Reports of Great leadership in Some Counties is a Fresh breath of Air

Posted by on 2nd April 2019

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Since Edward Ouko took charge of the Auditor General’s office in 2011, Kenyans have been accustomed to annual reports that reveal misappropriation of funds with counties being the biggest culprits in recent years.

In a rare occurrence with the 2017/2018 financial year report, Mr Ouko gave Makueni and Nyandarua counties a clean bill of health. This was not only a breath of fresh air but a show of what good leadership can achieve. Governors Kivutha Kibwana and Francis Kimemia not only kept their financial books in check but appropriately drove development in their respective counties.

In a TV interview with Betty Kyalo, Prof. Kibwana displayed a different style of leadership where three things stood out; active participation with daily meet-ups with his staff, humility and graceful interaction with locals and the intentional employment of young people in his office. These and many qualities of the calm leader are what most Kenyans yearn for if the calls on social media for him to run for presidency in 2022 are anything to go by. On being asked about how he’s managed to have staff that serve diligently and evade scandals, he simply responded by saying that when one leads by example even those that work under him will feel to mandated to replicate the same. Attesting to the fact that people always watch what their leaders do and follow in their strides. Corruption yields corruption, while honest service yields diligence across the board.

While Kenyans are relishing this rare show of leadership, there were other unpleasant revelations by the Auditor General. Kisumu County for one couldn’t account for the spending of Kes3.7 million that was set aside to purchase 27 Ayrshire cows but turned out that only one cow had receipts to proof its purchase. The Auditor General couldn’t help but reach the conclusion that the purchase of the remaining 26 cows was questionable.

A report by the Controller of Budget that was tabled in Parliament revealed that the State gobbled up Kes7.5 billion on travel in 5 months despite calls by the Treasury for austerity to free up funds for development. The Presidency used up Kes324 million, Judiciary used up Kes166 million, Public Service Commission Kes1.113 billion, Ministry of Foreign Affairs 801 million, State Department of Interior used up Kes616 million and the MPs took up the biggest portion of Kes2.5 billion. Despite this much money being spent on unessential travel by our legislators, MPs still came forward recently with new demands playing oblivious to the heavy burden borne by the taxpayer. As if their salaries and allowances aren’t enough, the MPs now want benefits similar to those in New Zealand. They’re now demanding Kes400,000 in hotel allowance for whenever they’re in Nairobi to attend sittings.

This came after they went benchmarking in New Zealand, and wanted to replicate the same in Kenya. To demand benefits similar to those of MPs in a first world country is outrageous.  Does Kenya match New Zealand in terms of development, GDP and standard of education and living to merit these demands? It is amusing to see MPs forget that their primary role is to serve and positively impact Kenyans’ lives while in office. This here can be likened to an abusive marriage where one partner gets the shorter end of the stick in the partnership while being milked to meet the other’s demands.

That said, Prof. Kibwana is one of those rare principled ones that prove that there is still hope for Kenya to enjoy better leadership. His leadership should cause others in positions of power to look in the mirror and self-evaluate. What will it take to get similar reports from the National Government ministries and parastatals?

Address loopholes to solve the food crisis

Posted by on 26th March 2019

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Images of dry skin hanging on to the protruding bone structure of those on the brink of death by starvation are not about to let the conversation on the food crisis die down. The same images that caused an uproar are what must’ve driven the government to deny any occurrence of death related starvation while trying to save face over their failure to act on warnings given before.

This has however been contradicted by several media reports and officials on-ground confirming that by 13th March, there were approximately 5 people who died in Turkana. It sure takes a brave man to admit his mistakes and forge ahead with lessons, but Kenya battles with a goldfish memory that sees us handling one crisis to the next with zero preparation as is the case with the droughts and floods.

This conversation was taken to the floor of the Senate where Nominated Senator Abshiro Halake termed the failure of our leaders to provide and protect their citizens, a crime against humanity. More Senators acknowledged the food crisis and blamed the county governments for inadequate planning to avert the food shortage. Almost in unison, they wanted those responsible for allowing this crisis to happen brought to book.

But who’s really at fault? The National Government has sustained significant punches in the wave of criticism, with stakeholders and Kenyans generally questioning their slow response rate and the inability of government agencies to provide efficient channels that’ll swiftly move food from regions with an excess to those without.

That, however, didn’t spare the county governments whose accountability was questioned as to how they used their budgets to reduce poverty and inequality. It is in the same breadth that Kakamega Senator, Cleophas Malala brought forth the question of Turkana’s spending of their Equalization fund in averting this crisis.

His concerns proved that MPs are of the notion that the Governors should have been in a position to prevent this hunger crisis by tapping into the Equalization Fund to feed their population. But, were the monies released to begin with?

On April 19th 2018, the National Treasury PS Kamau Thugge stunned the National Cohesion and Equal Opportunity Committee after revealing that only 1.1 billion out of the 12.4 billion had been released since the 2010 constitution. The news did not sit well with the MPs who were under the impression that the kitty was disbursed after parliament passed the Equalization Fund Appropriation Act, 2018. That committee meeting and other news reports had a section of leaders on record expressing their disappointment on the delay of the fund’s disbursement. They termed this as a lack of political goodwill in pushing for development in marginalized counties. It is quite puzzling as to what the hang-up could be yet this is a fund anchored in the constitution and is an important component in addressing inequalities through driving development in the entire nation.

With the Big 4 Agenda in mind, isn’t it in the Executive’s interests to disburse these funds that would make attaining this possible? When President Kenyatta leads Kenyans in crossing over to a New Year, he likes to gauge the milestones his government has achieved in that particular year. Topping that list of achievements is often the growth in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) which shows the size of an economy and does not mean much to most people when even a single life is lost to starvation. Enough of the bravado, its time our governments focus on the quality of life of the people below the pyramid, as they are the bulk of Kenya’s population.

“The war against hunger is truly mankind’s war of liberation.” – John F. Kennedy, 35th President of the United States.

Posted by on 19th March 2019

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It’s business unusual as Kenya is now wearing a face of hopelessness with several of her citizens from 13 counties said to be at the brink of starvation. Fifty-six years on after independence we have a country unable to provide the most basic need to hundreds of thousands of Kenyans, with the spotlight shining on Turkana. With the heavy rains expected to delay even longer and the recent mass looting surrounding dam projects intended to help with irrigation, there’s little to hope for as a nation.

But the irony of an excess of produce in counties nearby doesn’t escape many Kenyans. One wonders, what really is the role of the state corporation – National Cereal and Produce Board (NCPB) and Ministry of Agriculture. To this day farmers are still struggling to find avenues to sell their maize, while encountering scandals that riddle NCPB. That the enquiry into maize scandals in 2010 and 2018 never yielded anything, is proof of the government’s lack of commitment to resolve the drought issue. It is also indicative of lack of concern for those living below the poverty line.

While climate is largely beyond human control, ample preparation for the dire effects is not out of our grasp. There have been adequate drought warnings from the National Drought Management Authority and Kenya Meteorological Departments in recent years which the government didn’t act on appropriately. Were this the case, then alternative means would have been sought. Water harvesting during the heavy rains would have been done, making water available to irrigate arid areas and guaranteeing a consistent supply of food countrywide.

Another thing that we fail to address year in year out is what food security entails. Does it just mean availability of food and access to it or availability and access to nutritious food? There’s a rigid mentality that is stuck on the usual “maize” as a solution for hunger yet these affected areas have crops that naturally thrive there that could fill the starving stomachs. This is indicative of the need to educate Kenyans on alternative sources of nutrition.

A while back KARI compiled a food security report spelling out roles of the NCPB in the wake of a food crisis. One of the policies required NCPB to provide farmers with planting materials and seeds especially of the so-called ‘orphan crops-drought tolerant’ which can be grown in the arid and semi-arid areas and encourage farmers to diversify the crops planted. Had these been implemented, then affected regions would be self-sufficient and we wouldn’t be here counting casualties.

Lest we forget in 2011, Kenyans joined hands in a campaign dubbed “Kenyans for Kenya” and raised about $11 million to aid starving residents of Turkana. While the scale of humanity won the day, a promise was made not to take Kenya back to that state. How are we, almost a decade later, talking about taps and mouths running dry? Forget about governance and policy for a second, are our leaders in touch with reality? While one misappropriates funds, do they actually think about the repercussions of this? Lives are ruined and lost as a result.

If the President and his government really want to leave a legacy, then it’s about time that he tapped into his humane side and feels the pain of his people. Maybe that way leaders’ minds can stop being self-centered and push for the benefit of everyone.

Of Backroom Deals, Cronyism and Nepotism driving Corruption in Key Parastatals

Posted by on 15th March 2019

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Chaos rocked the busiest airport in East Africa after Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) workers downed their tools when it emerged that there was a looming takeover of Kenya Airport Authority (KAA) by Kenya Airways. The Kenya Aviation Workers Union (KAWU) cited underpayment, mistreatment and the dominance by foreigners at high-level positions as some of their grievances shortly before business went back to normal.

The normalcy however didn’t mask the fact that local boards have a tendency of recruiting foreigners to take up leadership positions leaving the locals’ expertise untapped and killing the public morale as a result. If the list of board members and their salaries is anything to go by, then it’s only fair for staff in the middle and lower tier to ask for better compensation. It was saddening to see that the government exercised zero restraint on the staff, deploying the GSU who beat and arrested them for exercising their constitutional right. What was more shocking, was the speed at which the Government addressed the strike.

Was it just because this strike affected the elite who depend on air travel unlike the common mwananchi who has to battle 3-hour traffic jams every day? Never have we seen the same replicated when it comes to teachers, doctors or nurses’ strikes which directly affects the livelihoods of Kenyans?.

Another issue that came forward was the lack of public involvement in the proposed merger  where KAWU is an interested party. Article 201 (a) of the constitution states, “there shall be openness and accountability, including public participation in financial matters.” Kenya Airways’ loss-making history raises red flags as to what informed the decision to merge it with a profitable entity like the KAA. The government has a culture of secrecy deep ingrained, where information on board appointments, contractors, tenders is kept in the dark and only comes out when a scandal blows up.

How did they appoint foreigners to most senior management positions yet there’s enough expertise locally? How was the hiring done? For the rare instances that a local heads a state organization or board, a little digging reveals that they’re affiliated to someone in the high powers. Outright cronyism and nepotism have become a norm in the appointment processes. These encourage the mass looting that we witness day in day out. Since the President and Opposition leader are in agreement with regards to fighting graft it’s about time the Commander-in-Chief makes true his promise so that we can see culprits in jail, lost money recovered and property reclaimed.

Now more than ever leaders from both sides of the divide have a chance to display collaborative politics and fight corruption without sparing any ‘friends’. There are too many loopholes that need to be fixed to stop any more loss of taxpayers’ money. Parliamentary debate on the proposed KAA and Kenya Airways merger in the National Assembly saw MPs gag themselves during debate awaiting the Executive’s position on the same, yet the house controls the public purse.

Given the gravity of the matter as Kenya Airways is a national icon, our legislators should have read Kenyans mood on the issue and aired their views on the same. Lest our leaders forget, Article 1 of the Constitution states ‘All Sovereign power belongs to the people of Kenya and shall be exercised only in accordance with this Constitution and the people may exercise their sovereign power either directly or through their democratically elected representatives.’ In any battle for the nation’s soul and pride, the people’s voice is paramount rather than the voice of the power elite.

About time the Government Accords Youth Respect…

Posted by on 6th March 2019

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President Uhuru Kenyatta reshuffled his Cabinet for the first time since he began his second term, and this one had a ‘first’. A cabinet secretary was sacked from his position as opposed to the usual reassignment to other posts, causing a buzz. Rashid Echesa, now former Cabinet Secretary for Sports, Culture and Arts was shown the door after a lack-luster tenure of almost 2 years.

But his replacement wasn’t one that was received well by Kenyans, especially those taking keen interest in Sports. The President reassigned Ms Amina Mohamed from the Education Ministry to the Sports docket. This raised concern given her experience does not align with the docket and her previous performance at the Education Ministry caused many to doubt her commitment to empowering youth.

While in the Education docket Ms. Mohamed issued the directive to arrest Higher Education Loans Board (HELB) loans defaulters, which most Kenyans termed as inconsiderate and inhumane given the current unemployment rates. The matter was even brought up in the Senate, with most members calling out the government for hypocrisy since this approach hasn’t been taken with regards to major corruption scandals. Not only did she issue the harsh directive but she also had hiccups while rolling out the Competency based curriculum giving conflicting communication that forced the President to step in and reassure parents about the curriculum being implemented in schools.

Her latest appointment brings to question the criteria the President uses in appointing cabinet secretaries for youth-focused ministries. For a government that claims to articulate youth issues, they have had a dismal performance on implementing the same. Echesa’s predecessor, Hassan Wario alongside his Principal Secretary Richard Ekai ran down the sports ministry with incompetence and corruption. For instance, Kenya lost an opportune moment to host the 2018 African Nations Championship because of inadequate preparation with blame tossed between the Ministry and Federations.

As if that was not enough, while our athletes were busy flying the Kenyan flag high at the Rio Olympics in 2016, funds were being misappropriated. The dark cloud of corruption charges following Wario did not stop his appointment to the Austria Embassy. To recycle people whose integrity has been in question is to treat Kenyans with contempt and foster a culture of impunity.

The government is failing youth who depend on functional systems to make a living for themselves. If we are trying to have a level playing field for every young Kenyan, then the we need to have an education system that nurtures all-round individuals, a solution to the unemployment headache and frameworks that let youth exploit their talents to maximum potential.

It is a disservice to treat the Ministry of Sports, Culture and Arts like an afterthought that does not deserve a qualified individual who will elevate a country that boasts of natural sporting talent to the next level. The government should focus on implementing the promises they made while running for a second term, which to be honest are attainable.

Kenya should borrow a leaf from Malaysia who appointed 27-year-old Syed Abdul Rahman for the Sports and Youth Ministerial job. Wouldn’t it work in the government’s favor to actively tap into youthful zeal to attain the Big 4 Agenda? With a very youthful population like ours, youth empowerment will guarantee development on all fronts.

The Conversation on Mental Health can not be ignored anymore…

Posted by on 27th February 2019

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The frequency of news on suicides and crimes of passions has gone up in recent times bringing to fore the Mental Health Crisis in Kenya that has been overlooked for a very long time. Unfortunately, mental disorders come with a tag of shame and stigma in the Kenyan and African society at large making it hard for people to seek help when they need it.

A research conducted by Daily Nation had shocking revelations, with suicides being the 2nd leading cause of death for people aged 15-29 years. The research also points out that one out of 4 people suffer a mental disorder at some point in their lives, with Kenya ranking 6th in Africa with about 2 million people with depression. What is most shocking however, is the inadequate support for the Mental Health sector with just 62 psychiatrists in Kenya and a lack of separate budget for Mental Health as is the case in 54 other member states of WHO.

Nominated Senator, Sylvia Kasanga has sponsored a Bill to amend the Mental Health Act. Watch the two-part interview and share your thoughts regarding the Bill on the comment section. Alternatively, register and comment directly on the bill on our Dokeza platform and let your view count as we push for a healthier Kenya.

Law should be justly exercised by courts and security forces in equal measure

Posted by on 19th February 2019

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Almost two years later of living in anguish and pain, baby Pendo’s family finally had something to smile about after an inquest found five officers culpable for her untimely death during the August 2017 post-election chaos that rocked parts of the country. The saddening bit about her death wasn’t the fact that she was denied a chance to realize her potential but that it was totally preventable. Had the officers in charge that night exercised restraint and proper execution of duties, the baby would’ve stayed unharmed in her mother’s safe arms.

Having this in mind, the parliament’s resumption of sittings wouldn’t have been timelier as the replacement of the Inspector General is top in the agenda of the MPs’ sessions. Current IG will be retiring in March 2019 marking four years since he took office. That said MPs are expected to start considering nominees for placement at the National Police Service Commission to take on the challenging task.

With Kenya’s security system being still at refinement infancy, it is important that whoever replaces Boinett has the charisma and ability to spearhead much needed reforms in the sector. And that brings to light the process of recruitment of his position. The law requires that the President appoints the IG then parliament approves the appointment.

The greater hopes of the country shall thereby lie in parliament. Since the approval will be subject to vetting and debate, it will allow the public to be privy to the process. Comparatively, the president’s nomination process is clouded in secrecy with few if any being in the know of how the nominee was settled at.

Parliament will have to come together and show maturity during vetting since the security of the state lies in the competence of the nominee. It will have to put aside its political differences for the betterment of the state. It will have to dissociate itself with political bias.

It will have to scrutinize the integrity of the nominee. Several reports have named the police sector as the most corrupt in the country and whoever heads the institution must have the virtuousness of Caesar’s wife. He/she must be able to bring change from within and have themselves as a pedestal of virtue.

They must also have a proper human rights record. Various human rights’ violations have been perpetuated by the police in this country as in the case of baby Pendo and the late Martin Koome who was tortured to death in a cell in 2013. We cannot afford to have a sympathizer of such atrocities.

Parliament must ensure that the nominee is sober and firm on his principles. An individual who exercises independence of thought and isn’t susceptible to executive pressure. We need to see a police boss who is neutral and firm, and only biased towards the law.

Parliament must refrain from being a rubber-stamp of the executive and scrutinize the nominee’s record on all these factors with soberness, fairness, adherence to the constitution and most importantly, loyalty to the good of the people.

And while at it, it would be great to have the President nominate a woman for a change.


Do the calls for a referendum have the goodwill of people?

Posted by on 11th February 2019

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Calls for a referendum have built up momentum this past week with ODM party, Women leaders, Deputy President William Ruto and Wiper Party leader Kalonzo Musyoka weighing in on the matter with suggestions of their own.

It is clear however that a lot of focus is being placed on the Executive arm with the ODM leadership and the Women’s Building Bridges movement pushing for its expansion and inclusion of the Prime Minister position. Wiper leader, Kalonzo seemed to be on the same wavelength with the two groups on the matter until he added a twist to it with calls for the removal of the presidential term limit, reminiscent of former President Moi Days.

The Deputy President on the other hand dismissed the clamour for the PM arrangement and instead proposed that the runner-up in the election becomes leader of the opposition. Which addresses a valid concern with the current lack of opposition in place to play watchdog.

But while we’re on the subject of a referendum, how many of the leaders have actually consulted the public to get their perspective on the implementation of the 2010 constitution so far? Do they acknowledge if the National government arms adhered to the constitution there would be no need for new positions?

While processing this, it’s good to applaud the efforts by Third Way Alliance Party Leader, Ekuru Aukot who through his Punguza Mzigo Campaign has openly addressed the matter of over-representation that MPs seem to conveniently shy away from. He has proposed that the current 290 constituencies be scraped off and the 47 counties be considered as single constituency units. If the proposal is implemented, the number of MPs would be a mere 147 [47 senators, 94 MPs – a man and woman from each county and 6 special interest seats] instead of the 416 we have presently. Not only will this lessen the burden on the taxpayer but it will also create a good avenue for thorough scrutiny of each member’s record and allow the public to hold them to account. The two-thirds rule would also be automatically realized.

On the other hand, it is becoming evident that leaders do not have the interests of the people at heart, since the new positions being proposed are just a safety net for them in the case of an unfavorable outcome during an election. Notwithstanding, the fact the elected Members of National Assembly and  Women Representatives entrench a conflict of interest in allocating themselves Constituency Development Funds (NG-CDF) and the Affirmative Action Funds (NG-AAF) respectively. MPs implementation tasks undertaken using the two funds are often a duplication of National and County Government functions.

It is about time that any constitutional amendments proposed come from the taxpayers and made their way to the top and not the other way around. For the longest time we’ve been accustomed to boardroom decisions that are presumed to represent Wanjiku’s voice.

However, we must give credit where it’s due. Third Way Alliance and ODM’s one 7-year non-renewable term for the presidency will challenge the seat-holders to achieve as much as possible during their tenure, as opposed to banking on a second term to “leave a legacy” and make up for the first term they didn’t maximize on. Women leaders have also made a good step towards inclusivity, with calls for equal representation in non-elective positions such as the cabinet and all arms of government that will replicate Canada under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

While we expect more leaders to join in on the referendum calls, they should always remember that they serve at the pleasure of their constituents. They should therefore appropriately represent them and involve them in decision making before calling on them to go to the ballot.

Kenyans must also stay vigilant and resist the temptation to be roped into the political theatrics that our leaders may resort to while drumming support for whatever agenda they may be pushing. At the end of the day, there is power in our vote and we should find the devil in the details as leaders continue presenting draft proposals to the Building Bridges Initiative rather than falling for their bait.

Cancer and other Diseases can be dealt with if we had a Proactive Parliament

Posted by on 5th February 2019

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When Kibra MP Okoth Kenneth begun his crusade about legalizing marijuana it looked too random and rather out of place for a man who had cut out an image of a gentleman; never shouting himself hoarse in public rallies. A man the country had come to associate with performance. A doer more than a talker if his Mbagathi CDF School is anything to go by. Fewer people outside his family knew he was battling cancer.

In an interview that shocked his constituents, the MP who had turned forty not too long ago revealed he had stage four cancer and that it couldn’t be cured as such he will manage it by a tablet a day. Since then a number of people have begun piecing together his push for legalizing of marijuana for medicinal purposes. Although he had made his stand clear it was for responsible use; the message hadn’t really hit home until the media published his cancer story.

Although Hon. Okoth has been one of the most performing legislators and pretty much all rounded in so far as oversight, lawmaking and representation is concerned, it’s not lost on us that majority MPs tend to think about dealing with issues only when it has affected them personally.

Not too long ago when MPs begun the debate on the Data Privacy Bill, rather than delve into the serious breaches that leave the country under threat. They ended up amusing each other with stories of a conman who was swindling them money, completely oblivious of the weighty issues that Bill was expected to address and the fact that Kenyans are conned by convicts from remand every other day but don’t make a fuss about it.

The past year MPs treated the country to a lot of unnecessary drama promising to vote against the President’s memorandum on the Finance Bill, 2018. In hindsight, it appears as though they were playing to the gallery, taking us through the motions yet they knew they weren’t going to veto anything.

Already there are plans by MPs to increase their pension while their constituents work in places where they get paltry or no pension schemes. This is the kind of self-gratifying behavior that irks the general public.

As Parliament’s next session begins this February, we appeal to their senses that as the year begins we shall have productive, people centered debates. Already there is a possibility that this year’s Finance Bill will get the tax payers to tighten their belts even further. We have about four months before the budget is read, our hope is this time round MPs will actually concern themselves with the budgeting process and scrutinize that document accordingly before passing any Bill related to the budget.

In the meantime, they should also demand at the very least that the committee on health challenge the Ministry of Health to help the country understand why cancer is suddenly a common a disease as flu. What has changed? How can the public be informed about the possible dangers or the alternative lifestyle that could help prevent these diseases? Considering its treatment – if one is lucky to identify it early – costs an arm and a leg, wouldn’t prevention be a necessary approach?

As an organization that monitors the work of lawmakers on the floor of the House we know only too well how it is easy to blame and hard to appreciate those MPs who against the negative energy, strive to deliver. The Kibra MP is one such Legislator who has strived to give his constituents the best. We are saddened by his story yet encouraged by his resilience to fight cancer. That notwithstanding, it’s time MPs sponsored Bills in Parliament and fight for the right of every Kenyan to get universal healthcare or affordable healthcare at the very least.

Kenya needs stronger ideological parties for a healthy democracy

Posted by on 30th January 2019

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Since the March 9th handshake the country has experienced relative peace and unity. However, questions still linger nearly one year later about what that gesture between the President and his Opposition counterpart really meant for the ordinary Wananchi beyond a peaceful environment to go about their business.

More importantly, what does this mean for political parties and their role in shaping democracy? While the meeting sealed by a handshake was between two individuals, their followers and political parties they lead fell in line albeit shakily trumpeting the same message of building bridges.

For nearly a year, the opposition coalition NASA has failed to actualize its mandate as the opposition. Despite numerous economic scandals involving high ranking government officials, the opposition parties have remained ineffective. In fact, the better part of the year was treated to infighting among the coalition partners who felt “left out” whatever that means. Which in itself reveals a rather ugly underbelly of the opposition coalition. Were they really in it for the change or for the ‘spoils’?

And if a leading opposition party like ODM chose to “work with the government” what does this mean for other political parties in the opposition like Ford Kenya, ANC and Wiper? Outside of the coalition that brought them together to challenge Jubilee, what is their ideology? Are they able to pronounce themselves on the ills in the society allegedly perpetuated by the government?

Interestingly, all these three parties now appear to have joined ODM in supporting the handshake’s Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) task force that’s going round seeking views of Kenyans on the way forward for the country. They’ve all submitted their proposals with the exception of Wiper Party – which is also likely to give its views going by the mood of its party leader, Kalonzo Musyoka.

Also worth mulling over is that at the top of the agenda of the handshake appears to be a referendum that’s apparently necessary to help change the Constitution to make it more inclusive. Something those opposed to it like the Deputy President, think is about creating jobs (Prime Minister and two assistant positions) for a few leaders at the expense of Kenyans. Indeed ODM, Ford Kenya and ANC have expressed themselves on this matter claiming the winner takes all system is what is causing so much anxiety and making some communities feel left out.

While this blog is not taking any stand on the referendum – because there’s no question that’s been put across yet, it is worth questioning the sincerity of those making these proposals. Firstly, pre-2010 Constitution we had a recognized position of the leader of Opposition; so we can argue it wasn’t a winner take all situation, yet there was glaring inequality and unbalanced regional development. Would creation of positions for key leaders of communities therefore solve this? We remain skeptical about that.

However, if we had robust political parties where members meet often and not for purposes of dealing with crises or plotting power games but revisiting their manifesto and looking for ways of pulling together to deliver on the promises made, the country would be better for it.

Right now, Jubilee is failing terribly at this with the ongoing implosion that they’re not willing admit. The opposition parties on the other hand are not showing any alternatives – if anything, it appears we have no opposition since the handshake.

Sadly, this also brings to the fore another important debate about the number of political parties in the country. Does it make sense to have the registrar of political parties listing on their website 78 political parties when only three to four political parties are actually engaging on national matters and attempting to deal with the common man’s problems, although unsatisfactorily?

More importantly, what’s the rationale in disbursing funds to these political parties when their effect can’t be felt at the grassroots level?

Until we get serious with the political parties and ensure the party leaders are worth their salt and that the party mechanisms are devoid of mischief and corruption there’s little we shall be building across any bridge, simply because the Executive and the Legislature that play the biggest role in how a country is run are products of political parties.