Friday, February 03, 2006

Awori's attempt at self-defence (pray, when did Narc "create and enable" democratic space and "total media freedom?")

Individuals, NGOs, Members of Civil Society and some Cabinet and Parliamentary colleagues have been demanding that ministers, the Secretary to the Cabinet and I should step aside or be sacked to allow investigations to proceed concerning Anglo Leasing.

Many articles have been written making aspersions using insulting and accusative language against my colleagues and I. The law of natural justice stipulates that one should be given an opportunity to defend oneself; will you please hear my side of the story?
Narc took the reigns of Government on the reform agenda which included enhancing democratic space, fight corruption, reform various departments within all the ministries such as Prison, Police, Courts, Immigration etc. To help the Government deal with all matters of democratic governance the law put in place the following structures:
- The Police to keep peace and to investigate when there is a case;
- The Attorney General to prosecute
- The Courts to judge
- In the matter of corruption, Kenya Anti Corruption Commission to investigate. All these structures cost the taxpayer a lot of money. Even though our Constitution guarantees full freedom of its citizens, it has not always been fulfilled.
It is the democratic space created and implemented by Narc Government that has enabled the total freedom of the media to flourish. The media does a good job of highlighting some of the weaknesses in our society and system for the good of our country.
The structures that I have mentioned earlier are intended to give us an orderly society and to protect all citizens without exception. Turning on the current matter of Anglo Leasing, I have been accused in the media and as a result by many organs of being corrupt. I have been called a thief, a bandit and other names. The "crime" being the new Passport project for the Immigration Department. At the time of the project contract, Immigration Department was in the Ministry of Home Affairs, which I head. The charge being the statement I made in Parliament in April 2004, which was in response to Hon Maoka Maore's allegation against our Ministry. The statement is here with me.
When a ministerial statement is demanded, the Minister concerned falls back on his/her Technical Staff to prepare it giving all facts and information in an effort to satisfy the member demanding it and Parliament as a whole.
That was the case in the Passport issue. I got the statement and gave it to Parliament in good faith. The other charges are excerpts from Mr Githongo's report where he quotes "a telephone conversation with him, a lunch that I held for some ministers with him at my house". At no time have I advocated any cover-up. I had nothing to cover up. I have had a very frank and detailed interview with Kacc officials to whom I gave all the information I have. The over zealousness with which this matter is being tackled is commendable. Kenyans are angry. But please let it not make us forget the tenets of democracy. It is not "drivel" to invoke the adage innocent till proved guilty". It is not "drivel" to ask investigators to satisfy themselves that those mentioned have committed a crime.
The structures are in place to protect everybody. There is a price to pay for democracy. It takes its course. Sometimes very slow. Have we abandoned due processes? Surely, the matters of Anglo Leasing are in good hands and even if they take longer than people want it is the price of democracy. Let us be sober and use the law. There are no short cuts. Let us not introduce malice, envy and jealousy in such a matter as we may !ose sight of the whole thing.
To some of my Cabinet and Parliamentary colleagues; at no time have I requested you to participate in a cover-up nor your defense blindly for those mentioned. Allegations are easy to make. It could be you next.
I have been threatened by the Chairman of Kenya National Commission on Human Rights with jail for having lied. Surely the chairman knows that the structures put in place are there to protect everybody's human rights. Why, where and when did I lose my human rights? He should be the first to protect my human rights through due process.
Finally, I want to remind you of an incident that happened in Nairobi some 10 years ago: There was a commotion in the street where a pick-pocket had just robbed somebody of a property and a large number of people were chasing the pick-pocket. Everybody was shouting, "mwizi, mwizi, mwiizi!" A young student who had come to the town from the rural area to ask his father for school fees had just come around the corner ahead of the mob. The thief shouted, "mwizi, mwizi, mwizi!" The crowd closed on the boy who did not know what was happening and who tried to run. The crowd lynched him. Later on it was found that he was an innocent student who had come for assistance from his father. Many people felt remorse, but the student was dead. They took the law in their own hands. Structures meant nothing to them.
I do understand the pressure from the development partners on this matter. I do not downplay the seriousness of corruption in high places. However, ask yourselves what happens in their own countries. Do they ever condemn on unsubstantiated allegations without due processes. I have talked with Kenya Anti Corruption Commission and I respect the work they do and the confidentiality of their work. Let us allow them to do their work.
I honestly and sincerely see no reason to step down. I have committed no crime. Who is my accuser, on what charge? How am I impeding investigations? Immigration Department was turned into a fully-fledged ministry with a minister. What new material has emerged that was not available two years ago?
Thank you.
*Chief, your press release could do with some kidogo editing. Where is your VPPS man? He goes by "Browne Kutswa" or by some such name.

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