KENYA: ‘Disregard of Court Orders is Recipe for Anarchy,’ Cautions Archbishop Kivuva

By Arnold Neliba

MOMBASA, FEBRUARY 6, 2024 (CISA)-The government’s defiance of court orders is a recipe for anarchy and could easily slide the country back to the dark days, Archbishop Martin Kivuva,  Chairman of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) has said.

The archbishop of Mombasa while cautioning President William Ruto’s administration said that the political rhetoric suggesting disregard of court orders is an imminent danger of dragging the country into the past murky days of “survival of the fittest,” where some people follow the law, while others use violence and weapons to force their way.

“We have been advising Kenyans to respect the law. Even before the elections in 2022 we called on Kenyans to remain peaceful and where they were not happy with the outcome of the election, they should seek legal redress in court and it happened,” he said while rooting for the respect of the rule of law in governance.

“We all saw the tension that followed afterwards. This tendency where our leader is advised by the courts and he defies can lead us into trouble. And this cuts across everywhere from top government officials down to common mwananchi. If you are told as a driver to turn right, just turn right, don’t turn left,” he added.

Archbishop Kivuva’s sentiments come on the backdrop of a push by elected leaders aligned with the Kenya Kwanza government asking President Ruto to ignore the recent court order which outlawed the pro-government initiative on housing – the housing levy. The Court of Appeal declined to extend an order allowing the government to continue collecting the housing levy and thus halted the monthly deductions on salaried workers.

President Ruto while reacting to the ruling said that although the government respects the ruling, he terms it as not the right decision given the current situation of unemployment among the youth. He disclosed the executive’s decision to appeal the verdict.

“For the avoidance of doubt, I want to tell them that we were in the reprocess of creating a law to guide the process and they should have given us time. We will also appeal the case so that we continue with the programme and create jobs for millions of Kenyan youth…”

“I want to tell those who have gone to court that there is no greater public interest than to create jobs for our youth who have graduated from our institutions yet they don’t have income.  They should know that we’re on a mission to create equity in our country and they will not stop us…this is the first government that has a clear demonstrable plan on how to create employment,” the president said, statements which attracted criticism from the judiciary.

Successive attacks on the judiciary led to a statehouse meeting convoked by President Ruto, bringing together the three arms of government; the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary, a move that has been h criticized by the opposition and civil society groups terming it as an attempt to interfere with the independence of the judiciary.

Also commenting on the situation of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), which currently has no chairman and commissioners, Archbishop Kivuva said the commission is operating in a vacuum.

“We all saw what happened to IEBC. It disintegrated following what happened after the elections. It is the responsibility of those concerned including the President to ensure IEBC is in place. Without the body, we will find ourselves approaching elections without the commission. Even now there are several parts of the country which are supposed to hold mini-elections but there are no commissioners,” the archbishop said.

The courts have since, after a period of hardline stands by government and opposition, ordered an immediate recruitment of new IEBC Commissioners.