The Electorate Needs to Read the Times Correctly

Posted by on 20th January 2017

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A Swahili adage goes that the ear destined to die does not take its medicine. The electorate is the ear in this case. It’s quite baffling that Kenyans turn up in their hundreds, brave the heat to listen to a politician advice them about voter registration, constantly shouting excitedly at every word they (politicians) say, but only a handful of the people actually register to vote. Despite the momentum set by politicians from both government and opposition, and indeed the electoral commission the numbers of those registered so far this week are disturbingly low.

From the look of things, Kenyans – particularly the youth who form the bulk of would be first time voters – have no idea what is at stake for them. Without belaboring the point, the over month long doctors strike and the recent one by university lecturers are leveraging on the fact it’s an election year. Timing is everything in any activity one undertakes unless it is a hobby. Of course the unions may disagree on this but an election year is a good year to get the government’s attention. There’s a lot at stake and therefore demanding what was promised at this time is a smart move.

Why then can’t the electorate like the unions realize that this is a good time to flex muscles? One can only flex muscles having registered as a voter – otherwise you can’t scare the corrupt elected leaders who need to go home. Kenyans must realize that showing up for registration at Independent Electoral and Boundaries (IEBC) constituency offices and registration centres’ is more important than showing up at politicians’ rallies.

Politicians understand the season and they’ve hit the road running promising to do this and that. Interestingly, Kenyans don’t ask their elected officials hard questions, we complain privately or with peers but not publicly.  Yet, Kenyans go hungry because of drought despite millions budgeted for mitigation that never materialized. The electorate remains unmoved despite others skipping work when it floods during the rains or are overcharged for basic services. Who bewitched us?

In December 2011 Nairobi Women Rep Rachael Shebesh’s complained that the coalition government liked working on a crisis mode. Six years later it appears the Jubilee regime has learnt nothing or perhaps has inherited this management by crisis method. Scores of Kenyans have died and hundreds others unable to fly abroad for treatment like our politicians continue suffering after doctors downed their tools for over 40 days now. Not to mention the Emergency service medical practitioners and medical school lecturers in the University of Nairobi also joined the nationwide strike followed by the medical students this week.

While local media reports that a new deal maybe reached the government having looked at the 2013 CBA article per article, one wonders why it had to take so long? Why intimidate them with jail term or replacement leading to needless loss of lives when they could have just sat down and put all cards on the table? That a government only responds when its public service threatens to go on strike is a sad situation.

Indeed the government can’t please every sector but someone in charge of these public institutions should foresee the challenge and act proactively averting any strikes or mistrust between the government and the public service. And such people should be held accountable. In fact, it was surprising to see the Health PS honored by the President at a time when the government had reached a deadlock with doctors and nurses at the onset of the strike. This act sent a rather strange message.

All in all there’s a strong lesson the electorate can take home from these strikes. The Collection Bargaining Agreements (CBAs) the unions are demanding the government look at, spell out in clear terms what they want, from fair promotion, good working conditions, and better pay among others. The electorate too should think of the promises the leaders they elected made and consider the advantage an election year brings. Kenyans must resolve not to be moved by emotional pleas and only consider leaders willing to look at the issues that matter to them. But all that is useless if you don’t register to vote. Let’s register to vote.

 

How to get it right and put politicians in their place in 2017 elections

Posted by on 13th January 2017

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It’s something of a wonder that Kenyans vote once every five years and spend the remaining four or so years complaining about the leaders they elected. This week the opposition showed a united front and promised to produce one candidate to challenge the incumbent. However, when you look closely at the outfit there’s really nothing different from the ruling Jubilee. It’s like 2002 all over again, the unity is aimed at removing the incumbent. There’s no roadmap on how they’ll dismantle corruption that is choking the Jubilee government or any grand plans to make our lives better.

And about being the face of Kenya. Like Jubilee’s launch a few months ago, the opposition is also keen on pleasing politicians with tribal numbers rather than building an ideology people could rally around. There’s nothing authentic about the main political parties in Kenya, they’re just vehicles to power. That’s why regardless of whichever party you vote for it always turns out the only thing that change is the forest but the monkeys are the same. Worse still, the ruling Jubilee hasn’t even won the second term but half the party is thinking 2022 constantly reminding pockets of the country to vote because it will be “their turn to eat!” What a tragedy!

However, we can break that cycle in this year’s General Elections by being very deliberate about what we want and choosing to be strategic rather than emotional. To most Politicians voters are just a means to an end – power. It’s also about time we made them a means to an end – better standards of living. First, realize there are only two tribes in this country: the haves and the have-nots – though, our politicians will want you to believe otherwise. Consider where you belong and rally around your people.

Secondly stop with the useless banter on voter apathy that’s neither here nor there. It’s silly to imagine that you hope to get better leaders by abstaining from a political process. Go out and register as a voter. The second phase of Mass Voter Registration (MVR) is expected to kick off next week. If we’re to put politicians in their place this year, we must refuse to be dragged into the apathy debate as it doesn’t change our situation.

Strategic thinking demands you bargain from a place of power. If you miss the registration drive you can’t vote. If you can’t vote, you lose your voice both moral and political. Get your priorities right and mobilize friends and family to register to vote.

Thirdly forget about political parties. Think about individual candidates within the parties, especially independent candidates. Clearly, our political parties have no ideology. Don’t pander to politicians’ whims. Show class it’s 2017. Of course politicians from both government and opposition will tell you to vote suit. They have perfected the art of whipping our emotions by making us think the world would cease to exist as we know it if we don’t elect them. Show them the contempt card and focus on individuals speaking the language that resonates with your priorities. To vote ‘suit’ is to affirm the tyranny of numbers philosophy that’s at best backward. This strategy will effectively dismantle leaders counting on tribes to get elected and give precedence to leaders offering solutions to our challenges.

Fourthly take time and look up your MP or Senator on our website. What’s their contribution in Parliament? How have they managed CDF in the past? That your MP is always talking in burials and other public places but mum in Parliament should worry you. Your MPs main job is representing your views by formulating laws that should make your life better, exercising oversight over the executive and ensuring budget is allocated to meet Kenyans needs and not giving random speeches. He is your servant not your boss. The information you dig up should make you a more informed voter and help you seek the right answers or questions for that matter.

As the celebrate Japanese swordsman Miyamoto Musashi once put it, in strategy it’s important to see distant things as if they were close and take a distanced view at close things. Through the vote, Kenyans must establish a prosperous and peaceful Kenya and not install chieftains who seek their own immediate gratification at your expense.

 

 

Can We Add Building Trust to Our New Year Resolutions?

Posted by on 6th January 2017

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New Year is the only time of the year that a wave of hope blows strong. People forgive each other, pledge to be kind to themselves and the world around them and ritually write down resolutions. In Kenya if there’s anything to resolve to do in 2017 it’s to deliberately build trust ahead of this year’s General Elections otherwise this country will fall apart. In the words of Stephen Covey trust is the glue of life, not shouting peace or we are one. Trust!

This year’s election is likely to be the most divisive yet with the opposition and ruling Jubilee having set the tone for their supporters who have little time for facts but swallow the politicians words like a fledgling feeding from an eagle. The debate on whether we should use manual back up or other means for the transmission of results that’s expected to be electronic has degenerated into a contest between the opposition and the government. Government experts including the ICT Cabinet Secretary present the government’s position for manual back up with lazy and flimsy reasons while pro-opposition are supporting the electronic transmission without acknowledging the challenge or offering a solid back-up plan. Both sides are suffering trust issues and so are their supporters.

In the past few years it’s like all the institutions in Kenya have been trying so hard to discredit themselves killing the little trust Kenyans had in them. No relationship can survive without trust; yet it’s so hard to earn trust and quite easy to lose it. The ‘Chickengate’ saga that visited Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has haunted the institution the last four years, thereby killing trust in a section of the electorate had in the commission. Public mistrust spurred the chaotic anti-IEBC demonstrations that saw the exit of the Isaac Hassan-led team.

One would have expected their exit was to restore trust in the new-look IEBC team but controversy continues to court the institution. The panel that recruited the new commissioners has had to defend their choices before Senate amid growing concerns over how the least qualified candidate ended up nominated as the chairperson of the new IEBC team. Regardless of how this matter is resolved, the new commissioners and their chairperson have less than eight months to rebuild trust.

Meanwhile, the Kenyan media mogul S.K Macharia sparked an old and tired debate over who won the Presidential vote in the 2007 elections after declaring to the Senate’s legal affairs committee that opposition leader Raila Odinga was the winner. He also claimed they had tracked all the results using satellite gadgets. However, S.K Macharia’s sudden willingness to publicly speak about this matter yet he never presented this evidence at the Kriegler commission is another reason we need to look at the media closely.

There’s no regime in Kenya that has split journalists right down the middle like Jubilee has done. Some journalists have made it their job to publicly defend the actions of the government thereby hurting not only their credibility but the objectivity of their media houses.  Our journalists therefore need to remember the journalistic code of conduct and do what is right by Kenyans.

Consequently, the mistrust between the police and the citizens is growing stronger with reports of easily provoked officers who are only too happy to beat up Kenyans-including those protesting peacefully. Increased reports of extra-judicial killings have also made it hard to trust our men in uniform. This year, the police should show their commitment to serve all Kenyans regardless of their political leanings. This trust is more necessary as we head to elections.

As Parliament resumes from their recess they should take time and reflect on their actions. The 11th Parliament has shown their lack of independence from the executive often acting as a rubberstamp rather than the watchdog arm of the government. It is these actions that have eroded the trust majority Kenyans had in this institution. It would be important that they attempt to remedy this by acting like the honorable members we expect them to be in 2017.

Last but not least, the electorate too should try to see things for what they are and not what politicians make them to be. Trust is a two-way traffic. It’s immoral of us to demand trust from institutions when we choose to be pawns for politicians ignoring all facts. Can we choose to be more trusting of each other in 2017? We can’t let Kenya burn again, not on account of our greedy self-serving politicians.

 

Matiangi proves yet again that corruption and cartels can be defeated

Posted by on 30th December 2016

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The release of this year’s Kenya Certificate of Secondary Examination (KCSE) revealed everything that’s wrong with this country-the potential to defeat corruption but choosing the state of inertia instead.  It turns out cartels that are running sectors of this country are not as powerful as the politicians would want us to believe. Corruption can actually be nipped in the bud. Education Cabinet Secretary (CS) Fred Matiangi couldn’t have given Kenyans a better New Year gift.

In less than one year CS Matiangi has shamed corrupt schools and parents who facilitated corruption in education through the usual cartels. There were only 141 students who scored perfect ‘A’s in the entire country. This is quite telling considering in 2015 and 2014, we had cases where a single school was producing over 200 students with perfect As. Clearly, the rot in our education was about to reach the high heavens.

Kenya National Examination Council (KNEC) boss Prof. Magoha cautioned parents against the obsession with getting the “A” grade. His sentiments were stemming from the fact that parents too had contributed immensely in the corruption witnessed in the education sector as they did everything in their power including greasing the hands of the cartels to buy grades for their children. If parents, teachers and education officials could collude to deny a student their rightful grade because of selfish reasons then we shouldn’t be surprised why we vote in corrupt thieves and justify it with silly arguments like “the better thief!”

The 2016 KSCE results should make us reflect as a country and how we can do things differently in the coming New Year. That more than half the students who sat for the exams got grades D and E is proof that our teachers are no longer teaching. They’re busy speculating exams and buying material to drill into students. The result is students with better grades but loose morals and empty heads. No wonder our universities too no longer produce students who can make significant positive difference in our lives other than burning vehicles and businesses whenever aggrieved.

The effectiveness that Jubilee government has demonstrated in the education sector is the same we demand in other sectors stinking with corruption in the New Year. It’s laughable and indeed insulting that the government can stop the cartels in education sector on their tracks but can’t do the same when it comes to the land ministry where there’s allegedly blatant land grabbing by high ranking officials. We expect the government to be serious with those lands officers who take Kenyans in circles selling the same land to more than one person with complete disregard of how their actions affect the victims.

Where corruption is not given room people are peaceful and satisfied even when the outcome is not what they expected. In fact, this year’s KCSE results have given the worst performance ever yet we don’t see people rushing to the streets to complain because the system was tamper-proof. This is the same thing we want to see with the general elections. The dishonorable behavior we saw with MPs from across the political divide and the Jubilee’s passing of the controversial amendments is an example of what we don’t want. The excessive lobbying by politicians regarding the person who should be IEBC chair and the hard-line positions maintained by the government and the opposition is exactly what makes those of us observing from a distance smell mischief.

If we can reorganize KNEC and make it deliver credible results and yet it has more logistics as it oversees several candidates doing exams on a yearly basis, surely why shouldn’t we make IEBC  a credible institution yet it carries out the elections, at least once every five years. Why are we making this such a mammoth task?

Rather than misleading the public about network issues and spreading fear about individuals not accepting the results the government is better placed to ensure credible elections. The Senate has shown its mettle unlike the National Assembly. Moving forward both the government and opposition should sit down on behalf of the country; where possible hire the technology from countries that employed them to perfection and consider a backup system that is tamper-proof. Matiangi has restored hope in KNEC, will the politicians help chart a new era by championing tamper-proof elections?

 

Showdown over Election Laws Setting Stage for Chaotic Polls?

Posted by on 23rd December 2016

Categories: Uncategorized

Members of Parliament engaged in physical fights leaving a number nursing injuries, including women MPs. Needless to mention the demeaning insults traded at each other and even at the Presidency. Sadly, the fight that occurred during the special sitting was not about the ongoing doctors’ strike that is threatening-literally the lives of majority poor Kenyans but election laws. The said laws were the product of a bi-partisan committee constituted mid-2016 and were passed indisputably. Nevertheless, in a move that reeks of mischief, Jubilee MPs were proposing amendments at this late stage in the game. What a Christmas gift!

The bone of contention over the election laws mainly revolves around the election technology. While Jubilee MPs led by Majority Leader Aden Duale had an opportunity to help the public clarify about the use of  technology in the 2017 election, they chose to unnecessarily tie it to opposition rigging claims; thereby mixing a very weighty matter that needs understanding with a lot of useless tittle-tattle.

Three months ago we clarified on this blog that the 2017 elections will be done manually.

The elections technology talked about will be employed to:

i) Register,

ii) Identify voters, and

iii) Transmit results.

It is this last bit that is contentious.

Jubilee now claims Cord co-principal Raila Odinga is planning to hack the system and rig elections. Opposition on the other hand claims Jubilee no longer intends to transmit the results electronically, and is keen on manual transmission which they say is easier to manipulate hence rig elections. Both sides have not offered any tangible evidence of the serious accusations they peddle against each other.

While it appears the bi-partisan committee that was led by Senator Orengo and Kiraitu may have formulated rather ambitious electoral reforms, the current challenge is the doing of the Isaac Hassan led team at the Independent Ethics and Boundaries Commission (IEBC). The burning issue involving technology should not have been a matter politicians could take advantage of if the Isaac Hassan team did their due diligence and addressed the challenges they experienced in 2013. The failure of the outgoing IEBC Commissioners team to tackle the results transmission challenge and build confidence in the polls is the reason we are back at this nightmare and they should hang their head in shame.

Other issues of concern in the Election laws are the strict timelines that are affecting Mass Voter Registration (MVR), doubling of number of polling stations and subsequent IEBC capacity issues.  All these can be rightly blamed on the ambitious electoral reforms and are worth revisiting and debating to chart a clear way forward for the IEBC to work.

Meanwhile the 11th Parliament has demonstrated a most dishonorable behavior yet. After the war of words exchanged during the first special sitting, they attended the second one armed with guns, and proceeded to make public statements akin to incitement ahead of the 2017 elections. The MPs are obviously spoiling for blood with their hard-line positions and aggressive body language, effectively setting the tone for what is likely to become a very divisive election that might end in post-election violence. Is the National Commission for Integration and Cohesion (NCIC) going to hold them to account for their utterances while outside Parliament?

The current standoff between Cord and Jubilee is unnecessary and shows the selfish interest of our political class. While the bi-partisan committee made the laws in good spirit, it is now clear it was too ambitious and perhaps a little idealistic. Rather than trading baseless accusations at each other that only fan the flames of post-election violence, the coalitions should have agreed, in the interest of the country to meet and iron out issues that each side brings and find reason. Jubilee’s bulldozing their way through numbers in Parliament only provokes a reaction such as a mass action. The opposition on the other hand should tone down the, “it’s do or die” rhetoric because it sends the wrong signal to the electorate. It’s time the top leadership across the political divide demonstrated statesmanship by providing the leadership that is badly needed.

In the meantime, our eyes remain fixed on the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC), the IEBC and the Political Parties Election Board to see if they will take chapter six on integrity seriously and block out politicians that have so openly shown integrity challenges, including demeaning the office of they represent. Kenyans should also take note and if these institutions fail to winnow them out, let’s do it during both party nominations and the ballot.

 

Of Jamhuri’s Castles in the Air and Reality

Posted by on 16th December 2016

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Politicians are known for doublespeak and our President is as much a politician as any other. His Jamhuri Day speech was clouded with a lot of vague statements; some near hyperbole that could be interpreted or misinterpreted depending on the premise one held. Nonetheless, there’s no higher duty a government has than to defend the Constitution. How has Jubilee government faired in that?

To begin with Kenyans have suffered the last few days after doctors and nurses went on strike over the government’s inability to implement the Collective Bargain Agreement (CBA). The two level of governments pointed accusatory fingers at each other and demonizing the health workers for the deaths that occurred as a result of the strike. However you slice it, it’s the duty of the government of the day to respect their right to fair labor practices and not frustrate them for seeking this right. Indeed there was no mention of the strike or way forward by the president in his Jamhuri Day speech.

As is expected the President pointed out areas he believed his administration promised and delivered among them being education, devolution, food security and others. However, he had an uphill task showing how Jubilee had been successful in implementing these promises. Take education for instance, indeed there’s been reforms after the corrective measure on administration of exams that had greatly affected credibility of our education system. To that effect the government delivered; still, a lot needs to be done to deal with the student teacher ratio particularly in far flung regions as well as elementary school and university education quality. It’s the duty of the government to ensure that the right to equity and non-discrimination is upheld even in matters education.

While it is true Jubilee has set a good precedent in implementing devolution quickly despite the glaring challenges, there have been instances where the government has attempted to change laws in a manner that is not consistent with the spirit of the Constitution. Case in point is the refusal by the President to assent to the Petroleum Bill 2015 that sought to provide a sharing formula of petroleum revenue between the host counties, residents and the national government.

Furthermore, elections are first approaching and a lot of laws have been passed including election laws that are confusing even to the politicians themselves. As such civic education has never been more meaningful than now. Nevertheless, the President chose instead to demean the work civil rights group are doing to enhance public participation. The President sensationally claimed that there were attempts by external powers topple his government under the guise of voter education. If indeed there were such attempts, the country has institutions capable of investigating and apprehending these unpatriotic individuals, and indeed that’s what we hope the government will do.

For the President to suggest that Kenyans know how to vote and therefore need no further civic education was not only an ignorant statement but it also went against the spirit of Jamhuri Day as the day we celebrate our freedom too. Indeed the statement bordered on infringement of Kenyans constitutional rights; including access to information and right of association.

Paranoia and the need to maintain power cannot compromise the tenets of democracy. The constitution is clear that power belongs to the people of Kenya  and is not an individual or a party matter.

Chapter two of the constitution is clear on national values and principles of governance, including democracy and participation of the people. If the government prevents any form of civic education outside of IEBC isn’t this a direct violation of the people’s constitutional rights to seek, receive or impart information or ideas provided it does not amount to propaganda for war, hate speech or incitement to violence? How then are people supposed to make informed decisions and participate in political activities when efforts to promote participation are hindered under unclear circumstances?

After all is said and done it’s the duty of all citizens to consider the promises of all leaders they voted for in the last elections. Have they delivered? Where they haven’t take appropriate measures, register and make your voice clear at the ballot. Ultimately power remains with the electorate.

 

The Cost of Corruption and why CJ is on track

Posted by on 9th December 2016

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273 Members of Parliament were reported to have allegedly looted Sh 4billion from Constituency Development Fund (CDF) in less than one year. Consider that 290 are the total number of elected MPs. But if you think this is appalling, wait for August next year and watch as we vote in the same people back to power. No study has been done to ascertain why we hate ourselves so much to keep repeating this every election year.

Assuming the Sh 4billion squandered by the 273 MPs was divided equally then each MP misappropriated about sh 14.6 million. With that amount each MP would have constructed at least 20 dispensaries in their constituencies complete with a budget for staff kitchenette and sleeping arrangement in case of a shift. This is according to the estimates used to construct Ojwando Community dispensary in Rachuonyo South district. But alas that’s not the case, thanks to corruption.

Meanwhile nearly 20 patients have died following the ongoing doctors and nurses’ strike while another 87 patients escaped from the psychiatric ward. But if blame is to be put where it deserves, these deaths and any injury by the patients who escaped lies squarely with the corrupt officials who would rather steal public funds than find ways to pay hardworking Kenyans. It is really something of a wonder that both the county and national government could not in three years act on the Collective Bargain Agreement (CBA) leading to constant strikes, yet mismanage public funds running to the tune of billions.

The dust had barely settled on the Afya gate scandal where sh 5billion later revised to 3billion was allegedly missing after an internal audit report. More recently the Auditor General’s report revealed brazen theft after reviewing 37 counties where millions were misappropriated. That, counties have enough money to swindle millions of tax payer’s money but not enough to pay doctors and nurses is enough reason to put the rising number of deaths and injuries squarely on their shoulders. Lack of priority and appetite for theft of public funds is the reason for the current deadlock. We can only imagine how much services and useful projects we’ve lost at the hand of devolved corruption.

2016 has provided a huge canvas to paint corruption in Kenya. From the executive to legislature and Judiciary; all the arms of government have been stinking with corruption throughout the year. If there’s anything to take from this year, it’s that most of our politicians and public officials are irredeemably corrupt.  It’s not easy to have one corruption scandal after another and with such frequency unless we’re completely numb to public theft.

A few weeks ago the president rhetorically asked whether he should put up a firing squad during an anti-corruption summit at State House. And while we mostly focused on the president’s frustration; it was equally disturbing to watch the anti-corruption chiefs point fingers at each other. In the end they all seemed to be saying the judiciary-ironically, was the biggest impediment to swift justice. There was no way forward, at least until this week when Chief Justice Maraga promised to set up new rules to guide corruption cases at the High court and Magistrate courts.

The new rules will mean that once one is charged with economic crimes, they’ll be immediately set for conferencing within two days and hearings commence daily without adjournment. This is a step in the right direction and might help scare the corrupt officials known to use the bottlenecks in law to frustrate their prosecution. Can the other agencies also come up with special systems that could help with speedy investigation and prosecution of people committing economic crimes?

We are a few months from elections and the party primaries will reveal the sad reality that is the party elections. Whether we think IEBC or internal party organs will do a good job, the truth we all know is that the candidate with tribal and financial muscle will carry the day. Perhaps it’s about time we think hard about independent candidates now that institutionalization of political parties is proving tricky-even parties that have lasted over 10years are still synonymous with individuals who founded them rather than what the party stands for but that’s beside the point.

In the meantime the real power lies with the electorate. As we approach the campaign season, will we pause long enough to ask where the monies used on the tracks on campaign trails, choppers and branding material that are given to us free come from? Will we say no to crooked leaders and defeat corruption at the ballot? The ball remains in our court.

 

 

 

Matiangi restores credibility in KNEC can key institutions borrow a leaf?

Posted by on 2nd December 2016

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Kenyan celebrated musician Julius Owino aka Juliani in the popular song Sheria by Sarabi Band has this verse where he says, things are so bad to the point that when something good happens we’re amazed. True to that Education CS Matiangi broke the internet yesterday after releasing this year’s KCPE that was near perfect. Kenyans on social media were so amazed that a minister was actually working as expected that the hash tag #IfMatiangiwaspresident trended for the better part of the day.

Exactly one year ago when CS Matiangi took over the ministry of Education, the Kenya National Examination Council’s (KNEC) credibility had been hurt so badly that the discussion wasn’t about whether there was cheating in exams but rather the integrity of the exams themselves. A total of 2,709 candidates cheated in last year’s (2015) Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE); up from 1,702 the previous year (2014). But under CS Matiangi’s leadership the number has come down to a mere 21 which is impressive by any standards hence the excitement.

The CS has asked Kenyans to trust him and his team to deliver on Kenya Certificate of Secondary Examination (KCSE), and going by the KCPE performance there’s little reason to doubt him. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said of other institutions with higher stakes. Take Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) for instance. The electoral agency messed with their credibility long before they could begin the election process in 2013 after they bungled the procurement of election material and appear to have learnt nothing since.

What makes the release of the KCPE results so relieving and exciting is the fact that reshuffling of the CS Matiangi from ICT to Education was to deal precisely with the increasing cases of cheating. And he did exactly that. This proves we are capable of rectifying our past mistakes if there’s political will and the leadership mettle to handle the heat that comes with such challenges.

The country is tittering at the brinks of another likely post-election violence over sharp disagreement between the government and the opposition over the manner in which IEBC is going about its procurement process. This is quite reminiscent of the events that led up to the 2013 elections that saw EACC recommend nearly three years later that, the then CEO James Oswago be prosecuted over the Chickengate saga.

Opposition CORD are adamant that the Isaac Hassan team should have exited office by 30th November as was recommended by the joint parliamentary committee on electoral reforms. The opposition alleges the Isaac Hassan team is irregularly handling the procurement of election technology, and is planning to help the government rig elections. The government on its part has denied the allegations stating that the Bi-Partisan Parliamentary committee gave the Isaac Hassan team the mandate to stay until a new team is appointed.

Meanwhile a South African firm has accused the electoral agency of discrimination in the multi-billion shilling tender to a Dubai based firm. Coming on the backdrop of the Chickengate scandal that was never satisfactorily concluded. These accusations leave a big stain on the electoral agency’s integrity.

Already the ongoing interviews for IEBC chair have been put on hold under controversial circumstances, including that a number of the previously identified possible candidates were disqualified by the anti-graft body. This mounts pressure on the team that will finally be picked considering we are few months into the elections and much of the logistics are yet to be ironed out. Throw in the issue of IEBC overseeing party primaries and the agency appears likely bite more than it can chew.

CS Matiangi has done in one year what IEBC leadership couldn’t do in four years. It’s sad that Kenyans are still feeling anxious over procurement of elections technology as they did four years ago. There’s a need to restore confidence in important institutions and the only way forward is to have leaders unafraid to roll their sleeves and get things done. We must refuse the narrative that having strong credible institutions is impossible. All service given to the public is a high stakes game be it as a technocrat or elected official. Important institutions and elected officials should borrow a leaf from the stellar leadership of CS Matiangi as far as taming cheating cases in KCPE is concerned.

 

Rid Kenyans of Patriarchy and women will have a chance at politics

Posted by on 25th November 2016

Categories: Uncategorized

Eleanor Roosevelt, perhaps America’s most outspoken first lady did say that, women were like tea bags. That you wouldn’t know how strong they were until you put them in hot water. The testament that is that statement is the calmness that Hillary Clinton displayed at the hands of a bully during the US presidential debates. In a civilized society that takes pride in the fact that they are better than their history, it is rather surprising how much Kenyans belittle women, especially in politics but still maintain that we’re progressive.

This week Laikipia North MP Mathew Lempurkel physically assaulted nominated MP Sarah Lekorere over difference of views. The irony is that it happened at the office of the interior Cabinet Secretary, who when contacted by the media dismissed it as something he can’t comment about when there are important security issues. If a female MP is not safe from a male MP at the Internal Security Office; surely what else could be more important? Explain that to that school girl with no body guards; who walks several kilometers to attend school and is likely to be raped and injured how woman battering is not an important security issue.

Anywhere in the world and especially in Africa where agriculture is the bread basket, it’s easy to see how women are the driving source of our livelihoods. But why do we have such little disregard for women that a debate between gubernatorial aspirants Miguna Miguna and Esther Passaris on important issues for Nairobi people would be watered down to jokes about a candidate who alleged rape or about her skin color and beauty contests among other silly things?

It’s now becoming fashionable to demean or even batter women in public. As if the treatment in private is not worse. Of interest also is how Kenyans hold women leaders and politicians to a higher moral ground than their male counterparts. Former Deputy Chief Justice, Nancy Baraza was hounded out of office for allegedly pinching the nose of a guard at a social joint in Nairobi. A tribunal was formed to investigate the matter and recommended her sacking. She later resigned. Needless to mention if this was the CJ; with all due respect to the retired CJ Mutunga, it may have played differently.

If that is too far-fetched, consider in 2013 Nairobi Governor Kidero allegedly slapped Nairobi Women Rep Shebesh after a heated verbal exchange that was later dubbed the gubernatorial slap. Kenyans made jokes about it; some leaders openly praising the governor for “taming” the woman rep. It doesn’t matter how wicked the words of the woman rep were-hitting a fellow leader and woman for that matter-being the weaker sex should be condemned in the strongest term. Otherwise it only serves to scare women leaders into useless submission and encourages actions such as that of Laikipia North MP.

A report by Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) Kenya shows that while only six women vied for gubernatorial position in 2013, none were elected. Another 17 women vied for the Senator Position and again, none were elected. Consequently 129 and 623 vied for MP and MCA positions respectively and only 16 and 91 were elected respectively. It is therefore not entirely true that women don’t vie for elective office. They do, but electorate’s patriarchy among other subtle barriers deny them opportunities.

The male chauvinism displayed by our media as was the case with the Jeff Koinange Live (JKL) show and institutions that appear to apply double standards considering the Baraza, Kidero outcomes are some of the biggest barriers for women with political aspirations.

Perhaps the electorate should be reminded the words of Britain’s former Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher who said, “In politics, If you want anything said, ask a man. If you want anything done, ask a woman.” For the last 50-plus years we’ve had male politicians dominate the scene and all we’ve heard is talk and more talk. It’s about time we put these words to the test. If someone can’t do anything in 50 years, why entrust another 5 years? Let’s change our backward traditional attitude towards women and embrace a civilized world for a better Kenya.

Lastly but not least, the media in Kenya should rid itself of editorials and programs that spell patriarchy. Our agencies and tribunals should also stop with the double standards when applying corrective measure. This will reduce the barriers women aspirants go through and encourage large participation. Indeed if we did this the debate about enforcing the two-thirds gender principle would be unnecessary.

 

Don’t play land politics remain focused on the leaders you want

Posted by on 18th November 2016

Categories: Uncategorized

Recent opinion polls have shown that the country is deeply divided as we head for the 2017 elections. The war of words between the government and the opposition only serves to set the stage for what could be another violent election. Post-election violence (PEV) in Kenya is rarely about political ideology but rather more emotive issues like land. Consider the 1992 Molo clashes or the 2007/08 PEV and you can see the role land issues play in electioneering period.

It’s safe to argue that the problems in Kenya, political or otherwise begin and are likely to stop with land. The 2007 PEV revealed such deep seated issues that the country remained somber the better part of the coalition government. More importantly there was a need to constitute the Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) to help the country deal with the gross human rights violations and historical injustices since Independence in the hope that Kenya never burns again. The commission did a good job and made recommendations on the way forward, officially handing over the 2200 page document to the president in 2013 for action.

Sadly, the report continues to gather dust as Kenyans continue to see blatant land grabbing by high government officials-including school play grounds. There’s been increased economic sabotage as a result of land prospectors working in cahoots with corrupt government officials buying land earmarked for a grand project or development only to sell it exorbitantly at the expense of tax payer’s money. As reported by the local media, Uganda’s backing out of the regional oil pipeline was the inflated land costs. Not to mention the corrupt officials that benefited from grand projects like the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR).

In recent years land has been used to lure supporters into voting or incite them against voting for an individual, and we’re at that time of the year when the opposing forces take center stage yet again. Will the electorate be duped as years past? It was therefore a relief to hear the CS land says that they were going to name and shame the land grabbers as well as reveal Kenyans with the largest tracts of land at the Statehouse Land Summit. None of that happened.

The Summit promised to give a report on how far the government had handled the historical land injustices; the corruption challenge in land acquisition, idle land and the question of squatters. The corruption challenge with regard to cases of killings related to corrupt land buying companies, like land grabbers case wasn’t addressed. Other than saying they’ll continue issuing title deeds and investigating the unscrupulous land owners, the summit was underwhelming to say the least.

We are fast approaching the official campaign period and politicians will no doubt take advantage of the land issues to whip the electorate’s emotions. It is therefore imperative that Kenyans remain vigilant during this period. It’s your right to own land in your country and not a gift from politicians. As such refuse to be hoodwinked into voting merely because the government has finally done what is right by you. In the same breath, refuse to hear politicians who ask you to chase attack other people who are in your “land”. Have respect for the rule of law. Remember in the 2007/08 PEV it’s the common mwananchi who became an IDP or suffered heavy losses.

As we approach the campaigns, Kenyans should learn from the recent elections all over the world. Failing to act is acting on the negative. Stick with sober politicians who discuss issues and rally around them to the very end.

In the meantime, the government can save us another possible chaos over land issues by implementing to the letter the TJRC report. The dilly dallying around this matter is only postponing the inevitable. As recommended in the report, revoke all illegally acquired titles; to argue that the owner of the piece of land in Lang’ata for instance is not known is quite an irresponsible statement coming from the State. Deal speedily and justly with the squatters as they’re the most vulnerable and easily incited and ensure restriction on the maximum acreage an individual can have to curb the appetite high government officials have over land. Otherwise, there’s no better period for Kenyans to demonstrate maturity at the ballot than now.