Jubilee administration is planning to set up a civil society funding framework to cut off dependence on foreign agencies, Senate deputy Speaker Kindiki Kithure has told the Sunday Nation.
Once the public fund is in place, civil society organisations will be expected to competitively apply for funding for their programmes and activities.
“While the government still needs civil society to continue generating ideas, policy proposals and alternative feed back to government programmes, we must cut off their reliance on foreign funding that comes with risks of subversion, sabotage and espionage by agents planted in our midst” he said.
In an interview over reports that the government had suspended a 2012 agreement with the International Development Law Organisation (IDLO), Prof Kindiki said the Jubilee administration was concerned over what he termed as “infiltration and capture” of the Judiciary by foreign agencies in the guise of capacity building.
IDLO’s work in the Judiciary has come under scrutiny after the Supreme Court nullified the election of President Uhuru Kenyatta on September 1 and ordered a fresh one scheduled for October 26.
A campaign that started with Jubilee bloggers — accusing the organisation of funding researchers and consultants in the Judiciary to influence partisan decisions — has now ballooned into the shutting down of IDLO.
The leading donors of IDLO are western governments among them United States, United Kingdom. Denmark and Canadian governments.
“It is not tenable that foreign governments should be paying salaries for personnel working in a critical organ of the State like Judiciary. Not even Kenya’s private sector should be allowed to finance the Judiciary. It opens up avenues of subversion and sabotage. The human resources responsibility of the Judiciary belongs to the Kenya government,” Prof Kindiki said.
Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed is said to have cancelled IDLO’s agreement with the Kenyan government and is reportedly lobbying other African governments to follow suit.
Non-Governmental Organisations Coordination Board chief executive Fazul Mahamed has followed suit by ordering the shutting down of IDLO’s activities in the country.
Yesterday, Prof Makau Mutua, who is the chairman of the IDLO advisory board criticised the move.
He tweeted that Kenya had acted like a banana republic.
Jubilee administration since coming into power in 2013 has had little time for the civil society — especially accusing some organisations of being behind the crimes against humanity cases at the International Criminal Court (ICC) against President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto.
The cases were eventually dropped by The Hague-based court. And after the August 8 elections, Jubilee was accused of harassing the Kenya Human Rights Commission and the Africa Centre for Open Governance over registration and financial issues.
Asked about the implications of breaking ranks with IDLO, which has been at the forefront in funding fast racking of judicial reforms under, Prof Kindiki said the move by the government was within international law and principles of sovereignty.
“The decision by government is properly within the international law. Foreign agencies operate under agreements with host governments. Partners from international bodies are only welcome to help us fill critical gaps within our institutional framework, but not to influence the work, outputs and decisions of critical independent institutions like Judiciary,” Prof Kindki said.
He said while the government welcomed support to improve physical infrastructure like court buildings, libraries, venturing into hiring and paying human resources came with grave risks of interference in decision-making processes of the institutions.
At the same time, Prof Kindiki said majority of individuals working for the Judiciary as consultants had also been involved in other civil society organisations, some of which are known to support regime change.
“No one should fear Jubilee government plans for civil society. The government is setting up a legal framework to give them legitimacy and basis for public funding as think-tanks to keep generating alternative views with public support. This is the thinking that propelled the Public Benefit Organisation Acts, but was distracted at some point,” Prof Kindiki said when asked if the State had resorted to sledge-hammer tactics to silence civil society.
Unlike the pre-2010 era, when the Judiciary relied on goodwill of the Executive for survival, promotion and security of tenure, the present regime is different.
The Judiciary under Chief Justice David Maraga has particularly come out to protect its independence.
The crackdown on foreign financiers of programmes at the Judiciary by the State are viewed by some as a warning shot.