Entries from February 18th, 2017

Politics aside Doctors CBA 7 Have Shown Us What Leadership is About

Posted by on 18th February 2017

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The last time Kenyans rallied together for a national political cause was in 2002. We were all excited at the thought of doing away with a despot and begin our journey towards proper democracy. Kenyans have since 2002 reverted back to their tribal cocoons propping up individuals who could bring the cake closer if not home.

The CBA 7 are therefore a breath of fresh air considering that they are a group from diverse backgrounds but have stood their ground for what they believe. Personal and political interpretations aside, this is how all of us should approach this coming elections. What is in it for us? This is a question the youth should ask of our top contenders from both coalitions. The women and other special groups like people with disabilities and the old should rather than align with “their man” ask themselves, what they stand to gain from the next occupant of the House on the hill.

Thankfully, Activist Okiya Omtatah persuaded the court to direct IEBC to extend the Mass Voter Registration (MVR) by three more days ending Sunday. Those who were cut off by their reluctance or last minute culture should have no reason to fail to register. IEBC constituency offices remain open till 7th May.

And while we’re on IEBC when will this important institution ever be ready? Everything gets them flat footed. The Electoral Agency CEO Ezra Chiloba twitted his frustration with the Court’s ruling annulling the award of a Sh2.5 billion tender for printing ballot papers. The 145-page judgment by Justice Odunga, criticized the manner in which the procurement process was carried out, ruling that, “Fundamental departure from public sector governance practice is the idea that board members should be engaged in procurement activities.”

This commission is putting out so many fires it is unsettling considering how close we are to the elections. Already their decision to hire KPMG to audit the voter’s register has been challenged in court. Again, is IEBC prepared to deal with this in the event the challenge is successful or we shall have them sigh again at their lack of foresight? Needless to mention the myriad of challenges we’ve witnessed with this last MVR campaign.

Also while the IEBC Chairman has begun on a good note trying to get both political sides on the table to calm temperatures; it was rather strange for the electoral agency to meet key politicians in their backyards. Meeting the President at Statehouse moments before announcing their position on Diaspora voting; meeting Opposition leaders at Capitol Hill and finally meeting Jubilee officials at their Pangani offices only makes the politicians own the process rather than the other way round. Elections are about us-Kenyans and how we want to be governed and not how politicians want the elections to be carried out. IEBC need to make this clear and argue from a point of strength, not visiting people in their comfort zones.

Back to the CBA 7, while we may waste precious time arguing about the political influence that is playing out, one thing is clear. Their resolve for the welfare of their 5,000 members from different backgrounds and more importantly the doctors who have stood by them regardless. When people stand together for a common cause, ignoring the many things that make them different from each other and focusing on what makes them human, success follows.

The doctor’s strike has had adverse effects on the common man and sad as it is, we have something to learn from their resolve to stand by each other. Can we the people stand by each other on August 8th and focus on people who only have our interest? Like the doctors let’s stop aligning with “our man” and align with those with our interest only. But to do that, register to vote this last two days of Mass Voter Registration (MVR), and then identify true leaders you can rally around. And on that note, ignore the suit-voting idea that leading politicians are telling you. Choose your leaders carefully, both in parties and independent candidates too. That’s how we get proper leaders.

 

 

MPs Behaving Badly, Will Kenyans Say – Enough!

Posted by on 10th February 2017

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Kenyans thought they had seen it all, arrogance, selfishness, dishonorable behavior until nominated Senator Paul Njoroge decided to shoot in the air twice, threatening Vivo Energy representatives whom he had a dispute with. The actions of the Senator reveal the-don’t care attitude our elected leaders have assumed. He didn’t care that all this was being captured on TV.  Sen. Njoroge still charged at the Vivo Energy representative, pistol in his hand, reminding him in Kiswahili that he was not joking. How dare a Member of Parliament threaten a Kenyan with a gun? The impunity in this country can drive you mad.

Who bewitched us? You can’t watch news on TV without cringing. The doctors strike has left poor sick Kenyans in so much pain as they dress their own wounds at home. In the Arid and Semi-Arid parts of the country, old men lie on the mats hopelessly hoping the relief food will come sooner rather than later. They’ve lost their animals and some, their children courtesy of the prolonged drought. They’re literally fighting for their survival but the MPs elected to look after Kenyans welfare care only about how they will live in case they don’t make it back to Parliament.

Members of Parliament rejected a Sh. 11million gratuity offered to them at the end of their term. Instead, they threatened to frustrate the 2017/2018 budget if the treasury did not give them Sh. 3.3 billion extra pay. Never mind this money is to cater for a job they will not do. In addition the MPs want former members of the August House who are poor given Sh. 100,000 monthly pension. This is supposed to be coughed by Kenyan tax payers and yet they are not involved in any way. Needless to mention, that these “poor former MPs” may have done absolutely nothing to help Kenyans  during their tenure.

It has not escaped Kenyans that MPs have not been keen on the Collective Bargain Agreement (CBA) pushed by doctors who have been on strike for more than 60 days now. Neither have they weighed in on the Lecturers strike that has paralyzed learning in public universities or the looming nurses’ strike. Even though these people are part of their constituents and their plight ought to matter considering MPs are representatives of the people but no. Parliamentarians are more concerned about how to sustain their lavish living standards if they are shown the door in the August 2017 polls. This is the height of betrayal.

Meanwhile the Council of Governors (COG) is planning to spend Sh. 3.7million on a two-day conference to explain devolution and its fruits to children. A laudable gesture it would seem, if only, the annual devolution conference scheduled for March were not focusing on education, health, agriculture, infrastructure, energy, sports, arts, talents and culture; things that actually affect children. Is this duplication necessary? Once again, who bewitched us?

No wonder there’s voter apathy. Our elected leaders are behaving badly and are a sad reminder of our 2013 choices. When you consider the actions of our elected leaders and their obsession with getting money regardless of the means and their lavish lifestyles you will understand why our youth have reduced their existence to gambling. It’s no strange sight to find youths flocking cybercafés in the estates glued on gambling sites hoping to strike a jackpot if only to live like the MPs. Our lawmaker’s selfishness is stinking to the highest heavens.

It’s sad that we are a few days to the close of the Mass Voter Registration and the IEBC is likely to miss their 6 million targets if things remain as they are. Dear Kenyans, we can’t give up now. If anything, these actions are reason enough to stand up and say enough! We need to take back our country from these irresponsible leaders but we can’t do that if we’re not registered to vote.

Let us register in masses for the sake of our country. Then wait for the Party nominations and make sure our candidates get nominated and vote them in this coming August. Get leaders who care about your long-term issues into office. Let’s refuse to be apathetic. Rather than wallow in despair, take a stand. Our country needs you. Stand on the right side of history. Register to vote!

 

 

Post truth politics will be the end of Kenyans

Posted by on 3rd February 2017

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Our Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary failed to clinch the much publicized African Union (AU) chair position and naturally focus shifted to the millions used by government to support her bid. However, the debate on social media took a different turn and those asking for the monies to be accounted for were labeled unpatriotic. That’s the post truth era we are in. Nobody cares about the facts anymore; it’s all about how we feel. Perhaps we also feel the doctor’s strike is not worth talking about until we have a generation of disabled people because of lack of immediate medical attention then the numbers would make us emotional enough to look at the facts.

Our eyes have been on stalks this week as we watched the opposition drop mindboggling allegations that continue to widen the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission’s (IEBC) credibility gap and are likely to affect negatively the ongoing voter registration. Opposition leader Raila claimed that IEBC’s software has been tampered with. Reports of double registrations have emerged with shared Identity Numbers alleged and the IEBC has confirmed this.

Whichever way the stakeholders choose to look at it the allegations are serious and should be addressed with the seriousness they represent. Chebukati’s team must make it their objective to allay any fears that the commission is compromised. The casual handling of the BVR procurement queries in 2012 is what later metamorphosed into the Chicken-gate scandal. The new team must therefore not shy away from asking difficult questions including investigations into whether their staff on the ground are part of the National Intelligence Service as was alleged by the opposition leader.

In addition, there have been claims citizens of neighboring countries are being registered though the IEBC denied this allegation. However, this week the Teso South MP was allegedly caught doing exactly that. IEBC is not helping the situation when they appear defensive all the time. It’s prudent that they also conduct internal auditing of their voter register so far and proactively inform Kenyans of the challenges they’re finding and how they’re planning to deal with them. That would reassure Kenyans that there was no mischief and that the new team was on top of things. Otherwise, politicians from both government and the oppostion will sell their supporters their truth without facts and that will only stoke the embers of fire.

A Turkana resident told a TV news reporter it made no sense to register as a voter only to get the leaders focusing their projects in Nairobi when drought kills them year in year out. The county is one of the most hit areas with the ongoing drought. Her sentiments are not that different from those in Mandera or Marsabit either. But there are Kenyans who feel the media is giving too much attention to drought and the ongoing strikes to undermine the re-election of Jubilee. Because in post-truth world nothing matters anymore except where your heart is politically.

Meanwhile, our MPs amidst all that is going on have decided that this the best time to approve a Bill that will see the government privatize state corporations without going through Parliament. With the level of corruption we’ve seen the Jubilee government struggle with, do MPs really feel it is wise to give the Cabinet Secretary the power to decide if a public institution should go to private hands? The Privatization (Amendment) Bill sponsored by Aden Duale is in bad faith. Also the timing is suspect. Kenyans are worried sick of the ongoing strikes, ravaging hunger, Mass Voter Registration to focus on the mischievous Bill.

This is another reason why we should be very keen on registering in large numbers. Elections are not just about the President and his deputy, it is about all elected leaders and the role they played and continue to play in regard to our interests. Take note as the electorate and make your voice heard loud and clear in August.

 

 

 

 

The Mass Voter Registration Campaigns Reveal What’s More Important to Our Leaders

Posted by on 27th January 2017

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Drought is ravaging the country. Thousands are going for days without proper food and animals are dying. Yet, our leaders are worried about tyranny of numbers and how to attain or retain power. For the second month now, Kenyans are unable to get affordable health care after doctors downed their tools. Now, students enrolled in public universities are not attending classes courtesy of the dons strike, never mind that time wasted can never be recovered. Yet again, our leaders are angry these students or their teachers are not serious about registering as voters. Could there be anything more selfish?

Firstly, politicians have hijacked the ongoing Mass Voter Registration (MVR) to begin their early campaigns ahead of the schedule. Not that it’s surprising, but it starting to sound very similar to the events that led up to the Post-Election Violence (PEV) following the disputed 2007/08 elections. The opposition – particularly CORD – is talking tough and using near threatening language. In a divisive environment like ours and indeed an election year, our leaders should be a little careful with what they say and not let the charged crowd excite them into saying things that can be misinterpreted especially by the unsettled, energetic and frustrated youth.

Pro-government politicians on the other hand keep challenging the opposition to engage the public on issue based politics but they are not doing that. Instead, pro-government politicians spend a good time talking about the opposition and obsessing over opposition leader Raila Odinga. Promoting Railaphobia can ensure Jubilee zones come out in large numbers but at what expense? Our leaders from both political divide should let the Mass Voter Registration exercise remain just that and wait for the campaign season. Even then, they should restrain themselves from combative politics and stick to issues they will do for Kenyans.

Meanwhile, Kenya – to nobody’s surprise – again performed poorly in the global corruption report, dropping to position 145 out of 176. Last year we ranked 139 out of 168 countries. Sadly, our government is not telling us how they will improve the situation and neither is the opposition telling us how they will curb this vice.

Worse still the electorate appears unconcerned and are not pressing their elected leaders-including MPs to demand that institutions like the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) show the return on investment. Thankfully, we just got a new EACC Chair in Archbishop Wabukala which renews the fight. Nonetheless, there’s a need to also focus on the secretariat because the turnover of the chair’s position at the Anti-Corruption agency is quite telling. And while we’re still on corruption to their credit the 11th Parliament has passed enough Bills on corruption including the recent Bribery Bill targeting the corporate world. Which begs the question: is it that the laws are difficult to enforce or law formulation is not enough to deter corruption?

Perhaps, the question we should all mull over is why we are not keen on enforcing chapter six on integrity. As long as we are turning a blind eye when it comes to the people we want in office with regard to integrity questions we should not be surprised when they’re involved in graft issues. In short, corruption remains a collective responsibility. If the electorate doesn’t play its rightful role and demand nothing short of what they deserve and institutions don’t live up to their objectives we shall continue having public officials who have no qualms stealing from the public.

Lastly, it’s sad that the famine currently ravaging the country is as predictable as our politicians in an election year but is still catching us flat footed. Senate’s attempt to establish a national food Security Council is delayed by power games between them and the National Assembly. These power struggles over which House is more powerful continues to cost Kenyans a lot because Parliamentarians are getting side-tracked and not keen. This rogue MPs with no interest for the public good should feel our wrath in August. That’s why we must continue registering in numbers.

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.