Opinion: Why Mwandawiro Mghanga Is Being Harassed By Kibaki

Mr. Mwandawiro poses with Mr. Ouya 

In one of the starkest and most naked indication that the government of President Mwai Kibaki is seeking to put a break on the struggle by Kenyans to further open the democratic space in the country, cold blooded killings of innocent Kenyan citizens and other illegal activities by the government-backed Mungiki criminals have been converted into propaganda for political witch hunting, blatant intimidation, unbridled harassment and arbitrary arrest of opposition politicians seeking to bring down the Kibaki regime in December this year.

MPs who have already been arrested and who are currently being held by police are Mr. George Nyanja, Mr. David Manyara and Mr. Adolf Muchiri. Since their arrest four days ago, police have prevented their families from getting in touch with them. William Kabogo, MP for Juja constituency together with Mr. Mwandawiro Mghanga, MP for Wundanyi Constituency are also being sought by police after being fraudulently linked to Mungiki.

According to reports which have been published in the Kenyan press, Mungiki receives contributions from 24 sitting MPs allied to Kibaki including two Cabinet Ministers and three Assistant Ministers. The Ministers are Mr. John Michuki (Minister for Internal Security) and Mr. Njenga Karume (a Minister in the Office of the President). According to reports, friendly politicians contribute a monthly fee of Ksh 5,000, ordinary members Ksh 500 and sympathetic businessmen Ksh 5,000 respectively.

Instead of arresting well-known Mungiki supporters sitting in Kibaki’s Cabinet, the government is intimidating and harassing progressive MPs like Mwandawiro Mghanga who have nothing to do with Mungiki. In fact, MPs who have fallen victim to the government’s strategy of harassment and intimidation either have personal scores to settle with Kibaki’s strong men or are a direct threat to the establishment. The witch-hunting that Kenyans have been exposed to during the last few days are a cover up of a much more sinister government master-plan to use Mungiki as a tool of disruption in the run up to the General elections in December.

The biggest threat in the “Mungiki game” being played by the government is that in its disparity, the regime is trying to physically remove opponents from the political arena as a matter of survival. This must not be allowed to happen because Kibaki was elected on a platform of change, transformation and opening up of the democratic space.

William Kabogo has publicly stated that he is being harassed because John Michuki is seeking to settle personal scores with him. Mwandawiro Mghanga is being harassed because the government is shaking at the fact that Mwandawiro has been organizing massive struggles against landlessness in Wundanyi.

Public rallies and demonstrations which have ended up at the offices of Kibaki’s top representatives in Wundanyi, the radicalization of peasants and the landless Constituents in Wundanyi together with the organized attempts by Mwandawiro to introduce anti capitalist ideology in Kenya’s political discourse are developments which have scared both the Kibaki government and the rich land grabbers in Kenya.

What is happening in Wundanyi today could replay itself in any part of the country as long as radical leaders emerge to lead the struggle against landlessness. Mwandawiro is on video record saying that he is part of a Socialist platform contesting seats in the coming elections. Socialists do not have time for murderous sects like Mungiki and in linking Mwandawiro’s name with the sect, the government is trying to taint his name so as to try and curtail the struggle against the rich land grabbers in Wundanyi, a struggle which, if allowed to continue, will spread to other parts of the country and expand in scope to encompass Worker’s struggles, youth struggles, women’s struggles just to mention but a few. 

Mwandawiro has been to Cuba on several occasions, the last time having been last year when he attended the birthday of Fidel Castro. Back in Kenya, he has taken contacts with the Cuban Embassy in Nairobi in a bid to try and relate the anti-capitalist struggle of the Kenyan people to the anti-Imperialist struggle of the Cuban people. Together with other Kenyans like Omondi Kabir, Mwandawiro set up the Kenya-Cuba Friendship Society as a way of linking up interested Kenyans to the International struggle for the release of the “Cuban five” who are currently detained in the United States on trumped up charges.

Mwandawiro’s trip to Cuba was a public event which was broadcast by a section of the Kenyan electronic media before and after the trip. The MP’s contacts with the Cuban Embassy in Nairobi have also been very open and even publicized in the Kenyan media. The outgoing Cuban Ambassador to Kenya has, on several occasions, attended public functions in Wundany and made whatever contributions he could to development projects Mwandawiro has initiated in his constituency.

The on-going harassment of Mwandawiro is therefore linked to his political activities and opinion, not on any links with Mungiki. The government believes that it can recycle the old model of political harassment that was constructed by former Dictator Daniel arap Moi and which was based on linking politicians with Mwakenya before arresting them to face torture, detention without trial, imprisonment or even death.

Mwandawiro is one of the Kenyans who paid the price of Moi’s dirty political experiments by being sent to prison and it is outrageous that President Kibaki is now trying to re-invent Moi’s dirty methods to try and exhume the culture of silence and fear that was battered, killed and buried by Kenyans who shed blood and sacrificed their lives just to open the democratic space through which Kibaki became President.

If Mungiki, a rag tag militia group which uses machetes and other crude weapons to decapitate the heads of their victims cannot be defeated by a government which has all the resources imaginable, then Kenyans who are saying that the Kibaki government must go are dead right.

The unnecessary intimidation, harassment and threats of arrest of Mwandawiro Mghanga and others is disturbing and has to be condemned by all Kenyans who lay claim to the struggle for a better Kenya. The use of state resources to divert attention from a failing government on the verge of losing an election must be resisted by all Kenyans regardless of whether or not they agree politically with the victims.

Kenyans and the world are witnessing a situation where a Member of Parliament who is credited for having made the greatest contribution in what is known as the 9th Parliament and who is well known for fighting for the rights of the poor and the landless is currently facing shameless harassment and intimidation by the State. Instead of being rewarded by the government for a work well done, he is being subjected to psychological torture by security forces. This is a shame.

The government’s handling of the so called “Mungiki menace” should be an eye opener that members of the Kibaki ruling class are running the country the way Moi used to – like a private business. If any arrests have to be made on the Mungiki issue, John Michuki and company are the ones who should top the list because they are the real political criminals fuelling the fire for fear of losing power.

Okoth Osewe