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Mzalendo Launches the People’s Shujaaz Awards

Posted by on 28th November 2014

Categories: News

Press Release – Mzalendo Launches the People’s Shujaaz awards

Nairobi, 28th November 2014 – Mzalendo Trust today launched the People’s Shujaaz Awards – an initiative to celebrate Parliamentarians that have excelled in championing issues of great public interest in Parliament – the National Assembly and Senate. The Parliamentarians were selected based on bills moved, contributions to bills, motions raised and statements issued from March 2013 to date.

“At the centre of these Awards are the bread and butter issues that drive Kenyan election campaigns and politics like food, health, water, education, security as well as core mandates of Parliament like devolution and budgetary oversight. The issues and list of nominees were arrived at through collaborative efforts between Mzalendo and other civil societies working on governance issues,” said Jessica Musila, Mzalendo’s Executive Director.

The inaugural People’s Shujaaz Awards has 10 categories with 3 nominees each. Mzalendo’s review of the Parliamentary business revealed discussions on health, water and budgetary oversight dominated debate. Kenyans have an opportunity to select their best choice in each category through online voting on www.mzalendo.com. Voting closes on 7th December 2014, 11.59pm and finalists will be announced and awarded gifts on 11th December 2014.

Kenyans spend a lot of time bashing politicians and there is a risk that we may dismiss or fail to encourage those who are actually representing their interests. People’s Shujaaz Awards is an attempt to fix that – we believe that it is important to point out that it is not all doom and gloom when it comes to Parliamentarians. The People’s Shujaaz Awards complement the National Honours the Presidency bestows on Kenyans who have given exemplary service to the country every year.

Through this initiative, Mzalendo seeks to gently nudge Parliamentarians to champion public interest, raise public awareness on the roles of MPs and Senators plus sensitize them on the need to hold their leaders to account. Mzalendo is a non-partisan Parliamentary Monitoring initiative which keeps an eye on Parliament and makes information on Parliamentarians and their activities easily accessible to the public.

For
 more information
 please
 contact:

Jessica
Musila,
0714
391812, Jessica@mzalendo.com

For
general
enquiries
email
about
the organization, email: info@mzalendo.com

 

 

 

 

On the Incursion into Somalia

Posted by on 21st October 2011

Categories: News

By Mzalendo Contributor – Moreen Majiwa

Call it what you will an incursion, an invasion, the pursuit of kidnappers, a military offensive against a terrorist group – Kenya’s operation in Somalia has dominated our collective consciousness over the past week.

What initially started out as pursuit of kidnappers seems to have turned out to be a much more ambitious project – an operation involving thousands of Kenyan troops targeted at routing out Al Shabaab. According to government spokesperson Alfred Mutua, the government aims to “track down and dismantle the Al-Shabaab.”

On Sunday, 16.10.11, Kenyan troops crossed the border into Somalia, in pursuit of the Al Shabaab.   On Wednesday, 19.10.11, the military spokesperson announced that the government had killed 70+ Al Shabaab rebels and captured three towns.  In return Al Shabaab threatened reprisals unless Kenyan troops immediately withdraw from Somalia.

Meanwhile, the Assistant Minister for Internal Security Orwa Ojodeh has proposed security measures that involve:

  • Restricting chartered flights to and from North-eastern Province,
  • Screening of all buses and flights headed to and coming from regions bordering Somalia
  • Vetting and identification of all passengers on such flights or buses
  • Clearance certification for flights headed to and coming from North Eastern, Upper Eastern, Upper Rift Valley and Northern Coast to be obtained from the police

The Assistant Minister has stated that that in the coming week the mother of all operations will be carried out in Eastleigh.  His exact words, ‘This (the Al Shabaab issue) is like a big animal, the tail in Somalia, and the head of the animal is hidden here in Eastleigh…After the Somalia thing is over, I am going to do a mother of all operations here in Nairobi to remove all Al Shabaab and Al Qaeda.”

It’s difficult to estimate the social the impact and the unintended consequences of the incursion as yet.  The Al Shabaab threat looms heavy.  MPs Aden Duale, Hussien Ali, Aden Keynan, Mohamed Affey, and Bonny Khalwale have already pointed out the likelihood of the new security measures being used to discriminate against Kenyans of Somali descent.

There is also the financial cost of the operation.  An article in the Business Daily estimates that the cost of maintaining a soldier  in the battlefield is 7,000 Kshs a day and that the country could end up spending 210 million Kshs per month.   The Treasury has also announced possible spending cuts to fund the operation.

While we all support our Kenyan troops among the public two distinct schools on thoughts on the operation have emerged some stating that such action is long over due, while others are vehemently opposed on the basis that such an operation an against a guerrilla group is counter-productive?

Your thoughts?

Are Policy Makers Doing Enough?

Posted by on 8th October 2011

Categories: News

By Mzalendo Contributor – Moreen Majiwa

  • The Kenyan Shilling has fallen 25% percent against the dollar since January
  • Inflation is up by 17.1%
  • Food inflation is up by 24.4%
  • Transport inflation is up 24.8%
  • Economic Growth slowed to 4.1%
  • KPLC has raised the price of electricity per unit

You’d be hard pressed to find a Kenyan on the street that would say they have not been affected by the food costs, fuel costs, or the general cost of doing business.   Yes,  there are external factors that have affected the value of the shilling – the Euro zone crisis, persistent drought in the region, volatile oil prices etc. However internal factors i.e. the effect of poor policy, planning and practice are also to blame for the declining value of shilling. An article in the Nation names the Ministries of Industrialisation, Agriculture, Energy, Trade, Tourism, Planning and Vision 2030 and the Kenyan Consumer playing a large part in where we are economically.

The policy makers’ response? Parliament’s Finance, Planning and Trade Committee has proposed the government attempt to obtain ‘emergency balance of payment support from the International Monetary Fund and other development partners.’ According to the committee’s head, Nambale MP Chris Okemo, ‘this is the only way to stem the excess volatility between the shilling and the other currencies’.

The committee has also summoned the Central Bank Governor seeking an explanation for the rapid decline of the value of the shilling. In September President Kibaki assented to the Price Control (Essential Goods) Bill. The Act allows the government to set maximum prices on essential goods i.e. maize flour, cooking oil, sugar etc. The 2011/2012 Budget proposed the removal of excise duty kerosene, and essential goods. I’m yet to see and or hear anyone speaking of the benefits of these either of these measures. The President has reached out to the International Monetary Fund for financial aid. The Prime Minister has set up a committee to ‘save the shilling’. The committee formed this month is comprised of officials from the Office of the President, the Treasury, Central Bank of Kenya, the Ministry of Planning and private sector executives. The Parliamentary Committee on the Budget headed by MP Elias Mbau is seeking a 30 billion shilling economic stimulus package to cushion the poor against the effect of inflation and the falling shilling. The MP has suggested that the 30 billion shilling cash injection be raised through a ban on non-essential travel by public officers overseas (yes please), and additional taxes for the rich and sectors with high margins. I wonder if this plan includes having MPs remit their taxes in full. The Central Bank of Kenya seems to be more cautious in its limited interventions seeming to prefer to wait and see if the market will self-correct.

The thing is a lot of these interventions have occurred in the last two months despite the fact that problem seems to have become noticeable in January 2011 and probably started way before. Are the interventions adequate or is this a case of too little too late? Is the government doing enough to rectify the situation?

On Sidelining of Commissions and Independent Bodies

Posted by on 27th September 2011

Categories: Kenya Constitution News

By Mzalendo Contributor Moreen Majiwa

Why form commissions and independent bodies if they are going to be sidelined?  The government/parliament has a very poor record of non-interference, follow through, or implementing recommendations of commissions and independent bodies created to perform specific tasks. This trend seems to have carried on in the new dispensation, let’s review.

First, the Constitution Implementation Commission (CIC), whose role is to oversee the implementation of the Proposed Constitution, seems to have a hit several roadblocks i.e. the wrangle between the commission and government over the issue of payment of salaries of the commissioners. The most recent development in the CIC salary dispute being the A-G’s dismissal of a petition brought against himself, the Minister of Finance, and the Public Service Commission, pay negotiations are still ongoing.

Second, the CIC is being increasingly sidelined in its oversight role. Parliament passed 15 bills in less than two weeks against the CIC’s advice and disobeying a court injunction granted to stop the passage of said bills. There’s the unilateral decision by the cabinet to propose the postponement of the date of the next election contrary to the CIC advice, the issue is currently in the hands of the Supreme Court. and the illegal passage of two acts the National Government Loans Guarantee Act and the Contingencies and County Emergency Fund Act.

Third, despite the fact that the IEBC is supposed to be an independent body,  a section of MPs are attempting to influence the panels shortlist of candidates for the positions of commissioners.

I bring this up because there are 11 commissions are to be formed in the new dispensation. Commissions cost taxpayers millions probably billions of shillings every year. The role of commissions play is crucial to reform. However commissions and independent bodies this can only do their job successfully if given an enabling environment and so far it appears parliament is the biggest barrier to proper functioning of the very commission they create.

On the Teachers’ Strike

Posted by on 9th September 2011

Categories: News

The public education system needs more than just the hiring of new teachers to correct everything that’s wrong with it. Some would say the whole 8.4.4 system needs an overhaul to stay relevant. However if the government does nothing else with regard to reforming the public education system this yea, it should hire more teachers.

The internationally recommended teacher student ratio is 1 to 35. Student ratio in most of Kenya’s public schools is one teacher for every 50 students. In some schools the teacher pupil ratio is as high as 1 to 100.

With those kind numbers it’s hardly surprising that this week 240,000 teachers launched an open ended, nation wide strike, which affects 10 million primary and secondary school children. The teachers are demanding the government hire more educators to ease over crowding in classrooms. KNUT (Kenya National Union of Teachers) estimates 79,000 are teachers needed to cover the deficit.

A 1 to 100-teacher student ratio and a 79,000 deficit in teacher numbers has detrimental on both the educators and the children. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out the quality of education is reduced as the ratio increases. In fact with such a ratio one wonders how many children that graduate from class to class acquire even the most basic literacy and numeracy skills? Or how one teacher teaching 50 plus students to manages to ensure a well managed classroom and a skilful assessment of all 50 plus children to facilitate learning and reduce disparities? My guess is that as the teacher student ratio increases, education in public schools may become more about crowd control than actual teaching.

The government response to the teachers strike has been varied some MPs have threatened to stop the enactment of the Finance and Appropriations Bills if the demand for employment of additional teachers is not meant. The Minister of Education proposed the hiring of 20,000 on temporary contracts, an idea that was quickly shot down by the KNUT. The Finance Minister has stated unequivocally that there is no money in the budget for the employment of additional teachers.

Given that’s understaffing in public schools is no secret and long term negative implications of the shortage of teachers on the society why did the government divert money from the budget meant for hiring new teachers to the Department of Defence?

Bio Safety Act /GMOs, Have The Promises Been Kept?

Posted by on 3rd August 2011

Categories: MP Participation News

By Moreen Majiwa (@mmajiwa)

The issue of whether or not to import GMO’s into the country has been ongoing for over a decade.  Despite the initial resistance to the Bio Saftey Bill it was passed almost unanimously during its third reading. The passage of the Bio-Safety Act was the official enactment of a law to that would both allow and govern the importation of GMOs. Several MPs supported the bill with the promise that GMOs would be properly policed. Below are excerpts from the debate on the Bio-Safety Act and the names of the MPs who supported the Bill and those that did not.

Have the promises on regulation of GMOs made during debate on the Bio Safety bill been kept?  You decide.

MPs who supported the Bill

Dr. Kilemi Mwiria (The Assistant Minister for Higher Education, Science and Technology)

‘This is a Bill on safety to safeguard Kenyans against the unintended use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). In other words, it is to guard against the very same fears that a lot of us are expressing with regard to issues of biotechnology. It is also to guard us against a situation which is already occurring in that we already have GMOs with us.’

Robert Monda: “we are putting in place safety and regulatory mechanism so that we can through an Act regulate any GMOs. We want to allay the fears that have been expressed by hon. Members – I think it is the name that has fuelled the fears. These are genetically modified organisms! That is simple and straightforward English: It is not science. We want to be very clear that we do not create unnecessary fear in the public; that GMOs are coming in with complications, health problems or lack of food. We are not introducing GMOs now. They are already there!”

William Ruto: “There are very clear guidelines on the safe use of GMOs that are provide in the Bill. The framework established under the Bill are full-proof mechanism that no GMO will be introduced into this country unless it has been subjected to a thorough research and scientific analysis to ensure that it is safe in not only in terms of health for humans beings but also safe for the environment.”

Jakoyo Midiwo: “It is very surprising that there is lot of opposition to this bill.”

Dr. Wilber Otichilo: “GMOs are part of science and technology. This Bill is going to guard this country against anybody bringing in GMOs or any other crops that we deem unfit for this country.”

Sally Kosgey: “Sir, the new law does not seek to introduce any GMOs or products of GMOs without strict supervision and quarantine. The new law is, indeed, for the protection of Kenyans from careless escapes or presentation of GMOs or products of GMOs, in strict accordance with the Cartagena Protocol”

Per the Hansard MPs who spoke in support of the bill – David Koech, Elizabeth Ongoro, Danson Mungatana, Rachel Shebesh, Noah Wekesa

MPs Opposed to the Bill

Silas Ruteere: “I am not convinced because I know contrary to what has been advocated for the countries that use GMOs like maize or sorghum…grow then for animals. WE want to introduce GMOS but the mechanisms for the issues to do with warehouses, proper control and lack of control for contamination of our seeds have not been provided for in the bill.”

John Mututho: “I am prepared to table a document which gives a summary of the world research on food productivity based on GMOs, showing clearly that there has never been any significant change except for the maize variety MO810, which increased up to a level of 10% and not beyond that .”

Aden Duale:the fundamental question I want to ask and which I want everybody to hear is; if today you are the policy-maker in this country, could you allow a large scale-farmer to plant GMOs? If you are a policy-maker in this country, you need to ask yourself; if you were a consumer, will you eat such food?”

Franklin Bett: “We must not mix these seeds with other seeds. I want to say that we must allow risk assessment to be properly done before we introduce GMO products. In this country we seem to be in a hurry to introduce them.”

What Foreign Travel by Parliamentary Committees Costs Taxpayers

Posted by on 21st July 2011

Categories: Members of Parliament News

By Mzalendo Contributor – Moreen Majiwa (@mmajiwa)

Did you know that each parliamentary committee receives approximately 60 million ksh for foreign travel?

If each committee receives foreign travel budgetary allocation of 60 million shillings and there are approximately 27 parliamentary committees (excluding ad hoc committees) that make a total of that makes approximately 1.6 billion ksh for foreign travel alone in plane tickets, accommodation, per diems etc.

How does this break down in terms of allocation per individual MP? Well, each committee has approximately 11 members (except the house business committee which has 27 members) and each committee receives a total of 60 million kshs, this breaks down to an annual foreign travel allocation of almost 5.5 million kshs per MP and of course that allocation per MP doubles if the MP sits on more than one committee (list of parliamentary committees and who sits on them).

Another problematic issue is that all the committees receive the same monetary allocation for foreign travel regardless of whether the mandate of committee requires extensive travel or not.  No distinction is made between mandates and need to travel, this means that committees that deals with let say catering or the library, which you would expect would travel less, would receive the exact travel same allocation as the Defence and Foreign Relations Committee, which by virtue of its mandate would be expected to travel more.

According press reports this fiscal year 2011/2012 alone,  the allocation for foreign travel by committees has trebled to 491 million kshs from 162 million kshs in 2010/2011. The clerks office received an allocation of 35 million kshs, for foreign travel, the speaker’s office 9 million kshs, and the parliamentary service commission has been allocated 30 million kshs.  In addition,  the Parliamentary Service Commission recently increased MPs foreign travel allowance by 20 per cent, after MPs complained about the high cost of travel.

Unfortunately, there is no way to confirm what all this money is spent on, whether it is effectively spent etc. As long as there is government expenditure on foreign travel it is important for there to be proper accountability mechanisms that tracking all aspects of expenditure on foreign (and domestic travel) i.e. travel to from work, travel on parliamentary business, foreign travel, committee travel. These should be made public so that taxpayers can assess if foreign travel is value for taxpayer shillings or a mode of self- enrichment for MPs.

What’s Happening at Kenya’s Borders?

Posted by on 14th May 2011

Categories: Expose Ministries MP Participation News

By Mzalendo Contributor – Moreen Majiwa (@mmajiwa)

There’s a saying that goes ‘good fences make good neighbours’. If the saying is true what do goings on at Kenya’s borders and borderlands say about the quality of our fences and neighbours they make?

On Tuesday this week protestors marched to parliament after more than 40 people from the Turkana community were killed and another 100 injured in attacks by Ethiopian militia. The massacre as, people have referred to the attack, took place in the town of Todonyang in Northern Kenya border with Ethiopia on the 2nd of this month.

The protestors demanded urgent and expeditious deployment of the army to Turkana, to safeguard the security of local residents from recurring attacks by Ethiopian, Ugandan and South Sudanese militia.  The incursion in Turkana is the latest what seems to be an increasing number of the incursions into Kenya by foreign troops, bandits or armed militia. In the last 20 months there have been no less then 10 incursions into Kenyan borders by foreign forces.

Currently:

  • The Ugandan Armed forces still occupy Migingo Island and last week they extended their occupation to Ugingo Island also on the Kenyan side of lake Victoria, the government is yet to respond to the latest incursion either diplomatically or otherwise.
  • In the last two years there have also been repeated reports about attacks by Uganda Peoples Defence Forces (UPDF) in parts of Pokot, particularly in Kacheliba and raids by Ugandan security forces in Sigulu in Budalang’i.In 2010 Somali militia linked to the terrorist group Al Shaabab made six incursions into Kenyan territory.
  • This year there have been incursions by Somali militia in the North Eastern Towns of Liboi, Moyale and Mandera. Earlier in the year MPs from North Eastern Province Aden Adualle (Dijui’s), MP Mohamed Hussein Ali (Mandera East) and Mohamed Affey (nominated) demanded the government act on the growing incursions in the North Eastern Region.

This week the Ministries of Internal Security, Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of State of Defence came under fire for failure to protect the borders. Saboti Member of Parliament Eugene Wamalmwa moved a motion for the House to set aside regular business to discuss the attacks as an issue of national importance. Several parliamentarians made strong remarks in support of the motion.

In putting the motion Saboti member of parliament declared parliamentarians were reminding the Government of its cardinal duty to protect the citizens of the country stating ‘Kenyans are beginning to ask: Really, are we in Kenya? Are we citizens of this country? Are we entitled to the protection of the Constitution of Kenya or should we be subjects of Uganda or Ethiopia?’

MP Nicholas Gumbo also criticized the government over its indifference over state of security at the borders stating that the ‘political leadership in this country that does not seem to care about our territorial integrity. We have 40 million Kenyans to protect. We must decide whether we are going to continue to allow our country to be a play-ground for all forms of militias, ragtag armies and formal armies in the neighbourhood.’ MP Martha Karua raised the issue of the 5 billion shillings in the recently passed supplementary budget for enhanced security and whether or not the additional funds are being used effectively to prevent incursions.

No doubt the issue of security particularly for a country like Kenya, which is surrounded by unstable neighbours, is an issue more complex than just making better fences or guarding the fences that we have better. Would there be fewer incursions if the borders were better policed? No doubt the people at the borders would like to see.

*It is worth noting that Professor George Saitoti jointly heads the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Internal Security, after MP Moses Wetangula was suspended from his position as minister of Foreign Affairs. Questions should be asked whether it is possible for one minister to effectively run these two immensely huge and important dockets simultaneously, and what the implications of this are on both security and diplomacy?

NCIC report on ethnicity in the Civil Service

Posted by on 9th April 2011

Categories: Kenya Constitution News

By Mzalendo Contributor  Moreen Majiwa (@mmajiwa)


The statistics in the latest report by the National Cohesion and Integration Commission on ethnicity in the civil services are alarming.  According to the newspaper reports on the survey:

‘The Kikuyu, Kalenjin, Luhya, Kamba and Luo account for 70% of all service jobs. Of all government workers 22.3% are Kikuyu, 16.7% are Kalenjin, 11.3% are Luyha, 9.7% are Kamba, 9.0% are Luo and 5.8% are Kisii, 20 tribes have less than 1% representation in the civil service.”  The report further breaks down the ethnic composition across government ministries and departments.

I wonder what a survey of the private sector would like? Tribalism is so pervasive that it may warrant specific legislation and statutes dedicated to it. The National Cohesion and Integration Act is one such legislation but to be quite honest despite reports from the National Cohesion and Integration Commission, there has been little implementation or enforcement of its provisions.

Though the Commission’s report on ethnicity in the civil service is already drawing criticism, the report is useful as it findings raise questions about, equal opportunities, openness and transparency in recruitment practices, competency, affirmative action policies for marginalised communities, the need for merit based appointments and recruitments.  After all the constitution does require fair competition and merit as the basis of appointments and promotions in the civil service (Article 232 (1) (g). It also requires representation of Kenya’s diverse communities (Article 232 (1) (h), and provision of equal opportunities for appointment, training and advancement, at all levels of the public service, of men and women, members of all ethnic groups and persons with disabilities.

Now that the issue has been flagged and made public it is crucial that the information be used in a constructive and not divisive manner.

And in other news…

Director of Public Prosecutions update: The government has received now 30 applications, for the previously unapplied for, position of Director of Public Prosecutions, 5 of the applicants are women it will interesting to watch and see if a woman get picked for any of the three judicial positions, Chief Justice, DPP, or AG.  Surprisingly or not, presidential nominee for the position of DDP Kioko Kilokumi is not among the 30 applicants.

When Inflammatory Statements are Made…

Posted by on 1st April 2011

Categories: 2007 Elections Members of Parliament News

By Mzalendo Contributor – Moreen Majiwa


After I saw this http://youtu.be/G0WfPq8okno clip of the statements made by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Uhuru Kenyatta at a rally in Murang’a.

I frantically looked for the translation, the tag line on the tweet asked “has Mzalendo Kibunja seen this?” so I knew that it may possibly fall within the ambit of hate speech. I found the translation as well as denouncement of the remarks here.

The denouncement, is full correct in calling the statements made by the Deputy Prime Minster/Minister of Finance irresponsible, inflammatory, inter-ethnically and intra-ethnically divisive, dangerous and detrimental to the cohesion that Kenyans have been working towards since 2007.

Yet, despite the inflammatory nature of the Deputy Prime Minister’s remarks the National Cohesion and Integration Commission is yet to react, and the politicians that were present at the rally are yet to say anything about his statements.  All in all there has been has been very little action.

The lack of action reminds me of a column in the Sunday Nation where the writer argued, ‘The leaders of the bigger ethnic communities simply will not seriously fight tribalism because it is through the voting power of the ethnic mass – not through ideology – that an elite individuals hopes to enter Parliament and State House.”

A politician is he who always inflates his tribe’s ego while, at the same time, keeping that tribe profoundly ignorant of its real needs. It is thus the for the purpose of the vote – not of ethnic development – that he manages to rally the ‘tribe’ behind him.

So the leader and elite of one big community see the leader and elite of another big ‘tribe’ as the enemy. Hence the necessity for the ethnic leader to encourage his deification by the ethnic mass if he is to ensure the ethnic vote. Thus the Kenyan liberator must first liberate every ethnic mass from the bewitching demagoguery of its elite’

Thankfully the voting public has the power through their vote to show disapproval for statements made let us it.

But we still ask shouldn’t Mzalendo Kibunja be responding to this rather than chasing his tail on social media sites?