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Are the Campaign Financing Limits Realistic – How Will They Be Tracked?

Posted by on 19th August 2016

Categories: Uncategorized

Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) invoked Article 88 (4)(i) of the Constitution that allows them to regulate the amount of money that may be spent by or on behalf of a candidate or party in respect of any election through a Gazette notice last week. The announcement was made in good faith and with the view of creating, “…equal opportunity for eligible persons to compete in elections by not allowing money or resources to be a key determinant of the outcome” their statement read, only it does the opposite.

For starters the capping of the expenditure’s main goal is to discourage the corruption that elected officials engage in solely to secure their positions in the next election. In light of this argument, wouldn’t it have been prudent to cap the expenditure (at least for candidates) at half the total amount they earn for the entire period they are serving?

For example if an MP earns about Ksh. 1 million per month, then it follows that this MP makes Ksh 12 Million per year and therefore Ksh. 60 Million after his term. Assuming he or she is so frugal and was spending only half of his or her salary, then the MP can honestly (and this is quite a stretch) afford only Ksh. 30 million to run his or her campaign at the end of his term. In any case, does it mean if one doesn’t have money they should not seek a legislative post?

Accordingly, why should any candidate invest Ksh.432 million to vie for Nairobi’s gubernatorial position? Are Kenyans supposed to elect businessmen or servants? Indeed such a candidate will spend the better part of his term recovering the money he used during campaign at the expense of the county’s development agenda. Having said that, it is important to reiterate that what IEBC is trying to do despite the gaping challenges is quite necessary considering the place of money in Kenyan politics; more so during the campaign period. More often than not the poor leadership on display is usually because the best candidate was arm-twisted out of the ticket during party elections because they didn’t have enough money to impress the party.

The 2013 campaigns saw parties cashing in big on candidates hoping to get nominations. Majority parties were charging Ksh. 1 million for candidates challenging party flag bearer, Ksh. 300,000 and Ksh. 200,000 for Governors, Senators and MPs respectively. Interestingly, smaller yet visible parties also made a killing from the defectors who claimed they were rigged out of nomination from the bigger parties.

Furthermore cases of politicians facing blackmail from anonymous sources or companies that had contributed generously with the hope of favorable policies once the candidate or their party forms government have been rampant, especially after the 2013 elections. How does IEBC propose to curb these challenges? Wouldn’t it have been more effective to emphasize disclosing of the sources of contribution?

Going by the media reports about Jubilee, CORD and KANU’s lavish spending during the Malindi and Kericho by-elections how could a Ksh.2 million fine act as a deterrent for people wealthy enough to spend over a Billion in a single by-election? They will flout these rules with impunity and pay it off from their pocket change.

The negative role of money in Kenyan politics comes at a huge cost. It’s in very rare occasions that the electorate shamed the party and voted for the best candidate running on a smaller unknown party after unfairly losing nomination in their original party. This happens a lot with parties that command regional numbers, where a nomination is as good as winning the elections. That’s one of the reasons why politicians will pay an arm and leg to get the nominations. And that is why the electorate and particularly the youth and women must remain watchful as we approach the campaign season.

The youth who are most prone to bribery during electioneering period must decide if the dirty money is worth their future. Also, see the show of might by candidates for what it is; a gimmick. The argument that a rich candidate will not be corrupt is null and void. If the wealth was acquired irregularly then the reputation precedes him or her, period!

As the campaign season nears, politicians will use every trick in the book to get our vote. A bribe can buy you short-lived happiness but poor leadership is capable of giving us a lifetime of horror. We’re approaching a crucial point in the election cycle and we can get leaders of integrity if we practice integrity!

Political Parties are Re-aligning So Must You

Posted by on 12th August 2016

Categories: Uncategorized

It’s interesting how Kenyans describe themselves as political animals because of the “interest” in politics yet never participate actively in political matters outside of voting. However, this is not entirely their fault. Political parties in Kenya lack anything remotely interesting outside the usual chest-thumping characters. They have a structure only on paper, but handle things ad-hoc and at the interest of the party leader most of the time. Internal party elections in some political parties can be disrupted by outside forces with impunity and members appear helpless under such circumstances

Worse still, political parties in Kenya are not driven by ideologies but individual interests with the exception of KANU. Although since the retirement of President Moi from active politics, KANU has become a pale shadow of its former self, hardly coming out clearly on any position of national importance. There was a time the public knew how KANU would respond to an issue, and indeed many older adults were registered members of KANU. The structures worked and members spoke with one accord even though this success was largely because the party leader was a known dictator.

Jubilee coalition just announced that they will be unveiling their new party soon, and a record 12 parties have so far indicated they will be dissolving to join the new Jubilee party. That announcement speaks volumes. First it questions the idea of political ideology in this country. Did the parties that dissolve believe the new Jubilee had similar values to theirs?  How does this move affect the watchdog role of political parties? While it would be a blessing to have a party with a national outlook as the new improved Jubilee party promises, we should be concerned if this merger absorbs opposition leaders to the point that we are left with a weak opposition party.

A report published by the Institute for Education in Democracy (IED) last year revealed that none of Kenya’s political parties had a national outlook as all lacked representation in at least 24 counties.  Coalitions formed in the lead up to the 2013 election tried to address this gap. While it’s clear a party shall not be constituted based on religion, ethnicity, gender or regional basis, this still appears to be a grey area as most parties are formed based on regional blocks popularly referred to as coalition of tyrannies of numbers.

The recent Political Parties (Amendment) Act has effectively put an end to the briefcase parties that added to the confusion about the role of political parties in Kenya. Hopefully, political parties will come down to a number that represents only serious Kenyans. Perhaps under these circumstances it would be prudent for Kenyans to consider identifying a party that represents their ideals and make changes from within.

Furthermore, while it’s difficult telling just how many parties in Kenya meet the minimum required threshold especially with regard to membership. Especially, because, the number of Kenyans who complain about being registered without their knowledge increase in electioneering period, suggesting malpractice.

Maybe that’s why the electorate relates very casually with political parties. If the political parties were more organized, with working party systems and accountability mechanisms definitely more Kenyans would be actively registered members but these wanting structures and rumors of parties seeking bribe to nominate members for office have kept people away from an otherwise important political activity. Given this rampant political culture the public ends up simply voting one party for all elected positions thereby hurting themselves and falling into the politicians trap.

Now that we have established parties are mere vehicles to power the best way forward is to:

  • Single out individuals who show leadership mettle and vote for them regardless of the party they come from.
  • Join the political party your favorite candidates end up in and mobilize your friends and relatives to join to also become members of the party;
  • Ensure you and your friends and relatives show up on party nomination day to ensure they get the nomination ticket.
  • Remain vigilant on matters civic education. Political parties are supposed to mobilize their members to vote by offering civic education, translating to more votes for them. It’s their duty to compliment the IEBC as they both gain. However political parties in Kenya while capable of mobilizing their voters, peddle propaganda at the expense of civic education.
  • Push for structural and ideology driven change in the parties you join.

Today being the international Youth Day, Kenyan youth should take stock of what it means to be a youth in Kenya today and how best to be part of the solution.  For starters, take keen interest in those elected or nominated leaders who were supposed to champion youth causes and didn’t and remember to show them the contempt card. Secondly, refuse the bandwagon mentality of “our people” that keeps the youth busy but take them nowhere. The youth must put the youth demographic first, and then women. Select and campaign for leaders who offer realistic long-term responses to the challenges that most affect you. Don’t sell your birthright for pocket change.

Register as A Voter, Don’t Give Up on Kenya

Posted by on 5th August 2016

Categories: Uncategorized

It’s something strange that most people who complain the most about the government and poor policies are the same ones who see no point in voting. What they fail to realize is that their inaction is rewarded by the leadership on display. Anybody who doesn’t vote when eligible to do so has no moral ground to complain about the direction the country is taking.

In working democracies, being a registered voter and going out to vote on the actual election date is revolutionary by itself. Voting, like Abraham Lincoln would say, gives rise to a government of the people, for the people and by the people.

A vote cast out of convictions and betterment of prevailing conditions would go to a leader who listens to the people and acts. This relationship between leaders and citizens definitely brings about good healthcare, food security, secure neighborhoods, employment and a corruption free public service. It is the people through the vote who change nations. Democracy works when the people take charge, when they abandon their roles it degenerates into a deadly monster.

In a country where over 9 million people remain unregistered as voters, we can derive that the people care less about the future of their children and grandchildren. Isn’t it manifestly clear that the future of Kenya is too important to be left to a minority?

Pondering this, is it not surprising that the people to whom the future belongs the most, ironically, are the ones greatly disengaged from it. Here are some statistics. A report by the Aga khan University confirms Kenya as a youthful country with a median age of 19 years. So we can rightly assume that the majority of the over 9 million unregistered voters are youth and off course their partners in marginalization – women.

Time to correct the past wrongs is nigh and we must therefore take up our role as good citizens and define the masterplan of the future. It is important to underline that voting alone can make you one of the planners.

While there are a number of challenges facing key institutions and therefore triggering apathy, the vote have immense powers to change institutions too. The secret is in identifying leaders who matches up our picture of the future. Sincerely, disenfranchising ourselves cannot make things better but worse. Refusing to register as a voter is tantamount to giving up on Kenya and your future, whereas making deliberate bad choices on the ballot box is equivalent to hawking your future at thirty pence.

Currently, the state of the nation isn’t so alluring thus a cloud of despondency. More statistics show that 41 per cent of the youth aged 20-24 live below the poverty line and also majority of the 15-19 year olds at 62%. The frank communication of this figure is that the youth and women especially should re-assess their priorities and resolve to own their future. Good people, politics affects all of life and more reason we should jealously be interested with the governance of Kenya.

We should say a resounding No! (Of course with our votes) to vices that have persistently denied us a good life. We must show that we are tired of losing loved ones to diseases that can be treated. Say No to an education system that doesn’t fulfil our needs. Say enough to institutions that extract the little we have rather than deliver.

The ability of rekindling hope is definitely within our reach. Time is now, to stop the blame game and find how we fit in this equation.

More importantly, civic education is fundamental and IEBC should also up their game in voter education to help Kenyans understand the process. Their staff at the county and constituency levels should be proactive and creative. To find the IEBC office in your constituency see our IEBC Office Locator

Ultimately, your vote stands out as your voice. Take control, register, identify servant leaders and plan to vote. The politicians are getting ready for the elections; the institutions too, will you?

 

 

Debate on Non- Kenyan IEBC Commissioners a Testament to an ailing Democracy

Posted by on 29th July 2016

Categories: Elections 2017 Uncategorized

 

Political drama is fodder for many Kenyans and that explains the heavy political content offered by our media houses. Unfortunately, our political players get carried away in their desire to show their political bravado and keep up the drama a little too long; thereby, sending signals that outside intervention might be necessary to calm their braggadocio.  At least that is what some Kenyans including political scientist Professor Bogonko think about the IEBC conundrum.

Prof. Bogonko recently suggested that the IEBC commissioners eat a humble pie and resign with dignity to pave way for a new team to be led by two foreign commissioners. His argument stems from the fact the country has in the past hired foreigners to lead important commissions where impartiality was paramount. It therefore should follow that this could be the remedy for the electoral commission that is dogged with credibility challenges every election year.

The idea to have polls run by foreigners was first fronted by opposition leaders in 2014. The leaders led by Senator James Orengo claimed that management of elections remained a thorny issue so long as a Kenyan was at the top suggesting that non-partisanship required non-Kenyans to manage elections.

It’s quite disturbing that over 50-years after independence we can’t agree on a clear way forward on how to manage our elections. Considering foreigners to manage our polls is practically an admission that Kenya is a failed state. To date only Afghanistan and Iraq are known to have outsourced electoral commissioners in 2004 and 2005 respectively through the United Nations (UN). Other countries that have seen the UN get involved, at least in the managing of elections are Cambodia and East Timor.

That this debate is raging should be the watershed moment both for our drama loving politicians and the IEBC commissioners- who have decided to stay put despite obvious lack of confidence from the public. No truly democratic nation has non-citizens on its electoral commission. Only failed states tend to gravitate to this model. Perhaps our politicians from both sides of the divide that are maintaining hard lines on the matter should really think if we should be in the same league with failed states.

The writing has been on the wall since CORD called for the disbandment of the commission. Politicians need to stop dilly-dallying and make the difficult choice. Luckily sanity prevailed and MPs shelved the report that National Assembly Justice and Legal Affairs Committee had cleared the chairman and his fellow commissioners of any wrong. The ball is now in the bi-partisan select committee court. It is time they proved the worth of their leadership. Nonetheless, it’s the IEBC chair and his eight commissioners that are creating the storm in the tea cup.

Surely, if the inter-religious council, the civil rights community, Law Society of Kenya, COTU and a sizeable number of Kenyans are dissatisfied with you, why should you put up a fight? Why should you even let Kenyans contemplate non-Kenyans for the job; like you were born to be commissioners?  Why should the IEBC commissioners wait for the Attorney General to advise the bi-partisan select committee that the former should be prevailed upon to leave voluntarily?

Chairman Hassan could borrow a leaf from the out-going British PM who having sensed the change in tide following the Brexit referendum decided to step down. It shows a man driven by conviction rather than ego.

As for the debate to have a non-Kenyan, let’s sober up. We have not reached that point. There are men and women of integrity in this country that can run credible elections. All we need to do is to look outside of politics. And our politicians should also tone down the unnecessary rhetoric lest we end up a failed state.

 

We must get it right with electoral reforms

Posted by on 22nd July 2016

Categories: Uncategorized

It is something of a paradox that general elections can create a better or a worse future for a country. This is especially in transitional countries where democracy is prone to sabotage. For instance, over a year to the 2017 polls, already three people have died and scores injured, following anti-IEBC protests. It is needless to mention the dangerous speech that quickly followed the protests. This is why the Election Laws (Amendment) and the IEBC (Amendment) Bills are key and needs solid input from our MPs.

The last general election held in 2013 being the first under the new constitution had its fair share of challenges, particularly with regard to the nitty-gritty issues around election best practices and therefore the two bills. The output of the Bills ought not to be less than a well thought out structure that will ensure smooth running of the polls and eventually have reasonable mitigation measures in the event that parties are not satisfied with polls outcome.

Elections being an emotive issue there is need for MPs to be sober with these Bills and stop playing party politics at the expense of the nation. Already there appears to be too much antagonism within and without Parliament by government and opposition MPs over the IEBC impasse. Apparently, the negotiated Joint Committee is in wrangles with National Assembly’s Justice and Legal affairs committee over jurisdiction leading to conflicting parallel investigations.

In the meantime, Justice and Legal affairs Committee concluded their probe on IEBC and found no grounds to relieve the IEBC commissioners from office.  These hard stances held by our lawmakers only puff their ego but solve nothing. That is why we need sober laws to give direction in desperate moments.

The IEBC (amendment) Bill for instance seeks to empower political parties in appointing IEBC Commissioners so as to enhance trust in the commission.  This is important because the opposition led protests against IEBC have been on the basis that the commissioners, particularly the chairperson are biased.

Consequently, the Election Laws Bill hopes to deal clearly with issues arising from voter registration that have affected turn out in polls, which also remains emotive especially in North Eastern region. It also attempts to create reasonable timelines regarding the inspection of the register and publication of notice by the electoral commission before the general elections.

Also of interest is the clause to have political parties nominate their candidates at least 90days before the elections and listen to disputes arising from the nominations within 40days. Additionally, political parties should submit their nomination rules six months before elections. This if adhered to, will help reduce the confusion politicians bring to the electorate through shambolic party nominations that have characterized party elections and the notorious party hoping and party buying, few days to the elections. Indeed, this will also kill the existence of briefcase parties that take advantage of greedy political candidates.

More importantly, the Elections Bill will deal with those members of parliament who keep lowering the bar to become a Member of Parliament through backdoor legislation. The Bill provides that, a person seeking nomination for an election should possess a minimum qualification of a degree in the case of Parliamentary elections and a diploma in the case of county assembly elections.

MPs should ignore calls by a few anti-progress colleagues and pass these important Bills without too many amendments. On the other hand, members of the public should take keen interest and participate when called upon.

 

 

 

Demand more from Kenya’s leaders – The 2016 Economic Survey shows

Posted by on 15th July 2016

Categories: Uncategorized

When Josiah Mwangi Kariuki referred to Kenya as a nation of 10 millionaires and 10 million beggars, most people marveled at how someone could capture the problems bedeviling a country in one statement. What is even more surprising is how 41 years later, our economy’s performance and the relationship to the people (in terms of direct benefits) confirm, repeatedly, the genius that statement was.

When news hit the country that we had gone a notch higher from importing toothpicks and sugar (among other things that are easily produced in the country) to importing fish in Kisumu, despite Lake Victoria, there was a momentary dramatic uproar. Isn’t it surprising how leaders from these regions are now shouting in front of cameras like they have no idea what goes on in their own backyard? But I digress.

The 2016 economic survey published by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) paints an interesting picture of the international trade in light of these revelations. Firstly while it was good that exports increased by over 8% and imports declined by over 2% in 2015 compared to 2014 and thereby improving balance of trade. However, it is rather surprising that despite Europe being our biggest export market after Africa, accounting for over 25% of total exports, Asia on the other hand was our biggest import destination accounting for over 60% of total value of imports in the country.

This begs the question why Asia when we don’t seem to have a good bargain in terms of balance of trade? What is that we badly need from Asia that we can’t get in Europe that already is a good destination for our exports? Lest one thinks this is a mere witch-hunt against Asia, or China for that matter, it would be wise to interpret the data in light of JM Kariuki’s statement. Who stands to benefit? Who becomes a millionaire? Is it ten individuals in a population of 44million or the rest? Again, I digress.

On matters governance, the survey shows that governance, justice law and order registered improved performance in service delivery. The yardsticks here, especially with regard to law and order was the bolstering of Kenya Police by commissioning of the national surveillance, communication control system in Nairobi and Mombasa, procurement of armored police vehicles and recruitment of more officers. This is despite numerous extra judicial killings, the corruption cases that haven’t been closed due to police incompetence or bribery and many other ills that affect governance, law and order during the period under review. Perhaps, KNBS should also consider human rights as a factor when giving a score card on governance or law and order.

Interestingly, the same survey shows that while the number of crimes reported increased by over 4%, the number of individuals reported to have committed crimes decreased by over 8%. What does that say about trust between citizens and the Police? One could interpret that those reported find their way out and come for the whistle blower hence the reduced number of individuals reported, which further cements the argument about the need for human rights to be used as an indicator of good service delivery.

Also worth noting is that despite a decline in prison population by over 10% cases handled by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) increased by 4,013 in 2014 to 5551 in 2015.

Aside from the international trade and governance, the 2016 economic survey has a rather optimistic outlook for the year. For instance, number of schools in the country increased by over 4% and improvement was at all stages: Pre-primary, primary, secondary, Technical and Vocational Institutions (TIVET) and Universities. Nonetheless, the issue of quality remains a tussle, especially because enrollment exceeds the facilities in place.

Consequently, we had more children born in hospitals in 2015 compared to 2014 which indicates that health services are probably reaching remote areas of the country. However, the twist to this data is that, number of registered births declined by over 63%. Meanwhile total death registrations declined as well.

More interesting perhaps is the fact that while NHIF membership increased by over 17% media reports indicate more people are paying for their medical fees from their pockets. This could mean the increase in membership is more out of a requirement by employers rather than effectiveness of the service as should be the case.

What the 2016 economic survey shows at a glance is that Kenya is very capable of leading not only the region but Africa, especially because of the potential in several sectors like Agriculture, Energy, Mining, Horticulture, just to mention a few. Nevertheless, the country cannot achieve the desired status with selfish leaders who are bent on making Kenya a country of ten millionaires and ten million beggars. Food for thought for our members of Parliament would be to consider revising laws around our international trade. That is where the selfish leaders undermine the country’s potential the most.

 

 

ICT Practitioners Bill is Vague, Kill it!

Posted by on 8th July 2016

Categories: Uncategorized

Information Communication and Technology (ICT) Practitioners were in an uproar on Wednesday 6 th July 2016 over a bill that attempts to regulate the nascent sectors ‘training, registration, licensing, practice and standards.’ A quick perusal of the bill proposals reveal an attempt to control the sector, its practitioners and their operational space.

The Bill is sponsored by the Majority Party leader in the National Assembly, Aden Duale who is not a stakeholder of the ICT industry. Furthermore, the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) has denounced the Bill and has written to the clerk, Speaker and Chairman of the Energy, Information Communications Parliamentary committee on the matter.

The Bill has raised a cloud of mistrust especially among Kenya Techprenuers and corporate sector who only knew about the Bill after it was gazetted. Key stakeholders in the ICT industry were not included in the formulation of the Bill. It also risks creating a body that will take up tax payer’s money with no defined output.

If the Bill is passed as currently formulated it will directly interfere s with a person’s ability to earn an honest living because it demands that one be licensed before one can get payment for any ICT services rendered. By this requirement the drafters of the Bill demonstrate lack of understanding of the ICT sector. Besides, there are too many variables to consider even if you were to use academic background as a threshold for licensing. Perhaps it’s for the same reason that concerned groups are asking what the working definition of an ICT practitioner is and whether there’s evidence of success where such a law was created.

Already Kenya is among the top African countries after South Africa and Nigeria with a growing number of Startups. The Startups are able to access international funding and offer employment opportunities. So, will they die a sudden death because their founders do not have an academic background in ICT? What about the jobs created as a result or the innovation on display?

The drafters of this Bill fail to realize that a country is developed by results and not academic certificates. Proposals put forward reveal a general lack of understanding of the sector and seem bent to curtail freedom of expression of the practitioners. They also affect several other laws, including labor laws, not just locally but also regionally, which is likely to kill our partnership with ICT focused countries like Rwanda and only serve to let us lag behind.

ICT industry is a most difficult field to regulate owing to its diverse and dynamic nature. Most of the ICT practitioners are self-taught and are making not only a living but transforming the digital space through their creativity. Indeed the drafters of this Bill create unnecessary confusion in roles of other statutory bodies like the Communications Authority of Kenya (CAK) and indeed as the concerned group poses, the role of the ICT Cabinet Secretary.

The ICT Bill is vague through and through, there’s hardly any clause that holds water on its own. A vague law is prone to be misused by power hungry ill motivated political leaders as interpretation is mostly based on the will of the person in authority.

The timing of this Bill is also suspect considering we are a few months to the general elections. Its common knowledge the effect ICT has had in electioneering period, pre-polls and after elections. Young people will be employed to design, develop websites, and offer ICT solutions. Passing of this Bill therefore can easily infringe on people’s right to support their political candidates or offer their services pro bono or otherwise because of licensing procedures. Consequently, why rush to draft the Bill when there’s an ongoing consultation on the Draft National ICT policy?

If there’s something important to learn from the outcry that has followed the publication of this Bill, it is the need to consciously participate in Bills before Parliament and to put the legislature to task. That is the only way MPs will do proper research before bringing a Bill on the floor of the house.

 

 

Student Unrest: Stop the Roadside Decrees, Deal With the Key Issues!

Posted by on 2nd July 2016

Categories: Uncategorized

Students in Kisii County took matters into their own hands and burnt down their school after they were reportedly, denied a chance to watch the ongoing Euro-cup football games. The decision to “punish” the administration by razing the school despite the ramifications is a sign of a society where impunity reigns.

To begin with the violence that met the decision is perhaps what we have now come to know as responding to a mosquito bite with a hammer. You end up doing more harm than the remedy intended. Never mind that to respond to a mosquito with a hammer is not just foolish (especially for people called students), it reflects a person incapable of maintaining a level head during crisis. The important question therefore is why are our students so angry? Is it rational to burn down a school over a football match?

Recently, two senior Nairobi politicians, instead of raising their arguments with each other decided to raise their voices at each other and eventually raising their fists at each other.  This is often the case between the opposition and the government (read: anti-IEBC protests). No wonder students think violence is the solution to any disagreement.

Indeed Kenya’s First Lady Margaret Kenyatta said as much when she warned MPs about behaving badly and being bad role-models for children earlier this year. At the same function she said when children visit Parliament during learning tours, “They always come back home bewildered, confused at what they find and see.”

This perhaps should help the Cabinet Secretary Education realize the issue is not about poor parenting only.  He should therefore punish parents for it. The CS earlier this week directed that parent’s pay for the damages caused and advised all schools not to admit expelled students without seeking the advice of the county education officers. These reactionary solutions do not solve the problem.

Indeed Nyamira Senator disagreed with the Education CS terming the directive “pedestrian” and added that it had no bearing on any previous reports. Which begs the question, what became of the report tabled by the Parliamentary Departmental Committee on Education, Research and Technology about their inquiry into Students’ Unrest and Strikes in Secondary Schools, in 2008?

The report revealed that over 260 schools had gone on strike by the beginning of September 2008 and that 50 per cent of those strikes were destructive. And after an investigative period including a public hearing across the county the team confirmed that the strikes and destruction of property were mere symptoms to the main issues which the report documents as:

“Poor management of schools, overloaded curriculum, low morale amongst teachers, peer pressure, drug and substance abuse, indiscipline and rampant expulsion of students, impact of post-election violence and moral decay in society.”

Rather than making blanket statements the CS can re-read the report again and come up with tangible solutions. For starters, we must all agree that student unrest and indiscipline cases will not go away today. The most prudent thing to do therefore is to insure schools against strikes resulting from student unrests.

Secondly, we must also agree that children born after 2000 otherwise known as generation Z are a complicated lot. Especially in Kenya; consider the fact that the oldest generation Z was only eight years old when Post-Election Violence (PEV) happened. It is easy to assume the best but the psychological damage PEV inflicted on this generation is unbelievable.

The same report by the education committee confirms this assertion as impact of PEV was also listed as a factor. For that reason, the CS should lead a campaign to ensure all public secondary schools have properly funded counseling centers with qualified and registered staff to help these students unburden themselves and focus on studies.

The recent signing of the collective bargain agreement between the government and teachers is a good starting point as it deals with the low morale teachers have been having. Indeed the report indicated this as a factor too. Matiangi should deal with the disease by implementing the recommendations of the report by the Education committee on the unrest of students in secondary schools.

 

 

A budget is as Good as the Implementation and Oversight Mechanism in place

Posted by on 24th June 2016

Categories: Uncategorized

Cabinet Secretary National Treasury Henry Rotich was quite upbeat about the 2016/17 budget that he presented in Parliament, terming it pro-poor. He further admitted that he was glad the government was allocating money to among other areas, education, health and Agriculture. But that wasn’t exactly accurate.

Compared to the 2015/16 budget, a summary of the budget by Jane Kiringai, a senior Economist, Macro Fiscal Management GP reveals that, Agriculture, rural and urban development allocations remained stagnant. Meanwhile health and education allocations in the budget shrunk.

Additionally, in 2015/16 recurrent budget was 84.6%. That is to mean this percentage (84.6%) was used to cover ongoing activities and projects that last less than a year. Simply put, the government in 2015 had less money for capital expenditure that builds a country’s economy. The same report by Jane Kiringai puts expenditure on development that year at 45.8%.

Perhaps something to mull over is the fact that our tax collection is way above the regional average but we have the highest debt compared to other countries in East Africa. Our public debt stands at over 50% while other EAC countries are at an average 30%. That the debt is soaring this fast despite reports that growth in recurrent expenditure is contained is something of a wonder.

It does not matter how wonderful the budget prospects sound, as long as corruption is still having an upper hand. On that note, it is rather impressive according to Jane Kiringai’s report that the 2015/16 budget had an over 77% overall execution.  It is impressive because to date we are not yet sure just how much the country lost in youth projects like NYS.

Maybe to understand the gravity of this matter, CS Treasury explained how the government had allocated Ksh. 29.5 billion for water supply and sanitation, and another Ksh. 2.1 billion for water storage and flood control. Meanwhile it is anyone’s guess whatever happened to the Ksh. 5 billion that was meant for El-Nino rains. This is indeed a good example why, mere allocation of monies should not excite anyone unless we have proper accountability mechanisms.

It is good the CS noted there is a need for an effective service delivery. He mentioned that the government was on course on implementing robust Public Finance Management. Moreover, while this is exciting news, so was the much touted state-of-the-art Integrated Financial Management Information Syatem (IFMIS) which proved to be just as prone to corruption as rudimentary financial management services.

In fact the Director, Mr. Jerome Ochieng had said, much to the surprise of most Kenyans that IFMIS did not have a disaster recovery centre in case its servers malfunctioned. Take time and let that sink. It does not matter how much CS Rotich preaches about eProcurement in government. So long as we are not seeking solutions to ensure oversight is strong and public officers are accountable, the idea that the 2016/17 budget is pro-poor will just be that, an idea.

However, this is a good a budget as any could be, considering the current challenges in the country. It has the right tone and if well executed indeed Kenyans will greatly benefit. This is where Parliament comes in as the oversight arm of the government.

Nonetheless, as the ever-shortsighted legislators, MPs had threatened not to approve the budget if CDF allocation is not part of the kitty, obviously because of selfish reasons rather than national. That the  budget estimates were approved this week only after the President reprimanded MPs allied to the Jubilee coalition is not lost on us. If only the 11th Parliament could get this aggressive over lack of tight control mechanisms in the movement of money in government then the budget making process would be a key indicator of the country’s direction and overall economic growth.

Crackdown on Hate speech Welcome but Implementation of TJRC is the key

Posted by on 18th June 2016

Categories: Uncategorized

This week has been interesting. For starters, Nairobi politicians, Senator Mike Mbuvi alias Sonko and Governor Evans Kidero decided insulting each other wasn’t enough and engaged in a physical fight to the amusement of the other politicians present and indeed most Kenyans who watched the video. Indeed leaders elected mirror the electorate. The behavior of the two leaders is a direct reflection of the voters in Nairobi.

Meanwhile, it appears Ole Kaparo’s team is finally proving it can bite, albeit late. The fact that eight legislators from both CORD and Jubilee are spending time in a prison cell for hate speech for at least four days is quite refreshing especially because some of them have been spewing hate like their life depended on it. The high court upheld the lower court’s decision to deny them bail and detain them citing public interest over individual interest.

Politicians have perfected the art of pitting Kenyans against each other for their own selfish gains with little or no repercussions. Since the 2005 referendum, hate speech has been entrenched among Kenyans and encouraged by politicians over the years, especially during election period. It is therefore interesting to see how the mighty feel the wrath of the law. A journalist remarked that they should use their experience as a “benchmarking trip” to improve prison conditions.

Nonetheless this might not exactly do the trick as hate speech is a mere symptom of the disease. As long as we are not willing to deal openly and honestly with the real issue, National Commission and Integration Commission should be prepared to make more arrests. That hate speech is still alive and well is proof NCIC has not only been sleeping on the job but also failed terribly. These knee-jerk reactions are just that. But the commission can redeem itself if the chairman stops hiding under “lack of evidence” when the rest of Kenya sees it in captured video all the time.

There are documented reports of politicians inciting their communities against others. In fact some politicians became popular because of their notoriety to whip their community’s emotions. Despite NCIC’s Act that stipulates a jail term of up to 5 years or Ksh. 1 million fine, none of these notorious hate speech mongering politicians have ever paid for their utterances.

The 2007/2008 Post-Election Violence (PEV) wasn’t just about stolen elections. One of the main motivating factors was land and inequitable distribution of resources and feelings of disenfranchisement from “power”.  TJRC in their report mentions these challenges and more and provides for an adoption process of the report submitted.

The government can help end this vicious cycle of hate speech every dawn of general elections by implementing the TJRC report. The hate or dangerous speech as Umati defines it is like the first labor pains that precede the chaos. Let us stop postponing the inevitable.

We have serious problems in this country. From run-away corruption as evidenced by the NYS saga and unscrupulously acquired fertilizers that enrich a few and leave majority poor and hurting. IEBC demonstrations and the drama we’re witnessing with the Supreme Court too are just symptoms of the disease.

While NCIC for the first time appears ready to go for the big fish, the government should save us all from the dangerous speech that might lead to violence and act on the TJRC report. Talking tough about hate mongers may have short-term effects but we need long-term sustainable solutions.