
It’s now or never for Jaramogi’s son. The man they call Agwambo has a clear view of the mountaintop. But can he get there?
... We may find out on March 4, or we may not. That’s because the two horses may run a dead heat and square off again in round two. Or will Mr Odinga score a first round knockout? Which begs the question – is there a “tyranny of numbers” or is such talk just hot air?
... The argument – which is odious, but probably true – is that Kenyans vote in tribal blocs. That may be true, except a tribal bloc can be put asunder by internal competition. Take the Rift Valley as exhibit A. It’s clear to me that Jubilee presidential running mate William Ruto will barely capture 40 per cent of the Kalenjin vote.
... That’s because the Mois – competing tribal barons – and UDF presidential candidate Musalia Mudavadi will cannibalise his base. I don’t think Mr Odinga will emerge empty-handed in the Rift Valley.
... But it’s clear that Mr Kenyatta will carry every vote among the Kikuyu. This means that Mr Kenyatta can only count on “one and half” tribes – the Kikuyu and about half the Kalenjin... But Mr Odinga is making a big play for the Meru vote.
... At best, Mr Odinga and Mr Kenyatta fight to a draw. But one has to give the nod to Mr Odinga because of the support he draws among Muslims and marginalised communities. But even with these advantages, it’s unclear Mr Odinga can pull off a first round win. He thinks the State is trying to “rig him out”. That’s why my prediction is that we will go to round two.
March 3rd 2013: CJ stands between Kenyans and tyranny or chaos
Maybe the crystal ball was right on this one, but wasn't he stating the obvious? Doesn't the constitution provide that the Supreme Court is the final arbiter of presidential election disputes?
That’s why the ultimate legitimacy of an election rests with the Judiciary. This makes Chief Justice Willy Mutunga the most important Kenyan on March 4, and the next few months. That’s the truth.
... This civics lesson brings me back to CJ Mutunga. Let me clear the air on Kenya’s Chief Justice. I do so because I have seen misbegotten references to his character, and my relationship with him. Some malignant fellows want to lower CJ Mutunga’s moral standing and probity for their own nefarious agendas. That’s because they are afraid of an upright chief justice, one whose ear they can’t bend, or whose heart they can’t weaken. We know Kenya’s history, and never has the country been fortunate to have the calibre of Dr Mutunga for a chief Justice. He’s a human being who towers over mere mortals. I know because I’ve known the man for decades. He’s a true icon.
... These are coordinated attacks on the CJ and the institution of the judiciary to cow them before the elections. That’s because “dark forces” may believe that only the CJ and the judiciary stand in the way of a power grab. They are right – CJ Mutunga’s fidelity to the Constitution is beyond question. He’ll defend it to the death.
They say that a birth is a beautiful thing. But it is also painful. Nations need impeccable people at the helm at key moments.
... My view is that Kenya has CJ Mutunga to implant the new Constitution. That journey starts in earnest either on March 4 – if there’s a clear and acceptable winner – or in the runoff thereafter.
CJ Mutunga and the new-look judiciary will anoint the new dispensation. Let him do his job.
Does Makau Mutua's crystal ball add value to Kenya's political discourse, does it inform, critique or entertain? Is it time that he acquired a new crystal ball or some African lenses to analyse Kenyan and African affairs professionally?