KENYA NEEDS A PARADIGM SHIFT IN ITS WAR ON GRAFT

 

The legal framework in Kenya is equally not adaptable to the complexity of fighting graft. To start off, we need a radical shift in legislative regimes. I look forward for example for a law that reverses the burden of proof from the State to individuals in matters touching corruption. All the EACC would therefore be required to do, is reasonably allege that a certain officer has acquired wealth beyond what they would reasonably be expected, and it would fall on that officer to prove that the acquisition was lawful and just.

As the Cabinet Secretary of Education released KCPE data for 2016, there was a drastic drop of about 31% in the number of pupils who obtained Marks above 400. While it may be grossly presumptive to link wholly attribute the drop to absence of exams leakage, this number caught my attention for a curious reason. In an interview earlier in the year, the immediate former Chairperson of the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission Phillip Kinisu told Reuters, “Kenya’s budget is now approaching 2 trillion shillings; a third of it is being wasted through corruption.” In another research by the Aga Khan University, Thirty Percent of the Kenyan Youth believed that Corruption is Profitable, while 35% would readily give or receive a bribe.

The thirty-something percent mark reveals a dire dilemma. There is no way we will imprison our way to a corruption free nation. Instead, we need a total paradigm shift, founded on three pillars. These Pillars are, Strategic Political Will, Rule of Law & Pro-Poor Investments.

Earlier in the year, I met Professor Katherine Marshall at a governance Summit in Geneva. Katherine has wide-ranging experience researching on and working with governments to establish anti, and counter-corruption strategies. She summed up the most effective anti-corruption strategy as, Fire from above and fire from below. Fire from above meant an unwavering commitment from a nation’s top leadership, lending conscious and strategic political will to the fight corruption and creating a bipartisan alliance. Fire from below, denoted an intolerant citizen family, unwilling to listen to explanation, even sacrificing the innocent to assert zero tolerance on corruption.

We have failed on both fronts. The Political class is the author of the mess, and the people are not just angry enough yet. The President, while having tried initially to demonstrate commitment, has not offered guided leadership on the matter. The opposition on the other hand sees corruption as a tool for mobilization, setting the nation on a partisan path that heavily undermines the war.

In the current framework of governance, the Parliament forms the best place from where to launch the war. A pro-active parliament, like Singapore’s did, could adopt a National Anti-Corruption declaration that would then become the legal and policy basis for a more broad and effective approach to the war on graft. Parliament also offers a platform for easy molding of political bipartisanship. For example, a joint committee on Anti-Corruption with Core chairs from the ruling and main opposition factions can easily be formed. All the Executive would do then is to mobilize resources around a broadly agreed upon model.

The legal framework in Kenya is equally not adaptable to the complexity of fighting graft. To start off, we need a radical shift in legislative regimes. I look forward for example for a law that reverses the burden of proof from the State to individuals in matters touching corruption. All the EACC would therefore be required to do, is reasonably allege that a certain officer has acquired wealth beyond what they would reasonably be expected, and it would fall on that officer to prove that the acquisition was lawful and just. We need a legal regime that places time limits within which the investigation, prosecution, conviction or acquittal of corruption allegation should be processed. More importantly however, the most urgent need within the Kenyan legal framework to fight corruption is to simplify the approach back to the traditional, Allege-investigate-Prosecute-Adjudge model. All the stages need to reside in a single agency with defined mandates and requirements for accountability.

What we have developed currently is a multi-layered scheme that sanitizes almost every allegation that goes through it. A case that is in court, while is still being investigated by EACC and same parties appearing before Parliament creates room for delay and more compromises, creating an indiscernible web.

The poor are the hardest hit by endemic corruption. Focusing on Pro Poor Investments in a country will deal a decisive blow on Kenya’s corruption family from a multiple of fronts. The first front is, mega corruption is a high-risk venture and resides in mega projects. Pro-poor projects tend to attract less attention from cartels and have high impact. For example, as David Ndii opined in his article on January 3 2014, while we spend 30 Billion to build Thika Road, from an economic perspective, at best, the project realized no new productive capacity, rather its economic benefit was to boost the bottomlines of existing businesses. On the other hand, on 2 Billion was used to build fish ponds, yet it increased aquaculture fish production fivefold from 4,000 metric tons per year to 22,000 tons. Investing the bulk of a nation’s development budget in pro-poor initiatives starves mega-craft architects of targets and gives people dignity.

Kenya’s war on corruption is in disarray, to argue otherwise is to be deaf to the very basic of signs. This calls the nation to a better way of approach lest we eat ourselves into oblivion.

WE MUST CONFRONT THE GHOST OF ETHNICITY IN PUBLIC SERVICE AND INSTITUTIONS OF HIGHER LEARNING

A mix of cultural dispositions, values and approaches are a good buffer as we try to fight corruption and other manifestations of bad governance. Our tribes ascribe different significance to different values, so the more diverse we are and the more cultures melt into the pot of public service, the more we will be able to guard ourselves from the imperfections of singularity.

On Tuesday 20 September, the reality of how Higher Learning Institutions in Kenya are heavily ethicized hit the country with a rude awakening. Uasin Gishu Governor, Jackson Mandagor and His Nandi counterpart Cleophas Lagat led locals in the demanding the ouster of Prof. Laban Ayiro as the Acting Vice Chancellor of Moi University on account of not being of the Kalenjin descent. The Governors threatened a disruption of the University’s scheduled.

There are two things at play here. The Ministry of Education proven ineptness at handling transitions in institutions of higher learning, and a deep culture of ethnic bargains that characterize our public service. Moi University is a curious case. Professor Mibey, the outgoing Vice Chancellor finished his tenure sometimes in the first quarter of the year. There are claims that even a sendoff party in his honor was held, but then he mysteriously and un-procedurally slid back to office sometimes in June this year. Moi University is not the only university experiencing a messy transition. Kenyatta University is another ticking bomb, with its transition heavily interfered with, and the ministry seemingly unable to intervene and ensure stability.

Beyond this Ineptness by the ministry of Education, Kenya’s civil service and institutions of higher learning are the embodiment of the bad demons of negative ethnicity in this country.  In a research undertaken by the National Cohesion and Integration Commission in the Universities, while the Kikuyu, Luhya, Kalenjin, Luo and Kamba, make up 66 per cent of the country’s population, they take up 93 per cent of the jobs at Masinde Muliro University, 89.8 per cent at Moi University, 87.3 per cent at Egerton University, 86 per cent at Jomo Kenyatta University, 82.3 per cent at the University of Nairobi and 81.7 per cent at Kenyatta University.

While Kenya has well over 48 Tribes in the public service, the top six tribes control, 82.6 % of the government leaving just about 17% for the remaining 42 tribes, according to a report released by the Public Service Commission in 2015. 11 Communities are over represented while 23 are grossly underrepresented.  An example is while the 2009 census places the largest tribe in Kenya, Kikuyu, at 17.2 % of the Population, they hold 23.4 % of the civil service accounting for a 6.2 over representation.

When it comes to specific Institutions, the Presidency is guilty of having 45.4 % of employees at Statehouse coming from the President’s tribe and 35% of Staff at the Presidency’s cabinet are from one tribe. Almost all government corporations are likely to have disproportionate ethnic representation depending on who heads the corporation.

At the County Government Level, the situation is worse. In a report done in 2015, 29 Counties out of 47 had breached the law that requires that at least 30% of the County Staff be non-locals. In the report, Bomet County had 97.9% of its staff as Kalenjins as Nyamira County too, having the same percentage of Staff as Kisii. Kirinyaga had 97.8 % of Staff as Kikuyus as Kisii County had 97.5 Staff as Kisii, Tharaka Nithi had 95.7 Tharakas.

Counties like Kilifi, Mombasa, Bungoma and Narok had a very encouraging show of embracing ethnic diversity.

Some measures have been undertaken to correct the situation. In 2015, The Public Service (Values and Principles) Act, 2015 was passed which stated in part that the public service may appoint or promote public officers without undue reliance on fair competition or merit if an ethnic group is disproportionately represented in the public service or in a public institution.

While some of this disproportionate representation are historical, and the Act and practice may cure it gradually, the situation has not been helped by a growing perspective that plum jobs within the Jubilee government are a preserve of two tribes. This perception is fermenting hate and discontent that may be dangerous to the future of the country.

This is where leadership is required. Beyond the law, we need policy measures with timeframes that will work towards rationalizing ethnic representation in the civil service, National government and County Governments. These measures cannot be restricted to proportionality in new hiring alone as this will perpetuate the perception for unnecessarily length periods.

A mix of redeployment, inter-institutional and inter-departmental transfers and early retirement for willing persons will go a long way in laying a firm foundation for an ethnically diverse and proportionally representative civil service and government.

Some people argue that we may be obsessing too much with ethnicity and sacrificing merit and competency. This argument is justified, but it ignores a number of facts.

Ethnic diversity in civil service and government is now a national value, supremely ratified and adopted in the Constitution of Kenya. As such, as a nation we are bound to actualize and live it.

A mix of cultural dispositions, values and approaches are a good buffer as we try to fight corruption and other manifestations of bad governance. Our tribes ascribe different significance to different values, so the more diverse we are and the more cultures melt into the pot of public service, the more we will be able to guard ourselves from the imperfections of singularity.

This would be a great point to throw a challenge to the President. The President launched with flair a new political outfit that focused on the quest for national unity; it would be excited to see him commit to rationalize the staffing at the Presidency before the General election. Symbolism goes a long way in setting pace, it is time we saw leadership that transcends rhetoric.

Despite the very best of his efforts and speeches, the reality that confronts President Kenyatta is that Social Cohesion Indicators show that the Country is more ethnically balkanized during the subsistence of his presidency than during the Grand Coalition government. This reality needs to be confronted urgently.

 

RETRAIN TEACHERS AND ORGANIZE STUDENT LEADERSHIP TO CURB ARSON AND DESTRUCTION.

I do not believe that there is a single all-encompassing explanation as to why the fire is razing down schools. One thing however is true; this is an indictment of the conflict resolution mechanisms within the education sector. While times have changed greatly, the relationship between students and authority in schools and institutions of higher learning scarcely reflect the changing times.

About two weeks ago, I was speaking to a group of teachers in Kangemi Nairobi. The school caters for underprivileged children from the informal settlement around the area. A teacher asked me a question about how they could maintain discipline with corporal punishment having been outlawed.  And as fires razed across schools, arguments on reinstatement of canes have become popular.

This are faulty arguments. The students in schools today are not going to live in a world where you live fearing the sanction of law. Theirs is an extremely free world, where the law is meant to facilitate the utmost enjoyment of personal freedoms. School must prepare people for the world they will live in, and since that world is freer and more expressive, our best bet is to nurture children to understand the responsibility within which freedom must be rooted, as opposed to making them fear the consequences of being on the wrong.

The spate of fires across the country in secondary Schools is not unique or distinct. It mirrors for example, with perfect semblance the notoriety with which university students have gone on rampage in the last two to three years. According to the CS Education, since 2007 there are 300 reported cases. On Higher Education fronts, practically all Public Universities have been on a demonstration with fires and destruction characterizing the approach.

I do not believe that there is a single all-encompassing explanation as to why the fire is razing down schools. One thing however is true; this is an indictment of the conflict resolution mechanisms within the education sector. While times have changed greatly, the relationship between students and authority in schools and institutions of higher learning scarcely reflect the changing times.

The mechanism of resolving conflicts in high schools and Universities do not go beyond the individual institution. This means, where students fail to agree with a particular administration, the next option is destruction, because there is no possibility for a third voice to arbitrate the dispute.

I impressed upon Professor Jacob Kaimenyi, then as CS Education, on the need to structure a national Student Council, defined under the law, for both High Schools and Universities, with a greater urgency, at the universities level. Many efforts went into this, but it became captive of extreme political interests, individual greed and power struggles. To avoid creating an alternative Council for example, the structure of the National Youth Council can be redefined to provide for membership and representation of high school and university students.

This is necessary. We have structured Teachers unions in KNUT and KUPPET for Secondary Schools, UASU, for universities on one hand, and the Government on the other hand, but the actual subjects of most conflicts are not organized in single legitimate voice respected by all students at the national level.

This model exists in many nations; a perfect example is Israel, where the high school student’s council has been instrumental in breaking impasse between government and teachers’ unions. Canada has a national Student leaders Association that provides mentorship to its members on how to resolve conflicts and inducts them into a network of older mentors who walk with them for a year or so they are in office.

The second aspect is to retrain teachers and enable them to handle the emerging realities in a better way. There are behavioral realities within the millennials that require active and deliberate retraining to the tutors.  Across many countries as times change and old industries fade and new jobs and challenges emerge, programs for retraining are always a great tool. This makes the workforce to adapt to new realities.

The reasons for conflicts in institutions of learning will be diverse as the number of Students we have, our bet, must be as much on strengthening capacity to resolve conflicts and identifying momentary reasons why conflicts emerge.

 

 

In the wake of Brexit: Kenya and Africa Must Guard against Far Right-Nationalism

I think as the world reels under the burden of far-right nationalism and from a jittery minority who believe in the superiority of being native or white or what have you, Africa as a continent that was forged out of diversity has been afforded a unique opportunity to provide leadership. As a continent, we have suffered under the burden of being inferior to know that it is not worth of anyone, and can rise to craft real solutions to the problems posed by globalization that transcends the fear driven superficial isolationism.

The world is experiencing an extremely fascinating and dreary metamorphosis in politics. One needs to look at the recent elections in Philippines, Austria, the now infamous Brexit and the rise of Donald Trump in the American politics to see a clear but disturbing pattern. In Africa, a trend also has started to emerge where South Africa moved from 2014 to tighten its borders, now Kenya is relocating Somali refugees because of security and yes, I have heard a few voices of skepticism starting to rise against the East African Integration.

In Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte was elected President garnering 39% of the vote, mainly from middle class and upper middle class, which he mobilized through an extremely populist campaign. Rodrigo has asked the public to shoot drug lords themselves and he would pay them for it, and the people love him for the rhetoric.

This class of the citizenry are more ready to blame lack of opportunity on immigrants and easily are chauffeured into an anger of believing the political system has not worked and only heavy-rhetoric laced change would salvage the situation. There is nothing that seems would rattle these group of citizens to a consciousness.

In the United States for example, Donald Trump supporters are the most loyal support base anyone would wish to have. Trump has abused everyone, from women, immigrants, the pope, African Americans and even doubted the greatness of his nation. He actually said proudly he could shoot someone but would still not lose support. When Britain voted to exit the European Union, Trump in Scotland said the Brits had taken back their country. A statement that is a lie, but hey, very appealing.

As I watch, the markets tumble across the world, and try to determine the actual impact of Brexit on Kenya; I cannot help but make a conclusion that this is a luxury that Kenya and Africa should never afford. However, even as I make this conclusion, I am alive to the truth of exploitation of nationalistic passions to further raw political ambition as close as home. Take a dissection of the 2013 election, albeit it did not take an economic argument, the thrust of it revolved at asking foreigners to allow Kenya run its own affairs.

So Kenya and Africa must from the very onset be extremely vigilant to guard against any pellets of this philosophy that is steadily permeating mainstream politics. I say this because you must have heard someone retort that what Africa needs is benevolent dictatorship, and slowly you have governments altering the constitution to suppress judicial oversight of the government and stifle the press in the name of national security.

Whereas for example the government’s decision to move refugees out of Kenya could be justified on security grounds, it essentially adopts the risky path of placing the blame of central fear issues faced by people on immigrants and refugees. The same philosophy that has propelled the rise of far-right nationalism in France, Austria, UK and what have you.

On the day of the Brexit vote, UK lost about £ 125 Billion. These were the value of people’s savings and the country’s worth. What amounts to its 15-year contribution to the European Union? The leader of the leave campaign and the presumptive heir to the British premiership, Johnson Boris fascinatingly still speaks of the UK fostering a closer relationship with the European Union. This aptly captured by the Guardian as a Plutarch’s moment when the Greek historian recorded, that “if we are victorious in one more battle … we shall be utterly ruined.” To win an election against integration is to lose a nation’s chance to be part of the story of the time.

African young economies cannot shoulder such shocks. We are young, volatile and simply unprepared to meet the cost of neo-isolationism. On the other hand, as a popular joke has been paraded over the social media, UK, which bought its greatness by setting out and colonizing its people, now in a strange twist of events has set itself on the path to decline out of a fear that it is losing control to outsiders.

Whatever the argument, Africa’s potential is extremely underutilized that our only path can be a path that forges stronger cooperation and integration. This argument has a divinely historical backing, that as a continent, we really did not have borders, and so at best, nationalistic isolation can only be hypocritical.

This populist rhetoric equally can be afforded by a nation like the United States, which has extensive system driven safeguards. Perhaps, they can take that experiment for four years and discard it. Africa cannot and should not because that it is inherently wrong and will not work, and that instead of second-guessing with potential setbacks, our commitment should be firmly fixed on forging ahead.

I think as the world reels under the burden of far-right nationalism and from a jittery minority who believe in the superiority of being native or white or what have you, Africa as a continent that was forged out of diversity has been afforded a unique opportunity to provide leadership. As a continent, we have suffered under the burden of being inferior to know that it is not worth of anyone, and can rise to craft real solutions to the problems posed by globalization that transcends the fear driven superficial isolationism.

 

HILLARY CLINTON OR DONALD TRUMP: WHO IS THE BEST FOR AFRICA?

While still on Rwanda, Clinton was the First lady when the 1994 genocide took place. While the United States and the world knew of what was happening, they literally did nothing. It is a testament to African resilience that Rwanda now ranks seventh globally on government efficient, a stone throw from overtaking the United States.

With her win in Puerto Rico, Hillary Clinton will certainly become the democratic presumptive nominee on Tuesday as California votes in the primary. She accomplishes the extraordinary fete of becoming the first ever woman nominee of a major political party in the United States to run for President. The Republican Party, on the other hand has the controversial real estate Donald J Trump as its presumptive nominee. Trump an extremely wealthy individual, has built an enviable empire with interests spurning from real estate, through communications, exclusive golf resorts, casinos and communications.

Even as the political debate rages on, I have always argued that Africa has to start persuasively proffering opinions that would influence political events across the world and the election of the president of the United States is such a key event. I have believed that, that just as an undersecretary of the American regime has a right to say, choices have consequences, of a Kenyan election, the Kenyan President, or the chairperson of the African Union has a right to say, in the continents view, candidate A represents a better persuasion than candidate B. does.

Hardly has Africa been mentioned in the 2016 American Presidential Race. This is such a surprise for a continent where the whole world agrees will be the final frontier of development. A number of the world’s fastest growing economies call Africa home. The continent is moving swiftly towards democratization and has remains of great strategic significance to American defense needs.

In my interactions with a number of friends, the continent, perhaps more than any other part of the world retains an emotional bond with the United States through African Americans. It is certainly not an over exaggeration to state that African Americans relate more to Africa, than a white American whose lineage can be traced to Europe would relate to Europe.

Both candidates have given what was dubbed as ‘Foreign Policy Speeches’ which I watched fully. Clinton did not mention Africa, I doubt though the speech was even foreign policy, rather a series of ballistic missiles launched at camp Donald.

Trump on April 27, after facing a series of complaints that he lacked the basic grasp of foreign policy, gave an address in Washington DC, where the only mention of Africa was through the discussing of the 1998 Al Qaeda bombings. He could not even properly pronounce the name Tanzania properly.

I am almost certain that Trump does not have a single investment in Africa. While the continent boasts among the most beautiful and expansive swathes that would make world class golf courses, the mogul’s appetite has just not been tickled the African way.

The Clinton’s work in Africa have been largely through the Clinton Global Initiative. Which I have been lucky to interact with as part of young leaders who met President Clinton when he visited Africa in 2012. And while the Clintons have not been classified as billionaires, certainly they have mobilized way more resources to the continent than Trump.

Let us review a few sentiments by the candidates before auditing their policy positions that would have an impact on the continent.

In August 2014 as six countries in Africa fought to contain Ebola, Trump using his favorite tool twitter quipped how the US could not allow EBOLA infected people back asking them to suffer the consequences of their good-heartedness. Earlier in 2013, as President Obama pledged an investment of USD 7 Billion to power Africa, Trump retorted that every penny would be stolen, as corruption will be rampant. He ignored the fact that corruption still plagued many African nations; Africa had nations like Rwanda, Botswana and Seychelles that recorded stronger scores than the US in certain instances of governance.

While still on Rwanda, Clinton was the First lady when the 1994 genocide took place. While the United States and the world knew of what was happening, they literally did nothing. It is a testament to African resilience that Rwanda now ranks seventh globally on government efficient, a stone throw from overtaking the United States.

To policy positions, all the two candidates have strong Immigration stands. Hillary stands out as being bold to make immigration a central issue of her campaign. Democrats have traditionally addressed immigration from the periphery during campaigns as they seek not to alienate moderates who feel strongly about immigration.

Hillary’s position to quote directly from her website, seeks to create a pathway to citizenship, keep families together, and enable millions of workers to come out of the shadows. She also pledges to defend President Obama’s executive actions to provide deportation relief for Dreamers and parents of Americans lawful residents, and extend those actions to additional persons with sympathetic cases if Congress refuses to act.

On the other hand, Trump suggests many things from denying citizenship to children of immigrants, to creating a deportation force that would deport 11million undocumented immigrants from the United States. I have no doubt that many Africans would be affected with their families being torn apart.

Trump has a penchant for suggesting to flaunt American might, both military and political clout at whatever challenge he feels America is facing.

Africa is certainly rediscovering herself and will be more comfortable with a US president who is ready to engage the continent as an equal; Clinton, as Secretary of State, pioneered the leading from behind philosophy by Obama which allowed the US to forge partnerships across the world. One is AMISOM which has African troupes fighting the war in Somalia as opposed to seeing American or European soldiers on the ground. Trump sees this as a weakness.

Clinton’s worst mistake as Secretary of State would definitely be Libya. While the final decision lay with President Obama, and he has conceded that this could be his worst mistake, that error cost Africa Libya and created the mayhem that the country now is.

I would charge the architect of that error to rectify it. Because choosing Trump is to choose a person who has openly said he would come in and take away the wealth a nation has, anytime he wages war.

Clinton’s presidency will be a required boost to the African woman. In many ways, we have drawn inspiration from the American experience, and at the time when the continent needs her daughters to come up strongly to her service, the inspiration of the first American woman president would definitely be a welcome addition.

On the other hand, a Trump presidency may inspire a folly of experiments, where demagogues rise to leadership on the continent at a time when leadership, compassion and tact is mostly needed.

I am certain, that Africa may find in Clinton a more reasonable ally than in Trump. But that with however wins, the coming decade must be defined by our moving steadfastly to claim our position on the global stage.

THE STATE OF THE NATION ADDRESS: WHEN REALITY CONTRADICTS NUMBERS

The third item, the Jubilee Administration, is an activity driven government, unlike the Kibaki regime that mainstreamed vision in its approach. The consequence is that Jubilee has a lot of numbers to throw around, but not actual impact on the people, and I think the greatest show of failure, is if you have to shout that this is what I am doing for people to see it.
 
The President yesterday in Parliament gave his third state of the Nation address. He outlined the various steps and strides, which in his opinion, the country was making under his leadership.
 
Unlike his second address that was inspirational, even offering hope that the President was willing to face history and the ills of corruption, the third address was a flat repetition of the everyday rhetoric that people so easily associate with the government.
 
The President dedicated the first pulse of his address to speak to the unwritten contract between the Kenyan communities. The spirit that was cultivated at Lancaster. To my surprise, he suggested that the opposition has disagreed with and was undermining this spirit.

It was a surprise, for other than Dr. David Ndii, who does not fall within the formal ranks of either CORD, AMANI or Eagle coalitions, I have not heard any opposition leader, not Raila Odinga, Kalonzo Musyoka, Musalia Mudavadi, Peter Kenneth or Martha Karua front anti-nationalistic sentiments.
 
Still, the President went on, to refer to nationalism 25 different times within his address, reminding us that our irreducible minimum was a one to all’ and ‘all to one. He suggested that by opening up roads in all parts of the country, doubling the constitutionally minimum, by way of monetary remittance to the counties, his administration had demonstrated undying commitment to devolution and the nationalist covenant.
 
I agree with the President, that indeed the unwritten one to all’ and ‘all to one contract is the very basic unit of the fiber Kenya, but I disagree that his administration in the last three years, or his own beliefs has supported this value. The government still stands acutely accused of exclusion by through token inclusion, and at maximum, the relationship between the national government and county government, can only be a betrayal of what in his own words was the re-imagination of our nationalist covenant.
 
It is impossible to reconcile the idea of a regime that supports devolution, yet that same regime has resisted re-aligning the provincial administration structure to accord with the true intents of Devolution. The one to all’ and ‘all to one remained unwritten because it was founded on trust. Having a Marwa in Mombasa to pounce on elected leaders because of divergent opinion does not exemplify trust. Avoiding including counties in security systems, does not exemplify that trust.
 
I think this nationalist lecture emanates from a sense of vulnerability. An understanding by the President, that a case can be made against his government.
 
The President seems is fully persuaded, that certain rights, such as freedom of expression, our pursuit for security, the threat of terrorism, must necessarily qualify how Kenyans enjoy their rights. This philosophy saw his government essentially suggest legalizing detention because of terrorism. Thank God, the High Court quashed the provision.
 
The President seems to suggest that under his administration, the media can now freely function, and that article 34 has come to absolute being. The reality is different, formerly free media houses are now prisoners of the state, journalists dismissed for writing articles critical of the government. Dennis Galava, Godfrey Mwampembwa popularly Gaddo, being but examples. The President himself is on record reducing the press to meat wrappers. An about turn seems hypocritical.
 
The country was denied an opportunity for honest grief, because today, no one knows the number of Kenyan soldiers we lost in Somali recently.
 
I must however take extreme exception to Hon. Bosire for not giving our men in uniform the honor of standing. This is a new low in partisanship.
 
The President gave reference to the Grand coalition government, noting that his government has prioritized finishing the projects dreamt by the regime. Here he referred to the roads and the standard gauge Railway.
 
We must applaud his government for a speedy implementation of the SGR. Still, the project has ballooned our public debt to China disproportionately.
 
While still at this reference to the Grand Coalition; let us point out three things. The Grand Coalition government was a good example of true inclusion in government, and that is why it recorded historic successes. Secondly, even with the squabbles, they still recorded extensive results in economic growth, helped realize a new constitution and corruption perception was low than today.
 
The third item, the Jubilee Administration, is an activity driven government, unlike the Kibaki regime that mainstreamed vision in its approach. The consequence is that Jubilee has a lot of numbers to throw around, but not actual impact on the people, and I think the greatest show of failure, is if you have to shout that this is what I am doing for people to see it.
 
The Uhuru Kenyatta government has for instance chosen to scale down the ambitions of Kibaki, announcing this week the terminating the upgrade of the Green Field Terminal at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. In this financial year, the project did not receive funding within the budgetary allocations.
 
The President instead chose to commission two new terminals — 1A and 1E — by May 2016. He stated that the new terminals would increase passenger-handling capacity by 5.1 million new passengers, total capacity to JKIA to 7.5 million passengers a year. GTF was supposed to increase that capacity to 18.5 Million, making JKIA number one Airport in Africa.
 
Rwanda Air is consolidating her hold on air transport within East Africa, and performing better than Kenya Airways. Ethiopia Airlines is a show of African excellence elbowing us out. President Magufuli is keen on starting a national airline for Tanzania. To claim our position as a true hub of air travel, we do not need little upgrades, but truly ambitious commitments that communicate to the future we aspire.
The President and his deputy are now deflecting blame to the Judiciary. They seem to suggest that the non-dispensation of these corruption cases some-how has an impact on the levels of corruption. That is partly true. The other truth however is that the law guides the Judiciary and the law is enacted by parliament.
 
I would suggest to the President, to take the step that Lee Kuan Yew took, and reversed the discharged of the burden of proof in corruption cases. All the government needed to do, was establish a prima facie case, that you could reasonably be suspected to have obtained wealth through corruption, and it was the accused’s prerogative to discharge the burden, within set timelines.
 
A starting point would be to audit the legal framework and make it clear and devoid of technicalities. Ours is a common law system, the judge but an arbiter, not a prefect of the process. The true Achilles heel in this process lies with the Directorate of Public Prosecution and Investigative Agencies.
 
The presidents’ move to order the Communications Authority and the National Construction Authority to review their prohibitive levies is extremely welcome, and while Kenya has improved on the ease of doing business, a commendable work, we need to do more.
On one thing, I agree one hundred percent with the President, his acknowledgement that as a government, his work, is to walk with each individual in the path of personal transformation by ensuring that the country is transforming with you; and that as we transform one individual at a time, we will fulfil the Nationalist Promise.
 
Nations grow more sustain-ably when each individual is inspired to work for their own transformation. This can only happen in an environment, where everyone feels they have a chance at opportunity, this is where he must put his focus on. Investing further symbolically and really in pursuit of equity and equality for all.
 
I am hesitant to share in his conclusion that the state of our nation is strong, but I willingly agree, that our nation holds a promise for everyone.
 
Lone Felix

RE-IMAGINE PROJECT KENYA: THE VERY HARD QUESTIONS WE MUST FACE

It is true that Kenyan Somali have been victims of collective condemnation, and they still see people who perpetrated extensive evil against them, enjoying the comfort of power in the States’ bosom. It is true that the Luo Nation has had her sons sacrifice more for the journey of Kenya to disproportionate benefits and in certain instances, institutionalized segregation. It is true that the Coast has faced systemic alienation, a fate that befell Central Kenya too when Moi was in power. These are realities acknowledged in the report of the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC), which report we are too timid to act on or even adopt.

My classmates, who attended Social Foundations of law lectures by Chege Waitara, must have read with a De Ja Vu feel the article by Dr. David Ndii. In our very first classes, the lecturer painfully opined, just a few months after the promulgation of the Constitution, that Kenya was speedily missing another opportunity.

He outlined the very instances David Ndii outlined in making his case for the divorce of Project Kenya. The first nail on the coffin of nationalism, Mr. Chege stated was when Jomo Kenyatta, declared the sacking of Jaramogi Odinga in the comfort of his ethnic enclave Kiambu, surrounded by his Kinsmen.

The second nail was the lack of the opposition to rally together in the aftermath of the re-instatement of multiparty politics upon the repeal of the infamous Section 2 (A). Instead of ushering in a politically conscious era founded on ideology, politics adopted a rather ethnic definition.

His third instance was the post 2002 facet, when the elite, united by a common threat, the grip of nyaoism, rallied together and rooted out Moi. Still, since the struggle to root out Moi had its foundation on a common enemy pillar, rather than a common vision, the disintegration of the NARC codes, which essentially were the Kenyan codes, was but a natural outcome of a half-planned revolution.

The fourth instance was the post 2010 era. When delving into this discussion, the Constitution was barely 6 months old. I believe however, at this point, President Kibaki had appointed Justice Visram, as the Chief Justice, Prof. Githu Muigai as the AG and Ndegwa Muhoro as the Director of the Directorate of Criminal Investigation.

Other than the fact that the appointments did not follow the consultation principle with the Prime Minister, enshrined in the transitional clauses of the Constitution, Visram and Muhoro had extensive credibility issues, and as such, this heralded a sad reality that we had a new constitution, without constitutionalism.

These are the very instances David Ndii highlighted, the cardinal difference between the two opinions however, Mr. Chege Waitara saw them as missed opportunities in the quest for a nation Kenya, and Ndii saw them as signs of the failing project Kenya. The two however shared in the frustration of our inability to fashion out a horizontal comradeship that inspires commitment to the idea Kenya.

First, we must ask ourselves whether a considerable population within Kenya are continually feeling oscillating towards a detachment from the idea the answer is yes. We can only conclude otherwise if we are lying to ourselves.

It is true that Kenyan Somali have been victims of collective condemnation, and they still see people who perpetrated extensive evil against them, enjoying the comfort of power in the States’ bosom. It is true that the Luo Nation has had her sons sacrifice more for the journey of Kenya to disproportionate benefits and in certain instances, institutionalized segregation. It is true that the Coast has faced systemic alienation, a fate that befell Central Kenya too when Moi was in power. These are realities acknowledged in the report of the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC), which report we are too timid to act on or even adopt.

To call for the arrest of Ndii is to deny deep-seated dissatisfactions that our country must eventually face. I am not prepared, not now, not in the future, to pronounce failure of the project Kenya. That the current and previous generations failed to materialize it, can only mean that it is an obligation of our generation.

History will harshly review any generation that acquiesced to the death of Kenya. In fact, it cannot be a generation’s obligation to obliterate a 50-year journey, which can only be cowardice. However, a worse form of that cowardice would be to continue the journey without meeting the challenges that make it imperfect, for that is agreeing to the certainty of failure.

Re-imagining Kenya must come close to undoing the country’s history, especially political history. Kenya created her political founding on tribes. The firs political organization the Young Kikuyu Association I believe designed to agitate for the affairs of the Kikuyu, and while it rebranded later on, at its core it carried that tribal element.

This culture seems to have grown very strongly and close to a century later, we cannot outlive it. All political parties eventually end up morphing into tribal pockets. The Independence party, KANU now has its chair, secretary general and even the gateman to its headquarters as Kalenjin, The other party that has had a truly national outlook, ODM, has its party leader, chairperson,  secretary of political affairs, Executive Director as Luo’s. All other smaller parties find home in a certain community.

A response to Ndii should not be limited to arguing for unity, justifying it with studies by World Bank and what have you as Hon. Mutava Musyimi stated. Neither can it be based on taking a moral grandstanding, demonizing its proponent. The best response is to agree, that we have created a business worth 2.1 trillion a year, but failed to create a nation.

An ideal response must be re-evaluating our history and re-imagining it. It must be a renewed commitment to erase the growing feeling that the wishes of other communities are subordinate to the tyranny of the tribal marriages that are Jubilee and CORD.

We must be bold enough and say the art of developing a nation goes beyond constructing railways, or just opening up infrastructure, and has to hinge on a genuine understanding that all can share in the promise of citizenship.

A nation only becomes one when every citizen knows they can play their role; realize their ambition and access opportunity with an assuredness. We must ask ourselves genuine questions about why children born in the same boundaries have unequal survival rates just 400 Kilometers from each other.

The mode of government adopted by the new constitution gives us a substantial basis to move towards creating a nation Kenya. Sadly, the Jubilee administration has demonstrated such apathy towards the new constitution.

It has clawed back many steps towards institutionalizing government, and chose the path of investing authority in a single man. The President believes that there is some meaning in telling a nation that its political course is predetermined for the next decade.

Even if not for anything, should democracy, as a means of accessing political power allow for a reevaluation of government after every five years?

I have reached a conclusion that the current political generation is incapable of realizing the Nation Kenya. They were sculptured from the brokenness of our system. They draw their support from the broken pieces of our nation. They will not fix that br

To reimagine this nation, it will require the courage of her citizens. For as long as we remain beholden to our tribal affiliations, we will always be derailed by persistent spasms of disaffection. I hope we can rise up and denounce the incompetence of the current political leadership in its entirety.

I read Dr. Murabula’s response, a measured and well defined response, and while I will agree with many things, he states, in his opinion, the tribe must die, for the nation to grow. I disagree.

We will have to place our diversity at the center of the story of the re-imagined nation. I believe, then, our journey will be richer and stronger. Ethnic identity in itself is not wrong. There are beautiful facets in our individual ways of lives that I am hesitant to sacrifice at the altar of nationalism, yet the two can be accommodated.

One of our problem is our politics. We right our politics, we re-imagine our nation, Kenya will not just be a project, it will be a Nation. What our founding fathers at some point aspired. We must boldly agree that this nation is too great to fail, but too imperfect to continue this way.

God bless Kenya Always!

THE UHURU PRESIDENCY: WHY THE CENTER IS NOT HOLDING

Uhuru KenyattaTalking of shadowy characters, the President allowed too many centers of power to establish themselves. I think Uhuru’s is a government where a total stranger, who has no designation or does not fall within any defined structure, is capable of giving official government position. It is easy to pick up government’s minds from irrational bloggers who enjoy state warmth, columnists who are in suspect intimate relationship with government or simply marauding brokers and this with a particular notoriety around the President’s Deputy.

Yesterday must have been a sad day for President Kenyatta, Somalia Parliament voted to throw KDF out of Somalia; this coming hot on heels of a report accusing KDF and the Jubaland government of illegal trade. The Commander in Chief had given his entire backing to the forces, but clearly this is such a Foreign Policy failure under his watch. Infotrak on the other hand told him that his popularity dropped by close to 20% to 33% while his erstwhile competitor, Raila Odinga has gained marginally to close to 29%; 62% of Kenyans feel the country is headed to the wrong direction; this but a day in what has been a sustained period of all things going wrong with the Presidency.

The unfavorable perception being compounded by skyrocketing corruption allegations, with even the foreign missions acknowledging that graft is now a crisis, an economy that is underperforming with the effects spiraling over to the public and a ballooning public debt. Many laws have been passed that claw back on constitutional gains, the presidency appears more determined to centralize power as opposed to institutionalize governance. The laws being proposed by his government to handle historical issues like land are deeply flawed and so are the laws passed around security.

Uhuru Kenyatta, born to the Founding Father of Kenya, he is a prince, handed over the Presidency through machinations of the system, to those who oppose him, to those who adore him, he is a self made son of soil, who earned his place in the hearts of his people. Either way you look at it, his is a career dotted by truly exemplary streaks of either luck or spectacular political calculations.

In 2013, he struck a bargain with Ruto and handed Raila Odinga a defeat, albeit contested. No one can doubt that that the duo’s campaign was way organized, resonating with the pulse of the voting constituency than CORD’s.

When he ascended to the Presidency, there was a guarded optimism. I for instance, while acknowledging that his presidency would sustain ethnic division, not because he is tribal, but by the fact of him being a Kenyatta, I was more than happy to opine that the economy would be in relatively good steering. Commanding an impressive majority in both houses, his Presidency would have been way smoother.

The numbers suggest that the country responded well to his Presidency. On Mo Ibrahim Index, Kenya moved up the governance Index, the economy received very positive reviews and there was a general sense of guarded enthusiasm.

And today as we write this, those very numbers are speaking a different language. Just why does the center seem not to hold for the Uhuru Presidency?

He took the reigns of a country with an entirely new dispensation, and so in many ways, His Presidency was to pioneer new governance. At the start of his term, I opined, that Uhuru would secure his legacy if he came out as greatly pro-devolution or adopting a greatly Bipartisan approach to governance.

He did neither. And in my view set up himself for an inefficient presidency in several ways.

Uhuru did not manage the transition from the cool politician to the head of state effectively. He maintained the Mr. Nice tag, kept his campaign mandarins who are more effective at running a campaign than government and concentrated on sustaining his popularity. As the weight of government set in, with its frustrations, the government’s craves to sustain an invincible image has become its main undoing.

From throwing around statistics about how many people they had touched, to allegations of running a syndicate of fake social media accounts to dominate the digital space, the desire to remain popular clouded many initial decisions.

At the start of his tenure, the President was either launching one thing or the other. And as this happened, the government over committed. To assuage the insatiable crave to appear working, mega projects were launched, without keen regard on what the spiral effects on the economy would be.

The Deputy President in a recent interview on K24 betrayed the excitement that guided government. In a somewhat naïve response he said Jubilee was proud to be a government which had launched very many projects that people were telling them to tone down. He asserted the problem in the previous regimes were very little was being done.

The sad aspect about this crave to perform, the place of technocrats was erased; a somewhat strange conclusion. Because the dynamic duo appointed technocrats to cabinet, but the process of determining government priorities reeks of crude political guidance.

You would otherwise wonder why the Galana Irrigation Scheme is what it is, if it was guided by those who knew the business of Irrigation. Indeed, a few people left government noting that in this regime there was no place technical thought. Decisions are guided by superficial urgency for political convenience.

The Presidency’s little attention to the new institutional framework is largely why corruption has skyrocketed especially in the second quarter of 2015.

The extra-constitutional dismantling of the EACC, certainly with his tacit approval, in my opinion was misguided. I opined, that in the absence of a fully functioning commission, corruption would hit the roof. It was my opinion, and still is, that EACC’s independence was greatly compromised when left in the hands of the CEO who by all indications is at the beck and call of the Executive. I think people in government may be comforted with the knowledge that the President can let it pass, and so engage in wanton graft.

It would not be entirely far-fetched to suggest that the EACC was dismantled to compromise certain cases that were under investigations, but even more strategically, to create a looting season.

I am interested to suggest that an audit be undertaken of government transactions, transfer of government property, especially from corporations to private persons for the season from when EACC was dismantled till now.

It does not make any sense, legal or otherwise why a government would believe that subjugating the independence of EACC to the Public service Commission, would make it more effective. It is either abetting corruption is the official government position, or the government is a prisoner of a shadowy cartel that is guiding this arm-twisting.

Talking of shadowy characters, the President allowed too many centers of power to establish themselves. I think Uhuru’s is a government where a total stranger, who has no designation or does not fall within any defined structure, is capable of giving official government position. It is easy to pick up government’s minds from irrational bloggers who enjoy state warmth, columnists who are in suspect intimate relationship with government or simply marauding brokers and this with a particular notoriety around the President’s Deputy.

The trouble of running government like this is instructions are issued with the same nonchalance, and you cannot get surprised when the effect is plunder and impunity.

Constitutionally, Uhuru’s Presidency is the most light of all the four office holders. In comparison to Kibaki for instance, the President’s powers was split into 21 constitutional commissions all managed by highly qualified people. Functions have been devolved, leaving less weight at the national level. With proper coordination and stewardship, Kenyatta’s Presidency should be way easier.

The mistakes that have happened around the Presidency, casting it as inaccurate and even light suggest that in the end those who whisper the last word to the president are a shock. I am unable to imagine for example why the President would pronounce himself with a sense of finality on a matter before the court, just to change the tune a little later like it happened with the Police recruiting fiasco.

The person Uhuru is definitely inseparable from the person Kenyatta. Just how soon does he respond, the teachers strike for example it festered for too long. The corruption allegations, he just could not speak until the outrage was a pile, his response to security. You sometimes get an impression that he prefers to be led by public opinion as opposed to offering leadership.

On Saturday, while speaking at Kibabii University, in response to Senator Wetangula’s suggestion that the opposition was tough because they wanted him to perform, the President betrayed what lies at the center of how he responds to the opposition; a somewhat unfortunate and ill-advised ego.

To the President, as long as anything comes out as an insult, he would but sit there and wait to see how far you can push it. He would only listen, if criticism was criticism and not insults. Indeed, Uhuru the person gets almost overwhelmed when his person is attacked.

Still my opinion has been, the Kenyan opposition is too eager to appear like they are being reached out to. It will not make the President, less of a President if he intentionally fashioned out a bipartisan spirit. Political temperatures in the country have been heightened because the Presidency is more ready to express its might by hauling through parliament or other forums their agenda, as opposed to listening to the divergent voices.

The Foundation of this Presidency seems to have been acutely compromised. From allowing cartels and an almost mafia-like culture to establish itself, to pursuing a craze of undefined and coordinated raw ambitions that have seen the economy burst its seams out of pressure.

Those who live in Nairobi, will acknowledge that it is not uncommon to find a criminal being escorted by police chase cars as they head into clubs. The feeling that those who are close to the center of power can get away with anything has been entrenched and the inevitable outcome is excessive corruption and runaway impunity.

I am hesitant though to say that Uhuru is a deliberate architect of these chaos. From interacting with him, I think he is genuinely interested in seeing a transformed Kenya, the challenge in my view is that the institution, the Presidency has people keen on scoring political goals as opposed to serving Kenya or even securing his legacy and he too himself, hopes that the country can move without his firm and deliberate guidance, what Raila perfectly termed as placing the country on Auto-pilot.

I doubt other than his Father; any other politician has enjoyed having such a personal connection with the people of Kenya. While even his supporters can see that Kenya is headed in the wrong direction, they still keep a hope for redemption, while in the first quarter of his presidency he came back from these crises with political punches, he just appears overwhelmed lately.

In the end though, he must just re-organize. The President enjoys truly great goodwill from his core support base that continuing this chaos is such a hurting betrayal. And sometimes, personal reasons create a better philosophy for leaders, I think somebody needs to whisper in the Kings ears, his presidency in many ways was a chance to redeem the legacy of the Kenyatta name, what is happening by now, is a little more soiling.

The Sugar Rhetoric: A tale of an Imprudent government and Directionless Opposition

TO ASCRIBE THE POVERTY THAT BITES WESTERN KENYA TO RAILA IS PLAINLY ADOLESCENT. EVEN THE REPORT BY THE JUSTICE AND RECONCILIATION COMMISSION ACKNOWLEDGED THAT THERE HAS BEEN SYSTEMATIC POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC SECLUSION THAT ATTACHED TO VARIOUS REGIONS AT VARIOUS TIMES. AND THE LUO-NYANZA REGION BORE THE WORST BRUNT, ADMITTEDLY FOR SUPPORTING THE OPPOSITION. BUT IN A PROPER DEMOCRACY NOBODY SHOULD SUFFER BECAUSE OF WHO THEY CHOOSE TO VOTE FOR, AND COMING LATER TO MAKE IT A POLITICAL ARGUMENT IS REPUGNANT AND SAD. WAY SAD IF IT COMES FROM A SOCIETY’S INTELLECTUAL.

 

First, having been properly taught professional ethics by Dr. Musumba, I should declare my interest in this sugar business. I grew up in rural western. My grandfather owned a sugarcane farm, 2 to be precise. And while I did not draw so much benefits from its sale, I was a proud grandson of someone who owned sugarcane.

My villagemate, John Buluma, will also tell you, that Sugarcane was a delicacy in itself. From taking two canes when working on a farm or as lunch. In my village, there was one particular farm, Kwa Mkisii. He was a Doctor who owned a clinic, and had actually canes from his farm, were always taller, succulent and juicier, I am honestly guessing I have been repetitive in that sentence.

To cut my village tales short, I should mention that my grandfather abandoned farming sugarcane in a large portion of his land about 4 years ago, and the last time I checked, Mkisii’s farm had been replaced by cassavas.

The fact that sugar farming in western Kenya has become a source of poverty is no question. The situation is worse because the transition was uncoordinated, from farming sugarcane to empty farms under no particular use. The other aspect equally that Mumias sugar company and indeed most other millers are shells of their former self is in no question.

Growing up, Mumias had a vast out-growers base that new factories were proposed. In Busia County even the ground breaking for a new factory happened before the construction became shrouded in mystery. And with this, the dignity and economy of a region collapsed.

In a way, I am happy that the Uganda-deal happened. Because it has given focus to a situation that was absolutely dire. And which our leaders were not talking about, at least not comprehensively. That this debate has moved to personalized attacks between the Deputy President and CORD leader Raila Odinga is unfortunate and just disrespectful to the plight of farmers.

I am usually hesitant to comment on an issue without full information, but where information has been withheld intentionally one has to try a balance of objectivity from the maze of what is strewn around. The very fact of a deal being signed between the governments of Uganda and Kenya has been confirmed, just as is in doubt.

The President, by firmly confronting Raila Odinga at the Pan African Congress confirmed that the deal was signed, albeit impliedly. Yesterday watching the leader of majority Adan Duale on Citizen, he did not deny the existence of the deal. Only the Cabinet Secretary in charge of Foreign Affairs expressly denied that such ever occurred.

This confusion not so strange, a number of times the government has had uncoordinated communication. You will recall, well the President’s Social Media platforms send condolences to families of Police Officers allegedly killed at Yumbis, then the Inspector General contradicted it.

The starting point is to have an entity that can communicate with a sense of conclusion to either confirm or deny the existence of such a deal. And this by all means is a constitutional requirement. A government will only be scared to make such public if indeed it was procured not for the interest of the people.

I am firmly persuaded equally that there are mechanisms in existence allowing trade between Kenya and Uganda. And indeed, sugar from Uganda has been exported to Kenya before, why was it necessary to have another deal signed. I think protocols within COMESA and EAC allow for this trade. Was it to give Uganda preference over the other partners within the same trade block.

While this may not be expressly illegal, if that preference was to the detriment of the other trading partners, what would be the attaching consequences?

The second aspect that is unfortunate is President Kenyatta is incapable of signing a commercial deal touching on Dairy Products without creating an impression that he is furthering individual interests. This is irrespective of whether the furtherance is real or apparent. If the Presidency had insightful persons, this would be the first observation they would make.

The casual nature of how the Presidency is handles sometimes has driven the country into unnecessary tensions, and plainly made the President look bad. From being misadvised to attempt to override a court decision then ashamedly retracting, to signing laws that the court later quashes certain sections.

I think Jubilee is overly concerned with two things. Making the President look good, and showing the opposition who is in power. In the process, they resort to cosmetics as opposed to reviewing situations that the President will find himself in, thoroughly analyzing the risks, and sparing the country of unnecessary tension. I think understanding the vibrancy of the Kenyan opposition, the government is better off ensuring before they make a decision, they have evaluated with thoroughness, all aspects that may lead to endless politicking.

I am prepared to hold the Deputy President Ruto to higher expectations than Raila Odinga. For the simple reason that our constitutional mechanisms determined that he is a Deputy President. The second in command, with an ambition to actually be President.

Why Ruto has never been able to understand that escalating the war of words with Raila creates extreme tensions in the country is puzzling. I thought with the weight of office, he would at least have a sense of restraint. Leadership is not about who bullies best, or who rallies his troops best for the best punchlines, it is actually about who touches the lives of Kenyans.

What is disheartening, is that while the government has all things to its advantage, the data, the knowledge of what was discussed, being privy to regional agreements, and it would win this on the basis of facts, it has chosen a cheapened approach of rhetoric and politicking. At the expense of the country and the people direly affected by this.

Whether Raila owes Mumias 40 Million Shillings it really does not help my grandfather, what is important to him is how will large tracts of land that are now acidic due to use of Urea can be converted to growing maize sustainably. It really does not matter if Adan Duale curves the most sarcastic statement about Raila heading to Western with a Cheque, what is important is a proper response to an industry that matters so much to a region.

At this moment, both the government and opposition has cheapened the struggles of the Western Kenya people. Riding on the gullibility of the region’s elected leadership, one billion shillings was ceremoniously handed over to a factory that needs an overall restructure and re-injection of capital probably twentyfold that.

Another sick aspect of this debate is the regime’s routine use of bloggers and Mutahi Ngunyi’s of this world to insult an entire tribe. And what is even more sad, is that young politicians like Kipchumba Murkomen would jump onto this bandwagon.

To ascribe the poverty that bites Western Kenya to Raila is plainly adolescent. Even the report by the Justice and Reconciliation Commission acknowledged that there has been systematic political and economic seclusion that attached to various regions at various times. And the Luo-Nyanza region bore the worst brunt, admittedly for supporting the opposition. But in a proper democracy nobody should suffer because of who they choose to vote for, and coming later to make it a political argument is repugnant and sad. Way sad if it comes from a society’s intellectual.

What does Mutahi Ngunyi mean by saying poverty stricken Luos. Poverty is debasing, and degrading, and yes, ether are multiple Kenyans stricken by it, but to insinuate even a second that it is because of paying a political price is a pain that cuts to the heart of many Kenyans.

To the opposition, this passes just as another lesson of how not to approach issues. Across the world, oppositions that focus on criticizing for the sake of criticizing is being heavily disappointed. From the United States in the 2012 elections and the UK in 2015 elections, a pattern is emerging where the voters are concerned by the Alternative, not rhetoric.

In a Press Conference, Raila said, it is not his work to bridge the sugar deficit or fix the sugar sector. To him that is the work of the government, how simplistic. This communicates to a rather old perspective of the opposition, if the opposition is a government in waiting, criticism must necessarily be accompanied by what should be done in the alternative.

There can never be a debate between a program of government and opposition rhetoric. A debate can only be exercised in the context of two competing alternatives. And CORD need to be urged strongly, to suggest alternatives.

I will support CORD’s asking of Kenyans to boycott Brookside products because they are associated with Uhuru if Raila agrees to be personally held accountable for the debts any his company owes Mumias. We cannot build a country where businesses will suffer at the slightest show of a political controversy. This hypocrisy I recall manifested itself in the run to 2007 elections. Then ODM asked Kenyans to boycott the Safaricom IPO, yet evidence exists that at least majority senior politicians were advanced loans from Banks to purchase those very shares.

Finally, this debate has to be exercised in the context of our global reality to avoid creating impressions that somehow Western Kenya is opposed to trade with Uganda. Multiple times people from my village bike across the border to buy grains from Uganda, and Uganda is Kenya’s main trading partner. Our shortsighted fights should certainly be tampered not to compromise this reality.

I guess it would be way better, if the handlers of government exercised a little more sense of prudence and restraint, and the opposition a little more sense of direction. In the absence of this, we are losing our nation, slowly but steadily again.

And Western Kenya will be better off receiving not one billion from the state, but a proper recovery plan that includes investment in research, better farmer remuneration, a re-injection of conditioned capital to Mumias and a mechanism to hold to account those who messed the industry.

MR. PRESIDENT: SLOW PACE AND INDOLENCE IS THE DNA OF GOVERNMENT

Sometimes you get an impression that this is deliberate, perhaps there is secret profiteering that occurs when crises in this country peak. But sometimes, inaction stems from the unholy interests that are at center of these controversies. Monday’s display of police power points to a powerful figure at control. What is surprising, is that the police can be deployed at such scale without the inspector general being aware. One wonders whether he is in full command, or whether the police enjoy a different command structure.image

In the wake of the embarrassing teargas of school pupils and international condemnation, the President came out yesterday stating how he was outraged at the incident. While that is encouraging, what struck me were his words, “the most disappointing thin, is that we ever had to get there in the first place.” Here was a president surprised that a conflict that started a month ago could degenerate this far without his officers intervening.

If the President was surprised, he would have to be surprised even further, because such snail pace inaction and indolence is so characteristic of government and precisely the reason for multiple conflicts experienced in the country.

I served the better part of 2014 as President of Kenyatta University Students’ Council, and the most frustrating of all aspects of that responsibility was securing a response from government machineries. An attempt to engage government is painfully disappointing, most of its senior officials amazingly detached and their responses surprisingly shallow.

Around May in 2014, a journalist on Business Daily carried a story to the effect that university school fees would be reviewed upwards. Concerned I tabled the agenda at the National level in the student leadership forum and we crafted a path of response. I called the journalist to seek clarity of the story, and he directed me to Professor Some, the CEO of the Commission on University Education. Prof. Some noted that the story did not reflect his opinion. When I spoke with Prof. Some we reviewed the University Education Act, and noted that the body with the legal mandate to review university fee was nonexistent, and that the mandate still lay with respective universities.

So, to the extent that individual universities were not reviewing school fees, there was no need for the panic. I asked Prof. Some to come out and release a press statement to that effect, he never did it.
Frustrated, I reached out to the Principal Secretary Education, and gave him a brief, then called the cabinet secretary. No response was coming forth and tension was building. We released a press conference urging the cabinet secretary to publicly confirm that these discussions were not going on. We reached out to the chairperson of the Vice Chancellors committee and all confirmations were that the article was a strange creation.

At this point, a strike notice had been issued. Frustrated, I reached out to the chairperson of the Education committee Hon. Sabina Chege, the TNA chairperson Hon. Sakaja and finally the Presidents spokesperson.
No response was coming forth, and in a very disgusting turn, the cabinet secretary left for Botswana the day he was to release a public statement to the effect that no university fee was being increased.

At this point, the chairperson of the Education committee spoke with the president I believe, who gave his assurance that such had not happened. The very last day to the strike, is when we engaged the head of civil service then, Joseph Kinyua, was a call made to the cabinet secretary and a call was made to the Cabinet Secretary and he released a memo stating that the fee was not being reviewed at 6:45 PM barely 12 hours to the strike, and several universities had already mobilized and demonstrations that could have been averted happened.

My second experience with this indolence would then come to happen when HELB was delayed. Two months before resumption of school, an officer of the Board informed me that the Board had no funds, and was hoping to depend on recoveries to meet disbursement needs. Certainly, this was not going to work.

I raised the matter with a senior manager at the board who confirmed the fears. It became very clear to me that HELB did not have money, and could not raise the funds. So our energies for engagement were to refocus elsewhere.
As the first port of call, it was the ministry of Education, no response was coming forth. So we had a joint meeting with Hon. Johnson Sakaja, the PS Finance and the PS Education who guaranteed that funds will be released.
The week we were assured the funds would be disbursed approached. Reaching out to the Board, I was informed there was no indication that this would be honored. I got a few friends to call the cabinet secretary for Education to pressure him; as always, the response was a detached near dismissal.

One sector that gets disrupted with student demonstrations was the private sector. So I called the chairperson of the Private Sector Alliance Vimal Shah and asked for his intervention. He called the cabinet secretary, and the PS Finance who gave a reassurance again that the money would be released.

But as it approached Wednesday, I got alarmed again and reached the President through his spokesperson, this was the second time. It was a surprise to them because at that incident he believed the matter had been resolved.
It was not till Thursday evening, again 12 hours to the demonstration, that Charles Ringera the CEO HELB called me saying he is at central Bank and the matter had been released to City Bank before instructions could be released to other banks.

We had to call respective banks and ask them to call in their staff early morning Friday to start crediting the funds in a desperate attempt to avert another strike.

These examples, where a government awaits, ignores and simply does not care until a real conflict is in the view is so ingrained a culture in government that you really wonder why.

Sometimes you get an impression that this is deliberate, perhaps there is secret profiteering that occurs when crises in this country peak. But sometimes, inaction stems from the unholy interests that are at center of these controversies. Monday’s display of police power points to a powerful figure at control. What is surprising, is that the police can be deployed at such scale without the inspector general being aware. One wonders whether he is in full command, or whether the police enjoy a different command structure.

While the matter on the Langata piece of land has been in the public domain for over one month, as late as the day when Fidel Odinga was buried, the cabinet secretary for lands was overheard stating that she was not aware about that particular piece of land.

This leaves one wondering, what is the role of the digital communication unit in the presidency. Instead of concerning itself with which blogger has abused the president, this is an exciting space where real issues can be gathered and transmitted to government departments for quick action and such communicated back to the public real time.

The government’s response mechanism is slow and painful. Outright indolence if you ask me. And it will take way bolder a policy or action, than just an expression of disappointment.

On a purely political front, Jubilee for certain is becoming a master at crafting is own path to being unpopular. It is surprising.