This man Maraga: The gentleman who gave office new impetus

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2020 00:00 |
Chief Justice and the president of the Supreme Court David Maraga. Photo/PD/FILE

Emeka-Mayaka Gekara

Very few Kenyans outside the corridors of justice knew David Kenani Maraga before he was thrust into the limelight as Chief Justice.  

The judge had spent most of his time in law courts in Nakuru and Kisumu where he was the chief judge.

The two stations do not attract much media attention or high profile cases.

The staunch Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) stirred Kenyans into debate during the interviews for the position when he declared that he cannot work on Saturday—even if to hear a presidential election dispute.  

He further stunned members of the Judicial Service Commission when he swore by the Bible that “he has never taken a bribe.”

Now, the man who is set to retire in January, will walk away having not only made key controversial decisions, but as one of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s key tormentors.

The soft-spoken judge, has come out as calm but iron-willed and resolute.

Maraga, 69, goes on record as the Chief Justice who nullified a presidential election and also advised the president to dissolve Parliament.

His fiery speeches on the steps of the Supreme Court building and during various public engagements have frequently angered the President with who they have a love-hate relationship.  

Members of Parliament have barely disguised their disdain for him but he has remained unrepentant.

Maraga’s advisory that the President dissolves Parliament has put Uhuru in a tight corner, angered MPs but excited the rest of Kenyans.

While it is clear that Parliament had failed to pass the gender laws it was unthinkable among politicians that any Chief Justice would advise dissolution of Parliament, Maraga did just that.

And made the decision knowing it will be “painful.”

Parliamentary accountability

“Let us endure pain if only to remind the electorate to hold their parliamentary representatives accountable.

“There is no doubt the dissolution of Parliament will cause inconvenience and even economic hardship.

The fact that Kenya is in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic only exacerbates the potential impact of the decision.

Yet that is the clear result Kenyans desired for Parliament’s failure to enact legislation they deemed necessary.

We must never forget that more often than not, there is no gain without pain,” said the Chief Justice.

So controversial is Maraga that he at one time dared Kenyan politicians to call a vote and disband the Judiciary, citing frustrations.

“If leaders are tired of a strong and independent Judiciary, they should call a referendum and scrap it all together.”

 Maraga is on record blaming none other than the Head of State for the backlog of cases in the courts due to his failure to appoint judges nominated by the JSC.

The Chief Justice was also furious after the Executive made cuts to the Judiciary budget, nearly crippling operations.

In 2019, Maraga vowed not to attend some State functions unless the government started treating him and the Judiciary with respect.

“Unless I am treated with the respect I deserve, I will choose which State functions to attend,” he said.

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