Are our leaders capable of introspection?

Posted by on 29th May 2019

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The United Kingdom Prime Minister seat was rendered vacant last week after Theresa May announced her resignation just three years in office. This came as no surprise as pressure had been piling on her to deliver the Brexit promise, following the astounding 52% yes vote to Brexit that cued fellow Conservative Party Leader and former Prime Minister David Cameroon’s resignation in 2016.

Such a scenario is a rarity in the Kenyan context. Never has there been an instance where a leader transitioned out of office on the basis of failing to deliver that which he/she was expected to do. In the same breath, never has there been an instance where a leader, who was strongly opposed to a referendum, stepped down when said referendum was voted in by its citizens.

To refresh your memory, in 2010, 69% of Kenyans voted in favor of the new constitution that the current Deputy President, William Ruto was strongly rallying against. Which makes it quite puzzling as to how he was the 2nd in command in a government that was historically the first to be voted in under this constitution. Mr. Ruto even went ahead to term the constitution as “faulty” and was confident enough that the “No” camp would carry the day, only for them to garner 31% of the votes. President Uhuru Kenyatta’s stance, on the other hand, was questionable even being labelled as a watermelon alongside former Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka, despite being one of the constitution’s proponents at the time.

Fast forward to his presidency, and his true position on the new constitution has come out strongly for all to see. His actions have been a big mismatch to the lip service that he has paid us over the past 6 years. Being the final say when laws are passed, he has assented to some laws that have contradicted the role and powers of county government. Case in point, the National Government Constituencies Development Fund (NG-CDF) and National Government Affirmative Action Funds (NGAAF) violate the principle of separation of powers and encroaches on county functions. Doesn’t the Big 4 Agenda, that the Jubilee legacy is pegged on, heavily reliant on counties for successful implementation? Isn’t that, therefore, an infringement of county functions?

If our government is to be placed on the same scale as Britain, then it’d become clear that the leadership of this country has immensely fallen short. We have become accustomed to leadership that deliberately fails on the accountability front with individuals refusing to take responsibility for their actions. We have witnessed several State Officials implicated in graft ignore calls to resign. If we go down memory lane, you’ll recall that on July 6th 2008, Mr Amos Kimunya then Finance Minister gave the bold statement, “I would rather die than resign” over the controversial sale of the Grand Regency Hotel. This is well over a decade ago, and yet we see the same attitude adopted by other state officials today.

Were we to emulate the Britons, then we’d have leaders who genuinely self-evaluate, admit to mistakes and work towards doing better. Arrogance should not be accepted as a defense mechanism at the expense of citizens’ welfare. Arrogance should not be allowed to precede accountability.

Succession politics should not divert our attention from real issues

Posted by on 21st May 2019

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The Senate hit the ground running after resuming sittings last week with the Election Law (Amendment) Bill 2018 that went for a second reading. Sponsored by Narok Senator Ledama Olekina, the amendments sought to compel the Presiding Officer, candidates and agents to sign the declaration form at the polling station before proceeding to share them with the Returning Officer. While termed as a noble idea by his colleagues, most senators took issue with the finality that came with the signing of the forms especially in a case where there may be contention with the outcome.

A fact to appreciate with the discussions around this amendment Bill is the sober approach the Senators took towards it. The senators however reached consensus when they agreed to have the Section properly phrased before proceeding with the Bill.

The problem isn’t reforms; it is us,” Senator Mutula Kilonzo Jr said while contributing to the Bill’s debate. This statement summed up almost the entire house’s sentiments on election reforms and attests to the underlying issues that are continuously ignored. It is no secret that elections are a touchy subject in Kenya. It is a period shrouded with public mistrust, negative ethnicity, display of self-centeredness by leaders and laxity. It is the one time in every 5 years that influences the political temperatures in the year that precedes an election and the one right after it.

Tension has become synonymous with our general elections, especially in the multiparty era. Anyone who chooses to dispute this fact given the handshake period we’re in, just needs one look at the scars visibly worn by victims of election violence. They serve as a reminder of what elections actually mean in Kenya.

Our goldfish memory syndrome makes us forget the period that was August 2017 to January 2018, when an election was nullified and dozens of people hurt in the process. The Supreme Court cited irregularities in the electoral process that led to people questioning the custodian of the election, the Independent Electoral Boundaries Commission (IEBC). While the technology was said to be intact, it is the commissioners’ credibility and integrity that was spotlighted as leaders from the opposition accused them of serving the interests of specific individuals. As a result, the process leading to the commissioners’ appointment has been questioned severally as the selection panel that is picked at the discretion of the President. Given the Kenyan electoral history involving an incumbent, it is easy to see why one would refuse to be blind to the possibility of the executive’s influence on the outcome of an election.

If we’re going to have a conversation on election reforms, then we need to start questioning the timelines needed to put together a commission as we gear up to the next election lest we get swallowed up in the succession politics. Just to refresh your memory, the Chebukati-led team was sworn in in January 2017, just 7 months to the election. This was enough to raise red flags over the preparedness of a team to run a free and fair election.

This handshake mood is rife with opportunity to make such progressive reforms and ask the right questions before the inevitable political split happens. Because when it does, politicians will go back to their tactics of mud-slinging and negative ethnicity to cause divisions among Kenyans that will set the pace for the next election. We also need to discuss democracy and participation in political parties as the famous handshake seems to have rendered them toothless.

The onus is on Kenyans and the media to press legislators to push for reforms that will safeguard the Kenyans vote because politicians have proven time and again to be unreliable whenever change is required.

Retrogressive Bills should be fought at all costs.

Posted by on 16th May 2019

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Many times leaders forget that the Constitution is the law on land that guides our nation and dictates the conduct of her population. Recently we’ve witnessed the law being bent and twisted to drive the personal agenda of a few, and the Rule of Law being applied subjectively. Our current political climate explains why we hold on dearly to the Bill of Rights that grants us the freedom of expression, freedom of association and assembly, demonstration, picketing and petition that have become our line of defense. If we stay silent, carefree leaders could eventually strip us off our rights and they would get away with anything.

However, there’s comfort in knowing that there are a few who still press on and fight fiercely against ills. But before anyone thinks of rallying other Kenyans and swarming the streets, they need to take a step back and process the Public Order (Amendment) Bill 2019 that was recently open for views from the Public. If passed into law, it will grossly undermine Kenyans right to picket given the stringent measures it proposes. Sponsored by Ruiru MP, Simon King’ara, the Bill proposes stiff penalties on organizers if their public meetings or public processions lead to loss of property or life.

The public’s right to protest is enshrined in Article 37 of the constitution thus the Public Order (Amendment) Bill not only threatens the rights and freedoms of citizens but also shrinks the civic space that is at the forefront of fighting for a better nation. The Bill does not take into consideration factors like goons who may not be affiliated with the protesting group that take advantage of the situation to cause harm. Moreover, this particular bill shifts the responsibility of the police to provide security to aggrieved citizens.  This becomes an unfair means to penalize harmless protesters armed with a good cause. Especially knowing that goons are hired to trigger disorder and violence during protests, the bill disregards the real problem.

National Assembly had begun debates on a motion to compel the government to set aside areas in Kenya’s three biggest cities for the public to demonstrate and picket as provided for in the Constitution. Yet, limiting protests to Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu would be assuming that people from other regions of Kenya wouldn’t want to use this avenue to express their grievances. It also makes the subtle assumption that only those that live in the three mentioned cities can exercise their constitutional right to picket.

We need to be vigilant of retrogressive Bills that threaten our freedom of expression since silencing whistleblowers presents the corrupt an opportunity to steal right from under our noses. If the dropping of Kenya’s press freedom ranking from 96 to 100 isn’t enough cause for alarm then this Bill should be fought at all costs. We cannot afford to have the media, activist groups and citizens gagged while the country goes to the dogs. We cannot afford to have activists like Boniface Mwangi randomly arrested whenever someone in a high position feels ‘threatened’.

We know that corruption fights back and we need the freedom to fight even harder to protect our nation from a few bad apples.

 

MPs’ Greed Just Proves We are On Our Own

Posted by on 8th May 2019

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News this past week showed the epitome of arrogance and self-centeredness that leaders in this country have with money being at the center of it. A few days after the stormy meeting between Kiambu governor Ferdinand Waititu and Senate Public Accounts Committee, Kenyans certainly weren’t ready for the revelations of MPs pocketing Sh 250,000 in monthly house allowance.

What shocked most Kenyans is that MPs have been secretly taking a quarter of a million home since August last year and the Speaker of the National Assembly defended this move. If one multiplies this figure to the 416 representatives, they’d easily go over the edge considering how tough the economy is currently.

It appears the Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC) resolved to pay out this allowance despite opposition from the National Treasury and Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC). This decision stinks of illegality the SRC was not involved yet it is mandated with setting and reviewing the remuneration and benefits of all State Officers as stated in Article 230 (4) (a) of the Constitution. The blatant disregard of the law proves the lengths that MPs are willing to go in order to serve their own interests.

However, what’s more disappointing is that not a single MP has come forward to reject this allowance proving that leaders in this country are cut from the same cloth. They love deluding themselves claiming to be people’s servants while they’re quick to push agendas that only benefit them. For a house that has the responsibility for oversight, this move not only erodes any integrity left but denies them any moral authority to question the actions of those who have misappropriated funds at the county level.

Even Biblically, man has been warned against being quick to see the fault in another person before addressing the flaws in themselves, as said in Matthew 7:3-5. Doesn’t it therefore put the Senate in an awkward position when they probe Governors over graft claims yet they award themselves more allowances at the expense of an overstretched taxpayer?

Worth-noting, however, is the apparent inability of the SRC to tame MPs’ money-hungry behavior as previous recommendations to reduce the wage bill have been met with a lot of resistance. The independence of the commission is questionable as the MPs wield significant influence over it since they have a say in its composition and funding. Then who can Kenyans rely on to fight for them in this tough economy if government agencies are being rendered helpless?

We live in very interesting times, as government has been claiming it will out in place austerity measures but billions still keep disappearing finding their way in the wrong hands. When shall we have leaders of integrity? When shall we see a crop of men and women whose sole purpose is to serve and improve the lives of those around them? As at now, we are on our own, and we need to look deep within to make better-informed choices to avoid a repeat of such incidents. Maybe then we can have a shot at shaping the future of this nation as opposed to leaving it in the hands of a few.

A Dark Cloud of Unanswered Questions Still Follows the Huduma Number

Posted by on 1st May 2019

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Recent weeks have seen the queues at Huduma Number registration stations grow longer in the Capital City. Safe to say that the same is being replicated all over the country going by the President’s Delivery Unit tweet that announced that 20 million Kenyans had registered by 28th April 2019. The number grew by 9 million Kenyans in just 9 days, an average of a million per day.

Now as to whether this is a reflection of Kenyans’ enthusiasm to willfully register or not, is debatable. Reason being that there are a couple of factors that are in play to either motivate or demotivate Kenyans to join the bandwagon.

The conflicting information coming from the government and its agencies has had Kenyans in a limbo. In an article on the popular daily, Daily Nation, Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) threatened to block sim cards of all those who would fail to register for the National Integrated Identity Management System (NIIMS). Shortly thereafter, the State House Chief of Staff, Nzioka Waita contradicted the statement via a tweet stating that the government is focused on upholding the court ruling to ensure the process is voluntary.

For government agencies to have the confidence to issues threats that violate court rulings shows there are more issues to raise concerning NIIMS than the official rhetoric about it. For instance, are there any consequences to those who opt out of the registration process that the government is not communicating? Does failure to register put one in a vulnerable position where they’d be subjected to harassment or extortion when seeking government services? Will the Huduma Number have priority over other forms of identification in the near future? The threats coupled with unanswered questions have resulted in a fear-driven populace that chooses to do what the government says lest they become victimized.

Besides the threats, there are other matters that have raised red flags. ICT Cabinet Secretary, Joe Mucheru came out to reassure Kenyans that the registration would still carry on smoothly despite the company charged with this initiative, IDEMIA formerly OT Morpho, being blacklisted by the National Assembly. How was a company that was in the middle of the controversial 2017 general election still hired to conduct such a weighty and sensitive initiative? The association that Kenyans have with the infamous French company should have been enough to award this tender to someone else. But again the idea of public participation in this whole process has been elusive, given that little is known about the tendering process.

“I have gone through the Bill and I have seen quite a number of major amendments. The amendments are basically good and a lot of them seek to add value to the laws that exist. It is unfortunate that they have come as omnibus; they have all come together, so they may not receive the kind of attention that they require.” These were Kathiani MP’s, Robert Mbui’s opening remarks in support of the Statute Law (Miscellaneous) Bill 2018 that was read a second time on 7th August 2018, attesting to how wanting the whole journey of this Bill from inception to passing had been. Such a weighty issue might have just been denied adequate deliberation and public contribution.

Despite the fact that there are obvious benefits of this new system, you can’t fault Kenyans for being skeptics if the process is shrouded with secrecy. However, if even our lame-duck Parliament has raised questions about the tendering process and how a black-listed company IDEMIA got part of the contract, the whole NIIMS project stinks to the high heavens.

The government shouldn’t apply the law with any bias

Posted by on 24th April 2019

Categories: Uncategorized

Kenyans are currently in a limbo as to whether they might need to tighten their belts soon, following the gazette notice that put the 1.5% Housing Levy in effect. The recently published gazette notice did not sit well with many employees in the formal sector who had to deal with the reality of parting with a little from their salaries to finance the government’s affordable housing project.

The illegality of this directive by the Ministry of Transport did not escape the Consumers Federation of Kenya (COFEK) who filed a case that is to be heard and determined on 20th May 2019. First, the Ministry disregarded the Labor Court’s ruling from last year after COTU successfully challenged implementation of the housing levy. Secondly, the Ministry totally overlooked the matter of public participation even when the matter is obviously one that largely affects the taxpayer who’s already overburdened. This therefore makes the directive unconstitutional and paints a bad picture on a government eager to bully their way into collecting revenue.

If one was to do a “pros and cons” list regarding the National Housing Debt Fund (NHDF) the cons easily outweigh the pros. Mass looting has eroded any little faith that Kenyans had in the government where public funds are concerned. The question that most Kenyans have is whether this fund will be spared from misappropriation given that the penalties for doing so are a slap on the wrist.

While the fund is meant to make the Housing Pillar in the Big 4 Agenda a reality, its framework is questionable. Kenyans lack the option of opting out even when most taxpayers have made individual arrangements to acquire a home, putting them at risk of being double-burdened with this levy. Shouldn’t the ministry make this levy optional as the fund risks being non-beneficial to those who may not as be lucky to be allocated a home through the lottery method that will be employed?

The rationale behind this levy is problematic as the economic implications are far much adverse if effected. People are at risk of losing their jobs if the ministry effects this, as employers may seek to reduce cuts they’ll be subjected to. The taxpayer is tired of toiling hard only for them to be overtaxed. The taxpayer is tired of seeing the monies that ought to create an enabling environment for them, pocketed by a few who create further stringent measures that hurt them.

The government ought to respect the same constitution that it’s enshrined in. A constitution that mandates the parliament and government offices to involve the public in making of laws that stand to affect their livelihood. The same constitution that states that the Rule of Law should be observed by all. The same constitution that accords the judiciary independence and demands that the executive obeys court rulings.

We’re fostering a dangerous culture whereby courts give direction on contentious matters only for leaders to find back doors through which they can push their agendas. Kenyans are being compelled to register for the Huduma Number even after the court ruled that it wasn’t mandatory? Didn’t the government recently send farmers in to panic mode with the Dairy Board Regulations that were issued without public participation? This back and forth with the courts may result in a citizenry that may resort to underhanded means just to avoid parting with an extra dime.

The fate of Kenyans paycheck now hangs in the balance until May 20th when the court gives a direction which, hopefully, will be respected by the government.

Let’s refrain from normalizing femicides

Posted by on 16th April 2019

Categories: Uncategorized

Perhaps the greatest measure of the evolution of mankind is the development that has been achieved through advanced technology that makes life even simpler. We transitioned from the Agrarian age to the industrial age and now the information age that is proving to be a double-edged sword. While information is literally on the palm of our hands, it’s the consumption of a load of it at a go, that has numbed people.

Case in point, the recent flooding of news of young women being killed by either suitors or their partners has exposed an insensitive side of our society. On one hand are the numb ones, who’d just keep swiping on the phone and not feel a thing and on the other are those who’d propagate unverified information about the victim, unfairly stereotyping them.

Unfortunately, the affected families have had to endure even more pain while coming to terms with the news that they picked on social media first and fighting the rumors flying around about their loved one. The mother to the slain student of medicine, Winfred Waithera had to come to the defense of Ivy Wangeci whose name has been dragged in the mud with all sorts of accusations and justifications for the horrific way her life came to an end.

Lest we forget that the Constitution states that “Every Person has the Right to Life”. The law isn’t gender-biased and therefore no female life should abruptly come to an end in the name of “love”. As a society we have a long way to go when it comes to beating backward patriarchal beliefs and start valuing life, whether male or female. As a society, we have to do some soul-searching and get to the root of this madness. During this time when many Kenyans, women especially, are standing together with Ivy’s family and all those who’ve been killed in the same context, we should objectively reevaluate ourselves and see what role the society has in causing this.

On the question of stalking or harassment that has emerged in most of the femicides recently, we need to question the manner in which we address these accusations. Unfortunately, the casual approach we have when one opens up about a stalker is being replicated by the police. Enough personal accounts on social media attest to how police dismiss women’s reports on being harassed or stalked as being minor cases. This demoralizes the victim as they see no light at the end of this tunnel of justice. The problem with this is that the inaction by the law systems in Kenya encourages the culprits to keep being a nightmare to innocent Kenyans, with most cases escalating into something horrific.

When a Kenyan on Twitter suggested that Ivy should have acquired a restraining order to stop the stalker turned killer, he brought to question the matter of the effectiveness and ease of acquiring one. Much as we have this provision available in our constitution, as a society we still struggle with the definition of a stalker. We have glorified marriage to the point where a stalker is excused for a persistent suitor.

It therefore becomes increasingly difficult for a Kenyan who needs protection to consider the Protection against Domestic Violence Act, 2015 that spells out ways through which he/she can seek protection from a person’s action that could amount to harm. Section 19 1(e) of this Act states, a respondent shall not engage, or threaten to engage, in behavior including intimidation, harassment or stalking which amounts to emotional, verbal or psychological abuse of the protected person. It is paramount that we, Kenyans and the judicial system, start addressing domestic violence and threats to prevent any more deaths that are sadly becoming a norm.

That said, we should desist from sensationalizing these deaths and look at the bigger picture where as a society we need to start addressing underlying mental issues, family values, and patriarchy that have resulted in an unsafe environment for most women.

State of the Nation Address Needs to Move Beyond Mere Rhetoric

Posted by on 11th April 2019

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Kenyans were treated to an underwhelming State of the Nation address after weeks of anticipation, even when the political environment has been rife with opportunity for President Uhuru Kenyatta to seal his legacy. The President kicked off his speech in a full-on self-praise session about his government.

He tooted his own trumpet on his government’s achievements, some of which were as old as 3 years. The irony of that didn’t escape Kenyans who have been told on countless occasions to forget the past and live in the present, whenever the subject of historical injustices comes up. The celebration of past milestones revealed how contradictory his speech was. On one hand, it painted a picture of a proactive government driving infrastructural development with the expansion of roads and house projects and on the other, he exposed the laxity to implement other projects such as the  Kes 10 billion fund meant to heal wounds of those affected by historical grievances even after he gave the directive in 2015.

The fund was just one among the many unmet promises by the Jubilee government which has seen the State of the Nation address become an annual formality. The food crisis isn’t entirely new to Kenyans. In the 2017 address, the President addressed the matter with the promise of making Kenya a food secure nation. Fast-forward to 2019 and we had deaths by drought that were being denied by the same government. President Uhuru’s opening remarks, “There will be no turning back in our quest in transforming the economy, no turning back on government reforms, no turning back on fighting enemies of Kenya…there will be no turning back on the war of corruption as it is a just war” were a resounding start. They signified a speech that was going to turn things upside down and give Kenyans the answers they had been seeking.

As the speech progressed, it became evident that those opening remarks weren’t going to be actioned as the President tiptoed on the issue of corruption. The usual blanket threats to those implicated in graft charges were bland and repetitive, something Kenyans on social media had foreseen happening prior to the address.

Back to the opening remarks again, when the president said there’ll be no turning back on fighting the enemies of Kenya, the interpretation of the statement wasn’t limited to foreign terror sects doing harm in Kenya. That statement spoke to the corrupt in this Kenya who harm Kenyans even worse than weapon-bearing terrorists. The corrupt are solely responsible for the economy not going forward. The corrupt have fostered an environment that inhibits the growth of many middle class Kenyans and enriches a few.

The corrupt are killing the healthcare sector in Kenya that is on its knees right now. The corrupt who have over time evaded the hand of law, continuously cause the failure of health institutions and led to deaths and irreversible harm by to Kenyans over negligence. The education sector hasn’t escaped the ugly effects of corruption. If all these funds that we lose to the corrupt everyday were used to expand the infrastructure and human resource capacity, then schools wouldn’t be strained currently.

The corrupt continue to destroy Kenyans’ lives. Angry public statements by the President are not enough. It is time for action. Those guilty should to be sacked and jailed. Funds lost to the corrupt need to be recovered. Truthfully speaking, the actual state of the nation is not pretty, it is a ticking time-bomb made of frustrated Kenyans who make an honest living only for their taxes to fund crooked people. There can be no government reforms if we condone corruption. There can be no development if funds find their way to a few pockets and leave out starving Kenyans. There can be no development if we don’t uphold the Rule of Law and have gender-balanced representation in Parliament. There can be no national security if corruption is allowed to cause these gaping holes that give terrorists a leeway to harm us.

In conclusion, it is worth noting that the opposition or lack there-of didn’t go unnoticed. What we’re witnessing in Kenya is a line-up of cheerleaders under the guise of opposition who are now singing in the same tune as government. The former Prime Minister Raila Odinga was in full support of the President’s address. Yet this speech is similar to the 2017 address, one that Mr Odinga vocally called out as a PR stunt. Are his sentiments genuine or is this just a matter that is dependent on where one sits on the food chain?

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.