Entries from August 16th, 2019

Law to effect public participation is a timely proposal.

Posted by on 16th August 2019

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The timing of the Public Participation Bill sponsored by Senator Amos Wako couldn’t have been better with the rising interest by Kenyans to take part in the legislative process. Despite some shortcomings, the Bill forms a good basis to address concerns and doubts raised by many Kenyans who have termed public participation as just a formality. Reasons for this have been the time-constraints, inaccessible information and venues of participation, language barrier and an inefficient feedback mechanism just to mention a few.

The recent call by the Dr Matiang’i led Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government for public views on the controversial Huduma Bill 2019 disregarded the public participation rights as enshrined in several articles in the Constitution. As murmurs on the Bill started getting louder, the Ministry officially made the Bill public and days later, notified Kenyans of a public hearing that was to be held in two weeks. Two weeks that wouldn’t be enough for wide circulation of the notice to all Kenyans for them to familiarize themselves with the Bill before submitting their memoranda to their County Deputy Commissioners. Because of the technical nature of written memoranda, public hearings were made an alternative through which views by the public can be presented. But of what use are they, if they are confined to one location during a day when most Kenyans are attending to their day jobs? That aside, it didn’t escape Kenyans that the cart was put before the horse in the Huduma Namba context when a law governing the registration of persons came months after millions had already been pushed to share their personal information during registration.

The lack of clarity on the order of events in public participation is what the Busia legislator, Wako, seeks to address in Clause 4 of the Bill that spells out the principles that guide public participation. As it stands many are aggrieved by Ministry of Education which had very little consultation before rolling out the Competency-Based Curriculum which is now inviting views from the public to inform this new education system that has resulted in more confusion than clarity. It doesn’t help that the only channel officially employed is the newspaper that reaches a select few; those who can afford to buy it and those who have easy access to it in the first place.

This calls for diverse, innovative, creative, efficient and inclusive mechanisms to be put in place if at all every Kenyan is to enjoy this right. If it is a matter of reach, social places like places of worship, school, community centers are a low-hanging fruit that can be used to inform and collate views from locals on pertinent issues as stated in Clause 4 (2) of the Schedule of the Bill. Traditional and digital media channels are a welcome suggestion to conduct civic engagement to avoid excluding anyone.

The language barrier has proven to be a challenge when it comes to interpreting laws from English to Swahili, which are both national languages. This has left out a great segment of the Kenyan population who are conversant with their vernacular languages or mixed Swahili. To circumvent this, the Bill proposes, “Where the targeted participants are not conversant in the national languages, the responsible authority shall provide an interpreter for those participants who wish to make their remarks in their local language”. This shall mean national and county governments working closely to task counties with interpreting Bills in the local dialect that covers the larger part of the population in their respective regions.

We can’t have oversight without public participation, and you cannot have participation without information,” said Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja during a debate on the County Oversight and Accountability Bill. His sentiments though captured in the county context are relevant on a national scale. Kenyans cannot fully hold leaders to account without information. Information, in this case, isn’t just what is given during the inception of a law but also feedback on the views presented by the public and the rationale by the relevant bodies on how final decisions were reached. This will, in turn, build public trust in public offices.

To demystify the notion that public participation is complex, you’re highly encouraged to pay attention to the famous speech by West Pokot County Governor, Paul Lonyangapuo to actually see that beyond the jokes he was actually informing his citizenry on the county budgets and spends.

On the matter of citizens’ perception on MPs’ roles

Posted by on 8th August 2019

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“If I don’t promise my people roads, bridges, hospitals and schools, I won’t be elected as an MP,” said nominated Senator Abshiro Halake during Civic Awareness Research that was launched last week. Perhaps this marks the origin of the mismatch between legislators’ constitutional mandate against the public’s perception and expectations of them.

In reality, lawmakers’ output which is mainly measured by the policies and laws passed may not be as appealing as that of the executive in both national and county government level that is heavily measured on the number of development projects brought to life. Kenyan MPs are yet to translate their roles into a palatable form of development that their citizenry can and should yearn for. As the Senator would explain, when a legislator is met with the pushback of “I can’t eat laws”, they easily cave and copy the manifesto of the executive which then comes back to bite them at the next ballot over failing to deliver their promise.

The report further reveals that MPs are evidently victims and perpetuators of the Big Man Syndrome. “They love to show up in convoys and awe the public”, Churchill Suba noted during the launch which then sets the precedence of the public’s dependency on leaders to meet their individual personal needs. Attesting to these personal demands by Kenyans, not a day goes by without Mzalendo receiving a call or message directed to one of the MPs concerning medical emergencies, school or business needs. Bringing to fore the misunderstanding of MPs’ mandate. During our interactions with our representatives, most of us have been guilty of using a self-serving approach that is problematic as the results borne out of those interactions are short-sighted and less impactful. We’re then challenged to see the bigger picture and bring the attention of our lawmakers to ailing systems that require their intervention in the form of laws that will provide the framework upon which, say, healthcare across the country will improve.

On the matter of MPs being victims of the Big Man Syndrome, this came to light through the stories that have been told numerous times on various media. First, the very same manifestos they float during campaigns become the guillotine that is used for their public execution. Failure to fulfil these promises that are beyond their mandate makes them subject to criticism. The task, therefore, falls on the media to educate the public on the actual mandate of the MPs, investigate whether they are effective in their respective roles and give a breakdown of how laws passed affect the livelihood of a Kenyan. It is through these stories that citizens will then start relating the law-making process to better lives. As Ms Halake would explain, “both MPs and media need to make people understand that if I sponsor a law that states every town has to have enough street lighting, this will mean longer hours of business for people and a thriving economy. Isn’t that better than handouts?”

A proper grasp of legislators’ mandate, gives us more insight when we hold them to account. Where we get an understanding that their stance on pertinent issues brought to the floor of the House matter more than their contributions in harambees. If anything, these harambees encourage a “Messiah mentality” that is not progressive.

If you look at a governor like Sonko, why would he continue to have his rescue team and yet he’s a governor and other Members of Parliament who continue to run their private foundations yet they have their CDF kitty. So it is an egg and hen situation because if you do not do it someone else will so we become victims of this vicious cycle, but it has to be broken at some point and that is why I really value President Kibaki because he had stopped that nonsense of harambees. Harambees will never develop the country”, said Senator Isaac Mwaura during his interview with Mzalendo, on the matter of MPs’ allowances and citizens’ demands. Food for thought?

Cancer has reached crisis point

Posted by on 30th July 2019

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As at September 2018 Kenya registered the highest number of cancer deaths in East Africa compared to neighbors, Uganda and Tanzania. This is according to a World Health Organization (WHO) Globocan report that revealed cancer kills 32, 987 Kenyans a year compared to Tanzania and Uganda with 28, 610 and 21, 829 cases respectively. It is this mind-boggling figures and the fact that cancer rates are expected to double by 2026 that really hammers home that cancer is indeed a national crisis.

In one month alone, we’ve lost three prominent figures to the disease; Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore, Industrious Kibra MP Ken Okoth and trailblazing Bomet Governor Joyce Laboso. Cancer isn’t the only common denominator as these three figures all went to seek treatment abroad and were either victims of late diagnosis or misdiagnosis. This just mirrors a larger problem that is facing a lot of Kenyans who sadly lack the means to fight this disease as these three great leaders attempted.

While leaders have the privilege of medical insurance that gives them access to the best facilities globally and medical practitioners, most Kenyans rely on NHIF to cater to their medical expenses in public medical facilities. Even then, some are denied access to medical care as was the case of the late Esther Wambui whose story epitomized a broken healthcare system that needs to be fixed urgently. A video surfaced online of her sister crying in desperation after Kenyatta National hospital turned them away after they were unable raise Ksh 1, 950. It took the intervention of well-wishers for her to be admitted at the referral hospital but sadly Esther died on July 15th 2019 only for her family to deal with the sad reality of an outstanding hospital bill to be able to lay her to rest.

This and many other similar cases are just a drop in the ocean of problems that face the public health sector. In an article on the Standard published in May this year, cancer experts blamed the country’s unreliable referral system that has had a hand in patients being presented to them when they are already at advanced stages.

One wonders whether universal healthcare is just another pipe dream as families dealing with the loss of their loved ones are left bankrupt and stripped off of their dignity. There should be a call to audit public medical facilities and give the medical sector an overhaul. Late diagnosis brings to fore the need for countrywide sensitization on regular checkups for early detection and treatment to save more lives.

The high cost of treatment and drugs calls for the intervention of Parliament to pass legislation that will make cancer screening, treatment and prescription free to patients to make these services available to all regardless of their classes. The budget allocation to healthcare needs to be considered to put to an end matters of under-equipped and understaffed hospitals that crumble under the pressure of legions of patients. Lawmakers have a hand in setting regulations in the health, agriculture, licensing and regulation boards; all of which have a hand in the well-being of Kenyans. These conversations should be kept alive during and after our mourning because we’re losing too many people for us to allow it to be acceptable.

A cure for cancer may be dreaming to big, but we can find lasting solutions to greatly reduce the cancer rates and deaths. It’s the least we can do to honor Ken Okoth and Joyce Laboso.

 

 

Will a change of law translate to actual change?

Posted by on 25th July 2019

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Kenya could potentially be in a historical moment with talks of a referendum dominating airwaves every waking day.

Uasin Gishu’s women representative Gladys Boss Shollei just tabled a Constitutional Amendment Bill 2019 in Parliament barely a week after Dr Ekuru Aukot’s Punguza Mzigo Bill was given the green light by IEBC after a successful verification of 1.2 million signatures. While the end of these two Bills is similar, it is the means that differ by a mile. The Punguza Mzigo Bill aims to live up to its name to lighten the burden for the taxpayer by significantly reducing the number of representatives from the current 416 members to 147. The Constitutional Amendment Bill by Ms Shollei, on the other hand, proposes an increase of members from 416 to 560 to achieve the elusive representation.  The country also waits with bated breath for the report from the Building Bridges Initiative, which from all indications, will also recommend a referendum.

Despite their glaring differences, a commonality emerges; development. Dr Aukot’s Bill seeks to reduce the spend on state officers’ wages and to channel the resources into social and economic development while Ms Shollei’s Bill seeks to achieve inclusive development through proper articulation of needs stemming from different interest groups and working towards finding sustainable solutions. These concerns echo the 9-Point Agenda which gave rise to the BBI and which seek to transform the country through equitable distribution of wealth.

While the proposals may be justified, they beg the question whether the current constitutional framework has been an impediment to achieving development for Kenya.  While this may not be the case as we’re yet to see a flawless constitution that has been implemented to the letter,  the success of it largely depends on the political will to bring laws to life, which has been lacking in Kenya. Take the gender-rule for example, while it may have been impossible to achieve it through the elective process the Executive has repeatedly passed up on opportunities to fill this gap through appointments. This isn’t a challenge that faces women in isolation as youth and persons with disability have been left in the cold enough times.

The current tug of war we’re witnessing between the Senate and the National Assembly over the Division of Revenue Bill 2019, is another manifestation of lacking political will to make devolution work. This simply translates to a violation of the constitution within which devolution is enshrined. It has become evident that even after the promulgation of the 2010 Constitution,  we are yet to have a mind-shift from the centralized system we were accustomed to. We need to remember that the devolved system was meant to undo the historical injustices that resulted from the centralization of power and resources, excluding other regions that have since been struggling to catch up.

The constitutional amendments proposed so far may have the goodwill of Kenyans at heart but there’s a need to have a bigger discussion on the implementation of said amendments to avoid wasting resources and time into laws that won’t be brought to life.

The political motivation behind every constitutional proposal also doesn’t escape Kenyans. Several have touched on an increase in number either at the executive or legislative level guised as an effort to achieve equal representation while it could be a move to strategize for a few people’s political futures.

“I am not a senator for future senate positions. I am a senator now. We need to stop creating positions for ourselves and we have to stop postponing our development. It needs to happen now,” said Nominated Senator Dr Isaac Mwaura during a chat with Mzalendo. Could the political ilk adopt this mentality to work to inform any decision they make in their positions of leadership?

Impasse on the Revenue Bill needs a prompt solution

Posted by on 16th July 2019

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The Council of Governors’ march to the Supreme Court on Monday, July 15th 2019 portrayed a frustrated lot with activities in their respective counties threatening to come to a standstill over the Revenue Bill crisis. Despite going into mediation talks, both Houses have refused to cede ground over the proposed allocations for the financial year 2019/2020.

National Assembly’s initial proposal of Sh 310 billion was bumped to Sh 316 billion, but the figure couldn’t match Senate’s proposed Sh 327 billion. National Assembly insists that their proposal has been advised by the funds presently available at National Treasury. Forming the basis upon which the Governors sought the court’s advisory as The Division of Revenue Act 2018 provides that any shortfall in revenue should be borne by the national government making the reduction of funds to counties baseless.

In a bid to silence the demands from Senate and Council of Governors, Majority Leader Aden Duale challenged county governments to prove what they have achieved with previous allocations to warrant an increase in funds. Not only does this fuel the narrative of counties’ greed but it plants a seed of doubt in the effectiveness of devolution. Contrary to popular belief, counties have made great milestones since the inception of the devolved system. They have over time proved to be capable of creating a thriving and sustainable economy and ecosystem tailored to meet the unique needs of each county.

Healthcare in counties has improved immensely with through advanced preventive and curative procedures that have ticked off a number of firsts for them. Turkana for instance, registered its first surgical procedure and first caesarean procedure in 2017 and 2019 respectively marking great milestones in healthcare for the county. These advancements have been replicated in other counties such as; Makueni with its first knee replacement surgery, Kericho’s with the first open heart surgery, Nyeri’s with the first bloodless surgery and Kitui with the first brain surgery.

Counties have further gone a step further to empower their constituents through job creation in various sectors. Through the Kitui County Textile Centre, 600 people managed to secure a decent means of livelihood, negating the popular notion that counties are “hubs of corruption”. Besides a few who have mismanaged county funds, devolution has proved to be a catalyst to development for most Kenyans necessitating the discussion on an increase in allocations of funds.

Considering that the national government is heavily invested in achieving the Big 4 Agenda before the 2022 deadline, it is in their best interests to involve the counties whose functions are at the very core of the agenda. To trivialize the Sh 326 billion that counties are demanding is ill advised considering that the national government which takes up about 85% of the national budget isn’t held to the same standard as counties when the question of accountability arises.

“It is impossible until it’s done”. This quote by the late Nelson Mandela contextualizes devolution in Kenya. Those who were against it can only rally their support behind counties to allow them to reach their full potential. As for the counties, it’s up to them to efficiently use the resources available and constantly involve their populace in making their vision a reality. That way even the idea of raising their own revenues for sustenance as suggested by Majority Leader Aden Duale won’t be farfetched.

 

Of legacies and lessons in death

Posted by on 12th July 2019

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Death like change is inevitable, no one is immune to it. It leaves those close to the deceased with a never-ending feeling of emptiness that one can only learn to cope with but never move on from. This is the state that Kenya has been for the past week, mourning great men who touched more lives than they realized during their lifetime. Life has robbed us of three great men; corporate titan Bob Collymore, the football legend Joe Kadenge and prominent lawyer Karanja Kabage all in a period of one week. The latter might not have been as popular on a national scale as Bob and Joe, but he sure did command respect in his line of work.

The celebration of their lives was definitely marked with a difference, with a genuine outpouring of love that didn’t for a moment feel like an obligation to the departed. The late Safaricom CEO almost sounded like everyone’s best friend with hundreds of people sharing memorable touching personal encounters with him. Not only did he transform the telco into a corporate beast, but he also touched so many lives through selfless leadership. During his tenure, artists had a place in the corporate environment changing the narrative that the corporate world only had room for sharp suits.

He mingled with anyone and everyone, humanizing his position and making his staff proud to be led by him. His style of leadership was unconventional, innovative and accommodating to all. Going by the various accounts online, the man’s wit and brilliance were hard to miss at every encounter. It is no surprise that his memorial service would attract even the highest office on the land because what he left behind was a legacy. Much as he was not a native, he sure did feel like a son of the soil who lived to make improve Kenyans’ lives.

Sporting darling, Joe Kadenge lived with this same sense of purpose up until his struggles with health issues began. Remembered for putting Kenya on the international scale, making the fastest goal in the biggest football league in Kenya; every moment he stepped on the pitch counted for something.

There are only a few times that we as Kenyans are proudest to claim our nationality, one of them being when we shine on the sports front. While our prominence in athletics has always been in our DNA, Kadenge gave us a rare chance to brag about brilliance in Kenyan soccer. His magical touch was translated into rhymes that made childhood memorable. “Kadenge na mpira, shuti goal” was a popular line on most playgrounds immortalizing the man who bowed out at the age of 84.

In a cosmic way, this period of mourning coincided with the 50th anniversary of Tom Mboya’s assassination. The baby-faced political genius was already making waves internationally at the young age of 39 when his life was brutally cut short. A monument in Nairobi CBD lets one reflect on the possibilities that this man and Kenya would have attained, had he lived to his full potential. His death anniversary is a painful reminder of how historical injustices keep robbing this country. Left in a state of “what ifs” because such brilliant minds were what we yearned for to turn the country around decades ago.

While we celebrate and reflect on the lives of these men, we need to rethink our purpose on this earth, more-so in leadership. That every waking day presents an opportunity for leaders to make a difference in Kenyans lives. In the memory of Joe and Bob, anyone fortunate to be in a position of power and influence should use it to do good for those around them. We are a time when we need selfless leadership, that prioritizes the needs of those they serve before anything else. It’s not a question of whether our leaders can leave a legacy but a matter of what type of legacy they aim for.

Heavy is the head that wears the crown.

Posted by on 4th July 2019

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Article 75 (1) (c) of the Constitution states, “A State officer shall behave, whether in public and official life, in private life, or in association with other persons, in a manner that avoids demeaning the office the officer holds.”

This is just one part of the Chapter on Leadership and Integrity that clearly spells out how a state officer should conduct him/herself, which sadly has been violated in recent and past times. We have been treated to the spectacle of MPs making derogatory, inciting and demeaning comments and even worse, facing allegations on their involvement in corruption. Which makes the xenophobic comments by Starehe MP Charles Njagua, appalling but not surprising. Mr Njagua, alias Jaguar, is not the first and certainly won’t be the last legislator to make headlines for the wrong reasons. Stemming from the fact that the office of an MP is yet to be given the respect it deserves.

Those caught in the wrong have enjoyed the privilege that comes with the political and social capital tied to their positions which has been used to shield them from the consequences of their misconduct. More effort should be put in bringing dignity and honor to the office of a legislator who is supposed to reflect the thoughts, attitudes and morals of the people he represents.

While Mr Njagua meant to protect his constituents’ interests, it was the manner in which he approached the matter that stirred up a storm. What is discouraging though is that our neighbours, perhaps to prove that the political class is cut from the same clothe, retaliated with equally xenophobic comments against Kenyans on the floor of the House. Leaders, regardless of country owe it to the people they represent to have sober-minded conversations through the right legislative and judicial channels as opposed to making comments that endanger specific groups and stir diplomatic tiffs. It does no one a favor to rile up citizens in fury that could lead to irreversible consequences.

Has Mr Njagua forgotten that he still adequately represented Starehe residents when he called on the DCI to investigate the Gikomba fire that killed 15 people? Has he forgotten that his voice was still as powerful when he sued Nairobi county over the strict rules that banned motorbikes from the CBD? Why would he resort to bringing disrepute to his office, the Parliament as a whole and ruin diplomatic ties in an effort to assert authority? While in a position of power, one needs to be thoughtful about their utterances and actions. It is less than two years ago that he got involved in a fight with Embakasi East counterpart Babu Owino. There is need for Jaguar to exercise wisdom and restraint especially when the mood of his people screams of frustration and desperation to find quick solutions to the problems they face.

With great opportunity comes great responsibility. Njagua, who represents the youth in Parliament should instead work towards proving that young people deserve an equal chance at leadership as opposed to painting them as ignorant and hot-headed. Upholding the Constitution by leaders not only sets the pace for the rest of the country but raises the bar of the calibre of leaders we aspire to have and be.

Are Kenyans getting value for their money from MPs?

Posted by on 28th June 2019

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On the release of the Bunge Scorecard this past Sunday, we anticipated that it would create buzz as it has done since the inception of it in 2014. The release of the scorecard for the past five years has been characterized by equal applause and backlash from constituents to their leaders depending on where the latter sits on this list. Understandably, Kenyans are interested and invested in knowing whether their representatives are implementing their mandate as spelt out in the Constitution. Being the MPs’ employers, it makes sense to see whether we’re getting value for our money.

This report reviewed the Hansard from September 2017 to December 2018. A period during which the political environment underwent many changes. Kenya had just come from a historic Presidential election annulment, then went through a second Presidential election late in 2017, then Raila Odinga was sworn is the people’s president in January 2018 before shortly going into the handshake mood in March that same year. Which would explain the interesting findings that this report contained. Unlike previous years where the opposition emerged the top, this report revealed a dominance by the ruling party. Begging the question, did the handshake quell the opposition’s appetite to critique Jubilee’s stand on issues?

As expected, a few legislators from both sides of the divide came out to dismiss the report on the basis that using the number of one’s appearance on the Hansard wasn’t sufficient enough to prove that they indeed work. Which may be a valid point, considering that the mandate of an MP isn’t restricted to the floor of the House. However, the burden of proof lies with the legislators to showcase how they have used their time in Barazas and church fundraisers to undertake their roles of appropriation, oversight, participation and legislation. Sadly, those who’ve come out to rubbish the Scorecard have been seen politicking, drumming support for their preferred candidate for an election that is about 3 years away.

Nominated MP, Hon David Ole Sankok called on fellow legislators to focus less on baraza politics and more on Parliament debates where their voices make the most impact as the Kenyan voter has charged them to legislate on behalf of the nation. The report does not mean to paint those who’ve spoken a few times as failures, rather it hopes to show MPs that there is a lot of room to improve their service to mwananchi. If anything, this could be used as a basis to self-evaluate and work on improving delivery to their respective constituencies.

While we forge ahead, Kenyans should not deal with the feeling of helplessness that comes with the release of another MP-focused report thinking it won’t have a clear way forward. Unbeknownst to most Kenyans, the power to chart the way forward has always been in their hands as laid out in the Constitution. Kenyans can and should be actively involving themselves in in the law and budget-making process to make their views count. Sideshows shouldn’t distract them from their right to information on pertinent issues and laws, which is the mandate of their MP.

Kenyans should not feel powerless and bound to an underperforming MP considering that Article 104 (1) gives the electorate the right to recall a representative before the end of their term. Kenyans should not be bound to unconstitutional laws passed in Parliament since they have the right to go to court and challenge them. Finally, when your representative uses the NG-CDF as their defense, ask them to show tangible proof of development facilitated by the spending of the fund.

Inclusivity takes a deliberate effort to be achieved.

Posted by on 12th June 2019

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A week doesn’t go by without mention of a referendum to change the constitution with the hope that it will fix one thing or the other. Most proposals that have been drafted by different factions are calling for the expansion of the executive to ensure that the government is as inclusive as can be. The challenge with this is that it can only create room for a maximum of two or three people. This figure doesn’t come anywhere close to adequately representing the diverse Kenyan population.

Keep in mind that Kenya is a country of roughly 50 million people, 43 tribes, over 10 religions, different races, persons living with disability and almost an equal number of men as women. That said, inclusivity should not be left to elective positions. Government appointments are a great place to start to reflect the diverse country we are.

Let’s take into consideration the appointments made by the president in this year alone. While President Kenyatta has made slight attempts in diversifying his selections, we have to acknowledge that we’ve only made baby steps in achieving inclusivity.

The President recently extended Central Bank Governor Patrick Njoroge’s term for another three years. The history of this monetary authority, however, hasn’t favored women. It was only during former President Kibaki’s term that we saw the historic appointment of Jacinta Mwatela as the first female Deputy Governor in 2005. She then made history again by being the first female CBK Governor in 2006, even though it was in an acting capacity following the sack of her then-boss, Andrew Mullei. Shortly after she was floated for a new Ministerial position, which she declined.

While Patrick Njoroge appeared to be a unicorn of some sorts with regards to the age factor, the President has been on youth’s wrong side for appointing old guards such as Former Vice President Moody Awori. Such appointments go against the one thing that won them support from the biggest voting bloc in Kenya, empowering youth. Recycling old faces kills the morale of the youth who are hanging onto the promise of more and better opportunities.

While President Uhuru may want to portray an unbiased government, it hasn’t escaped the common mwananchi that he has overtime created special positions for his political allies. Most of whom were people who lost in the 2017 election and in turn offered positions to reward their loyalty.

Also puzzling is the appointment of individuals who already hold separate government positions. Case in point, Priscilla Nyokabi who is the current commissioner for the National Gender and Equality Commission (NGEC) was recently appointed by the president as the Chair for the National Lands Commission (NLC) appointing board. One may be forgiven for thinking that there may be a scarcity in skilled personnel who are more than capable of taking on these roles.

Regional balance still remains one of the President’s biggest challenge. It doesn’t take more than a glance at someone’s surname to figure out which community/region they hail from. For the president to continuously float names of people from a few specific communities, it subtly insinuates that folks from other communities don’t have the qualities to be considered for appointments. Which is untrue.

His recent appointments for Ambassadorial roles is commendable. The list of vetted appointees tabled in Parliament had an equal number of women as men. Nominated MP Dr. David Ole Sankok, however, shared his reservations over the nominees that had excluded persons living with a disability.

In the future and for collective ownership of these positions, all appointments should reflect diversity and inclusion in terms of gender, age and regional balance. Failure to do so only continues to foster the simmering feelings of exclusion and disenfranchisement amongst different demographics.

Let’s bring back the Madaraka joy

Posted by on 4th June 2019

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“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” – Mark Twain.

Last Saturday Kenya celebrated one of her most important days when our motherland gained independence 56 years ago. Kenya had finally gotten out of the shackles of slavery and colonialism and was now taking back the reins to finally attain its purpose.

Sure enough, our country started on a high. With the leaders then speaking in one voice and selling the promise of a united, progressive nation. Things came crashing shortly after our founding leaders opted to pursue individual gain over national cohesion. Which then birthed the current divided nation we are in. Year after year, we’ve swung our flags high on every 1st June to commemorate Madaraka Day but when the noise of celebration dies down we retreat to our ethnically divided mindsets. We go back to condoning corruption that has made us lag behind those who were our peers in the ‘60s. We set the bar even lower with acts of nepotism, hate speech, abuse of power and blatant disregard of the rule of law.

We have seemingly forgotten what our national values are. Article 10 of our constitution makes a good attempt at summing them up as follows; patriotism and unity, sharing of power, democracy, participation and rule of law, dignity, equal rights and justice, integrity, transparency and accountability in public life and institutions; and sustainable development. The joy about these values is that they’re intertwined in such a way that exercising one of them creates a domino effect that makes the rest fall into place. However, our actions and those of our leaders have eroded us of our sense of nationalism to the point where celebrating Madaraka Day feels insincere.

The onus has always been on us, the citizens, to steer the country the right way. The greatest obstacle perhaps would be the chains that have bound our minds to the point where we have lost faith in ever achieving the purpose of our nation. When one of the musical greatest, Bob Marley sang the “Redemption Song” he must have had Kenya in mind. “Emancipate yourself from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds”. These words right here are what we’re supposed to live by. True patriotism compels each of us to own this country’s visions and to work towards them. True patriotism compels us to hold to account those we elect to attain this vision. It also calls on us to rid ourselves of negative ethnicity and demand for equality and equity for all.

So that when our leaders address us at a time like this next, we should be able to see and feel the change they’ve impacted. We should see politics that have morphed into ideologies that work towards achieving our country’s vision. Politics that embody respect for all and observe the rule of law. As we aim for this, let us keep in mind that the responsibility doesn’t fall squarely on our leaders but on us too.

Going forward, every annual celebration should be characterized by milestones that have lessened social ills and brought us closer. May we strive to live by the black, white, red and green stripes that truly paint a picture of the Kenya we ought to be.