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

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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

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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.

 

Lessons for Kenya from the US 2016 Election

Posted by on 11th November 2016

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Donald Trump is America’s president-elect. We need a moment of silent to let that sink. His win has sent political pundits and pollsters back to the drawing board.

Firstly, the least Republican candidate managed to beat the most conservative candidates in the primaries to clinch the party’s presidential nomination. That a business man and reality TV star could edge out such experienced politicians or well-connected leaders with impeccable public careers simply says, the electorate are not moved by one’s professional background but what the candidate says. Anyone hoping to clinch elective position in 2017 must focus on issues Kenyans care most about?

Second, political dynasties and connections can be a candidate’s blind spot or baggage. This is good news for those leaders with no political baggage. Refuse to be intimidated and step up during party nominations. As for the electorate identify political leaders who represent your issues. Look for that leader who is unafraid to speak against corruption and whose policies are most responsive to and connect with your needs and drum up support for him or her.

Thirdly, voters back candidates offering change they can connect with.  Hillary Clinton was the sure bet if presidential demeanor, experience and diplomacy should count. But Donald Trump was the bellwether of change, and this guaranteed him a win. The candidate who will persuade Kenyans he can bring about change outside the usual characters will carry the day. A Trump win in a very paradoxical way gives hope and life to little-known, authentic leaders with less popular parties the need to step up their game.

The biggest change the Kenyan electorate is yearning for right now is a corrupt free leader who can champion for corrupt free institutions. Leaders who want a Trump-effect must not be diplomatic about corruption in Kenya. Those who protect corrupt leaders because they’re from their party or from their region will lose at the hands of the straight-talker. Kenyans on the other hand must realize that if people rally around an individual with a common cause, nothing can stop them from realizing a leader they want.

Fourthly, Kenyans should be careful about opinion polls and media propaganda. If the US electorate swallowed the narrative sold about Trump, Clinton would have been prepping to swear in. Remain vigilant as voter and stay focused on the issues the candidates speak about rather than what the polls and media say about them. However, considering how divisive we have become over the years, we must also watch out for those leaders who want to preach fear to get votes. Anyone who tells you another Kenyan should not be trusted is an enemy of progress and should be humiliated at the ballot.

Last but not least, taking into account Brexit and now the shocking US elections, the underlying message is women and the youth can sell out a country if they don’t take up their rightful place at the ballot. In UK, the young complained about the old messing their future with the votes (majority older Britons voted to leave). On the other hand, in the US majority of the electorate are women, it’s therefore surprising that they didn’t use the numbers to make history and have the first US woman president.

Everybody in Kenya now is talking about corruption tribalism, nepotism and many other social ills. But what we must know is that, whatever we discuss pre-election matters little-America taught the world that. The best thing to do pre-election is to register as a voter. What will matter is how you vote. Kenyan women and the youth register now and plan to vote wisely or the future will judge you harshly like it does the US and UK.

 

Weak Institutions are the curse of our democracy

Posted by on 4th November 2016

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Last week Kenyans were falling over themselves on social media trying to comprehend how Sh.5billion could disappear at the Health Ministry, following what the government now calls an interim audit report. People were in uproar and irked at the wanton theft. Meanwhile those sensible couldn’t comprehend how the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) is always playing catch up; having not a single major scandal successfully closed and culprits jailed.

Institutions that in one way or another facilitate governance, Justice, law and order like EACC, Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Parliament, Judiciary and the Police are quite a let-down despite receiving Sh154billion in the 2015/16 budget up from the 105billion in 2013/14 financial year when the Jubilee regime begun. Does it make sense to keep increasing the budget ceiling for a sector that continues to fail Kenyans in every conceivable way?

A report funded by the World Bank Institute gives insight into why tax-payers will continue funding these toothless institutions. The report dubbed Anti-Corruption Commissions: Panacea or Real Medicine to Fight Corruption?  John R. Heilbrunn author of the report puts it that these institutions exist only to hoodwink donors into cooperating.

“Governments in poor countries need international investments and donors require that they reduce corruption and improve their management of the economy. An anti-corruption commission may therefore represent an effort to satisfy international donors and placate domestic calls for reform, if only for a short while.” Part of the report reads.

This begs the question are Kenyans being taken for a ride? Is this why corruption scandals are mostly revealed through the media rather than the institutions that gobble up tax-payers money in the name of resources to fight graft? With the exception of the office of the Auditor General the rest of the scandals have been either as a result of a whistle blower within government or investigative journalism.

While we expect interviews for the new IEBC commissioners to begin next week, the Chickengate scandal that soiled the reputation of the then newly formed IEBC remains thick in the air as nobody has been jailed for it. Meanwhile a court in UK sentenced to jail two directors associated with the printing firm Smith and Ouzman Ltd involved in the same scandal.  And that the outgoing commissioners and the chair gave a condition that they could only face the charges while still in office as was revealed by the media is nothing short of disturbing. This goes to confirm only how compromised these institutions are.

Meanwhile the Health ministry has since given itself a bill of clean health and revised the amount in question down to 3bn from the 5bn earlier reported. Needless to mention the focus on the main issue has been lost in the hullabaloo as government and media houses trade accusatory fingers at each other; some government officials going as far as trying to smear mud on the media house that broke the news.

It appears having a legal framework is not enough to fight graft in Kenya. This year alone Parliament has passed a number of laws aimed at fighting corruption in Kenya but things seem to be getting only worse. The MPs in watchdog committees too it appears have little interest in serving the public other than playing party politics. While speaking to a local journalist, Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Jnr confirmed the fears of many when he said sometimes it’s always about which party the person under scrutiny comes from. No wonder the NYS scandal has been an ongoing circus.

Until we find ways to strengthen our key institutions and minimize the influence the executive have over them, they will continue to gobble up our hard earned money and serve to create a donor-friendly environment while achieving nothing.

 

There is no political will to fight corruption. Period!

Posted by on 28th October 2016

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Kenya begun 2016 on a high corruption note, and it appears the momentum has not been lost even as the year draws to a close. Early in the year a frustrated President Uhuru told Kenyans in Israel that back home, Kenyans were experts at stealing. Corruption is so rife in Kenya the Auditor General has been having a field day revealing shocking financial misappropriation, almost on the daily. It appears Nick Schrifrin, the American Journalist couldn’t have said it better, “In Kenya, even the world’s fastest men can’t outrun corruption.”

Gone are the days when working in government meant patriotism. It was hard work with little pay; a sacrifice if you may. Because one believed they were building their country. Those who chose the private companies were considered corruptible and hungry for money, how things have changed? Today, government is the new private. Thanks to tenderprenureship and other financial gymnastics, a junior government employee earning less than Sh.10000 a month can easily own a mansion in the affluent Kitusuri in under 12 months. It’s amazing how corruption makes your dreams come alive! If you doubt this, ask those who made Sh.5 billion disappear at the ministry of Health.

What is tragic however is that key institutions that are supposed to fight corruption are appearing helpless, and in some cases corrupt themselves. From the Presidency, Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC), to Parliament it appears corruption is only intimidating these institutions in the past four or so years.

Meanwhile that, those Parliamentary committees such as the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and Public Investment Committees (PIC) continue to endlessly sermon and grill culprits yet corruption continues to thrive, demands a closer look. Are the Members of Parliament in these committees serving the interest of Kenyans besides the televised tough talks?

In this year’s 2nd Annual General Meeting and Conference for the African Organisation of the Public Accounts Committee (Afropac) attended by PACs from 47 countries, President Uhuru and Opposition leader Raila both accused these watchdog committees of failing to serve Kenyans. The President complained the committees were being used to settle political scores while Raila on the other hand accused the watchdog committees of doing little to expose the corrupt cartels in the government.

If members of these committees are truly committed, how could some Kenyans have the audacity to make Sh.5 billion disappear when the National Youth Service (NYS) scandal had not even been rested? Has Parliament’s role been reduced to mere questioning that is neither here nor there? Are the MPs in the watchdog committees asking the right questions that could help put these thieves behind bars or are they compromised? That they could be compromised is not a far-fetched notion considering leader of Majority Party Aden Duale complained to the private sector in Mombasa this week about giving MPs bribe to lobby for their interests and support Bills in their interests.

The role Parliamentary committees’ play in the fight against corruption should be of great interest to us especially as we head to elections because this is the time to take stock of the people we voted. It’s their sole duty to ensure Kenyans get value for money in projects undertaken by the government on behalf of its citizens. That these committees have examined numerous Auditor General reports as is expected by their mandate and nothing substantial has come of it to this date is reason to call them out on this.

Additionally, we need to have honest discussions about the institutions that have become rocking chairs to say the least. The office of the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), the Judiciary, Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the Police and the EACC must find a way to eliminate the politics and work together for Kenyan’s sake. Why can’t these institutions speak with one accord when it comes to corruption? Instead they’re always accusing each other of being an impediment to the other’s work.

This week EACC and the police were giving contradictory reports regarding investigations involving Tharaka-Nithi deputy governor. And the EACC on numerous occasions has accused office of DPP of failing to prosecute while DPP either blames the courts over slow wheels of justice or the police’s inconclusive report. We can’t slay corruption with this circus.

As the veteran anti-corruption activist John Githongo puts it, the summit and conference approach to tackle corruption approach doesn’t cut it anymore. There’s too much tough talk on corruption and little action. It is indeed an issue of lack of political will.

Parliament and key institutions on the frontline war against corruption should mull over the words of our literature icon Ngugi wa Thiong’o who captured the need to act so powerfully when he said, “A task is a burden only when it has not been tackled.” Suffice to say therefore that corruption is a burden because there is no political will to tackle it.

 

 

Women and Youth: Don’t Auction our Future!

Posted by on 21st October 2016

Categories: Uncategorized

It’s somewhat immoral to talk about Heroes and not mention the Field Marshall, Dedan Kimathi or the Kapenguria six. While a lot’s been said about these heroes’ selflessness. Very few people pause and think what if their mothers aborted them? Abortion may seem a far-fetched idea in the colonial era but it existed in many forms-including artificial miscarriages; that is to say the war heroes lived up to that name because their mothers wanted them to live-technology or no technology. But several years after we attained self-rule women only appear as an after-thought for the ruling elite.

Mashujaa Day isn’t just about the day we celebrate heroes who stood up to the colonial powers. No, it’s also a day to reflect on why the heroes rebelled against the white government, consequential as it was. When did Kenyans change to this unconcerned self-centered individual today? Kenyans in the colonial era were just and honest about their personal journeys. They were aware of their right for a better education free of racial or any other form of segregation. Today’s Kenya however, appears to have given up on the need to stand up for his or her rights. Today’s Kenyan can’t even offer an opinion on a Bill that will define his future in unpleasant ways, yet the opportunity is there.

And while we’re still on national heroes, the average Kenyan today has local and international celebrities as their heroes. The youth particularly look up to this people with flashy lifestyles-many who can’t explain their source of wealth and immoral to the core; thus the growing number of “Sponsors”. No wonder a research by Shujaaz 360 reveals that the adolescents have more energy for sex money and fun than the 20-24 year olds. The research further confirms, to nobody’s surprise that on average young people spend almost twice as much as they make.

These “heroes” unlike true national heroes have numbed Kenyans, and do not inspire them to take charge of their future, take the youth and women for instance. Despite their number, they appear completely un-puzzled by their circumstances as a result of poor governance. In the colonial era we had heroines who hid the Mau Mau warriors and knew that their input mattered. Today’s Kenyan woman despite bearing the brunt of inflation and struggling to put food on the table or children through school among other challenges remains surprisingly unmoved.

Women are literally the back-bone of the country but successive self-rule governments have done little to elevate the woman in the society so much that there is only 19% women Parliamentary representation. The lowest in the region-most East African countries have at least 30% women Parliamentary representation. And the percentage is likely to go down considering the talk on the ballooning wage bill. Its clear Kenyans are over-represented as the Auditor General’s team revealed while launching the impact of the Constitution the last six years. While there’s a need for reduction the position of women reps which had considerably helped with the two-thirds gender rule is under threat.

That aside, education despite being a basic human right is still not a reality for most women with children of school-going age. Far flung regions have children studying under a tree in Kenya’s 21st century because there are no enough chairs or classes or chalk boards. A research by Uwezo Kenya Initiative puts the teacher student ratio in Turkana at 1:86. Meanwhile a World Bank report showed that only 35% of public school teachers showed mastery of the content they were teaching in class. Aren’t these statistics enough to get women concerned about the leadership on display? At least for the sake of their children’s future

When we reflect on the struggle for independence we remember it was the strength of the youth that made it possible. But in Kenya a report by #Shujaaz360 show that 41% of the youth aged 20-24 live below the poverty line, and 18% of this group are already married or cohabiting. Consider also, only 4% of the same age group have enough money to meet all their needs and wants. It’s sad that 50years after we achieved self-rule there’s little the youth can be happy about.

The youth have become disillusioned, giving in to alcoholism and other forms of drug addiction and the elected leaders rather than addressing these issues-use it to their advantage during electioneering period. The youth numbers are growing; a report by Aghakan university reveals 85% of Kenya’s population are youths but the successive governments seem to have absolutely no plan for them except the usual “creation of jobs” mantras that exist only in government statistics hence the distractive habits.

In fact #Shujaaz360 reveals rather disturbingly that 20% of the youth’s income-those lucky to have a job goes to airtime. Take note that 80% are not formally employed. Mobile phones are a good forum to blow off steam. The youth spend time gossiping on their phones, courting and sending sex offers, the research reveals.

While others have become entrepreneurial and taken advantage of the Startup environment promoted by the private sector, it is immoral for the government of the day to use this as the solution to unemployment in Kenya. The elected government must do right by youth and women and refuse the desire to abscond their obligation to angel investors and or donors willing to make use of brilliant youths and their projects. If the government can offer foreigners jobs in almost every grand infrastructural project, then surely the government is able to create jobs for the youth in Kenya.

It is time the youth and women learnt a thing or two from our Shujaaz. Freedom is not given. No, it’s taken. Unfortunately for our independence heroes, it took sweat and ultimately blood. As for the present day youth and women, it means taking a stand and saying, enough! It means taking time outside your busy schedule to register with the intention of making your voice clear on the voting day. You too can be a Shujaa and secure a better future for the youth and women.

 

Credibility and Prudence is key for IEBC to meet its target

Posted by on 14th October 2016

Categories: Uncategorized

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) appears to have quite a lot on its in-tray about 9 months to the polls. This week the electoral commission announced they will be revising their timelines with regard to phase two of the Mass Voter Registration (MVR). The MVR will therefore be carried out in February 2017 and not December this year as earlier anticipated. However, to navigate the prevailing challenges; credibility and efficiency will be IEBC’s best asset.

The idea being pushed that the new electoral laws were created without proper understanding of the election cycle, and are therefore an impediment to the electoral commission is unwarranted. The only impediment to the electoral body are the skeletons in the closet and the seemingly disorganization, as exemplified by their reactionary measures towards the challenges that continue to bedevil them. This blog has pointed out, rightly on several occasions that the challenges of the 2013 general elections were enough to make 2017 as flawless as possible.

To begin with there could be a million reasons why the first phase of MVR failed. Whether lack of enough finances as explained by IEBC was the cause or voter apathy as claimed by politicians, and civil rights groups – is not really the concern right now. All these reasons and possibly many others boil down to credibility and efficiency. How do Kenyans perceive IEBC? Kenyans attitude cannot change unless the system is proved credible and efficient.

If the Afro-barometer report is any indication, most Africans have little trust in their electoral bodies. One of the main reasons cited is that election flaws are rarely fixed. This is why IEBC must maximize on every opportunity to show they’re a credible institution.

Most of the challenges IEBC faces can be solved by offering proper leadership and direction and showing independence from either government or opposition. Take for example the issue with the timeline over hiring a reputable firm to conduct audit of the voter register.  Also, consider opposition party ODM’s claim that the outgoing team is allegedly being used to help rig the upcoming elections and have thus demanded a stop of the auditing of the voter register. These are both weighty issues that can easily affect the next phase of MVR.

Instead of blaming the timelines on the election laws, IEBC should firstly do everything in their power to show neutrality by ensuring the Isaac Hassan team is not involved in the process. The team is a baggage. Consequently, IEBC can go ahead and identify the independent audit firms through the secretariat. Then have the profiles of the identified institutions sent to parliament for vetting, even as they await the appointment of the new team that will oversee the actual auditing itself. This will leverage on both time and inspire trust.

Other areas IEBC could begin working on to ensure efficiency is the procurement process. IEBC should demonstrate that the equipment they are about to procure works. And it is possible to know this before you get the equipment. Nobody buys faulty things to go try their effectiveness. Competence demands you only buy what works. IEBC should further ensure that the staff on the ground that will be operating the equipment are well versed with them and can competently handle the equipment, possibly even trouble shoot where there is a normal technical challenge.

Additionally, the captured data should by all means remain accurate. There should be no reason why a person who gave his details should later find that some of the details or all of them are missing. This will be nothing short of incompetence and convincing such a person re-submit his details without any assurance they can disappear again will be a tall order. The final register should be perfect.

Furthermore give clear guidelines on polling stations. Will it be over 30,000 as proposed or not? Clarity ensures efficiency because you have clear targets and this kills any possibilities of someone later crying foul. Once these key areas have become a priority for IEBC then the electorate’s perceived Apathy or ignorance and whatever else can be easily challenged through Voter Education.

 

 

Patriots Vote: Take the First Step – Register!

Posted by on 7th October 2016

Categories: Uncategorized

Kenya is a venting nation. We just love to vent. Social media has given Kenyans a good avenue to complain about anything and everything. While politicians are ready to spend an arm and a leg in preparations for the coming elections, the electorate is making excuses about being too busy to register and other short stories. Not voting is not an option, one still votes. If Kenyans are serious about getting the leaders we need, at some point, we have to stop giving excuses and take action.

There’s a lot at stake and the local Mwananchi is set to lose big time unless he wakes up and smells the coffee. According to the Common Wealth Observer Group report regarding the 2013 general elections, IEBC then, had only 30 days to conduct voter registration and only 14 days to have the public verify the register. This was due to the delays in acquiring the Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) kits and the cancellation of the procurement process that was later taken over by the government. Nonetheless, IEBC managed to register 14.3 million although the target was 18 million.

First forward to 2016 and it’s deja vu all over again. While the current nine commissioners and the chair have resigned as the electoral laws came into effect paving way for a new team; challenges with acquiring technology to aid the electoral process hang in the air like a dark cloud. Worse still the first phase of the Mass Voter Registration (MVR) carried out from February to March earlier in the year was quite underwhelming. IEBC missed their own target by over 70% after registering a little under one million.

It’s surprising that the electorate missed this registration despite the heightened political temperature at the time linked to the Kericho and Malindi by-elections as well as heavy civic and voter education. The last minute culture that Kenyans have developed where they hope to show up in the second phase or expect extensions is the reason we are having poor leadership on display. This exercise is too important to play the “We are Africans” card.

In light of that culture it is immoral for the electorate to trade blame games on social media? Challenging moments demand a change in attitude and a people willing to rise to the occasion. The electorate can’t wait to use the excuses they used in 2013. They need to be proactive, after all, the exercise is not about the electoral management body per se but for the betterment of lives in Kenya through election of the leaders we want.

Nonetheless, IEBC too need to up their game. An opinion poll by Ipsos commissioned by Institute for Education of Democracy (IED) confirms the low confidence Kenyans have in IEBC at only 35%. Clearly, IEBC should use this as feedback to seek ways of restoring confidence as we head to polls. One of the reasons the MVR in 2012 succeeded despite the challenges was the high confidence level the electorate had in the IEBC then.

The IED commissioned poll revealed only 3% of the respondents knew about the MVR through a political leader or party, thereby suggesting political parties aren’t playing an active role in civic education. Isn’t IEBC partnering with Civil Society to conduct civic education?

Apparently, political parties are adopting new methods to get people registered but of course with selfish motive. ODM has allegedly embarked on a massive voter mobilization and cash reward scheme. Is a cash reward necessary for the electorate to do the right thing? Doesn’t this raise an ethical issue? What culture is the electorate abetting? That Kenyans need a cash reward to engage in civic duty is not just shameful but unpatriotic.

Indeed the IED report confirmed that lack of Identity Cards (IDs) in Western and North Eastern Kenya negatively impacted the MVR. It’s disturbing that in Nyanza (ODM’s turf) media reports that over 60,000 ID cards have not been collected. Kenyans should not give in to voter apathy and plain ignorance. For instance, are Kenyans aware according to the law governing the processing of an I.D., upon registration one is entitled to receive it within 30 days? And that replacement of a lost one should be ready within 14 days? That is to say that nobody should fail to register using lack of IDs as an excuse.

In the same breadth Kenyans in the diaspora should take advantage of the planned registration of Kenyan diaspora voters in March 2017 and make their voices heard.  A journey of a 1000 miles begins with one step. Will you step up?