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President Kenyatta, make the manufacturing agenda a gift to the youth

Posted by on 10th August 2018

Categories: Uncategorized

By Gitungo Wamere

(Guest blog)

Some of us who experienced the presidency of Mwai Kibaki as teenagers will remember him for making university education accessible to us. Today, there are more graduates in Kenya because Kibaki made it his business to expand higher education.

However, as the number of Universities, middle level and technical institutions increased the number of jobless youth increased in a similar proportion. Today, Kenya has the highest number of Jobless youth in East Africa region. Some of my peers whom I graduated with in 2015, have never found any meaningful employment for instance. This is dangerous; selling hope to youth then delivering despair.

The youth of Kenya are increasingly becoming angry and forlorn. As time goes by they are convinced that the system is not designed for them. Nothing buttresses this point like the presidential appointments which always prove that the public service is either a recycler of incompetent individuals, a dustbin of retirees or worst still a tool for the president to exercise patronage and clientelism.

Numbers don’t lie, A National Manpower Survey report released in 2014 revealed that young people between the age of 18-29 consisted only a paltry 25% in the public service.

In 2013, President Uhuru Kenyatta campaigned on the platform of youthfulness. His message and style gave some of us ‘first time voters’ hope and the possibility of shaking things up. So far, he’s done nothing on this front and risks denting his legacy. As he prioritizes on his four main agendas during his last term, he needs to ponder on what he wants the youth to remember him for.

Manufacturing which is one of the main four agendas of President Kenyatta, can be a silver bullet to the problem of unemployment. All nations which are developed today can credit manufacturing as the major catalyst of development and economic stability.

First, a good starting point is by trying to harmonize the technical institute education with the manufacturing agenda. Technical institutes are well spread in Kenya but their potential is yet to be tapped.

Secondly, if one would travel across Kenya, they can write voluminous reports on hundreds of factories that were neglected and left out to die. To revive these industries, the technical institutes can be structured in such a way that they offer contextual knowledge. If an area is good in coffee farming, we can let technical institutes in that area dwell with coffee, from production to processing the final product. Unfortunately, the coffee, tea, pyrethrum and sisal sector continues to dwindle.

Thirdly, our education system needs to be more in sync with our present realities. Our universities and technical institutes should offer start-up capital to students and incubate their companies and industries. Our government should also offer incentives to leaders of industry that partner with tertiary colleges and universities in the research and development work of their companies.

Kenya has a great potential in agriculture and if the government resolves to reviving industries in this sector it can employ hundreds of thousands. There is no point for Kenya exporting raw materials rather than finished products.

If Kenyatta, makes sure that every county has an industry in what they do best, this will go ahead in balancing the trade imbalance between us and other countries. In future, the standard gauge railway may not be majorly used to transport imports but transport exports –  processed goods from various parts of Kenya.

Even the National Youth Service where public funds dedicated to the youth get lost in ridiculous procurements. The service can be reformed to be in line with the manufacturing agenda. I am not convinced why the National Youth Service should procure cereals, milk, meat and bread. It is the National Youth Service that should have farms and supply these food products. Finally, time is nigh and Kenyatta ought to seriously focus on his legacy.

 

 

Judiciary budget cut shows MPs on a vengeance mission; as if we don’t have enough problems already

Posted by on 6th August 2018

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Shortly after the Supreme Court nullified the August 8th Presidential elections, Jubilee supporters staged demonstrations that surprisingly weren’t interrupted by the police. The demonstration were coordinated in a number of Jubilee strong holds and those demonstrating in Nairobi went as far as trying to break the Supreme Court gates chanting, “Maraga must go!”

These demonstrations according to the Chief Justice were as a result of incitement from political leaders. And in a strongly worded address to the media, the Chief Justice, flanked by members of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) told the country that if politicians were tired of a strong and independent Judiciary, they can call a referendum and abolish it all together.

We were all in awe; this was music to the ears of those who have lived through Kenyatta I, and Moi regimes. Never before had we seen the Judiciary stand eyeball to eyeball with the Executive or Legislature and tell them, “Judiciary is ready to pay the ultimate price to protect the rule of law.”

Unfortunately, the Legislature, which should be the real voice of the people seemed to be interested in safe-guarding the interest of the Executive. The events leading up to the October 26th elections revealed a most arrogant and reckless crop of leaders from the two arms of government considering the scathing attacks on the Judiciary. Things got so out of hand that a number of MPs utilized every opportunity to degrade and disrespect the Judiciary. They were taking a cue from both the President and his Deputy who had promised to re-visit the matter.

Seeing as the Judiciary budget was nearly halved; it is not hard to see this as the Executive and Legislative arms of government‘s re-visiting’ this matter as they promised. However, nothing paints the full picture of this vengeance campaign better than a press statement by the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ Kenya) on the state of the Judiciary in light of the drastic cuts in budgetary allocations. ICJ put it to the media that budgetary cuts was a tool the Legislature found very useful to punish the Judiciary.

ICJ further noted that in 2015, MPs threatened to cut the Judiciary’s budget following the court ruling that the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) was unconstitutional. Consequently, when the government (Executive) needed funds to conduct the fresh October 26th presidential elections last year (2017), they targeted Judiciary and other independent and Constitutional offices. In this instance alone, ICJ notes that Judiciary lost 11.1 per cent of their budget.

And if you thought they couldn’t go any lower, in June of this year (2018) all judges in the country lost their National Insurance cover in the name of insufficient funds. It appears we live in a country where some arms of the government are more equal than others.

Otherwise it shouldn’t makes sense to give MPs car grants and mileage allowance some indicating far flung regions when we know very well they live in Nairobi but deny people working in the Judiciary an equally important arm of government insurance over lack of funds.

While MPs are chest thumping themselves over their ability to put Judiciary in its place, they forget that sycophancy is often myopic and carries with it terrible lessons. Already the Chief Justice noted that he has received a number of requests from MPs whose constituencies are in dire need of courts to ensure swift justice. What such thoughtless activities as cutting of the Judiciary budget, just to please people in the Executive does is that, in one sense it denies the people one represents an opportunity to access justice.

More importantly, the decision to cut down the Judiciary budget by Parliament in conjunction with Treasury is clearly an attempt at violating the principle of separation of powers that protects any arm of government from manipulation and or intimidation by another.

Thankfully a number of Civil Society organizations and independent bodies have come out to defend the independence of the Judiciary and particularly, this perceived “re-visiting.” The Council of Governors (COG) couldn’t have put it any better when they stated that any affront to the judiciary is an affront to the people of Kenya. And that an attack on the independence of the judiciary is an attack on Kenyans.

Parliament and Executive must therefore realize the people are fatigued with useless wars which only make things more difficult for the majority poor. Also, the rate at which corruption scandals involving senior government officials keep coming up only serve to confirm that the independence of the Judiciary has never been more important than now.

 

When greed appears to be our national ethos then we the people will always be at the bottom of the food chain

Posted by on 29th July 2018

Categories: Uncategorized

This week people have been making jokes about the government stealing from the government then investigating the government as a way of mocking the whole corruption exercise. Others have taken the same approach on the MAU forest issue, saying the government is warning the government against evictions. The whole point being we seem to be having a government that’s pulling from different sides.

With everything that’s happening in the country right now, from corruption to evictions that are not considering basic human rights to questions of racism citizens are allegedly experiencing from the Chinese running the SGR; one would expect the government at the very least to appear to have a plan and clear one at that, but no, everyone claiming to speak for the government is saying something different.

Jubilee Secretary General Raphael Tuju had to come out to clarify that where there’s a conflict of information between Jubilee MPs and the Executive, the public and the media should know the information from the Executive is the proper position of the government. This was over the MAU eviction confusion in which the Senate Majority Leader claimed he was speaking for the government.

And it’s possible it is for similar reasons that the Statehouse Chief of Staff had to make it clear which official Twitter handles are giving the correct information on the government, leaving out key offices within the same government.

In all these hullabaloo, the common man continues to suffer. In Kibra Constituency, the government has begun demolition of slums and eviction of slum dwellers in a manner that human rights activist are terming inhumane. What’s disturbing however is that people with the means to deal with these challenges like MPs and Senators are choosing to complain at public rallies and on social media instead of bringing a motion on the floor of Parliament and debating the matter to its conclusive end – by extension giving the squatters and slum dwellers some form of closure.

All these point to a lack of national ethos that can rally the country and the people in government to run a government of the people for the people by the people. What we have as a democratic government is a government that is for the few rich who can load it over others. The people have little or no say; not in elections; not in the day-day running of ‘their’ government.

If we have any ethos it is greed. No wonder very young people are now considering working with the government and not out of patriotism but because of the kickbacks and tenderprenureship opportunities. It’s the same reason old civil servants at the top who have reached their retirement age remain in office illegally.

If MPs shouting loudest about the fate of Squatters in MAU forest or anywhere else in this country were genuine, they would have made it their mission immediately they entered Parliament to sponsor bills and debate motions with the aim of solving their problems once and for all. Not talking on TV or in public rallies-that’s politics and often politics has little interest in the common man. At least in Kenya we can say that with some level of authority.

And our Parliament is the embodiment of greed as our ethos. Consider the investigations into the Solai dam that killed so many poor folks. The MPs in that committee were busy sucking up to the person under investigation so blatantly that the Parliament leadership was embarrassed enough to speak out against such behavior. It was no different with the investigations into the contraband sugar – politics carried the day when the common man continue to suffer.

It’s easy to think many Kenyans cynical; but without a national ethos that can challenge the greed on display and make government a place for patriots only; an ethos that can rally all Kenyans into having a Kenyan dream they can believe in, there’s no amount of PR that will salvage the situation.

 

 

We need to be sober about two-thirds gender debate and the Green Amendment Campaign is on track

Posted by on 21st July 2018

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In Kenya, the law is always very clear until it is not. A few months ago when opposition was toying with the idea of the People’s Assembly, politicians from both sides kept shouting the law is very clear and then would proceed to make very incoherent statements that left the public more confused.

This week, the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) was at the Supreme Court once again to get a proper interpretation on Chapter Six of the Constitution in a bid to guide vetting institutions such as the IEBC when deciding candidates who’ve met the integrity chapter. Never mind this case has been in court since before the elections and several individuals unfit for office and re-carded by the civil society under the Red Card campaign were elected.

The thing is despite having a Constitution touted as the most progressive yet; it appears to be lame and ineffective or has too many grey areas on key issues. For instance, the ongoing debate on gender inclusivity is absurd considering the Constitution is quite explicit in Article 27(8) that Parliament should not have more than two-thirds members from the same gender.

Indeed in accordance with Article 27(6) the 11th Parliament attempted to legislate the constitutional directive before the August 27th 2015 deadline but failed. The Bill on two-thirds gender was brought back to Parliament following the extended deadline of August 27th 2016 and failed again.

Consequently, in a case filed by the Center for Rights Education and Awareness (CREW) in 2017 challenging the failure of Parliament to enact a law that will satisfy the two-thirds gender principle in the Constitution, the court stated that, “Parliament’s failure to enact the required legislation amounts to failure to recognize the important task conferred on the Legislature by the Constitution to respect, protect, promote and fulfill the rights in the Bill of Rights.” And further gave the 11th Parliament 60days to enact the said legislation.

The electorate also failed to elect enough women to meet the two-thirds principle in the August 8th 2017 elections. Meaning, the 12th Parliament is just as unconstitutional as the 11th and hence the ongoing debate.

The Green Amendment campaign (GAC) is therefore on track but the objective of the campaign is undermined in part by the media’s focus on the scrapping of the 47 women rep positions without elaborating on the details.

Firstly, we ought to realize that the GAC was established to pursue a popular initiative under Article 257 of the constitution. The campaign wants to ensure Parliament meets the two-thirds gender principle and at the same time safeguard quality of members coming into the house under this principle.

As things stand we have 47 women representatives representing each of the 47 counties and 12 positions reserved for the youth, persons with disabilities which party leaders often use to nominate women for purposes of gender parity. The danger here is that, these party nominations may undermine the quality of persons coming to Parliament as the favorites may not have the mental rigor to offer any value in Parliament.

The GAC is proposing to scrap the 47 positions of Women Reps and have 136 constituencies created after twinning (merging two constituencies per county that will have a woman as the candidate). For instance Lamu County that has only two Constituencies (Lamu East and Lamu West and a woman candidate elected for Lamu East and West).

While critics arguing that it is not wise because of the wage bill are missing the point. Firstly, the Women Rep position while may have solved this issue partly has made them appear less of lawmakers to the other MPs. In fact that is where the idea of bonga points came from. This campaign resonates well with the Constitution because it doesn’t just ensure not more than two-thirds gender is in Parliament but it also brings equality in the sense that it removes that bonga points tag.

Additionally, the bill has a sunset clause meaning after 10 years, we shall revert back to normal. In a sense the GAC realizes that the electorate need to be encouraged to elect women and the 10 year period that they will get to elect women might serve to help them change their thinking around women leadership.

We need to be sober about this two-thirds gender debate and put our money where our mouth is. An unconstitutional Institution should not be able to carry out a constitutional mandate. As things stand, Parliament is unconstitutional.

Threatening teenagers won’t cut it; what we need is an education system that humanizes students

Posted by on 12th July 2018

Categories: Uncategorized

The Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) has taken to twitter to threaten students who engage in “criminal act” of dire consequences. In a tweet with pictures of students on strike; the DCI warned all students from Primary, Secondary to tertiary institutions that they are, “archiving & profiling every criminal act & consolidating charges that may be preferred to each & every student involved in any crime” complete with the hashtag #IFIKIEMASTUDE.

You know we have lost our way as a nation when we start using institutions that nub criminals to threaten children.

This is not the first time we are having a wave of student unrest leading to lose of property and in isolated incidents-loss of lives. In fact, in the 10th Parliament, former Central Imenti MP, Gitobu Imanyara rose on a point of order to seek a ministerial statement on countrywide unrest in secondary schools to which the then Minister for Education, Prof. Sam Ongeri responded that he will give a full report but that it was common during the mock exams period.

It’s interesting that this response was given in July, 2008; exactly 10 years ago and remains the standard response by government to date. The idea here is that the students are the problem.

In a journal article titled, Hypotheses of Student Unrest, the late Seymour L. Halleck, M.D. (Sy) says “…we must listen to what young people are saying not just how they are saying it.” What the government through the ministry of Education and the DCI are doing is listening only at how these students are expressing themselves but not what they are saying.

And a preliminary report by the Ministry of Education in June 2016 captured some of the stuff the students are saying, except for some odd reasons, they don’t act on it. The report explained the unrest was as a result of among other things poor leadership by the schools, unrealistic rules, poor communication skills by schools administrators and incompetence among senior Ministry of Education field officers.

Furthermore, in the last Parliament, Kathiani MP Robert Mbui, while debating the motion on delayed compensation of victims of Kyanguli Secondary school, said, “investigations into the incident revealed…whereas the capacity of the ill-fated dormitory was 96 students, the school administration had congested it with 139 students at the time of the inferno, thereby increasing the casualties.”

And this is the situation in nearly all public schools. It’s not just overcrowding. Fires and more recently, rape cases revealed the sorry state students are coping with in public schools. Considering the ministry 2016 report showing poor communication between students and teachers over grievances. It’s suffices to argue the strikes or unrest are as a result of students seeking ways to communicate their grievances.

In fact the 12th Parliament debated the need to have water in public institutions, some of the MPs noting a number of students have to walk many kilometers every morning to fetch water for bathing. And while we commend Matayos MP Makokha Odanga for his motion to have Chaplains deployed in learning institutions, the problem is less spiritual and more social.

DCI as an institution dealing in criminology would do well to learn from psychologists who’ve authored widely on crime and dealing with crime. Threatening teenagers that you will mess their future over present crimes never makes them responsible citizens.

In his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” Dr. Martin Luther King Jnr. speaks of just and unjust laws. He argues, “Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust.” Let me proceed to add that considering the conditions and rules by which our students learn, it is not far-fetched to conclude that our public education system is unjust. Indeed, any education system that degrades the student’s personality is an unjust system.

The real opportunity cost of corruption is a peaceful country and stable economy

Posted by on 4th July 2018

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While speaking to Reuters two years ago, the Auditor General, Edward Ouko said the country was losing a third of its budget to corruption annually. Going by the recently unveiled Sh 3 trillion budget, Kenyans will lose slightly over Sh 333 billion in the 2018/19 financial year.

The money we expect to lose in this financial year can build us fully fledged National Referral hospitals in all the 45 counties that depend on Kenyatta National Hospital (Nairobi) and Moi Teaching and Referral hospital (Eldoret) at a cost of Sh 2 billion each complete with state of the art cancer treatment centers also at Sh 2 billion each.

And the government will still have enough money to connect 7,500,000 Kenyans with electricity at a cost of Sh 135 billion (by last mile project-phase one estimates); build three Super Highways at cost of Sh 27 billion each and still remain with Sh 500, 000 pocket change.

That’s what corruption is going to rob us this financial year. And there’s little reason to expect otherwise.

The country has already lost circa Sh 23 billion from January to May this year over just four scandals: NYS season II (Sh 9 billion); Hazina Towers (Sh 11.5 billion); Kenya Electricity Transmission Company (Ketraco) Sh 6.3 billion; Kenya Pipeline (Sh 647 million), and the Timber scandal costing the public another Sh 2 billion.

In short, in between January to May this year we lost money that could’ve built 479 state of the art high schools similar to the famous Mbagathi Girls high school in Kibra constituency at the same cost the school was built using the CDF cash. That is opportunity for about 230,000 students who otherwise study in unconducive environments and are likely to fail their Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) because of this.

If we were to quantify corruption in terms of lives lost we would run out of space and imagination. Only a few days ago an “unknown” fire razed down poor people’s property and claimed their lives in Gikomba market. The matter hasn’t been investigated conclusively but the people are already being prepared psychologically to move because an “unknown” investor has figured something better to do with that piece of land than the many households eking out a living from it.

And that’s not the first open air market targeted by these forces of corruption. What is sad however is that these land grabbers will get away with it despite the Constitution explicitly affirming to us in Article 1, that all sovereign power belong to the people of Kenya. Since we have delegated this power to Members of Parliament to represent us it behooves them to deliberate on these matters that turn millions into paupers to their logical conclusion so that the Constitution may remain a sacred document.

Nonetheless, considering the cost of corruption, Kenyans shouldn’t shy away from the need to debate another form of government if the current model is failing.

In the meantime, the next time you want treat corruption allegations as political witch hunts or an attack against your community, despite overwhelming evidence, remember we expect to lose Sh 333 billion in the July 2018/ June 2019 financial year. This will happen as the leaders you defend get richer building worthless real estate buildings and go-downs yet expect you to fork out extra money to pay for services your taxes should cater for.

Ponder deeply about the opportunity cost of corruption and how graft is taking us many steps back. It is time Kenyans demand for more transparency and accountability from their elected and appointed public servants. The money collected as tax belongs to you!

MPs Should Stop Fighting Graft in Public Gatherings and Places of Worship; but who are we kidding? Perhaps We Should Stop Electing Small Minds

Posted by on 28th June 2018

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Kenyans are despondent from corruption and high cost of living but MPs are more worried about their toilet sit, literally! They’re unimpressed with the kind of services they get while at the Parliament bar and the state of food in their cafeteria.

Nothing demonstrates the callousness of our lawmakers than attempting to review upwards their salaries at a time the government is seeking austerity measures due to a ballooning wage bill. Counties are laying people off in their hundreds but our representatives in Parliament are completely out of touch. Never mind, their salary is the best in the region and remain some of the best paid MPs in the world.

When it became clear Facebook was somewhat irresponsible with the data of its users, the US Congress summoned the CEO and Founder, Mark Zuckerberg and grilled him over his involvement with Cambridge Analytica – the now defunct data mining firm responsible for driving ethnic and hate messages that also affected us in the last general elections.

Mark Zuckerberg is the 5th richest person in the world and while others argued those grilling him had little information on how the internet actually works, hence allowed him to bounce back-probably even helped his public image; it doesn’t negate the fact that even the mighty can be made to live by the law when those charged with the duty of making those laws and representing the people take their jobs seriously.

Facebook courtesy of this grilling has since offered to have clearer disclosures to the public about how it uses data of its users. In addition big data companies like Google offered many users opportunity to download all the data it had on them and decide how long they wished that data to be kept to avoid falling on the wrong side of the law.

And though the press and the Parliamentary grilling forced Cambridge Analytica to close business, the chair of a UK parliament committee investigating the firm’s activities was able to read mischief in the timing of closure saying the investigations should not be stopped by the closure. These are not perfect examples but it shows the difference MPs can make when they choose to take their job seriously.

The story back home is quite sad. The government refused to admit its involvement with Cambridge Analytica despite the evidence as revealed in an undercover story by Channel4 news. Consequently, when Parliament got around to debating the Cyber Crimes Bill a few weeks ago, it failed to focus on the data mining activities by firms hired on behalf of politicians that led to fake news and the death of Kenyans at the hand of their government.

Instead MPs wowed each other with stories about people sending them pornography and breaking their families and those conning them of money.

And those MPs who are allergic to accountability took the opportunity to attack Mzalendo for putting up their details on the site. It turned out the fellow conning them was actually someone some of them knew and had interacted with. While lawmakers in the EU and Canada are approving important legislation on data like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that’s making Facebook, Google and other big data firms more careful with how they use data for people in the EU, UK and Canada here they regale each other with stories of a conman.

For people who can’t wait to attend a public function, burial or Church to talk about another politician; it feels as though we expect too much from people who are too simple minded. It was US former First Lady and possibly one of the most powerful political figures to have ever occupied that office who said, “Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people.” Our MPs hardly talk about ideas, it’s always that politician from that tribe that wants to do this and prevent them or their person from doing this or that.

This year alone we’ve had at least five huge economic scandals and our MPs are as clue-less as the public. MPs from Western region who should take the sugar saga seriously considering the many people they represent who have been shortchanged by these dumping of over 1billion Kg of the product in the market are busy talking 2022 politics as Cabinet Secretaries continue giving contradicting statements.

People are losing livelihoods cutting down their sugarcane and planting other foodstuff because they can’t compete with the unhealthy competition but our MPs are all unanimous in demanding for five-star Chefs. It’s unbelievable the people Wanjiku elects to represent them.

We made our bed so we either lie on it and wait for 2022 and hopefully think through this process or we say enough is enough! And recall those who are not advancing our interests.

The 2018 budget leaves much to be desired but we need honest conversations on health care

Posted by on 21st June 2018

Categories: Uncategorized

The ongoing war on corruption or lack thereof has drawn mixed reactions from all over Kenya. Strong supporters of the President believe he wants to mop up this mess and leave a legacy. Those who support his deputy think it’s a witch hunt to settle political scores. Other critical voices think we’re missing the point focusing on the President or his deputy, that corruption begins right from the budget making process.

And if these allegations are true then our MPs as the people charged with the duty to approve government spending are squarely at the center of corruption in this country, but I digress.

Whether the thieving done in the budget making process is purely out of errors of omission and commission is something that warrants a study to be ascertained. What we can ascertain however is that this year’s budget didn’t have the common man in mind and if it did, it was not well thought out.

For starters, the President’s big four agenda strikes the right code in the hearts of majority Kenyans. I mean, who wouldn’t want affordable housing, food security, and jobs through manufacturing and universal health care? These are indeed the things that Wanjiku craves.

So should we rest easy that the government has allocated over Sh400 billion to these big four agenda in this 2018/19 financial year? Absolutely not. If anything, past budgets with mega projects like this big four have only served to put billions of shillings in the hands of a few rich folks as the majority poor continue languishing in poverty and servicing bad loans resulting from the same projects. In short, mega projects are synonymous with corruption.

Take the universal healthcare for instance. The government introduced a community health programme dubbed Linda Mama with a clear goal of reducing the gap of pregnant women dying or losing their babies due to complications arising from giving birth at home. At the core of this problem was poverty and so the Linda Mama’s key objective was to bridge that gap by offering free maternity care.  Yet the statistics show we still have many women (in rural areas) preferring to give birth at home through the Traditional Birth Attendants (TBA).

In the 2018 budget the government is taking things a notch higher with the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF). Only those women registered with NHIF will access the free service. They say, the registration is at no cost and a mother is not obliged to contribute the monthly Sh500. This is mischievous considering one of the KPIs for the fund is membership. If say one million women register and are not contributors, the fund can still use these numbers to boast of their progress which doesn’t translate in monetary terms.

Another thing is the fund has been dogged by too many allegations of financial impropriety that one wonders if there will be another scandal from this initiative. Already there’s a blame game between City Hall and NHIF over delayed payment in three key public hospitals that are threatening to discontinue the services over a Sh80 million debt.

The government appears to have little interest in finding out why the initiative is not sorting out the problem it was set out to do and this is not for lack of data. In fact majority women in rural areas are not taking advantage of Linda Mama because there are not enough hospitals and pregnant women would rather go to a trusted TBA and hope to deliver safely than travel many miles and queue at a public hospital where the experience is something you wouldn’t want to go through on your best day, let alone when pregnant. A joint research by JKUAT and KEMRI focusing on Kilifi County published in 2016 confirmed distance to the hospitals was the barrier and not so much economic challenges.

Consequently, these hospitals are so ill-equipped that patients share bed space among other things; coupled with drug shortage, TBAs appear more appealing than delivering at a public hospital. These are limitations the government is well aware of but chooses to engage in PR instead; taking up large chunks of print and TV airtime advertising the little success and refusing to deal with the real things that can edge us closer to universal health care.

The government already rolled out a Sh4 billion comprehensive medical insurance scheme under NHIF targeting secondary students. Health experts have questioned this logic saying it would’ve been easier to cover the parents instead. What’s the logic driving the government to focus on students?

Of the four legacy agendas, universal healthcare is the most important to the common man, yet most controversial in its implementation, notwithstanding the fact the health sector has been bedeviled with corruption. The government is ignoring all signs this key pillar is doomed to fail before it can even start. We need to have public debates on this before we sink billions into another pipe dream.

When politics is the sure way to wealth then we must contend with the un-ending campaign mood in the country

Posted by on 13th June 2018

Categories: Uncategorized

We’re barely 8months into the ‘new’ administration and the politics of 2022 has taken over-completely eclipsing the administration’s much touted big four agenda or the charade we’re being treated to in the name of fighting corruption. But in a country where more than 90% of the rich are politicians this shouldn’t come as a surprise.

More than once, both the President and his deputy have told us that the campaigns are over and it’s time to work; only they were being naïve to the forces of politics and indeed the dynamics of our politics or perhaps it was a rhetoric to the opposition that was gaining steam with their calls of illegitimacy.

Whatever the case, we can’t, and we’ll not stop with useless politicking at the expense of real development until we address the fundamental flaws in our democratic system.

To begin with, elections in Kenya are an expensive affair. It doesn’t matter how passionate you are about this country or the amazing ideas you have; if you’re not rich, simply forget it. And it’s partly the reason why women can’t compete with men in competitive elections. They don’t have the so called ‘war chest’ that can allow them to tanga tanga around in a bid to put up a good fight when the day of reckoning comes, but I digress.

The foundation of our politics; thanks to the founding fathers is based on little or no ideology but realpolitik-which is rather skewed towards Machiavellianism. It’s the reason our politics has never really been about ideologies or us the politicians like to call it, issues. It’s the reason these forefathers could amass wealth without any moral dilemma and subsequently pass these ‘values’ to the next set of leaders.

It’s quite sad that our political forefathers were so allergic to democracy that they killed multiparty politics right at birth-which could have given us a chance to campaign on ideologies as the country had yet to be galvanized around tribalism and or cronyism. By the time President Moi was giving us multiparty politics as a ‘gift,’ it was already a poisoned chalice.

The only thing to celebrate after 26years of multiparty politics is that a dictator left power-or so we thought-and that we’ve had at the very least, a new constitution-which those in power cherry-pick sections they will obey and live by.

Otherwise, our politics is still oppressive to the common man and glorifies those in power. Our political leaders are unashamedly corrupt and the same way our forefathers opted for an odd version of realpolitik to avoid dealing with the moral dilemmas of the day; the present political leaders have perfected it.

The all important question however is, why the perpetual campaign mood? Why would an elected MP for instance who has his work cut out, choose instead to engage in politics that’s 4 years away? The simple answer is they spend a fortune to get elected and need to recover that money for those who sponsored them or their companies-if self-sponsored. There’s a more complex answer that we can’t deal with comprehensively at the moment.

It’s the reason as someone pointed out; every regime must have an economic scandal. Moi’s was the Goldenberg; Kibaki’s was the Anglo-leasing and the present administration has a litany of scandals and we’re not sure we’ve witnessed the last of it yet, seeing as there appears to be an ongoing cold war within the administration. Nonetheless, all these scandals are about one objective-maintaining or acquiring power.

Forget the ongoing charade and the tough talk on corruption. The better way to kill the perennial campaign mood and with it, these corruption scandals, is to change how we play our politics. A beginning point is to implement the campaign financing by IEBC, including caps on individual contributions to candidates, total campaign expenditures, and political parties’ contributions.

This will deal with the ‘powerful business men’ funding political parties or individuals and the need to create scandals to build Sh.200 billion war-chests. And hopefully, MPs will spend less time pandering to party leaders and their ambitions and focus on representing Wanjiku.

The only way to fight corruption is to audit lifestyle; anything else is a bad joke!

Posted by on 7th June 2018

Categories: Uncategorized

This was the looting week. We hadn’t even digested how NYS Season II had somewhat surpassed season I or what’s really going on at the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB), and now the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) is probing the biggest corruption scandal yet at the Kenya Pipeline Company (KPC). The scandal involves a whopping Sh. 70 billion.

What’s perhaps interesting is how majority average Kenyans only whistle at the thieving on overdrive as they shake their heads in disbelief. But you can’t blame them seeing as only 2.89 per cent of formal sector employees in Kenya earn more than Sh100,000 per month according to a Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) data.

If more than half of formal sector workers (64.5 per cent) are living on low wages of between Sh20,000 and Sh49,000 according to the same data as reported by Business Daily, it’s understandable why the public can’t seem to wrap their heads around Sh. 70 billion.

It’s easier for such a populace to get angrier at the teacher from Wakaela Secondary School, in Machakos County, who was sentenced to six years imprisonment for soliciting and receiving a bribe of Sh10,000. Never mind the average Kenyan wouldn’t ask why those stealing millions were getting lenient sentence-in the rare case that they get their day in court.

With such a financially demoralized population these talks about people stepping aside and polygraphs and ‘fresh war on corruption’ won’t cut it.

What’s even more absurd is how all arms of government are shouting themselves sore when the remedy is right there before them. The Chief Justice promised corruption cases will be prioritized and disposed expeditiously; warning corrupt judges.

Members of Parliament on the other hand are talking tough; particularly watchdog committee chairpersons, and others are proposing new laws. Kiharu MP for instance is proposing life imprisonment for those found culpable while nominated Senator Isaac Mwaura moved a motion to have those found guilty executed in public.

Meanwhile the Executive under President Uhuru and his Deputy Ruto have perfected the act of getting angry and issuing fresh threats with every fresh scandal. If one was to do a research on newspaper headlines on corruption since 2014; one would be surprised at the number of headlines capturing the President’s anger and his decision to quash corruption. It’s like a circus.

What then? Should we resign to fate and wait for another regime? Absolutely not. We have to keep pushing the government to use the most prudent way and to nail the corrupt. To that end President Uhuru should stop skirting around the issue talking of polygraphing procurement officers in government.

As someone already pointed out, corruption is not about procurement; it’s a chain and the only way to break it and identify those involved is to implement to the letter the wealth declaration by all public and state servants before officially taking up positions and annually thereafter. In addition, EACC should carryout lifestyle audit on those in the private sector working with civil servants to fleece government and repossess those assets even as we trust Judiciary to be expeditious in these cases. This is the sure way.

Consider the Police vetting exercise that left many policemen crying unable to explain the amounts of money in their bank accounts and the over 400 who got dismissed. Why try fix what’s not broken? Forget the hard talk and drafting new laws. Just audit the lifestyles of public servants and where it doesn’t add up, do the needful. Perhaps we could seal the gap and get value for money and bridge that gap between the rich and the poor.