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 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.

MANY BEFORE WADI HAVE BEEN FORGIVEN BY THE STATE IS ALL WE SAY

WadiMost often we are so first to point a finger, to judge and say how evil another person is. Myself I know, each day I get second chances and I refuse the cheap path of condemnation. Even the worst in us, is still human.
I just chose a path that saw my role in what my peer did. My own societies love for sensationalism, my country’s intolerant culture.

Yesterday, I wrote an article on the case of Allan Wadi, which can be summarized as follows:

That What Allan Wadi did was extreme and against the law of Kenya and should not be condoned if we have to secure our nation.

That his prosecution however was not entirely procedural and is manifestly selective
That many high profile Kenyans, both in opposition and government have not been prosecuted
That the handlers of the Presidency were in part to blame for the disrespectful utterances against the President on Social Media

That to secure Kenya’s social media, we must rise beyond traditional retribution and build a value system that fosters restraint and respects divergent opinion.

And that Government is called to greater prudence and should handle official Presidential communication and Political communication distinctly to allow all Kenyan’s political affiliation notwithstanding, to relate to their President.

And finally, that it was my view that the President should consider pardoning Allan Wadi.

I have received overwhelming feedback o all my social media and personal platforms that warrant my response.
1. That the President is incapable of Pardoning Wadi as the law shifted the power (Government official): Lie, Article 113 of the Constitution allows the President power to grant a free or conditional pardon to a person convicted of an offence, postpone the carrying out of a punishment, either for specified or indefinite period substitute a less severe form of punishment; or remit all or part of a punishment.

The subsequent Power of Mercy Act provides for the Establishment of an Advisory Committee pursuant to Article 113 (2) of the constitution through which the President is petitioned. The office of the President provides the secretariat for the committee making this directly under the President.

2. Wadi was not imprisoned for insulting the President: The mandatory 1 year Jail term is in respect for undermining the Authority of the a Public officer. In the posts made by Wadi, two Public officers are mentioned, CS Waiguru and the President. In my view, his reference to CS Waiguru is sheer derogatory and defamation, what constitutes undermining is his reference to the President. So the state directly prosecuted Wadi because he insulted the President.

3. Wadi’s actions are extreme and two years is proportionate: Ferdinant Waititu, then an MP called for deportation of Maasai’s from Embakasi, saying they were Tanzanians and do not belong to Kenya, later he apologized and the charges were dropped. 2 People of the Maasai origin died allegedly on account of these utterances
Ali Chirau Makwere on July 1st 2010, Mwakwere said that the indigenous people in Coast have been oppressed by Arabs, when Mwakere offered an apology, the charges were dismissed.

Around August 2011, the commission on Cohesion and National Integration after it had charged MPs Fred Kapondi, Wilfred Machage and a business person Miller applied to withdraw the charges to seek alternative means of dealing with the three. The three would later be acquitted on account that the video recording showing them did not have a certificate of ownership.

Before Wadi’s irrational posts, he would pass as one reasonable Kenyan. The young man a Starehe Alumnus has a chance of contributing to a good nation. If you saw Wadi in court, he was apologetic and defeated and even claimed insanity.

Most often we are so first to point a finger, to judge and say how evil another person is. Myself I know, each day I get second chances and I refuse the cheap path of condemnation. Even the worst in us, is still human.
I just chose a path that saw my role in what my peer did. My own societies love for sensationalism, my country’s intolerant culture.

I will never advocate for disrespect to the President, I still stand by the last conclusion of my Article: LIEUTENANT WADI SHOULD BE PARDONED BY HE UHURU KENYATTA

LOCKING UP LIEUTENANT WADI IS NOT A DETERRENT TO SOCIAL MEDIA ABUSE:

You have seen hash tags like #StoptheDrunkPresident, extremely disrespectful to the Presidency, but how would a hurting republic respond if the handlers of the Presidency are willing to equate it to a stripping hash tag with #Mypresidentmychoice. If the handlers of the Presidency are willing to equate the Presidency to a campaign against marauding perverts, they surely cannot cry if that will be the spirit with which people start seeing the President.Wadi

The second day of the year saw Kenya record a mix of fortunes on its quest to secure basic freedoms. On one front a high court suspended several controversial articles in the recently enacted Security laws Amendment Act (2014) that touched on human rights. On the same day, a magistrate sentenced a University Student to two years in Prison on account of hate speech and undermining the President.

An Amin Dada coined phrase seemed certainly applicable; to paraphrase it, in Kenya you have freedom of expression, but freedom after expression is not guaranteed.

A look at what Wadi posted clearly suggests he went overboard. And such is undesirable. My intention though is not to question the legality or lack of it of what he did; my view is to demonstrate that the deterrence sought by the state cannot be achieved by this selective prosecution of a few.

It will interest Kenyans to know that Wadi is not at all an irrational or extreme person in entirety. In fact, in many instances the young man is strikingly reasonable even opining against the political outfits he vehemently defends.

After the election 2015, when Kenya was politically charged and ethnic rhetoric on social media at peak, Wadi, having been a sworn supporter of Raila noted in a post, that in any democratic contest, you either win or lose, and in this, his preferred candidate had lost. He wished the new President well.

Even Raila Odinga was not as magnanimous.

But what actually is fueling this mode of writing: In my opinion many things, these range from the government’s own mod of communication, general liking by Kenya of sensationalized talk and the inherent nature of Social media communication.

Wadi’s trend of posting changes towards extreme hate as the first year of Jubilee government wears off. And this trend can be observed with many other bloggers who have a leaning with CORD in what appears to be heightening rhetoric since the coalition feels helpless.

In part, what is so common in the way Wadi posts is his view of the fact that Raila is much hated by what he calls ‘mumbilee’ folks. In my own judgment, the extreme posts Wadi then starts to post is a natural response to attacks on what he considers as his political association.

There has been in the last two years extreme hate perpetuated by government leaning bloggers and sometimes even sacred state instruments which has attracted corresponding hate from opposition sympathizers.

And it would appear that the government is okay with hate if it is not directed to it. Kenya has experienced a unique trend where demonstrating extreme hate for a tribe gets one elected unopposed. The only incidence I recall when the President strongly came out against his own supporters was when Otieno Kajwang’ died.

It also appears that the Kenyatta Presidency is the architect of how opposition bloggers address the President. The overly loaded political rhetoric on social media, mostly unsubstantiated by key government installations like the PSCU invite hate from those who do not directly associate with the President.

An official government website for instance carries a statement but calling Raila Odinga a terrorist; why would an Odinga fanatic resort to calling the President a criminal.

The sympathizer is wrong, and his statement is disrespectful to the Presidency, but a state agency equally has no business in being politically insensitive and expecting respect.

As a society if we choose to be intolerant to social media or media abuse, let us do so completely and not selectively. I will be interested to see Kalonzo Musyoka in court for saying your name betrays you, Moses Kuria in court for the multiple insults he hurls. If not, this is a system where the poor are the ones being subjugated, it’s not about the dignity of the presidency or otherwise, it is about a poor man should not speak what a rich man can say.

Politics is an art of mediating largely different interests. It’s an institution that is meant to create a relative harmony in societies with competing identities, views and associations, and political communication, if it has to serve its purpose, must always be true to these principles.

The handlers of the Presidency invite extremism not just from opposition, but even from very key supporters of the President.

You have seen hash tags like #StoptheDrunkPresident, extremely disrespectful to the Presidency, but how would a hurting republic respond if the handlers of the Presidency are willing to equate it to a stripping hash tag with #Mypresidentmychoice. If the handlers of the Presidency are willing to equate the Presidency to a campaign against marauding perverts, they surely cannot cry if that will be the spirit with which people start seeing the President.

The structure of any society calls government to greater prudence than the opposition. It cannot be the business of a government to compete with the opposition on who can release the hardest hitting of statements. In this case, recklessness of talk can be a luxury minimally enjoyed by the opposition, but it cannot define a government’s communication.

On another level though, this throw-people-into-cells attitudes is another typical response of a government oblivious of the issues it is dealing with.

Monitoring and control of social media has to go beyond traditional retributive mechanisms. Even extraordinarily closed societies like china face great problems in controlling social media.

Face Book is its own culture, regulated by the uniqueness it brings to communication. It gives audience that would naturally be hard to get, a support base of people that traditional models would not offer. And this cause an excitement that lowers self control.

In a research by Columbia University published by the wall street journal browsing Facebook lowers our self control. The effect is most pronounced with people whose Facebook networks were made up of close friends, the researchers say.

Most of us present an enhanced image of ourselves on Facebook. This positive image—and the encouragement we get, in the form of “likes”—boosts our self-esteem. And when we have an inflated sense of self, we tend to exhibit poor self-control.

As a result, people will tend to be always rude on social media. The only sure way of curtailing excesses on Social Media is a strong value system that furthers self restraint and accommodates divergent opinion.

This culture has to be built by the first citizen; the President. The drafters of our constitution had a particular goal in mind when they stated that the Presidency is a symbol of national unity.

What amazes me is the irreconcilable difference between Uhuru Kenyatta, an exceptionally warm and simple person at a personal level and a very arrogant presidency that the institution is becoming.
The molders of an Uhuru Narrative are losing the script. Our country is becoming way more divisive that it should be. We are letting go a chance of the second republic, which in my opinion the President would have secured an enduring legacy.

The Wadi incident has rekindled claims of selective justice; when a crime is committed by anti-government fellow, the machinery swings into action. When it’s done by the pro-system fellow, the system does not condemn it.

A government cannot be glad to enjoy support of legislators who call for mass murder or abuse all communities, then hope to secure prudent use of social media by jailing a university student whose only influence is to get likes of 70 other people.

If we want to deter negative use of social media, we must be sincere to condemn everyone in equal measure and forge a government where the minority feels that their voice can at least be hard.

Finally, to secure respect for the Presidency, a clear distinction needs to be made between political communication and government communication. Uhuru Kenyatta is the President of Kenya, not of Jubilee or TNA. It would be prudent to have state communication fashioned in a deserving all accommodating tone.

I would be happier is the PSCU can shift to be a communication frontier for TNA. Kenyans should be given a chance to dissociate the Presidency from the routinely acerbic communications characteristic of this entity. Or at least it remodels its communication, after all, its Directors are civil servants who are required by law not to be partisan.

All said and done, the Presidency deserves respect. It is the first institution in our Republic, and with or without the law; no one should be able to hurl insults at the President. But for us to create this society, we must be ready all of us to work for it. And respct to the President can exist even with criticism.

Allan Wadi committed an offence under the law; he up dated his status with the rage but from a humble hostel. He apologizes, of all things, this is an offence against the head of state, and THE PRESIDENT SHOULD PARDON WADI

THE SECURITY LAWS AMENDMENT ACT (2014): A RETURN TO KANU DAYS OR OPPOSITION SENSATION?

It is instructive to note here, that in the US Senate for example, only 1 senator voted against the bill. That is how United the US was. Whether that Act was repugnant to modern rights, there was the legitimacy of collective acquiescence which government in Kenya can only in our current state, claim to if naïve.

By comparison too, the US Act took about, 30 days to put together and pass, it affected about 6 Acts. In Kenya, the putting together of the Bill was done in 7 days, quoting the President, and affected a total of 21 Acts of Parliament. The Kenyan Parliament has an impressive record of passing sub-standard bills, for whatever purpose, this time was not adequate for such extensive amendments and in my opinion, the hurry was certainly not justified.

President Kenyatta Signs into Law the Security Amendment Bill

President Kenyatta Signs into Law the Security Amendment Bill

The Country was treated to unprecedented chaotic scenes in Parliament, when the controversial Security Amendment Bill 2014 was being discussed. The opposition, having resigned to the fate that they will lose on the floor of the house, opted to disrupt the sitting unsuccessfully. The Bill was debated on and later passed and assented into law by the President.

Today Monday, the opposition is largely expected in Court to question the constitutionality of certain provisions in the Act, and is on record stating that if the court does not give a favorable ruling, they will engage the public directly through mass protests. (I am awaiting someone to criticize this statement by the way, the President is unable because he himself has disobeyed a court order before, a precedent that my hurt him soon) Human Right groups, the media, and several foreign nations, notably the US have expressed dissatisfaction with the process. The Kenyan public is divided, largely along partisan lines on the matter.

Before opining on the merit or otherwise of the law, it is imperative that I note the following:

That even if the law was one hundred and ten percent good, the very fact that it has attracted such visible division within Kenya itself, is the first sure step to failure. My personal disappointment, which I shared with the leader of majority and anyone who bothered to care, was our inability to pull together on this as a country.

For example, this law has been largely equated to the USA Patriotic Act, even by the Presidency in a statement. The circumstances of the two laws are largely similar, the USA Patriotic Act was a response to the September 2011 Attacks, just as the Kenyan Amendment was a response to the Mandera Massacre. The USA Act first draft appeared first on 19th September, 2001, 8 days after the attack. It underwent reviews by 8 congressional committees, then was passed on the house of the Representatives on 24th October, 2001, The Senate on 25th October, 2001 and signed into law by President Bush on 26th October 2001.

It is instructive to note here, that in the US Senate for example, only 1 senator voted against the bill. That is how United the US was. Whether that Act was repugnant to modern rights, there was the legitimacy of collective acquiescence which government in Kenya can only in our current state, claim to if naïve.

By comparison too, the US Act took about, 30 days to put together and pass, it affected about 6 Acts. In Kenya, the putting together of the Bill was done in 7 days, quoting the President, and affected a total of 21 Acts of Parliament. The Kenyan Parliament has an impressive record of passing sub-standard bills, for whatever purpose, this time was not adequate for such extensive amendments and in my opinion, the hurry was certainly not justified.

However, these are procedural concerns which can be excused if the substance validates its worth. So, in analyzing the Bill, I have taken time to read the initial Bill as proposed, the subsequent Amendments, and the Bill as passed and assented to by the President. I have also taken a general view of concerns raised against the bill, and also reasons advanced by the proponents.

In the Presidents words, the only intention for passing the bill was to secure Kenya. So how far is this intention advanced by this Act?

In determining this, I restricted myself to two things, Proactive Measures Proposed by the Bill which was not in existence before, and provisions that seal loopholes that led to insecurity before.

Several propositions stand out. The Bill provides in Part VI the establishment of a Counter-Terrorism centre. The structure and command of the centre is well delineated and in my opinion if effectively organized has the ability to realize the mandate of effective tracking of terrorist activities.

The Firearms Act is also amended to establish a Firearms Licensing Board whose composition radically departs from the current status. The centralizing of licensing to this properly constituted board takes away chances, if adequately Operationalize, of illegal arms licensing or criminals obtaining weapons.

The Act also amends the Prisons Act providing for a comprehensive profiling of all persons by way of their biometrics, personal data, physical address and what have you. This is in attempt to ensure adequate follow up, and will certainly, if implemented go a long way in determining recurrent offenders and flagging potential threats and also enhancing police surveillance.

This provision also however brings out the inherent inadequacy in this Act, while the Patriotic Act for instance increased the budget for counter-terrorism initiatives, this bill does not allocate resources for its operationalization. The Biometric database for instance is an expensive venture, which unless the government suggests supplementary budgeting, may have to wait till June during the routine budget cycle.

If there was such urgency for its passage, there should been a commensurate urgency in its implementation I believe if the state believes this is the key to fixing insecurity.

The Labour Act was also amended and an inter-ministerial committee to advise the minister in charge of labor on matters involving work permits and vetting applications of registration of employment bureaus and Agencies.

This is a welcome amendment in view of the many sufferings many Kenyans have undergone in countries especially in the Middle East.

However, while work permits may be issued by the ministry of labor, the loophole in my opinion lies with Immigration. Ministers Gideon Konchella and Otieno Kajwang’ have been blamed for allowing an influx of immigrants in the guise of work permits. This forced, then President Kibaki, to move the final stage of application from the ministry to the office of the President.

With the restructure, I was unable to establish where this function lies; assuming that it lies with the ministry of labor, this inter-ministerial committee then will certainly work.

The other provisions, as regards the National Intelligence Service we will discuss them later on.

At this point, let us address ourselves to the issue of Appointment of the Inspector General of Police. The National Police Service Act was amended to give the President Powers to Appoint the Inspector General of Police and essentially remove the National Police Service Commission from the Equation.

The President will therefore appoint a person and submit their name to the National Assembly for vetting and approval.

The justification for this was that since the buck stops with the Presidency, he should have a certain level of control on the IG.

The level of control here can only mean two things, that the President can either fire you or direct you.

Section 15 of the Police Service Act provided for the procedure of removing the Inspector General of Police which included a petition to the commission, formation or tribunal, review of the petition, submission to parliament then President. The deletion of the section effectively enables the President, when he satisfies himself that the threshold of Article 245 (7) of the Constitution has been reached, to fire the IG and appoint another person.

Whoever, the President still lacks power to give directions to the Inspector General of Police. This is since, Article 245 (2) of The Constitution provides that The Inspector General of Police shall exercise an Independent Command over the National Police Service.

In fact, the constitution only envisages only one instance when the Inspector General can receive instructions; that is from the Director of Public Prosecutions.
Is there a need to have an inspector General who is directly appointed by the President and fired at will, no. When the constitution and attending Acts were being enacted, the drafters had our history, and particularly the Kenya post election violence in mind. The Police were blamed for being partisan and undertaking partisan commands. There was therefore need to have an Inspector General who owes their loyalty to the constitution and not a mere political appointee.

The very nature of security operations of a country does not afford anyone the luxury of firing the Inspector General of Police at will. That in itself is a risk. Whether the President can do a better job singly than an entire commission in identifying a suitable person is another question. And will the President televise the vetting as Kenyan’s have come to be accustomed to.

One may argue that anyway, that public vetting still gave us Kimaiyo, but I certainly believe, it is a far much better process that ceding the appointment to the President and his advisers.

The other Amendment worth our consideration is to the Refugees Act. Interestingly, the bill seeks to restrict the Number of Refugees who can be in Kenya at any time to one hundred and fifty thousands only.

I do not understand the motivation of this provision, but either way, Kenya has approximately 534, 938 Refugees, 52, 285 Asylum Seekers and about 20,000 Stateless Persons. This gives us an approximate Number of 607,000.

Immediately the President Assented the Bill into law, the state, or however should be responsible for that aspect of the law started committing an illegality. Another glaring question is, if a war breaks out in Uganda, and over 150,000 people cross our border, will we close our border and say well, our laws can only take 150,000. What if our neighbors had such laws and a fight started in Kenya, would we all die here just because already 150,000 of us have already gone out.

Another crime which certainly is fascinating is the prohibiting of publication of information which undermine investigations and also images of victims of terrorism. Both offences are punishable by imprisonment of up to 3 years or a fine of Ksh. 5,000,000. With the extensive use of Social media, I doubt this law can be enforced when a photo posted gets shared by 1000 other people. But say for instance, a journalist in the United Kingdom publishes the photo; will Kenya seek their extradition to come and face trial here? Or is it just a law to ensure when terrorists hit, Kenyans have no opportunity of seeing what actually happened.

So if a bomb hits Nairobi, God forbid, what is KTN expected to broadcast? According to the act you cannot broadcast images of the injured or the dead. But on the other hand, this serves as a good warning shot at the Press which in my opinion has established a compromising relationship with the state.

Finally, I will address myself to the issue of Immigration and Citizenship reforms. Amendments to the Kenya Citizenship and Immigration Act was amended to among other things establish a Border Control and Operations Coordination Committee charged with the development of Policy on entry and exit points a welcome idea in my view.

The Registration of Persons Act was amended by inserting Section 18 (A) which sought to give the Director Powers to give cancel any Identity Card issued under the Act. An Amendment to the Original Bill saw an introduction of a safeguard that the cancellation will only take effect after 15 days to give the person an opportunity to appeal in court.

The New law only requires the Director to give you a notice of intention for cancellation of your Identity Card and you will have 15 Days to show cause why the cancellation should not be effected.

Now this is where the problem lies. There is no one in Kenya capable in my opinion, of proving that their identity card is genuine. No one takes a photo of themselves when being finger-printed and there are no copies of application papers you retain.
It is unfair in my view for the law to expect a citizen to prove that their identity card is not genuine. In my opinion, the law may have perhaps required the Director, when expressing intention for cancellation to show reason for the cancellation.

What the government was hoping to achieve here in my opinion, was how best to deal with Identity cards fraudulently obtained. In my opinion, this can be dealt with in two ways.

The first is to seal the loopholes through which such fraud occur; this law does not address that. It does not expressly place a burden on its officials to ensure they issue genuine cards. It does not address the corruption embedded within our registration process.

Then secondly it would create a law with a sunset, that is to expire after a certain period, say 2 years, within which period it would audit all Identity Cards issued and subject those questionable to further scrutiny or even provisions of Section 18(A).
The danger in this provision is that it can be abused. Someone can wake up one day and their identity card is cancelled and they become stateless.

I am unable to address myself to all provisions, but my opinion is this: Whereas this law largely is good, it has parts that were conceived with sinister motives and several questions must be asked.

For example, even though some of these provisions were dropped, why did the government under any circumstance think that by requiring the Cabinet Secretary to designate areas of picketing, security would be improved? What is the relationship of demonstration and insecurity?

The only incident that comes to mind was the Mombasa riots which resulted in deaths after certain clerics were shot. It is impossible to see any connection to security, perhaps the government was reacting to‪#‎OccupyHarambeeAvenue‬.
It will certainly be a disservice to this opinion, if I do not comment on what happened in Parliament. The Chaos are inexcusable and an outright shame and should not be celebrated, encouraged or tolerated. And I want to support the ethics and anti- corruption commission to investigate this incident, and many such that have occurred in County Assemblies.

As we do this however, I have to note one thing, at no point should anyone in this country feel that their opinion does not matter. The members of opposition I am certain are aware that they are the minority, and that they may not have their way, but certainly they must have their say.

An outcome of a democratic election cannot be autocracy. The opposition should never accept to feel helpless, that their say does not matter because the government can whip its membership.

I am concerned that Parliament has failed to understand that ours is a Presidential System and they owe to Kenyans and the constitution to check Executive Excesses. The Speaker of the National Assembly is an impressive joke and I can’t describe it in a better way than Gitobu Imanyara writer who said, Jubilee Mps love him, CORD hate him, but they all are united in their disrespect of him.

I wrote a while back, that President Uhuru’s chance to leave a legacy lies in two things, either taking a bipartisan approach and healing the divide or deeply supporting devolution, he is not doing well on both, and Kenya gets divided some more again.

UHURU IS NOW FREE: WHAT DOES IT MEAN AND WILL JUBILEE HOLD?

There is already talk of an imminent split of Jubilee because the ICC is the cord that bound the two entities together. While I agree that indeed the ICC question played a great role in the unity of Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto, I think the excitement that the fall of Uhuru’s case spells doom for jubilee is naïve. This is for several reasons.

The dynamics of Uhuru and Ruto cases are very different. The two cases share one indisputable thing; they were at the ICC as a result of either omission or commission of the Kibaki side of coalition government. I have held this opinion for long, and I am certain it will be validated.

Last week ended with a win for one Uhuru Kenyatta. I mean, after the lashing when he came back from his Formula One escapades, he finally facilitated the retiring of Inspector General of Police, and managed to hide Lenku. By the way, was Lenku fired, retired, reassigned or whatever? I do not know, the only accurate answer I have received so far, he was a victim of the Mandera Massacre, quite literally and figuratively.

So, the President’s week could not have ended any better. The International Criminal Court finally withdrew the charges against him. And with that, the man was excited, driving himself home. But as always, the politics of the day dawned on him pretty first.

So what does the withdrawal of the case mean?uhuruto110214

I would like to go back to that clip, when the cabinet secretary for ministry of Foreign affairs was announcing the decision. She noted, to paraphrase her, that with the same vigor and commitment, they will work on the remaining two cases.

The statement reveals something: Work has gone into the Presidents’ case. Whereas the Prosecutor noted that the only reason why she dropped the case was the inadequacy of the evidence, the reality of the political nature of both the court and the cases, suggest that many extra-legal considerations were taken into account.

As Adam Taylor insinuated in his article on Washington Post, the fall of this case has many implications on international justice. One it sets into motion a possibility that even on international platforms, there are people who will always be bigger than the law. Well, Kenya has not hidden its interest in pursuing this agenda, since one of the issues for discussion at the Assembly of State parties is a proposal for immunity of sitting head of states.

Secondly, it brings to the fore the fragility of international mechanisms, and gives us one clear thing that we must always pursue: Our best bet with justice, lies in strengthening local mechanisms. At the international level, it is politics, and one can always negotiate their way out of any situation.
Thirdly, it is a diplomatic score for the African Union; whether the pressure from AU had actual bearing on the outcome of the case or not, the union will be keen to appropriate unto itself a certain level of might. And since politic is just as much impression as it is reality, well the union has definitely scored.

And finally, the withdrawal may just as well have a good impact on the court itself. Since the evidence was inadequate, and the case was withdrawn, the court can claim to be judicially and operationally independent, because, in an ideal situation, cases in courts with inadequate evidence are withdrawn. If it were an entirely political case, Uhuru would have been fixed either way; with or without evidence.
On the domestic front, the collapse of this case will be extremely politically significant.

There is already talk of an imminent split of Jubilee because the ICC is the cord that bound the two entities together. While I agree that indeed the ICC question played a great role in the unity of Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto, I think the excitement that the fall of Uhuru’s case spells doom for jubilee is naïve. This is for several reasons.

The dynamics of Uhuru and Ruto cases are very different. The two cases share one indisputable thing; they were at the ICC as a result of either omission or commission of the Kibaki side of coalition government. I have held this opinion for long, and I am certain it will be validated.

William Ruto’s advocates have mentioned senior government officials as having been behind his indictment at the ICC. These include a PS and a senior political advisor to the President.

These two people have faced extreme hostility from the URP arm of jubilee, but my guess, is that they are in government because they created the Uhuru Presidency.

So, while the case of the President has collapsed, the Ruto case can also collapse, but will it? I bet it can only be after 2017.

In politics, people bargain with many things, including the dirt I have on you. In my opinion, it will be in the interest of the TNA arm of jubilee to have the ICC case flickering past 2017 as a checkmate to the Deputy President.
Many people share an opinion that Ruto’s chance at the Presidency lies if he were to go against Uhuru in 2017. I partly agree, because after 2017, the dynamics will be very difficult for the Deputy President. Certainly he will no longer be young and cool, a notion jubilee has planted as a key ingredient to qualify as president.

So yes, the impatiently ambitious Deputy President, can actually bolt out of jubilee, and it is in the interest of politics, that TNA maintains a good bargaining chip against him.

So my own projection will be, Jubilee will survive beyond 2017, and Ruto’s case may last beyond 2017.

The second political implication is the disadvantage the death of this case gives to jubilee narrative. It was easy for the duo to cast themselves as victims or a wider scheme to deny them power. They whipped emotions around this, and made their supporters to believe a vote against them, was agreeing that they should head to the ICC.

So, politically, the duo has to find a narrative as powerful as that to replace this. They will in 2017, no longer be victims, or at least the President will not be a victim or a wider plot.

This can easily therefore change the 2017 general elections to be a vote on how well they have performed. If the 2017 election becomes a scorecard, it cedes a relative advantage to their opponents who would like to start objective evaluation of their politics.

In 2013, advancing a rational argument against the duo was very hard since their candidacy was pegged on emotions. You cannot be rational where emotions reign.

Uhuru Kenyatta may therefore easily be the villain of the 2017 elections, a position he has never been politically. In 2002, the villain was Moi, in 2007, it was Kibaki, and in 2013 it was Raila. In 2017, it may be about the person Uhuru Kenyatta.

My own estimation is that this can be exciting, especially because the President seems to be unable to manage criticism well.

The opposition has a good chance at taking this to their advantage; I know they will not anyway.

The only way Uhuru will not be the villain of the 2017 election is if Raila vies for President. If he does, a simple narrative like, let Raila lose fairly for once will carry the day and Uhuru will be smiling back to statehouse. The baggage of incumbency will only rest on Uhuru, if there is no other emotional option in the election.

If therefore Raila fails to run, and the opposition identifies a single candidate whose profile by way of charisma and stature can match Uhuru’s, 2017 elections have a chance of being very competitive.

There has been a debate whether this collapse means the triumph of impunity, to say so, would mean we are presuming Uhuru guilty, which is not fair and is not a notion of the rule of law. As to whether he is innocent or not, the process aborted, there is no objective way of determining that.
There is the certainty of uncertainty as we move ahead. Interesting times that must be watched carefully.

Lone Felix

CITIZENS DO THEIR ROLES MR. PRESIDENT: MAYBE TAKE YOURS A BIT MORE SERIOUSLY TOO

I for one, I do not expect the government to do everything. And this government is anywhere close to saying what can even be remotely close to everything. Kenyans are a conscious people who go on with their daily struggles and whose greatest wish to their government for now is to assure them the basics. Now, I wish not to assume knowledge of the many priorities a government has to grapple with. And many tough decisions holders of power have to make, but certainly a decision between heading back home to a grieving nation and watching a fascinating formula one race cannot be so hard to make. 

During my primary school days’ I pledged my loyalty to the President of Kenya every Monday and Friday morning. It was a ritual which my teachers inducted me into with such admirable commitment. Of course, in the excitement of my childhood, I enjoyed knowing I could recite those words.

Today, I go back to the vaults of my past, where in my childhood, the state lied to me to be loyal to the president first before my nation. It is a vault I despise, for today I realize the state wanted me to conform but the only place I can find a reason to be respectful today. So, inspired by the countless pledges I made to the presidency, and understanding that in so doing, I am abdicating my duty of vehemently rejecting bad leadership, I choose to be restrained. I hope to be restrained.

I have taken a deep reflection before deciding to write. And from the onset, I’d rather state the underpinnings of my rather strong opinion today.

I am aware, that presidents are human, and I have a feeble imagination of what the presidency could look like. I can imagine the burden of carrying a country on ones back; the impatience that each morning brings to a President’s plate. Security and other briefings that may disorient one, yet in all this, the person president is required to hold both their person and the country together.

Being human, I understand that criticism can weigh you down, especially when you know from your own eyes that perhaps you have done your best. You can wonder why other people are not able to see it. And it is very natural to want to shift or at least home that someone else should share in the blame.

And finally, I understand one thing, that rarely will a leader meet people’s expectations. The expectations are diverse and wide, and most of the times, leadership is about priority and sacrifice. It is again human, that even if you never achieve everything, people appreciate the little you do.
With these underpinnings, I have to express disgust at what is increasingly becoming a weird Presidency.

When responding to a Journalist’s question on why there seemed to be no improvement of security despite numerous re-assurances, the Deputy President responded: From where you sit, you may not be able to appreciate what has already been done. And that whatever we see, the deaths and a couple of explosions, was but a fraction of what was possible.

The good, Deputy President did not ask the country to clap for the security apparatus. But he seemed to be suggesting that may be, we should appreciate and not just offer blanket condemnation.

This equals a call for me to understand that there is something being done when 28 hardworking Kenyans are massacred by a ruthless gang. As a citizen, I have my duties and obligations. To pay tax, obey the law and build my country. I do not however have an obligation to understand the failings of the state. It is impressive to learn that our security forces have preempted many planned attacks, but if at best, still these large scale massacres will be witnessed, I am sorry, your explanations do not just make sense.
Now, there is this narrative the jubilee government has been choreographing, passing the buck. It started with a funny ad, on TV. It is funny in many ways, in particular, that part where the President says: Thugs, run and hide, because there will be a million camera’s watching. At best, this was theatrical. And of course, the signature, “usalama unaanza na wewe.”

This translated to the inspector General of Police asking Kenyan’s what their role was in maintaining security. And yes, the President reiterating that indeed, Kenyan’s bore a part of blame in the existing insecurity.

I am certain the anger in Kenyan’s at the thought of a government keen on sharing the blame arises from a very genuine confusion. Confusion because, Kenyan’s build fences around their homes and those who are able constructs gates without a call from government. Kenyans certainly lock their doors every night without the President asking them to. A majority pay taxes to the state on an understanding that the basics that a government should ensure will be guaranteed. And security is a basic.
It beats logic what a government means when it asks a mother whose child was raped why she left the child with a pest uncle. Of course that mother did not expect a police man to sit on the front couch with a gun cocked to protect the child. But how does such an unfortunate incident anyway justify Kapedo or Mandera?

To be honest, even if the mother knew that the Uncle is likely to be a pest, it does not make any big difference whether she carried the baby on the back or left her home, because even if she carried the baby, anyway, and used a public bus, she is likely to be stripped and sexually assaulted before the eyes of her child.

And so should all Kenyan women stay at home to take care of their three year olds in an economy where this very government has decided to drive up the cost of living.

Kenyans are forgetful people. May be our leadership has been so characteristically mediocre that we can excuse many things. uhuruto110214

But there are some of these questions that do not just make sense in this country. Will we ever have each person with a policeman, of course not? And we do not want it anyway. But we see some elected leaders walking in town with six guards, armed with AK 47 Rifles. In Nairobi, people who are not senior government officials or foreign diplomats have roads cleared for them with police sirens anyway. In fact, people, who if this country was one properly managed by structures, they would be either running away from the police or in prison.

I for one, I do not expect the government to do everything. And this government is anywhere close to saying what can even be remotely close to everything. Kenyans are a conscious people who go on with their daily struggles and whose greatest wish to their government for now is to assure them the basics. Now, I wish not to assume knowledge of the many priorities a government has to grapple with. And many tough decisions holders of power have to make, but certainly a decision between heading back home to a grieving nation and watching a fascinating formula one race cannot be so hard to make.

Other global leaders have been faced with way less grievous scenarios and responded with much more zeal. When Wright Foley, a British Journalist was allegedly executed by ISIL, the United Kingdom Prime Minister not only cut short his vacation, he headed back to the United Kingdom and a legislative review to secure the UK border through tough requirements on suspected Jihadists was born.

While, the watching of formula one may be excused, certainly coming back and asking citizens what their role is, is just not a response one would expect from their leader. I hope this is too much a naïve expectation.

And yes organizations are flying their personnel out of Mandera, and Kenyan’s who cannot guarantee themselves security want to be flown out of Mandera. This situation shall certainly not be cured by amplifying the role an unarmed citizen should play.

Tough decisions have to be taken, certainly. From a complete restructure of our security system to dealing with soft human issues around relations and specific community grievances. The government cannot afford the luxury of becoming a cry baby. It must be bold, consistent and persistent.
And the best way the government should get me to play my role, is to inspire us into a unity, not self justification.

And indeed, there seems to be a malaise in the government, an obsession with how good they believe they are doing. Like we noted before, quoting numbers mean nothing, unless this can be translated to actual impact on people.

I hope the presidency can understand that criticism, and even abuse characterizes public duty. And that the weight of a fearful nation rests on its shoulders. There will certainly be no one, except Uhuru Kenyatta, whom we will be expecting to both assure us security and actually provide that security. And certainly, I am sure the government feels the anger and frustrations all Kenyans have.

On another note, the luxury of irresponsibility depicted by government can only be afforded in a situation where the opposition is also impressively bankrupt.

WHAT IS UHURU KENYATTA’S: “PR” or PRESIDENCY?

Uhuru-Kenyatta-selfie“Either way you look it, the person Uhuru has definitely shaped what the Kenya’s presidency looks like today. Not just by the fact of his being the occupant of the office, but his very personal nature.

A powerful narrative equally arises against this conclusion. I mean, all the communication around the presidency could be strategic; to borrow a word from what now is the “PSCU” Presidential strategic communication unit. Each photo, each post perhaps calculated to manipulate your thinking.”

The Singing Senator, Gerald, Otieno “Nyakwar Nyakwamba” Kajwang’ breathed his last; may the good Lord rest his soul. There are numerous occasions when he humorously communicated sad realities. While reporting, to Baba on the state of security, Kajwang’ captured what Kenya was then as a nation, of “mbomu, hapa, mbomu kule.” And at a rally recently again, he was at it, just failing short to call Kenya a failed state. He shot at the President, telling him police cannot die fo-fo-fo, a scathing political attack by all measure.

When he passed on, President Kenyatta eulogized him. He saying he found Kajwang a pleasant person to deal with. Yes, a truth that those who have never walked the trails of politics fail to understand, it is never personal. But even in death, many whose political egos were bruised by the senator lashed out at his breathless self. Such a vanity I must say.

It is uncharacteristic of a President to comment on the feedback he gets on his post, but Uhuru Kenyatta did the unexpected, he came to the defense of the dead; urging respect for the grief the Senators’ family was facing, a good thing. And Uhuru is increasingly becoming known for good things.

He visits Kibra with very little security detail and talks to common folks. He greets little children who do poems, and hosts Otonglo when he gives a good narrative. The man just is not stopping. He congratulates Gor Mahia and yes, gives Jaro Soldier immediate work.

To his critics, these are PR stunts that do not reflect the actual score card of his governance. To his followers, that is the president they elected; a man of the people, humble and down to earth. Whichever way you look at it, the charm offensive continues, and seems to be achieving its intended results, and so is the narrative that the stunts are just that, stunts, with no reflection of actual work.

Where does the truth lie? Is the Jubilee government working or are they just out to manipulate perception?

The answer is certainly not as clear as one would aspire. There is a remarkable difference between the Kibaki and Uhuru Presidencies. One looks like it did a lot, but communicated little; Uhuru’s is keen on communicating everything. Well, to play a devil’s advocate, “uwazi” transparency lies at the heart of jubilee promises, a key pillar. So perhaps, the good president is just but living his promise of ensuring you know what happens each day.

My interest was however to try and determine how the person Uhuru, has influenced what the Presidency now looks like. We all agree, the traditional aura of near-holy nature of the presidency has remarkably disintegrated. While Kibaki left the office without an official Facebook page, Uhuru’s page offers the platform where he interacts with people. Communicates messages and of course, shares those photos that make us see the cool president.

Generally, social media is never a true reflection of a person’s real nature. There are virulent bloggers online who when you meet, are impressively meek that you would be surprised at the contrast. But the man Uhuru, how different is the all smiling president from the “jamaa” UK.

His friends agree largely that the man has carried his nature to the presidency; a firm handshake, a good word for everyone and yes, those ten seconds that make you feel like he has known you for a lifetime.

Earlier this week, I met a gentleman who definitely has a soft Spot for Uhuru. And this started way back at the heart of post election violence. After the displacements, Uhuru so often visited the victims. On this particular day, he visited Mawingu Camp in Nakuru, a cold rainy day. He was the minister of Finance.

As it Rained, Uhuru stood with the IDP’s in the rain, and took porridge with them. Now this cemented a cord that you just cannot untie. Let me dwell slightly more on this IDP issue. Uhuru is among the accused at the ICC on account of 2007 Kenya’s post election violence. The case has had an impressive circus characterizing it, but the greatest paradox, is that the victims of those violence are the ones most vehemently opposed against the continuation of the case. To a majority of them, Uhuru was the sole intervener who rescued the situation.

This sort of draws a parallel to India’s Narendra Modi. All the men share an international loathing at some point, especially by the west, but a sharply contrasting fanatical support from their core home lovers.  And just for the sake of it, they all share a love for selfies. We will do a comparison later on.

Uhuru was born in royalty, no doubt. Born to a father who would become Kenya’s first President, he knew and lived power all through. In part, as I noted way earlier, he has a way with power. And the presidency and its trappings would rarely surprise him, may be the reason for the ease with the Presidency.

But even so, though born to the first President, that image of Uhuru with a truck ferrying cabbage from Nairobi to Kiambu, and later on working as a bank teller, perhaps point to a person who is not a typical “Africa’s big man’s son.”

Either way you look it, the person Uhuru has definitely shaped what the Kenya’s presidency looks like today. Not just by the fact of his being the occupant of the office, but his very personal nature.

A powerful narrative equally arises against this conclusion. I mean, all the communication around the presidency could be strategic; to borrow a word from what now is the “PSCU” Presidential strategic communication unit. Each photo, each post perhaps calculated to manipulate your thinking.

Is there an actual difference from Uhuru’s use of mainstream and Social Media and what other world leaders do?

Among global leaders who frequently use Social media is USA’s Barrack Obama. Obama has over 44.6 Million Followers on his official Page. A quick scan through the page points to it as largely impersonal. While it has glimpses that portray Obama as a cool guy, or perhaps who has a great working relationship with his Deputy, the bulk of posts point to a usage of social media as a mobilizing platform.

Obama therefore routinely posts petitions or messages aiming to seek support for a policy initiative he is undertaken. For a while now, the page has been dominated by messages relating to Obamacare, his pet healthcare reforms policy.

On the other hand, Narendra Modi of India has a strong 25.1 Million likes on Facebook. He, like Uhuru Kenyatta communicates activities on his platform, like which world leader he met and brief snippets of what the meeting was about. And yes, he too shares selfies.

The two leaders share a lot in common that could go into understanding the similarity in their messaging. We noted the disapproval they all shared at some point especially from foreign nations because of their association with violence, yet an inexplicable deep love from their core supporters. I do think that such messaging that seeks to point out the good personal attributes of the leader can be safely construed as a pursuit for acceptance.

In the Kenyan context, Kenyatta’s Presidency was founded on a fear that its mandate was not absolute. The thought of a persistently nagging opposition in my opinion is at the heart of this messaging. So the stunts and the carving of the stories seek to endear the president to people, especially those who did not support him.

There is definitely nothing wrong on this.

What would be wrong is if real work suffered at the altar of this impressionism. And indeed, there have been instances when government communication just failed to make sense and in part bordered over communicating or unnecessary PR.

Uwezo Fund for example, was launched on Sunday, September 7th 2013 in an impressively engineered event. At the time of the launch, largely Uwezo Fund was just but an idea. After the launch, it became apparent that even the regulatory framework of the fund was non-existent. Parliament had to consider the framework, pass it before Uwezo Fund, became a real policy.

More than a year on, after the launch, as late as last week, there was no single person who had received funding from the Uwezo Kitty. I am told the funds started being disbursed sometimes last week.

Now, I am unable to understand why at a very basic level, a government would launch a project that has no regulatory framework. The haste points to an urgent need of being seen to be working. And definitely, the first ad on “Usalama unaanza na mimi na wewe” was quite something.

The problem with “PR” is that it can reduce public criticism and drive a government to a comfort zone where they actually end up believing their own spinning. And this obsession with self approval can be seen starting to crop up in Jubilee. Considerably, agents of government are keen on passing the message that we are working, than listening to what the public say should be done. The natural consequence of this will be a disconnect between the masses and the leadership. A disconnect that will negate the very reason for PR.

As such, quoting numbers and vehement justification of a tenure will definitely do no long term good to the government; but that communication will certainly do magic if it resonates with the public’s reality. Unfortunately, individual reality cannot be manipulated.

Either way you see it, I walked through Kibra, and its way clean, thank God for the NYS seconded there, and am told the geothermal power is now working right? On a Radio show, one of the state spinners, Dennis Itumbi offered to pay electricity bills of anyone if the cost of electricity fails to come down next month. Still, police men were butchered in Kapedo; many Kenyan’s can barely afford a decent life and public health facilities are dens of death.

Whether PR or not, a lot more needs to be done.