Arrest of David Ochami in Kenya

29.Sep.05    Análisis y Noticias

Dear, friend!

Kenya Socialist Web Site

Wednesday September 28th 2005


Yesterday’s arrest of Mr. David Ochami, a Kenyan Journalist, by more than 10
policemen at the premises of Kenya Times Newspaper because of an opinion article
he published in the paper was significant in two ways. It was the second major
arrest of a Journalist since Narc took power while it also confirmed that
President Mwai Kibaki is on a downward spiral towards authoritarian dictatorship
that his predecessor Daniel arap Moi spent 24 years perfecting.

In a typical style only rivaled by illegal activities of a gang of torturers
that were dubbed “Security Home Boys” during the climax of the Mwakenya
crackdowns in the late 80s during Moi’s one party dictatorship, Ochami was
cleverly duped by his abductors who whisked him away in a convoy of cars to his
house at Pangani estate. In line with tradition, Ochami’s house was then
ransacked for two hours as the Journalist was held hostage.

In a kind of Déjà vu, Kibaki’s “Security Home guards” took away newspapers, note
books and an assortment of literature from Ochami’s house before embarking on a
“check in-check out” of the Journalist from one police station after another to
hide his case from scrutiny. This is exactly the same method of intimidation
Moi’s Boys used with zeal but which failed to stop the struggle for political
pluralism in Kenya.

What crime did Mr. Ochami commit to warrant the wanton intimidation, illegal
curtailment of basic freedoms, sheer harassment and savage violation of his
rights as a Kenyan citizen? The answer is that he published an opinion article
in The Sunday Times of 25th September 2005 titled “Coups in Africa do not occur
out of nothing”.

In the article, Mr. Ochami was answering the increasingly familiar and alarmist
outbursts of Mirungi Kariuki and David Mwiraria (Kibaki’s key sycophants) who
had suggested that imaginary anti-Kibaki forces (advocates of the “No” vote in
the coming referendum) were out to overthrow the Kibaki regime.

According to Ochami’s thesis, the failure of the 1982 coup attempt may have been
a disaster for Kenya because this historic failure may have prevented the
execution of pre-independence politicians like Mwai Kibaki who was, by then,
Moi’s Vice President and who has effectively ended the political aspirations of
over 30 million Kenyans after his election three years ago.

The failure of the President to deliver a new Constitution within 100 days after
coming to power and his fumbling with the Bomas Draft of the Constitution is a
case in point.

Although we have our reservations as to whether the execution of former Dictator
Daniel arap Moi and his Vice President Mwai Kibaki by the 1982 coup leaders
could have prevented 24 years of ruthless dictatorship and an extension of that
dictatorship through Kibaki, we agree with Ochami’s analysis about the
circumstances of coups in Africa, his parallels about the situation in Kenya and
his position that Kibaki’s mistakes “Have aborted the momentum for effective
change” in Kenya. The journalist could not have put it better!

That is, we agree with Ochami’s view that the Kibaki dictatorship has hopelessly
failed Kenyans and needs to be overthrown by any democratic means available in
the field of struggle.

Ochami was simply telling the truth as it is and arresting him will not postpone
or solve the huge crisis facing Kibaki’s government. There is a crisis of
leadership in Kenya and the only reason why Kibaki is still in power is because
there is no credible alternative political force that can effectively lead
workers and the youth to power. If Kibaki has started arresting Journalists now,
what will he do when he loses the referendum in November or when he senses
defeat at the 2007 General elections? Will we see a return to detention without

The alarm bells have been sounded and Kenyans should once again be on the alert
because all indications are that a new dictator in the name of Emilio Mwai
Kibaki has taken over the State machine which he is now using to arrest
Journalists doing their work at newspaper offices. For conscious Kenyan minds,
Kibaki hatoshi and the best option in the situation is for him to go now rather
than later!

After a string of failures to deliver on key election promises, this latest
arrest of yet another Journalist by marauding security officers with orders from
Kibakis “Internal security” should be the last signal that Kenyans should return
to the path of revolution, not just to overthrow Kibaki but also to topple the
system that bankrupted leaders like him are using to trample on the rights and
freedoms of Kenyan citizens with impunity.

According to Ochami, “Kenyans should be allowed to hope for a blast or blow of
holy wind from somewhere to end this mess”. Our view is that there will be no
“holy wind” from anywhere to liberate Kenya from the Kibakis even if Kenyans
embrace themselves tightly in prayer with their heads upside down 24 hours a day
7 days a week.

A revolutionary Movement or Party armed with a revolutionary theory and a clear
revolutionary Program for democratic change and transformation is urgently
needed in Kenya to show the way out of the blind alleys of the rotten capitalist
class rule now tampering with Press freedom in our country, intimidating and
arresting journalists, looting the economy and using the huge security apparatus
as a powerful tool for oppression KANU style.

We unequivocally condemn Ochami’s arrest because it reduces the democratic space
needed for revolutionary activity vital for liberation in Kenya while it also
rolls backwards the democratic gains achieved through blood-shed and loss of
thousands of lives especially during the dark years of the one party
dictatorship of Moi.

In fact, Ochami’s arrest is yet another warning to workers and millions of youth
in Kenya that time for revolution to overthrow the system has come because the
capitalist ruling class is the same - yesterday, today and tomorrow. Kibaki’s
government is violating the Constitution, a sad reminder that the ruling class
the world over will always violate the Constitution as long as their class
interests are threatened.

Ochami was arrested because Kibaki is using an oppressive system left behind by
Moi, a system that we have repeatedly said, needs to be smashed to pave the way
for reconstruction of the Kenyan society under a new democratic system led by
workers and the youth, not pre-independence opportunists fed by imperialism to
protect foreign interests.

We condemn the Kibaki dictatorship for trying to return Kenya to the 80s using
worn out tactics that had already failed during the dictatorship of Daniel arap

Ochami’s arrest confirms the dictatorial character the Kibaki regime continues
to assume and the use of State machine to try and re-introduce “the culture of
silence and fear” that Moi planted in Kenya but which was uprooted through
struggle before Moi was himself defeated in December 2002.

We will oppose any charges brought against Ochami and dramatize his case in the
International arena in case the government goes ahead to press for bogus charges
against a conscious Journalist who was simply doing his work. Kenyans should
resist a small gang of wealth grabbers calling themselves government to hold
back a struggle that has been going on for more than 4 decades.

Ochami’s article has nothing to do with “incitement” as the police put it. In
the circumstances, we demand the immediate and unconditional release of Mr.
David Ochami and a stop to the arrest and intimidation of journalists doing
their work in Kenya.

Martin Ngatia - Kenya People’s Democratic Movement (KEPEDEMO Mapinduzi)
Okoth Osewe - Kenya Socialist Democratic Alliance
Desmond Nyamu: Kenya Social Forum in Norway (KSF - Norway)
Betty Shangazi: Muungano Ya Akina Mama Scandinavia
Omariba Kadikiye: Organization of Kenyans in Denmark (OKD)
Christopher Omondi: Association of Kenyan Students in Finland (AKSIF)