Entries from October 21st, 2016

Women and Youth: Don’t Auction our Future!

Posted by on 21st October 2016

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It’s somewhat immoral to talk about Heroes and not mention the Field Marshall, Dedan Kimathi or the Kapenguria six. While a lot’s been said about these heroes’ selflessness. Very few people pause and think what if their mothers aborted them? Abortion may seem a far-fetched idea in the colonial era but it existed in many forms-including artificial miscarriages; that is to say the war heroes lived up to that name because their mothers wanted them to live-technology or no technology. But several years after we attained self-rule women only appear as an after-thought for the ruling elite.

Mashujaa Day isn’t just about the day we celebrate heroes who stood up to the colonial powers. No, it’s also a day to reflect on why the heroes rebelled against the white government, consequential as it was. When did Kenyans change to this unconcerned self-centered individual today? Kenyans in the colonial era were just and honest about their personal journeys. They were aware of their right for a better education free of racial or any other form of segregation. Today’s Kenya however, appears to have given up on the need to stand up for his or her rights. Today’s Kenyan can’t even offer an opinion on a Bill that will define his future in unpleasant ways, yet the opportunity is there.

And while we’re still on national heroes, the average Kenyan today has local and international celebrities as their heroes. The youth particularly look up to this people with flashy lifestyles-many who can’t explain their source of wealth and immoral to the core; thus the growing number of “Sponsors”. No wonder a research by Shujaaz 360 reveals that the adolescents have more energy for sex money and fun than the 20-24 year olds. The research further confirms, to nobody’s surprise that on average young people spend almost twice as much as they make.

These “heroes” unlike true national heroes have numbed Kenyans, and do not inspire them to take charge of their future, take the youth and women for instance. Despite their number, they appear completely un-puzzled by their circumstances as a result of poor governance. In the colonial era we had heroines who hid the Mau Mau warriors and knew that their input mattered. Today’s Kenyan woman despite bearing the brunt of inflation and struggling to put food on the table or children through school among other challenges remains surprisingly unmoved.

Women are literally the back-bone of the country but successive self-rule governments have done little to elevate the woman in the society so much that there is only 19% women Parliamentary representation. The lowest in the region-most East African countries have at least 30% women Parliamentary representation. And the percentage is likely to go down considering the talk on the ballooning wage bill. Its clear Kenyans are over-represented as the Auditor General’s team revealed while launching the impact of the Constitution the last six years. While there’s a need for reduction the position of women reps which had considerably helped with the two-thirds gender rule is under threat.

That aside, education despite being a basic human right is still not a reality for most women with children of school-going age. Far flung regions have children studying under a tree in Kenya’s 21st century because there are no enough chairs or classes or chalk boards. A research by Uwezo Kenya Initiative puts the teacher student ratio in Turkana at 1:86. Meanwhile a World Bank report showed that only 35% of public school teachers showed mastery of the content they were teaching in class. Aren’t these statistics enough to get women concerned about the leadership on display? At least for the sake of their children’s future

When we reflect on the struggle for independence we remember it was the strength of the youth that made it possible. But in Kenya a report by #Shujaaz360 show that 41% of the youth aged 20-24 live below the poverty line, and 18% of this group are already married or cohabiting. Consider also, only 4% of the same age group have enough money to meet all their needs and wants. It’s sad that 50years after we achieved self-rule there’s little the youth can be happy about.

The youth have become disillusioned, giving in to alcoholism and other forms of drug addiction and the elected leaders rather than addressing these issues-use it to their advantage during electioneering period. The youth numbers are growing; a report by Aghakan university reveals 85% of Kenya’s population are youths but the successive governments seem to have absolutely no plan for them except the usual “creation of jobs” mantras that exist only in government statistics hence the distractive habits.

In fact #Shujaaz360 reveals rather disturbingly that 20% of the youth’s income-those lucky to have a job goes to airtime. Take note that 80% are not formally employed. Mobile phones are a good forum to blow off steam. The youth spend time gossiping on their phones, courting and sending sex offers, the research reveals.

While others have become entrepreneurial and taken advantage of the Startup environment promoted by the private sector, it is immoral for the government of the day to use this as the solution to unemployment in Kenya. The elected government must do right by youth and women and refuse the desire to abscond their obligation to angel investors and or donors willing to make use of brilliant youths and their projects. If the government can offer foreigners jobs in almost every grand infrastructural project, then surely the government is able to create jobs for the youth in Kenya.

It is time the youth and women learnt a thing or two from our Shujaaz. Freedom is not given. No, it’s taken. Unfortunately for our independence heroes, it took sweat and ultimately blood. As for the present day youth and women, it means taking a stand and saying, enough! It means taking time outside your busy schedule to register with the intention of making your voice clear on the voting day. You too can be a Shujaa and secure a better future for the youth and women.


Credibility and Prudence is key for IEBC to meet its target

Posted by on 14th October 2016

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The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) appears to have quite a lot on its in-tray about 9 months to the polls. This week the electoral commission announced they will be revising their timelines with regard to phase two of the Mass Voter Registration (MVR). The MVR will therefore be carried out in February 2017 and not December this year as earlier anticipated. However, to navigate the prevailing challenges; credibility and efficiency will be IEBC’s best asset.

The idea being pushed that the new electoral laws were created without proper understanding of the election cycle, and are therefore an impediment to the electoral commission is unwarranted. The only impediment to the electoral body are the skeletons in the closet and the seemingly disorganization, as exemplified by their reactionary measures towards the challenges that continue to bedevil them. This blog has pointed out, rightly on several occasions that the challenges of the 2013 general elections were enough to make 2017 as flawless as possible.

To begin with there could be a million reasons why the first phase of MVR failed. Whether lack of enough finances as explained by IEBC was the cause or voter apathy as claimed by politicians, and civil rights groups – is not really the concern right now. All these reasons and possibly many others boil down to credibility and efficiency. How do Kenyans perceive IEBC? Kenyans attitude cannot change unless the system is proved credible and efficient.

If the Afro-barometer report is any indication, most Africans have little trust in their electoral bodies. One of the main reasons cited is that election flaws are rarely fixed. This is why IEBC must maximize on every opportunity to show they’re a credible institution.

Most of the challenges IEBC faces can be solved by offering proper leadership and direction and showing independence from either government or opposition. Take for example the issue with the timeline over hiring a reputable firm to conduct audit of the voter register.  Also, consider opposition party ODM’s claim that the outgoing team is allegedly being used to help rig the upcoming elections and have thus demanded a stop of the auditing of the voter register. These are both weighty issues that can easily affect the next phase of MVR.

Instead of blaming the timelines on the election laws, IEBC should firstly do everything in their power to show neutrality by ensuring the Isaac Hassan team is not involved in the process. The team is a baggage. Consequently, IEBC can go ahead and identify the independent audit firms through the secretariat. Then have the profiles of the identified institutions sent to parliament for vetting, even as they await the appointment of the new team that will oversee the actual auditing itself. This will leverage on both time and inspire trust.

Other areas IEBC could begin working on to ensure efficiency is the procurement process. IEBC should demonstrate that the equipment they are about to procure works. And it is possible to know this before you get the equipment. Nobody buys faulty things to go try their effectiveness. Competence demands you only buy what works. IEBC should further ensure that the staff on the ground that will be operating the equipment are well versed with them and can competently handle the equipment, possibly even trouble shoot where there is a normal technical challenge.

Additionally, the captured data should by all means remain accurate. There should be no reason why a person who gave his details should later find that some of the details or all of them are missing. This will be nothing short of incompetence and convincing such a person re-submit his details without any assurance they can disappear again will be a tall order. The final register should be perfect.

Furthermore give clear guidelines on polling stations. Will it be over 30,000 as proposed or not? Clarity ensures efficiency because you have clear targets and this kills any possibilities of someone later crying foul. Once these key areas have become a priority for IEBC then the electorate’s perceived Apathy or ignorance and whatever else can be easily challenged through Voter Education.



Patriots Vote: Take the First Step – Register!

Posted by on 7th October 2016

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Kenya is a venting nation. We just love to vent. Social media has given Kenyans a good avenue to complain about anything and everything. While politicians are ready to spend an arm and a leg in preparations for the coming elections, the electorate is making excuses about being too busy to register and other short stories. Not voting is not an option, one still votes. If Kenyans are serious about getting the leaders we need, at some point, we have to stop giving excuses and take action.

There’s a lot at stake and the local Mwananchi is set to lose big time unless he wakes up and smells the coffee. According to the Common Wealth Observer Group report regarding the 2013 general elections, IEBC then, had only 30 days to conduct voter registration and only 14 days to have the public verify the register. This was due to the delays in acquiring the Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) kits and the cancellation of the procurement process that was later taken over by the government. Nonetheless, IEBC managed to register 14.3 million although the target was 18 million.

First forward to 2016 and it’s deja vu all over again. While the current nine commissioners and the chair have resigned as the electoral laws came into effect paving way for a new team; challenges with acquiring technology to aid the electoral process hang in the air like a dark cloud. Worse still the first phase of the Mass Voter Registration (MVR) carried out from February to March earlier in the year was quite underwhelming. IEBC missed their own target by over 70% after registering a little under one million.

It’s surprising that the electorate missed this registration despite the heightened political temperature at the time linked to the Kericho and Malindi by-elections as well as heavy civic and voter education. The last minute culture that Kenyans have developed where they hope to show up in the second phase or expect extensions is the reason we are having poor leadership on display. This exercise is too important to play the “We are Africans” card.

In light of that culture it is immoral for the electorate to trade blame games on social media? Challenging moments demand a change in attitude and a people willing to rise to the occasion. The electorate can’t wait to use the excuses they used in 2013. They need to be proactive, after all, the exercise is not about the electoral management body per se but for the betterment of lives in Kenya through election of the leaders we want.

Nonetheless, IEBC too need to up their game. An opinion poll by Ipsos commissioned by Institute for Education of Democracy (IED) confirms the low confidence Kenyans have in IEBC at only 35%. Clearly, IEBC should use this as feedback to seek ways of restoring confidence as we head to polls. One of the reasons the MVR in 2012 succeeded despite the challenges was the high confidence level the electorate had in the IEBC then.

The IED commissioned poll revealed only 3% of the respondents knew about the MVR through a political leader or party, thereby suggesting political parties aren’t playing an active role in civic education. Isn’t IEBC partnering with Civil Society to conduct civic education?

Apparently, political parties are adopting new methods to get people registered but of course with selfish motive. ODM has allegedly embarked on a massive voter mobilization and cash reward scheme. Is a cash reward necessary for the electorate to do the right thing? Doesn’t this raise an ethical issue? What culture is the electorate abetting? That Kenyans need a cash reward to engage in civic duty is not just shameful but unpatriotic.

Indeed the IED report confirmed that lack of Identity Cards (IDs) in Western and North Eastern Kenya negatively impacted the MVR. It’s disturbing that in Nyanza (ODM’s turf) media reports that over 60,000 ID cards have not been collected. Kenyans should not give in to voter apathy and plain ignorance. For instance, are Kenyans aware according to the law governing the processing of an I.D., upon registration one is entitled to receive it within 30 days? And that replacement of a lost one should be ready within 14 days? That is to say that nobody should fail to register using lack of IDs as an excuse.

In the same breadth Kenyans in the diaspora should take advantage of the planned registration of Kenyan diaspora voters in March 2017 and make their voices heard.  A journey of a 1000 miles begins with one step. Will you step up?






IEBC faces real threats in the timelines but there’s no need to panic

Posted by on 30th September 2016

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The report by the joint team on electoral reforms chaired by Senators KiraituMurungi and James Orengo that saw electoral reform laws passed unanimously in both Houses gave Kenyans the much needed impetus to regain their trust in the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) at a very crucial moment. But those efforts now seem to be under threat.

IEBC officials have expressed fears of failure to meet key deadlines especially linked to procurement processes to obtain equipment necessary for the poll. Citing their strategy paper, the electoral commission admits the task ahead is likely to be difficult because of strict deadlines set for the allocation and distribution of polling stations as well as managing the acquisition and implementation of technology.

This is quite a blow considering the Ipsos poll commissioned by the Institute for Education in Democracy (IED) on September 18th revealed a disturbingly low confidence level in IEBC’s preparedness to handle the 2017 elections.

Perhaps we should briefly re-visit the challenges in last general elections to understand the gravity of the matter. Kenya nearly succumbed to another post-election violence (PEV) in 2013 after IEBC experienced challenges with the technology on display. Subsequent investigations later pointed out late acquisition of the Biometric Voter Registration (BVR), poor training of the IEBC staff handling the technology, including Electronic Voter Identification (EVID) kits.

In the 2013 General Election, the failure of the electronic system meant to transmit results was a major debacle that informed IEBC’s decision to go back to a manual system. That we never learnt from this and are facing the same challenge yet again is a debate for another day, but first things first. Majority of the electorate in Kenya hold unsubstantiated myths about the management of the upcoming elections that need to be debunked.

One of them is that we shall be having an e-voting system. That’s not true. Voting will be done manually, and the electorate should therefore have no reason to mistrust how the voting exercise will be undertaken. Technology will be used to only aid the process and not replace it. The technology employed will be used to register, identify voters and eventually transmit results.

Secondly, there are fears that there’s little that has been done to prevent changing actual results, especially presidential votes. According to the new law, results, including presidential will be announced at the constituency level, however national tallying of results from all constituencies will be made by a returning officer appointed to carry out the process in the required format.

Now that we’ve made sense of that, IEBC needs to quickly prioritize their activities. That the law allows for political parties to seek their services does not mean they have to abide, especially when it is clear their plate is quite full. But if they must preside over party nominations then they should be firm on the timelines. While the law says the Political Party shall submit its party list to the commission at least 45days before the elections, IEBC can in light of the glaring challenges, inform all Political Parties intending to have them run their elections that they will only be able to manage those elections at an earlier period to avoid what is now referred to as a logistical nightmare for the electoral commission.

As for the acquisition of new equipment, the main challenge really is demarcation of roles of the Secretariat versus the Commissioners. The Secretariat’s function is administrative and indeed procurement falls under that. Anything else is politics unless the integrity of the Secretariat is also in question. IEBC should be able to make this clarification and work within the stipulated timelines while keeping all critical stakeholders briefed. Good-will of all arms of government especially the Executive and Parliament is vital to address the bottlenecks.

Having said that, it is too soon and rather knee-jerk for IEBC to want the new electoral reform laws amended to suit their challenges. It beats the whole point of reforms. Instead the presidency and the relevant bodies should speed up the exit of the Isaac Hassan team and have a new team in place soonest possible to mitigate some of these challenges.


Five ways to Block Corrupt Leaders from Office

Posted by on 22nd September 2016

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The American Writer Suzy Kassem is known for making this remark in one of her books that, “A system is corrupt when it is strictly profit-driven, not driven to serve the best interests of its people.” And no statement so aptly describes the mutation of corruption in Kenya as that. If you look at what is now commonly referred to as tenderprenureship in Kenya in light of this statement then you will see how corruption has metamorphosed. But is the situation hopeless? Certainly not; we can still slay this giant.

While corruption exists in many forms and is difficult to really rid it all at once. Nonetheless it’s easy to identify corruption in public places and offices, and that is where the fight should begin. If only Kenyans really cared about corruption more than their tribe and where power leans in government and other elective offices then the fight could have significant impact.

The best strategy to fight corruption is the period just before campaigns. The next 10 months before the 2017 election would be the ideal time if we meant business. If we get anti-corrupt leaders we’ll be on the right track to winning this war. Here are five ways to ensure we end up with leaders free of corruption.

First, Political Parties – those that truly have the best interest of its people – should only nominate or elect candidates who have publicly declared their wealth. The EACC should insist that the wealth declared include that of family members too; as that is how they normally dupe us-transferring wealth to their children and family members and thus avoiding public scrutiny. This should also be published and easily accessible for comparison when term ends.

Secondly, elected Members of County Assemblies (MCAs) should not under any circumstance transact with any county government because of conflict of interest. As for the MPs, Senators and Governors, the same applies, and including the national government. This should not only apply to commissioners of influential bodies like EACC but also all top government officers. This would greatly hinder corruption resulting from conflict of interest scenarios.

Thirdly, tighten academic requirements for elected leaders; particularly legislators. Law making requires a sharp mind. Mzalendo’s annual research on MPs performance in Parliament has revealed that quality of debates was higher at the Senate where majority have sound academic records. While there has not been a research to ascertain the quality of debates at the County Assembly level, media reports and constant wrangles among them including fist fights are quite telling of the dire situation. Anybody with money – regardless of how he got it – can run for elections; including a village idiot who inherited it. We should pay people for quality debates not the fights and appetite for corruption we see in the County Assemblies.

The fourth thing we need is to take Chapter Six of the Constitution which focuses on integrity seriously. Anyone who has ever been named in a corruption scandal should not run for office unless the said issue has been unequivocally resolved. Already individuals linked with the NYS saga and other grand corruption cases have declared interest in elective offices. If Kenyans were serious about Chapter six, they wouldn’t have the guts to make a public appearance in the name of campaigns anywhere on Kenya’s green earth.

Lastly, and perhaps one of the most important things Kenyans should do is to tone down on religion. It’s the ironically the gateway to thievery. As a person once cleverly described the situation in Africa; in Kenya people pray (read prey) before they eat (public wealth). Religion rather than standing up for the truth and justice has been used to propagate injustice and justify wickedness. Indeed as Phil Zuckerman explains in his book: Society without God: What the Least Religious Nations Can Tell Us, religious nations are the most corrupt.

Let us not elect anyone based on how many times he can quote the Holy book or show his Holy ways. Instead, let us vote based on tangible track record – word and deed. Let us vote in people who mean what they say and say what they mean. People who represent Kenyans best interests.







New laws will test the strength of our democracy

Posted by on 16th September 2016

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The 2017 general elections is already taking shape with politicians taking advantage of every opportunity where Kenyans gather to popularize themselves. It doesn’t matter if it is a burial, the dead can wait as they whip the emotions of the living. But the 2017 poll will be different because of the many laws that are expected to shape its course.

Since we shifted to multiparty politics in 1992, general elections have been characterized by rigging claims and complaints about its undemocratic nature. This gave impetus to what had already begun as the second liberation; a need to truly free the country from the anti-democracy forces. This fight has been bloody and many died in the fight for second liberation and others like Matiba ended up paralyzed.

Until recently the need to ensure absolute democracy was largely about individuals but the passage of important laws such as the Election Laws (Amendment laws) and the Election Offences Act that have shifted the weight from key political figures to institutions. With these laws Kenyans through the institutions mandated to implement them can demand for real democracy. The test nonetheless lies in the ability to implement these laws.

If the launch of the Jubilee party has proven anything, it is that political parties have a war chest of money to succeed in the coming elections, and it is almost certain that CORD or a new opposition coalition will respond in kind. This effectively puts on spot Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission’s (IEBC) assertion that they will cap the spending for aspirants and political parties. This was to ensure fairness among political aspirants and political parties. It’s still not clear how they intend to achieve this mammoth task.

Additionally the passing of the Elections Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2016 removes the requirement that IEBC commissioners must be Kenyans. That is, foreigners can be appointed to the electoral commission. This is supposed to restore confidence in a section of the electorate that feels nationals are likely to be compromised. If indeed the team that will conduct recruitment goes for this option then 2017 poll will be the first of its kind.

Also the Community Land Act that was part of a number of bills signed into law by the president throws the spanner into the works considering how emotive land issues are in this country. Already a section of the opposition led by CORD leader Raila Odinga is calling for the implementation of the Truth Justice and Reconciliation (TJRC) report which looks into the issue of land injustices following the 2007/08 post-election violence.

In the months that lead up to general elections political aspirants dish out land to potential voters in a bid to win elections. In some cases, the squatters are duped and end up spending decades fighting with others claiming ownership of the same land. The Community Land Act therefore is likely to tame this menace because it protects community land from the activities of rogue politicians and allows for counties to oversee any transaction.

And that two lobby groups have sued the Attorney General, Speakers of both Senate and National Assembly over their failure to enact the two-thirds gender rule is something that changes the whole political equation. But as we await the court ruling on the matter perhaps the electorate should be advised that these problems are partly their fault. If Kenyans would trust women with leadership and elect them for office we wouldn’t need to have an affirmative action.

The 11th Parliament though failing short of passing the two-thirds gender law has done its best to ensure important laws have been passed to aid in strengthening our democracy. However, the true test and effectiveness of these laws and resolutions will be seen in the months leading up to the general elections. Will democracy have its way this time round?



Guest Blog: Capping Banking Interest Rates in Kenya: The Twists and Turns

Posted by on 9th September 2016

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By Bankelele

About two weeks ago, President Uhuru Kenyatta signed off on the Banking (Amendment) Act 2015 introduced to Parliament by Jude Njomo, the Member of Parliament for Kiambu.

It among other things requires banks and financial insitutions to disclose all bank charges relating to a loan to a borrower, sets the maximum loan charge at 4% above the base rate, and requires interest to be paid on deposits at least 70% of the base rate. The bill also barred people from entering into loan agreements that exceed these amounts and penalizes bank executives and bank insitutions that contravene these clauses.

The move to rein in interests is a journey that has taken almost fifteen years.  It is not yet over yet. While the umbrella Kenya Bankers Association has asked its   members to adhere, about a third of the banks in Kenya have announced that they will comply, and the Central Bank of Kenya that opposed the Njomo bill has directed that non-compliant banks will face penalties, it is not clear how strong the bill will be if it is challenged in a court.

Credit for capping bank charges goes back to then Gem-MP Joe Donde who brought a bill capping potential bank interest and loan charges to an amount not exceeding the loan. His bill amended Section 44 of the Banking act, introducing what was known as the “in-duplum rule” and it came after a period of high interest rates, when people who borrowed modest amounts e.g. Kshs 1 million, found themselves owning the banks colossal amounts, e.g. Kshs 10 million, even after years of paying their loans.

The Donde Bill was cited as one of the greatest threats to banking in Kenya since the Goldenberg years, and one CEO said that retroactive implementation of the in-duplum rule, would wipe out many local banks.

But its’ effect was seen. It made some borrowers question their bank charges and interest rate calculations.  A Donde-related outfit, the Interest Rates Advisory Centre Limited (IRAC) was formed in 2001 and took part in several cases on behalf of borrowers who chose to verify or challenge these amounts of interest of finance charges levied by banks. The IRAC site lists many of them, noting that some cases were dismissed, and in others they got judgment for their clients, and in others, others banks chose to settled out of court IRAC declared that in the several hundred cases IRAC has handled so far, the interest charged by BANKS on loans, overdrafts and mortgages is wrongly calculated in more than 90%.

A few years after Donde, Finance Minister David Mwiraria reinserted the in-duplum in the Banking (Amendment) Bill 2004. While MP’s pushed for that, asking for the rule to be backdated to the 1990; former President Kibaki wanted it to start in 2004 but he in the end declined to assent to it due to the in-duplum rule.

Later on the government gazzetted the Banking Amendment Act (2006) which proposed to among other things, a ban on bank charges within savings accounts and also had the in duplum rule but which would not be applied retroactively. Along with the Finance bill of that year, new banking amendments were partly effected including CBK got to vet the suitability of bank owners, CBK got a deputy governor, banks were allowed to share non-performing loan data with the Central bank, others banks and credit reference bureaus.

Last month, in assenting to the Njomo bill, President Kenyatta noted that Kenyans are disappointed and frustrated with the lack of sensitivity by the financial sector, particularly banks. These frustrations are centred around the cost of credit and the applicable interest rates on their hard–earned deposits. I share these concerns. This is the fourth time that the National Assembly is attempting to reduce interest rates to affordable levels. In the previous two instances, dialogue and promises of change prevailed and banks avoided the introduction of these caps. In those instances, banks failed to live up to their promises and interest rates have continued to increase along with the spreads between the deposit and lending rates.

In signing the bill into law, President Kenyatta noted that he was aware that consequences could include credit becoming unavailable to some consumers and the possible emergence of unregulated informal and exploitative lending mechanisms.  But he went ahead regardless.

As it is the Act is poorly worded and very vague on what interest rate is the base around which the lending and savings rates are calculated. There is no mention about micro-finance lending, credit cards cooperative lending, mobile banking landing and shylocks – from which thousands if not millions of Kenyans borrow from every year.

Already the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Kenya (ICPAK), one of the professional groups that supported the Njomo bill, are reported to have asked Parliament to see if they can extend it to SACCO’s, MFI’s and mobile banking services. They said the law also needs to look at transactions charges and insurance charges at banks to truly protect the consumers from banks compensating for lost income through other high consumer charges.

Is this the end of the story? The court is still out.

Access to Information Law will Aid War on Graft

Posted by on 2nd September 2016

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Retired Chief Justice Willy Mutunga was quoted by African Arguments blog referring to the cartels promoting corruption in Kenya as protected. He insinuated that the law was also protecting these individuals. The blog quotes him saying, “You are taking these people [Cartels] into a corrupt investigating system, through a corrupt anti-corruption system, and a corrupt judiciary.”

This is quite a sobering statement considering only this week we had the chairman of the Ethics and Anti-corruption Commission Phillip Kinisu offer to resign after failing to declare conflict of interest where the commission he heads was investigating the National Youth Service (NYS) supply scandal yet a company associated with his family is alleged to have irregularly supplied goods worth Ksh. 35million to NYS over the last three years.

With key institutions looking compromised Kenyans appear helpless against the huge dragon that is corruption; at least until now that the Access to Information Bill has been signed. Now Kenyans too have a chance at denting this beast. Indeed President Uhuru Kenyatta has finally given Kenyans a real chance at joining the fight against corruption by signing this Bill into law.

This effectively signals changes in this regime moving forward and any other regime afterwards for both government and the subjects. This is because both government and the people will be guided by principles of transparency. Transparency leads to a stabilized political system because informed citizens can tell propaganda from real issues and make informed decisions, and consequently reduction in tribalism because an empowered citizen is not likely to have his emotions whipped by politicians riding on tribalism.

Additionally, these principles will see a less corrupt regime because Kenyans through this Act are not only able to detect corruption but also unearth it where there’s suspicion by demanding relevant documents invoking this Act where there appears to be no cooperation. Citizens therefore can become active participants in enforcing accountability among public officers; something that has been elusive for decades now and indeed the reason why cartels thrive in Kenya.

The fourth estate that has had it rough trying to provide information; particularly investigative pieces that uncover corruption in both public and private sector now have their work cut-out for them. We can hope that the media will now give more credible factual and reliable investigative news stories courtesy of this new Act.

However, implementation of this law may still be hindered by pro-status quo politicians. Already it is becoming common in the region to shut down social media during election periods in the name of security threat. The government is also preparing the Computers and Cybercrime Bill that is feared will be used to deny people Access to Information through social media shut down, in the name of taming hate speech. We can hope the Commission on Administrative Justice can help iron out this issue.

Also, the seemingly subject political culture in Kenya where there’s heavy consumption of politics but little input in terms of public participation when called upon to give views on things like Bills before Parliament may work against the full realization of this Act.

There’s therefore a need for public awareness. A little civic education here can go a long way in helping Kenyans understand the power they now have under the Access to Information Act and how to utilize that power to become responsive, and engage actively in ensuring accountability within and without government.

Let’s Tame Rogue Political Parties and their leaders

Posted by on 26th August 2016

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The Swahili people have a saying that if you don’t seal a crack you will end up building a wall. True to that saying, if the electorate doesn’t act on the cracks the 11th Parliament is showing, building a wall will prove most costly. The 11th Parliament is keen on passing laws that only appear convenient to them. Consider the constant extension of Bills they should pass, like the gender Bill but don’t feel inspired enough.

Development that trickles down to the average Mwananchi only happens when we have a self-less leadership that is keen on serving rather than amassing wealth. However rogue legislators who fail to enact laws that promote civilization and party leaders that handle party affairs as their private affair are the cause of the problems bedeviling this nation. Kenyans must therefore seal these cracks for a peaceful and prosperous future and here is how.

To begin with, the blatant corruption experienced during political parties’ nominations causes many great candidates and legislators to lose to sycophants who have nothing to show except praises for the party leader. Indeed, this is why otherwise promising Politicians are joining the fight to maintain status quo in the form of party hopping. They have lost confidence in the parties that sponsored them to office and indeed their party leaders.

This is not Parliamentarians first strike though, earlier in the year they amended section 14 of the Political Parties Act that attempted to bring sobriety in terms of ideology and discipline with regard to candidates, and allowed themselves to ditch their parties at will. Yet, they could have embraced the proposal to quash party-hopping and utilize provisions in the Constitution that calls on parties to run internal elections free of influence from anyone including the party leader.

The Constitution demands that all political parties have an elected governing body. This is where politicians who mean well for this country can fix rogue party leaders by streamlining party nominations. If a party has a governing body that is above reproach then there’s no need to fear party elections. Additionally, they should rally their constituents to register as party members where their voice can be heard and their votes not auctioned by a few individuals in the party.

For the electorate, this is also why having a voter’s card and voting is not enough. Being a member of a party makes it easier for the electorate to begin the fight for good leadership right from the party nominations. By participating in party nominations and engaging in public agitation within the confines of the law to protest corrupt governing bodies that bend to the will of party leaders, the public has a chance to dictate the direction a party takes. Indeed a participant political culture is necessary if Kenyans are to enjoy the fruits of democracy.

The joint committee on IEBC’s attempt to deal with this political vice was met with unmatched rebellion. That the proposal was put forward in the first place is a testament that there are legislators who want to see a more coordinated and responsible politics. This is possible in the long term, if Kenyans join parties and get actively involved in how political parties are running their affairs in this country, otherwise elections will remain a rubberstamp for sycophants who get party nominations.

On the short-term, the public needs to borrow a leaf from the politicians and become self-interested in line with Article 1 of the Constitution which gives sovereign power to the people. First, register in the political party with the candidates that offer plausible solutions to the challenges you face as a Kenyan. Second, mobilize your families and friends to join your party and support your preferred candidates to ensure they get the nomination. Our chance to build the Kenya we want is now. Will you step up to the plate?





Are the Campaign Financing Limits Realistic – How Will They Be Tracked?

Posted by on 19th August 2016

Categories: Uncategorized

Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) invoked Article 88 (4)(i) of the Constitution that allows them to regulate the amount of money that may be spent by or on behalf of a candidate or party in respect of any election through a Gazette notice last week. The announcement was made in good faith and with the view of creating, “…equal opportunity for eligible persons to compete in elections by not allowing money or resources to be a key determinant of the outcome” their statement read, only it does the opposite.

For starters the capping of the expenditure’s main goal is to discourage the corruption that elected officials engage in solely to secure their positions in the next election. In light of this argument, wouldn’t it have been prudent to cap the expenditure (at least for candidates) at half the total amount they earn for the entire period they are serving?

For example if an MP earns about Ksh. 1 million per month, then it follows that this MP makes Ksh 12 Million per year and therefore Ksh. 60 Million after his term. Assuming he or she is so frugal and was spending only half of his or her salary, then the MP can honestly (and this is quite a stretch) afford only Ksh. 30 million to run his or her campaign at the end of his term. In any case, does it mean if one doesn’t have money they should not seek a legislative post?

Accordingly, why should any candidate invest Ksh.432 million to vie for Nairobi’s gubernatorial position? Are Kenyans supposed to elect businessmen or servants? Indeed such a candidate will spend the better part of his term recovering the money he used during campaign at the expense of the county’s development agenda. Having said that, it is important to reiterate that what IEBC is trying to do despite the gaping challenges is quite necessary considering the place of money in Kenyan politics; more so during the campaign period. More often than not the poor leadership on display is usually because the best candidate was arm-twisted out of the ticket during party elections because they didn’t have enough money to impress the party.

The 2013 campaigns saw parties cashing in big on candidates hoping to get nominations. Majority parties were charging Ksh. 1 million for candidates challenging party flag bearer, Ksh. 300,000 and Ksh. 200,000 for Governors, Senators and MPs respectively. Interestingly, smaller yet visible parties also made a killing from the defectors who claimed they were rigged out of nomination from the bigger parties.

Furthermore cases of politicians facing blackmail from anonymous sources or companies that had contributed generously with the hope of favorable policies once the candidate or their party forms government have been rampant, especially after the 2013 elections. How does IEBC propose to curb these challenges? Wouldn’t it have been more effective to emphasize disclosing of the sources of contribution?

Going by the media reports about Jubilee, CORD and KANU’s lavish spending during the Malindi and Kericho by-elections how could a Ksh.2 million fine act as a deterrent for people wealthy enough to spend over a Billion in a single by-election? They will flout these rules with impunity and pay it off from their pocket change.

The negative role of money in Kenyan politics comes at a huge cost. It’s in very rare occasions that the electorate shamed the party and voted for the best candidate running on a smaller unknown party after unfairly losing nomination in their original party. This happens a lot with parties that command regional numbers, where a nomination is as good as winning the elections. That’s one of the reasons why politicians will pay an arm and leg to get the nominations. And that is why the electorate and particularly the youth and women must remain watchful as we approach the campaign season.

The youth who are most prone to bribery during electioneering period must decide if the dirty money is worth their future. Also, see the show of might by candidates for what it is; a gimmick. The argument that a rich candidate will not be corrupt is null and void. If the wealth was acquired irregularly then the reputation precedes him or her, period!

As the campaign season nears, politicians will use every trick in the book to get our vote. A bribe can buy you short-lived happiness but poor leadership is capable of giving us a lifetime of horror. We’re approaching a crucial point in the election cycle and we can get leaders of integrity if we practice integrity!