By KURIAN MUSA
Former Chief Justice Willy Mutunga has revealed that he is still in the civic social order activism.
Dr Mutunga said ‘I never quitted the civil society’ ending speculations on whether he had quit activism.
The former CJ said there is need to build strong movements that have the voice of social democratic rights. “There is an elite consensus to burn that chapter and am asking you to watch that space,” he warned.
He broke his silence for the first time after taking an early retirement as head of the Judiciary during a dinner party by the Kenya Human rights Commission in Nairobi. Guests including Professor Makau Mutua acting President of the Judiciary Mohamed Ibrahim, Canadian ambassador, Members of Parliament, activists Boniface Mwangi, Okiya Omtatah and Mau Mau war Veteran Gitu Kahengeri among others complimented him for the transformation he brought in Kenya’s Judiciary system.
He said that Kenya is headed for the fourth revolution. He reiterated that Kenya must change and does not explode and implode. He explained that the element of global solidarity is enhanced by the civil society.
During his tenure, Dr Mutunga said Holland, the Scandinavian countries; Ford Foundation and Canada together with other development partners gave immense support to the judiciary.
According to the former CJ, there are those who are dismantling the pillars of the constitution. “I think in this country we reached a consensus when we promulgated the constitution 2010 and I have always argued that the vision of the constitution is to build a social and democratic state of a society. There are many pillars that the constitution has erected as a foundation for such a state. Even those against the constitution have read them, if you watch them keenly; they are busy dismantling those pillars.”
The fourth liberation, he explained is the process to ensure the constitution is implemented the way it was intended to be. And that: “Nobody in this gathering is opposed to this struggle; I hope am preaching to the converted, lets breath life to the constitution, participate intellectually and politically
“I am not about to take questions on what gains have you made or what challenges you faced. I am sure the organizations, activists, civil society here know this well,” he said.
In his dose for proper implementation of the constitution, Dr Mutunga administered five key areas to be looked into.
Grass roots Activism
“Let’s pay attention to the grassroots activism, in the counties around the equitable distribution of resources,” said the former CJ. Adding that it was loud and clear__ and its calling for liberal and protection of civil rights.
The anti-corruption movement was challenged to go to the marginalized counties: “I am paying close attention to my county Kitui, at what resources have been given to the county. The governor told me that we have received 2000 times more money since independence,” Said Dr Mutunga, observing that Mandera, Wajir and Turkana would give their stories.
Elite consensus to burn chapter six towards the 2017 election
Secondly, Mutunga said Kenyans need to keep a keen eye on the 2017 election. He explained the election would maybe the first one where some clear issues like; devolution of political power and resources, role of treasury in holding resources at the behest of central government, that governors and central government are debating that every day.
He added that the civil society should look into the; ‘Restructuring of governance structures in central and county governments, the emergence of human rights movements on housing, quality education, food, environment and gender equity.’ “I believe the elections will raise questions of leadership and integrity as candidates will try to put off their opponents by invoking chapter six,” said Mutunga.
80 per cent of Kenya’s population is under 35 years of age. He disagreed with Pollsters who say there is a homogenous population. “What I see is the youth who is gaining material interest. Agitating to the right for good health, food, education, proper housing in the counties that require ideological political attention,” he said.
The Chief Justice Emeritus Mutunga said the such for alternative leadership from the grassroots to the center is an issue clear, whether it’s the judicial challenge on leadership, slow pace of the media focusing on the issue of exposing theft in the church, corruption of stealing public resources and the elite consensus on ways of governance are all things that need to be looked into.
On the issue of whether he was back to the society, he told a story of; A Ugandan man who formed a political party whose mission was to bring the British back. Because the situation in Uganda worsened after the exit of the British. However he lost by getting two votes, he asked his wife the reason, and she told him the reason he lost was that ‘the British never left.’
Mutunga taught me about Job security in Kenya, Justice Mohamed Ibrahim
Justice Mohamed Ibrahim observed that he was fellowshipping in the farewell dinner for Dr Mutunga as Acting President of the Judiciary not acting Chief Justice. He first met Mutunga in 1978-1979. They worked together as a council member of the LSK when Mutunga was LSK Chair. “Many virtues and skills I hold are the ones he imparted on me and taught me, he taught me industrial relations, labour law and I did a paper and dissertation labour laws and Job security in Kenya in which I think I did well, ” said the judge of the Supreme Court amid laughter from the audience. Perhaps, it was an allusion towards the succession of who becomes the Chief Justice of the Judiciary.
“We have come this far. In am very proud to have worked with him at the supreme court and I have learnt a lot, he has mentored us, he has given as leadership and the jurisprudence we have and which some of course have been criticized but that’s about law and development of jurisprudence, but he has singlehandedly led us and we believe he has left the judiciary a stronger place, and I already wished him well. Am glad that he has been told not to think about retirement that wherever he will serve, he will as a representative of Kenya. We will still go to him for guidance and counselling anytime,” said Justice Ibrahim.
On his part, Professor Makau Mutua, who applied but was not even shortlisted said Dr Mutunga shares the truism that ‘if you want to go fast, go alone, and if you want to go far, you go as a team.’
Mutunga the Guru and Doyen of Civil Society
“I have known Dr Mutunga for a long time. In many societies there are spaces virtues and spaces of viciousness. A space of virtue is also the conscience of this country and that space is the one occupied by the civil society, by you in this room. I would not be where I am today without Dr Mutunga,” said Prof Makau.
According to him, the civil society gave birth to Dr Mutunga who he described as the Guru and Doyen of the civil society in Kenya. “All players’ civil society and most lawyers in Kenya have passed in his hands. However, he is yet to meet anyone who has never been seduced by power. In a pin drop silence, Professor Makau said in Kenyan history of those who fought in the second liberation, there are some fell off the way because power is seductive.
“It is that humility, a rare feature that lacks in the Kenyan Intelligentsia and Kenyan political arena that Dr Mutunga personifies. He gave out ideas freely without claiming any knowledge about it,” said the SUNNY Professor.
The Kenya Human rights Commission was formed in 1991, after Chief Justice Emeritus Willy Mutunga who was abroad then, said Makau Mutua. “Called myself and Maina Kiai, Kiraitu Murungi, and Peter Kareithi we formed the Kenya Human rights commission together. We did not imagine it to grow this. Father Dolan, Godwin Murunga, way back in 1991, Dr Mutunga gathered us in North America and told us it was good that we form the commission. And without bragging, the Commission became the father of Human rights movement in Kenya.”
Dr Mutunga never left the commission after joining Ford Foundation and even as Chief Justice, he would call to ask how the commission went on its affairs. “He always told me that we had lost the fire in the struggle. Dr Mutunga never tires from clamor change, push for reforms,” he opined.
Makau Mutua observed that despite the fact he was never happy with the ruling of the Presidential petition in 2013, Kenya has never had a Chief Justice who was beyond reproach.
“Even those who critic Dr Mutunga for the ruling in that court should remember that we may never get another Chief Justice like him, and I say this with all candor, so Will I know some of us were had on you, you told us civil society was your home and you had nowhere to go. You never left us and we welcome you back” said Professor Makau Mutua.
Norwegian Ambassador said: “you were always available both us chief Justice and personally. We are fascinated by your activism. You have been crucial of building modern Kenya and upholding the values of the constitution. Justice and implementation of the constitution is important to Kenya and development partners. Even in the struggle against terrorism, Human rights is Key. Let me commend you for the struggle to reduce corruption not only in the judiciary but also Kenya at large. We wish you the best in your retirement and future endevours.”
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