Entries from April 16th, 2019

Let’s refrain from normalizing femicides

Posted by on 16th April 2019

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Perhaps the greatest measure of the evolution of mankind is the development that has been achieved through advanced technology that makes life even simpler. We transitioned from the Agrarian age to the industrial age and now the information age that is proving to be a double-edged sword. While information is literally on the palm of our hands, it’s the consumption of a load of it at a go, that has numbed people.

Case in point, the recent flooding of news of young women being killed by either suitors or their partners has exposed an insensitive side of our society. On one hand are the numb ones, who’d just keep swiping on the phone and not feel a thing and on the other are those who’d propagate unverified information about the victim, unfairly stereotyping them.

Unfortunately, the affected families have had to endure even more pain while coming to terms with the news that they picked on social media first and fighting the rumors flying around about their loved one. The mother to the slain student of medicine, Winfred Waithera had to come to the defense of Ivy Wangeci whose name has been dragged in the mud with all sorts of accusations and justifications for the horrific way her life came to an end.

Lest we forget that the Constitution states that “Every Person has the Right to Life”. The law isn’t gender-biased and therefore no female life should abruptly come to an end in the name of “love”. As a society we have a long way to go when it comes to beating backward patriarchal beliefs and start valuing life, whether male or female. As a society, we have to do some soul-searching and get to the root of this madness. During this time when many Kenyans, women especially, are standing together with Ivy’s family and all those who’ve been killed in the same context, we should objectively reevaluate ourselves and see what role the society has in causing this.

On the question of stalking or harassment that has emerged in most of the femicides recently, we need to question the manner in which we address these accusations. Unfortunately, the casual approach we have when one opens up about a stalker is being replicated by the police. Enough personal accounts on social media attest to how police dismiss women’s reports on being harassed or stalked as being minor cases. This demoralizes the victim as they see no light at the end of this tunnel of justice. The problem with this is that the inaction by the law systems in Kenya encourages the culprits to keep being a nightmare to innocent Kenyans, with most cases escalating into something horrific.

When a Kenyan on Twitter suggested that Ivy should have acquired a restraining order to stop the stalker turned killer, he brought to question the matter of the effectiveness and ease of acquiring one. Much as we have this provision available in our constitution, as a society we still struggle with the definition of a stalker. We have glorified marriage to the point where a stalker is excused for a persistent suitor.

It therefore becomes increasingly difficult for a Kenyan who needs protection to consider the Protection against Domestic Violence Act, 2015 that spells out ways through which he/she can seek protection from a person’s action that could amount to harm. Section 19 1(e) of this Act states, a respondent shall not engage, or threaten to engage, in behavior including intimidation, harassment or stalking which amounts to emotional, verbal or psychological abuse of the protected person. It is paramount that we, Kenyans and the judicial system, start addressing domestic violence and threats to prevent any more deaths that are sadly becoming a norm.

That said, we should desist from sensationalizing these deaths and look at the bigger picture where as a society we need to start addressing underlying mental issues, family values, and patriarchy that have resulted in an unsafe environment for most women.

State of the Nation Address Needs to Move Beyond Mere Rhetoric

Posted by on 11th April 2019

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Kenyans were treated to an underwhelming State of the Nation address after weeks of anticipation, even when the political environment has been rife with opportunity for President Uhuru Kenyatta to seal his legacy. The President kicked off his speech in a full-on self-praise session about his government.

He tooted his own trumpet on his government’s achievements, some of which were as old as 3 years. The irony of that didn’t escape Kenyans who have been told on countless occasions to forget the past and live in the present, whenever the subject of historical injustices comes up. The celebration of past milestones revealed how contradictory his speech was. On one hand, it painted a picture of a proactive government driving infrastructural development with the expansion of roads and house projects and on the other, he exposed the laxity to implement other projects such as the  Kes 10 billion fund meant to heal wounds of those affected by historical grievances even after he gave the directive in 2015.

The fund was just one among the many unmet promises by the Jubilee government which has seen the State of the Nation address become an annual formality. The food crisis isn’t entirely new to Kenyans. In the 2017 address, the President addressed the matter with the promise of making Kenya a food secure nation. Fast-forward to 2019 and we had deaths by drought that were being denied by the same government. President Uhuru’s opening remarks, “There will be no turning back in our quest in transforming the economy, no turning back on government reforms, no turning back on fighting enemies of Kenya…there will be no turning back on the war of corruption as it is a just war” were a resounding start. They signified a speech that was going to turn things upside down and give Kenyans the answers they had been seeking.

As the speech progressed, it became evident that those opening remarks weren’t going to be actioned as the President tiptoed on the issue of corruption. The usual blanket threats to those implicated in graft charges were bland and repetitive, something Kenyans on social media had foreseen happening prior to the address.

Back to the opening remarks again, when the president said there’ll be no turning back on fighting the enemies of Kenya, the interpretation of the statement wasn’t limited to foreign terror sects doing harm in Kenya. That statement spoke to the corrupt in this Kenya who harm Kenyans even worse than weapon-bearing terrorists. The corrupt are solely responsible for the economy not going forward. The corrupt have fostered an environment that inhibits the growth of many middle class Kenyans and enriches a few.

The corrupt are killing the healthcare sector in Kenya that is on its knees right now. The corrupt who have over time evaded the hand of law, continuously cause the failure of health institutions and led to deaths and irreversible harm by to Kenyans over negligence. The education sector hasn’t escaped the ugly effects of corruption. If all these funds that we lose to the corrupt everyday were used to expand the infrastructure and human resource capacity, then schools wouldn’t be strained currently.

The corrupt continue to destroy Kenyans’ lives. Angry public statements by the President are not enough. It is time for action. Those guilty should to be sacked and jailed. Funds lost to the corrupt need to be recovered. Truthfully speaking, the actual state of the nation is not pretty, it is a ticking time-bomb made of frustrated Kenyans who make an honest living only for their taxes to fund crooked people. There can be no government reforms if we condone corruption. There can be no development if funds find their way to a few pockets and leave out starving Kenyans. There can be no development if we don’t uphold the Rule of Law and have gender-balanced representation in Parliament. There can be no national security if corruption is allowed to cause these gaping holes that give terrorists a leeway to harm us.

In conclusion, it is worth noting that the opposition or lack there-of didn’t go unnoticed. What we’re witnessing in Kenya is a line-up of cheerleaders under the guise of opposition who are now singing in the same tune as government. The former Prime Minister Raila Odinga was in full support of the President’s address. Yet this speech is similar to the 2017 address, one that Mr Odinga vocally called out as a PR stunt. Are his sentiments genuine or is this just a matter that is dependent on where one sits on the food chain?

Reports of Great leadership in Some Counties is a Fresh breath of Air

Posted by on 2nd April 2019

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Since Edward Ouko took charge of the Auditor General’s office in 2011, Kenyans have been accustomed to annual reports that reveal misappropriation of funds with counties being the biggest culprits in recent years.

In a rare occurrence with the 2017/2018 financial year report, Mr Ouko gave Makueni and Nyandarua counties a clean bill of health. This was not only a breath of fresh air but a show of what good leadership can achieve. Governors Kivutha Kibwana and Francis Kimemia not only kept their financial books in check but appropriately drove development in their respective counties.

In a TV interview with Betty Kyalo, Prof. Kibwana displayed a different style of leadership where three things stood out; active participation with daily meet-ups with his staff, humility and graceful interaction with locals and the intentional employment of young people in his office. These and many qualities of the calm leader are what most Kenyans yearn for if the calls on social media for him to run for presidency in 2022 are anything to go by. On being asked about how he’s managed to have staff that serve diligently and evade scandals, he simply responded by saying that when one leads by example even those that work under him will feel to mandated to replicate the same. Attesting to the fact that people always watch what their leaders do and follow in their strides. Corruption yields corruption, while honest service yields diligence across the board.

While Kenyans are relishing this rare show of leadership, there were other unpleasant revelations by the Auditor General. Kisumu County for one couldn’t account for the spending of Kes3.7 million that was set aside to purchase 27 Ayrshire cows but turned out that only one cow had receipts to proof its purchase. The Auditor General couldn’t help but reach the conclusion that the purchase of the remaining 26 cows was questionable.

A report by the Controller of Budget that was tabled in Parliament revealed that the State gobbled up Kes7.5 billion on travel in 5 months despite calls by the Treasury for austerity to free up funds for development. The Presidency used up Kes324 million, Judiciary used up Kes166 million, Public Service Commission Kes1.113 billion, Ministry of Foreign Affairs 801 million, State Department of Interior used up Kes616 million and the MPs took up the biggest portion of Kes2.5 billion. Despite this much money being spent on unessential travel by our legislators, MPs still came forward recently with new demands playing oblivious to the heavy burden borne by the taxpayer. As if their salaries and allowances aren’t enough, the MPs now want benefits similar to those in New Zealand. They’re now demanding Kes400,000 in hotel allowance for whenever they’re in Nairobi to attend sittings.

This came after they went benchmarking in New Zealand, and wanted to replicate the same in Kenya. To demand benefits similar to those of MPs in a first world country is outrageous.  Does Kenya match New Zealand in terms of development, GDP and standard of education and living to merit these demands? It is amusing to see MPs forget that their primary role is to serve and positively impact Kenyans’ lives while in office. This here can be likened to an abusive marriage where one partner gets the shorter end of the stick in the partnership while being milked to meet the other’s demands.

That said, Prof. Kibwana is one of those rare principled ones that prove that there is still hope for Kenya to enjoy better leadership. His leadership should cause others in positions of power to look in the mirror and self-evaluate. What will it take to get similar reports from the National Government ministries and parastatals?

Address loopholes to solve the food crisis

Posted by on 26th March 2019

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Images of dry skin hanging on to the protruding bone structure of those on the brink of death by starvation are not about to let the conversation on the food crisis die down. The same images that caused an uproar are what must’ve driven the government to deny any occurrence of death related starvation while trying to save face over their failure to act on warnings given before.

This has however been contradicted by several media reports and officials on-ground confirming that by 13th March, there were approximately 5 people who died in Turkana. It sure takes a brave man to admit his mistakes and forge ahead with lessons, but Kenya battles with a goldfish memory that sees us handling one crisis to the next with zero preparation as is the case with the droughts and floods.

This conversation was taken to the floor of the Senate where Nominated Senator Abshiro Halake termed the failure of our leaders to provide and protect their citizens, a crime against humanity. More Senators acknowledged the food crisis and blamed the county governments for inadequate planning to avert the food shortage. Almost in unison, they wanted those responsible for allowing this crisis to happen brought to book.

But who’s really at fault? The National Government has sustained significant punches in the wave of criticism, with stakeholders and Kenyans generally questioning their slow response rate and the inability of government agencies to provide efficient channels that’ll swiftly move food from regions with an excess to those without.

That, however, didn’t spare the county governments whose accountability was questioned as to how they used their budgets to reduce poverty and inequality. It is in the same breadth that Kakamega Senator, Cleophas Malala brought forth the question of Turkana’s spending of their Equalization fund in averting this crisis.

His concerns proved that MPs are of the notion that the Governors should have been in a position to prevent this hunger crisis by tapping into the Equalization Fund to feed their population. But, were the monies released to begin with?

On April 19th 2018, the National Treasury PS Kamau Thugge stunned the National Cohesion and Equal Opportunity Committee after revealing that only 1.1 billion out of the 12.4 billion had been released since the 2010 constitution. The news did not sit well with the MPs who were under the impression that the kitty was disbursed after parliament passed the Equalization Fund Appropriation Act, 2018. That committee meeting and other news reports had a section of leaders on record expressing their disappointment on the delay of the fund’s disbursement. They termed this as a lack of political goodwill in pushing for development in marginalized counties. It is quite puzzling as to what the hang-up could be yet this is a fund anchored in the constitution and is an important component in addressing inequalities through driving development in the entire nation.

With the Big 4 Agenda in mind, isn’t it in the Executive’s interests to disburse these funds that would make attaining this possible? When President Kenyatta leads Kenyans in crossing over to a New Year, he likes to gauge the milestones his government has achieved in that particular year. Topping that list of achievements is often the growth in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) which shows the size of an economy and does not mean much to most people when even a single life is lost to starvation. Enough of the bravado, its time our governments focus on the quality of life of the people below the pyramid, as they are the bulk of Kenya’s population.

“The war against hunger is truly mankind’s war of liberation.” – John F. Kennedy, 35th President of the United States.

Posted by on 19th March 2019

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It’s business unusual as Kenya is now wearing a face of hopelessness with several of her citizens from 13 counties said to be at the brink of starvation. Fifty-six years on after independence we have a country unable to provide the most basic need to hundreds of thousands of Kenyans, with the spotlight shining on Turkana. With the heavy rains expected to delay even longer and the recent mass looting surrounding dam projects intended to help with irrigation, there’s little to hope for as a nation.

But the irony of an excess of produce in counties nearby doesn’t escape many Kenyans. One wonders, what really is the role of the state corporation – National Cereal and Produce Board (NCPB) and Ministry of Agriculture. To this day farmers are still struggling to find avenues to sell their maize, while encountering scandals that riddle NCPB. That the enquiry into maize scandals in 2010 and 2018 never yielded anything, is proof of the government’s lack of commitment to resolve the drought issue. It is also indicative of lack of concern for those living below the poverty line.

While climate is largely beyond human control, ample preparation for the dire effects is not out of our grasp. There have been adequate drought warnings from the National Drought Management Authority and Kenya Meteorological Departments in recent years which the government didn’t act on appropriately. Were this the case, then alternative means would have been sought. Water harvesting during the heavy rains would have been done, making water available to irrigate arid areas and guaranteeing a consistent supply of food countrywide.

Another thing that we fail to address year in year out is what food security entails. Does it just mean availability of food and access to it or availability and access to nutritious food? There’s a rigid mentality that is stuck on the usual “maize” as a solution for hunger yet these affected areas have crops that naturally thrive there that could fill the starving stomachs. This is indicative of the need to educate Kenyans on alternative sources of nutrition.

A while back KARI compiled a food security report spelling out roles of the NCPB in the wake of a food crisis. One of the policies required NCPB to provide farmers with planting materials and seeds especially of the so-called ‘orphan crops-drought tolerant’ which can be grown in the arid and semi-arid areas and encourage farmers to diversify the crops planted. Had these been implemented, then affected regions would be self-sufficient and we wouldn’t be here counting casualties.

Lest we forget in 2011, Kenyans joined hands in a campaign dubbed “Kenyans for Kenya” and raised about $11 million to aid starving residents of Turkana. While the scale of humanity won the day, a promise was made not to take Kenya back to that state. How are we, almost a decade later, talking about taps and mouths running dry? Forget about governance and policy for a second, are our leaders in touch with reality? While one misappropriates funds, do they actually think about the repercussions of this? Lives are ruined and lost as a result.

If the President and his government really want to leave a legacy, then it’s about time that he tapped into his humane side and feels the pain of his people. Maybe that way leaders’ minds can stop being self-centered and push for the benefit of everyone.

Of Backroom Deals, Cronyism and Nepotism driving Corruption in Key Parastatals

Posted by on 15th March 2019

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Chaos rocked the busiest airport in East Africa after Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) workers downed their tools when it emerged that there was a looming takeover of Kenya Airport Authority (KAA) by Kenya Airways. The Kenya Aviation Workers Union (KAWU) cited underpayment, mistreatment and the dominance by foreigners at high-level positions as some of their grievances shortly before business went back to normal.

The normalcy however didn’t mask the fact that local boards have a tendency of recruiting foreigners to take up leadership positions leaving the locals’ expertise untapped and killing the public morale as a result. If the list of board members and their salaries is anything to go by, then it’s only fair for staff in the middle and lower tier to ask for better compensation. It was saddening to see that the government exercised zero restraint on the staff, deploying the GSU who beat and arrested them for exercising their constitutional right. What was more shocking, was the speed at which the Government addressed the strike.

Was it just because this strike affected the elite who depend on air travel unlike the common mwananchi who has to battle 3-hour traffic jams every day? Never have we seen the same replicated when it comes to teachers, doctors or nurses’ strikes which directly affects the livelihoods of Kenyans?.

Another issue that came forward was the lack of public involvement in the proposed merger  where KAWU is an interested party. Article 201 (a) of the constitution states, “there shall be openness and accountability, including public participation in financial matters.” Kenya Airways’ loss-making history raises red flags as to what informed the decision to merge it with a profitable entity like the KAA. The government has a culture of secrecy deep ingrained, where information on board appointments, contractors, tenders is kept in the dark and only comes out when a scandal blows up.

How did they appoint foreigners to most senior management positions yet there’s enough expertise locally? How was the hiring done? For the rare instances that a local heads a state organization or board, a little digging reveals that they’re affiliated to someone in the high powers. Outright cronyism and nepotism have become a norm in the appointment processes. These encourage the mass looting that we witness day in day out. Since the President and Opposition leader are in agreement with regards to fighting graft it’s about time the Commander-in-Chief makes true his promise so that we can see culprits in jail, lost money recovered and property reclaimed.

Now more than ever leaders from both sides of the divide have a chance to display collaborative politics and fight corruption without sparing any ‘friends’. There are too many loopholes that need to be fixed to stop any more loss of taxpayers’ money. Parliamentary debate on the proposed KAA and Kenya Airways merger in the National Assembly saw MPs gag themselves during debate awaiting the Executive’s position on the same, yet the house controls the public purse.

Given the gravity of the matter as Kenya Airways is a national icon, our legislators should have read Kenyans mood on the issue and aired their views on the same. Lest our leaders forget, Article 1 of the Constitution states ‘All Sovereign power belongs to the people of Kenya and shall be exercised only in accordance with this Constitution and the people may exercise their sovereign power either directly or through their democratically elected representatives.’ In any battle for the nation’s soul and pride, the people’s voice is paramount rather than the voice of the power elite.

About time the Government Accords Youth Respect…

Posted by on 6th March 2019

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President Uhuru Kenyatta reshuffled his Cabinet for the first time since he began his second term, and this one had a ‘first’. A cabinet secretary was sacked from his position as opposed to the usual reassignment to other posts, causing a buzz. Rashid Echesa, now former Cabinet Secretary for Sports, Culture and Arts was shown the door after a lack-luster tenure of almost 2 years.

But his replacement wasn’t one that was received well by Kenyans, especially those taking keen interest in Sports. The President reassigned Ms Amina Mohamed from the Education Ministry to the Sports docket. This raised concern given her experience does not align with the docket and her previous performance at the Education Ministry caused many to doubt her commitment to empowering youth.

While in the Education docket Ms. Mohamed issued the directive to arrest Higher Education Loans Board (HELB) loans defaulters, which most Kenyans termed as inconsiderate and inhumane given the current unemployment rates. The matter was even brought up in the Senate, with most members calling out the government for hypocrisy since this approach hasn’t been taken with regards to major corruption scandals. Not only did she issue the harsh directive but she also had hiccups while rolling out the Competency based curriculum giving conflicting communication that forced the President to step in and reassure parents about the curriculum being implemented in schools.

Her latest appointment brings to question the criteria the President uses in appointing cabinet secretaries for youth-focused ministries. For a government that claims to articulate youth issues, they have had a dismal performance on implementing the same. Echesa’s predecessor, Hassan Wario alongside his Principal Secretary Richard Ekai ran down the sports ministry with incompetence and corruption. For instance, Kenya lost an opportune moment to host the 2018 African Nations Championship because of inadequate preparation with blame tossed between the Ministry and Federations.

As if that was not enough, while our athletes were busy flying the Kenyan flag high at the Rio Olympics in 2016, funds were being misappropriated. The dark cloud of corruption charges following Wario did not stop his appointment to the Austria Embassy. To recycle people whose integrity has been in question is to treat Kenyans with contempt and foster a culture of impunity.

The government is failing youth who depend on functional systems to make a living for themselves. If we are trying to have a level playing field for every young Kenyan, then the we need to have an education system that nurtures all-round individuals, a solution to the unemployment headache and frameworks that let youth exploit their talents to maximum potential.

It is a disservice to treat the Ministry of Sports, Culture and Arts like an afterthought that does not deserve a qualified individual who will elevate a country that boasts of natural sporting talent to the next level. The government should focus on implementing the promises they made while running for a second term, which to be honest are attainable.

Kenya should borrow a leaf from Malaysia who appointed 27-year-old Syed Abdul Rahman for the Sports and Youth Ministerial job. Wouldn’t it work in the government’s favor to actively tap into youthful zeal to attain the Big 4 Agenda? With a very youthful population like ours, youth empowerment will guarantee development on all fronts.

The Conversation on Mental Health can not be ignored anymore…

Posted by on 27th February 2019

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The frequency of news on suicides and crimes of passions has gone up in recent times bringing to fore the Mental Health Crisis in Kenya that has been overlooked for a very long time. Unfortunately, mental disorders come with a tag of shame and stigma in the Kenyan and African society at large making it hard for people to seek help when they need it.

A research conducted by Daily Nation had shocking revelations, with suicides being the 2nd leading cause of death for people aged 15-29 years. The research also points out that one out of 4 people suffer a mental disorder at some point in their lives, with Kenya ranking 6th in Africa with about 2 million people with depression. What is most shocking however, is the inadequate support for the Mental Health sector with just 62 psychiatrists in Kenya and a lack of separate budget for Mental Health as is the case in 54 other member states of WHO.

Nominated Senator, Sylvia Kasanga has sponsored a Bill to amend the Mental Health Act. Watch the two-part interview and share your thoughts regarding the Bill on the comment section. Alternatively, register and comment directly on the bill on our Dokeza platform https://dokeza.mzalendo.com/bills/bill-act-parliament-amend-mental-health-act-and-co/ and let your view count as we push for a healthier Kenya.

Law should be justly exercised by courts and security forces in equal measure

Posted by on 19th February 2019

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Almost two years later of living in anguish and pain, baby Pendo’s family finally had something to smile about after an inquest found five officers culpable for her untimely death during the August 2017 post-election chaos that rocked parts of the country. The saddening bit about her death wasn’t the fact that she was denied a chance to realize her potential but that it was totally preventable. Had the officers in charge that night exercised restraint and proper execution of duties, the baby would’ve stayed unharmed in her mother’s safe arms.

Having this in mind, the parliament’s resumption of sittings wouldn’t have been timelier as the replacement of the Inspector General is top in the agenda of the MPs’ sessions. Current IG will be retiring in March 2019 marking four years since he took office. That said MPs are expected to start considering nominees for placement at the National Police Service Commission to take on the challenging task.

With Kenya’s security system being still at refinement infancy, it is important that whoever replaces Boinett has the charisma and ability to spearhead much needed reforms in the sector. And that brings to light the process of recruitment of his position. The law requires that the President appoints the IG then parliament approves the appointment.

The greater hopes of the country shall thereby lie in parliament. Since the approval will be subject to vetting and debate, it will allow the public to be privy to the process. Comparatively, the president’s nomination process is clouded in secrecy with few if any being in the know of how the nominee was settled at.

Parliament will have to come together and show maturity during vetting since the security of the state lies in the competence of the nominee. It will have to put aside its political differences for the betterment of the state. It will have to dissociate itself with political bias.

It will have to scrutinize the integrity of the nominee. Several reports have named the police sector as the most corrupt in the country and whoever heads the institution must have the virtuousness of Caesar’s wife. He/she must be able to bring change from within and have themselves as a pedestal of virtue.

They must also have a proper human rights record. Various human rights’ violations have been perpetuated by the police in this country as in the case of baby Pendo and the late Martin Koome who was tortured to death in a cell in 2013. We cannot afford to have a sympathizer of such atrocities.

Parliament must ensure that the nominee is sober and firm on his principles. An individual who exercises independence of thought and isn’t susceptible to executive pressure. We need to see a police boss who is neutral and firm, and only biased towards the law.

Parliament must refrain from being a rubber-stamp of the executive and scrutinize the nominee’s record on all these factors with soberness, fairness, adherence to the constitution and most importantly, loyalty to the good of the people.

And while at it, it would be great to have the President nominate a woman for a change.

 

Do the calls for a referendum have the goodwill of people?

Posted by on 11th February 2019

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Calls for a referendum have built up momentum this past week with ODM party, Women leaders, Deputy President William Ruto and Wiper Party leader Kalonzo Musyoka weighing in on the matter with suggestions of their own.

It is clear however that a lot of focus is being placed on the Executive arm with the ODM leadership and the Women’s Building Bridges movement pushing for its expansion and inclusion of the Prime Minister position. Wiper leader, Kalonzo seemed to be on the same wavelength with the two groups on the matter until he added a twist to it with calls for the removal of the presidential term limit, reminiscent of former President Moi Days.

The Deputy President on the other hand dismissed the clamour for the PM arrangement and instead proposed that the runner-up in the election becomes leader of the opposition. Which addresses a valid concern with the current lack of opposition in place to play watchdog.

But while we’re on the subject of a referendum, how many of the leaders have actually consulted the public to get their perspective on the implementation of the 2010 constitution so far? Do they acknowledge if the National government arms adhered to the constitution there would be no need for new positions?

While processing this, it’s good to applaud the efforts by Third Way Alliance Party Leader, Ekuru Aukot who through his Punguza Mzigo Campaign has openly addressed the matter of over-representation that MPs seem to conveniently shy away from. He has proposed that the current 290 constituencies be scraped off and the 47 counties be considered as single constituency units. If the proposal is implemented, the number of MPs would be a mere 147 [47 senators, 94 MPs – a man and woman from each county and 6 special interest seats] instead of the 416 we have presently. Not only will this lessen the burden on the taxpayer but it will also create a good avenue for thorough scrutiny of each member’s record and allow the public to hold them to account. The two-thirds rule would also be automatically realized.

On the other hand, it is becoming evident that leaders do not have the interests of the people at heart, since the new positions being proposed are just a safety net for them in the case of an unfavorable outcome during an election. Notwithstanding, the fact the elected Members of National Assembly and  Women Representatives entrench a conflict of interest in allocating themselves Constituency Development Funds (NG-CDF) and the Affirmative Action Funds (NG-AAF) respectively. MPs implementation tasks undertaken using the two funds are often a duplication of National and County Government functions.

It is about time that any constitutional amendments proposed come from the taxpayers and made their way to the top and not the other way around. For the longest time we’ve been accustomed to boardroom decisions that are presumed to represent Wanjiku’s voice.

However, we must give credit where it’s due. Third Way Alliance and ODM’s one 7-year non-renewable term for the presidency will challenge the seat-holders to achieve as much as possible during their tenure, as opposed to banking on a second term to “leave a legacy” and make up for the first term they didn’t maximize on. Women leaders have also made a good step towards inclusivity, with calls for equal representation in non-elective positions such as the cabinet and all arms of government that will replicate Canada under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

While we expect more leaders to join in on the referendum calls, they should always remember that they serve at the pleasure of their constituents. They should therefore appropriately represent them and involve them in decision making before calling on them to go to the ballot.

Kenyans must also stay vigilant and resist the temptation to be roped into the political theatrics that our leaders may resort to while drumming support for whatever agenda they may be pushing. At the end of the day, there is power in our vote and we should find the devil in the details as leaders continue presenting draft proposals to the Building Bridges Initiative rather than falling for their bait.