President Uhuru Kenyatta on Tuesday reached out of the Judiciary while launching the State of the Judiciary and Administration of Justice Annual Report (SOJAR) for 2018/2019.
President Kenyatta met with Chief Justice David Maraga and the two had a rare discussion on some of their recent public differences but promised to work towards the same agenda of serving Kenyans.
Maraga was first to take to the stand where he clarified his comments during a heated press conference in December 2019 where he blasted the executive for disobeying court orders, mistreating his office, and hindering the interference if the Judiciary.
The Chief Justice promised, and largely kept a promise, to reduce his appearance in state functions.
However, when he spoke, Maraga recognised that some of his comments had been misinterpreted by the media especially in claiming that he was equal to the President who heads the Executive while he (CJ) heads Judiciary.
"I have some few issues in my last press conference in December which have been misunderstood. I respect authority. I would be the last person to stand ni kama nakusomea (to sound like I’m lecturing you)."
“On social media, they said two heads of government were fighting but that is not correct. Your excellency, mimi si rika yako. We play in different leagues, you are in the senior league. I’m in the junior level- same league with the the speakers of the National Assembly and the Speaker of the Senate. The President is not only the head of the executive, he is also the head of state and the unifying factor,” Maraga said.
He also agreed with President Kenyatta’s criticism of the Judiciary, particularly citing the Akasha case which he termed as a shame on the Judiciary and on other government agencies.
"The judiciary should rise to the occasion. It is a shame we could not prosecute and convict the Akashas and the US has done it in one year,” he said.
The speech appeared to have changed the adversarial approach between Maraga and President Kenyatta.
When President Kenyatta rose to speak, he admitted that he was in a happy mood and admitted that he would leave out some of his attacks on the Judiciary.
“Kila mtu anatoa complains zake sasa mimi nitoe zangu,” President Kenyatta said before citing frequent injunctions against the government as a major hindrance to service delivery to Kenyans.
“I’m happy to hear from the Chief Justice that this year will be a year we will get answers to some of these issues…(kuna ingine kali hapa ntatoa leo tumekubali ni amani (I had some harsh comments here which I will skip because we have agreed to peace),” Kenyatta stated amid uproar from the Judges.
“I wish we could have more meetings,” a jovial President Kenyatta told Maraga while making his closing remarks.