While agitating for multiparty democracy in July 1990, Kenneth Stanley Njindo Matiba, Charles Rubia, Raila Odinga and others were arrested, held incommunicado and later thrown into detention without trial.
Exactly six days later, on July 10, 1990, Stephen Kalonzo Musyoka interrupted the business of the House to discuss Kenneth Stanley Njindo Matiba and the quest for multiparty democracy.
After introducing the motion in parliament as a matter of urgency, Kalonzo went ahead to lead other KANU bigwigs in disparaging the quest for multiparty democracy terming it “hooliganism”. The pro-KANU establishment hawks did not have kind words for the proponents of pluralism either. Below is an excerpt of what Mr Kalonzo Musyoka had to say in parliament:
“We have witnessed chaos and hooliganism everywhere and unless this is arrested we are likely to come to grips as a country. It is absolutely clear because, among other things, what has been happening seems to question the very authority of His Excellency the President. We all know that we have an executive presidency and some of these demonstrators have been trying to question that very authority and indeed the security of this country is per se of national importance,”
The KANU bigwigs were immensely rattled by the possibility of Kenya turning into a multiparty democracy. To them, it meant Moi losing the absolute power and the firm grip he had over the country as president, which could spell doom to most of them – his ardent sycophants. Mr Musyoka did not stop there. He went on to say:
“I would like to declare right from the outset that we are all witnesses to one fact today,” said Mr Musyoka, “and that is the wisdom of His Excellency the President, that great son of Africa who has been proved right by recent happenings in our city and in the country as a whole. He has told us, as part of his wisdom, that time is not opportune for introduction of the so-called multiparty democracy and that, indeed, we would do well at this time in our country’s development to hold fast to single party democracy because multiparty democracy means tribalism. I am saying this because all of us today, in unison, will have witnessed tribalism at work since Saturday.”
The Saturday that Mr Musyoka was alluding to was the famous July 7, 1990, Kamukunji pro-democracy rally, which would later be christened Saba Saba. On that Saturday, members of the public had turned up in their thousands for the opposition rally, only for the police to brutally attack and disperse them. Several people died in the ensuing mêlée as scores were badly maimed and fatally injured
Mr kalonzo Musyoka concluded his venomous attack on the introduction of multiparty democracy and its proponents by congratulating the Daniel Moi government for detaining the people referred to as “the subversives.” saying that, “I would like to congratulate the very gallant act by members of the security forces in apprehending these people and safely keeping them far from us.”
Other KANU stalwarts, in parliament, who led the venomous onslaught against Matiba and his opposition comrades included:
- The late Bonaya Godana, assistant minister for health (Who seconded Kalonzo’s motion)
- The late David Mwenje, Embakasi MP
- Bob Francis Jalang’o, Rarieda MP
- Mwai Kibaki, Minister for Health
- The late Nicholas Biwott, Minister for Energy
- The late Prof George Saitoti, Minister for Finance
- The late Zachary Onyonka, Minister for Planning
- George Muhoho, Minister for Research and Technology
- George Muhoho, Minister for Research and Technology
- Phillip Leakey, MP Langata
- Joash wa Mang’oli, Webuye MP
- The late John Keen, Assistant Minister
- Joseph Kamotho
- Francis ole Kaparo, Assistant Minister
None of the above KANU hawks and diehard Moi sycophants had a kind word for Matiba and the other pro-multiparty democracy proponents who were already languishing in detention. Some of the most interesting contributions in parliament came from people who later claimed to support multiparty democracy. Here are some excerpts:
Isn’t it amazing that some of these men are now shedding crocodile tears at matiba’s funeral? Ostensibly, the unkind words they uttered against the multiparty heroes are now coming back to bite them in the ass. History never forgets. What you do or say today will surely come back to haunt you tomorrow.
In the coolers, Matiba suffered a nasty stroke which permanently altered his life, eventually rendering him vegetative. All his businesses were also maliciously sabotaged by the unforgiving KANU regime.
Very few men can be willing to pay such a price for a cause they believe in, especially if they’re rich enough to silently enjoy their wealth, for the rest of their lives, in comfort and tranquillity.
Though some have said that the man was a Saul turned Paul, after serving the rotten KANU regime for years, he later fell out with the system and ultimately paid a heavy price for a cause that was meant to benefit the masses. It’s for this very reason that he deserves our respect as one of the notable heroes of the second liberation.
The least those KANU and Moi sycophants who fought the multiparty heroes so hard can do is to spare us the crocodile tears they are shedding after Matiba’s demise.
Isn’t it quite paradoxical then that even those who served in the Cyrus Jirongo and William Ruto led Youth For KANU (YK’92) Movement; the most ruthless and rapacious youth wing of a ruling party ever formed in Africa, are now shedding the biggest drops of crocodile tears?
KANU, the party that the incorrigibly corrupt young people in the YK’92 served with zeal, violently cracked down on the multiparty democracy proponents.
That’s how the likes of Matiba, Raila Odinga, Charles Rubia and many others not only ended up in detention but acquired permanent physical injuries whilst they were locked up.
Matiba came out with a devastating stroke, Raila acquired a continually tearing eye, while Rubia lost his voice!
In their aggressive campaign to vanquish the newly formed opposition, the YK’92 zealots were given unlimited leeway to orchestrate the printing of excess 500-shilling notes, famously known as “Jirongo”, which they used to bribe voters in their vigorous campaign to entrench KANU in power.
The excess money (jirongos) in circulation almost brought the Kenyan economy to its knees as inflation shot through the roof! However, in spite of KANU’s massive voter bribery through its YK’92 zealots, Matiba beat Moi hands down.
This being Kenya, a loser (Moi) – who was then incumbent president – was declared the winner while the rest were declared losers! The YK’92 youths were handsomely rewarded with state jobs besides making dirty millions from the campaign cash.
Today, some of them are very senior in gov’t and we have seen them shed crocodile tears at the Matiba residence, in spite of having been part of the system that oppressed the man through detention and defrauding him of his presidential victory in 1992.
They’ve also been part of the corrupt system which has ensured that those who were detained with Matiba, like Raila Odinga, never rose to power even after outright wins in the recent past Kenyan presidential races.
To paraphrase the words of South Africa’s Julius Malema, in his sterling speech during Winnie Mandela’s funeral; “They are here, shedding crocodile tears! They are wailing louder than the bereaved!
We can see them dressed in designer black suits, praising Matiba’s second liberation achievements when we know too well that they fought tooth and nail to defeat the fallen hero’s second liberation efforts!
Some of them are in the funeral arrangement committee! We must know how to deal with them once and for all. Papa, give us a signal now a beg. We are eagerly waiting…”