Currently browsing posts by mzalendo

The Upcoming Primaries are a Testament We Suffer Integrity Deficit

Posted by on 24th March 2017

Categories: Uncategorized

Every election year Kenyans are treated to a circus in the name of party primaries where party owners prop up their favorites for nomination and pretend they were democratically elected. This year will be no different and the signs are already there. Members of the party will cry foul play only to rescind and support a process that clearly lacks integrity. The bold ones move to smaller insignificant parties in the hope that the electorate will keep their eyes on the bull’s eye.

When Jubilee launched the technology based voting system at the primaries there was brief sigh of relief. The smart card was indeed as some pundits have argued, a game-changer. It is supposed to kill double voting or ghost voting. The smart card is indeed the future of restoring integrity in primaries as it streamlines the process and allows members to vote only their choice candidate. But as the Anti-Corruption whistleblower John Githongo once said, “You can’t digitize values.” Some things are beyond technology. It’s a culture problem.

Jubilee Party now appears unsure whether to proceed in this direction. The head of the Secretariat Raphael Tuju announced their National Elections Board will make a decision on the way forward. Why the caution when this was the sure way to achieve free and fair elections? Your guess is as good as mine. Corrupt aspirants and members are pressuring the party to abandon the digital smart cards to allow them have their field day as usual. But the party has already spent a lot in the digital cards and is likely to employ the technology in some areas while voting the old way in more controversial zones. This simply means our problem is the culture of impunity and corruption at this level can’t be defeated by technology alone.

This week, the High Court issued a directive allowing politicians to operate within the old law that allows them to defect 45 days before an election as opposed to the current law that changed the time frame to 120 days before elections. While this is indeed bad news for IEBC that needs to publish list of all party members it speaks volumes about the level of trust our politicians have in their own parties. The matter was brought to court by governors who felt the law limited the period for party-hopping.

While IEBC has every reason to make the court change its ruling we must be alive to the challenges that politicians are facing under cartels and greedy politicians who care little about the will of the people except minting money. And sadly this issue cuts across the political divide. NASA for instance hasn’t even decided on the flag bearer but the cracks are there. The four main parties forming NASA can’t agree on how to field candidates for primaries. Majority of the parties want to go it alone for fear of losing to favorites of the party owners.

The way we structure our political primaries only those close to the party powers have a chance. No wonder women get the shorter hand of the stick during party primaries. The patriarchy system in our party politics is so grounded that chaos rocked a women’s only gathering at Bomas a few days ago that was meant to build support among women. Gender PS rocked the boat after bidding support for the incumbent infuriating other women present who saw her as a betrayer. The phrase women are their own enemies couldn’t have been more right.

It’s pointless for politicians and religious leaders to ask IEBC if it is ready to conduct a free and fair election when rigging takes place at the primaries. Bigger parties Jubilee and NASA have strong presence in Rift Valley, Central and Western, Coast and Eastern respectively. If primaries are shambolic then to wait for free and fair elections in August is to insult our intelligence.

If Party leaders in Kenya are serious about free and fair primaries like they’ve been saying they should first work to institutionalize parties. Make them impossible to dismantle. We can’t have new parties every election year formed only with the intention of giving an individual power and dismantling it when it no longer serves such purposes. Institutionalization of political parties will also see women with substance taking center stage in politics not out of favor with party owners but because they believe in the system and it works.

Nonetheless, the main people who can aid in this process and ensure at the very least that the country gets leaders worth its salt are the electorate. But this can be achieved when we take seriously chapter 6 of our constitution on integrity. We must stop getting excited when people throw us money and demand to know where it is coming from or how they intend to recuperate it. Otherwise we shall continue having leaders without integrity who are only too happy to make money through corrupt deals. Your thoughts?

 

State of the Nation Address Tells Voters to Scrutinize Manifestos

Posted by on 18th March 2017

Categories: Uncategorized

This year’s State of the Nation address, was the last as President Kenyatta first term winds up. The President was very calculative highlighting Jubilee’s successes and remaining vague on the failures. But a good score card should also bring out the failures and point out the way forward.

The Jubilee administration began on high tempo having made promises that resonated well with majority youthful Kenyans. Indeed the government has attempted to keep these promises but at a great corruption cost. Every mega Jubilee project benefited a cabal of Kenyansthrough kick-backs thereby inflating project’s original cost. Take The Standard Gauge Railway that was one of the key promises. The President evaded the politics surrounding the cost-benefit of the project especially after key landlocked countries appear to abandon it for Tanzania’s choice route to the Indian Ocean. And the fact that Tanzania’s SGR is four times longer than Kenya’s and still cost-effective.

President Kenyatta avoided mentioning the doctor’s strike that paralyzed the public for over 100 days and the Afya House scandal that was unearthed last November. Instead the President belabored the benefits of equipment in hospitals and the advantage NHIF has brought to the people. At the very least the President could’ve told us how he intended to make sure a doctor’s strike never happens again.

Moreover, the State of the Nation address evaded talking about the insecurity in the country and particularly North Rift where bandits are killing people and rendering them poor in the name of cattle rustling. Instead the President lashed out at unnamed politicians from these regions who are inciting the public. There was no mention of the exact plan or way forward; only that the government will use all means at its disposal to bring to justice the perpetrators.

President Uhuru proudly announced that under his administration the ratio of police to the population is 1 officer for 380 Kenyans which is indeed better considering the UN ratio is 1 officer for 450 citizens. The challenge with this however is the lack of impact. It’s actually funny that crime rate doesn’t reflect the ratio that admittedly supersedes UN’s standards. Cattle rustling remains a menace which means the government should re-think its training. Is six months enough to trust someone with a gun?

An opinion poll by Ipsos in June last year revealed the crime rate in Nairobi was almost twice the National average. The same poll revealed that majority crime victims do not report the crime and 40% arguing the police are inefficient in resolving crime. This can be confirmed by the grand corruption that has seen nobody significant charged in court.The Police ratio means nothing if the police have little value for human life and driven by corruption.

It has not escaped Kenyans, the corruption that has accompanied the realization of Jubilee’s mega projects. Perhaps learning from these, Kenyans should demand that this government and any other that promises mega projects must also show the most cost-effective way of achieving that project as well as the cost-benefits and stick with it failure to which there should be repercussions.

Nonetheless, we must give the devil his dues. Being the first government under devolution, Jubilee administration has performed impressively in ensuring devolution succeeds. Most of the teething problems and existing challenges are not so much the Executive’s making but the legislators as we opined in our last blog. This goes to confirm that all a government needs is political will to act and that’s what is missing in other key sectors.

Indeed the President has also supported the implementation of the new Constitution although the 11th Parliament failed terribly in its independence from the executive often acting as a rubber stamp rather than an oversight arm of the government. The attempt to change, or revise  laws to suit party interests as was the case with the legislation on election laws where CORD and Jubilee battled it out along party lines rather than in the interest of the public is a point in case.

If the 2017 State of the Nation highlighted anything, it is that the electorate needs to be keener when leaders are making promises this year. The public must also be more thorough in verifying the information and the ability to implement projects politicians promise. Regardless of the party, evaluate if their promises make sense. Is it deliverable and a priority to you?

 

 

Devolution’s Promise Checked by Unresponsive Leaders

Posted by on 10th March 2017

Categories: Uncategorized

It appears 2017 will be the year of alternative facts in Kenya. For instance, President Uhuru Kenyatta this week said that our doctors are better paid than their private counter-parts but official documents show that as late as October last year, a medical officer (intern) was getting a salary of Sh. 35,910. Indeed this is not the starting salary for those joining the private sector currently. The President was addressing Kenyans during the fourth Devolution Conference in Naivasha. Before we drown each other on social media with arguments on the doctors greed, let us do some due diligence. It’s an election year, there will be a lot of alternative facts.

The Baringo bloodshed is another issue that’s making politicians continue giving their versions of fabricated truth. While the Deputy President’s shoot to kill order is a little aggressive and might be counter-productive, the way the politicians in the region have come out to oppose the directive without sound alternative solutions leaves a lot to be desired. Also, that this is coming to the fore right when we’re headed for elections makes one wonder whether it is purely political. Regardless of where we stand politically, we should never condone thievery, destruction of property and killing of persons in the name of anything – culture or politics.

This year’s devolution conference focused on the transformation devolution has brought to the country. Indeed to the credit of the National and Devolved governments, the local mwananchi has seen some of the fruits of this new system of governance. Some Kenyans in marginalized areas saw a tarmac road for the first time since independence courtesy of devolution. Counties in Western Kenya have seen their residents enjoy a continuous flow of water even during the prolonged drought courtesy of devolution.

Indeed political tensions have toned down and Kenyans are more tolerant of leaders from other regions as they realize redistribution of resources unlike the previous governance system. Devolution ensures proper allocation and distribution of resources regardless of whoever becomes President, so the suspicion previously linked with the office has decreased.

Nonetheless, the journey hasn’t been a walk in the park because of the obvious lack of management skills among some governors as evidenced by heavy spending on otherwise unnecessary projects. Also Senators and Members of the County Assembly (MCAs) have proved a hindrance to devolution. Senators are supposed to defend resource allocation to the counties and provide oversight with regard to matters raised in the Auditor General’s report.  On the other hand MCAs are expected to legislate to address county priorities, opportunities and challenges as well as oversight the county budget.

The rivalry between Senators and Governors has only created bad blood, stalled development and proper implementation of devolution. Nobody doubts corruption has been rampant at the county level but the much Senators could do was complain on the floor of the House. Other than a few laws to help with streamlining counties, there’s been little or no oversight by the Senators other than entertaining impeachment motions by overzealous MCAs.

Rather than the Senators working closely with the governors, attending their conferences to get a feel of what exactly governors are up to and therefore challenge them from a point of information. Senators took to avoiding Devolution conferences as a way of showing their disapproval of the ongoing corruption. Only three senators attended last year’s devolution conference in Meru. In addition, most Senators have promised to unseat the current governors.

But that’s the thing with our politics, our politicians make emotional decisions, repeat same tactics that bear little or no fruit and get personal with each other at the expense of the nation. Senators now want to be governors, rather than finding ways to seal the loopholes through the law. How naïve, yet we know part of the problem has been MCAs who are only too excited to gobble up tax payers money rather than legislate useful county laws.

And while we’re on MCAs, a number of them missed the conference because they failed to adjust their calendars to rhyme with the devolution conference. It’s pointless to underscore here that the MCAs are one of the biggest stakeholders in devolution and yet failed to pass an adjournment motion allowing them to attend the fourth devolution conference. After four solid years it appears the MCAs still need training on how to conduct House business that coincides with important issues. Their unnecessary standoffs with governors over county budgets have led to stalled projects costing the county more in form of legal fees from unsatisfied contractors. Their lavish and otherwise useless benchmarking trips have led to wastage of county resources.

As we prepare to exercise our political democratic right on 8th August let us think about devolution and consider leaders who believe in it especially at the MCA level. Let’s be keen on their promises and see if they really understand what devolution is about. The same rod should apply to those who want to be Governors and Senators too. Let’s protect devolution at the ballot.

 

Research shows Youth Political Apathy is linked to Leaders’ Aloofness

Posted by on 3rd March 2017

Categories: Uncategorized

Mzalendo’s recent research on the civic attitudes and political opinions of Kenyans on Facebook revealed some very interesting facts. While assessing voter apathy was one of the research objectives, we got a glimpse into one of the possible reasons at least among the youth. Over 8300 people responded to the research and 70% of them said MPs are only interested in votes and not in their opinions. Could this mean the youth think it unwise to vote if their opinion is not considered? About 6 million Kenyans are on Facebook, most of them youth as our research confirmed.

Only a mere 3.4 % of the respondents were of the strong opinion that MPs cared about what they think. On the other hand, 65 % of the respondents said MPs do not care about them and 17.2 % remained non-committal. These findings may also explain the recent opinion polls that showed majority voters were planning to send home over half of the current MPs come August. When asked about MPs responsiveness to the public’s needs again the respondents re-emphasized that their leaders didn’t care.

Parliament business in the current session has been heavily affected as MPs miss House sittings to attend to their re-election campaign. Parliamentarians’ behavior supports the public’s claim of MPs aloofness as the latter are inaccessible until the campaign cycle when they’re trying to get re-elected. And still going by our findings the re-connection is not in the interest of the electorate but the candidate who is keener on being re-elected rather than understanding the public needs.

Our findings also revealed that 64.4% of the respondents were likely not to vote in the coming August 8th elections compared to only 10.9% who were very likely to vote. The youth are less interested in the voting exercise as they feel the aspirants have little interest in what they have to say.

Interestingly though, was the fact that despite the behavior of our elected leaders, majority youth (55 per cent) say they believe they can affect legislation, although not so much women. The confidence that they can affect legislation is only curtailed by the inaccessibility of the avenues in which they can have their input considered. In order to put this hope alive, Parliament may consider innovative approaches to find ways to include the youth online in the legislative process.

Our findings reveal a very politically informed youth with 86 per cent of the respondents knowing when the elections will be held, their constituencies and their MPs also. Additionally, 70% of the respondents are well informed about Parliament. Moreover, 47.2 % said that they had a good understanding of the political system.

Further, the research results revealed that 55% participants were confident of their capacity to influence legislation. This shows that the youth are craving for forums to give their valuable opinions on matters discussed in Parliament and the governance structure as a whole.

However we realized majority youth are not familiar with the oversight roles of Executive (President), the Legislature, and Governors. This may part be due to scarcity of easy to understand information on this front. This vindicates the accusation that Kenyan citizens are subjected to minimum, if any, civic education hence lack of participation in budgeting and vetting processes. Aspirants to elective offices and incumbents need to take note of these findings as they undertake their election campaigns and plan how to deliver on their future mandate.

The research shows exposing more youth to mzalendo.com and other forums with important political information about the country, helps increase their knowledge and improves the quality of their engagement with government and elected leaders. The findings point to a more detached and less informed women, so there’s a need to investigate further why women are disinterested in politics and how to engage them better.

All in all it is clear the youth are quite informed and are interested in playing a key role but are growing suspicious of politicians and therefore appear to distrust the system. The research findings are available here and here.  However, considering that 77 % of the respondents (mostly youth) had already registered to vote by mid-November, we highly encourage them to exercise their democratic right to vote. Actually, this would be a good opportunity to add their voice and send home those leaders they no longer feel care about their opinion and try new leaders.

 

 

Harambee Spirit Not An Excuse to Abdicate Roles

Posted by on 24th February 2017

Categories: Uncategorized

Kenya is possibly one of the few if not the only country that has attained middle income status but still heavily relies on donations to run its affairs. The drought that’s ravaging the country has now been given up to the donor family to handle with Kenya Red Cross at the fore front. This is despite the fact that it’s a cyclic event and should therefore be manageable. One wonders whether we shall fundraise to end the Baringo bloodshed that is now appearing to be organized crime.

The 11th Parliament has under the guidance of nominated MP Johnson Sakaja rightfully drafted the Penal Code Bill as an attempt to check the Cattle Rustling menace that has mutated from a cultural activity to alleged militia at the disposal of certain politicians. This group has graduated from theft with violence to blatant killing of Kenyans, particularly in the ASAL regions yet there’s little or no swift justice.

On the day IEBC launched their Mass Voter Registration, President Uhuru was on the same day also commissioning modern gear for police use in terror war. It beats the point to display such heavy artillery yet Kenyans are dying from the hands of bandits with way inferior weapons. The MPs from the regions most affected are now asking that we declare cattle rustling a national disaster. This in essence is an admission that as a country we are unable to handle this challenge and are therefore asking for intervention from well-wishers and the donor family.

It’s really surprising how this Armored Police Vehicles (APC) are easily available and effective in dispersing street protests yet the same effectiveness cannot be seen when Kenyans are attacked by bandits hiding behind cultural activities. The Ministry of Interior under the leadership of CS Nkaissery should deploy the APCs where they are most needed and nip this act in the bud. And if politicians are involved they should be arraigned in court and charged accordingly. We can’t declare everything a national disaster, even things within our ability to handle.

And while we’re on cattle rustling; Members of Parliament who defended this act should be the main suspects. It’s unimaginable that a representative of the people has no qualms with someone who steals people’s property, mimes and rapes women rendering them poor. Anyone who defends such criminal activities as culture needs to be a guest of the state.

Meanwhile, majority of poor Kenyans have resorted to fundraising to afford treatment in private hospitals outside the country as a result of the biting doctor’s strike that has stalled services in public hospitals. From the Parliament hearing where the doctors representatives and Health ministry officials argued their case on the validity of the CBA, it now appears the ministry was malicious from the very beginning. Former Health PS Mark Bor stunned the hearing saying the document is illegitimate as draft to inform deliberations between the Council of Governors, the Public Service Commission and the Salaries and Renumeration Commission (SRC). If this is not wickedness on another level, then we don’t know what is.

A middle income country should have a reliable public health care. The notion that individuals within government are attempting to fail the public health to drive profits to private hospitals is another form of betrayal. Health Ministry and Treasury officials of the school of thought that implementing CBA will collapse the private hospitals should do the honorable thing and resign. Until we have people who have the public’s interest in office we shall continue fundraising for everything that we should easily get from our public institutions.

Our leaders have abused the Spirit of Harambee as envisioned in our Constitution by abdicating their duties to fundraising despite our taxes. We can’t be fundraising every time there’s drought and there are people we are paying to mitigate the same. We can’t keep fundraising for friends to access health services yet we have both appointed and elected officials who are paid by our taxes. We have to stop accepting this distorted view of Harambee spirit and start demanding fruits for the heavy taxes we’re paying.

As we gear up for the campaigns let us take note of candidates committed to making the public service work. Governors who have made a mockery of devolution and abetted the collapse of public institutions while devolving corruption should be shown the contempt card in August alongside other elected leaders who have failed in their representation. In August, we must stand on the right side of history and vote selfishly. Kindly visit your local IEBC constituency offices to either register to vote or verify your details in preparation for polling day.

 

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

Posted by on 18th February 2017

Categories: Uncategorized

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

Categories: Uncategorized

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

Categories: Uncategorized

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

Categories: Uncategorized

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

Categories: Uncategorized

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.