Nairobi. Chief Justice David Maraga has come out to lay bare the frustration his office and the entire Judiciary have been suffering at the hands of the Executive led by President Uhuru Kenyatta.
A visibly angry Maraga, in a televised address to the nation from the foot of the Supreme Court in Nairobi on Monday, revealed an alleged secret plot by the Executive to remove him from office before December 31.
“Some CSs (Cabinet secretaries) are saying I will go before the year ends, kumbe hii Kenya ina wenyewe (apparently Kenya has real owners)?" Judge Maraga, who wore a wry smile intermittently, said.
He accused the National Treasury of unfairly targeting courts in its austerity measures as budgets for Parliament and the Executive keep growing.
"The Chief Justice has no Mercedes car, we were told it's wastage, yet the two Speakers of the Parliament have them," he said as he explained how he has been forced to accord visiting dignitaries, including CJs, wanting transport.
Since 2014, the Judiciary budget has been shrinking and this year, it received a paltry 0.69 per cent of the national budget.
There has been a corresponding decrease in the Judiciary’s budget with every increase of the national budget.
In the 2015/16 financial year, when the national budget was Ksh1.5 trillion, the Judiciary received Ksh14.7 billion.
In 2016/2017, the national budget increased to Ksh1.7 trillion, out of which the Judiciary received Sh17 billion.
In 2017/2018, when the national budget increased to Ksh2 trillion, the Judiciary was allocated Ksh14.2 billion.
In the current financial year, with a national budget of Ksh3 trillion, the allocation to the judiciary was Ksh12.9 billion.
The figures are more than 50 per cent below what the Judiciary had requested.
“But as the Judiciary budget is declining, workload is rising,” he said as he issued an order to the Chief Registrar of the Judiciary.
“Moving forward, Judiciary budget estimates will be taken to Parliament and not Treasury. We cannot continue begging for what belongs to us,” he said.
He decried sustained contemptuously treatment by the Executive in office communication, during State functions and other public places including local airports where he is denied admission to VIP lounges.
It has emerged that staff at the swanky lounges set up using taxpayers' money deny the CJ entry, saying the high-class facilities are reserved for the president, his deputy and select Cabinet and principal secretaries.
“I will now choose which State functions to attend as I'm always treated contemptuously like it happened during Mashujaa Day, where my presence was not even acknowledged,” he said.
In office communication, Justice Maraga said he has been receiving letters signed by clerks on behalf of Cabinet and principal secretaries.
“That is the level they have reduced me to… I have shredded many of such letters,” he said.
The budget cuts, the president of the Supreme Court said, have adversely affected dispensation of justice and rolled back gains made in easing the case backlog.
Plans to roll digital courts to serve Kenyans in the diaspora were put on hold due to lack of budget, while mobile courts are no longer working.
“We are even unable to pay for Wi-Fi,” he said as explained why courts are not serving Kenyans as they expect.
The Court of Appeal has been crippled in Nakuru, Eldoret and Mombasa as staff go without basic necessities such as office tea and printing paper.
Despite the pain, Judge Maraga vowed to stay put and encouraged judges, magistrates and the entire court staff to continue discharging their mandate without fear or favour.
He asked the Executive to respect separation of powers under the 2010 Constitution and allow courts to discharge their mandate.
"No single arm of government is superior to the other as stipulated under the doctrine of separation of powers," he said.
"Judiciary should not be treated like illegitimate children ... I want the issues raised to be addressed as any CJ will suffer the same tribulations."
While the National Treasury says the Judiciary budget cuts are due to tough economic times Kenya is facing as a result of an elephant external debt, some analysts have linked them to revenge by the Executive.
Many have cited President Kenyatta's 2017 warning that he would "revisit irregardless (sic)" after the Supreme Court overturned presidential election results in which he had been declared the winner.