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

Posted by on 15th July 2016

Categories: Uncategorized

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

ICT Practitioners Bill is Vague, Kill it!

Posted by on 8th July 2016

Categories: Uncategorized

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

Posted by on 2nd July 2016

Categories: Uncategorized

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

June 2016

Posted by on 27th June 2016

Categories: Elections 2017

After intense lobbying by members of the clergy and diplomats, opposition leaders softened their hard stance and called off their weekly demonstrations in favour of dialogue. The two main Coalitions- Jubilee and Cord who are antagonists in the IEBC debate agreed to form a team to iron out the electoral contentious issues before they are discussed in Parliament.

  • 1st June: Parliament reduced the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) budget by Ksh 450 Million. The Chair of the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee Hon Chepkonga stated that the reduction will not impact on the Commission’s preparations for 2017 General Elections.

 

  • 2nd June: Cord named a five member team to engage Jubilee in talks to disband IEBC. Cord team comprised Senator James Orengo, Senator Johnson Muthama, Hon Eseli Simiyu, Hon Mishi Mboko and Hon Abdikadir Aden. The team was named despite President Kenyatta denying any agreement between him and Mr. Odinga to have such a team to solve the IEBC conundrum. At the same time, Amani National Congress leader Mr. Musalia Mudavadi warned that “gentleman’s agreement’ between politicians will not solve the electoral commission’s stalemate.

 

  • 3rd June: A bill to give political parties a voice in appointing commissioners of the electoral body was prepared by the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee and taken to the government printer. Another bill that seeks to increase the period set by the Constitution to determine a presidential election petition from 14 days to 30 days was also tabled.

 

  • 4th June: During the National Prayer Breakfast religious leaders led by National Council of Churches of Kenya General Secretary Rev Canon Peter Karanja, Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops – Bishop Alfred Rotich and Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims Secretary General Adan Wachu pleaded with politicians to give dialogue a chance. The members of the clergy vowed to soldier on with the mediation path until an amicable solution is found.

 

  • 8th June: The Cabinet Secretary for Interior Security banned opposition demonstrations. In a quick rejoinder the opposition chiefs rubbished the ban and vowed to continue with the protests until IEBC is reconstituted. To add salt into injury the opposition increased the number of protest days from once per week to twice per week.

 

  • 8th June: The United Kingdom advised its citizens visiting Kenya to be vigilant due to the ongoing wave of opposition protests. The advisory note stated that more protests are planned in other cities in the coming months. The advisory may hurt Kenya’s tourism sector.

 

  • 13th June: The electoral body got set to upgrade its systems so as to make transmissions of the 2017 poll results efficient. The Commission has invited companies’ to bid for the upgrade of its results management system and data centre. The upgrade is estimated to cost Ksh 250 million. When in place the new system is expected to ensure that the voter register and elections results are secure and readily available for retrieval.

 

  • 23rd June: The opposition Cord and the ruling Jubilee coalition ceded ground and agreed to form a team to steer dialogue on the IEBC stalemate. The 14 members select team is supposed to come up with recommendations that will ensure 2017 elections are free and fair. A motion to be tabled in Parliament will give the team the legal mandate to:
  1. i) Recommend legal, policy and institutional reforms to strengthen the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC),

ii)Improve the electoral system and process so as to ensure the August 2017 elections are free and fair; and

iii) Ensure the elections are administered in an impartial, efficient, simple, accurate, verifiable, secure, accountable and transparent manner.

 

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

Posted by on 24th June 2016

Categories: Uncategorized

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by on 18th June 2016

Categories: Uncategorized

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Youth and Women must Ensure their Votes Count in 2017

Posted by on 10th June 2016

Categories: Uncategorized

The budget read this week by government’s admission was supposed to be pro-poor. This is no coincidence considering it comes a few months to elections. Women and the youth who form the bulk of the electorate are poor and the kitties linked to the two groups received larger allocations. The consideration extended to women and youth in the budget shows politicians are aware of their significance in the coming election.

This demographic therefore must be ruthlessly selfish if they are to make their value to politicians count. It appears both our women and youth have embraced a subject  political culture where despite having knowledge of political institutions and actors they play little or no role in the inputs and outputs of government policies, except for cheerleading their favorite politicians.

That the ICC cases that kept us sane in 2013 may not do that this time round is reason enough for the youth to take stock and decide how things should turn in their favor. Already a Bill that wants to remove Kenya from ICC’s jurisdiction is in the first reading in Parliament. On the other hand, a decision on the two-thirds gender principle is still pending in Parliament after the legislation having been defeated twice.

The budget was a win for youth as the government announced a tax rebate for employers that will offer  6-12 months training programs to at least 10 fresh graduates to gain experience.  While this is good, majority of the youth are not able to proceed to college mostly because of financial circumstances. The youth can therefore (through their representatives in Parliament and different youth caucuses) push the government to ensure NYS gives opportunities to the underprivileged.

Additionally, the government has decided to tax beauty products yet they are essential to women’s grooming. Consequently, their cost of living has risen yet women and lately the youth have ventured into manicure, pedicure and salon ventures in a bid to earn an honest living. Therefore, they must use their numbers to demand the government see things their way.

Furthermore, the government must reverse the decision to tax kerosene for the sake of the poor who rely heavily on the product. Women and youth should demand through the relevant channels for the government to cushion them from the increased cost of living.

Indeed, it’s about time the women and youth took keen interest in individuals vying to represent their interests. They must refuse the bandwagon mentality of voting in uniform; that only rewards politicians but does not affect their own long-term interests. In the 2017 election, they should elect leaders selectively across different political parties considering their past record and ability to deliver to the demographic interests rather than the sponsoring party.

In addition, youth and women should use their numbers to bring public officers implicated in corrupt deals to book by holding to account the responsible institutions. In fact they should be matching on the streets until these culprits are prosecuted. This is even more meaningful than the IEBC demos.

And while we’re on demonstrations, it’s disturbing that whenever Parliament calls the public to give views on Bills in Parliament, the youth and women who often are most affected hardly make time for this important activity. The same applies for public meetings by organizations that want to demystify the budget making process.

This demographic must realize how important they are to the country and demand what they are worth. Arguing on social media and exchanging insults in rallies across political affiliations renders women and youth but mere pawns in the hands of the political class. It’s time we invested that energy into making political choices that will transform Kenya to the nation we need and want.

 

Restore Trust in our Institutions

Posted by on 4th June 2016

Categories: Uncategorized

Trust was the key theme in this year’s National Prayer Breakfast. It’s a timely topic to discuss in the country right now considering the fact that we are a few months from elections and key institutions that we expect to depend on are losing public trust. If it’s not yet lost.

In the last general elections in 2013, we experienced Post-Election-Peace (PEP), even where media reports, especially international, predicted violence. This happened simply because there was a general trust in the then newly constituted IEBC. When half the electorate doubted the IEBC results shortly after they made their official announcement, the country had trust in the courts and indeed the opposition sought redress at the Supreme Court and accepted the verdict that it had lost.

However, the events following the 2007 general elections are grim and will forever haunt us every election period. We did not have the Supreme Court that had the trust of the public, and therefore the International Criminal Court (ICC) had to step in. We had an electoral commission that was solely appointed by the incumbent and therefore could not be trusted to give a fair verdict. But that changed after we passed the new constitution in 2010.

Sadly, in less than four years we have reversed the gains we made in so far as credible institutions are concerned. To begin with IEBC lost its credibility after the ‘Chickengate’ scandal. Controversies around the late acquisition of BVR kits that were substandard have not really been concluded despite the go ahead given by Justice and Legal Affairs Committee to proceed with procurement for new kits for the 2017 elections.

The Supreme Court that was supposed to be above reproach is limping with corruption allegations. From unscrupulous procurement deals that have seen the former Chief Registrar Gladys Shollei charged with abuse of office to bribery allegations where Supreme Court Justice Tunoi is accused of taking Ksh.200 million bribe from Governor Kidero to influence the outcome of the petition to nullify his 2013 election.

Worse still, the Supreme Court President, Chief Justice Willy Mutunga is set to retire this month leaving behind a shaky team. For instance the Deputy Chief Justice Kalpana Rawal had an uphill task clearing her name of allegations of fraud following the linking of her name to the Panama papers. Not to mention the ongoing case where she controversially asserts that she ought to retire at 74 and not 70 because she was sworn in under the old Constitution.

Unfortunately for us, Parliament too does not seem to be the arm to look up to in such challenging times. Not with the double speak and the unnecessary tag of war between opposition and government MPs. Admittedly, there are a number of MPs like Kabando wa Kabando and David Ochieng who have championed for a bipartisan parliamentary caucus to resolve the IEBC impasse. But there are other members who claim the Parliamentary caucus will fail.

The presidency too which is expected to symbolizes national unity flounders too. Whether the Jubilee sponsored President Uhuru to statehouse is inconsequential. He remains President of all Kenyans and must therefore deal with opposition supporters as President and not like an enemy. As a unifying figure he ought to restrain from partisan reactionary politics. This is the sure way to restore trust in the Presidency. He should also not allow politicians who claim to speak for him mislead the country with sensational and senseless politics.

In the same breath, the opposition needs to play a more proactive role as the watchdog that can help strengthen these institutions. For instance, did CORD just realize IEBC is incompetent? Where were they the last three years? This reactionary politics only leaves Kenyans, especially the vulnerable group more hurting. If opposition proactively sought to strengthen IEBC we wouldn’t be here today.

And while we are talking about institutions without public trust, we need a serious debate on commissions formed to help strengthen governance. What we have in Kenya today is strong individuals rather than strong institutions. Is this what we call being on track? Will the true leaders rise to the occasion?

Will Ole Kaparo’s Commission Bite as Temperatures Rise?

Posted by on 27th May 2016

Categories: Uncategorized

Rick Warren, an American Evangelical Christian author couldn’t have captured the mood in Kenya better when he made this statement, even though it was not intended for a Kenyan audience, “Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense. You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.”

In Kenya today, people hate (probably fear) each other and are ready to kill each other over difference in political opinion. Worse still, Kenyans will agree with their political leaders even when they are out-rightly wrong because they love them. They feel, they owe them loyalty. This is absolute nonsense.

CORD’s IEBC protests are getting uglier by the day with reports of increased police brutality. The people suffering the most are women and children who unfortunately, are not directly involved in these demos. You would therefore expect that for the sake of our humanity majority Kenyans would at least condemn the excessive use of force even as they demand that CORD seek to follow the rule of law. But no, some are going as far as justifying those killed.

John Githongo the former anti-graft czar speaking at a conference on Integrity this week reasoned that culture is the foundation of a nation and further suggested that we have drafted enough laws, we must now go back to our cultures. His reasoning is echoed by former presidential candidate Martha Karua who argued in the same conference that the problem in Kenya was not lack of laws but enforcing them.

Picking from their argument and putting Rick Warren’s quote into context, we can safely assume that, we are cultured to engage in public theft, insult those we disagree with and be dishonest with each other for as long as our political leaders believe in these vices.

Where laws exist but can’t help, you expect institutions such as the Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) to fill these gaps. Sadly, the recommendations TJRC made are gathering dust somewhere despite promises by the President that it will be implemented.

While Kenyans are breathing fire against each other on social media over the IEBC demos – as we have been cultured – you would expect that an institution like the Directorate of National Cohesion and National Values whose mandate is among other things, “to promote healing and reconciliation” would take seriously the flaring tempers we are witnessing in social media and among our leaders.

Already, Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria, sensationally claimed that, “Police should have killed more..” as reported by local media based on his Facebook post. While Kuria asked opposition to ask the “four dead fools from Siaya and Kisumu to wake up and go home.” CORD on the other hand were also making sensational claims that the police were targeting Luos.

These reckless statements is what got us to the Post Election Violence (PEV) witnessed in 2007/2008. Sadly, the instigators of these violent activities are never hurt in the process. Neither Moses Kuria nor CORD leaders were directly harmed in the chaos and perhaps that’s why they have no qualms pitting Kenyans against each other.

While the sober ones among us question where we got the culture of violence and disregard for the law, some wonder what became of Ole Kaparo’s National Cohesion and Intergration Commission?

Firstly that we have two bodies performing similar functions is a Tax payer debate for another day. But shouldn’t they be running serious campaigns against the negative political temperatures? Shouldn’t they be making examples of politicians with reckless and emotional statements to help the commoner calm down?

As Parliament hammers out a deal to resolve the IEBC impasse, it’s about time we looked at the work of the NCIC. Their inability to stem out the culture of hate over different political ideologies, destruction of property whenever aggrieved or the constant insults wanainchi hurl towards those they disagree with for the sake of wenyenchi is reason enough to call them out on this.

May 2016

Posted by on 27th May 2016

Categories: Elections 2017 Uncategorized

Demos by the opposition Cord were at their peak. In the street protests, three people were shot dead in Kisumu and Siaya. Opposition was adamant dialogue on IEBC reforms could not be brokered within Parliament under the standing orders.

  • 4th May: The Council of Governors stated that the IEBC needed to be a commission that meets the satisfaction of everyone.
  • 4th May: The Methodist Church led by its presiding Bishop Joseph N’tobura distanced the Church from the NCCK stand on disbandment of IEBC. The Bishop in his statement claimed that the stand is wrong and misguided and that IEBC can only be disbanded through constitutional means.
  • 6th May: IEBC Commissioners dared CORD leaders to table evidence that they have an agreement with President Kenyatta’s Jubilee to rig the 2017 elections. If such evidence is tabled the commissioners said they would resign immediately. The IEBC officials accused the opposition leaders of character assassination and peddling falsehoods.
  • 8th May: Parliament offered to solve the IEBC conundrum. A proposal tabled by Hon Samuel Chepkonga proposed to have a joint sitting of both the National Assembly and Senate’s Justice and Legal Affairs Committees. The joint committee was to have hearings from all the stakeholders and produce a report within 90 days. To boost Chepkonga’s proposal a bipartisan caucus of 50 MPs led by Hon. Kabando wa Kabando and Hon. David Ochieng wanted all stakeholders to clarify the issues that need to be resolved before 2017. The caucus sought to draw up comprehensive proposals on legal and institutional reforms aimed at preparing the country for peaceful, transparent and credible elections.
  • 10TH May: Diplomats representing various donor countries – US Robert Godec, UK Nic Hailey, Australia John Feakes, Belgium Roxane de Bilderling, Canada David Angell, Denmarks Mette Knudish, France Remi Marechaux, Germany Jutta Frasch, Norway Victor Ronneberg, Netherlands Frans Makken, Sweden Johan Borgstam and Head of EU delegation Stefano-Antonio Dejak – countries spoke out and condemned opposition protests and lobbied for dialogue to avoid chaos in 2017 elections. In a statement, the envoys stated, “Violence will not resolve the issues regarding the future of IEBC or ensure the 2017 elections are free and fair.” These diplomats reacted after police and protesters clashed leaving three dead and several injured.
  • 13th May: Kenya African National Union (KANU) party joined CORD in their agitation to have the IEBC disbanded. KANU is one of the political parties that have scores to settle with IEBC since their loss in Kericho Senatorial by-elections.
  • 13th May: Parliament questioned the IEBC’s request for Sh45 billion to conduct 2017 general elections. The Justice and Legal Affairs Committee evoked questions raised by the Public Accounts Committee when auditing the procurement of electronic equipment used in the 2013 general elections. The Commission was asked to clear the integrity questions raised by PAC before their budget could be approved. The commissioners were supposed to answer questions on the BVR tender and irregular payments amounting to sh258 million.
  • 15th May: The president met senior Jubilee Members of Parliament in State House to discuss the IEBC stalemate. In the meeting were majority leaders of both houses. After the meeting, their hard stance of having a parliamentary led dialogue was cemented. Their position remained that, IEBC commissioners shall not be sent home unless by law.
  • 29th May: Speaker of the National Assembly Justin Muturi re-stated that IEBC reforms can only be initiated through Parliament. He emphasized that the Constitution ought to be adhered to. He pleaded with CORD leaders who are scared of Jubilee’s numbers in Parliament that the House has goodwill in reforming IEBC.

Analysis: In the continued hullabaloo on IEBC, no particular group that has come up with substantive enforceable reforms. The dominant talk in the political market is on the resignation of the IEBC commissioners. In all fairness, change of individuals at the helm of an institution doesn’t amount to electoral reforms.

The opposition CORD isn’t so clear on what it wants whereas the ruling party appears unclear on what to do with IEBC. The entire debate has been reduced to a playground of power play and meaningless political bickering.

Lack of leadership and consensus has resulted to weekly protests that bring the capital into a stand still. Away from the capital, protests have been held in opposition strongholds mostly in Luo Nyanza where the police has unleashed brutality in dispersing rowdy protesters (Police brutality is a no but so is a reckless protest). In Kisumu and Siaya, three people have lost their lives so far.