Why Chief Justice Martha Koome Meeting President Ruto is Ridiculous

7 mins read

Our country today under President William Ruto has one sickening habit that will take the country nowhere.

This disgusting habit is that President Ruto comes up with some outrageous claims and proposals and the whole country is talking about that for months as if there is a competition on who can be louder in support of Ruto.

For a while now it has been “Affordable Housing”, “Health Care” and the usual picture projects where every CS and politician wants to be seen doing something with loud pictures in the Kenya Star. There is a big competition for that and maybe that is the only way they show Ruto they are working as Ruto himself must be seen in pictures every day sometimes chinjaring chicken for show or singing in a church.

The latest big news story for Ruto and his crew is that the President is ready to meet with Chief Justice Martha Koome to sort things out after the president asserted that the judiciary is frustrating his government because they are corrupt and he is going to disregard court orders and do whatever he wants. It is quite frightening to human rights activists in Kenya that the proposal for this absurd meeting came from the Chief Justice herself.

In response, an excited Ruto has responded by demanding that the meeting include the president, Speaker of the National Assembly, and Speaker of the Senate.

What happened to the separation of powers and the independence of the judiciary which are key pillars of our governing system?

Kenya has the Executive, the Judiciary, and the Legislature. Why do Ruto and Koome want to marsh all these different arms of governance in one messy pot? Is that to serve Kenyans or William Ruto and why is our Chief Justice succumbing to the cheap threats from the government?

The JSC of which the Chief Justice is the Chairperson already has representatives from all arms of government. Already the executive is represented by the Attorney General (no less) and others and all other arms of government have representatives there.

If that arrangement at the JSC is not working for Ruto, why not nominate his DP Rigathi Gachagua to represent him at the JSC? If that doesn’t work Ruto can nominate himself as the executive representative at the JSC. Ruto’s MPs can change the constitution to make that work for the president and that can be done in a few days.

But the idea of the Chief Justice having clandestine meetings with President William Ruto to take instructions from the president insults our constitution which is what the Kenya judiciary is supposed to protect.

Let us put it bluntly because we know exactly what is going on.

As the fight between the Chief Justice and President Ruto was raging on, KK MPs have already made it clear that they are now working on the 2024/25 national budget and the MPs have issued a threat to the Chief Justice that if the judiciary does not toe the line and do everything Ruto wants they are going to cut the budget of the judiciary by 90%.

That is the message Ruto and the Speaker of the National Assembly where the national budget is prepared want to deliver directly to the Chief Justice. It will be a message from Ruto telling Martha Koome that if the president does not get everything he wants there will be no money for the judiciary.

The idea of Kenya’s Chief Justice bowing to the president is something Kenyans and Martha Koome know very well.

President Moi had Chief Justice Bernard Chunga who spent more time at State House getting orders from Moi than the time he spent in his office and the courts making sure all those instructions were carried out to the letter. It was the ugliest time in Kenya for the rule of law and human rights in our country. Kenyans fought hard and many died to end that abuse of our laws and the country as a whole.

The good news for Kenyans is that we know the legal and political path that made Moi pick Bernard Chunga as the Chief Justice in Kenya. Chunga was the Chief Public Prosecutor for Moi before he became the Chief Justice and that is where I first met Chunga when he was brutalizing students to jail because we were against the Moi dictatorship.

So when Chunga was appointed the Chief Justice by Moi in 1999, everybody knew what to expect and he lived up to that reality. Chunga quit his job as Chief Justice as soon as his little God Moi was thrown out of office by Kenyan voters in 2002.

Martha Koome has a completely different and opposite route to being the Chief Justice of Kenya today at another critical time in our country. Martha Koome has a background in human rights on legal issues and we respect her for that.

So there is a lot of hope that Martha Koome will not succumb to orders from President Ruto.

Time will tell but begging President Ruto for a meeting after he got mad with the judiciary is a pretty bad move and we are going to say that because we know what the consequences of a subdued judiciary have meant for our country. Kenyans don’t want to see that again. Ever.

Adongo Ogony is a Human Rights Activist and a Writer who lives in Toronto, Canada

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