The National Intelligence Service (NIS) has been roped into the political, albeit petty, onslaught by the President Uhuru on Mombasa Governor Ali Hassan Joho, Kenya Today has reliably learnt.
The Director General of the spy agency, Major General Phillip Wachira Kameru was this weekend overheard bragging how it is a matter of time before he brings Joho down.
This new strategy replaces the public spectacles between President Uhuru and the governor which recently heightened during his Jubilee rallies in Mombasa.
Many say Uhuru personalized attacks on Joho badly backfired. The unexpected consequence is that the president is increasingly descending into a bitter and vindictive leader unable to respond maturely to questions of political accountability. In plain language, he is ‘losing it’.
Phillip Wachira Kameru, appointed by President Uhuru in 2014 to replace Michael Gichangi, today sits atop an institution that has deteriorated from gathering actionable intelligence to protect the country from home-ground and international criminals to peddling petty anti-opposition propaganda, much of it which has so far terribly failed.
Like Gichangi, Wachira’s pre-occupation is to lengthen the Kikuyu stranglehold on the presidency by all means, thereby allowing it continue using state capture for ethnic preservation and economic damnation of other communities and regions (ever heard of calls to have the President appoint governors?).
The NIS, which was already a highly tribalised institution before Wachira took over from Gichangi has kept to its inglorious fame. It remains one of the most shackled institutions.
Kenya is not any safer under Wachira’s NIS. In fact, some of the brazen attacks have happened under his watch, including the Garissa University attack which left 147 students dead and exposed the incompetence of the intelligence agency.
Yet these costly mistakes have been masked by a patronage system laced in ethnicity.
Recently, the institution was on the spot for the dubious double registration of people which saw thousands of Kenyans share ID numbers in IEBC registration data base, unheard of in modern Kenya.
No less than Opposition Chief Raila Odinga accused the agency of the active meddling, also revealing that the agency is registering foreigners as voters. Last week, the agency was among a number of state institutions accused by a parliamentary committee of failing to provide critical documents in the NYS scandal in a bid to cover up for former devolution CS Anne Waiguru.
So now you see a totally partisan spy institution holding brief for one side of the political divide, yet, as Joho case demonstrates, actively attempting to destroy the other side.
Whenever the Intelligence community starts to meddle in civilian politics for the preservation of one group of political elites, for ethnic or whatever parochial reasons, that’s the end of competitive civilian democracy.
From here, history shows there has been a precipice to lawlessness, and, finally, failed states.
From manufacturing official data to waging distasteful propaganda, the NIS under Wachira is a study in how nations fail.
We are breaking this story because of the repercussions it has on the future of civilian politics in Kenya. The overt interference by intelligence agency on behalf of politicians in power is dangerous. Kenya has been here before and the history is dark, brutal and ignominious.
And make no mistake, today it is Governor Ali Hassan Joho on the chopping board; tomorrow? You, perhaps. Not long ago, no less than current Deputy President William Ruto cried wolf of ‘fixing’ by the NSIS (precursor to the current NIS).
“I think it is a shame that the same people who wanted to fix Ruto are sitting comfortably in government. How do you serve the government of the person you wanted to jail?,” an angry Charles Keter, now Energy Cabinet Secretary, once quipped (you can ready the story here).
Often, state officials who “fix” others in the hope that they are protecting the interests of political elites in power forget that politics is about interests. In the Ruto case, at the time of being fixed by then President Kibaki’s PNU henchmen in the security sector, they never saw the “ODM man” Ruto supporting Uhuru, then a key insider.
No one really knows why what has been a legitimate show of political differences between Uhuru and Joho is now being expanded to involve the state repressive apparatuses on Joho. Joho has openly stated that his fallout with Uhuru was over the discriminative manner in which Mombasa squatters were treated by the national government.
According to Joho, the only reason President Uhuru was forcing the squatters to pay for the titles is because “they did not vote for him”. Yet, in other areas, the government has been distributing title deeds for free.
The other sticking issue between the two has been President Uhuru’s decision to build a dry port in Naivasha which has the effect of transferring thousands of jobs from Mombasa to Naivasha. This also fits into the series of punishments being meted on Mombasa residents for not voting for Jubilee.
By whatever measure, these are legitimate grievances which should make any leader who cares about his people bitter and angry as Joho is.The Mombasa Governor has maintained he has no personal differences with President Uhuru.
The public spat between the two is normal political brickbats that enriches our democracy particularly when you ignore the nonsensical sycophantic choruses from the “respect the presidency” brigade.
But the entry of the NIS, which is already using other state institutions like KRA to open phantom investigations on the governor’s finances since 2011 is a new low.
While sources close to Joho says this too will pass (like this, this and this), it is the recent veiled threats from President Uhuru during Jubilee rallies in Mombasa and the now widely reported meeting among top Jubilee operatives that Joho has to be dealt with that is worrying allies, for the simple reason that some birdbrained nutcase may pull the trigger in the false belief that the Mombasa Governor is a threat and an enemy of the state.