While my number one wish for 2009 is resettlement of the internally displaced, I feel that history defines governments and leaders, not by their claims to greatness, but by great goals they may have achieved or the unforgettable tragedies they may have caused or resolved.To earn a mention in history, leaders require tremendous courage or cowardice. Speaking of courage in leadership and human survival, Sir Winston Churchill said: “Courage is the first and most important attribute of human beings because it ensures the presence of all others.”If courage is the greatest virtue in politics, cowardice is the greatest vice. Courage has made nations great and cowardice destroyed many. Indeed we owe what we enjoy to courage and what we suffer to cowardice.Remember, courage is not killing and silencing critics but liberating the downtrodden by saying no to dictatorship, injustice and hunger.
Today, Europe, America and East Asia have been hoisted to the pinnacle of political and economic greatness by political generals of great valour like Churchill. On the other hand, Kenya and Africa in general, have been hurled into depths of unspeakable poverty by some of their leaders.In our case, if there is one example of political cowardice whose creation and failure to resolve will earn President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga notoriety in history, it will be their midwifery of post-election violence, ethnic cleansing, displacement and abandonment of the displaced.Unavoidably, the displaced are a creation of President Kibaki’s lack of courage in defending those who voted for him, and Premier Odinga’s manifest unwillingness to defend the democratic rights of those who voted against him. The two seem to agree with Mr William Ruto that Kenya belongs to tribes, not Kenyans.In 1997, members of a community were killed for voting for Mr Kibaki. Powerless, they knew Kibaki could do nothing until he became president.
In 2003, I tabled in Parliament a motion for the resettlement of the displaced that was duly passed. President Kibaki and his two ministers of Lands, Mr Amos Kimunya and Prof Kivutha Kibwana, however, refused to resettle the displaced in pursuit of the votes of Rift Valley MPs in Parliament.By doing this, the President betrayed his MoU with the displaced the same way he had reneged on the one made with Mr Odinga.Architects of ethnic mayhem did not fail to notice this. When, during the 2007 elections, two communities voted for him, hundreds of thousands were attacked, killed and chased away from their lands.And though armed with executive powers, President Kibaki moved not a finger to protect them. He had intelligence that his supporters would be attacked, but he did not order the army to protect them.When they were attacked and killed, he sent soldiers to ethnically cleanse Rift Valley by taking the displaced away from their homes and lands. Since then, the Government has denied these people security to return to their farms, and also failed to give them alternative land.
To compound the problem, President Kibaki’s partner in Government, Raila, does not support either their return to their former lands or resettlement elsewhere. Like Kibaki, he too is scared of giving security to the returnees in fear of alienating the support of Rift Valley MPs.To court their support, the Prime Minister has also become a champion of majimbo, ethnic federalism that fuelled the post-election violence.Finally, because of voting for his adversary, Raila is quietly punishing the displaced with neglect the same way he spearheaded the disbandment of the Electoral Commission for refusing to pronounce him president.
Like heartless elephants locked in a permanent struggle for supremacy, the two principals have trampled on the rights of the displaced and condemned them to embarrassing landlessness and destitution.In the meantime, the two are running the Government like a cartel for the exclusive benefit of themselves, their families, business partners, cronies, foreign companies and the Qatari Government whom they have given 100,000 acres to grow food for their people, as the displaced die of hunger.
Mr Wamwere is the author of “Towards Genocide in Kenya: The Curse of Negative Ethnicity.”