Currently browsing 'Uncategorized'

Parliament still a dead beat dad; is there hope for better?

Posted by on 19th January 2018

Categories: Uncategorized

In a country where it’s normal for some citizens to miss certain meals; live in shacks unworthy of a pig sty and spend their days worrying about tomorrow, it’s quite safe to apply the metaphor of Parliamentarians as deadbeat dads; unwilling, though capable of meeting their constituent’s needs because of selfishness.

The irony of democratic politics is that poor people withstand harsh weather, stand on meandering lines with no visible end for hours to vote someone who doesn’t live the life they live; some haven’t even spent a day waiting for anything in their life.

It’s as though voters have some kind of Stockholm syndrome. It doesn’t matter how many good men show up for the baby mama, she prefers the deadbeat dad with all his flaws. The working adage here is, better the devil you know. As a result major towns in the country from Nairobi to Mombasa are filthy and getting worse by the day and it’s not for lack of good leaders.

Since the beginning of the year we’ve heard of devastating media reports of fathers and mothers killing their children and themselves. Only this week an 11year-old child took his own life over worries of this world after his father left them.

It’s easy to consider these as isolated cases and wonder how they relate to Members of Parliament but if you think about democracy in its philosophical sense; people purely engage in a general election exercise in the hope that life could change for the better. More importantly that their representatives will find ways if not pass laws to make their lives bearable where it can’t be better.

Sadly, the 12th Parliament like the previous Houses is more concerned with personal gains than their main mandate. They have united to fiercely fight the gazette notice by the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) to slash their salaries, perks and do away with the car grant. Through the Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC) they have sought the court orders to ignore the SRC pay cuts even if it means misrepresenting the facts in a court of law. It turns out PSC did not divulge crucial information to the High Court after SRC filed a case to discard their case.

Meanwhile the country is sagging under the weight of debt that experts now say each Kenyan has a Kes. 100,000 debt courtesy of these bad loans. Our government refuses to call them bad loans, insisting the Eurobond among others were wisely invested. The move by SRC was going to save the country Kes 8.85 billion annually.

Never mind the decision by SRC to cut these salaries was based on among other things the rising wage bill. But MPs won’t hear any of it. They don’t care that majority of them were elected by people who have never held down any worthwhile job. They don’t care that over 80 per cent of Kenyans earn below Kes. 70, 0000; they feel the slashing of their salaries to Kes. 621,250 is disrespectful and fails to capture their problems. It’s almost laughable, if only it was that trivial.

There are Kenyans who are living in camps because of lawlessness. Some people decided to attack them and take their wealth as part of their sport also known locally as cattle rustling and there are MPs who would go on camera to defend this banditry of a culture.

Worse still is that police can harass children and teargas them for being in the ‘wrong’ part of the country but the same police can’t apprehend bandits taking over people’s land and cattle; choosing instead to make a herd of cattle their target practice, killing livestock in the name of looking for bandits.

And we pride ourselves in having Members of Parliament who should at the very least come up with laws that can help good people live happily within the law wherever they want. We pride ourselves in having representatives who can amplify our voices only the amplification is not practical. What a joke for democracy!

And while we’re still on democracy, Jubilee is having a hard time accepting the will of the majority in the National Assembly after MPs elected some four MPs that were not supposed to be elected. The leader of Majority had requested the four to relinquish their positions for other MPs with more politically correct backgrounds but the MPs elected to chair these committees will hear none of it.

Led by the outspoken Nandi Hills MP Alfred Keter, the MPs went to court contrary to the Jubilee expectations that the matter be solved internally. They have continued to defy the party even refusing to adhere to the top party leaders’ request that they step down. As the showdown continues one wonders why the obsession with this political correctness in the name of national outlook?

The obsession with political correctness is the reason all those appointed to cabinet for being in tribes that would appeal to the national outlook have performed dismally with the exception of former Education CS Matiangi, although debatable.

While it may appear a little too early to judge the 12th Parliament, it hasn’t shown any indication they’re different from previous Houses. Time will tell but in the meantime the voters need to realize the habit of thinking civic duty begins and ends with elections is a bad joke. We need to be vigilant now, more than ever.

EU poll observer report unpopular with government but necessary for strengthening our democracy

Posted by on 16th January 2018

Categories: Uncategorized

The October 26th elections is one that will be discussed for many days to come despite the political fatigue-real or perceived. Only last week the government through the Ambassador to Belgium accused the EU observer mission of breaching protocol when releasing their report on the 2017 polls.

EU observer mission on the other hand accuse the government of lack of cooperation and were unwilling to receive them in Nairobi. Whether the EU mission dishonored the MOU they had with the government or released the report earlier than scheduled is immaterial.

The content of their report is really what we should be discussing. In retrospect, could it have been that it was the content of the report that the government wasn’t comfortable with and therefore the application of delaying tactics? If Kenya is really committed to strengthening institutions and realizing the much talked about electoral justice. European Union Observers Missions ought to have been welcomed as friends and not chased like enemies.

Shortly after the annulment of the August 8th polls there were reports of Police brutality that led to scores injured and many deaths including children. To this moment none of the cases have been successfully investigated and closed – to date, the police have denied responsibility. How do we bring justice to the affected families?

There was alleged ethnic profiling that brought with it bitter politics that has birthed secessionist talks by the aggrieved opposition NASA. These are not things we want to sweep under the carpet. How do we heal our land? And talks about giving opposition leaders positions in the cabinet is not a solution.

In their observation of the repeat polls the EU observer mission notes the harassment of the Civil Society by the government through the NGO board. This too must stop and the government must accept that the Civil Society exists for the betterment of Kenya.

It’s instructive to note that one of the functions of the Civil Society is to check, monitor, and restrain the power of political leaders and state officials. They raise concerns when government is overreaching its mandate or violating human rights. It’s the Civil Society that speaks out against the corrupt conduct of public officials and lobbies for good governance reforms like the Red Card Campaign that was geared towards having leaders that meet Chapter Six of the Constitution on Integrity. We therefore need the Civil Society to strengthen our democracy more.

One of the challenges in the 2017 elections both the August 8th and October 26th was the perception that IEBC was infiltrated by State House and some members likely to be compromised by the opposition NASA. It’s solely the reason why NASA withdrew from the second exercise. To that end the Observer mission recommends that the electoral agency should be in place in good time before elections unlike the situation we had where commissioners had less than a year to prepare credible polls.

Another key issue noted is the harassment of the IEBC officers by the NASA supporters. Whether they felt aggrieved or not this was against the spirit of democracy not to mention illegal and amounted to violation of human rights as well. How do we ensure that those working for the electoral agency feel dignified and safe to work across the country? How do we bring such culprits to book now and in the future?

The EU Observer mission has noted so many things that as a country we must take note of even those of us not happy with the report. It can’t be that every electioneering period things go south and we momentarily live in fear of losing lives, jobs and business only to later sweep everything under the carpet and wait for another five years to repeat the same. No, let’s act on these recommendations now.

 

 

Curriculum reform should tackle integration as a challenge for our time

Posted by on 4th January 2018

Categories: Uncategorized

Some clever person once said a country that mistreats its children will reap their wrath in future. Considering we stood on the edge of the cliff and gazed at the abyss below following a very competitive poll; that statement seems very appropriate. In the deadly Post-election violence (PEV) of 2008 it was our young people who the demons chose to possess.

It’s for these reasons that we must take the debate on curriculum reforms very seriously. We need to produce young people whose minds are not so idle that demons congregate for a weekly workshop. Otherwise replacing a failed system with another one that hardly deals with the challenges of our time will only lead to a terrible outcome.

In the recently released KCSE results 545,700 students failed to make the cut for university entry. The President in his New Year message advised them to join the technical training colleges. The President’s message was meant to encourage especially after reports of children feeling hopeless and others committing suicide.

However, if analyzed further, that advice, subtly reveals the problem with our education system. What the stakeholders miss in their consultative forums about our system is the capitalistic nature of our education. Which sadly, even the much publicized education reforms does not identify, let alone tackle.

The vision of the new curriculum that is being rolled is, a desire to see an engaged, empowered and ethical citizen. This are good ideals yet impractical if we insist on curving ‘pathways’ for children while we have institutionalized failure by virtue of which institution of higher learning one attends.

It’s very possible that there are ‘A’ or ‘B’ students whose only interest is to work as a Plumber or Carpenter-building and fixing things but we’ve since relegated such jobs to school drop-outs that everyone wants a Bachelor degree-even those that can’t properly challenge themselves to be useful citizens after graduation.

This is why the debate on the new curriculum should’ve also figured how to change attitudes in children as they learn along the way to realize the goal for life is not acquiring a university degree. But this won’t happen if we see technical colleges as secondary to bachelor degrees. Developed countries like the US and Germany as critics of the new curriculum keep pointing out, know this only too well and some of the top students fight for a place in technical colleges because it’s not seen as the other option-in the event you don’t make the cut for university entry.

If the 8.4.4 system was to bring about self-reliance the new curriculum in many ways appears to completely claw back such gains if at all. Meaning we are likely to have a generation of kids who can only do certain things courtesy of their ‘gifts’ or ‘potential’. This is what 8.4.4 was expected to cure, how then are we going back without exhaustive consultations?

It’s the reason why some of the harshest critics of the new curriculum are now saying it is indoctrinating our children to become tenderprenures. Education in its ideal form should not be about jobs; it’s the reason the idea being pushed about ‘pathways’ is problematic. At best education should expose pupils and students to knowledge that can allow for a child to properly integrate in his or her society comfortably and hopefully add value to it.

We seem to be happy as a nation that many children are now failing and that this is a sign that there are reforms. Yet this very same children of the ‘good’ system are the ones forwarding hate messages on WhatsApp and unable to contend with one another during electioneering periods. It’s laughable. But to give the devil his due, Education CS Matiangi has stopped the cartels that aided cheating in exams on their tracks. Yet education is hardly about exams that we should rest easy. The devil resides in the details.

The new curriculum’s mission is nurturing every learner’s potential. This is good and appears to move away from exam focus. However in their explanation they negate the essence of that statement by introducing these ‘pathways’. If you acknowledge that a child is many things and should not be restricted to one form of exam, then why direct him towards a predestined path?

One of the good things that came out of the crisis talks held yesterday between ministry officials, Kenya Institute of Education officials and KNUT officials is that the curriculum will be rolled out gradually with the completion expected in 2027. There were fears these reforms were being carried out in a rush where key people like the teachers hadn’t fully grasped it. We can only hope that stakeholder engagement will continue even as it is progressively rolled out so as to deal with the problematic areas.

If you peruse through the document it’s easy to see the curriculum is heavily anchored on vision 2030 and the Sessional paper number 2 of 2015. Both documents are big on economic development and the need to equip pupils and students with the right skills to enable us as a country meet these economic goals but will there be an economy or these ‘marketable jobs’ if Kenya burns?

We therefore challenge the education officials and stakeholders to widen their working definition of ‘challenges of our time’ to include issues cohesion and integration. Perhaps there is a need to bring back Geography Civics and History as a mandatory course so that we have Kenyans who are well informed about the making of our nation and the role different leaders from different parts of the country have played over time, if only to challenge their prejudices and misconception about the country.

Let Us Embrace Christ’s Values to Change Kenya

Posted by on 25th December 2017

Categories: Uncategorized

In a country where 80% of the population proclaims Christianity we can be sure that for the next one week it’s the message of Christmas that will dominate the country, but do we really manifest the traits and the philosophy of the person whom we celebrate?

Christ the founder of Christianity is the epitome of humility and love. The good teacher came to liberate the world from all forms of hate, theft, indulgence and all such vices, which unfortunately Kenya is deeply submerged in. Why would a country that is so religious be so evil? Is it a case of preaching water then taking wine? Might this be the kind of behavior that led Mahatma Gandhi’s expression of “I like your Christ; I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ”.

For instance in Kenya every public function starts with a word of prayer, yet we have one of the most corrupt public service in the world. Through corruption we have lost a lot including lives. We have public servants who embezzle funds even from the most sensitive departments such as health. Not so long ago, we woke up to news that billions of Kenyan shillings couldn’t be accounted for in the Ministry of health – medics were on strike, while hospitals are yet to be equipped and poor Kenyans continue to lose their lives.

Parliament opens every session with prayers, yet we still have members who steal from their Constituency Development Fund kitty without shame. In a country where modesty should be practiced at all cost we have elected leaders whose guiding star is greed.

Over the past few months, Kenyans have also allowed ethnic hatred to take control. We have stereotyped, discriminated and even at times killed. What has become of us? Can’t we allow the reconciliation Christ modeled to be evident in us this Christmas?

Christ represents love, honesty, righteousness and loyalty and if we embraced these values we wouldn’t have a problem lowering corruption in the public service and all other sectors come 2018. Kenya has turned to what prophet Isaiah would have called an “unfaithful harlot”, -though Kenyans carry Bibles every Sunday and have very progressive secular laws – we are rebellious and refuse to walk the talk.

For instance, for the love of bribery and perversion of justice, this December we have had a high record of deaths on our roads. The “bloody money” that our authorities receive on our roads has made the transport sector ungovernable and therefore a deathtrap. If only we followed the teachings of Christ and resisted bribes?

Finally, as we prepare to have the meals and drinks of the year, why don’t we spare a minute or two to reflect on our role as Christ ambassadors in this country? Let this Christmas glitter with moments of love, laughter and good will. Merry Christmas and a have reflective 2018!

Twelfth Parliament: To hope or to despair?

Posted by on 16th December 2017

Categories: Uncategorized

Since the promulgation of the Constitution in 2010, Kenya has never found herself on the crossroads like in 2017. The 2017 election was one of the most contested by bitter rivals. It brought about toxic emotions and stretched people almost to a breaking point. The concluded election brought about wounds that may haunt Kenya forever, if they aren’t healed soon.

In the post-election period, a daunting legacy of the dangerous politics of secession has been left. There are some regions which are adamantly calling for “self-determination”. In the politics of state formation, there is no country that comes together and anticipates a day when it will disintegrate and that’s why there is no Constitution in the world that has a chapter on dissolution.

Since Kenya is better as one, our government through specific institutions needs to calm these separationists call by tackling the grievances of these regions whether perceived or real. It is either we live together as brothers and flourish; or fight and perish together as fools.

Coming from such a grueling, nasty and brutish political period, Kenyan citizens are fatigued and on the verge of hopelessness. In the last four or so months nothing seemed to work and things were falling apart. In such a situation, the job of the already elected leaders is clear cut – to restore hope to Kenyans.

The 12th Parliament as an institution should be the first to realize that combative politics are over and it is time to forge ahead as a country. The occupants therein ought to sacrifice their pleasures and pursue the interests of their constituents relentlessly.

There are still healthcare challenges to be addressed, take counties like Mandera and Tana River for instance, where we have a ratio of one doctor to 10,000 patients. In such counties hospitals and clinics are like a privilege. We are still in a country where 7 out 10 Kenyans do not have a medical cover. Can the 12th Parliament rise to the occassion and ensure that the system works for all Kenyans?

Unfortunately the 12th Parliament has had a false start, their first agenda has been to pursue a ‘fatter salary’, petty fights and at some point deserted their work.

Kenyans through our taxes ensure our leaders live in unimaginable opulence with better Salaries than their counterparts from developed countries. In 2013 for instance, a Member of Parliament from Kenya took home an annual salary of £44,730 730 (minus the allowances, which may be more than the salary) while a Spanish Member of Parliament took home £28,969. Let’s pause and ask, is our public service a gateway to theft and indulgence or service and humility?

Instead of our elected leaders getting down to start fixing the system to favor their constituents, they are on the run to fix their salaries and scramble for “lucrative” parliamentary positions. These retrogressive politics have only served to add salt into the existing injuries of poverty, hunger and ignorance. Kenya being one of the most unequal societies in the world with 60% of the population living in poverty, leaders are hell-bent to widen the gap by literally bloodsucking Kenyans.

While powerful positions that matter are dished out to family members and cronies, Kenyans continue to be abused both emotionally and financially for political gains. It is a burden that Kenyans are bearing year in, year out willingly. One can only hope that one day, morning will dawn and ‘mjinga ataerevuka’.

Finally, since the 2010 Constitution gave us a Parliament with immense powers, will the 12th Parliament exploit these powers and perpetuate a leadership of hope or doom? Your thoughts?

 

Anything to smile about after 54 years of self-rule?

Posted by on 11th December 2017

Categories: Uncategorized

Our country Kenya turns 54 on the 12th of this month and like every birthday we have plans to throw a party on the Jamhuri Day complete with a great speech from the President. But really, besides getting older what else is there to celebrate?

We’ve just gone through a most trying period in a competitive poll that nearly tore us apart and left a section of the country still sore. But being the people that accept things and move on, we’ve moved on.

Essentially we’ve gone back to being our usual mediocre selves. It appears 54 years of self-rule has turned us into lawless, angry people who have little patience for logic.

It sure does sound like a broken record every time analysts come on TV to remind us that at independence we were at par with Malaysia which is not the case now. Or how we gave aid to South Korea in the 60s and now we’re beneficiaries of their tax payers money, yet these statements are quite telling.

What then are we celebrating? Retrogressive-ness? We have retrogressed in nearly every sector despite the choir of politicians in government singing about this development and that development.

Major Towns stink

The major towns that became cities after independence were already set for the same by the white government. They had running water, proper sewerage system and a good public transport system.

Today, nearly every city that’s worth that term struggles with a broken sewerage system. Poor garbage collection system and a complete lack of urban planning and development.

Even the capital Nairobi has nothing worth to report home about after 54 years. God forbid it rains for one week straight. You’d be forgiven to think we’re living in the days of Noah. All the roads get flooded and pedestrians wade through the water which sometimes is knee-deep. You can only imagine the waterborne diseases that come out of that clear lack of urban planning.

The white man left us clean organized cities that we turned into filthy, disorganized urban places. And today more than 50years later, for every posh estate we have a slum as a reminder that ethnicity is not the real problem.

Poor roads

Fifty four years down the line and we have completely ground the public transport to a halt. People hardly bought cars in the immediate post-independent Kenya and those who did were considered affluent. Today people buy cars for convenience. The public transport is as unreliable as the meteorological department.

And Kenyans living in more urban places with “good roads” not dirt road, have to contend with potholes that significantly reduce the value of their cars after a few kilometers on the road.

The problem is further compounded by the fact that the government gave up on public transport long before we could pronounce privatization. What is left is a poorly managed matatus sector with rowdy conductors; mostly frustrated youths who hike the price at the change of weather.

The only thing to boast about in the transport sector is the Standard Gauge Railway that has replaced the Lunatic Express. Despite its inflated construction price it’s one of the few good stories to write home about.

Ailing Health sector

As we plan to slaughter chicken and goats on Jamhuri Day we should truly reflect on what exactly we’re celebrating. Is it okay for women to give birth at home these many years after independence? Is it worth paying NHIF when you still get referred to private hospitals and chemists for drugs?

Worse still is that the children who went to school in colonial Kenya had a better chance at succeeding than today. Why do we have free primary education that only serves to drive education inequality? Is it okay to celebrate when rural folks have children studying in mud houses or under a tree?

As we celebrate Kenya’s 54th birthday, we ask that the President and his team go back to the drawing board and see why we have fallen so low. Figure why it took nearly 50years to make North Eastern Kenya accessible.

Please seal these gaps in the public sector that result in sabotaging public institutions at the expense of private institutions just to make a few people rich. We need a Kenya that works for all of us. Bridge the divide between the rich and the poor.

In short, until we stop the over-reliance on private sector that is designed to make a few people rich we should not celebrate Jamhuri Day. Jamhuri Day gains relevance only where majority are happy with self-rule. Happiness here is derived from a good functioning public health, transport and education systems.

What Kenyans do MPs really represent? Certainly not the poor

Posted by on 1st December 2017

Categories: Uncategorized

This country has a lot of money. We spent Sh. 42billion in a sham election that the Supreme Court nullified and found another Sh.13billion to conduct a second exercise.

It’s like money falls from trees until it’s the common man that really needs it. Never mind since April this year the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has been warning us about rising public debt in the country.

The latest warning came only a few days ago. IMF said the rising debt is likely to shock the economy and one would expect that such a warning would make us check our appetite for spending but no, we’re unfazed.

Statehouse only this week spent another Sh.300million to entertain foreign guests who attended President Uhuru Kenyatta’s swearing-in. But Head of Public Service and State House Chief of Staff, Joseph Kinyua said there will be no waste; so we should all rest easy, right?

Anyhow, some people have reasoned that the government-executive arm has always been aloof since time immemorial. One therefore expects that Parliament as the arm of government that actually represents the common man would grasp the public mood but Parliament is no different.

As I write there is a construction of a Sh. 110million tunnel connecting the Parliamentary Office block a couple of meters across the road. The Parliamentary Service Committee says it is part of a plan to decongest the city traffic.

It’s hard buying that tale because MPs are on record complaining about annoying constituents who wait for them outside Parliament buildings or their offices to ask for this or that help. So the tunnel is purely to keep off these poor folks from disturbing the honorable as they go about “important” business.

And by-the-way the Sh. 110 million could fund 688 university students through university all the four years. But that’s nothing compared to the privacy that MPs need as they go about their business.

Never mind that 900,000 Kenyans, out of the two million with HIV, are the only ones on treatment according to Ministry of Health PS Mwilu.

Today is World Aids Day and seeing as we have been on a divisive mode the past few months one would expect our MPs could’ve come together on this day and direct this money to this national challenge right?

The tunnel we’re constructing for MPs privacy-because that’s what it’s really about-can ensure another over 423 Kenyans access the highly successful Tenofovir drug by Gilead Sciences which by-the-way doesn’t exist anywhere in Africa because it’s retailing at Sh. 260,000.

If one is to consider the many projects that we undertake at the expense of priority stuff one would get a serious headache because our inability to figure what’s priority is disturbing.

This spendthrift habit in difficult times should serve as a wakeup call to all Kenyans. There are only two tribes in Kenya-the haves and the have-nots

Worse is that it’s increasingly becoming vague who exactly our MPs are representing.

Consider the recently released KCPE results and you will realize we live in a country where children from the academies celebrate good results attributed to hardworking teachers with good pay and parents who exceed expectations to pay private tuition.

On the other hand, another group of children face the inevitable doom over bad grades courtesy of overcrowded classes and uninspired teachers who earn meager salaries in public schools.

The saddest bit is that Sh.110million can build more than a hundred modern public schools that could make pupils from less privileged backgrounds get a fighting chance at a good life with their counter-parts from private schools.

A man elected by thousands of peasants to specifically represent them then turns his back and decides to consider the fine things is far much worse than a traitor!

Our message is simple. Keep taking advantage of the needy because they are ignorant and blinded by silly tribal fights but one day they will realize there are only two tribes in Kenya and in that day you will gnash your teeth.

Change while there’s still time.

How to heal our nation; lessons from Zimbabwe!

Posted by on 27th November 2017

Categories: Uncategorized

The world’s most quoted (unfairly mostly) and oldest president resigned this week-under duress. Robert Mugabe who ruled Zimbabwe for 37 years finally called it quits.

The end of Mugabe regime is also interesting because it is the first ever “bloodless coup” in a continent where people die over “democratic elections”.

The situation in Zimbabwe is a stuck contrast from what we’re witnessing here at home.

Women MPs from the National Super Alliance (NASA) coalition now claim 54 people have been killed since last Friday –  17th November – and are putting the blame squarely on the Jubilee government. The government on the other hand will hear none of it and are promising to deal with those causing chaos accordingly.

That Mugabe was president long enough for a child to become a professor one would expect that Zimbabweans would go ballistic once the chance to overthrow Mugabe became apparent but no, everything was so civil it was unbelievable it’s an African country.

I dread to imagine if that was Kenya. There are those who argue Zimbabwe is where Kenya was in 2002. There are a thousand reasons why we can’t compare those two events but I digress.

The events in Zimbabwe are therefore important because a despot was convinced to leave power without any bloodshed. And since then a lot of praise has been hailed on the political leaders-both opposition and government (ZANU-PF) as well as the army that was reported to have conducted itself professionally.

One therefore wonders, where are the Kenyan leaders to stand up and be counted?

Lessons for Kenya

Firstly, neither Morgan Tsvangirai nor his party-Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) took advantage of the situation; instead, the exiled opposition leader soberly asked that a way forward be chatted including all stakeholders.

He could’ve taken advantage of the mood in the country and make a quick come-back outmaneuvering the blue-eyed vice president in exile. But no, Zimbabwe is bigger than him or his supporters. Something the opposition here can learn.

Secondly, the army or security officers did not challenge with heavy force those who took to the streets despite them singing songs that taunted the head of the country. Another thing the Kenyan Security officers could learn from.

Often, and history has proven this to be accurate; almost all the time there is looting, vandalism and chaos following a demonstration in Kenya; it’s often the police who provoke the crowd with premature throwing of teargas and random shooting in the name of dispersing crowds.

It’s the reason pro-government demonstrators always appear peaceful and mature. The police hardly provokes them. In the recent past our police service has acted more as hooligan force on hire than a service dedicated to maintaining law and order among all Kenyans.

Thirdly, when the old leader (Mugabe) spoke for the first time when the world expected him to resign but didn’t; he acknowledged why Zimbabweans were demonstrating even though he refused-initially, to accept what they wanted.

He never promised to crash them or chided institutions that disagreed with him. This is something the President and his Deputy should take to heart.

Consequently demonstrators and particularly those of NASA should watch the demonstrations in Zimbabwe a hundred times and see where they go wrong. Admittedly; the Kenyan police are a big problem but is there a way to circumvent this?

The leaders of the demonstrations should decide for the sake of this country to carry themselves in an  orderly  manner by recruiting members whose only job is to look out for the thugs hiding in their midst by directing the crowd accordingly-hopefully with the help of the police.

Now that the Supreme Court upheld the October 26th repeat elections; rather than making chest-thumping statements about dealing squarely with so and so, the President and his Deputy should rise to the occasion; acknowledge the challenges we face not as Jubilee or NASA supporters but Kenyans and give us a concrete way forward.

It’s truly sad that it’s becoming a norm for very young people to die every election year for having different political opinion. Kenya will outgrow everyone living today. No one is more Kenyan than others.

Both NASA and Jubilee have people who fought for the democratic space that is commonly referred to as the second liberation. Can these people stand to be counted and heal our land?

The people’s assembly is a town hall writ large

Posted by on 19th November 2017

Categories: Uncategorized

By Gitungo Wamere

(Guest Blog)

The phrase “The People’s Assembly” has become one of the most used phrases in Kenya in the past few weeks. It has inspired both anxiety and confidence and as usual divided the country into two. Accolades and epithets, in regard to the idea are determined by the side of the political divide which one stands.

This idea of “The People’s Assembly” was introduced by NASA leader Raila Odinga when he was highlighting how the coalition shall be rallying its supporters against the government of President Kenyatta after his withdrawal from the controversial fresh election which was conducted on 26th of October.

In short “The People’s Assembly” is supposed to take shape of an inflated town hall where the people shall be discussing their issues then have them ratified by their respective County Assemblies. “The People’s Assembly” shall be different from a town hall because it is envisioned to have a structured membership and it shall have a “unique mandate” from the County Assemblies.  “The People’s Assembly” which shall not recognize the government of President Kenyatta (if Supreme Court validates his re-election) shall operate as a parallel government of the people.

Presently the questions are – what is the justification of the “The People’s Assembly”? What legal environment shall they operate in? These are questions that Kenyans have been grappling with, because this proposal has been confusing and to some extent vague.  Let’s try to dissect these two questions. Generally, the people’s assemblies are justified, because good governance and democracy thrives where people are consulted and they are free to question the government of the day.

Normally, people’s assembly is a forum where people meet to discuss and participate in decision making. They are formed for the sole purpose of facilitating public participation and putting the government on check. Looking at Odinga’s proposal, does it fall within the above justification? The answer is both yes and no. It is justified because like its look-alike the “The People’s Assembly Movement” in the United Kingdom, they shall be venting on the issues pertinent in the Kenyan society such as exclusion.

From the onset, Mr Odinga has highlighted issues like unemployment and cost of living as their agenda. On the other hand, their establishment is unjustified because they are meant to manufacture dissent and somehow breed anarchy in counties that didn’t support the President-elect.

The second question is on the environment and the legal architecture of the assemblies. First, there has been displeasure among the Jubilee section of Senators since the ratification of the People’s Assemblies in some counties. The discomfort emanates from the fact that county Assemblies are discussing issues that are way beyond their Jurisdiction.

Firstly, County Assemblies cannot discuss on the suitability, legality or the conduct of a President, this mandate is granted to Parliament.  Secondly, the County Assemblies cannot ratify the existence of an institution that doesn’t recognize the existence of a government.

Legally, County Assemblies are only supposed to legislate on County functions as stipulated in the part two of the fourth schedule. The People’s Assembly therefore, which will be an institution outside the constitution may find itself in trouble when steering its agenda.

It is perceived that “The People’s Assembly” is being formed to subvert the constitutional institutions in order to frustrate and delegitimize the government. Odinga says the “The People’s Assembly” shall operate until a legitimate government is elected in the office.

Despite, the circumstances and the grievances that surround President Kenyatta’s re-election extra-constitutional means will be unpopular and therefore difficult to sustain. A people’s assembly which is within the limits of the constitution may be welcome in a transitional democracy like Kenya. This is because people will find avenues to bring forth issues that bring discomfort in their wellbeing.

Finally, as a country we advocate for strengthening of civic education and arming Kenyans with information in order to encourage public participation. Here we shall make civic engagement everyone’s business compared to the current situation where government issues are left to a certain class of people. If the people’s assemblies take this shape, then there is nothing illegal when people assemble to discuss issues affecting them in order to get a solution.

Devolution makes secession talks superfluous!

Posted by on 13th November 2017

Categories: Uncategorized

Kenya is at crossroads. At the very core is the decision to move on – whatever that means or to take a step back and deal decisively with emerging issues.

Politicians would want us believe otherwise but the important decision here can’t be made until we ask whether we need a Kenya for Kenyans or a Kenya for the elite.

Uganda’s opposition leader Mr. Besigye captures this powerfully when he described the deteriorating relationship among member countries within the East Africa Community (EAC). He said, the integration process will remain a song until it becomes about East African people and not regimes.

To put his words into context; Kenya is now having a subtle diplomatic spat with neighboring Tanzania after the latter auctioned off 1300 cattle that had wandered across the border.

Our country has lodged a formal protest over the same, and of course the torching of over 6000 day -old chicks only made things worse. Tanzania claimed the chicks could spread bird flu.

In the same week, Ugandan Police Officers arrested 22 Kenyans from Migingo Island over fishing dispute and the government’s response according to the Inspector General (IG) is that, he can’t protect people violating Uganda’s territorial integrity.

This captures aptly the crossroad that Kenya finds itself in. On one hand, a country where there are Kenyans who feel they belong and the government will be outraged when their livestock is auctioned if it wanders off the border.

On the other hand is another group of Kenyans who don’t feel they belong because the government will do nothing to bring back their people arrested by a foreign government because – your guess is as good as mine.

Never mind the territorial integrity IG Boinett mentions has no bearing because there is no publicly available record confirming the dispute was ever resolved. Not even a committee of experts report.

The country is in such a bad state that a number of counties allied to the opposition are now considering secession as way of sorting out these challenges. But is this the solution?

Are the secession calls justified if Governors in these counties can’t show what they have done with the billions allocated for County development?

To paraphrase the Holy Scriptures, if you’re not faithful with the little (billions) how can you be faithful with much? (An entire country’s money-assuming secession is even remotely successful).

Wasn’t the formation of the 47 Counties about devolving resources and therefore keeping us from this madness that makes presidential elections a do or die affair? Has devolution failed in this regard or are there actors undermining it?

And while we’re on undermining devolution, what does it mean when the President “chairs a task force on regeneration of Nairobi” the project is reportedly set to spend billions of shillings. One therefore wonders, can the national government select counties to partner with outside the usual channels?

This is not just an idle banter. There have been serious attempts before to remove Nairobi from the list of counties and make it part of government through a Bill that failed and was accused of undermining devolution. In light of these, the true intention of this partnership must be revealed.

The truth is as a nation, we are in a crisis and no one should pretend otherwise. But the crisis is not just about the elite controlling our society, No! The crisis is also about our collective love for lies.

Dishonesty that’s birthed by false prejudice. Dishonesty in accepting a flawed process because we think it favors us. Dishonesty in entertaining secession calls when we can’t press our leaders to account for the billions we entrusted them with.

If we want to, we can salvage this country. Let’s forget about NASA and Jubilee for a moment and ask ourselves what country we want to bequeath our children.