Mashujaa Day celebrations in Kisii appeared to demonstrate the bitter-sweet relationship between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Chief Justice David Maraga.
The event was held in Maraga’s backyard but the President seemingly forgot the Chief Justice when acknowledging guests who had attended the event.
But before he returned to his seat, Uhuru went back to the podium to apologize for having left out Maraga, probably to appease locals who may have wondered why their son had not been mentioned.
Maraga has been a pain in the neck of the President, even with less than two months to his retirement.
Maraga took over the reins as President of the Supreme Court from Willy Mutunga and is expected to retire on 12 January 2021. Maraga graduated as a lawyer 43 years ago from the University of Nairobi before going into private practice.
He was appointed a judge in 2003 and rose to join the Court of Appeal in 2012. The Chief Justice is married and has three children.
The staunch Seventh Day Adventist has not shied away from reminding the President of the oath of office he took to defend the Constitution and the laws of the country.
Maraga, 69, has baffled many for having the courage to rebuke the man who appointed him, not once, but on many occasions even as he retires.
He has waded into uncharted waters by continuously asked Uhuru to demonstrate faith and respect the rule of law.
Ironically, while Uhuru was campaigning for re-election in Maraga’s backyard in Nyamira in 2017, he asked voters to elect him because his government had given their son a job.
But the two have openly expressed their discontent with each other’s handling of matters involving the two arms of government- the Executive and the Judiciary.
The frosty relationship between the Chief Justice and the President can be traced back to September 2017 when Maraga annulled Uhuru’s election win citing irregularities and ordered a new poll within 60 days.
Maraga made Uhuru be the first presidential winner on the continent to be challenged in court by the opposition successfully.
Uhuru did not take it lightly and soon after, he said at a public function that they would revisit the matter with the Judiciary, a statement that appeared to be a threat to Maraga.
Two years later, in September 2019, the National Treasury slashed the Judiciary budget by over Sh3 billion, citing revenue shortage and need to raise funds for Uhuru’s Big Four Agenda.
Maraga complained but Uhuru maintained that the budget cuts would not grind the wheels of justice to a halt. He further criticized the CJ for asking for more money yet his courts were curtailing efforts to raise more money.
Two months later, Maraga threatened to boycott State events over what he termed as a lack of respect for his office.
“Unless I am treated with dignity, I will choose which of state functions to attend,” he said.
And in June 2019, Maraga took on Uhuru yet again, accusing him of failing to appoint 41 judges. He said it was no longer tenable for the President to continue refusing to obey two court orders compelling him to appoint the judges.
“He (Uhuru) has no residual judicial power to question or reject the names. The legal position is that the President is obliged by the two valid court orders to appoint the 41 judges,” he said.
And with his retirement around the corner, Maraga pulled another surprise. He put Uhuru on the spot by asking him to dissolve Parliament for failing to enforce the two-thirds gender rule.