Week #4. The five things we learnt

Week #4. The five things we learnt.


Week #4. The five things we learnt

This week has all been about the International Criminal Court, the Ocampo Six, the Ocampo Four and the departure of Francis Muthaura and Uhuru Kenyatta from office. It was interesting to see Henry Kosgey back to pre-December 2010 smiles and Major General Hussein Ali taking tea and biscuits with the crime reporters who knew him better in his time with the police. We know, also, that the ICC process will be with us for some time. As the tout shouts to his driver when the bus stop is empty, go ahead.

It takes more than a statement from the legal chief

Under the (new) Constitution, the Attorney General is no longer the powerful personage of old.

He cannot drag a minister to court, he cannot threaten you if you imagine the death of His Excellency the President, he cannot withdraw a case against you in court and he certainly cannot ask the police to re-investigate a case they bungled and report back within seven days.

Those days went long before Amos Shitswila Wako beamed out of office last year.

But it does not mean the new Attorney General just sits at Sheria House and smiles the day away. In this era, when Parliament is passing law after important law whenever it meets, the AG has to read through a lot of blue bills before they are transmitted to the Government printer to be pressed, answer questions in Parliament and advise the President and the Cabinet, of which he is still a member.

Prof Githu Muigai must have done exactly that last Monday when the President made his cool, calm and collected response to the International Criminal Court’s decision to have Uhuru Kenyatta and Francis Muthaura committed to trial. He said he had also directed Prof Muigai to constitute a team to examine the ICC decision and advise the Government accordingly. There were whispers that the establishment of this team would amount to exactly nothing as the good professor can read the ruling and ciome up with a position within a few hours.

But you don’t question the President and so Prof Muigai set up the team as directed and called the press to announce that. But the press was interested in more interesting subjects and they therefore asked him whether Mr Kenyatta and Mr Muthaura should be asked to leave their official positions in accordance with the Constitution and various other statutes.

That’s rather simple, the AG must have figured, as the law naturally assumes that you are innocent until proven guilty and the two subjects of the question would be appealing against the confirmation of charges anyway.

“Our understanding is that the confirmations have been made against the four and the four are going to appeal. We cannot make a precipitate decision. We cannot determine any issue until the four citizens have exhausted their rights of appeal,” said Prof Muigai

On Thursday afternoon, the Presidential Press Service announced that the two had asked to be relieved of their duties, and the President had agreed.

So much for that longish statement from the legal chief. It clearly takes more than that.

Notable is the silence of the legal team and the AG on how Kenya will handle the ICC matters.

The Intelligence men are intelligent

There are still some good books waiting to be written about some aspects of Kenyan history, and I think one of those books should be written by men like Imenti Central MP Gitobu Imanyara and Senior Counsel Paul Muite.

Mr Imanyara was quite enthusiastic to talk about his experiences at the hands of the Special Branch when hosted by K24 presenter Jeff Koinange on his famous bench. I remember he would give detailed answers to Jeff’s questions and there was not enough time to get the full detailed story. I also recall covering Mr Muite when he claimed that the dreaded Kwekwe squad had instructions to kill him.

The experiences, the novels of Fredrick Forsyth and the James Bond movies encourage our imagination of intelligence service men as dangerous double-faced characters with recording devices hidden in their shirtsleeves and cigarette holders.

In Kenya, since the publication of the Waki Report, we have established that while the intelligence men might no longer go about arresting and torturing politicians and activists, they certainly keep track of things.

Reading through the ruling by the Pre-Trial judges at the International Criminal Court, one also notices the constant references to NSIS situation reports that appear to confirm the Prosecutor’s theory.

The men and women at Nyati House would be happy that their work is considered excellent and the ordinary folk would also want to know that the men and women whose very name suggests good brains have been doing their work.

The judges did note, however, that while Kikuyu MP Lewis Nguyai claimed to have spoken with the Mungiki during those turbulent times, the NSIS appeared to have no idea that he was.

HK was not in a good state

The press conference at which Henry Kosgey briefly spoke of his delight at the decision of the Pre-Trial Chamber judges at the ICC to let him go was a funny affair.

There were activists and party loyalists on one side and they kindly advised those of us who found them seated to find some space behind them and the television cameras to sit.

There were about seven ODM MPs at 10 am, the time it was scheduled to begin, but this number had increased to 20 when Mr Kosgey finally strolled in, beaming brighter than the lights Citizen TV was using to illuminate the event they relayed live.

Given the long face we had constantly been seeing on the paper whenever his other case came up at the courts at Milimani, and the reticence in Parliament and at the ICC, the man who appeared eager to answer was vastly different.

There was suddenly a shortage of questions from the journalists, apart from those who wanted the statement repeated in Swahili, and since the ODM MPs were happy to stay in the background, the event ended rather quickly.

He was also rather vague about his political prospects as we had also hoped he would say something about ODM, where his role, even as chairman, appeared to have been subdued in the year he has been under the ICC spotlight.

As he left, he was mobbed by the supporters and MPs.

Major-General Hussein Ali appeared to poke fun at Mr Kosgey when he spoke at his own press conference the following day. 

Kenyan lawyers can swim with the big fish

Towards the end of the press conference at the Serena Hotel where he spoke in the softest tones about the ICC decision, the attention shifted from Maj-Gen Ali to his lawyer Evans Monari. (The miracles of technology made it possible to hear the former Police Commissioner loud and clear on TV. It was a struggle to hear him from less than three metres away)

Mr Monari allowed the reporter to ask the long question and then lifted his shoulders in a long shrug, turned palms skywards and contorted his face to suggest it would be futile to read his lips.

“This was the General’s conference,” he said when pushed to speak.

After the conference at Norfolk Hotel the previous day, all the attention was on Henry Kosgey, with his lawyers disappearing into the crowd of reporters and ODM members.

Yet neither George Oraro nor Evans Monari waxed lyrically eloquent or were flamboyant when their clients appeared at The Hague. True, Gregory Kehoe, Gen Ali’s other lawyer, provided some comic relief at The Hague with his suggestion that the Kenyan football team should also have been thrown into the PEV fray.

Their clients were also careful to have them at the head of the teams that worked for them.

Neither has spoken of the tactics they employed to get their clients free, and we would perhaps need Gen Ali to be more candid about his silence since December 15 and hope Mr Kosgey will explain his similar silence.

At the back of our minds, we will know that Kenyan lawyers can swim with the big fish.

There is quite a long way to go with the ICC

This post is being written a day after lawyers for the four suspects filed their notices of appeals against the Pre-Trial chamber.

There are several lengthy PDF documents to read in addition to the actual ruling, and the Rome Statute to be studied, even before we get to the trial stages.

In their reaction to the ruling, Amnesty International suggested that the ICC is not adequately funded to facilitate the speedy trial in the Kenyan case but made the mistake of going into the actual budget.

Given the time it would take to process the appeal,  and the possible long period before the case goes to the full trial stage, it would perhaps not be wrong or partisan to suggest that those that the ICC has touched should settle in for a long wait.


Week #3 The five things we learnt from the news

The third week of 2012 marked the start of the long wait for the International Criminal Court’s verdict on the Ocampo Six, the realization that the thinking at Jogoo House is not exactly straight, the endless shenanigans at Athi River and the arrival of a few other home truths. As the man said as he chased his wife around their house at night, read on.

Like the law, our education system is an ass

From time to time, we get people in our office who strongly feel that they have been through experiences that would be of benefit to the rest of Kenyans, and they are usually adept at telling all manner of attractive but exaggerated stories about their experiences.

Some turn out to be telling a truth that is verifiable and newsworthy, while some have very clearly lost it.

I remember a particular one with thick clear lenses and who carried about his person the scent of something that has been locked in a room with dried tobacco leaves for several days. He was manifestly mad, and had with him a thick file of newspaper cuttings and closely written notes of the sort university students refer to as Mwakenya, which he used to support the theory that his neighbour at Kariorkor had developed a complicated device that listened to his thoughts and somehow made all those who listened to him turn away.

His wife had quite naturally left him, and when I realised from the gleam in his eye that our discussion was rolling down the steep slope, I suddenly asked him whether he had kids. I learnt, from the manner in which the gleam of madness in his eyes was changed to the gleam of affection a man has for his progeny, that the thought of one’s children will soften most men.

Which brings me to my point.

A man we will refer to as Mr B is a receptionist with more than 20 years’ experience. His experience has not translated into more money at the end of the month but because he is a diligent worker and his family is the fore of all he does, he has invested his savings in a sacco.

He also understands the value of education and sees it as the best way he can enable his children to move from the class they were born into a higher and ultimately better one. Mr B thus enrolled his son at a private primary school in his neighbourhood.

It is nowhere hear the likes of Makini, Riara and Hillcrest as far as facilities are considered.  It has a small compound, a field that cannot accommodate adults playing football, a few swings but thrives on the promise that teachers will pay full attention to your child’s education and put him on the path of a good secondary school.

It is not rocket science that passing the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education examinations guarantees a student a place at a secondary school where the system and the teachers are tailored towards academic excellence.

In some parts of Kenya, your child could be selected to join an erstwhile excellent secondary school  and acquire the art of smoking cigarettes and cannabis within three weeks of starting school.

Anyway, Mr B’s son did pass last year’s KCPE, with 419 marks, and he was one of the happiest men I saw on December 28 when I looked up his son’s marks and called him up with the results.

Enter the honchos at the Education ministry at Stage Right and Mr B has recently become quite a pale shadow of the happy man on 28th.

The honchos have somehow decreed that because their parents are somehow at a greater advantage financially, students from private schools should be at a disadvantage in chances to join good secondary schools.

While the parents of those who fell flat on their faces troop from school to lowly schools, bribing headmasters and principals to have their children admitted, Mr B is doing the same.

He wonders how he could be considered rich and his child therefore unfit to join a good secondary school. He wonders when the Kenyan education system became an ass.

Politicians will always meddle

Some time back, I was researching on cement factories in Athi River for the newspaper’s County Edition on Machakos County, where there are about six of them.

For some strange reason, the managers at Athi River Mining and East African Portland Cement Company gave me the run-around before finally slamming the reinforced steel doors in my face.

Given we were not out to dig up dirt on the factories and their owners, I found it rather weird that the managers at these two places could as stiff-necked as the Government bureaucrats that tell you the boss is absent as he enjoys his power nap.

Thus the feeling that there is some sort of poetic justice now that the infighting at EAPCC has been exposed over the past three weeks as Industrialisation minister Amason Kingi sought to remove the board of directors.

The argument by Mr Kingi is that since the Government has a virtual majority in the shareholding of EAPCC, and the board there has allegedly been involved in impropriety, it should be replaced. The Government actually only owns 25.3 per cent of Portland’s shares while the NSSF and LaFarge, the French multinational owns 41 per cent.

Mr Kingi and his lieutenants argue that NSSF’s shares are virtually Government shares.  That is nonsense, as explained by Jaindi Kisero here http://bit.ly/AvUtBF, and the truth is the politicians are simply happy to meddle  and use the organization for their own plots.

There are those that have convinced the Maasais of Kajiado and Isinya that because they were born near the Gypsum mines, they have a natural right to the factories where it is taken for conversion into cement.

There are also those who have convinced the voters in Athi River, who also earn their daily bread at the factory, that it would be best if they prevented the firm’s board of directors, who have the backing of the law, from running it.

And so, as the machines start gathering rust and the raw materials turn to mountains of cakes, the fights can continue in the courts, at the blocked gates and in the corridors at TelPosta Towers, where Mr Kingi spends some time when he is acting as Industrialisation minister.

Media houses can play the waiting game too

Something turned inside when I saw on TV a journalist talking in Rebecca Kerubo’s ear as the tears streamed down her cheeks.

It was certainly not like the American or British variety, which involves parking a truck outside a news subject’s house or installing cameras to monitor Nelson Mandela’s house. It certainly did not involve hacking into their mobile phones and email. But it did walking into her house when a visitor representing an important came calling with bags of groceries.

This something strikes me at times when I feel an inner voice saying I might have crossed the line when chasing an important story and have to employ neat tricks to get to the facts.

There are those that have complained that some media houses appeared to feel the tension over the verdict by the Pre-Trial Chamber at the ICC more than the suspects and their supporters would.

There were certainly some ridiculous moments, like Citizen TV sending their star reporters to Eldoret, Thika and The Hague to wait around  and feel the ground since Monday, waiting for the moment the decision would be posted on the ICC website.

You see, the ICC judges had managed to befuddle Kenyans with the vacant promise that the verdicts would be announced on any day before January 23, meaning there were those, like my colleagues, who spent several hours each day on the “Refresh” button.

I write this on the eve of the announcement of the verdict at the ICC. Most media houses have sent journalists to talk to the suspects’ lawyers, Kenyans living at The Hague, Luis Moreno-Ocampo and anybody else that can throw a little light on the matter.

If the decisions of the judges necessitate further trips to The Hague, and more acres of space on the subject, we can rest assured that like the suspects’ long wait, Kenyan media can also hold a vigil.

Issack Hassan and team are not to be envied.

Speaking to Samuel Kivuitu on July 23 for this article here, http://bit.ly/wnez4R, we got the impression that carving out new constituencies is not anybody’s favourite job.

The public has to put in a word, the politicians have to come and mess it up by suggesting you create a ward and a constituency for each of their friend and enemies and the Government has to withhold funding and complicate the process to no end. In the middle of all this, there will be some who find it perfectly normal that you are a normal bloodthirsty Kenyan who can do anything for money, and will therefore offer you a prime plot at the South Coast in exchange for the new voting zone inland.

Consider, also, that there is a formula that you must adhere to, population quotas to be watched and no small number of illiterate and semi-literate people to listen to at the public hearings.

When you have done all these, you have to take the new zones to the public and bear with their whining, repetition and preachiness in yet another round of hearings.

If you are not prepared to do this, a man with a bit of money, a bunch of followers and a few notes in his pockets can go and have a judge declare the process unconstitutional.

All this when everybody else is somehow allergic to a General Election in March 2013, when the people have rid themselves of December’s hangovers and the payment of school fees.

Watching the news, and the numerous reports of divisions and a clan declaring it would rather commit mass suicide than share a ward with another, one discovers there is no shortage of headaches for the men and women at the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission.

It is possible to calm the Ocampo Six

Campaign coverage is tedious. One has to liaise with operatives in the candidates’ camp- who have the propensity not to answer calls when it is necessary that they do- and spend long hours in the sun.

It is made less tedious when the elections are in a predictable cycle, and more time, resources and mental preparation can be in place to rid the process of its troublesome aspects.

That some of the Ocampo Six elected to go about their prayer rallies in the manner of campaigns before they appeared at The Hague in April 2011 made following them around quite tiring.

Add to this the foul language they employed to describe and discuss their perceived persecutors and I can assure you it was not a very pretty picture.

Thus the relief that this time round, those of the Ocampo Six that are interested in such affairs elect to attend church services on Sundays and say a few things later.

The catch 22 here is that if the suspects are rid of the ICC noose 12 hours from the minute I type this out, we might as well prepare for the ostentatious returns home in circuitous routes from the airport and the subsequent hullabaloo.

Week #2. The five things we learnt

Statement-taking is still not the force’s forte

There has been a lot of noise from the Director of the Criminal Investigations Department, the police spokesman and his deputy over the last fortnight regarding the person that will become Kenya’s first Inspector General of police, which is dropping the adjective “force” in favour of “service”.

The thinking behind this change of surname is that with the new-fangled environment of reform, those that draw their pay from taxes will be doing the populace a service and not forcing themselves on them.

They will thus not be forcing them into cells or forcing them onto their knees if they appear not to recognise and therefore exempt them from the mundane stuff that the rest are routinely forced to do (thank you, Madam Deputy Chief Justice).

I digress.

What Messrs Muhoro, Kiraithe and Owino have sought to convince us is that unless one of those serving is appointed Inspector-General, the officers will take up arms and seek to govern not only themselves but the rest of the country by force and at their own terms.

There will be nothing short of a mutiny, they declaim.

The accompanying argument is that nobody, other than those that have been through Kiganjo, the Administration Police Training School at Embakasi or the CID training school, can do the job better.

Fair enough, one is tempted to say, given the constabulary has been around since the homeguards were recruited by the colonialists.

Looking around, there is still evidence that these very well-trained fellows need something more than the training they have undergone and all the qualifications they presumably have.

Take the case of Deputy Chief Justice Nancy Baraza.

She had made a little statement when Rebecca Kerubo and her superiors at the Village Market reported the “unfortunate incident” there on New Year’s Eve.

When the matter was escalated, she was invited (there are those who say she was summoned) to a session with some senior CID officers, presumably at the headquarters across the road from Karura forest.

It was later reported that the Vice President of the Supreme Court had made a self-incriminating statement, allegedly confessing to having taken a gun and pointing it at Rebecca Kerubo.

This was supposed to be the statement that triggered the police to advise the Director of Public Prosecutions to have the judge “arraigned in court” as our court reporters are wont to put it.

When it was reported that the DPP had had the file returned to the police, it was also said Judge Baraza had recanted the statement on the basis that it was not taken properly?

Is it still very difficult to take a statement, even in a case for which the Commissioner of Police is reported to be prepared to resign?


CCTV can still not be trusted

Arriving at the Nyahururu home of Samuel Wanjiru Kamau a day after he died, one of the first things I noticed were the closed-circuit television cameras at the high gate and wall and next to the balcony from which he jumped.

It was one of those light bulb moments that yielded a second lead on the front page and the appropriate accompanying photograph that had Terezah Njeri and the CCTV monitor in it, clear evidence that it held the truth we seek to date.

When my colleague James Kariuki asked the police about it, they were surprised but clever enough to quickly state that they also considered it crucial to their investigations.

That those investigations were complete in less than a day is another story.

When it was eventually retrieved, it was found that the recording was virtually useless as the camera mounted at the gate opposite the balcony, which would have recorded the jump, was not working.

It was four days after the event, the scene had not been secured and had therefore been washed, and the recording had been on the machine there for anybody with a chance to mess it up.  

The explanation also sufficed. The technicians had not had the chance to service it regularly, nobody had stayed at the house for long since January 2011 and it seems the dead owner was not interested in it.

Compare this with the circumstances at the Village Market Shopping Mall, located a few metres from the United Nations Office in Nairobi, the UNEP headquarters, with hundreds of high-end shops, hundreds of expatriate and leafy suburbs clientele.

So seriously is the security taken here that the mall employs its own security guards and has 18 CCTV cameras installed and connected to a central monitoring room.

It is therefore safe to assume that the security system has been reviewed and audited, the guards trained and the cameras positioned appropriately and their lenses polished regularly to ensure the safety of the mall, often christened high-end, is not compromised.

How extraordinary, then, that a customer can have a security guard on her knees, with a gun pointed at her head, yet the cameras have no record of the weapon because the images are supposedly too grainy and the scope of the device too limited?

Mutahi, Mwau, Ghai and Issack were correct, after all

I’m hunched over this computer a foot or two away from the Friday, Saturday and Sunday newspapers.

The Friday paper leads with the DPP’s return of the Baraza file to the police, the Saturday with the judges throwing the election date back at Kibaki and Raila and the Sunday one declaring that Raila has some sort of “secret weapon.”

Friday’s is straight reportage, Saturday tries to report and analyse the ruling, while Sunday’s interpretation seems a little off the line, and a friend of mine is of the opinion that the interpretation is way off the mark.

You can get all the opinion and analysis of the High Court’s ruling on the election date at www.nation.co.ke, so forgive me if I don’t burden you with one more winded opinion.

I did, however, notice that the ruling reinforced some positions taken as far back as October last year, or much earlier in the case of Mutahi Ngunyi, who now spends more time on The Bench than as a widely read columnist.

The ruling basically reinforces the position taken by Harun Mwau- whose opinion would have been dismissed on the basis that he speaks as an interested party since he is an MP.

Mutahi would have been thrown out for his supposedly wrong reading of the Constitution- he did correctly assert that the President no longer has the power to dissolve Parliament- or for appearing to serve narrow interests.

As much as Prof Yash Pal Ghai is remembered for that valiant but doomed attempt at a Constitution, his latter activities remind us of the noisy activists, who nowadays appear keen on shouting themselves out of public favour. As the Prime Minister reminded us when Pheroze Nowrojee’s name came up when the President wrongly appointed some public officials, activists are not very much liked in this reformist government.

Issack Hassan would have been dismissed because he would be seen to have been seeking a way out of giving us an election in August.

All four, and a lot many others, were correct, and so unless Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga decide otherwise, and are man enough to put it in writing, it is Election 2013.


Naivasha is good for peace and progress

Naivasha has a lake surrounded by nice camp sites for which you pay an arm and a leg, expensive lodges, flower farms that are forever expanding, an eccentric MP and bad memories of the post-election violence.

Because it is merely an hour and a half from Nairobi by road, it is also considered an ideal destination for honeymooners and an ideal location to shake off Nairobi’s accumulated cement dust.

Unlike the restaurants on Lenana Road, one is also not likely to encounter a drunken learned or political friend with opinion and time to spare over a few drinks.

It was thus the setting for the reconciliation between the Attorney General, Prof Githu Muigai, and his learned friend Charles Nyachae, who heads the pugnacious Commission on the Implementation of the Constitution.

It did not take long for Abdikadir Mohammed  and his colleagues on the Constitutional Implementation Oversight Committee to convince the two of the need to have a unified approach to the implementation of Kenya’s supreme law.

We cannot doubt that the peaceful atmosphere offered the two a chance to speak freely.

I maintain there was no beef between the two, only that they deemed it a far more enriching experience to keep newspaper hacks busy reporting and analysts offering insight into their “war of words”.

On Monday, the day before he headed off to the Rift Valley, Prof Muigai was in a meeting of the Judicial Service Commission.

We, the press people, were camped outside the JSC’s boardroom.

Prof Muigai walked in at about 2.30 p.m.

He was wearing a pair of stunners and the camera men and photographers swung into action and began taking pictures of his arrival.

The man from Ndumberi swaggered, stopped a foot away from the door and the cameramen, and appeared to pose for the photographs in the manner of a Hollywood star on a red carpet.

He stepped out of the boardroom after about an hour, talking on his iPhone, and as he walked back, another photographer stepped out to take his picture.

The professor looked straight into the camera.


There is no shortage of political parties in Kenya

It would have been naïve to imagine that William Ruto and Co would be lonely and wandering in the political cold after ditching the United Democratic Movement.

Was he going back to his mama and baba KANU? Would he go back and kiss the hand of the Don at ODM and beg to be accepted back in the fold? Would he walk over to the House in Milimani and talk to the mzee about joining PNU?

Nope. He would not. He would establish his own party instead.

Unlike Kibaki’s PNU, which was launched with neither emblem, anthem nor colours two months to the election in 2007, Mr Ruto’s United Republican Party has the full package.

It even had a full house of delegates on standby and I write this on the day the party has been launched, with a house full of supporters.

The PNU Alliance has been launched already, with a big bus (mbas, if you ask its secretary general) as its symbol, and a grand launch in the hot sun at Kenyatta International Conference Centre last Friday.

There is bound to be some confusion from all these activities and we have no assurances that anything will change for the better.

Five things we learnt from the news in the first week of 2012

2011 was good. We started this little blog, reported mostly from Parliament, where there is no shortage of lessons every week and went to Somalia, where there was a lot to learn about the land, its good people, its bad people and about the Kenyan army, which seeks to rid Southern Somalia of its bands of bad people.

2012 looks like it will be a busy year. We could have some Kenyans going to face trial at the International Criminal Court, we will have an electioneering period, new constituencies will be created and we shall also be embarking on a five-month expedition. We could even go back to Somalia.

There are, in so many words then, plenty of opportunities from which we can learn, and I present here the five we have learnt in the first week of the Year of the Dragon, 2012 AD.

It pays not to watch TV

Anybody will tell you that of all the things somebody else is not allowed to do to them, a slap is up there with fondling, hugging and insulting his mother.

I know a number of women imagine being kissed in public is nice. It is not. You just end up looking like a girl who gets propositioned on the street and turning on the man’s opposition, which is basically every other man in sight.

Going by the incident that seems to have been on everybody’s lips the entire week- despite the first reports coming out on Tuesday and then getting Page One treatment in The Star– pinching the nose should also be added to this list of humiliating things.

While the focus and the photoshopped images have centred on whether Deputy Chief Justice Nancy Baraza threatened Rebecca Kerubo with a gun, my concern has been about the pinching of her nose.

To me, that draws the same sort of horrific images I had when a cousin told me that a teacher who had recently been transferred to the school I attended used to spit in the mouths of offenders at her last posting.

After ruminating over how that would have felt for Kerubo, who is now said to desire Sh3 million and not the bags of shopping delivered with the apology due to her for the terror she suffered on the last day of 2011, I have come to the conclusion that the nose-pinching is what we should focus on.

Humility is not one of my strong points, and I therefore have no moral authority to hector anybody about it, but to pinch someone’s nose because they have never seen you on TV smacks of a lot of fundamentally wrong things.

I suggest we start with procuring the sort of TVs seen in the showrooms of Sony and Samsung down Kimathi Street for the good guard and the satellite TV subscription that will ensure the images are clear and she can even record the news so to memorise the face better.

The industry can also perhaps consider developing a database of faces the guards should know by memory so the high and mighty – and their seven bodyguards- can be allowed to pass while the rest of the commoners line up to be frisked.

There is no shortage of (fake) beef in the Constitutional implementation process

Whether as the radically different old pair of Sidney Carton and C.J. Stryver in Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities or the funny new pair of Denny Crane and Allan Shore in Boston Legal, I find lawyerly characters interesting types.

I have also enjoyed the manner in which Mutula Kilonzo delivers his winded opinions and positions and listen keenly when Martha Karua or James Orengo rise to deliver a broadside during Parliamentary debates.

Although they are far more colourless than the fictional characters in the first para, Charles Nyachae and Prof Githu Muigai have also been having their own lawyerly spat.

Its details are as tedious as the manner in which it has been expressed and I write this about two hours after speaking Abdikadir Mohammed, the first-time MP who chairs the Constitutional Implementation Oversight Committee that seeks to bring the two men together.

Still, it is difficult to shake off the sneaking suspicion that after one has signed off a lengthy taxpayer-funded full-page advert seeking to portray the other as a homeguard that is hand in glove with the so-called anti-reformers, and the other has asked his press guy to organize the conference at which he will equate the other to an unarmed watchman guarding a doomed and rotting wooden door, the two men meet at one of the watering holes along Lenana Road beloved of MPs and have a beer or a selection from the fiery waters at the bar.

Do they toast to the malleability of the Press that keenly records and editorializes over their beef or to the worried MPs that organize meetings to have them reconcile?

Bethuel Kiplagat is one smart fellow

At some point in the convolution over whether he was the right man to head the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission, Daily Nation photographer William Oeri took a picture of him standing alone in the grey-carpeted open plan office he was under pressure to vacate.

I recall that photo because I was told there was quite a ruckus about the depiction of the man that had kept civil society and human rights groups ranting and raving about at no small number of press conferences.

While his head was in his palm, and he appeared lonely, like the ageing buffalo chased from his harem by a younger and stronger upstart, or the lion that has lost its growl but still has its mane, he still looked rather powerful and in control (perhaps the white hair combed back in the manner enjoyed by Jomo Kenyatta helped create that impression).

I also recall the manner in which he wept and asked the cameras to stop rolling when he walked to Nation Centre in an attempt to woo the media and was asked, the reporter unblinking and with pen and notebook ready, what he knew about Dr Robert Ouko’s death.

A tribunal to look into his credibility was set up, he filed a case against it, the tribunal’s term expired and was not renewed and he withdrew the case.

While he initially seemed to be bulldozing his way back to Delta House, where the TJRC has its offices, and the people there suggested he was coming back for nefarious purposes, it seems he is right to demand his office back.

The tribunal, after all, is not there to vet him and he had, as he said in a text to my inquiry on Friday evening, resigned. He only did what Kenya Government officials do when it gets a little too hot, step aside.

We finally know how many we have killed

A friend once told me that to get a military man to tell you the littlest thing about a matter related to operations, you would have to buy him beer and meat for two weeks- and not the AFCO quality he is used to but real expensive beer.

If you are lucky enough, the man will give you a hint and not a very strong hint at that, at what you desire.

That can be frustrating if you are a journalist who feeds off juicy bits of information on a daily basis, especially if you really need a story and do not have the resources to support another man’s gut and liver.

Operation Linda Nchi has introduced the military, its hardware and its ways to Kenyans.

We have a weekly press briefing attended by men in full uniform that make the police spokesman look extremely ordinary alongside the haughty diplomats at the Foreign Affairs ministry .

The more interesting aspect has been the tweeting major, who surprisingly does not do much talking at the weekly briefings- perhaps his is a tweeting job.

Journalists like to have a solid statistic and there has only been a roundabout hint that the number of dead Al Shabaab militiamen is “in the hundreds”.

The skies cleared up over the matter last Saturday with Colonel Cyrus Oguna declaring that the Kenya Defence Forces have stopped the beatings of some 700 Al Shabaab hearts.

700 people is the equivalent of a primary school with two streams of about 42 pupils each.

It is also the number of Al Shabaab we no longer have to worry about.

It’s wishy washy time

I have been told by someone who has an idea of what is happening that there are some 80 (Eighty) MPs who have been paying subscriptions to the amalgam of parties known as the PNU Alliance.

It was going to be launched sometime this week, and there was even a cocktail planned for the MPs to fraternize before the event, but I’m told it has had to be procrastinated due to unforeseen circumstances.

Might this have to do with the withdrawal of KANU (or Chama Cha Kuku as I have heard it called) or the speculated withdrawal of the original PNU from that event unlike the hurried one in 2007 where the original was launched?

As the Chemistry teacher at my alma mater was wont to ask, who knows?

Perhaps Mutahi Ngunyi, Prof Macharia Munene or another of the political watchers know, and would offer a plausible if not nicely articulated explanation if asked to do so.

I cover politics as a professional necessity and have no idea where my political affiliations lie, but I do know we are fast approaching the point in the five-year cycle when the political madness reaches its peak.