The Real Judicial Coup – a Ratchet Phenomenon

The Real Judicial Coup – a Ratchet Phenomenon
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Right now, if a referendum was called in Kenya to reduce the powers of Supreme Court judges

, the number of people who will append their signature to curtail the powers of the Judiciary will be in the excess excess of 5 million. And we are talking about 5 million adults. 

It was a similar situation in the early 20th century when governments were recruiting people for wars that they neither understood nor mattered to them, and millions of young men would be drafted to fight and die in faraway lands in the name of patriotism and defense of their countries.

The current situation in Kenya, makes one wonder: how did we get here? Didn’t we vote for the current constitution, just seven years ago?

Path dependence and government activity

The incumbent executive government in Kenya is poking holes on the credibility of four supreme court judges who ‘betrayed the will of the people’. By calling the decisions of the judges a judicial coup, the executive is planning the real judicial coup, since the president has vowed to fix the Supreme Court after forthcoming elections. This is pure gaslighting. 

A look into Kenya’s past will reveal instances where the government created imaginary crises and seized on the opportunity to expand the powers of the executive. In the failed 1982 coup, suspects were incarcerated and tortured without trial, and the prime suspect, Hezekiah Ochuka, was hanged and buried in an undisclosed grave without going through a fair court hearing.

Vulgar equity is important in advancing the powers of the noblesse elite, because it puts a stamp on their carelessness, giving them more power to carry out government activities that are not friendly to the majority, at all.

More recently, an incumbent government bungled the 2007 elections, creating a political crisis that prompted the expansion of government powers through a bloated coalition government.

This path analysis shows that governments take advantage of crises to expand its powers and control on political, economic and legislative powers. For instance, one of the top agendas of the incoming parliament will be to cut down the powers of the supreme court, riding on the idea that four people should not have the power to overturn an entire election.

Jubilee Judicial Coup and Ratchet Effect

By packaging the decision of the supreme court as a crisis, the incumbent government seeks to self-create a judicial crisis, then push for judicial ‘fixes’ to ensure that the problem does not arise in future.

At this point, it is important to note that, as recent as August 8 this year, no one in Kenya would have imagined a conversation around the powers and independence of the judiciary.

And that is the beauty.

Creating an imaginary crisis by using an army of digital hand-mouthers on the paycheck of government, local radio stations with barely educated anchors and naïve politicians who sing loudest to the song of their master is meant to convince masses that something is broken, and something needs to be done.

The idea is to push very hard, discredit the judiciary and make people feel the urgency of fixing the problem in the judiciary.

And this is where the talk of patriotism comes from.

Just like the case in drafting people to go to war during the early days of the 20th century, convincing millions of people that their democratic rights were stolen by four people creates an urgent necessity to cut down the powers of the judges.

So far, the recruitment of soldiers for imagined electoral reforms is doing well, as shown in the prominence given to dissent ruling of Njoki Ndung’u in the local dailies, despite questions on the practicality of penning a 400-page document within 21 days. Further, her dissenting ruling deteriorated so fast, getting to the point of destroying the reasons given by the winning team, instead of putting strength to her reasons to dissent.

Information machines have been oiled, and you can see that by the number of people bating for change.

“War is peace

Freedom is slavery

Ignorance if strength” – George Orwell

Vulgar Equity and Jubilee Supporters

Going back to the tapestry of the whole murk, you will find an entitlement of one section of supporters (and to be fair, they should feel the entitlement because they still believe their side won the election), that points to a phenomenon called Vulgar Equity or welfare latitudinarianism in the study of political history.

It is an ideological disposition that shows a favor to the status quo. For instance, when you argue that the economy is on a downward spiral, especially at a time when interests and principal repayments on national debt are coming due, government supporters will turn a blind eye, because they are conditioned to believe that everything is alright, even when the dorm is burning.

When you question the fiscal illusion of the incumbent government– and with fiscal illusion, we will revisit – you get despicable answers pointing out that the opposition is not any better. This propaganda master strike is of the highest quality, comparable to World War propaganda and mechanistic innovations for counterattack.

Vulgar equity is important in advancing the powers of the noblesse elite, because it puts a stamp on their carelessness, giving them more power to carry out government activities that are not friendly to the majority, at all.

What now, then?

Architects of the judicial gaslight know what they want. By creating a crisis, they will increase the control on Judiciary, (by both the legislature and executive), using the argument that the two arms derive their power from the constituency.

The long-term effect of this action is best explained using the ratchet phenomenon, where, even if a stability will be attained, this country will never go back to the constitutional soundness that it enjoyed in the period before this crisis.

It will be a destruction of checks and balances on power, deeply enshrined in in the Kenya’s constitution. The long and short of it is to create a vacuum that can be seized upon whenever there is need to oppress or betray the will of the people.

It is also important to note that this is a zero-sum game, and the long-term effects of this move will affect the ‘imaginary winners’ and the real losers. Overturning constitutional progress is akin to resorting to using Pangas to resolve a family feud, because no one wins in a family feud.

Bantu Kivai is a Nairobi-Based avid reader and an aspiring Thinker who smokes from his balcony once every 63 days.

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