In many occasions we have witnessed countries, probably more superior than Kenya, enforcing electoral and civil law against their perpetrators as a way of exhibiting equality before the law.
Yesterday, ex South Korean president, Park Geun-hye, was sentenced to 24 years in prison after a South Korean court found him guilty of multiple counts abuse of power, bribery and coercion.
In a separate occasion, former Brazil’s president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has been asked to turn himself in after the court found him guilty of corruption and money londery. He was sentenced to 12 years in prison.
Amongst the few African countries that have stood firm in enforcing law are South Africa and Sudan. In South Africa, the former president Jacob Zuma was forced to resign from office before his term expired following numerous counts of corruption. He is currently answering charges levelled against him in a Durban court.
In Sudan, the former Prime Minister Sadiq-al-Mahdi, who is also the main opposition leader, has been charged with plots to overthrow the existing government. It is alleged that the country’s chief opposition leader collaborated with rebel groups in attempts to overthrow president Omar-al-Bashir’s regime. Sudan president has since topped Mahdi’s civilian government in a 1989 coup that after which, the former PM and his Umma Party have regularly campaigned against the policies of the current government. Mahdi risks a death penalty if found guilty of these crimes.
Recently, former Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalagne was also forced to tender his resignation after he corruption allegations were levelled against him.
Where then, does all these leave Kenya? All these occurrences raise questions on what kind of democracy is exercised in Kenya. It is evident that a culture of defiance is taking root in the current judicial context. Perhaps, what shocked the nation more is the open disdain for the law exhibited by high ranking government officials who, without fear of retribution, have ignored court orders on several occasions.
The recent actions portrayed by the Interior Cabinet Secretary Dr. Fred Matiang’i, Inspector General Joseph Boinnet and the Immigration boss Gordon Kihalangwa are a sign of judicial intimidation. We may fail to agree on several issues but we certainly ought to obey the law. The law is what defines us as a country and depicts our sovereignty as a nation. A culture where senior government officials or those purporting to be linked to various government offices to avoid legal charges should totally be discouraged. The government should stand firm in ensuring that the law takes its course and that those who beak it are brought to book.