Obulala an Amani 


Elections and Democracy in Tanzania: in search of the Mwalimu moral factor

Ronald Elly Wanda, October 22 2015
Tanzania is often portrayed as an African success story of state and nation-building, surrounded by nervy neighbours like Kenya whose 2008 post election violence left an indelible scar on its political conscious, or Uganda, South Sudan, and more recently Pierre Nkuruzinza’s Burundi, all of which have been ridden by conflicts and grave human rights violations. Worst still when compared to Rwanda, its immediate neighbour on the north west, whose 1994 genocidal orgy remains a scar on the world’s conscious and an acute reminder of how low humanity can get. This is particularly noteworthy for Tanzania which has a highly charged general election slated for 25th October 2015, when the country’s 24 million electorate is expected to bless their next ‘Mwalimu’ with votes for a five year mandate. Jakaya Kikwete, the country’s popular president since 2005 is set to retire in November, having served his two five year terms. “It is a stressful and thankless job. I am glad to be retiring… “Kikwete said of the presidency recently.

The candidates
As such, this year’s presidential election will primarily pit Dr. John Pombe Magufuli, the current minister for Roads and Works, the so called accidental candidate of the ruling Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party against his former senior CCM colleague Edward Lowassa, a former Prime Minister in the Kikwete government, until his sacking in 2008 following a series of corruptions charges linked to the energy sector which is estimated to have more than 53.2 trillion cubic feet of gas reserves off the country’s southern coast. Mr Lowassa’s scandals go as far back as the Ali Hassan Mwinyi presidency in the late 80s, where he was relieved of his duties as a lands minister because of allegations of corruption - a scandal that reportedly infuriated Tanzania’s highly respected ‘founding father’ Mwalimu Julius Kabarage Nyerere.

John Pombe MagufuliEdward Lowassa
The Tanzanian Presidential candidates from left: John Pombe Magufuli of the ruling CCM party and Edward Lowassa of the opposition, CHADEMA

Mr Edward Lowassa recently jumped ship from CCM and joined Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (CHADEMA), the biggest opposition party in Tanzania, that has since (through a coalition formed with three other smaller parties - UKAWA) pronounced him its presidential heir. This followed Lowassa’s accusations that his one time friend, President Jakaya Kikwete and other CCM moguls deliberately mismanaged the CCM’s 2015 primaries process with the sole motive of locking out his candidature. According to Lowassa, Kikwete reportedly favoured Foreign Minister Bernard Membe to succeed him. However, in order to secure Membe’s nomination, Kikwete had to derail Edward Lowassa’s nomination. Lowassa, then an ambitious and determined CCM stalwart, had amassed significant support in the Central Committee and the National Executive Committee – the two bodies responsible for selecting the presidential candidate. To keep Lowassa off the ticket, Kikwete’s allies reportedly manipulated the work of CCM’s Ethics and Security Committee, which is responsible for reviewing, vetting and forwarding all candidates to the National Executive Committee. Instead of passing on the names of all 38 potential candidates, the Ethics Committee is understood to have held a highly irregular session and agreed to forward only five names, deleting Lowassa and putting together a shortlist that favoured Mr. Membe.

Political machination that produced the accidental candidate
It is this move that accidentally opened up the chance for John Pombe Magufuli, the Minister of Works and Roads, who holds a PhD in Chemistry from Dar Salaam University, to secure the nomination. Dr. Magufuli is little known in the wider Tanzanian polity, he is said to be a close friend of the country’s former president Benjamin Mkapa, who gave him a chance to serve as his Infrastructure Minister when he first entered parliament in 1995. Magufuli’s friends have pointed out that, he has a reputation for being serious, honest and hardworking. He secured 2104 votes out of 2416 total vote count, beating by a wide margin his two women finalists Ambassador Amina Salum Ali and Dr Asha-Rose Migiro who got 253 and 59 votes respectively. Perhaps as a consolation gesture or sweetener to Tanzania’s massive female constituency, Magufuli has since chosen Samia Hassan Suluhu, the Member of Parliament from Makunduchi constituency who has also been serving as a minister for Union Affairs in the Deputy President’s Office, as his running-mate. Women’s representation in the current Parliament is 8% for elected Members of Parliament (MPs), 50% for nominated MPs and 100% for MPs with special seats. The proposed new Constitution to replace the 1977 one has set a target of 50:50 representation between men and women.

Whether Dr. Magufuli’s accidental candidature will hurt the chances of CCM, which has produced all four presidents since Independence in 1961, remains to be seen. One thing clear, for both the Opposition UKAWA and the incumbent CCM, Mwalimu Nyerere’s political shadow almost always plays a role in deciding who the next Mwalimu of Tanzania shall be.

Nyerere’s legacy - and the struggle for change
For a long time, successive governments in Tanzania have managed their state’s relative weaknesses partly by actively seeking and building consensus among the governed ‘wanainchi’. The governed, have conversely produced interpretations of Tanzania’s politics that diverge significantly from the official Ujamaa oneness. In particular, they have evoked Nyerere as the embodiment of civic virtue in public office to criticize the perceived lack of the same qualities in his successors.

Julius Nyerere
Legacy: Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, Tanzania's first president.

It is, as such, common place in Tanzania to hear proclamations to the effect of “Mwalimu alisema”, either in defense or as a precursor to an argument whether in a pub or in the House of Parliament. The term ‘Mwalimu’ (Swahili for teacher) is often used in reference to Julius Nyerere, the country’s first president (1961 -1985) who died of Leukemia in a London hospital in 1999. He is often credited with having left a legacy of political tolerance and nationhood in line with few other African independence leaders. The legacy of Nyerere through his Ujamaa (villagisation) policies seemingly forged a vibrant and all-embracing Tanzanian identity. Both Benjamin Mkapa, President at the time of his death, and Mkapa’s successor Jakaya Kikwete have explicitly invoked his heritage, the latter claiming to build his presidency on ‘Nyerere’s values’. Even the Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni (a candidate yet again in the 2016 elections, who began his career as a guerrilla fighter and has been in power since 1986), has often described Nyerere as ‘blessed with extraordinary wisdom and compassion for the oppressed’.

This year’s election has invited two competing uses of the positive image of Nyerere in Tanzania. For Magufuli’s CCM, he is a patriarchal precursor validating the current government, while for Lowassa’s UKAWA; he is a paragon of public virtue highlighting the shortcomings of the outgoing Kikwete regime.  A closer examination of the electioneering rhetoric around Nyerere, shows that rather than being a mere holdover from a more communal past, both CCM and UKAWA  have inserted him in the trending neo-liberal discourse in efforts to accommodate international policy prescriptions with their emphasis on ‘good governance’. Magufuli and Lowassa’s implicit affirmation of Nyerere as a benign patriarchal figure is illustrative of Tanzania’s shifting political culture.

Nevertheless, the two descriptions of Nyerere have, at the same time, potentially conflicting implications for this year’s elections. For CCM’s officialdom, the invocation of Nyerere as the champion of peace serves as a potential legitimisation for crackdowns on dissent. Its use by CCM may appear an obvious political ritual, merely affirming the party’s rarely challenged dominance as recently seen in Dodoma: the message is ‘Don’t rock the boat; do not squander Nyerere’s peaceful heritage’. Conversely, the notion of Nyerere the champion of the downtrodden can also be used to legitimize dissent against perceived social injustice, allowing non-elite citizens to invoke Nyerere against CCM grandees as has been propagated by UKAWA in some rallies.

A changing political culture
That said, Tanzanian society is changing. If recent election campaign slogans are anything to go by, it won’t be a walk in the park for CCM, which has dominated the electoral landscape since the country first adopted multi-partism in 1992. The heritage of peaceful societal relations that Nyerere bestowed on Tanzania – and of which the CCM claims to be the enduring guarantor – is slowly being challenged by a determined freer and independent media. In the past, state-owned media outfits had a virtual monopoly of news reportage and political coverage for decades that gave the ruling party a significant advantage at election times. The current different voices in the media arena certainly signify a major step towards promoting democratic practice in a country registering 7% GDP growth that is set to grow to 7.2 % and 7.5% in 2016 and 2017 respectively.

According to a latest United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) economic report, oil and gas exploration activities continue to attract private capital in the country, and net inflow of foreign direct investment (FDI) to Tanzania is expected to remain strong at about 6.7% of gross domestic product (GDP) this year. Optimism among the youth is slowly waging on. Demographic figures show a youthful population eager to replace a conservative aging group, children below the age of 14 make up 44.6% of the total population while those between 15 and 25 make up 19.5% , 29.5%  is between  25 and 54, only 6% of Tanzania’s population is above 55 years.  What this means is that although CCM, seen as an embodiment of Wazee’s ‘continuity’ by the youth, still has a clear edge, the next few weeks as the campaign trails continue will be crucial  in deciding to what extent the outcome will be.  Tanzania is still largely a one party-state within a multiparty political system. Politics is still dominated by the one party generation most of them like Lowassa himself are in their sixties and beyond. Political leadership in both the ruling and opposition political parties is still in grip of the old guards with the ‘dot.com generation’ waiting in the periphery. The transition to multiparty democracy in Tanzania continues to be frustrated by several factors including institutional weaknesses in practically all political parties as manifested by the lack of party philosophy or ideology outside of Ujamaa, and the functioning of party structures and processes. As Jenerali Ulimwengu, a well-known Tanzanian political commentator once pointed out, “in Tanzania, issues are not the issue; it is personalities. People gravitate around a personality, express loyalty and hope for reward after victory. Ideology and political principle are all alien”. This captures rather well, why the moral wealth of Mwalimu Nyerere remains dominant in a country struggling to find the next Mwalimu in either Lowassa or Magufuli.   

Ronald Elly Wanda is the director of Grundtvig Africa House, Nairobi, Kenya.


Gagging of Shackles of Doom exposes institutional weakness

Cleophas Malala
Cleophas Malalah, the playwright whose controversial play, Shackles of Doom was gagged by ministry of education officials

By Prof Chris Wanjala, April 19 2013
My attention has been drawn to the great article by the PEN - KENYA President Khainga O'Okwemba, and the way it has led to the reinstatement of the play at the Nationals. The matter before the public touches of good governance as it touches on the cultural efforts of the different counties in this country. It touches on The Shackles of Doom by Cleophas Malalah performed by Butere Girls' High School in Western Kenya.

PEN-Kenya Centre has played its role and the Chairman of the relevant committee must be congratulated. Thanks for your unwavering tenacity. All the people who are pushing the draconic line at the management of the Kenya National Drama Festival must not forget the throes that oil companies subjected freedom of expression to in Nigeria, leading to the sad demise of Ken Sarowiwa.

How can this be lost to Sirengo Khaemba and his ilk? Khaemba is not about to make Cleophas Malalah the Ken Sarowiwa of Kenya, does he? He has traumatized the kids who were in the cast of that play, and brought to waste the team effort Dora Okaalo, Nicholas Lusuli and Marvin Omani, who directed the play. The T S C, the employer of teachers, and indeed the entire Ministry of Education have been made to doubt their abilities to judge works literature.

Do not forget that these "small  areas of censorship " led to the banning of Ngugi wa Thiong'o and Ngugi  wa Miiri's  I Will Marry When I Want, and threw the progenitors of the script into prison  and exile without trial. Ngugi wa Miiri, the co-author of the play, and Kimani Gecau the director of the productions at the Kamirithu Educational Centre , fled to Harare; Ngugi wa Miiri died there whilst Dr Kimani Gecau has been doomed to live away from his fatherland.

Ngugi wa Thiong'o now operates from the U S because he was denied a job at home. He only comes home occasionally, and for the first time he did, after 22 years of exile, his second wife was subjected to demeaning treatment by Kenyan thugs.

Sirengo Khaemba, the National Executive Secretary of the Kenya National Drama Festival, is telling the Kenya Government to gag Cleophas Malalah and transport him to the border for corrupting the youth of Kenya in the manner that Plato prescribed for offending playwrights in his day. Sirengo wants to take us back to the dark days when writers had to be stripped naked and frog-marched to the police station before their plays reached the stage. Writers like Abdilatif Abdalla and Micere Githae Mugo are not abroad because they like it. On the contrary, they are there because of the censorship of the word.

Writers and critics (play adjudicators included) have been clamouring for the freedom of expression. Now that it is at their disposal in the new Constitution, they are the same people who are muzzling the voice of the artist. What inanity and lethargic literary thinking are these? Soon the same adjudicators, who are also teachers of English and Drama, will be carrying their gavels to the classrooms where they teach literary criticism (with Homer and Shakespeare as the starting points) and they will be saying literature by nature is against national cohesion. Phew!

Literature argues and asks questions, sometimes to the embarrassment of the people who are politically correct. It is one area where the ugly will see their true images and the liars who spew propaganda about how good life is here, are brought to shame.

I am sure your predecessor, Madam Philo Ikonya,and the international community of writers , will appreciate what PEN-Kenya is doing to fight for the gagged writers. The late Prof Wangari Maathai had her hair removed from her head because she spoke against the emperor. She was only recognized by the international community; she would have died in ignominy if the world had not drawn our attention to the evils we were meting on her because of her asking the right questions about trees.

You are now properly stepping into Philo Ikonya's shoes and rekindling the spirit that informed her re-launching PEN-Kenya from its past ashes. I dare say that if writers do not protect their freedom of expression, who will? This is only a tip of the iceberg. Writers and playwrights and the reading public unite! You have nothing to lose, but your chains.

Chris L Wanjala, PhD, EBS
Professor of Literature, University of Nairobi
Chairman, Translation and language Rights Committee, PEN-KENYA
Chairman, National Book Development Council of Kenya


LAWLESSNESS IN BULUYIA CONDEMNED

 
July 5 2011

Here is a man roasting to death as crowds cast empty looks.    This incident which happened in Mayanja, Bungoma last week is not isolated but part of an alarming trend of lawlessness that had gripped Western Kenya in recent times.   The man dying was identified as Wanyama Kingi, said to be a serial thief who met his fate when he allegedly stole a clansman’s cow and tried to sell it at the local market.  We don’t condone miscreants but condemn killing people arbitrarily without due process of the law.   Over the last two months we have seen men and a woman stoned to death, a man dumped in a pit latrine while in Maragoli, thugs raided girl schools and five market centres in one night.   These acts are a shame on society but it doesn’t help when a local legislator urges people not to bother calling police. The following are some photos that depict the grim state of affairs in Buluyia.


WANYAMA KINGI
June 30 2011: Wanyama Kingi lies dead after being overcome by flames.
mayanja, bungoma
Wanyama Kingi kneels begging for mercy as flames engulf him but no one listened.
kamukuywa
Kanduyi: A suspected thief lies buried in assorted crude objects used to kill him.
kamukuywa woman
Kanduyi: Even this woman was not spared. She was killed allegedly for being an accomplice of thugs.
kanduyi thief
May 25 2011: A suspected thief's leg is tied in a garage for public display in Kanduyi, Bungoma County after being cornered and killed by watchmen.
bungoma lynch mobkilled
Bungoma: A mob armed with tyres swoop on a suspect dishing out instant 'justice'
likuyani bodies
May 4 2011: Man killed and dumped in a pit latrine in Likuyani, Lugari
likuyani man
Likuyani: Victim's body being retrieved from a pit latrine.

 

Why they abuse and steal your money

Morrison Muleri

By Dr Morrison Muleri, Washington DC, June 9 2011
What really keeps you awake at night? Do you ever find yourself sleepless and wondering how a person, any person, could accumulate that US$10 million, yes, that is right, Kshs 800 million in that bank account overseas? Or how a servant of the people amassed Kshs 2 billion, yes, that is right Kshs 2,000 million of investments that the family is feuding over? These figures and how people amass them is mind boggling, but allow me to develop an argument to explain why people of lesser moral compass do it.


I will not bore you with countless theories, scientific or otherwise, of why people abuse or steal your money. I will only borrow from three theories and simplify them as much as possible. Of course, I will be very blunt about it too. To start off, let me answer that question from the outset: they abuse and steal your money because of exactly that; it is yours and not theirs. How much of it they abuse or steal depends on their station on the social ladder of needs. The richer they are, the more they abuse or steal. Let nobody tell you it is the other way round or more complex than that. But do not just take my word for it, allow me to explain.
There is a theory I really like that explains how people spend money. It says simply that how one spends money depends on whose money it is they are spending, on whom, and for whose benefit. In essence, this puts forth three competing scenarios. Whose money? It can be mine, yours, ours or somebody else’s. On whom? It can be on oneself or on somebody else. For whose benefit? It could be for one’s own benefit or for the benefit of another.


Human nature dictates that our behavior with money changes as those scenarios change. Have you realized that when you take your girlfriend out she usually goes for the expensive stuff (food, drink, dress etc)? A beer drinking girl suddenly turns to red wine and seems to value it more as the price rises. Instead of settling for nyama choma at Sagret, she wants it at Carnivore. If you give her the money outright to treat herself, all that changes and she becomes herself again. Why? Because she is no-longer spending “your” money but “her” money! Give her the same money but tell her to treat herself and to bring you back the receipts and change. Suddenly, she reverts to wine and carnivore, or fake receipts from there. I am no exception. When travelling on my employer’s business I insist on business class air travel. A return ticket costs over Kshs 500,000 between Washington DC and Nairobi. I insist on staying at a 4 or 5-star hotel at over Kshs 15,000 per night. When I come home on my own dollar I always travel economy class at a cost of Kshs 100,000 and I stay at 3-star hotels at Kshs 5,000 per night. In both cases the same level of effectiveness is achieved; I travel safely and stay comfortably. Let me not get ahead of myself by delving into efficiency and economy now. Take another example, when I lived in London I would bring a friend a suit from Shepherd’s Bush that cost a modest £129 or Kshs 17,000. One time I deliberately failed to and instead gave him the equivalent Kshs 17,000 to expressly “buy a suit”. He confessed a week later that he bought one at BR Tank at Kshs 7,000 and used the balance on other “more important” things. I am glad I did not accompany him to buy the suit. If I did, I bet we would end on the other side of Moi Avenue and spent thrice the amount on a suit.


The second theory I want to build on is the “value for money” theory which states that we get the most out of money if it delivers effectiveness, efficiency and economy, or simply the “3Es”. Effectiveness is getting done what you really want to do. If I want my sick son to get well, I can take him to hospital, pay a doctor to treat him and buy him medicines the doctor prescribes. If my son heals, I have used my resources effectively. Efficiency has to do with how much less of it I use to achieve that objective. I could take my son in a helicopter to Nairobi Hospital and get him treated at a cost of Kshs 100,000. I could hire a car and get him to Mater Mission Hospital and get him treated at a cost of Kshs 50,000. Or I could take him to Kenyatta National Hospital, in a matatu and have him treated at Kshs 10,000. The last option achieves the same objective at least cost and it is therefore the most efficient. Finally economy is all about avoiding waste. Can I get my son treated without losing resources like time, medicines or paying medical or traffic staff a bribe? If I avoid unnecessary leakage then I have achieved economy. So, if my son heals in all three cases then taking him to KNH best observes the 3Es just as my economy class travels to Nairobi and accommodation at 3-star hotels, your girlfriend’s beer and nyama choma at Sagret and my friend’s suit at BR Tank are.


In general, when the theory of value for money is superimposed on the theory of how people spend money, three scenarios arise.
Scenario one: when one spends his own money on himself or on somebody else but for his own benefit, he aims to achieve all the 3Es.
Scenario two: when one spends someone else’s money on himself and for his own benefit, only effectiveness matters.
Scenario three: when one spends somebody else’s money on another person and for that other person’s benefit then none of the 3Es matters.
To use examples above to drive the point home, when you spend your own money on a treat or when you gave it outright to your girlfriend to spend or when I gave it to my friend to buy a suit; all fall squarely in the first scenario and you will behave the way I did when I took my son to KNH or when I visit home on my dollar.


When we give our MPs the power to decide how we should use our money and to determine their own remuneration or when I travel on my employer’s dollar or bring my friend London suits; all fall squarely in scenario two and all that matters to them is effectiveness. They behave as I do when I travel on my employer’s dollar or when your girlfriend dines and wines at Carnivore. That is why you hear MPs say the roads are so bad they should fly or be bought state-of-the-art 4x4 vehicles. For the middle class taxpayer, your option is to park your car and use public means to cut costs.


You can actually change their behavior to some extent. When I worked as an accountant, we reduced company costs and enhanced staff morale by terminating accommodation on employer’s shilling and decided to give staff a lower than top hotel rate but outright fixed allowance. We simply turned it from being company’s, or someone else’s money, to being their money and thereby widened focus from effectiveness to 3Es. Similarly, I opine, you can change behavior of MPs by taxing them so that in their eyes state resources become “our” money rather than “their” money.

The civil servant, CDF official and some foreign-funded NGOs are in a class of their own. They are in scenario three where they spend somebody else’s (government, donors) money on somebody else (citizens, institutions etc) for somebody else’s benefit (Kenyan citizens). They therefore have no motivation for any of the 3Es. Have you ever wondered why donors who give funds to NGOs run by their fellow countrymen do not worry at all about governance as they do when the NGO is run by locals? Here is your answer. An Irishman running an NGO in Turkana is in scenario one as Irish donor / tax payers while the local manager is in scenario three. At an international NGO in Nairobi we fought for Land Cruisers while the expatriates accused us of not being cost-conscious and insisted on 1600cc Toyota Corollas. A top civil servant or cabinet minister can travel first class to London at Kshs 500,000, draw a per diem of Kshs 25,000 per day, stay  for a week and come back empty handed having failed to meet his British Government counterparts (none of the 3Es observed!).


The last theory I want to draw on is “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs” theory.  It states that we yearn for different things at different stages on the ladder of life. Our needs range from basic physiological needs, safety, love, esteem to self-actualization. Initially we just want food, water and shelter then as we grow rich we switch to love and recognition. At the apex we want self actualization or to shape destiny for others. You want to be “the go to” guy that power and action gravitates around.


If you add this theory to the first two I discussed above, it starts to make sense why they abuse or steal as much they do. A junior civil servant will go for Kshs 10,000 to send a kid to school or Kshs 50,000 to buy a plot. That is his station on that ladder. Wow unto you if the person is of lesser moral compass, is in scenario three and rich or high on that ladder. He is then thinking of how to finance an election to become an MP, a senator, a president and that may as well cost over Kshs 10m. You can bet that he will only negotiate deals of Kshs 100,000 and above. Have you not heard them say some people in parliament are cheap because they can be bought at Kshs 100,000 and you wonder is that really cheap? Have you not heard some people can afford to spend Kshs 10,000 on lunch? That is where fat cats and big fish are on life’s ladder and they can suck us dry to whet their appetites.


Now you know why your girlfriend and my friend act rich when you pay and normal when they do, why I fly and stay high class on my employer’s dollar, why the clerk in DC’s office only wants “harambee” or “airtime” of Kshs 500, why top guys abuse and steal big bucks, and why MPs award themselves salaries of Kshs 1 million monthly and resist paying tax on them. You can use this template to make sense of many behaviors around you, including the $10 million in an overseas bank account and the Kshs 2 billion the family is feuding over.
In a nutshell, they abuse and steal your money because it is in scenarios two and three. And because it is there, they have no motivation for all the 3Es. How much of your money they abuse and steal depends on where they are on Maslow’s ladder of needs; the higher up they are the more they will abuse and steal. One of the ways to curb this is to move resources from scenario three to one, or at least two. This is not a sweeping thesis, it holds where those involved are rational and with lesser moral compass. 

About the author: The author is a chartered accountant and holds an MBA and a PhD in measurement of development effectiveness besides other qualifications. He works for a leading international development agency in Washington DC. The views and interpretations expressed in this article are entirely his own. They do not represent the views of any institution, person or body to which the author is affiliated. The author can be reached at mmuleri@yahoo.com 


Historical injustices visited upon the people of Western since independence

By Westfm, June 3 2011
West fm states that all residents of Western Province men, women youth elders public institutions, trustees, ethnic communities, civil society, churches, trade unions, co-operative societies, welfare societies, political parties and all stakeholders must take the Truth Justice And Reconciliation Commission hearings very seriously and being a once in a life time opportunity to ventilate any nagging, outstanding , pending, long festering issues of gross violations of human rights and economic crimes for the period between 12th December 1963 and 28th February, 2008.

West fm reminds the people of Western Province that they should not make a mistake, have the misconception that the Truth And Justice Commission is only to undertake hearings on the Mount Elgon Violence of 2003 to 2007 by Saboat Land Defence Force and the 2008 Post Election Violence.  The TJRC’s mandate is extremely wide and touches on all residents of Western Kenya and therefore come out and make your presentations.  West fm states that Western Province and its people have legions of issues as pertains to gross human rights abuses, misuse of public resources, institutions and economic crimes that it ought to ventilate, document, present to the TJRC for the period 1963 to 2008.

West fm states without fear of any contradiction from any quarter that Western Province’s state of under development, paucity of strategic institutions, infrastructure is a direct product of successive post independence Government’s manipulation of the distribution of the Nation’s resources to the detriment of the region and further a systematic plunder of those little resources that were allocated to the region by public servants who have and remain a law unto themselves.  That the poverty of Western Province is directly proportional with the stinking filth richness of the majority of the senior public servants who were entrusted to manage public resources on behalf of the people of the region.

West fm states that the people of Western Province must prepare and come out and make presentations to the TJRC later this month and early July 2011 on all matters upon which the Commission has jurisdiction to handle.  And what about the following:

1) How the Kakamega Forest was raped and plundered, pillaged by successive Provincial Commissioners and their subordinates and reached the pinnacle during the reign of PC Mburu?

2) How was the Maragoli Hills Forest decimated, raped, plundered by known District Commissioners?

3) How Mt. Elgon Forest was systematically decimated raped, plundered at the behest of the provincial administration officials especially District Commissioners.

4) The Saboat Communities myriad of grievances on land and other issues as minorities in the province.

5) Any grievances by the Iteso Community and other communities which are minorities in the region.

6) The tribal clashes around the elections period of 1991-1992, 1997, 2008 and the losses of life and property and suffering by the residents due to the violence.

7) The torture of those who were branded as Fera (February Revolutionary Army) out to overthrow the Government in Bungoma District by the President Moi dictatorship.

8) Victims of pollution at Webuye and its surrounding areas courtesy of Pan African Paper Mills.

9) The annexation of sections of Luhya land at independence at the behest of the late Jaramogi Odinga and its being made part of Luo Nyanza.

10) The way indigenous , local communities, families were unilaterally at the Governments own unilateral and exploitative valuation of their land re-located to pave way for Mumias Sugar Co. Ltd and Nzoia Sugar Company Ltd.

11) The grabbing of land from colleges, schools, hospitals technical institutions, airports, forests, research institutions, county councils, municipalities, town councils, markets by public servants, politicians, councilors and their hirelings

12) The collapsed, failed projects, industries, co-operatives societies, enterprises like Busia Sugar Co. ltd, Kitinda Dairy Plant, Pan Paper Mills and other failed white elephants due to economic crimes by public servants and politicians

13) Grand corruption that is the hall mark of the public service that has stunted the province’s growth coupled with unfair, miniscule injection of the National Budgetary resources to the region for years since independence leading to the region’s low density of infrastructure like roads, key institutions, electricity connectivity, water connectivity comparison to its population.

14) Economic imperialism and sabotage that led to the Kenya Sugar Board whose entire revenue is from sugar producers and of which 70% of the producers are from Western Province being headquartered at Nairobi and not in the Province and being under the grip of Nyanza Province which produces less than 20% of the Sugar in Kenya.

15) Proscribing of the Dini Ya Musambwa and persecution of its followers including the late Masinde Wanameme.  The killings of Titus Adungosi and other student leaders like Muruli.

16) Deliberate marginalization and denial of National Development Resources for infrastructure in the Constituencies like Butere during the Kenyatta and Moi era as unstated punishment to the electorate of Butere Constituency for exercising their constitutional democratic rights to elect Hon. Martin Shikuku as their Member of Parliament.

17) Suffocation of and exclusion of National Development Resources and discrimination for those areas like Bungoma District that opposed the KANU dictatorship with the advent of multipartism.

18) Persecution of those who spearheaded the struggle for multipartsim in the early 1990s including the late Masinde Muliro, Martin Shikuku and the indiscriminate punishment of those accused of being involved in the 1982 coup.

The long list of suffering and its ravages in terms of human rights abuses, economic crimes by public servants, grand corruption by public servants and politicians and grabbing of public resources is unending and its upto the residents to complete it and present it to the TJRC. 

West fm states that once the TJRC will have finished its hearings and made recommendations nobody in Kenya will be permitted to grumble about historical injustices if he or she or that community did not make its presentation to the Commission.  Indeed as the Christians say those who will not have stated their grievances, injustices suffered between 1963 and 2008 will be told to forever hold their peace.  

There has to be closure on historical injustices and grievances and the time for that process is now that the TJRC is about to sit in Western Province.  Speak out, bare it all, for this country to find a way of moving ahead under the aegis of the new Constitution.


Mudavadi on the spot over ODM defeat in Ikolomani

By Allan Kisia and Joel Okwayo, May 25 2011
ODM bigwigs fought to make a statement on who commands political tide in western Kenya through Ikolomani by-election but ironically it turned out to be a statement on the Orange party itself.
Not only did it expose what pundits claim to be Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi’s slackening grip on the political tide in the region, but also exposed dilemma the Sabatia MP will be grappling with as he weighs his options.

ODM bigwigs fought to make a statement on who commands political tide in western Kenya through Ikolomani by-election but ironically it turned out to be a statement on the Orange party itself. Not only did it expose what pundits claim to be Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi’s slackening grip on the political tide in the region, but also exposed dilemma the Sabatia MP will be grappling with as he weighs his options ahead of the General Election.

Like in most previous by-elections, the outcome favoured, not a party like Orange Democratic Movement, which enjoys a national outlook but New Ford-Kenya that rides on the crest of regional popularity. Though the seat was not ODM’s, party leader Raila Odinga pitched camp in Ikolomani where Mudavadi was commanding ground troops. Both declared the outcome would show the party was still the one to beat.

Had the by-election gone Raila-Mudavadi way, pundits would easily have argued it was a vote of confidence on ODM. But because it did not, with the Orange candidate trailing Dr Bonny Khalwale by 2,500 votes, the opposite could be said to be true. The big question now is if Mudavadi would succumb to ‘local’ pressure to walk out of Raila’s shadows and run for president himself, or cling to the Prime Minister and risk paying the political price next year, which would be loss of his place on the region’s political ladder.

The rallying call in Western after all is now turning to be fatigue with ‘running mates’, which is equated to playing second fiddle to ‘outsiders’. President Kibaki had the late Kijana Wamalwa in 2002, as his running mate, and Mudavadi paired up with Raila in 2007. In 2007, the then Vice-President Moody Awori, who Kibaki picked to succeed Wamalwa after he died, did claim in his campaigns he was Kibaki’s running mate.

Inquiries within the Western political camp reveals Ikolomani loss has brought to fore simmering divisions in ODM ahead its grassroots election due next week – unless it is postponed again for the fourth time. It also emerged ODM went into the by-election knowing well its chances of winning were slim, a secret the leaders would not let out at the political rostrum.

A poll the party conducted at the beginning of campaigns indicated ODM candidate Benard Shinali was trailing Khalwale. For sometime, some party members felt ODM should support Khalwale, because of a promise the MP-elect made that he would work with ODM. However the complication, sources reveal, was that Raila insisted he should then defect to ODM, which a section of Western MPs resisted.

ODM insiders told The Standard some party officials were driven by a feeling that if Khalwale were floored in the by-election, it would create room for them in the race for county Senate and governorship, next year.

Shinyalu MP Justus Kizito allegedly pushed this argument. Mudavadi on the other hand worried about what would happen to ODM supporters if the party did not field a candidate or when they are asked to support Khalwale whom they believe stole their victory in 2007.

Mudavadi, it is reported, also felt the party risked disintegrating with supporters scattering to other parties. However, Raila and Mudavadi agreed ODM moves into Ikolomani, in spite of slim chances of winning, with the objective of reactivating their party’s political base and giving Khalwale and his backers a run for their money.

This was not to happen as Khalwale went ahead and floored Shinali in the Monday by-election. ODM lost the seat to New Ford- Kenya in a region it considers its stronghold.

It has 19 of the 24 MPs. Some MPs have, however, come out to say the defeat was not a blow to ODM as the seat initially belonged to New Ford-Kenya. Kizito, who was in the frontline campaigning for Shinali argues they lost the seat because of party wrangling. Kizito claimed a scheme was hatched to portray Mudavadi as a weak politician who could not consolidate the Luyha vote.

Speaking in Kakamega town, Kizito claimed two ODM ministers backed Khalwale and kept off the party campaigns. "How could we have won if some ministers in ODM were supporting Khalwale?" he asked.

"Some top figures in the Prime Minister’s office also funded the campaigns of New Ford- Kenya," claimed Kizito. He continued: "They wanted to portray Mudavadi as a politician who cannot consolidate the Western vote. We will not allow the trend as Mudavadi can as well stand on his own for the top seat."

Mudavadi could not be reached on phone for comment but his spokesman, Kibisu Kabatesi, however termed Kizito’s allegations as "incorrect". He said the initial problem was whether the party was to field a candidate. "This is just a blame-game. Kizito pushed very hard for it to appear like he is the one who delivered the seat and thereby boost his ambitions to become governor of Kakamega County," added Kabatesi.

Kabatesi said Kizito is also fighting Planning Minister Wycliffe Oparanya, who is also said to be eying the governor’s seat in Kakamega County. Kizito claimed that some people in the party financed Khalwale due to their close relationship with him in Parliament. Over 60 ODM councillors from the four counties in Western campaigned for Khalwale while some MPs and ministers kept off.

Some ODM MPs who did not appear in Ikolomani include Nambale MP Chris Okemo, Khwisero legislator Evans Akula, and his Mumias counterpart Ben Washiali. Matungu MP David Were appeared in Ikolomani the day Raila commissioned the Sigalagala-Butere-Sidindi Road. Were is also the chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Transport.

On Wednesday, Kizito said ministers and senior officers in Raila’s office who supported Khalwale’s campaigns should be censured. "How could a polling centre like Shivagala record a zero vote for the ODM candidate yet the agents were there? It means the location branch chairman and his office never voted or they voted against the party candidate," said Kizito.

Assistant Minister George Khaniri differed with Kizito and said a strong ODM team hit the ground in Ikolomani to campaign for Shinali. "Those who did not campaign for ODM were discouraged by their individual closeness to Khalwale and not because they were fighting Mudavadi," he argued.

Khaniri said the matter should not be blown out of proportion arguing that the decision of Ikolomani people should be respected. "It is amazing how people are linking Ikolomani poll to the 2012 General Election and the Deputy Prime Minister," he added.

Housing Minister Soita Shitanda, who is New Ford-Kenya leader while on a campaign trail, said his party would field a presidential candidate next year because of reluctance of senior politicians from the region to declare they would be running. Shitanda said Saboti MP Eugene Wamalwa, with whom he campaigned for Khalwale, would be going for the top seat on a New Ford-Kenya ticket because the community must try and win the presidency.

This is the position that has been taken by Lugari MP Cyrus Jirongo, who also backed Khalwale, and believes Western should stop being the fountain of running mates for presidential candidates. Former Cabinet Minister Amukowa Anangwe also confirmed claims some MPs were eying seats in counties, and were unwilling to attack Khalwale directly during the campaigns.

Source: Standard


WikiLeaks and challenges of diplomacy

Julian Assange
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is a man at the epicentre of a worldwide diplomatic storm kicked off by his publication of secret diplomatic cables of US missions from across the world.

By Prof David Kikaya, December 7 2010
Diplomacy is a very misunderstood and misrepresented profession. This is inspite of the fact that it is credited with being the second oldest profession after, you know which! Most people see it as a glamorous profession with handsome packs to boot. Some perceive it’s  players as spoilt brats who, eat, drink and smoothly lie for their country. The more charitable ones decorate Diplomats as persons who tell you go to HELL in such a colourful language that you actually enjoy the trip.

Diplomacy however, from time immemorial has and continues to be a very precarious profession. Ask Kenya Ambassadors who were serving in our Missions in Europe during the fiasco of the Kurdish leader, Ochalon with the Kenyan Government. They will tell you what a terrifying experience they went through, likened only to that frightening bad dream where a lion or wizard is chasing after you and your feet are too heavy to save you and your attempt at screaming is stuck in the throat. Yes diplomacy can also mean, ‘dying for your country’, sometimes literary. Hence the need for secrecy in diplomatic communication

Vienna Convention.
This explains why Diplomatic practice came up with the ‘Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Immunities and Privileges’. Basically this was to protect the security of the person, house-hold and property of this innocent ‘messenger’ of good-will. Indeed at the advent of Diplomacy, persons chosen to deliver messages between Nation/States had to be ‘Men of Substance’.

This has evolved into the present day, ‘Special Envoy’. The argument was that if such notables were detained in the receiving country, war was inevitable to rescue them. At the receiving end, it was and still is the responsibility of that country to protect the foreign diplomat even if he accuses you of ‘eating their food, drinking their booze and then vomiting on their shoes’.

Infact in the old time, if any one tempered with such an envoy in the receiving country, he was punished by death!. Talk about the ‘Good Old’ days.

Diplomatic Communication

Modern Diplomacy has been criticized as being expensive in terms of residency. Some have argued for reduction of numbers and even ‘Mission Stations’, given the technological advancement where information on any country or issue is just a click on a button away. They opine that even “WikiLeaks’ is at your service!. Nothing could be far from falsehood. If anything, I would argue for more. Indeed developed economies have embraced this. In Kenya for instance, some of these countries have Missions in Nairobi and Consular Offices in Mombasa.

Intelligence gathering is a core function of any Mission, however perceived friendly. This is an old age practice. Intelligence is country- specific. But this is too open a give a way to refer to it as intelligence. Diplomatically we refer to it as ‘Statecentric’ or simply put, ‘National Interest’.

As diplomatic communication evolved from the noble messengers, it was the first to embrace the use of ‘signals’ communication.  This was perfected during periods of war. At the advent of Telex Communication, it was extensively adopted. But this was not without precautions. A special decoding rubric that changed often was put in place. This was to avoid and prevent what in modern terms you refer to as hacking. So if you think we are advanced in secretive communication, think again.

Diplomatic Bag

The use of the Diplomatic Bag remains the most secure carrier for modern Diplomatic communication. Its inviolability is protected by the said Vienna Convention. This however has its limitations. Foremost is the long period it takes to reach the recipient. It relies on the availability and frequency of flights between the communicating parties. The challenge of bad weather causing delays as the case is now in Europe’s Winter is apparent.

Technology, a Challenge to Diplomacy

The modern Diplomat faces a grave challenge with the highly sophisticated and yet advanced various modes of communication. E-Mails, Mobile phones, Tweeters, Face Book, U-Tube, Blog, Mig, Msn Friend Finder, 2-go etc, continue to revolutionise communication in the pretext of communication advancement and modernization. To a modern diplomat this is just a nightmare. How do you take advantage of communicating rapidly and yet safely?

The revelations by WikiLeaks are really a wakeup call to the Modern Diplomat. James Swan the American Ambassador to Djibouti might have thought he was innocently and confidentially communicating to his superiors at the State Department. Little did he think of the weakness and leakage in the communication link that WikiLeaks capitalised on. This is not only a challenge to practicing Diplomats but academics who should agonise on how best they can equip their students of Diplomacy to meet the challenges of modern secure diplomacy.

At least what WikiLeaks has done for us is to alert those who hide in conspiratorial confidentiality, that malice  has no hiding corner. As to the current revelations, cited countries like Kenya should be eternally thankful to WikiLeaks. Now they know what their friends think of them.  As for the doubting Thomases, think twice of the Biblical prayer, “God Save me from my friends, for my Enemies I know”.

Amb. David K. A. Kikaya, Ph.D. H.S.C
Professor, International Relations
United States International University - Africa
P.O. Box 14634 - 00800, Nairobi KENYA
Email: dkikaya@usiu.ac.ke, kikayadavid@hotmail.com


Butali Sugar factory tussle: the Indian question

By Jaindi Kisero, Oct 12 2010
Very strange things are happening in the sugar industry. Consider this. It is December, 2007. President Kibaki travels all the way to Kakamega County to lay the foundation stone for a new sugar factory - the Butali Sugar Mills. The investors immediately start building the plant. The factory is now complete, ready for commissioning. As a matter of fact, the factory has been doing test runs in the past couple of weeks, raring to start production. Yesterday, Housing minister Soita Shitanda, also the member of Parliament for the Butali area - confirmed that the factory was complete.

Now comes the intriguing twist to the saga. The chief executive of the Kenya Sugar Board, Ms Rosemary Mkok, is suspended for registering the Butali factory. It now emerges that, away from the limelight, the Kenya Sugar Board has in the past few months been under immense pressure not only to deregister Butali Sugar Mills, but to demolish the multi-million shilling factory. The question is: Where were all these people who now want the factory demolished when President Kibaki was laying the foundation stone way back in 2007?

Is it conceivable that the President was misled into giving the nod to this project, a project that had been on the cards since 2005? If there is one thing the saga has proved, it is the ease with which powerful businessmen can still play government offices against one another as they pursue personal gain. The public servants who find themselves in the crossfire are just collateral damage. Behind the scenes is a ferocious battle between two multi-millionaire businessmen - Mr Jayant Patel of Kisumu and Mr Jaswant Rai of Eldoret - both adept at the game of political lobbying. All major centres of power have been sucked into the battle - the Office of the Prime Minister, the Ministry of Agriculture, the Office of the Attorney General - and individuals with direct access to State House.

The Butali Sugar story is about the vacuity and arbitrariness of today’s policy making. Decisions can be made today and changed tomorrow. Permanent secretaries and ministers have found themselves spraying out letters all over the place like confetti, some of the correspondence conveying decisions countermanding positions made by their predecessors. What is the crux of the matter? Mr Rai wants Mr Patel out of the western Kenya sugar zone, whose exclusivity he claims was granted to him in October 2000 by the Ministry of Agriculture. His argument is that his rival has encroached on his territory.

On the other hand, Mr Patel insists that his factory has been legally registered by the Kenya Sugar Board since April 2005. I am not surprised that the government is unable to make a decision on such a straightforward matter. With top government officials rigidly polarised into either those who support Mr Rai and those who support Mr Patel, neither side is prepared to consider the long-term interests of the ordinary cane farmer. In 2005, Kilimo House constituted a technical team to asses the feasibility of establishing a new sugar mill within the zone.

The team found that Butali was a viable project and that Mr Patel and Mr Rai could co-exist in the zone. The warring parties cannot even agree on the meaning of the term “zone”, as used in the Sugar Act of 2001. According to Mr Rai, it means that a factory cannot be erected within a 40-kilometre radius. But his rival insists that the Act only stipulates a maximum, not a minimum, area. So to Mr Patel, since Butali is 19 kilometres away from Mr Rai’s factory, his mill’s location is within the distance stipulated in the Sugar Act.

Mr Patel’s supporters also cite the situation in the Nyanza sugar belt where Kibos, Miwani, Muhoroni, and Chemelil factories are located less than 10 kilometres apart. The government should not allow itself to be held hostage by such narrow interests. An independent party should be brought in to evaluate the feasibility of a second sugar factory in the area. Such an evaluation should be based on the interests of the area’s sugarcane farmers. The investigation ordered by the government into the circumstances under which Butali Sugar Mills was registered is just a red herring.

Source: NATION


Kenyans are best architects of their future

By Anthony Luyundi Isayi, Sept 12 2010
President Jomo Kenyatta once said that “Our greatest task is to make ourselves the architects of the future.” Indeed, the new Katiba has given us the opportunity to do just that; engage in commons-sense politics for a common-sense economy that creates unlimited economic opportunities for those willing to work hard. It is the best post independence constitutional instrument that enables us to work together to develop our communities by building schools and equipping them with well paid teachers for our children to receive quality education, improving our Agricultural production to feed the nation and by promoting trade and commerce at national and county levels to create middle class-type job opportunities in the economy.   

But we must re-align our political and economy philosophies with our culture and values. In order to protect our fundamental human rights and the rule of law as spelled out in the new constitution, our priorities must be right. Undoubtedly, engaging in a new common-sense politics will be a proper start. We must focus on issues-based politics that are geared towards building a strong market economy that can sustain our insatiable desire for quality education, improved agricultural production, road infrastructure, proper healthcare, and dignity in retirement.   

History indicates that a strong market based economic policies fosters growth in the economy and productivity and increases economic development. Such growth can best be achieved through the private sector, which can allocate scarce resources: capital, land, labor and entrepreneurship in the most efficient way than the government would. In light of that, State owned corporations or parastatals should systematically be dispensed with as they tend to impede efficient allocation of economic resources especially capital and labor.

Government role should be to formulate common-sense economic and political policies and ensure that they are implemented. Moreover, government should enforce desirable regulations to maintain sanity of markets and trade. Also, appropriate tax, trade and economic policies are important because the government can used them to entice private sector investments and stimulate economic growth.

At international level, political diplomacy alone is no longer a fashionable too for foreign policy. In my opinion, Kenya should adopt common-sense commercial diplomacy as one of its best tools for foreign policy. Nonetheless, Kenya must systematically open its markets by encouraging free enterprise, accountability and transparency to attract capital investments. The rule of law must also prevail. Then we would be the best architects of our future.

Anthony Luyundi Isayi is a Business Administration: Accounting and International Business Student, California State University, Sacramento California
luyundi@yahoo.com


Ronald Elly WandaForget the ICC: Let Africa Revive Its Traditional Justice Systems

  Ronald Elly Wanda, July 15 2010  
The beginning of June saw Uganda’s capital Kampala, the heartbeat of Africa, play host to the first ever Review Conference of the Rome Statute, which in 2002 gave birth to the International Criminal Court (ICC). A timely event that triggered a renewed interest in discussions centered on the limits and possibilities of international justice serving African interests. Questions such as: “is there sufficient gravity for Africans to depend on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to deliver local justice?” dominated civil talks at malwa (local brew) dens in towns and villages right across the continent.

In East Africa, the Kenyan Nobel Peace laureate, Wangari Maathai, added to the works. Writing in an East African weekly prior to the conference, and in reference to her native Kenya- which saw 1300 killed and more than half a million internally displaced following the post-election violence of late  2007, she argued that Africa has leaders that make violence against humanity seem worthwhile. “These leaders”, Maathai observed, “mobilized their supporters, mostly from their communities, to go and kill and rape and destroy members of other communities”. Accordingly, Maathai affirmed that Africans support the ICC in bringing to an end the culture of impunity by holding those who commit such crimes in Africa to account. “Impunity”, noted the Professor, “not only perpetuates crimes against women, children and other civilians, it teaches successive generations how to continue the violence”.
Whilst it is difficult to fault the professor, my Pan-African impulse is very much enticed. From ancient European philosophers namely Plato and Aristotle, to notable African thinkers, Anta Diop, Nabudere, Mazrui, Mafeje and undoubtedly many others, runs a thread of universal agreement that the idea of justice inevitably suggests the notion of certain equality. In Africa this has not been the case.

Given five centuries of systematic destruction of African communities’ political, cultural, economic and social structures by Europeans, Africa is yet to attain psychological well-being from the sustained assault on its humanity, which continues to this day under different guises now including the ICC’s “legal colonialism”. Exogenous forces aside, today’s societies in Africa are also deeply marked by class, ethnicity, gender, religion and other dimensions of difference and inequalities, making injustice instead of justice the norm. The continent has been forced to continue nursing a deep sense of what my good friend, Professor Mammo Muchie, has termed “wounded psyche” in its memory that keeps attacking the marrow of its social, political as well as its legal confidence. 

Since flag independence in the 1960s, African governments have been in a rush to normalize authoritarian rule and human rights abuses under the auspices of Maendeleo (development) and economic growth. A short stroll in any African village today confirms that the globalised Western culture of justice delivery or for that matter innovation, that most African leaders seem to trust, has not improved the well-being of our local communities or delivered justice for them. On the contrary, it has often blocked viable indigenous innovation of cultures and suffocated African justice. Here in East Africa, cultures of innovation have largely accrued from the jua kali (informal), and not the formal sector. Indigenous cultural innovations have also been at the centre of development in most Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) such as in Uganda or her slightly richer sister Kenya, notably because of wanainchi (citizens) exceptionally limited access to capital.

Dan Nabudere
Prof Dan Nabudere giving a presentation during a workshop entitled: "Contribution of Victim Participation in Transitional Justice Processes“ held in Luwero town in Gulu, northern Uganda last year.

As such, when it comes to delivering justice in Africa, we ought to revise our priorities by doing away with existing pre-conceived ideas that might have worked within the European cultural setting as they have clearly not acted up in the face of socio-cultural heritages of African societies, neither has the opposite- the Afrikanisation of western concepts of justice delivery.
This is because the Western justice paradigm remains retributive, hierarchical, adversarial, punitive and is guided by codified laws and written procedures. Whilst on the other hand, African justice systems have always been guided by unwritten laws, traditions and practices like inclusiveness, consultation and consensus. These are learned primarily by example and through the oral teachings of elders. In any legal matter, every adult member of the community gets involved into solving a conflict and they all focus on the need to resolve issues so as to attain peace and social harmony. The community is involved in the entire process; from disclosure of problems, to discussion and resolution, to making amends and restoring relationships.

Recently while on a study visit to Iwokodan, an Iteso clan in Kamuge, Pallisa District, north eastern Uganda,  I was narrated a story of a land dispute involving two community members that took twenty years being tossed around courts that was eventually resolved within days after it was referred back to the clan. In that case an amicable resolution was reached promptly because of elements such as; the just act is correctness, the rejection of inequality; reason instead of arbitration; conscience instead of inhumanity and so forth that one find in traditional African justice unlike the existing westernized arrangement. Another example is Rwanda where the re-establishment of its traditional courts (the Gacaca); to help deal with the crime of genocide and foster reconciliation between its communities has yielded a positive outcome.   

When it comes to international law, it is fair to argue, African states have failed to abide by their international fair trial obligations probably because these standards have been impractical in the first place, given the realities of poverty, illiteracy and strong cultural beliefs that characterize most of our communities in Africa. As a result, the law applied by the Western style courts is felt to be so out of touch with the needs of most African communities and coercion to resort to them therefore amounts to denial of justice.

As for the ICC, we must reject it on the basis that it is an epithet of legal colonialism by the European Union (EU). Not only does it receive 60 percent of its funding from the EU, it has also ignored all European or Western human rights abuses in conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan or human rights abuses by states considered “darlings of the West”. Despite over 8,000 complaints about alleged crimes in at least 139 countries, the ICC has started investigations into just five countries, all of them here in Africa. The ICC’s double-standards and autistic legal blundering in Africa has derailed delicate peace processes that have instead prolonged devastating civil wars. As Dr David Hoile, author of The International Criminal Court: Europe’s Guantanamo Bay? has observed, “the court’s proceedings ought to be questionable given its judges, some of whom have never been lawyers, let alone judges, are appointed as the result of vote-trading among member states”. Adding, “The ICC has engaged in prosecutorial decisions which should have ended any fair trial because they compromised the integrity of any subsequent process. Its first trial stalled because of judicial decisions to add new charges half-way through proceedings”.

African governments’ continued reliance on donor funding has made societies in Africa vulnerable to the vulgaries of shifting donor conditionalities and (wicked) interests. Malawi’s president, Bingu wa Mutharika’s recent retract from his 14 year prison sentence of Monjenza and Chimbalanga, a homosexual couple, and Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni’s disposal of the Anti-Homosexual Bill (the so called Bahati Bill) respectively, serves as points in reference.
Therefore, concerns for the emancipation of the continent from the ravages of foreign domination and underdevelopment and building of a new Africa from the grassroots upwards ought to be a concern for us all. As renowned scholar Dani Nabudere forcefully urges, “we must defend African people’s dignity and civilisational achievements and contribute afresh to a new global agenda that can push us out of the crisis of modernity as promoted by the European enlightenment”.

Ronald Elly Wanda is a Lecturer at Marcus Garvey Pan-Afrikan University, Mbale, Uganda.


Prof Kagwanja wrong person at the Yes secretariat

By Fwamba NC Fwamba, June 5 2010

On Friday, the Synovate group released a poll indicating that the yes side had lost seven points since the last opinion poll was conducted. Being part and parcel of the national yes campaign team, I can authoritatively point out the reasons as to why we have had our side fluctuate from 64 percent approval in the previous poll to the recently announced 57 percent.
There is no doubt that both the president and the prime minister have shown their undying support of the document. This is possibly the reason why majority of Kenyans are in support of the document. The political goodwill from the president and the prime minister might be one of the main factors that will help us in mobilizing the vote that will eventually have us succeed in what has been so elusive in the last two decades.
However there are a number of loopholes in the campaign that if they are addressed urgently, Kenyans will get an opportunity to know the importance of passing the proposed constitution overwhelmingly. The make or break point for the yes campaign lies heavily on the role that will be played by the yes campaign secretariat before and during the referendum campaigns. It’s easy too to attribute the maintained lead to a section of the leadership of the secretariat and still attribute the fluctuation to a section of the secretariat leadership.

The secretariat leadership has raised the issue of lack of funds whenever confronted with a question on why the campaigns are being done haphazardly. It’s however unjustifiable since both the PNU side and the ODM side of the coalition are facing the same predicament in respect to lack of availability of funds. Lack of funds is not a justification for being disorganized. With these challenges, the ODM side of the secretariat appears to have stronger leadership organized, well structured and ready for the campaigns, while the PNU side seems to lack leadership at the secretariat. unlike ms Janet Ong’era who is hands on and in charge of running affairs procedurally, Prof Peter Kagwanja who happens to lead the PNU side seems to understand more on political theory than organizing real political exercises like the referendum we are heading towards. there is no doubt that most of the people appointed to the secretariat are competent enough to execute the duties concerning the referendum campaigns, but under Prof Kagwanja’s leadership, it will be hard to maximize the potential of reaching out to the; yes’ prospective voters .Prof kagwanja is an accomplished scholar with great research works to his name.

However his current task seems to be greater than or out of the scope of his understanding and thus it might be difficult for him to deliver. The PNU side of the secretariat appears disorderly and Prof Kagwanja himself is rarely in the office. One outcome of such disorganization came when the ODM side organized a youth press conference where PNU affiliate parties were poorly represented. It emerged that Prof Kagwanja was either unaware or had failed to get in touch with PNU affiliate youth leaders for the function. The few of us who attended the press conference were ambushed at the last minute and by the time we were joining the press conference, we had no idea of what the statement contained. It’s alleged that Prof Kagwanja is now silently planning to plant people of his own choice to head different departments, ignoring the names of political party leaders seconded by respective party leaderships of respective PNU affiliate parties. It’s no secret that it will be foolhardy to campaign without putting the youth vote a serious priority. It’s obvious that the youth vote will decide the margin by which the proposed constitution will be approved by Kenyans. Having been out of the country for a while, Prof Kagwanja has been absent from the Kenyan political scene and may not be in a good position to tap the right political manpower for the purpose of the referendum.

The referendum campaign needs to be run by someone who is well acquainted with the Kenyan political affairs in the recent past and in present. The ODM side appeared to have noted this fact in advance and that is why they appointed someone who apart from other qualities understands Kenyan politics. In most cases Prof Kagwanja is always having meetings out of the office or too busy that very significant matters are either left unattended to or handled by his ODM co-director. There is no doubt that soon, there will be complains, as it has been before that ODM is running away with the yes campaign and yet the truth of the matter is that we have a politically incompetent person leading the PNU side of the secretariat.
I am optimistic that YES will win, but in a referendum like the august 4th one, it’s important to marshal enough support from the majority of Kenyans as targeted by the political leadership of the yes campaign. The 10 million vote target is attainable, but the target might be elusive if the secretariat directorship on the PNU side is not changed.

Fwamba NC Fwamba
The writer is NEC member of New Ford Kenya, New Ford Kenya is a PNU affiliate party in the grand coalition government The ideas expressed are personal and do not necessarily reflect the party position


Constituency for Kenyan Diaspora is a damn idea


Bob Awuor
By Bob Awuor, London, Jan 30 2010

Reference is made to the current discussion in Kenya and abroad regarding on-going constitutional reforms.

Whilst I concur with the views of proponents for dual nationality rights for Kenyan citizens who hold the citizenships of other countries, that is just about how far I could possibly go before I part ways in relation to other demands.

Many have lent their voices to the clamour for the right of my fellow Diasporians to vote in Kenyan elections wherever they live in the world, which I oppose. I also oppose all calls for Kenyans abroad to constitute themselves into the world's largest constituency (albeit of non-tax-payers seeking representation ...!) and elect an MP from amongst themselves who shall represent them in Kenya's national assembly.  I oppose these demands on the plain and simple grounds that they are an unreasonable 'ask' from the people of Kenya!

The right to vote is a right that bestows equally upon every Kenyan and this right is exercisable by all during our general and other special elections. To the best of my knowledge, absolutely nothing has ever stopped Kenyans in the Diaspora availing themselves of the opportunity to vote at home alongside other Kenyans.

To suggest that the Kenyan tax-payer incur expenses of whatever magnitude to facilitate the delivery of election resources (ballots, ballot boxes, election personnel, security, etc) to every country in the world where a Kenyan lives is not only unreasonable but quite an unforgivable demand from Kenyan non-tax-paying population scattered around the world. Why would the tax-paying public need to incur this additional expense when the right to travel home and vote is not denied anyone?

Before anyone even considers the logistical nightmare involved in supplying ballots from Armenia to Fiji or  Iceland to Chile and Mongolia, a more urgent consideration might be about other different areas of national life (such as providing water and healthcare facilities to villages that lack these vital services) where such expense would be more productive to the country. I say this because I have not heard equally strong voices from the so-called Kenyan Diaspora pledging to fund this process ...or did I miss something? Also, unnecessary national expense aside, if votes cast in Kenya in plain daylight are open to abuse and manipulation by those in power, how about  votes cast abroad?     

My point is that let not him or her who does not pay tax into the national kitty make demands with financial implications on the tax-paying public. And I can extend this argument to cover and throw out the other even more notorious demand for a special parliamentary constituency and national assembly representation by invoking one basic canon of taxation: the right to representation. Clearly, Kenyans residing abroad pay no taxes to the country and I fail to understand the basis upon which their demand for the right to representation sits ...! And how would they fairly elect this MP? How would he or she travel around the world to campaign and meet his or her prospective voters? Or should every foreign country become a constituency so that Kenyans residing therein elect their own parliamentary representative?

In view of the aforementioned I consider to be highly unreasonable all these demands by Kenyans abroad and urgen the nation to ignore the same. I am part and parcel of the Kenyan Diaspora but I am not convienced that the individuals making all these demands really know what they are talking about! Hence a call to responsible citizenship would be in order, and with that a realisation by all these fellows that there is no right without responsibility - and our nation could do with a lot more responsibility on the part of all citizens, from the President to the youngest citizen of majority age.

We Kenyans are in the mess we are all in as a nation because some citizens haven't been very responsible: the Mau, the theft of public funds in all areas; the post-election violence; the abuse of office cases that fill the pages and airtime of the daily press; name it! Assume for a minute that Kenyan citizens involved in such scams like Goldenberg; Anglo Leasing; Triton; Grand Regency; etc had been more responsible, would our government lack the funds to build much-needed schools, water dips, public toilets or health centres to save lives in far-flung villages in areas without these facilities? I guess Kenyans in the Diaspora are fast learning from wanton irresponsibility displayed by our more irresponsible brothers and sisters in government by making demands that are unreasonable, impractical and simply too not polite to be asked of our over-burdened tax-paying citizenry by a non-tax-paying segment of the populace.

To seek to be represented in Parliament by a Diaspora MP is simply bad manners, and I do not want anyone to associate me with such an unreasonable 'ask' by virtue of my being one of the Kenyans living abroad. It would certainly be more reasonable to expect that the Kenyan government would see the necessity of creating the office of Diaspora affairs within the appropriate ministry (Foreign Affairs or Office of the Prime Minister) and perhaps even appointing a junior minister (asstistant minister) in the PM's office to deal with Diaspora matters in government, parliament and in the civil service. But not a parliamentary representative 'elected for, by and amongst' the Diaspora!       

For all that we Kenyans in the Diaspora are asking of our nation, have we considered the model innovated by the Eritreans in the whole area of Diaspora Taxes ...?

'Diaspora taxes? Unpalatable!', I hear you scream. I shall return to this later, but this should help to remind you that rights do come with responsibilities, and we should not demand of our motherland much more than we are ourselves ready to put into the common pool. Eritreans resolved this by granting Diasporians all the rights - matched by the constitutional requirement to  pay taxes ... in the form of Diaspora Tax! I invite you to do your own investigations and let me know what

Bob Awuor is the Executive Director of the London-based African Community Development Foundation (ACDF) and is a registered voter in Nairobi, Kenya. He can be contacted on bob.awuor@gmail.com



It's difficult to get rid of political districts - Ligale

Andrew Ligale
Andrew Ligale, Chairman of Interim Independent Boundaries Commission

By ANDREW LIGALE, December 15 2009
BOUNDARIES ARE AN EMOTIVE subject almost everywhere in Kenya. Never has this been more apparent than during the recent public hearings the Interim Independent Boundaries Review Commission held to educate Kenyans on its mandate. Much of the debate seems to revolve around the distribution of resources rather than the fairness of representation.

Despite the public outcry over the liberal creation of districts by the Executive, wananchi appear to have clasped the new administrative units as valued possessions. Letting go will be quite a struggle. The recent hearings, which recorded very high levels of public participation, exposed the dilemma between public desires and the law. Under the law, there are only 46 districts - a fact restated by the High Court. The reality, however, is quite different. Since 2005, the Executive has raised the number of districts to 254 - over six times the number at independence.

There has not been the necessary follow-through to obtain parliamentary approval for these new administrative units. Questions still linger about the criteria used to create new districts in one place and not another, yet wherever we went, wananchi wanted more districts. This clamour is probably a product of the expectation that districts, councils and constituencies are the units used to allocate public funds for education, health and other development projects. Another common issue was the allocation of funds among the new constituencies; many presentations opposed lumping together areas with different poverty indices as this reportedly undermines fair distribution of devolved funds.

The flipside to this argument is that the allocation of devolved funds should take into account the population of an area, poverty levels, infrastructure and contribution to the wealth created. A great number supported a system where allocations are proportionate to a region’s contribution to the national revenue. THE COMMISSION ENTERS THE FRAY as an arbiter keen to reconcile the contradictions in the varied aspirations. It takes on this assignment aware that many communities are alive to historical injustices.

This, in turn, feeds the fears that frustrate just boundaries for all. Many Kenyans cannot countenance an electoral system that is blatantly unfair to any section of society. Wherever the commission went, there was the recognition that electoral boundaries should respect the principle of the equality of the vote in order to secure fair and balanced representation rather than equity. Although wananchi agree boundaries should enhance national cohesion rather than become points of contention, they are also keen to have boundaries that preserve their identity as communities.

The tension between national and local identity is often difficult to resolve. There is a deep sense of grievance over the manner in which boundaries have been delimited in the past. While some of the complaints might very well be the subject matter for the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission, it is still possible for the Boundaries Commission to deliver some measure of justice by balancing representation with access to administrative services through the units it delimits.

Kenyans belief that boundaries should be reviewed regularly on the basis of internationally accepted practices echoes the values for which the boundaries commission was created to entrench.

Mr Ligale is chairman, Interim Independent Boundaries Review Commission

Source: NATION


Sodomite dictactorship gone too far in banning Okiya Omtatah

By Fwamba Fwamba, Nov 23 2009
A few days ago, Okiya Omtatah Okoiti, Robert Alai, bidiiafrika, kenyansonline and a host of other individuals were banned from the online serve list of KPTJ.The reason was stated that they were against homosexuality as a way of life. I don’t usually take part in such kind of debates but this has made me get concerned. I know that the dictatorship of sodomites has now gone too far and I will not shy away from what is now tearing apart the traditional African moral fibre and Christian values of which I personally subscribe to.

My participation in addressing the wrongs of this society and my opportunity to interact with others who claim the same has taught me a lot of lessons and now I cant shy away from expressing my fears that the secular society is trying as much as they can including forcing some clauses into the draft constitution to force some unAfrican cultures defined by unnatural acts into the society.

I know at this trend, now is the time for me to be banned from KPTJ which I joined innocently without knowing understanding its objectives well. I have never lived in denial to imagine that homosexuals don’t exist in Africa but I have thought that the best move is to make them become natural humans through rehabilitation. Seeing those defending homosexuality you will easily tell the reason and you need not to get bothered that they require more youths to get homosexual for them to justify donor funds in the name of defending human rights. The self proclaimed prefects of civil society are busy defending some of this positions because donor money is like weed and when they get the money they become high that they go to an extend of abusing and labeling others as homophobes; a term that is absolutely alien as far as my culture and that of other Africans and true Christians are concerned. Those who are high on donor funds have even skewed human rights to mean rights for homosexuals thus downplaying the most important agitation of economic, political, academic, social and other forms of rights that define the needs of a human being.

If they are really engrossed in defending the rights of sodomites, they should accept them in the society by establishing rehabilitation programs to help them reform instead of helping them multiply. This is my fairest suggestion for our fellow countrymen who belong to this group. Otherwise sometime very soon, pedophiles and those who practice bestiality will also claim that they too have rights which must be protected. Homosexuality has been spread by financially established individuals who practice these habits and use their money to entice money hungry Africans and others who earn a living on donor funds by buying them into justifying the bad habits. Most of you know a very rich US musician who is a pedophile. It’s very likely that sodomites too established themselves and later started claiming that dehumanizing men by making them accept inhuman habits is just by enticing them with money.

The only thing sodomites won’t tell you is the health aspect of it. An example of this is that there is a guarantee of one getting cancer of the rectum and that the sphincter muscles will weaken and in old age one will pass stool without breaks. Such a person will need nappies. This is unAfrican and such practices and terms like homosexual, homophobia, didn’t exist and don’t exist in my mother tongue meaning they don’t exist in my culture and heritage. Therefore no one has a right to coerce me into admitting an alien culture into mine.

Some well meaning Kenyans argue that we should not bother about what people do in private. It beats the logic of being my brother’s keeper. Remember that even pedophiles do some of these acts in private but it impacts to the society negatively; same with rapists. I know the self proclaimed civil society ‘prefects’ whose attention is sunk in this subject will label me or have already labeled me a homophobe and I already sense them using this article to ask for more funds as they work hard to suppress other human rights defenders like Omtatah who do not subscribe to their school of mental slavery brought about by them being high on some donor funds. Their duty has always been downplaying the role of other human rights activists who focus on working for the rights of majority of ordinary Kenyans who are not beneficiaries of the enslavement program of secularists. The dictatorship of sodomites is what Kenyans should be wary of right now. There is a saying that mad people always perceive those who are normal as mad  and this is why am not surprised that supporters of homosexuality are ready to label others ‘loud homophobes ‘and ’dictators’.

Even though I will give my full analysis of the draft constitution, I have been able to read between the lines and noticed that they have even sneaked into the constitution chapter six: articles37 (1) 44 and chapter eleven: article 128(d) and article 240(3) which gives a leeway by any one claiming that they are minorities who need representation. I have chosen that some items should not be in the constitution that will govern my children and their future and will not vote for any constitution that will have this sort of blanket trickery of terms. Apart from the disabled and marginalized ethnic groups, the constitution must vividly define who the other minority groups are so that it doesn’t leave ambiguity for some individuals of this sort classifying themselves as such. I insist that the best help that can be given to sodomites is rehabilitation and anything less than this is opportunistic and exploitative of our fellow countrymen who subscribe to this way of life.

For those who believe in this sort of thing, it would be more reasonable to allow debate and give reasons and objective justifications instead of labeling people and pretending to exercise authority that many of us don’t care about by banning us from some of the groups that you control, sabotaging us or downplaying our efforts in the struggle against violations of human rights.

March 5th 2010 will mark a year since comrade Oulu GPO and his colleague Oscar King’ara were murdered in cold blood. That seems not to bother the self proclaimed prefects of the civil society. They are busy engaging us in irrelevant debates about the rights of sodomites.They don’t give a damn about a right to life. The true friends of GPO will be organizing his memorial on the first anniversary and am quite sure that it will be difficult to get a cent from any of this pro homo activists because they will be busy engaging in issues that are less essential to Kenyans including wishing that people ask for permission from them to defend any rights that are at stake.Remember, that since the murder of GPO,none of these homo busy activists have ever taken a serious step in pursuit of justice apart from trying to appear to be mourning when the media and the cameras were present and rolling. Woe unto them.

Banning Omtatah from your group, banning me or anybody else will never stop us from expressing our views. I am surprised that the same people were able to see Moi as a dictator. It doesn’t have to be in your forum. The values I stand for don’t have to be defined by you or what you stand for. That is what democracy is all about. Convince me if you think what you stand for is right, don’t force me, intimidate me or label me. I will keep the same.

As a designer, I was taught that design is problem solving process, and for us who believe in the creation theory know that God was the first designer/creator and thus designed a man for a woman and a woman for a man. The human body architecture is designed as thus and all body parts should be used for the right purposes.


Nothing against Kiai but let Ringera's succession be open to competitive bidding

By Fwamba NC Fwamba

I have been following the discussions about the supposed Ringera’s replacements with keen interest. A number of people have proposed and others commented about some names that were proposed.

One such name that has prominently featured in this forum and others is that of former chairman of the Kenya national commission on human rights chief Maina Kiai.i have never met Maina Kiai myself but those I have interacted with have attested that he is one of a few people in Kenya that can be trusted to hold public office. I also had a privilege to watch know his dedication in fighting for human rights through news items and writings from those who have worked with Maina Kiai to attest to the fact that Maina Kiai worked hard while at KNCHR in the interest of ordinary Kenyans especially those who could not access justice.Maina Kiai amid threats, loudly and without fear talked for such people. it goes without saying that his absence and that of Kamanda Mucheke’s is highly missed at the KNCHR.I have personally interacted with neither but I have heard from many people who have expressed this sentiment, especially in relation to the slow pace at which supposed urgent  issues are addressed these days a the KNCHR since Maina Kiai left. It’s true that since he left, the performance of KNCHR on the matters of human rights is highly wanting and maybe only one or two commissioners are working in the interest of the ordinary Kenyan citizen.

However I would like to humbly disagree with those who are using Maina Kiai’s fantastic performance at the Kenya national commission on human rights as bedrock for his qualification to be the director of the Kenya anti-corruption commission. This automatically beats the logic of providing equal opportunity for every Kenyan. The line of argument is so weak that it denies chance to those Kenyans who have the will and ability to serve Kenyans competently but they have never had an opportunity to prove how good they can be. Am quite sure that our selfish nature allows us to in a biased manner shortlist people on the basis of what they have done before, downplaying the fact that we need to leave the opportunity open for others too who have never had a chance despite their will and ability to perform in the best way.

I therefore request us to avoid such kind of discussions which might end up prejudicing the fair process of arriving at the most suitable person to fight corruption or be appointed to any other office. I don’t doubt Maina Kiai’s ability but we must also know that there are so many Kenyans who are denied chance, not because they are incompetent but because of one or two reasons sometimes fair and sometimes totally unfair reasons that makes a playground not level for everyone.


Spare a thought for the deaf

By Phitallis Masakhwe, Sept 23 2009
You have heard it said that some Kenyans are suffering in this country; indeed many Kenyans are suffering in silence!  But, you haven’t seen anything as yet till you interrogate and interact with the world of the deaf to appreciate the real meaning and import of the word exclusion and marginalization. While many countries around the world including a number of African states have made huge progress in making life easier for the deaf population, Kenya’s story is troublesome if not a scandal!  In recognition of the unfinished business with regards to our deaf brethren not only in Kenya but globally, September 21st to the 25th is billed as the International Deaf Awareness Week (IDAW).

The week will be dedicated to showcasing not only the talents and potential among the deaf people, but also highlight struggles and challenges they encounter around the world and Kenya in particular.  Accordingly to the Kenya National Association of the deaf (KNAD) the country’s estimated 700,000 deaf people feel strongly that they are not part of the Kenyan society.  Majority receive inferior education, can’t own or drive a car; cant worship with their hearing counterparts, their language is neither well developed nor recognized in law and finding a job even for those qualified is nightmarish.  

Although it’s a fact that deafness and speech difficult is attributable to malaria, spinal meningitis and mumps, interestingly some folks still think that it’s caused by witchcraft.  And there begins the stigma and related dilemma for those with speech and hearing difficult.  That stigma may lead the deaf child’s family and community not to prioritize his or her education and training; leading to cyclical poverty later in life.  A study conducted in 2007 and corroborated by the Kenya society for Deaf Children (KSDC) revealed that less than 7000 deaf children were enrolled in the only 35 boarding primary and 3 secondary schools for the deaf in the country; St Angela in Mumias,Rev.Muhoro and Kuja.

The same study says that virtually all students training to teach deaf children and teachers currently working  in the said schools are hearing  and uninformed about the deaf culture! They therefore cannot communicate clearly with their deaf students in the Kenya Sign Language (KSL).
As a result KCPE exam results among the deaf are the poorest in the country with the best scoring below 200 marks, “yet nobody raises alarm bells about it, not even the ministry of education officials. What kind of future portends for the deaf with such results? Poses Aska Josephine, a Nyeri based deaf woman activist. “The deaf are neither “dumb” nor stupid as they are commonly referred to and thought of and so with enabling and supporting enviroment deaf students can excel like anybody else”, adds Christine Malobi,the principal of St Angela Secondary for the deaf.

Educational challenges are just a tip of the iceberg of the multitude of issues the deaf have with government and society in general. Take the case of Stephen Wathigo a UK University trained computer engineer who can’t find a fitting job in Kenya is a case in point. He says, “my parents did everything to educate me to highest level possible, yet everywhere I go I can’t find a job that can appropriately utilize my expertise. I have seen my hearing counterparts with inferior qualifications getting plum jobs, so how do you explain my predicament, is it because am deaf?

His challenge alongside others lies majorly in the fact that most employers including places of worship do not hire sign language interpreters as part and parcel of their staffing menu.   Josephine Aska shares that she was hired as an enumerator in Nyeri district in the just concluded national census, but her bosses could not hear her plea for an interpreter. She ended up hiring her own interpreter to facilitate her do the job!

By the way what happened in other parts of the country, were mechanics and budget for interpretation and signing for the deaf planned for?  The enumerator that came to my house did not seem to be comfortable with the question on disability and was not accompanied by an interpreter for the deaf and am just wondering what would have happened if I was deaf!  Given the stigma that surround disability even at the household level, shall we really and accurately capture the number of disabled Kenyans and the deaf in particular through the just ended census, I doubt it!

The deaf are also constantly harassed by the police who think they are obstinate and defiant when they move on after being ordered to stop. And although nothing legally stops the deaf from driving the police think otherwise! Would including disability module /sign language in their training course content help?  And not just police but all legal and other professionals?

Kenya can and should take a cue from countries like Uganda which have recognized sign language in their constitutions, enabling enhanced research and development of the language. Courtesy of good educational policies and planning for the deaf, resource allocation and quality control, Uganda and South Africa has produced some of the most eloquent deaf legislators on the continent. The trouble with Kenya is that we are not just sensitive to each and everybody’s needs, period!

The writer is a sociologist with a physical disability.
mphitalis@yahoo.com


THE KIPLAGAT WE KNOW

By Ambassador David Kikaya, August 7 2009

Bethuel KiplagatDavid Kikaya
Right: Bethuel Kiplagat, chairman of Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission. Left: Prof David Kikaya who has worked with Kiplagat

This last week has seen Ambassador Bethuel Kiplagat’s name crucified on the alter of misinformation and misinterpretation.
The Bethuel Kiplagat that some of us who worked closely with him know, is different from the one portrayed in the media. His track record spanning from his work with Christian Council of Churches both in Kenya and Sudan through diplomatic assignments as Ambassador to Permanent Secretary Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is full of praise.

He has indeed continued with the same trait in his retirement. He continues to be invited to serve on various Boards and Committees both in the private and public sectors.

When Kiplagat’s biography is once written, it will be appreciated that he lay the foundation of what we now know as ‘the Sudan peace agreement’, the rapprochement between us and our neighbours; Somalia and Tanzania and further a field, the reconciliation between Mozambique’s freedom fighters, Frelimo and Renamo. Hopefully we shall add to these accolades the successful completion of the onerous mandate of the ‘Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission - TJRC.

Normalization of regional co-existence at the time that Kenya was being bashed left right and centre was largely thanks to Bethuel Kiplagat, the peacemaker. A few would know that Kiplagat, while serving as Kenya’s Ambassador in Paris laid the foundation that resulted in the first summit between retired president Moi and the late President Siad Barre of Somalia. At this time the aftermath of the Shifta menace had strained relations of our two countries.
    
This rapprochement started in Paris when Ambassador Kiplagat met then Somalia’s Foreign Minister Abdurrahman Barre. The minister was Siad Barre’s brother. Kiplagat impressed on him the virtues of cooperation rather than confrontation. This led to President Moi’s earliest foreign policy shift in 1979. Kiplagat argued that Kenya government was duty bound to protect and embrace its nationals in this former Northern Frontier District.

This had to be done by the government changing from sending battle- ready soldiers and ammunitions to sending, teachers, building schools, hospitals and improving the general infrastructure. That is the Kiplagat we know. He implored the government to avail them employment opportunities in the public sector.

This became a reality. Indeed we have witnessed these Kenyans hold high offices in their own right. Amongst these were; Ministers, Chief of General Staff – CGS, Commissioner of Police, Permanent Secretaries, Electoral Commission, etc.
 
It is noteworthy that while Kiplagat was magnanimously fighting for these rights, some accused him of siding with the Shifta menace perpetrators. Such a link at that point in our tragic history was close to treason. The Kiplagat we know braved this.

It will be recalled that this was a ‘closed’ region during the colonial period. Those therefore going out of their way to peddle fabrications linking him with the Wagallah Massacre are not only ill informed but hell- bent to make him a living sacrifice for selfish reasons. Kiplagat had no coercive forces under his command and neither has he ever been linked as such.

The Kiplagat we know was a mere civil servant executing a mandate that is the opposite of coercive force, the practice of diplomacy that calls for resolution of conflicts by peaceful means.

President Moi inherited a hostile political atmosphere between Kenya and Tanzania. It was so bad that expressions like ‘man eat man society’ and ‘man eat nothing society’, were exchanged willy-nilly. This culminated in our common border being closed. Kiplagat convened an inter ministerial committee to review this hostility. Among the Ministries in attendance were Office of the President, Tourism, Commerce and Industry, Information and Broadcasting.

Heated exchanges took place by the many who wrongly accused him of not being patriotic. Inspite of these he carefully explained why Tanzania, like our other neighbours, was crucial to Kenya. He averred that Kenya had factories while our regional neighbours provided markets. He further concurred with Tanzania’s demand that tourists from Kenya be taken over into Tanzania by Tanzanian tourist vehicles for mutual benefit. This, amongst other, ‘corridor diplomacy’ moves enabled our relations with Tanzania normalized to date. That is the Kiplagat we know.

Further a field, Kenya, through Kiplagat’s ‘quiet diplomacy’ played a major role in the resolution of the intra-conflict of Mozambique between Renamo and Frelimo. The risky and hazardous trips that he made traversing the jungles and swamps of Mozambique in the wee hours, called for a man of conviction. That is the Kiplagat we know.

Those who are in the know will recall that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs reputation was at its highest at this trying period when the country was being bashed. Kiplagat stood his ground on human rights violations, against a formidable force in Moi’s ‘Kitchen cabinet’. He faithfully and candidly gave the government his advice against these violations. He was later to pay for it painfully. Little is known about this, thanks to his modesty and forgiving heart. This is the Kiplagat we know.

So indeed was the case with Kiplagat when he spoke against the misdeeds of the then regime. Younger readers will be excused when they are not aware that because of Kiplagat’s strong stance against violations that he was literally evicted from office at Foreign Ministry. To therefore lamb Kiplagat with the misdeeds of the regime is to add insult to injury.

Few will be aware that there were those in authority pushing for Kenya to recognize regimes that were at variance with internationally accepted norms. Such was the case with Taiwan and Apartheid South Africa. Kiplagat upheld the principles initiated by former Foreign Minister Dr. Munyua Waiyaki.  He admonished proponents of Kenya opening diplomatic relations with apartheid South Africa, retorting, ‘Over my dead body’.  We know how such principled stance cost him dearly, catapulting him into political oblivion.

Kiplagat was no politician then or now. He therefore was no policy maker.  Should all the current leaders in the coalition government who at various times served in the previous regimes be subjected to similar accusations that are now being directed at Kiplagat?  

It  is very easy for one to get a wrong perception of Kiplagat because he epitomises modesty and does not sing of his achievements. Edmond Burke aptly put it that ‘for evil to prevail men of goodwill need do nothing’. Kiplagat did something. He both condemned evil and followed it with concrete actions. Space here does not allow for amplification. Some have been alluded to above.

It should also be recalled that there are many ways of skinning a cat. Kiplagat chose to fight from within while others from outside.  He chose to ‘speak the truth to the authority’. Others chose to confront the authority with the truth. No one has quantified who of the two groups carried the day. All we know is that both helped achieve the changes we cherish in Kenya both at the political and socio-economic levels.

Kiplagat is no Desmond Tutu or a Nelson Mandela. It however cannot be denied that both Mandela and Tutu, in their chosen strategies, contributed to the dismantling of Apartheid in South Africa.

There are many atrocities and abuses carried out by successive government authorities and communities against fellow Kenyans. We still have to be told who were behind most of them. The Ouko murder is a case in point. Kiplagat stands in a class of his own as a senior officer in the Moi regime who appeared before the Ouko Commission.

Kiplagat’s testimony has never been disputed. His family’s cordial relations with the Ouko family are beyond reproach. That is the Kiplagat we know.

Testimony to this is the invitation Kiplagat got from the family to serve on the Ouko largesse. That is the Kiplagat we know. To therefore adversely link Kiplagat with the Ouko murder, however remotely, is a travesty of decency in the extreme.

It thus begs the question, why now?. Is there an agenda that his critics are avoiding to come clean of?


Just what is the cost of Migingo?

Kenya-Uganda ‘Migingo Tussle’: a classic case of geopolitical farce.


By Ronald Elly Wanda, July 10 2009
In the last few months in Eastern Africa, an island barely an acre in size, languishing somewhere in Lake Victoria has been at the centre of a regional row pitting Kenya against Uganda. Both Kenya and Uganda lay claim to the island. The row, according to Joseph Nyagah, Kenya’s Cooperative Development Minister, “has adversely affected operations of fishermen’s cooperative societies in the region”. Similar sentiments have also been expressed by his Ugandan counterpart.

Meanwhile, conflicts over fishing grounds continue to rage around the lake with regular incidents of Kenyan fishermen being arrested by Ugandan and Tanzanian authorities ostensibly for trespassing being reported. Uganda has been requiring Kenyan fishermen to pay an annual fishing licence fee of UShs 1 million (US$ 512) while Kenya extracts a fine (which makes up for a licence) of the equivalent of UShs 5 million (US$ 2564) once Uganda fishermen are caught fishing there. As a concerned East African and more relevantly Pan-Africanist, this situation, to say the least, is laughable. How can we be calling for the unity of Eastern later on Africa as a whole when we still ponder on such irrelevant territorial issues as Migingo?

So contentious is the Migingo issue that both Kampala and Nairobi have decided to ‘waste’ to set up a joint Kenyan-Uganda technical committee to study and demarcate the border. The team, we are told, will make primary reference to ‘authoritative’ colonial texts and constitutions such as the British Order in Council of 1926 that established the current Uganda-Kenya boundary complete with coordinates, pillars and natural features. It will also rely on Schedule 2 of the Uganda Constitution (1995) – which was simply transplanted from Schedule 1 of the 1967 Uganda Constitution, The Kenya Colony and Protectorate (Boundaries) Order in Council 1926, and Kenya Legal Notice No. 718 of 1963, Schedule II Boundaries, Part I, the Districts, 37, Busia District and so forth.

Like the galling sound of the Big Ben timepiece striking ten, I bet their ‘lordships’, that pencilled these cruel and meaningless boundaries that make up the current nation-states in Africa, are busy laughing at what Presidents Kibaki and Museveni are so fiercely trying to determine and defend. 

migingo
Aerial view of the disputed Migingo Island. But just how much does the island cost?

Migingo is a pointless dispute. As I’ve often argued in the past, Africans played no part at all in the formation of the so-called nation-states in Africa. Our boundaries were drawn up by Europeans who had never been to Africa, whose disregard of our existing socio-political systems and boundaries is the sole cause of the current Migingo dispute. In fact, one striking feature that the Migingo tussle vividly illustrates, is that the so called independence we were granted is in actual fact ‘dependence’. The territorial dispute and the references sought to pre-colonial documents (as a possible resolution), indicates a collective colonised Kenyan and Ugandan mindset that is still soaked in cultural imperialism.


The colonial structure of the nation-state in Africa has a lot to do with existing intrastate and state conflicts on the continent. The state in Africa has always been prone to violent as opposed to peaceful dialogue, diplomatic and political settlements of disputes have often been had to come by because African nation-states were in the first instance, artificially built to satisfy colonial interests. The problem today is that this anti-wanainchi political-culture practised expressively by the state has remained largely unchanged decades after ‘independence’. That is why many states in Africa often feel compelled to prove their sovereignty in the negative to those it deems a threat (such as journalists, writers, students, protesters or even other states). This has unfortunately led a large number citizens for whom the state cannot provide basic services to, to mobilise around a kind of frantic nationalism as we have recently seen in Kibera slum in Nairobi (Africa’s largest), where Kenyan youths uprooted a railway line to Uganda in solidarity with their brethrens in Migingo. The incident is thought to have angered the Ugandan president, whose subsequent “mad Jaluos” tribal outburst was interpreted by many observers as a reflection of his frustration with trying to bring Joseph Kony, the LRA leader (of Luo origin) in north Uganda to supposed ‘justice’.   It is ironic, that instead of alleviating its poor wanainchi from hunger and diseases, Kenyan and Ugandan leaderships seem prepared to go to war whatever the cost in human and material terms.   


 Indeed as one respected Africanist has pointed out: “why should two countries with very warm relations in recent years, who are both supposedly committed to further regional integration through an expanded East African Community, who are both members of several regional multilateral organisations (including the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), and the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR)), and members of the African Union go to war or escalate a border dispute to this level?”

As a pan-Africanist and a prospective beneficiary of the amalgamation of East Africa, this tussle is a temporary set back. We should not allow it to be used by those against the union to stagnate or terminate the initiative. Military option that is being chanted out loud by Ugandan and Kenyan press alike is not in wanainchi’s interest or for that matter Uganda or Kenyan leaderships. Had militarism been the finest option, then President Museveni would have annihilated Joseph Kony and the LRA, as he has repeatedly declared for the past 23 years now. This conflict will only be resolved through legal, diplomatic and political means. It is not a sign of weakness to give politics and diplomacy a chance. All conflicts on the continent have eventually been resolved by negotiations. One thing clear, whichever way the Migingo dispute is resolved, it has generated so much distrust and demonstrated that parochial nationalism runs skin deep in East Africa.
About the author
wanda

 

 

 

 

Ronald Elly Wanda MCIJ is a political Scientist based in London.
©
Ronald Elly Wanda, 2009.


Development partners should push for disability equality in Kenya

By Phitalis Masakhwe, July 10 2009

“Not until the creation and maintenance of decent conditions of all men and women are recognized and accepted as a common obligation of all men and women and all countries, not until then shall we, with a certain degree of justification be able to speak of mankind as civilized”, Albert Einstein 1945.

In the early nineties it took the intervention of the international community to break the one party authoritarianism and open the door for plural politics and enhanced respect for human rights in Kenya.  The powerful networks of development partners forced the regime of former President Moi to reform and expand the democratic space. It was reform or no development assistance, period! That is the power and leverage development partners can bring to struggling economies like ours.

A couple of years back, phrases like gender mainstreaming didn’t mean anything to government and even NGO leadership in Kenya, not until the donors flexed their muscles. Child rights, human rights and democracy, environment are just but some of the globally accepted themes and values that were been “forced” on our government and civil society. Today, neither government nor civil society organization can submit a bid to say USAID, DFID, SIDA Sweden and CIDA Canadian without evidently reflecting gender concerns. Certainly no donor that I know of will disburse money to either government or NGO programme if that support will promote or perpetuate child abuse.

And where those seeking donor funding ignore to include and reflect those universally agreed agendas, respective donor  reject those proposal or they are send back for review to reflect those concerns. Inclusion of doctrines like gender parity is not therefore a matter of choice for anybody; it is a matter of life and death! Amazingly, I have not come across a donor that has rejected a request for funding on the grounds that it has not included disability concerns or not shown the extend to which  the proposed project  will impact on children, women and men with disability. Why?  Why not ask, yet majority of the same donors have fancy statements on disability equality on their websites and foreign policy pronouncements!  It is high time donors walked the talk on the principle of disability equality in their local business with government, UN agencies and civil society in general.

The British, Swedish, German, Italian, Japanese or US governments for instance, cannot allow inaccessible public transport on their highways; they can’t allow discrimination in education and employment opportunities with regards to the disabled!  How then can they allow their cooperation, funding and technical assistance to countries like Kenya to be used exclusively or to perpetuate inequality and marginalization? Shouldn’t their friendship with countries like Kenya include spreading the gospel of disability inclusion and equality as it is done in their own countries? Shouldn’t it include broadening human rights and governance to include all including the disabled?
Through acts of omission and commission, Kenya has not yet created nor maintained decent conditions for those with disabilities.

Reflect on free primary education, health care, HIV/AIDS, social protection and related poverty eradication schemes, human rights, judicial, institutional and constitutional reforms including infrastructure developments which are heavily subsidized by donors. How accessible and inclusive are these programmes?
Do the Kenyan donors bother to make sure that they are inclusive and accessible to all, including the disabled?  If not, Why not put conditionality that will force disability agenda on and within those programmes? Why apply conditionalities thinly and exclusively?


Article 32 of the UN convention on the rights of persons with disabilities clearly deals with this issue. “States Parties recognize the importance of international cooperation and its promotion, in support of national efforts for the realization of the purpose and objectives of the present convention, and will undertake appropriate and effective measures in this regard, between and among States and, as appropriate, in partnership with relevant international and regional organizations and civil society, in particular organizations of persons with disabilities”


This should be applied through ensuring that international cooperation, including international development programmes, is inclusive of and accessible to persons with disabilities. This can be done by supporting capacity-building, including through the exchange and sharing of information, experiences, training programmes and best practices. Others should include facilitating cooperation in research and access to scientific and technical knowledge and providing, as appropriate, technical and economic assistance, including by facilitating access to and sharing of accessible and assistive technologies, and through the transfer of technologies.


A quick walk into the offices of any of the major development partners in Kenya will find desks and advisors on virtually everything under the sun, except disability! How can that be tolerated in this era and age, when disability affects more than 3million Kenyans? 
The carrot and stick policy by donors has helped reform Kenya. It has helped lift women out of obscurity to cabinet boardrooms. It can surely and firmly apply to give the disabled greater visibility and consideration in the country’s socioenomic and political landscape.
Development partners in Kenya must be part of the solution to the problems bedeviling the disabled population and not part of the problem as their current silence and lack of tangible actions seems to suggest.
The time to practice disability equality in international cooperation with Kenya is now.
The writer a sociologist has a physical disability.
mphitalis@yahoo.com



Tribute to a fallen Comrade

By Ronald Elly Wanda
Dr Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem for along time was an admired presence within the often fractious world of African politics and the relentless mission of Pan-African literature. As a close friend, I have found it difficult to organize words in a way that truly capture my grief. That said, Kenya’s Daily Nation (that first reported the accident), somehow encapsulated the general mood of all concerned Africanists when it noted that “death has robbed Africa of one of its most illustrious sons”. A native Nigerian, he was witty and intellectually high minded but at times daft enough to appreciate the humour of a young and less known fellow pan-African writer. He definitely was unassuming and gentle.
When I first met Taju, (seen here on the right: photo: majimbokenya.com) my impression was: a chunky, bearded man dressed like an Abaluhya warrior ready for war; he looked fierce and at times frightening. Then his brilliant, ebullient eyes lit up and a huge gap-toothed grin cracked open his face. “I’m pleased you’ve read my book Wanda!” he said, with a well-bred grin. “We now have two things in common,” he added, referring to his book Pan-Africanism (1996) and (apparently) the gap on my front teeth that he perhaps thought akin to his. That was almost six years ago, following an introduction to him by another friend (a former Ugandan [UPDF] soldier) at a run-down pub in north London. We remained friends ever since. And in the course of time, whenever he was in London, he’d either send an email or SMS and we’d meet either at an event he’d be attending or at the Institute of Education’s pub, flanked by the usual suspects, we’d then be updated by him on all matters Africa. In the course of our social and political ingestion, subjects ranged arbitrarily from the price of goro goro (maize) in Kenya to the plight of immigrants in London to the appalling situation in Darfur.
He died on the early hours of Monday the 25th of May. A day that is also known as Africa Liberation Day, according to the Pan-African political calendar, for it commemorates the date (May 25, 1963,) when leaders of 32 independent African States met to form the Organization of African Unity (OAU) now African Union (AU). It is also a day that is used by many of us, as Pan-Africanists the world over, to reflect and gauge the growth and development of Pan-Africanism, a cause to which Taju had dedicated most of his life. An engaging political scientist, he was also a prolific writer and an outspoken debater that candidly believed in African solutions to Africa’s problems.
He was born in Funtua, Katsina State in northern Nigeria on January 6, 1956, where he attended primary and secondary school, later gaining entry to Bayero University, in Kano, where he read political science. He came to international prominence as the first student from northern Nigeria to attend Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar; where he went on to write his PhD on the Nigerian military. 
Mid-1980s was an interesting time for Nigerian radicals fighting military rule in their country and Taju rose to the occasion when he launched various campaigns against military rule and General Sani Abacha’s human rights abuses in Nigeria. It wasn’t long before his activities landed him in trouble with the authorities. He was declared a wanted man by the Buhari/Idiagbon government (1984-1985) and narrowly escaped detention and possible death, under the military dictatorship of General Sani Abacha (1993-1998), Abacha eventually arrested him and had his passport confiscated in 1993. With the help of Uganda, he escaped Nigeria and fled to Uganda in 1994.
Taju’s intellectual mentor while in London Abdurrahman Babu (RIP), a well known architect of Tanzania’s Ujamaa political system and one time Minister in Mwalimu Julius Nyerere’s government, played a significant role in Taju’s election to the Secretary General-ship of the Pan African Movement (headquartered in Kampala), leading him into active association with President Museveni’s “Movement” politics, and Paul Kagame’s R.P.F (Rwanda Patriotic Front) contest for power in Rwanda.  His presence in Kampala, it is noted, enabled him to be a key player in East African politics. He was on first name terms with most Eastern African Presidents, Museveni, Kagame and Zenawi amongst others. On Taju’s death, President Museveni, who fell out with Taju over his strong criticism of the 2005 lifting of the constitutional term limits known locally as Kissanja, (that would have enabled the president to rule the country indefinitely), said he “enjoyed his skilful writings and never had any problem with him.”
In London, he was the founding coordinator of the Africa Research Information Bureau and editor of its journal, Africa World Review. He was also the founding chairman of the Centre for Democracy and Development and co-founder of Justice Africa. In March, my article “The End of the Capitalist error in east Africa?” featured in his widely read usual slot ‘Pan African Postcard’, at Pambazuka, presently the most pulsating journal on Africa. Most editors of newspapers that he wrote for, some of which included The Monitor (Uganda), Weekly Trust (Nigeria), The African (Tanzania), Nairobi Star (Kenya) and the Weekly Herald (Zimbabwe), thought he was also unreliable. “His respect for deadlines didn't exist and he typed as he spoke and thought”, said one editor whilst another added “He simply sent us copy that was unpunctuated, no spell checks - straight off the cuff - a nightmare and yet worthwhile because what he had to say was always pertinent."
He will continue to be a torch of inspiration and encouragement to me both as a fellow political scientist and an African writer (albeit younger). His signature 'Don't agonise, Organise!’ will forever remain a permanent imprint on my mind. The best we can do to honour his tireless efforts in promoting social and political justice in Africa, is to continue exposing the injustice that exists and call for a renewed sense of quality African citizenry. May his soul forever rest in peace.
BORN: 8 January, 1956, in Katsina State, Nigeria. Died: 25 May, 2009, in Nairobi, Kenya, aged 53.

Ronald Elly Wanda MCIJ is a political scientist based in London.


Literary review


Should the Aid plug to Africa be pulled off?


A critical response
 by
Ronald Elly Wanda, April 23 2009
elly“Stars come and go” said William Goldman in Adventures In The Screen Trade. And Goldman was right. Lately in the African literary and development circle, Dambisa Moyo with her new book  Dead Aid: How Aid is not working and how there is another way for Africa, has become one such a 'star'. The book, not to my surprise, has received a very warm welcome within the western academic circuit- that is usually unreceptive to African intellectual contributions.


For instance, one Oxford University don (Moyo’s former tutor both at Oxford and Harvard) reviewing for the Independent wrote: “Dambisa Moyo is to aid what Ayaan Hirsi Ali is to Islam. Here is an African woman, articulate, smart, glamorous, delivering a message of brazen political incorrectness: `cut aid to Africa”. Another well-placed British reviewer continues the flattery: “Moyo cannot be dismissed as a crank. Educated at Harvard and Oxford, she heads the Africa strategy of a major bank. Nor can she be dismissed as a renegade who has rejected her roots. She is deeply wounded by the lack of development in Zambia, her home country”.


Michela Wrong, (a former FT reporter) whose recent book-launch I attended at SOAS, also thinks Moyo’s right. Her book It’s Our Turn to Eat: the story of a Kenyan Whistleblower isbased on narratives of her friend John Githongo, the former Kenyan Anti-Corruption Tsar who sought sanctuary in Britain in 2005 after uncovering high-level corruption in the post-Moi regime. Since its publication, Kenyan bookshops have refused to stock or distribute it, citing fears of persecution and prosecution by the incumbent Kibaki administration. Reviewing for The Spectator (a right wing publication)

Wrong said: “The assumption that foreign aid is an unalloyed good runs so deep in the guilt- ridden, post-colonial West, people are often shocked to discover that many Africans, far from showing appropriate gratitude or begging for more, regard these contributions with both distrust and suspicion”. Concluding: “no wonder this book is causing a stir”. But should Moyo be branded a star simply for causing a stir? Having read her submission, (forgive me) I think not.


Truth, reality and objectivity, it is often argued, mark out the straight road of knowledge and put us on our guard against all deviations. As an analyst with a pan-african posture, whenever reading socio-political texts on Africa, I often ponder on whether the writer managed to make a correlation between Africa’s development and its accompanying social and historical conditions. Thus Dead Aid was no exception. In spite of her “impressive” statistics, Moyo makes no attempt to neither mention nor entertain the possibilities as did Dr Walter Rodney in his classic How Europe Underdeveloped Africa that exogenous factors have and continue to hamper development in Africa.

For instance the conditionalities imposed on the so called “Aid” given to Africa; the culture of protectionism practiced by U.S and EU and safeguarded by the World Trade Organisation (W.T.O); the ongoing core (Western world) and periphery (Africa) relations that constantly disadvantage Africa; and last but certainly not least, the subsequent mind-set of International Financial Institutions (I.F.Is) that subordinates Africa.


For many Africans, particularly women, children and those working in the Jua Kali (informal sector), the social impact of Structural Adjustment Programmes (S.A.Ps) has been excruciatingly felt. Designed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (WB), they have been the framework for economic and social policy in Africa since the early 1980s. Instead of reducing poverty, they have impoverished already poor Wanainchi (locals) both in the rural and urban areas.

The donor community’s insistence that African countries liberalise their markets through privatisation of public enterprises and downsizing of the civil services have made corruption endemic in Africa. According to a recent UN report, Western business interests are at the heart of corruption in Africa, the report estimated that government supported companies pay bribes worth $80 billion a year in order to secure long and short term contracts and other concessions from African governments and at the expense of the voiceless and already poor mwanainchi.


With recent British broadsheets biblically citing Dead Aid and continually amplifying statements such as: “having received almost a $1 trillion in the past 60 years in foreign aid, yet Africans are still worse off than they were during the independence years…”, one somehow gets the impression that Dead Aid has become a fitting kit for the West to justify aid reduction to Africa. Moyo’s prime argument that Africa’s culture of dependency is to blame for its woes (although explicable) is simply not true. Because were we to reverse that argument then one should expect the economies of countries such as Eritrea, Mauritania and for the last 18 years anarchic Somalia, which have received virtually no foreign aid at all, to have improved notably. This, needless to say, has not been the case.

 Therefore aid in my view, is not the problem, the way in which it is structured and delivered is the real problem. The conditions imposed on the aid are so many and in most cases not the right ones. That said, aid alone cannot solve Africa’s many problems, it must go hand in hand with reforms of international trade and financial rules in order to ensure that Wanainchi have a fair chance of benefiting from the wealth of resources that Africa has aplenty.


The timing of Dead Aid is, to say the least, neglectful, especially given the recent US and EU banking systems collapse and the inevitable global financial crisis that has followed, the severity of which will be felt more by nearly 40 million poor Wanainchi as they swell the ranks of abject poverty. According to Action Aid, the crisisis likely to cost Africa $400billion in the next three years alone.  It is this reason amongst others that drove most of us at a recent alternative G20 Summit in London under the banner “Real Financial Fairness”, to call on richer Western nations to maintain their pledge to increase aid to 0.7 % of their respective GNPs as agreed by the U.N, (instead of the current 0.2% that they occasionally give) in order to help poor wanainchi in Africa cope with the impact of the current economic crisis.

After all, how about the immeasurable capital flight that has left and continues to leave Africa everyday? Under current circumstances, Samir Amin’s insistence on “de-linking” becomes more and more relevant and appealing. African leaders ought to start entertaining this possibility with seriousness.
Ronald Elly Wanda MCIJ is a political Scientist based in London.


Mudavadi yet to prove he's a Luhya let alone national leader

maurice khaguli......... ........................................................................................... mudavadi
Maurice Khaguli: Mudavadi must earn leadership..............................................................................................Musalia Mudavadi: No vision or mission

By Maurice Khaguli, Toronto, April 2 2009
What the Luhya people need is strong social, economic and political planning to make them equal partners in sharing the “National Cake.” Not lobbyists for the crumbs that remain when the party is over. Hon. Mudavadi, even after twenty plus years in politics has not proved that he is ready to die for his people. He is not half the politician his late father was. His father’s development record is still unmatched to today.

Other Luhyas who aspire for leadership of the Luhya community such as Ababu Namwamba, Silas Jirongo, Moses Wetangula, Sylvester Wakoli, and Amos Wako have little or no record of developing the community. I do not consider having more than one wife and a litany of concubines’ community development.

Authentic leadership is badly needed for the Luhya community to get its share of the “National Cake.” We need a leader who will not beg, but demand what is ours, bring it home and let it be seen to improve the community. Unity is the first step in achieving this goal. Hon. Mudavadi is too afraid of confrontation to get us what we need. We all know that bullies only back off when you fight back. What fight has Hon. Mudavadi been involved in? Where are the scars and bruises he has received defending Luhyas? Now he says he wants the Presidency in 2012, but he will accept defeat. We are tired of playing second fiddle and we want a leader who will not fathom defeat.

Hon. Mudavadi’s political paradigm needs an overhaul / total make over before he can aspire for that seat. He has not proved that he will protect the Luhya people with every resource he can marshal. He does not make any statements that go against the grain for fear of disappointing his masters. Even novices like Ababu have made their mark in one year. Fighting for your rights will make other people uncomfortable and at times angry, but that is the only way people understand that you will not be cowed down. Hon. Mudavadi is simply not as resolute as he needs to be if he is going to lead the Luhyas and there after Kenya.

Every New day for most Kenyans brings hope. In Western Kenya it is a bitter reminder of the failure of our leaders to deliver on their promises. Luhya people need Healthcare, Infrastructure, and Employment. That is why they have supported self-determination and a Majimbo Constitution. Luhyas were in Majimbo during independence as the late Muliro, Ronald Ngala and Daniel Arap Moi saw it at that time. 

Tribal hegemony, and goodies in the form of tribal districts dished out by Kibaki are being witnessed on daily basis. When the so called elected leaders are seen begging and clapping like intoxicated sycophants whenever the President goes to Western, do they realize how embarrassed we are of them. What we do not see time and time again is any of the promises made being followed through by our leaders.

There’s no single politician who has ever challenged the President or the Prime Minister about road and rail repairs, the rehabilitation of health institutions such as Mukumu, Kaimosi, Musikhu, Mumias or even the building of new hospitals. No single politician including Hon. Mudavadi has taken his or her homeland seriously. You can only see these politicians streaming into western whenever the President or the PM visits. No one is addressing the issue of Majimbo.
Who wants districts in western? Why can’t the president go and give such goodies to his people in Central? Why waste taxpayer’s money on useless buildings for the district administration? We know that these people who come to staff those offices come to collect taxes to benefit certain politically correct areas. You will find that even non-technical jobs will be given to people from outside Western. So how does this benefit us?
 
Hon.Mudavadi has been slumbering and cannot push Luhya issues. He has not condemned the recent killings of innocent Luhyas in Mount Elgon. Our Sugar Factories are mired in mounting problems that are about to choke them out of existence, but is he saying anything? No! Our roads are impassable in most of the Jimbo, but is he doing anything? No! People are dying of hunger because some people are exporting Maize meant to feed his people, but is he saying anything? Hell no! He only visits western only when the PM is visiting presumably to avoid anybody else appearing to be closer to the PM than him. It may also be because Hon. Mudavadi needs Raila to introduce him to his own people. This further proves that he is a good “Toto jikoni.”

Who is he fooling around this time? We already know the plan to hoodwink the people of western as they can see our men in the Diaspora working hard for Luhya interests. No Luhya will unite the tribe without both conflict and its resolution there after. Only leaders who have survived conflict will be able to get the Luhya people to the proverbial “promised land.” Hon. Mudavadi has not survived any conflict, let alone get involved in any. Remember every time we celebrated independence, the late Mzee Jomo Kenyatta reminded us that we fought for independence. It was not just given to us. If Hon. Madavadi is waiting to be given the presidency, he is dreaming.

Our heritage as honest and hard working people is world renown. Why haven’t those values translated into Economic success? We have highly educated professionals that are trusted to run multinational Conglomerates, but this has not translated into us being able as a people to manage our own businesses. During the violence that followed the stolen elections, the Luhya people are the only ones that gave Kikuyus a chance to leave their properties alive. For this, the Kikuyus owe us this one time. They must prove that they are willing to play second fiddle to a loyal partner before they can ever get our support again.

We need a radical change in our politics, to achieve the unity and organization that the other tribes have, before they can trust us to lead them. The era of impunity and pride must be replaced by one of humble service to the community and accountability by all in public office. Unity is a must, not an option. Our new leaders must be resolute and solid in defense of our people. Anything short of this is not acceptable.

Our ideas should be redistributed to our people to meet the challenges of tomorrow, and the stiff competition within Kenyan society. The Luhya people can’t distinguish between political professionalism and leadership by analyzing the modern jobless problems in the jimbo. This   has spiraled from only 61% to 75%. In simple terms, this means that for every Luhya adult, (18yrs and above) that has a job there are three without a job. This is worse than the situation that caused the French Revolution yet we are still waiting for good for nothing politicians to bail us out.

Now is the time, not tomorrow, not next election. All Luhyas must rise and take what is theirs. Our share of the National Cake must come to us or the current leaders must be taken out of office so that Leaders ready to die for their people can take up this mantle and deliver us from bondage. Humility should only be given on a reciprocal basis. You don’t keep smiling to somebody who is choking you. That is the height of insanity. Break the chains of bondage and engage those claiming they can lead.

Hon. Mudavadi was a finance minister, Vice president, and a non-stop full flagged minister since he joined politics and now he is a Deputy Prime Minister. Can he convince the Luhya people that he is going to be an effective President? Hey, Hon. Mudavadi, leadership is about service and results, not about inheritance and stature. You have not proved that you merit the privileges that were bestowed on you by your father’s friend, President Moi.

Hon. Mudavadi has no vision. I see a sinister move and of cause, we see outsiders infusing an agenda to whittle the challenges that are incoming from our well compounded; goal oriented; fiercely loyal; Majimbo focused and well exposed intellectuals in the Diaspora. It is too late Hon. Mudavadi and Hon. Wetangula. The writings are on the wall and however much you try, come 2012 there will be no surprises. You will be history.

Unity will give voice to virtues of failed sub-tribe interest and it will provide distilled, articulate political future in the modern Luhya community. Every Luhya is an equal beneficiary of the legacies left by Wamalwa Kijana, Masinde Muliro, and Elijah Masinde as they struggled the special destiny that we all need.

LERO LUNO!

Maurice Khaguli is the Canadian representative of
Western Kenya Movement For Change- (W.K.M.C.-Diaspora)

(Toronto)


Kenyans optimistic despite poll violence

By SHABANJI OPUKAH,  Sunday, March 22 2009

The post-Moi era was anchored on the national glue of change and a new beginning. Kenyans were energised, optimistic and ambitious. They were all working very hard to recover whatever losses they had incurred under what was clearly one of the most kleptocratic and dictatorial regimes since independence.

And granted, quite a bit was achieved in the five years of Narc; consider, free primary education, the constituency development fund (CDF), revival of parastatals and the significant GDP growth.

It seems all these gains were undermined by among others, the failure of our political leaders to honour the accord they had entered into before the 2002 elections.

The rupture of the now famous MoU spelt doom to the unity and sense of national cohesion and purpose that Kenya had nurtured.

THE INEVITABLE HAPPENED, AND going into the 2007 elections, the country was as divided as never before. Sadly these divisions were not healed by the debacle that was the 2007 elections.

History will judge our leaders harshly for reversing what had started as a rare example of national cohesion and innovative political leadership in Africa. Kenya lost an excellent opportunity. Now is the time to get going once again.

But looking at the current political landscape, one would be excused for thinking that all is lost and cannot be regained. Far from it. Kenyans are still a fairly optimistic and hard-working lot.

Look across Africa and you will find very few countries with such resilient and enterprising people. There are even fewer self-respecting and organised people. Kenyans can go a long way in achieving national goals and making the country a great place to live in, given the right leadership, national values and above all a national ethos anchored on integrity and good governance.

Unlike many other Africans, Kenyans appear able to weather many storms taking things in their stride. They are outspoken but not violent, enterprising and not criminal minded, educated and urbane but not arrogant and focused on personal achievement without undermining national achievement.

There are of course some rotten apples in the national basket that are exceptions to this broad national character — Anglo Leasing and Goldenberg to name a few.

It is time to recast the national slab and proceed to reclaim the recent and ongoing losses. Our political leaders must embark on three national priorities: Reforms, Reforms and Reforms.

The country urgently needs huge reforms across the board, but mainly in state management.

We need reforms in combating corruption, in food production, in national security, in education from primary to tertiary levels, in health, in land administration, in natural resource and environmental management and in service delivery, be it energy, water or local authorities services.

Underpinning all these must of necessity be the reform of Kenyans’ attitude towards leadership and development.

To do that, our political leaders must start by reforming their own attitude towards the people starting from how our political parties manage their affairs, including nominations and elections, and how the leaders conduct themselves before, during and after elections.

It would be a huge national tragedy and an act of utter political naivety to usher in a new constitution which most people now think is the panacea for all the ills afflicting the country, without first addressing the three national priorities.

HOWEVER EXPENSIVE AND WONDERFUL the suit might be, it will never resuscitate the corpse dressed in it. Without reforms, the country would slide back to the same old quagmire and in the end, up in a mess from which recovery may be impossible.

The time is now, and the current political leadership has the best opportunity to change the course of the country in the right direction.

There are only three priorities — reforms, reforms and reforms. That can surely be done as we carry on with the routine affairs of national development.

That is what is known in management parlance as BEHAGS — big, hairy, audacious goals. That is a good national glue for Kenya now and for the foreseeable future.

Mr Opukah is a business consultant.

Source: Nation Newspapers


Is this the end of the capital error in East Africa?


ellyBy Ronald Elly Wanda, Feb 27 2009
At the beginning of last year, whilst at a send-off party in London for a Ugandan friend that worked for Citigroup Bank in New York, I remember a Morgan Stanley employee, so tipsy yet confident of his abilities and apparent access to capital, bragging that he would one day buy the Central Bank of Uganda. “This lot are mismanaging the tills in Uganda. I am going to sort these guys out!” proclaimed the chubby banker amidst some hilarity. At that time the conversations revolved almost entirely on how good the times were.


On the eve of 2009, meeting the same East African expatriates in London and the mood is suddenly sombre and very nervy. You can almost smell the fear. Collapse, catastrophe and calamity this time round seemed to be dominant of all subjects financial.


Recently, I was at Parker Macmillan’s in Barbican, where well-to-do East Africans in the diaspora were busy boozing under the auspices of celebrating all things Bantu. Amidst the sizzling passions and ostentations on display of the most striking legs in the diaspora, the question: “will we survive?” somehow managed to occupy centre stage. One Kenyan banker recently made redundant by the situation summed up the mood to me using Nairobian slang: “Mambo ni Mbaya jama! kwahivyo sahi ni raundi mwenda tuu!” (The going is tough my friend!), staggeringly pointing to his jug of “DAWA”, a cocktail drink that was specially served aplenty on the night.  At nearby tables, punters seemed determined to discuss neither entrepreneurship nor new business ventures but to engorge enough nyama choma (grilled meat) and booze to put ancient Roman gluttons, the so called godfathers of capitalism, to shame. “Is this it?” I remember being asked by a Rwandese friend, a poet now based in London, as I sipped my chilled Chardonnay. So I began.


What if anything, the last few months have demonstrated to us all, even the staunchest defenders of the “free market” philosophy are now agreeing with me, is that the greed-driven neo-liberal system that for so long has been forced upon us has lost its charm and is now both fiscally and intellectually bankrupt. Last October Nicholas Sarkozy, the French President, as if to substantiate what I mean, conceded that “the all-powerful market is finished”; whilst at the same time the then US president George W. Bush faced mounting accusations from his fellow Republicans of being a ‘socialist’-  charged (this time round) with the crime of nationalising his country’s distressed financial system.


The economic situation we are facing, according to a recent Observer editorial, “is as serious as a war”. The total UK personal debt stands at an eye-watering £1.4 trillion, making Rwanda’s  $1.4billion external debt seem like a drop in the ocean, it has however led some analysts here to start calling for a nationwide “credit card amnesty”. Britain’s living standards have already begun falling at a rate faster than any other O.E.C.D (Organisation of Economic Cooperation Development) member states, its GDP per capita of $35,243 (£23, 913) exactly twenty times that of Kenya ($1800) and almost one hundred and twenty times that of Burundi ($300) looks set to reduce significantly.


In East Africa, where our economies are directly pegged into the international financial system has meant that we are directly affected by the squeeze in international liquidity, Stock markets in East Africa are already coming under pressure because of the continuing withdrawal of international capital. According to Professor Njuguna Ndung’u, the governor of Central Bank of Kenya (C.B.K) “projections shows that Africa’s real GDP growth rate is expected to decline from 6.2% to 4.6% in 2009, while in East Africa growth rate is projected to fall from 8.4% in 2008 to 6% this year”. 


Furthermore, the U.N (United Nations) has warned that remittances to Africa, worth $40 billion (which is coincidentally the same amount that Africa receives as Official Development Assistance {O.D.A}) a year could be an early casualty of the ongoing European and American financial crisis. In Kenya as is the case in other East African Community member States, remittances have been a powerful anchor for the economy. In 2007 alone, Kenya received 1.3 billion U.S. dollars in remittances. But the flow is already slowing down.


The decline in remittances has direct negative effects on household welfare given that, unlike other transfers, these remittances are directly used for covering basic needs such education, health and more importantly food. In August 2008, according to the C.B.K, Kenyans abroad managed to send home 36.5 million dollars compared to 44 million dollars which they’d sent in July, a difference of 38 % from what they’d sent during the same period last year. The drop in remittances, and dollar inflow, says the C.B.K, has affected the Kenyan shilling, which is now trading at a three year low.


Elsewhere in Sub-Saharan Africa, where the average per capita income is around $600-$700 in comparison to thousands of times over in the developed nations (for instance US $46,373 or Germany $41,531) the majority of wanainchi (citizens) live on the bottom end of the economic pyramid. Therefore the options for them (wanainchi), unlike their counterparts in the OECD regions where the ‘welfare’ state “protects”, the current financial crisis (brought about by greedy European and American bankers), is not a question of giving up luxuries, it means living in absolute poverty.


The decrease in demand of raw materials from Africa will result in cut down of supply of finished goods from rich nations; this in turn will invariably increase the prices of products. Aid and assistance that the developed countries give to Africa will now also reduce because they are trying to bail out their economies, this means that H.I.P.C (Highly Indebted Poor Countries) such as Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania in East Africa whose budgets are heavily reliant upon aid will suffer allot more. Kenya, although not a officially a H.I.P.C, its economy is import-dependent, and is still nursing the effects of the post-election crisis earlier last year that claimed the lives of 1400 people and left hundreds of thousands internally displaced, has seen its inflation and food prices rise, partly because it relies heavily on the European, Asian and American economies for remittances, tourism and development aid and the sale of tea, coffee and horticulture exports.


Allot has and undoubtedly will continue being written about the current global financial crisis and indeed the state of capitalism.  However, for me, the analyses and commentaries of two imminent social scientists, Alex Callinicos and Dani Nabudere have stimulated my interest. I first came across professor Callinicos’s brilliant book ‘Against the Third Way’ whilst an undergraduate way back in 2002. In the book, Callinicos, who is now professor of European Politics at Kings College London, foretells the financial calamity that lays ahead, his simplifications of complex global politics, I have to say, makes him a master political theorist.  He developed a fundamental critique of the ‘Third way’ philosophy that was so promoted by the likes of Blair of Britain, Clinton of US and Schroder of Germany in the last decade.  In Africa, he links the said philosophy to the likes of the former South African president Thambo Mbeki and more recently by Yoweri Museveni of Uganda. Callinicos argues that ‘Third Way’ governments have continued the neo-liberal policies of their conservative predecessors, by promoting the interests of multinationals through privatisation, thereby allowing social and economic inequalities to continue growing.  Those who want to see ‘real’ change, argues Callinicos, should be challenging the logic of the market rather than, like Gordon Brown and George Bush, extending its domination.


Back in Eastern Africa, mounting food deficits, a sharp decline in living standards and rising energy costs are all tell-tell signs that the impact of the ongoing global financial crisis, has trickled down the East African political vein and is soon bound to also tickle labor unrest- especially given the World Food Summit’s latest worrisome estimation, that for every one percent increase in the price of food, there is an additional 16 million people who will go hungry. The European Union, Britain and the United States ‘s continued demand that African nations in the eastern region of the continent follow their purported “anti-terrorism” and pro-capitalist agenda, is exacerbating conditions for already poor wanainchis  as well as farmers. During the recent G8 summit in Japan, the major preoccupation of these imperialist states was the total isolation of Zimbabwe and the deployment of more military forces to the Darfur region of Sudan instead of dealing with what is already a desperate situation at hand.


Professor Dani Nabudere of Afrika Study Centre in Mbale, Eastern Uganda, as if to reiterate Callinicos’s contention, has also argued that the current crisis lays at the very foundations of the global capitalist system and thus emphasizes that it should be analysed from that angle. “What is at the core of the crisis is the over-extension of credit on a narrow material production base. This is in a situation in which money has become increasingly detached from its material base of a money commodity that can measure its value such as gold”, argues Nabudere. According to the professor, this is why the present financial crisis is also a reflection of the energy and food crisis, because oil and food products such as wheat, rice and other commodities have been subjected to speculative trading to back up paper money many years in the future. In Kenya, the largest economy in Eastern Africa, the tourism sector has already seen a 30% drop from KSh 49.3 billion to KSh 34.5 billion, also export produce such as tea, flowers and coffee have seen huge reductions in their demand, and given the government’s current budget deficit of KSh 127 billion, the future looks bleak.


Meanwhile at Parker Macmillan’s, with my Chardonnay at hand, the future, I told my Poet friend, remains anyone’s guess. One thing that I can perhaps say with certainty about the state of capitalism is that it will never be the same again.
Ronald Elly WandaMCIJ is a political scientist based in London.


Literary Criticism
elly wandaThe Writer and Development in East Africa


By  Ronald Elly Wanda, Jan 8 2009
The history of contemporary political ideas of Africa is a neglected field in the continent and more so outside of it. As we commence 2009, and near the first decade of what the UN has ambitiously termed “Africa’s century”, it is important as Africans to re-examine and discuss our plight in relation to our development. My capitulation as a concerned reader and writer places emphasis on none other than the young African writer, for it is he or she that is likely to stimulate and catalogue development and historical discourses as per se. This is because, when it comes to Africa, where African thought has been studied, expositions of metaphysical systems or discussions of critical or theoretical thoughts belonging to individual Africans are quite rare.


As a political writer, there are many moments that I can recall where I have encountered red-tape under the auspices of “editorial policy” sanctioning me from expressing a certain truth as certain publishers have feared exposing well-known dictators and other high-profile societal wrong-doers in Eastern Africa, often citing their own safety concerns. Concerns which are well-founded.


In East African society today, it is still common place for independent journalists and writers to receive death threats; face intimidation and harassment; face arbitrary arrest and detention; be severely beaten up and or tortured; while media houses risk being raided by state security agents and their publications and media equipments seized and destroyed depending on what they publish. More recently, the Monitor and East African Standard of Kampala and Nairobi respectively have suffered this fate. On the other hand, public media in the continent still remains a monopolised government propaganda machinery; New Vision of Uganda, Kenya Times of Kenya, NewTimes of Rwanda are one such examples of tawdry propaganda sheets.
For decades the need for analysts to look elsewhere for ‘unofficial thinking’, has been the motivation of newspapers and magazines such as the Eastern African Magazine or for that matter West Africa published by Africans for African readers here in the diaspora as well as those back home in Africa.

While I remain acutely aware of my status as a pan-Africanist in the diaspora, my role and that of fellow African writers in foreign shores, so to speak, is to normalize the spirit of promoting positive African intellectualism, in spite of obvious obstacles at hand. For a start, we must pester the corrosive ‘big brother’ culture of gagging African intellectualism for not only does it suppress the truth but it also disbands the very apex of political journalism, that of seeking thy truth and reporting it objectively without fear or intimidation.


In my view, one aspect that has continued playing a strong part against our development has been our history. Although not motivated by professional commitment to historical inquiry, nevertheless, I feel impelled to suggest that the recent past has everything to do with phenomena that are apparent in East African society today. As young African writers, we therefore need to engage with the history of contemporary Africa both as a way of throwing new light on our remote past and as away of understanding the present. For instance, we played no part at all in the formation of the so called ‘nation-state’. Our boundaries were drawn up by Europeans who had never even been to Africa disregarding existing political systems and boundaries. Fifty years later, we were given flags and national anthems, airlines and armies and told we were now “independent”. Five decades afterwards, that independence is now “dependence”.


 Ever since the British government (the chief predator in East Africa) bought into the aid agency view of Africa – “all Africa needs is aid” – it has reduced its capacity to further understand the region. Aid with attached conditions is pointless to Africa. According to a recent study by the University of Massachusetts, there is more money leaving Africa than is going to Africa as aid. It is estimated that the capital flight from 40 African countries from 1974 to 2004 stood at $607 billion in 2004 compared to a total $227 billion external debt owed by those countries. “While the assets are in private hands, the liabilities are the public debts of African governments”, said the report, also pointing a finger at UK and Switzerland as jurisdictions likely to enjoy embezzled funds from Africa.


While the EU has only 23 languages in use, Africa has at least 2,000, and in East Africa alone we have well over 150. So while tribalism is an issue in our society, it is not some weird atavistic African sentiment but a logical result of our “imposed history”. Most people I’ve met whilst in East Africa speak at least three languages, intermarriages are a common thing, and in normal times, there is little personal conflict between people of different ethnicity, thanks in part to a resuscitated and enlarged union of East Africa.


In Africa, the concept of the nation-state has failed us, because it has acted as a cumulative mechanism benefiting certain elites and foreign agents and not wanainchis (Africans). Naturally it is this reason that has led wanainchi, especially those in rural areas with little education, to identify more with their own people, language, culture and society than they do with the nation-state. Therefore, for me, at the risk of simplification, the answer lies in regionalisation. Thankfully, the East African Community is one such work in progress. We ought to laud this initiative as the first stage of setting ourselves ‘free’.


The notion that Africa is post-colonial is hardly satisfactory, not least because of the continuing reference to the colonial past in this epithet. Also unsatisfactory is the suggestion from the former South African president Thambo Mbeki that Africa is now in the age of renaissance of some sort.
As young African writers of newspapers, magazines, blogs, books etc, it is our task to construct a history that we can claim is ours, one that positively identifies the character of Africa in its present age. After all, history can only make its weight felt on living generations through mechanisms or expositions of the information that can become operation. The main task at hand is to inquire into the nature of recent times diligently and, above all, without the burden of past expectations. It may then turn out that, for all the terrible events and formidable problems of recent years, redundant discourses aside; it is an age of the young African writer to impact.

Ronald Elly Wanda MCIJ is a political scientist based in London


Obama: Rejected stone that became the cornerstone


By Ronald Elly Wanda, London November 15 2008

I am still trembling from the griping suspense of watching the so called “Bradley” theory demolished by the Obama phenomenon in the concluded US election. Barack Obama, the Democratic presidential candidate on Wednesday 5th November 2008 secured a resounding victory over John McCain- the veteran Republican candidate, overcoming the country’s bitter legacy of slavery and bigotry, matching straight into history books as the country’s first black president.

Earlier in the year, in a published piece titled “The Contrast of ‘Political Opportunity Structure between the US and Kenya”, I’d argued that one thing that fascinated me the most about Americans was their extraordinary sense of appreciation for ‘newness’- a factor that has so vividly been demonstrated by the outcome of this year’s historic election.

So historic is Obama’s victory in that even the country’s founding fathers, I am sure, would have been astounded by the very suggestion of a black man as the president. Their failure to tackle slavery, which the best of them acknowledged was incompatible with the values of the American revolution, remains the largest stain on their legacy.

However, one thing that perhaps deserves them our commendation is their construction of a flexible constitution that has survived their own failings and has been ‘sustainable’ enough to accommodate a man of immediate Kenyan origin (and undoubtedly many others like him still pending) to stand a reasonable chance of leading the world’s most powerful nation. As a person of African origin, albeit British, I feel immensely proud of his achievement made possible by Washington, Adams and Jefferson’s et al’s earlier sense of constitutional ‘fairness’.

Contrary to what we have in Africa, where constitutions are hardly ever upheld, and in some case scenarios, not even worth the papers they’ve been written on, because certain leaders have felt the need to extend their tenureships through systematic alterations. Yoweri Museveni of Uganda is one such a case in point. A White House snub would thus be his ultimate nightmare and others like him. Conversely, because for such leaders a White House pat on the back has been their ultimate legitimation they’ve need to continue their crimes against African citizenry.


The cornerstone of the assassinated civil rights movement leader Dr Martin Luther King was to elevate black people to a level where they would be looked at as any other person in society. This, he argued would lead to total emancipation from the bondages of slavery and racism that had plagued the black man in American society. Therefore, Obama’s victory is in part, a realisation of Dr King’s powerful “I have a dream” ambition. It is inspirational in nature and psychologically soothing for all men that have, for far too long, been classified as “others”, and whose relevance has been seconded in contemporary political discourses. Political culture in America has changed, the ramifications of which will be forever felt throughout the global political arena. “Change we can believe in and Yes We Can!” Obama’s slogans will be closely associated with this fundamental chasm of newness.

As Professor Ali Mazrui of New York University has recently pointed out in an East African daily: “It is now conceivable that the world may one day witness a Black Prime Minister of Great Britain, or a Black President of France, or a Black Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany.” By breaking the glass ceiling against Black ascendancy in the United States, the Professor said “Obama has increased the probability of Black Heads of Government in other Western countries before the end of this twenty-first-century.”

Elsewhere in Africa, others have been quick to down-play Obama’s victory in relations to Africa’s problem. “Why should America do anything for us? What Obama does should be important to Americans because he is an American citizen”, cautioned Professor Dani Nabudere of Afrika Study Centre, in Mbale, Uganda. And it easy to see why.

Obama comes to office at a time of grinding national and global economic difficulties, and when US is embroiled in two major wars. With these issues demanding his immediate attention, there is a real danger that an Obama presidency may not have much left to pay attention to Africa's debilitating problems that includes abject poverty, diseases, underdevelopment and social progress. Yet we have ample resources, which if properly exploited, could help alleviate wanainchis problems.

Our hopes and expectations of an Obama presidency ought to therefore revolve around us Africans as a people if not necessarily Africa the geography. For in the western prism, Africa has always been much more important than we Africans. ‘Africa’, Chinua Achebe reminds us, ‘is people’. And that is the problem. The philosophical basis from which Africa is approached has never moved beyond geography and resources.  The worst Mr Obama will do is to continue the practice of protectionism. However, I am hopeful that he will extend (AGOA) Africa Growth Opportunity Act, as he obviously has a clearer understanding of Africa's problems than George Bush resultant of his umbilical ties with the continent.
Ends… 
Ronald Elly Wanda MCIJ is a political scientist based in London.


Form coalitions before elections

By Antony Keya, Kericho, Sept 22 2008
After the disputed presidential results and subsequent post election violence, forming a coalition government was the only best option available to Kenyans.Kenyans had executed their Democratic obligation by voting for candidates of their choice.This was within their democratic context in which voting took place and preferred candidates got whatever they got.

The Kriegler commission has just presented it finds and that,according to the evidence so far gathered,they cannot determine who lost or who won the last year election.And I think that they could be right in their verdict.My question at this point is that,"Why should the Kenyan voters be subjected to an exercise which translates in ambiguity".Zimbabwe has had a similar scenario such as the Kenyan one.

The precedence has been already set on this continent of Africa.And I am sure that the trend will continue more often than not. The price payable before this form of arrangement is arrived at is heavy as well as disastrous to common citizens.Deaths,displacement and destruction to pieces of property was beyond measure. And as a result the Mwananchi wa kawaida is now shouldering the unbearable cost of living which can not be justified.All because the top cream in the society disagreed only to agree later after untold suffering on innocent poor voters.

In my on opinion, I believe that the Power-Sharing arrangement should be done well in advance of the actual presidential elections.The period towards campaigns,the would be strong presidential candidates are identified,and in most cases these fellows are nominated by their mainstream parties.Taking Kenya and Zimbabwe as an example, I can correctly assume that, at the end of the day,these main rival candidates will deputize or prime another in a Coalition government crops up eventually.

It is the hope of many people that this form governing and power-sharing arrangement works out successfully.In this case time shall be the best judge. Since post elections crisis has this tendencies of recurring here in Kenya, let there be a legislation by the ninth parliament on the framework upon which power will be shared among the would strong presidential candidates in 2012.

Wishing that all will be well is okay.But let every Kenyans remember that the politics in this land polarized along ethnic line and the playing ground remains crooked. Opinion polls from various poll's agencies can be harmonized to determine the would principles in forming future coalition governments which have overtaken the Democratic verdict of the electorate through fair and free elections.


ODM should elect Ngilu as deputy leader

By Phitalis Masakhwe,September 22 2008
As a young and life member of the ODM party, I feel disappointed by the ongoing squabbles over the position of Deputy party leader in the party. As a party for the future, ODM Party leader should Hon Raila Odinga should resist all tribally instigated demands over this position and appoint a woman for the same. Hon Charity Kaluki Ngilu, a renowned crusader for women rights and political icon in her own right brilliantly fits this position. Strategically that will add a lot of political mileage for the party in terms of gender dimension and regional balance. For ODM to remain a party anchored on reform platform and national outlook there is need to address gender, equity and regional, youth and disability related disparities and concerns in its top leadership and related structures.

ODM has huge potential to become a powerful political machine just like the African National Congress in South Africa, but that can only came from broad based thinking, visionary and inclusive leadership and not tribal, narrow minded and parochial thoughts that seems to be gaining currency in the party over mundane things; deputy leader of the party position. ODM should be preoccupied with winning over those groups and areas that did not vote for it and not who brought more votes on the table much as it’s important to keep its support base intact. How for instance can the party gain a foothold in central province and other areas as part of the national healing and reconciliation process? Appointing Hon Ruto or Mudavadi to the position of deputy leader in as much as we love the two ODM leaders, does not advance the greater good, interests and future aspirations of the party.

What happened recently in Rwanda where her parliament is now controlled by women should be a lesson and wake up call to male dominated political parties and leadership in Kenya. The world is fast changing and so should ODM and other political outfits in Kenya. Further a field we saw what the appointment of Sarah Palin as the running mate for John McChain did to his dull campaign. That move has electrified his campaign among women particularly white women voters, her numerous weaknesses not withstanding.


Plot to remove Mudavadi myopic

By Tom Mshindi, Sept 12 2008
It is myopic and dumb for some ODM supporters to argue that Agriculture minister William Ruto should replace Mr Musalia Mudavadi in the Number 2 position within the party because “the Kalenjin community has sacrificed a lot” and hence deserves a higher perch on the hierarchy than the Luhya community. Dumb because such an argument is glib and weak, shortsighted because the thinking is not strategic.

Would occupying the Number 2 position play any part in winning the ultimate prize – the presidency – and adequately respond to the logic coalitions in politics? It does not answer the question: What do other communities want? No group within ODM should be seen as having played a bigger or lesser role because the objective of the aggressive campaigns in every part of the country was to win, especially those communities in which ODM was not guaranteed support.

So, the Kisii, the Kamba, the Meru and even the Miji Kenda communities are all central to its future success. To argue that Mr Mudavadi be lower down the pecking order, is to imply that people like Mr Omingo Magara, Mrs Charity Ngilu, Mr Joseph Nyaga and Mr Najib Balala should feature only peripherally because their communities did not sacrifice as much as the Kalenjin or the Luhya!

Mr Magara will tell you, this is pure humbug. His people suffered great pain and loss because of the support they gave to ODM and they, in fact, more than anyone else, should be nicely treated when sharing out the goodies, if indeed the senior party positions are rewards to go to the various communities, according to the level of sacrifice each made.

Mrs Ngilu and Mr Nyagah will ask whether their contribution as individuals should be trivialised and indeed, whether more emphasis should not be put on winning over those communities yet to fully embrace ODM? Why, they would ask, should ODM leaders behave like hunters that see the end of their assignment in the killing of the animal, rather than warriors who see one successful battle as a learning experience to feed into the next battle? For avoidance of doubt, a combined Luhya vote is numerically superior to the Kalenjin vote.

The message to the Luhya leadership is that review your strategy to take full advantage of the numerical strength at the national level. Only those communities – Kikuyu, Luo and now Kalenjin – that have internalised this basic political truism will continue reaping from it as the tradition of coalitions entrenches itself in Kenya. But back to the ODM issue – what is the party’s key motivation?

Clearly, capture and retention of absolute political power in 2012 and beyond. It will achieve this partly by how well it is seen to execute its responsibilities within the Grand Coalition government, and significantly, how well it builds the tribal coalition that forms the party. How it conducts its party polls will provide a useful insight into its game plan. Rather than make Mr Mudavadi and other ODM leaders and their supporters uncomfortable by classifying them as inferior, the party leadership should be thinking about how they can position him and others to leverage even wider support from their communities.

Support from two communities is good, but support from more than three numerically significant communities is infinitely better. ODM should also be looking at keeping political power over the long run and hence planning to involve the communities at all levels of public affairs management long into the future. In this way, they avoid the short-term, corruption-prone worldview that plans its relevance over a brief period and hence seeks to maximise whatever rewards it can accrue from a position before it is removed.

Source: Nation Media


DIASPORA TALK
A Question of Morality: Kenyan man says he pissed in English tea


By Ronald Elly Wanda, August 26 2008
What a dramatic Sunday I’d had. First, in the early hours of dawn a bizarre SMS landed on my GSM reading: “I’m preg.” I’d had a cushy evening during the latter part of the weekend and understandably as you would expect, I didn’t take much notice of the message until much later, when I’d delicately detoxed with a rescuer’s cup of Kenya’s finest KETEPA pride that the communication sunk in. Following a brief and panicky inquiry, it turned out that it was Mary, an Irish girl living in Londonderry (Northern Ireland) who’d mistaken my digits with those of Tunde, her intended Nigerian recipient (presumably her boyfriend) also supposedly living in London.


Nevertheless, my delight was obvious, having been exonerated from Mary’s shocking excitement and Tunde’s apparent paternity, I did not envy, even for a moment, the bigotry and culturally calculated intolerance that awaited their interracial domiciliary in today’s pretentious yet Brutish Britain. Determined not to let the episode halt my usually habitual Sundays, later that afternoon, I caught the Piccadilly line and meandered London underground exiting at Marble Arch, I then legged it through to Hyde Park and I arrived at my intended destination- Speakers Corner.

I’d come here to witness British freedom of speech in action.  I dissected several speeches by various characters, some of whom included an Islamic woman rumbling about hijabs; a bearded white man arguing for European protectionism; a hard-looking, mixed-raced woman on the masculinity of feminism etc. However, it was the last speaker, I must confess, that engrossed me the most.   It was an interesting Kikuyu-looking gentleman (fair skinned, decayed teeth, hairless, short, wearing a green buttoned sweater), who’s subject was the depredations of imperialism. “I tell you”, the Kenyan mwanainchi proclaimed. “When I slaved on the tea estates during the Emergency, I did my bit to help my brave brothers in the bush fighting imperialism. Yes I did!” Referring to the legendary M.A.U M.A.U (Muzungu Aende Ulaya, Mwafrika Apate Uhuru) movement in Kenya.  “Do you want to know what I did?” he asked us.  Of course I (and I imagine the rest of the congregation) wanted to- we were transfixed. “Every single sack of tea that passed through the shed where I worked I pissed on it. Yes I did, I pissed in it liberally, and satisfied that it would be ending up in your mouths!”


Amidst the civil laughter that ensued from the crowd, I couldn’t help but think the old man had a strong point. He played a crucial role against British imperialism, however minuet others might consider his contribution; the key thing is that it had an impact- it left a bitter taste in the mouths of the colonial hooligans  who consumed KETEPA at the time…


Later, I allowed the old man’s dialogue to encircle my mind as I commuted northbound the Victoria line. Disembarking at Seven Sisters and eventually settling at the East African living room (The Three Crowns), hopping to unwind with the ideal formula of relaxology.  I mean a warm Tusker- with the Observer- as well as African music bouncing politely on the background.


My mathematical configuration didn’t last long. It was abruptly interrupted by a loose Kigalian Interlocutor. The character rumbled endlessly like a mad politician at Kamukunji grounds in old Nairobi. A few months back, this personality suffered embarrassment after she was accused of husband- snatching and home wreckage by a Tanzanian who was once her best friend. Naturally, she expected me to respond “aah, bambi, sorry!” It was not to be, much to her disappointment. .. “Where is the morality in her application?” I wondered. Affairs are an emotional botox. They make you feel better about yourself in the short term, but leave an ugly mess in the long term. What a day! ...

Ends…

The writer is a political scientist living and working in London.


New constitution must address disability issues

By Phitalis Masakhwe, August 22 2008
Addressing at an international conference on constitution making in Nairobi, recently, Kenya’s principals, President Mwai Kibaki and Premier Raila Odinga for the umpteenth time assured Kenyans that they will get a new constitution, most probably next year 2009. And they better rise to the occasion and truly facilitate statesmanlike role that will lead to the delivery of this much sought after document. Their place in the annals of Kenya’s history will to a great extend depend on how they divorce personal and sectarian interests and patriotically guide this process.

These our leaders have a constitutional moment, courtesy of the scuffle that bedeviled the country after the ill-fated 2007 poll. They therefore have to strike now when it is still hot or should forever keep their peace! If there are Kenyans that feel impatient and rattled by the procrastination that has attended the delivery of a new constitutional dispensation, that group is none other than Kenyans with disabilities, they need this document like yesterday! Why do they want it and what are their issues that they want firmly entrenched in the supreme law of the land? But, even before that, what are their views with regards to the review process so far or how do they want the process to proceed, if indeed it has to be seen and judged to be inclusive, together with the final product?

After the publication and tabling in parliament of the Constitution of Kenya Review Bill, 2008 by Martha Karua, Minister for Justice, National Cohesion and Constitutional Affairs, members of parliament are expected to commence robust debate on this issue when they return from recess, early October. Hopefully, this issue will be accorded outmost priority leading to the development of a clear roadmap with inbuilt measurable and time bound targets and benchmarks that will effectively complete the long overdue review process. But, first things first.

Kenyans with disabilities must be involved and included at every step of the review process; for no one other than themselves can best identify with and articulate their concerns in the process. In this regard it would make sense to demand that the so called committee of “experts” as espoused in the review bill, article 6 (1) should include an expert with a disability. This expert with a disability will hold brief and negotiate for the disability fraternity and ensure that their interests, including the enormous gains that the group got, especially in the Bomas Draft constitution are not tampered with by anyone. Out of sight out of mind and so persons with disabilities will not take it kindly to any attempts to once again marginalize them in this life and death process. The current constitution of the republic of Kenya is exclusive, insensitive and even abusive of Kenyans with disability.

It does not outlaw discrimination on the grounds of disability, as it does for instance, on religion, race, and gender, name it. It does not in fact have the words persons with disability in all its phrasing except under the penal code where it refers to those with mental disability as “idiots and imbeciles” Now you see why persons with disability have issues with the ultimate law of the land? The same constitution has a clause that outlaw inconsistency or opposition to it by any legislation or subordinate law. In this case, Kenyans with disabilities are not out of the woods, as yet.

Even though Kenya has the Persons with disabilities Act 2003 and has indeed ratified the UN disability rights treaty which awaits domestication into her laws, all these initiatives can be rendered null and void, if they are found to be in conflict with the existing constitution. The need therefore of a new disability friendly and enabling constitutional architecture, upon which the entire policy and legal framework can be anchored, cannot be overemphasized. Persons with disabilities want a new constitution that appreciates and recognize their varied means of communication.

They want the state to promote the development and use of sign languages, Braille and other appropriate modes of communication for persons with audio, visual and other impairments. Persons with disabilities should have a right to receive information through their languages and modes of communication and should demand for public information to be provided in such formats. Our national values, principles and goals should ensure full participation of women, persons with disabilities and all other citizens in the political, social and economic life of the nation. This provision will ensure that the state is guided by national values that are non-discriminatory and involve all persons including those with various forms of impairment. The bill of rights in the constitution should ensure that Persons with disabilities are entitled to enjoy all the rights and freedoms spelt out in the Bill of Rights, and fully participate in society. Some of the examples include but not limited to:

• Ensuring that planning and resources are allocated taking into account various circumstances and needs of the Kenyans with disabilities. • No discrimination by the state against anyone directly or indirectly on any grounds including disability. • Introduction of affirmative action to mitigate any disadvantage occasioned by any type of discrimination at any given time including disability. • Special protection for children with disabilities by state and society.

• Provide for treatment of Kenyans with disabilities with respect and prohibit use of derogatory or demeaning terms.

• Ensuring access to information and all educational institutions and other public facilities, including transport.

• Recognize and require use of appropriate communication for persons with disability and access to devices that will enable overcoming of constraints occasioned by disability.

• Ensure effective participation of disabled persons in decision-making processes at all levels.

• Establish equal treatment of Persons with disabilities on equal basis with others.

• Require legislation and policy measures to ensure enjoyment of the above rights by Kenyans with disabilities.

The question of political self representation is key to the overall empowerment of Kenyans with disabilities. A new constitution should be comprehensible on the issue. Long and short of it is that Kenyans with disabilities want to be in parliament, local authorities and other grassroots planning and decision making organs. They therefore wish to see unambiqous paragraph and mechanisms in the constitution and electoral laws respectively, on how that shall be realized. It could be via temporary measures such as affirmative action as it obtains in Uganda, where we have special interest groups’ constituencies or mixed political party proportional representation as in South Africa. Kenya’s experience is interesting though; political parties here are not exceptionally keen on voters with disabilities, hence the South African model may not help much, especially in the interim period.

In South Africa, the ruling African National Congress (ANC) for instance deeply values the disabled people’s constituency and has nominated a record 21 persons with disabilities to the South African parliament! After last year’s election, no Kenyan with a disability was picked by a political party to represent their interests in parliament. Other areas that persons with disabilities will want addressed in the new law include their visibility in financial management, procurement of public goods and services to ensure the protection and advancement of persons or groups previously disadvantaged by unfair competition or advantage. This provision should provide for affirmative action for persons with disabilities in procurement and disposing of public goods and services as it happens in the United States of America.

You cannot win US Government business/tender without detailing the extent to which your business will ensure that accrued services and products will be inclusive and accessible to Americans with disabilities among other marginalized groups. Last but not least the new law should ensure that the public service including all constitutional offices represent Kenya’s diverse communities, persons with disabilities and minorities and marginalized groups in their composition at all levels. Kenyans with disabilities should be employed at all different levels of the civil service. Currently this representation is almost nonexistent especially at the top levels.

The writer, a sociologist has a physical disability and regular commentator on disability rights and development. He works for Leonard Cheshire Disability-International. He can be reached on Phitalis@lcd-enar.org/mphitalis@yahoo.com


History as Kenya ratifies disability convention

By Phitalis Masakhwe, August 13 2008
On the 19th of May 2008, Kenya made history by becoming the 27th country in the world, to ratify the new international law on disability rights. The convention on the promotion and protection of the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities got the required 20 countries’ ratification on the 4th of May 2008, thereby effectively coming into force from that date. This is indeed historic moment for the more than 650m disabled people around the world. Historic in the sense that it has taken great struggles and intense lobbying and negotiations spurning over decades to get the world to appreciate and recognize disability rights as essential and integral part of the large family of human rights.

But, why disability rights when we already have a plethora of human rights instruments?  Persons with disabilities have overtime suffered discrimination socially economically and politically, existing human rights instruments notwithstanding.  Disabled girls and women continue to be hidden; raped and denied education, yet the convention on the rights of the child and one on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women have been with us for such a while now. Parliament and other organs of decision making around the world are conspicuously missing disabled peoples representatives while we have very strong protocols and treaties on people’s participation in planning and decision making.  That then partly makes attempts at explaining why the new comprehensive and integral international convention on the promotion and protection of the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities. A convention that Kofi Annan, former Secretary General of the United Nations described thus, “This is a historic achievement for 650 million people with disabilities around the world. People with disabilities have hitherto lacked adequate protection and I hope that this long overdue convention will mark the beginning of a new era in which they will have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else. I urge all member States to ratify the convention and ensure its rapid implementation.”

So what is the significance of the signing and ratification of this treaty by Kenya or those countries that ratify it for that matter? What are the implications for the country and to the more than 2m Kenyans with various forms of impairments? Does the ratification herald a new era or the continuation of the status quo?  I wish to submit that it can’t be business as usual with disabled people, never again!

For beginners, one thing is clear. We must note, that this is not, the first time that Kenya, has acceded to but not done much in terms of domestication and implementation of such an important piece of international law. That indeed the disability rights treaty may not be an exception, especially when one analyses past government responses and actions with regards to those amidst us with disabilities. That then calls for constant vigilance and policing from the disability fraternity and from all men and women that truly subscribes to the ideology of inclusion. That is only way that persons with disabilities will live and enjoy the benefits of the new treaty.

It is therefore important for the government to focus on domestication and implementation of the convention in order to translate this treaty into reality and to change the landscape for disabled persons. This calls for putting in place the machinery that will operationalize this process. Rafts of recommendations to guide this process are essential. This includes but not limited to the following:

  • ·         The establishment of the National Committee for Implementation of the convention on the promotion and protection of the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities (CRPWD) as per Article 33. This will form the focal point for drawing the road map and ensuring implementation, monitoring and reporting to the UN. This committee must however, not be just another committee, but a serious secretariat that is well structured and resourced.
  • ·         Nomination of a Kenyan to the UN committee on the rights of persons with disabilities as established under Article 34 and support to the development of a strong disability movement through exploring the support of international development assistance and cooperation as established in article 32.
  • ·         Immediate commencement of a robust national awareness programme to sensitize Kenyans, including disabled Kenyans on the contents and import of convention; a process which should be spearheaded by government and heavily involve and systematically seek the cooperation of media both public and private.
  • ·         Enhancement of the partnership with stakeholders including the government, UN agencies, NGOs, donors and the private sector to ensure coordinated and  maximum implementation of the convention.
  • ·         Introduction of a strong motion by the Kenya government to the UN general Assembly seeking for the establishment of a UN programme on disability in the ranks of UNICEF and UNIFEM for effective leadership, accountability, coordination, financing, implementation and monitoring of this UN treaty on disability rights. It is not by accident that specialized agencies of the UN such as UNAIDS, UNEP, WHO exists. They serve to galvanize the UN around those issues and ensure that they are integrated and mainstreamed within its policies and programmes around the world.

The UN has shown, in it’s response to the worldwide HIV/AIDS problem that affects close to 45 million people, that it can act quickly and effectively to tackle global issues.  It established UNAIDS as a global secretariat to coordinate international support on the issue, including specific in-country actions with regard to HIV/AIDS.  It has also held summits with heads of states and governments to discuss the issue and actively work to combat the issue.  Evidently, when it wants to it can act.

Why, therefore has it failed to act on disability?  Does it not see disability as an important issue?  Yet how can this be when over 650 million people worldwide are disabled, over ten times the number of people affected by HIV/AIDS?  This is not playing down the impact of HIV/AIDS in the world and the importance of effective programmes to combat it, but it seems a valid question to ask considering the number of people living in poverty as a direct consequence of their disability.

How can the UN justify having specialized agencies and funds on almost every key global issue of today apart from disability?  We regularly hear and read about the state of the world with regard to the environment, children, poverty and women, for example.  But where is the report on the world’s disabled people?

I therefore urge caution as we go about celebrating the coming into force of this treaty and Kenya’s ratification of the same. A lot of hard work still remains a head.

The writer a sociologist with a physical disability is a regular commentator on disability rights and development. He is a senior Manager in charge of Resource Development Advocacy and Campaigns at Leonard Cheshire Disability LCD-ENAR regional Office and can be reached on Phitalis@lcd-enar.org/mphitalis@yahoo.com   


KENYA – A WAY FORWARD

Statement from the Executive committee of ODM-UK on the Amnesty Debate in Kenya

London, June 12 2008
Soon after the country descended into anarchy, following the disputed  presidential election  in December last year, there were still people who felt that  the way forward in restoring peace was through a judicial process.  This view was wisely declined by the Kofi Annan team, which took the political angle, and, within two months salvaged the country from a deadly quagmire.  The post-election cabinet was dissolved and the new political angle took shape in the form of a Grand Coalition Government.  An aura of normality was restored among Kenyans.

The Amnesty Row Continues to rage daily within the Grand Coalition.  This sensitive issue of huge political significance is causing a great amount of political turbulence and appears to potentially threaten the stability of the Grand Coalition.  The rising tide of animosity generated as a result of this never-ending row is fuelling political ‘venom’, which, if not dealt with, is likely to ‘poison’ the life of the Grand Coalition.  Since this is such a delicate matter of great magnitude that is capable of wrecking the coalition, it thus demands an urgent political solution to prevent any future carnage to our beloved nation.

It is now recognized that a prudent way forward for Kenya is through National Dialogue and Reconciliation. The success of the Grand Coalition hinges upon reconciliation. The same principles of dialogue and reconciliation should be applied in dealing with those accused of participation in post election violence. While we accept that those who are guilty of serious crimes must not go without punishment, we are also concerned that the judicial process has been abused. Nothing has apparently been done to charge the accused in court as per the law.

Justice delayed is Justice Denied!  This is why the Amnesty row is entirely a political issue which should be addressed by the Grand Coalition chiefs in order to find a political solution.

It is against this background that the Orange Democratic Party UK - independent of but affiliated to the Orange Democratic Party of Kenya - demands an urgent political solution as opposed to judicial intervention.

It is therefore vital that this sensitive matter which is tinkering with the survival of the Grand Coalition ‘be nipped in the bud’ by the two main Principals - President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga.   This Amnesty row should be resolved as a matter of urgency before the country degenerates to the same state it was in five months ago.

We as concerned Kenyans in the Diaspora urge the President and the Prime Minister to accord this matter the attention it deserves due to its sensitivity - before it’s too late!


 

ODM UK’s role in the Diaspora
We wish to restate that while we are an affiliate of ODM, we are not a branch of the political party.  ODM is registered under Kenyan law, while ODM UK operates in the UK, and is subject to UK law, and must therefore abide by UK law.
We are Kenyans who will not shy away from participating in the wellbeing of our motherland, Kenya. Currently, we are happy to be associated with the party's manifesto.
We acknowledge that ODM is the majority party in Kenya, both in Parliament and among the voting public. Nevertheless, our support for the party does not prevent us from offering constructive criticism as and when due, and for the wellbeing of Kenyans.
We are committed to playing an increased role in shaping the future of Kenya for the benefit of Kenyans in the coming days.
ODM UK National Executive Committee is currently comprised of the following:

  1. Chairman – Isaac Aluochier
  2. Vice Chairman – Musa Ndengu
  3. Vice Chairman – Gatheru Rwamba
  4. Secretary General – Ezekiel Mengech
  5. Deputy Secretary General – Rodgers Orero
  6. Treasurer – Gillian Raini
  7. Deputy Treasurer – Frank Nzioka
  8. Organising Secretary – Maina Kanyora
  9. Deputy Organising Secretary – Hezekiah Owili
  10. Publicity Secretary – Thomas Musau
  11. Legal Secretary – John Otieno
  12. Youth Secretary – Laura Opondo
  13. Member – Patrick Ondire
  14. Member – Alice Were

Raila should treat Kibaki with caution

By Fred Chesebe Kapondi

The sacrifices by Mr Raila Odinga for this country were prompted by last year’s General Election. Knowing that we were besieged, he gave up legitimate claim to the leadership of this nation and submitted to the Grand Coalition Government. He has further downplayed the portfolio imbalance in the Cabinet. The appointment of permanent secretaries stands out as the biggest betrayal.

I fear that Raila’s insistence on resettlement of Internally Displaced Persons, despite the discomfort of his national political constituency and his apparent trust in the Kibaki administration may be nudging him towards paying the ultimate prize - political suicide albeit with patriotic intentions.

As an honest reflection on the life and times of the Prime Minister, a look at his historical processing and packaging, a recollection of the many who have fallen by his ideological wayside and those who have perished in our march to a better Kenya, two things must be said in his honour.

Mungiki leader, Mr Maina Njenga, asked his followers to ‘give Raila a chance to do his part for this nation’ when the PM extended an olive branch to the sect, bringing their violent acts to a stop.

The other is a statement made in honour of Senator Barrack Obama by an American white politician as ‘a once in a lifetime leader’. Raila alone stands a chance today of rising to those heights of honour.

After my release from prison, where Mount Elgon IDPs are now packed in hundreds, the media rightly quoted me as singling out Raila as my inspiration. This was inspired by his rise to prominence through defending the public good and leadership, despite being a consistent opponent of and victim of the state.

Those elected to Parliament often warm up to the establishment. But Raila is an exception. Like a fully grown Elgon tick which takes years to mature, he must be protected. The PM is a rare instrument in our toolbox, and I fear that political pangas are being maliciously wielded in his direction by certain leaders.

It has been said that ‘in a besieged fortress, dissent is treason’. Kenya’s torn national fabric, the prevailing social conflicts exhibited by the Mungiki and Sabaot Land Defence Forces menace, the imbalance in regional development, crime and the overall breakdown of security make this country a fortress under siege. This knowledge is at the moment the preserve of those in ODM who have done all in their power to protect the fortress.

We have sacrificed elite gains through loss of positions and finally, the President wants us to sacrifice our constituents. Our discomfort as affected MPs is being considered a threat to the physical integrity of the fortress. How can the President embrace peace at the national level and agitate for resettlement of IDPs as he continues to kill and create more IDPs through an illegal military operation in Mt Elgon? How can he expect our cooperation?

Raila does not seem to realise that this is a fault line in the ODM comradeship.

So far, we have demonstrated appreciation of the situation we are in as a country. To guarantee survival, rejuvenation and continuity, a government has been reconstituted in a manner informed by our historical experiences. This is despite the portfolio imbalance and the controversial regional representation in the Grand Coalition Cabinet.

Compromises have been made and we have transformed our disgusting electoral crisis into a heroic project. Our country is now considered a laboratory in which an antidote for the cure of political conflict is being developed, and truth be told, we have tried.

We have similarly distilled our national agenda items to a few guiding beacons and benchmarks of performance for us all under the grand coalition. These include the need for a Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission, the National Peace Accord and a new constitution.

The new-look government, led by the two principals, should have given us hope especially the overall mix that boasts of vision, youth with sufficient education and perhaps experience. The level of mass awareness and the recent crisis play the natural twin roles of providing checks and caution.

Founding President Jomo Kenyatta is widely quoted to have advised the Kikuyu elite not to let the presidential motorcade cross River Chania.At the time, this may have been his way of saying that Kibaki was not his competent successor. Kibaki’s leadership style has been, in our circumstances, better in that he has more belief in delegation of power and responsibility, than his predecessors.

His conservative background and disposition aside, that quality makes him a useful president in the current situation, if he can share the view that we are in a fortress under siege.

The writer is the MP for Mt Elgon constituency


Conspiracy to isolate disabled Kenyans

By Phitallis Were Masakhwe, April 23 2008
Finally the much hyped Grand Coalition Government has been formed. Forty ministries have been established, ranging from Forestry and Wildlife to Nairobi Metropolitan. Forty ministers and over 50 permanent secretaries and technocrats have been appointed to drive the new, so called, reformist government.

But as usual, disabled Kenyans are shining with their absence and the word disability does not even appear anywhere in the long list of government portfolios. Disability does not seem to be a word that exists in our Government’s vocabulary.

All this despite a spirited media campaign and representation by the disability community. So, what is next for Kenyans with disabilities? Where do they go from here? What must they do for the Kenyan government to listen and hear their pleas? Are they talking to a stone?

Kenya with disabilities are at a historical crossroad. They are at loss, confused and feel that their country does not want or need them. That is a feeling that hurts badly. If Kenya and its Government does not recognise them, take them seriously or even want them, where should they go? Where should they turn to now?

Idi Amin Dada, the infamous former president of Uganda is alleged to have rounded up Ugandans with disabilities and dumbed them in Lake Victoria. As primitive and inhuman as these acts were, this man was at least honest with disabled people. He did not hide his disdain for them! He was brutally honest. Obviously nobody is excusing and blessing the obnoxious acts by the self-styled king of Africa, but times do not seem to have changed much since then.

Closer home, Kenyans listened with disquiet as former President Moi once wondered aloud as to what we would tell God about “allowing” the likes of late Dr.Oko Ooko-Ombaka, a visually impaired MP to lead. Never mind that Dr. Ombaka, despite his visual impairment, was ably serving as the Vice-Chair of the then Constitutional Review Commission. We still witness these sorts of abuses on disabled people on a daily basis. Street beggars with disabilities are often rounded up and hidden away whenever a major event, particularly one that involves foreigners is planned. This happens all over the world.

But, for how long can Kenya and the world allow this to continue? Why did the world unite to fights so hard to end slavery, apartheid and other inhumane systems? When we have come so far in terms of social justice, why allow such blatant prejudice and institutional discrimination against disabled people to continue?

Disabled people worldwide, and in Kenya in particular, are still considered second-class citizens. What is the Kenya Government’s honest view on disabled people? A sore, a nuisance? If not what can they show for it? Why not just own up? Why the pretence?

The Kenyan Government has established ministries, offices and departments on virtually everything under the sun, except, of course, on the more than 3 million Kenyans with disabilities. It seems to be able to appoint anybody to public office except disabled women and men! It can allocate resources to cater for the protection and survival of fish, trees, and monkeys, but not the disabled population. This must be a real special country! How can it enforce marine and wildlife policies and not see the value of the implementation of the Persons with Disabilities Act 2003?

I am not for one underestimating the value and sanctity of wildlife and our natural heritage. They play an important role in a modern Kenya and contribute to our economy by attracting tourists and visitors. But how can we forget the potential economic contribution and well-being of over 3 million disabled Kenyans?

One of the reasons why Africa continues to be poor and backward continent is the fact that the ratio of people who depend on others for survival is disproportionately higher than on any other continent. Human resource development continues to be skewed and exclusive, leaving a lot of people unprepared for, and excluded from, economic development.

By deliberately excluding disabled people in mainstream development, the Government of Kenya is not taking poverty eradication seriously. By excluding disabled Kenyans from public policy, the Government is slowly “breeding more poverty” as people with disabilities have to rely on others for survival. With this kind of thinking, the Millennium Development Goals (MGDS) and its own vision 30 and others remain just pipe dreams.

It is impossible to realise these goals without due consideration of the needs of all men and women; otherwise known as engendering the development process. Disability issues must be mainstreamed in the planning and execution of a country’s development process. If for instance the President says he wants to see 30% of all public appointments and especially those to do with planning and decision making to be women, one would be keen to see how many of those women would be women with special needs.

One would also like to hear the Government’s policy on such major public appointments with regards to Kenyans with various forms of impairments. Disabled Kenyans cannot just be bystanders, onlookers or passengers! They need to be given a chance to take a place in the driving seat.

Having had their demands for more visibility in Government go up the smoke, disabled Kenyans must now go back on the drawing board. They must retreat to a serious soul searching and reflection period. They must reassess and re-evaluate their engagement and advocacy strategies.

That is what black Americans did, it is what black South Africans did and indeed what women did in their long quest for recognition and emancipation.
If dialogue, petitions and writings like these cannot help move governments and the world what else can they do? What is missing in their advocacy jigsaw and strategy?  Could they be pressing the wrong button and engaging the wrong gear? Is the disability community too naïve and too saintly in their engagement? Could it be that disabled people need to do some rattling of the cage?

Maybe the disability movement needs to learn and borrow a leaf from some of the most successful freedom movements around the world. They may have to bring in civil disobedience or other mechanisms that can reinvigorate the struggle and get people to listen and seriously engage them. In other word it cannot be business as usual.

Man has learnt to shoot without missing and so the disabled must learn to fly without perching. They need to collaborate and network more with those in power, the international community in Kenya, media, the larger civil society, which at the moment is conspicuously quiet about their agenda, private sector players and development partners. Women for instance had to globalise their agenda to receive the attention and recognition that the Kenyan Government gives them today.

With the new UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities coming into force this May, Kenyans with disabilities must seize the moment to petition and engage the international community to apply sanctions and pressure on the Kenya government to stop discriminating on the basis of their disability. That pressure could be the spark needed to spur and galvanize Government into action.

It can be done and must be done. For somehow, someday, they shall overcome!  Kenyans with disabilities must do this or face extinction. 

 

The writer, a sociologist has a physical disability. He is a senior Manager with Leonard Cheshire Disability, East and North African Regional Office and a regular commentator on governance and disability issues. The views expressed in this article are, however, personal. mphitalis@yahoo.com. 


 

Kenya ready for Majimbo

By George Wajackoyah, March 12 2008
It is good resonance to note that our political system has been sick since independence (read the Ndungu report and Mama Ngina Kenyatta’s ill gotten land which is equivalent to Nyanza province). One must also refer to the 1963 agreement between the then Kenyatta government and KADU where the late Hon. Ngala was promised that the Coastal people’s land would remain under their autonomy. Later, the late Jaramogi had to tell Kenyatta in his face that he was a land grabber. Jaramogi was banished for ever and Ngala died in mysterious circumstances. The Waswahili tribes became squatters and probably this could have been one of the reasons that they voted for Raila and Majimboism. Many of these people are also refugees in the United Kingdom and I have represented their asylum cases on many occasions in the UK.

The Kalenjins are second on the list. Both Kenyatta and Moi grabbed and dished farmlands that were left by the Europeans to their friends and relatives rendering the majority of them landless. Even though recent clashes where innocent people died on both sides (the Kalenjins killing the Kikuyus and Mungiki killing other tribes) was all but a reaction due to land issues. The land demarcation in Mt. Elgon is another big issue and the current bombings and killings of peasants by the Kenya army should be condemned wholesomely. People are tired of a few individuals who thrive on corruption and it is perhaps good for Kenyans to be given a chance to debate on Federalism. Three to four years could be a good time framework. I am glad that Hon. Ruto has suggested that the issue of land be addressed comprehensively with resettlement of victims of violence.

  The five year development plan is constituted by very few individuals at the center of power. They appease the west by inaugurating development projects that sometimes fail to take off the ground. People continue servicing foreign debts without accountability and good governance. We need  a devolved structure which will be organized along Majimbo lines, cater for basic necessities such as health care, clean water, affordable schools, micro-economic structures in terms of light industries to contain rural urban migration, cultural identities and moral ethics, reduction of crime and drugs and self realization and sufficiency, pride etc. Land grabbing, ethnic manipulation, inequitable distribution of resources, nepotism and corruption, systematic salary increases, lack of regional and structural adjustment programs based on collective sharing of knowledge could be worked upon and improvised with talented skills which are available on the market. The politics of one finger (centralism), the culture of Mungiki, and tribal mediocrity of our own son or tribe and so forth has been sleazed beyond human comprehension. Majimboism (federalism) is increasingly becoming a new world order as it is detaching itself from the central axis which has been crippled by corruption. Equity requires clean hands. Kenyans are crying for accountability.

Kenyans have rejected the centralized and corrupt system of governance. It does not require one to be an academic or learned to understand these basic concepts. The ruling class is composed of professions and yet they have failed the country.  The questions that need asking are: can we learn from the successful micro-economic revolution in Bangladesh? Are we not a great country with vast virgin lands, water resources, beautiful animals and a good people? Have we not shared classrooms, teachers, worshipped dinned and wined together without identifying ourselves along tribal lines, can we rise above ethnic lines and build a market friendly atmosphere? Why did Kenyatta, Moi, and Kibaki (and who perhaps knows whether Raila…) create tribes, theft and hate? If federalism has worked in the rest of the world (please note the recent devolution of power in the UK where the Scottish and the Welsh held a referendum and overwhelmingly voted for their assemblies respectively) one may realize that all this was done to devolve political and cultural autonomies for generic efficiencies. The European integration on the other hand was initially constituted to fight the Russian influence. After the fall of the Soviet Union, the Europeans realized that the only way to check on Russia’s influence would be to build a strong economic and political manpower. Since corruption cannot be wiped out by the central government, I take this opportunity to congratulate Raila and Kibaki for understanding the importance of devolution of power.

George Luchiri Wajackoyah is an adjunct professor of comparative constitutional and criminal law at American Heritage University in California.

Kenya is ripe for a Constitutional Court

By Prof George Luchiri Wajackoyah, March 10 2008
At least Hon. Kibaki has done what he ought to have done.  However, I have a few suggestions. In order to achieve neutrality, I suggest that devolution of our political system should be tailored along the Indian, US and perhaps the South African systems. Kenya should be divided into nine or ten States each with an elected State governor complete with political autonomy similar to the Cantos in Switzerland. Foreign and national security should be left to the federal government with its seat in Eldoret a strategic city which will do well for the capital. Nairobi should remain the commercial capital, whereas, Mombasa and Kisumu the port cities. Nairobi is currently congested with a miniature of economic activities that favors the economic output of central and eastern regions.  We should borrow a leaf from Nigeria and learn from its experiences with Abuja.

Kenya is ripe for a Constitutional Court. South African constitutional court has served as a neutrality to check the balance of power between parliamentary and state action as far as fundamental issues are concerned. The same thing occurs here in the United States where, the United States Supreme Court has often invalidated State actions that interfere with fundamental rights protected by the constitution. There are various examples that Kenya would borrow for guidance. The Kenya Police Act needs an absolute overhaul. The Act allows the police to thematically and systematically abuse the very rights that they are mandated to protect. The police can stop, search and arrest anyone without probable cause. Here, this would violate the FOURTH AMENDMENT right requires a search warrant which might be accompanied with probable cause unless exceptions apply.

It would be prudent if we copied bits of the Indian Constitution and the sabbatical ruling of the Supreme Court of India. The Kasavinanda case as presided by Justice Bagwati eliminated locus standi. In that case, the Supreme Court overtook parliamentary role when it ruled that one need not to have an injury in order to sue. This ruling opened and widened the gap giving rights to non parties to sue on behalf of the injured something that would not happen here in the United States. One can imagine how many wrongs imputed on Kenyans by state agents but for the stated reasons above, injury contuse to occur.

Kenya should have three ties, metropolitan, rural, urban or city police.  A diversity police college should supplement our traditional GSU and Kenya Police Colleges in Kiganjo. The Diversity Police College should be manned by a group of civilians where subjects such as law, psychology, philosophy and morality should be taught. This would weed out the Macho teachings of Kiganjo. I trained in Kiganjo twice and the instructions there were too colonizing with the Afande mentality. In the alternative, Kenya is ripe for a police university where police officers should be encouraged to pursue a degree in police work including intelligence. The Department of National Security Intelligence spends millions of shillings on training its personnel overseas. This process is flawed and rife with nepotism where a selected few and high ranking officers are given the privilege…….. (to be continued).

George Luchiri Wajackoyah is an adjunct professor of comparative constitutional and criminal law at American Heritage University in California.


DISABLED PEOPLE NEGLECTED IN THE GRAND COALITION

By Phitalis Masakhwe, March 6 2008
Last week Kenyans and the international community alike applauded the power-sharing deal between ODM and PNU, brokered by Kofi Annan. Over the next few months we will see what is likely to be the most comprehensive policy, legal and constitutional reform in Kenya for 45 years. This is the time for the political parties to stay true to their election promises and act decisively for the rights of over three million disabled Kenyans. For too long have they been sidelined in favour of other interest groups.

When the ex UN-Secretary General  Annan arrived to mediate the political situation he set out terms of reference. First were the short term issues such as cessation of hostilities and violence. Second were the political issues around the disputed election. Finally, were the long term issues, the root causes of what triggered the violence. These were historical injustices, imbalances in access to resources and opportunities, inequalities, exclusion and poverty and unequal distribution of land.

The root causes, centering around poverty, exclusion and inequality all affect disabled people far more than non disabled people. For example, disabled people are twice as likely to live in absolute poverty than non-disabled people. Because they lack access to appropriate education and work they are forced to sell or beg on the street.

Disabled people experience oppression, discrimination and violation of basic human rights on a daily basis. Most disabled people, regardless of their age, gender, where they live or disability type are prevented from making decisions that affect their daily lives. They are treated unequally and with disrespect by their families, communities and public authorities.

If the long-term issues facing the country discussed by Kofi Annan and the mediation teams are to be resolved, this must stop. Disabled people must be included in the solution. We therefore firmly urge the political parties to prioritise disability rights in public policy and government and firmly anchor the rights of Kenyans with disabilities in the constitution. The following steps need to be taken urgently:

Move disability issues to a cross-cutting government department

The currently under-funded and lowly regarded disability desk at the Ministry of Gender Sport, Culture and Social Services should be moved to the Office of the President or a newly created Office of the Prime Minister. The latter will be more appropriate since it will be tasked with coordination and supervision of government departments and ministries.  Disability is multi-dimensional and cross-cutting agenda that cannot be pigeonholed in a single ministry. All policies and procedures enacted by government have an impact on disability and as such it should be taken seriously by all ministries.

This progressive measure will give disability in Kenya much needed visibility, resources and political good will. It will also enhance its monitoring across all government ministries. Alongside this, the new government should appoint a disability advisor to provide technical backstopping and advice to government, the president and premier. This model operates well in a number of African countries such as South Africa, Senegal and Namibia.

Fully implement the Persons with Disabilities Act 2003

The Persons with Disabilities Act 2003, has been in place for almost five years, yet, very little progress with regards to implementing and enforcing it has been made. For example, section 22 of the Act says that ‘A proprietor of a public building shall adapt it to suit persons with disabilities…’. Section 23 says ‘An operator of a public service vehicle shall adapt it to suit persons with disabilities…’. This has not been enforced and new buildings are as inaccessible as ever.

The Act also stipulates the establishment of the National Development Fund for the Disabled (NDDF) whose income should directly go to disabled people; to support them engage in enterprise development and poverty reduction schemes . No such fund has been established.

According to Section 39 of the Act, ‘All television stations shall provide a sign language inset or sub-titles in all newscasts and educational programmes, and in all programmes covering events of national significance.’ This has not happened.

With regards to equality of opportunities, the Act says ‘No parent, guardian or next of kin shall conceal any person with a disability in such a manner as to deny such a person the opportunities and services available under this Act.’ However, this is still common practice all over Kenya today.

In Section 12, The Act exempts employees with disabilities from income tax to help mitigate the extra costs that disability present: ‘An employee with a disability shall be entitled to exemption from tax on all income accruing from his employment.’ This is not enforced.

Implementing and enforcing the Persons with Disabilities Act 2003 is a necessity if we want to create an inclusive and accessible society. It must happen now.

Finalise the development of the National Disability Policy

Finalise the National Disability Policy (NDP) and put in place mechanisms towards the ratification and domestication of the new UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Very little work remains with regards to the completion of the disability policy, yet it has been put on hold.

Ensure that disabled people are given positions of influence

People with disabilities should be given effective participation and representation in planning and decision-making organs. Special interests can only be guarded by those directly affected and so inclusive policies and legislation will only be implemented if persons with disabilities are involved.

We would wish to see persons with disabilities employed across board, but also  appointed as permanent secretaries, to constitutional offices, foreign service, parastatal and to planned review/reform committees. This is will be a great incentive and motivation for parents of disabled children to take them to school. Why educate disabled children who nobody will employ?       

Free education for children with disabilities

A major contributing factor to the higher levels of poverty and deprivation among disabled people is their lack of access to education. For example, in developing countries children with disabilities, especially girls, are five time more likely to miss out on education than their-non disabled counterparts.

Many parents of disabled people choose not to educate their children due to the costs involved. As a result, the new government should make education for disabled children free and compulsory, in boarding or non-boarding and private or public schools.

Amend the constitution so that it does not discriminate against disabled people

The Kenyan constitution contains provisions that could be seen to discriminate against disabled people. Section 12, for example, says that ‘a person who is incapacitated by reason of physical and mental infirmity while exercising the functions or office of the president should be removed from that office’. This could imply that people with intellectual or physical disabilities cannot stand for president.

Section 34 (c) says that for a person to qualify as a member of the national assembly, he or she ‘…must be able to ‘speak and read Swahili language well enough to take an active part in the proceedings…’. We do not know whether sign language is also a ‘language’ within the meaning of the Constitution and whether Braille is also ‘reading’.
Affirmative action initiatives such as creation of special interest groups constituencies in the constitution will fast- tract political representation and participation by disabled people.

These measures are essential to ensure that the lives of disabled Kenyans are improved and to enabled them to contribute and play an active part in society. They are also essential if the new government are going to realise the long term goals of creating a just, healed,inclusive,equal and prosperous nation as envisaged by Kofi Annan.

The writer, a sociologist has a physical disability. He works for Leonard cheshire disability East and North Africa regional office based in Nairobi. Contacts: Phitalis@lcd-enar.org 


45 year struggle for justice

By Shad Bulimo, London Feb 29 2008
Although the country is in a celebratory mood following the signing of a power sharing accord between President Mwai Kibaki of PNU and Raila Odinga of ODM,  spare a thought, just a thought for thousands who perished in the last two months of senseless political-cum ethnic violence that engulfed the country following last year’s botched presidential election results. The wounds are still far too fresh to be wished over and those orphaned, widowed or simply robbed of a brother, sister, father, mother, auntie, uncle, must still be hurting even to fathom the ramifications of yesterday’s peace accord.

Families are torn asunder, ripped apart at the altar of tribalism. Hundreds of thousands are languishing in refugee camps and to Kenyan lexicon has been added the term IDP (internally displaced person). Dogs of war have taken over and machete wielding pick axed gangs are roaming the land establishing fiefdoms based on the rule of the jungle. It’s a chaotic life which 19th century English political theorist, Thomas Hobbes described as too nasty, short and brutal. 

The violent visitation on the God fearing Kenyans must surely be a piece of historical accident as Tanzanian president, Jakaya Kikwete put it yesterday.  After several decades of oppression and dictatorship under Kenyatta and Moi, Kenyans have matured politically and nothing was going to stand in their way to achieve justice “shoot-to-kill” fiats notwithstanding. Yes the price for yesterday’s historic accord is over a thousand dead and at up to 500,000 persons displaced. But if we must die, let us die not die sheep; slaughtered without a whimper.

Nonetheless, it is to these bereaved, displaced and disillusioned families that our hearts must reach out to. The message surely must go out that the dead of now are martyrs in a long line of political struggle for justice that started 45 years ago and which along the way has seen killed heroes like Pio Gama Pinto, Bruce Mackenzie, Tom Mboya, Ronald Ngala, Argwins Kodhek, JM Kariuki, Robert Ouko, Bishop Alexander Muge and just last month ODM MPs Mellitus Were (Embakasi) and David Kimutai Too (Ainamoi).

As part of the national reconciliation and healing process, the names of these individuals need to be immortalised and inscribed on some national monument so that like the fallen unknown soldier, the future generation shall know that the freedoms of speech, assembly and political persuasion that they enjoy without let or hindrance came at a price and as such should not be taken for granted but protected like the gates to heaven. We cannot bring back the dead but in their memory, a national fund should be set up to provide basic sustenance and support to the families of these political martyrs. It is pointless to talk and look straight into the future without acknowledging the past or at least learning from history which has vital lessons that can inform better choices for our future endeavours.

The Kofi Annan brokered deal is a culmination of the efforts of all those whose lives were cut short fighting or agitating for better governance, equitable distribution of resources and equal access to economic opportunity. That journey has lasted 45 years somewhat nudged along by our friends in Africa and foreign lands of America, Europe and Asia. Those who started this journey in the early sixties like the late Jaramogi Odinga Oginga are long dead and it’s to their memory and courage that yesterday’s power sharing accord should be dedicated.

For sure change will not occur at a stroke of a pen. The forces of evil, tribalism and corruption are far too powerful. However as Kenyans we can again rise above ethno-centrism and think Kenyan first and tribal second. We can earn respect across the globe like our Tanzanian neighbours if we begin to think and act national. But first a few rituals are needed to exorcise and intern the ghost of tribalism that so permeates through the fabric of our society. This accord is an historical achievement for which all men and women of goodwill across tribes should support.

Shad Bulimo is the editor of www.abeingo.org, an online portal of the Luhya community.


Think Kenyan first, tribal second

By Rose Ochwada, Feb 29 2008
We may not be in Kenya, but we in the diaspora deserve to give ourselves a pat on the back. If nothing more, just for the fact that our constant Correpondences and actions through demonstrations and lobbying put that much more pressure on the demagogues who kept referring this very serious
situation to the 'Courts of Justice' knowing very well that these 'Courts' do not dispense justice especially not in an African political impasse.  The international community not recognising the stolen election was the biggest endorsement of our cause.
 
The first major step towards creating consolidating our nation has been made, and we must humbly thank the efforts, and indeed the determination of Kofi Annan.  He made it clear he was not going to give up and now we know why he was the most successful UN Chief ever.  He had a team worthy of
the role they were given.  Respect to Mama Machel, President Mkapa and the entire mediation team. Not least amongst these is the ODM team who were constantly provoked by Mama Intransigent who has now rendered herself irrelevant to the whole agreement. 
 
Mama Intransigent had the best opportunity to promote herself as a leader whose focus is beyond tribal.  Instead, she was so drunk with power, she started hurling insults at everyone and anyone. Starting with ODM, the British, Americans, and incredibly enough, ending with a display of total 
disregard for the work Kofi Annan and his team set out to achieve.  Which was not for his benefit, after all he has already established himself as a respectable diplomat, but for the sake of peace in Kenya, and the credibility of Africa as a continent capable of having governments that are more interested in the well being of the entire nation as opposed to a small political clique.  My sympathies (tongue in cheek) to this lady (I shall still refer to her as a lady since I believe she just misled herself as to how much power she had), because she has lost international credibility and local respect.
 
We have a huge task ahead of us.  Many of my friends and former colleagues in Kenya are now looking at their neighbours differently because they now wonder if they see them as Kenyans or as Luos, Kikuyus, Luhyas etc.  I believe some of the steps necessary to restore trust amongst Kenyans include drastic steps such as:
 
1  Banning of tribal radio stations.  They played a major role in raising tribal tensions which resulted in ethnic violence
2  Promoting Kiswahili as a language of national unity.  One only needs to look with envy at Tanzania.  The late President Nyerere's policy of African Socialism may have failed (and this by his own admission), However the great man left behind a legacy unsurpassed in any othe multi-ethnic African country.  He left them unified by Kiswahili.  Tanzanians think in Kiswahili first and then any other language.  They are the closest we have to and intergrated and cohesive society in Africa.  We need to learn from the best and take it from there.  We need   to encourage Kenyans to identify first as Kenyans, then as Luhyas, Kikuyu or whatever.
3  Regional relocation of Government Departments. Agriculture should be based in the Region of its major activities.  The same applies to Toursim, etc.  We should even have some Departments headquartered in Garissa, they are, after all, Kenyans as well.  That way, no part of the country will be feel neglected and jobs will be provided in the said Regaions both by direct and indirect employment (via spill over effects). 
4 Equitable distribution of National Resources.  You only need to try and drive from Mombasa to Busia/Malaba or Garissa to appreciate the deliberate neglect of infrastructure.  The number of deaths on these roads speaks for themselves.  Why do we not have a dual carriageway on a road that serves the major parts of the country?  Why does the dual carriageway only reach just outside of Nairobi while the heavy traffic continues up to the
 National boarders?  This is a major cause of discontentment because majority of Nairobi residents come from upcountry but travelling there is a near death sentence.
5 Revival of a National Rail line.  The British left us with a thriving Rail network.  How long are we going to continue blaming the British for our failures.  45 years after independence and we still blame the British for tribal animosities? What have our leaders done to eliminate these feelings?  More importantly, how much are they to blame for our tribal animosities.
 
I could go on and on but we all have a clear idea of what needs to be done.  Let us keep lobbying for the right thing to be done. The one positive aspect of this whole terrible crisis is the expansion of our networking.  We are now sitting at one table and discussing matters of national interest that lie very dear to our hearts.  We all have a role to play.  Let us maximise it for the betterment of our nation.  We have been given a lifeline no other African country ever had.


Majimbo is best for Kenya

By Dr Eusebius J. Mukhwana
I read with interest the articles by Macharia Gaitho (Daily nation, February 5, 2007) and William Ochieng (Daily Nation, February 18, 2008) about what Kenyans want and what their leaders give them in return. But the question that they both ask but they do not answer is “is majimbo a solution to the current Kenyan political problems”.  The problem with power in Kenya today is that it is concentrated in the hands of a few elites (nay tribal chauvinists) that are determined to keep it to themselves at all costs, including human deaths. I have watched Kenya trying to develop a new constitution over the last 18 years without success because of the country being held hostage by the ruling class. It has been a classical example of the struggles between those who have and those who do not. In the end the former have always “won” because they complicate the matter by bringing in their tribal followers and thereby compounding a fairly simple problem. We have seen the bomas draft, Kilifi draft, Naivasha draft and so on, but at the end of the day we are still stuck in the mud with no new constitution. Over the last 10 years we have had the Kiplagat commission, IPPG and Now IPPG 2, and yet we still have the same document that we started off with in 1992, a whole 16 years ago. And it seems to me like we are still prepared to continue going round in circles.

When Moi was in power, Kibabi and his team were busy fighting for a new constitution. When Kibaki came to power, he promised to give Kenyans a new constitution in 100 days. This was never ambitious because, already the bomas draft at that time was almost ready. But, once Kibaki was in power he became the main saboteur to Kenya getting the new constitution that Kenyans wanted. He wanted to give us his own which Kenyans rejected during the referendum in 2005. What does this tell us?, that the leaders and Kenyans know the constitution that we all need, but those in power try to pent in to favor them. Unfortunately it is these kinds of games that have now landed Kenya into the trouble that we are today.

I have been to Australia and South Africa where “majimbo” seems to function well. The argument that parts like North Eastern province will be disadvantaged by “Majimbo” is both sterile and stale. Even the people of this province themselves want Majimbo. It is easy to pass a law that each of the 8 or 9 other states will contribute 5% of their revenue to the disadvantaged states (s). The advantage with majimbo is that people will be given power to govern themselves, plan their priorities as well as projects and implement them. The national Government can then play a quasi-supervisory role of making sure that resources are well utilized, projects implemented up to standard and even reward those states that respond well to the wishes of their people while punishing those that are performing badly. The current situation where projects are planned centrally, implemented centrally, monitored centrally is not only time wasting, but encourages corruption and skewed distribution of national resources.

My submission is that Kenya is ripe for “majimbo” and we need to give it some serious thought on how it can be implemented.  It is unfair to have 60% of all our national income concentrated for example in Nairobi, alone. Leaving the rural areas impoverished and in the process encouraging rural-urban migration and proliferation of slums in our major urban centers. Majimbo will allow Kenyans to ventilate their problems at their own level, plan projects that can address their problems and put in place structures that will enable them get where they want to go. Funds such as CDF should then be channeled through these regional states, rather than tying them around one man or woman called an MP who then calls the shots and continues to look down and even harass poor local people, deciding for them who can and cannot sit on the CDF committees, deciding which projects can and cannot be funded. Can you call this devolution?  My belief is that Majiombo will partially sort out some of the problems that we have such as inter-tribal competition, the land issues, inequalities in distribution of national resources and so forth.

It is my submission that Kenya is ready and ripe for majimbo and anybody standing in its way is deluding themselves. What we need is to move the discussion to the next level where we can debate the kind of majimbo that we want that will serve our people and bring prosperity to all Kenyans.

Dr Mukhwana is an agricultural specialist. Email: ejmukhwana@yahoo.com


Yet to see a Luo business in Kikuyuland

By Nancy Mburu, Jan 17 2008

A colleague had a chilling experience. A boy, 14, who is her neighbour, stabbed her daughter, 11. The woman, too, shocked confronted the boy’s parents, who were perplexed by their son’s behaviour. The children are from two communities that have been engaged in violent clashes following discredited presidential election results.

This is how far we have taken this thing. Politics is a poisoned chalice. The hate propaganda we sowed prior to the General Election has yielded fruits. Instead of watching the grandstanding and tribal chauvinism with wry amusement, we have become active participants. The Church, civil society, scholars and the legal fraternity are split by ethnic-inspired politics. We have become suspicious of each other. All we care about is tribe and political party.

I hate to imagine that I might lose friends simply because they are from the ‘enemy’ tribes. I hate to imagine I might start looking at Chirchir, who washes my car differently. Yet I trust Chirchir, who is polite to a fault, with money more than my Kikuyu brothers. I hate to imagine that I will no longer revel in those theme nights with friends simply because they are from other communities.

We were duped. Politicians exploited tribal biases, working them to a feverish pitch, resulting in mayhem. That is why we need mass action of olive branches, lest we slip into the doldrums of a failed State. But then there is a cry for justice and truth. And what is that truth and justice? It is said violence would still have erupted even if another leader had been declared winner. There has to be a deeper reason some communities feel disenchanted to gang against another.

It all points to the much-touted historical injustices. For instance, why do other communities feel the Kikuyu dominate the economy? Is it because the community members are aggressive in business and owning property in any part of the country? And is it because the Kikuyu are accused of not being accommodating?

I am yet to see a Luo or a Kalenjin who owns property or a successful business in Kiambu, Murang’a or Nyeri. I also get dismayed when I hear Kikuyus make derogatory remarks about other communities, and insinuate that their language and way of life are superior. Yet I learnt in linguistics class that no language is inferior. If its speakers can express themselves and communicate effectively, then the language is complete, no matter how ‘unpleasant’ it sounds.

Governments have perfected the art of nepotism. When Kenyans voted for Kibaki in 2002, they expected radical change. But disillusionment soon set in. We began hearing reports that some regions received more resources than others, and that the President and cronies had rewarded their kin and relatives with plum Government and parastatal jobs.

The Government has failed us miserably, by creating the impression that a community has to have its own in the presidency so they can get a share of the national cake. Given that we are 42 tribes and the Kikuyu and Kalenjin have served their tenures, we have 40 tribes to go. If each tribe served a term, it would take 400 years for the presidency to go round. Is this how long it will take us to realise the democracy of tribal equality?

We have to come up with a less myopic solution. We need radical change, to ensure there is equality and justice, such that never again, would a community be punished for the sins of a power elite clique. We need laws that fuse merit, tribal balance and affirmative action, so that nobody, in any corner of the country, will ever feel left out again.

We need laws that ensure anybody can live and own property anywhere without intimidation. We need laws that fuse capitalism and communism, to address the glaring gap between the rich and the poor.

Source: Standard


FRIENDS CHURCH IN KENYA     REG. NO. 13113 PO BOX 465 KAKAMEGA
RELIGIOUS SOCIETY OF FRIENDS (QUAKERS)    

 



“You are my Friends if you do what I command you” (John 15:14)                                                                                                                          

 

8th January 2008

PASTORAL LETTER FROM FRIENDS CHURCH (QUAKERS), KENYA.

“Righteousness exalts a Nation, but Sin is a disgrace to any People” (Proverbs 14: 34)

TO THE LEADERS OF THIS NATION

His Excellency the President Hon. Mwai Kibaki
Hon. Raila Amolo Odinga

Receive Greetings in the Name of Christ Jesus.
At this time, of pain, horror, sorrow, suffering, insecurity in our beloved country, We as Friends Church in Kenya, being a PEACE church, are deeply concerned for the safety of ALL Kenyans and friends visiting Kenya during this time of Political and Social Instability. May we start by referring to our Quaker values which have guided us over the past four centuries.

Quaker Peace Testimony
“We actively oppose all that leads to violence among people and nations, …. Refusal to fight with weapons is not surrender. We are not passive when threatened by the greedy, the cruel, the tyrant, and the unjust. We will struggle to remove the causes of impasse and confrontation by every means of non-violent resistance available. We must start with our own Hearts and Minds. Together, let us reject the clamor of fear and listen to the whisperings of hope.

Our Principle is, and our practices have always been: ”to follow after righteousness and the knowledge of God, seeking the Good  and welfare of humanity and doing that which tends to the peace of all”

As Friends Church, our Goal is to have a Peaceful Society anchored in and as a consequence of the process Truth, Righteousness and Justice (Ps.89v14).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Our basic Principles and Values that under-gird our concerns compel us to make this call to you, our political leaders.

These include:-

  • Truth:       
    •  Truth is critical to the establishment of legitimacy for the political class, that is, presidency and the opposition, if they are to enjoy the loyalty and respect of all Kenyans. This can only be achieved if the objective truth is that the Elections were “Free, Fair and Transparent”. For us, “the Spirit of Christ, which leads us into all TRUTH, will never move us to Fight and War against any person with outward weapons, neither for the Kingdom of Christ nor for the kingdoms of this world”. (Luke 22:49-51), (2nd Corinthians. 10:4)

 

  • Peace and Justice:
    • Kenyans are sad, angry and disillusioned today. We call on all parties to look back to 30th December 2002, when all Kenyans collectively celebrated the “hope” of a united democratic and prosperous society.
    • We call on all people “to object to everything which leads in the direction of war, preparation for it or supporting it! Our faith challenges us as to whether we are now ourselves to become a divided people, swept along by the streams of mistrust and fear, arrogance and hatred which produce tensions in the world; or whether by our own decision, confidence, and courage, we can become a bridge linking those elements which promote truth, justice and peace.”

 

    • This battle is not about ethnicity per se, rather it is about economic injustice, and the youth across the board bear the brunt of it.  There is an icy gap between them and the older age. There was hope and expectation that this nation would be steered towards a more democratic, united, just and prosperous society, where development would be experienced by ALL hardworking Kenyans. That hope was rekindled, with their participation in the just ended elections and the youth in particular saw the possibility of moving forward for the betterment of their lives. They feel “cheated. They are expressing anger that the rich are getting richer, while the majority are living on less than one dollar a day. “A hungry person is an angry person”. Justice is what they long for.
  • Simplicity:
    • Quakers believe in modesty, serving humanity in love and harmony. In Kenya, there are gross inequalities in terms of sharing the scarce opportunities and resources. The rich are “Very Rich”, while the Poor are “Very Poor” and the gap is widening. From the looting that has been witnessed across the board, it’s clear that the present up-rising is not per-se ethnic, but rather, to a greater extent, “a Class-Struggle”. “Money bags” “Rich-ness”. “Quick money-making” e.g. pyramid schemes, have been glorified. The affluent conspicuous consumption and obnoxious display of wealth of the upper class, in a sea of poverty, have not helped.

 

    • The hopes and opportunities for the poor (have-nots) for upward mobility have been frustrated by continuing “joblessness” and false promises by politicians. The underlying perceived injustices of our economic disparities must be urgently addressed. A genuine honest and sustainable commitment to redressing the imbalances should be made. Otherwise we warn that the class “battles” will continue in one form or other. The youth are desperate, angry and impatient. The ordinary Kenyan does not feel or see the effect of the purported 6.5% annual growth of the economy or the benefits of the foreign investors.
    • The unsatisfactory manner in which corruption cases (Anglo-leasing/Goldenberg scandals) have been handled are seen as unjust and discriminatory against the poor who get heavy sentences for petty theft, yet the greedy rich go scot-free. This impunity, lack of accountability and arrogance of the corrupt rich, has fostered a deep-rooted anger that has exploded and must be addressed meaningfully, openly and fairly.

 

  • Life is Sacred. “Stop the Bloodshed”
    • As Quakers we value every person. We believe that “there is that of God in every person”. “Our central faith requires that we should proclaim, in deed as well as in word that war,…. is contrary to the Spirit of God, whose name is Love. The same spirit must animate our business and social relations and make us eager to remove oppression and injustice in every form”.
    • As such, we renounce these senseless killings and urge the government, to take responsibility and restrain the security forces from using violent means of handling the “demonstrators”. We urge all parties to give a listening ear to the people.  Through their violence they are communicating a serious message. Please listen respectfully.
    • Politicians should avoid using youths in their schemes to create mayhem in society.
    • Supporters should stop being misused and abused by politicians
    • Party leaders must restrain their supporters from engaging in unlawful acts but should engage in peace building.
    • The older people should be encouraged to counsel and dissuade the youth from violence.
    • Faith-based institutions should continue sending clear non-partisan, non-inflammatory messages that resonate the life affirming, faith-filled, truth and justice-guided, peace-building, comfort-giving, reconciliation-oriented, repentance-seeking, confession-based messages of their faith.

In view of the above, we make the following proposals:     

1. An independent audit should be done.

    • Tallies from the polling stations for each of the 210 constituencies should be obtained and at least one agent for each candidate from each polling station be brought to Nairobi to verify the count and entries on Form 16A.
    • All Forms 16 should be verified with Forms 16A to establish accuracy of entries.
    • An independent group, possibly made of church leaders, local observers, international observers, representatives of the two parties and international leaders should be charged to verify the tallying and report their findings to the chairman of the reconstituted ECK and to the Kenyan people.
    • Whatever the outcome of the verification, the two parties should abide by the verdict under the guidance of the international arbitrators.

2. Re-run
Following the gazzettement of the MPs elect, parliament should convene and elect the Speaker so that business can be conducted to facilitate a mechanism for the urgent re-run of the Presidential elections.           

3. Interim arrangements

  • Hon. Mwai Kibaki should step down from the seat of the presidency to pave way for the interim arrangements suggested below.
  • The ODM and the PNU affiliated parties must enter into meaningful dialogue for the sake of national interest.
  • Establishment of an interim government comprising of all the parties proportionate to their Membership in parliament with the Speaker heading it for a period of three months.
  • Electoral Commission

The interim government is advised to source expertise from recognized international institutions such as A.U, Commonwealth, European Union and others to assist in supervising the re-run. Due to the failure of ECK, the commissioners should immediately step aside to pave way for the  re-constitution of the  ECK, along the Principles of IPPG, to organize presidential re-run within the three months.
Commissioners of credibility with integrity should be sourced from LSK, ICJ, eminent persons from professionals, civil society and religious groups.

            4. Activities during interim period and thereafter

    • Peaceful rallies must be allowed and organized  to facilitate the healing process
    • Civil society and religious organizations should have forums to enhance reconciliation through dialogue, counseling and conflict resolution
    • Losers of Parliamentary elections on both sides and former ministers should desist from giving inflammatory statements motivated by their personal vested interests.
    • All God fearing people should acknowledge and repent their sins (such as bribery, false witness, murder, rape, pride, arrogance, dishonesty and others) of commission and omission. “If my people ,who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from Heaven and will forgive their sins and heal their land”. (2nd Chronicles 7:14)

5. New Constitution
All presidential candidates have affirmed the need for a new constitution. We Kenyans are in dire need of a new God-centred and people based constitution. All constitutional institutions have failed us: the presidency, parliament, ECK, Anti Corruption, Political Parties, Civil Society, Civil Service, Constitutional Commissions and especially the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs. The only institution that is still functioning faithfully is the people:  they voted peacefully and in earnest, now they are in disarray because the existing constitution does not address the people’s needs.
In conclusion, we as a Peace Church are committed to the process of national healing. Already we have institutions and programs in place such as: Alternatives to Violence Program (AVP); Trauma Healing; Change Agents for Peace International (CAPI); the Quaker Peace Network, all with the necessary skills, knowledge and experience to help bring about healing and transform relationships.

We call upon the wider Body of Christ and other faith based institutions to share in the restoration of a healthy, peaceful and just Society.

God bless Kenya.

On Behalf of Friends Church in Kenya (FCK)

 

Midikira Churchill Kibisu
PRESIDING CLERK
Friends Church (Quakers)
Nairobi Yearly Meeting

 

cc. - Chairman ODM
      - PNU
      - Chairman ODM Kenya
      - Attorney General
      - ECK Chairman
      - NCCK
      - All Other Parties with Presidential Candidates
      - Transparency International
      - Kenya National Commission for Human Rights Chairman
      - Citizen coalition for constitution
      - Hon. Musalia Mudavadi


Hear our cries, Oh Lord

By Muniini K. Mulera, Jan 14 2008

The irony rips through the heart.  The double-standards are astounding.  A public servant allegedly steals a few million dollars from the public purse to pay his bills. As usual, the victims, the great mass of the Wretched of the Earth, remain silent, accepting their fate. But politicians and scribes, diplomats and money lenders, and the blessed custodians of public morality call for his immediate dismissal, prosecution and just punishment.

A sitting president of a said country corrupts state organs to help steal an election and a government.  The victims of the crime, hungry for democracy and change, take to the streets in protest. The genuine winner of the stolen election, claiming what is rightfully his, refuses to recognise the usurper in the State House.  The masses, shocked at the betrayal, filled with explosive anger, with an unstoppable desire to lynch the traitor, lash out at his ethnic kinsmen, and presumed political supporters. Violence breaks out.  The cameras are rolling.

Images of blood and human corpses are brought into our living rooms.  Local and regional economies are threatened. Investors suffer panic attacks. Their profits are in peril. Neighbouring lands suffer the indignity of fuel shortages.  

So the same politicians, scribes, diplomats, money lenders and our blessed custodians of public morality call for peace, an end to the hostilities and reconciliation. The victims of the crime, especially the man whose presidency has been stolen, are told to humble themselves before the one who stole the election, and negotiate a settlement.  Why, they even imply that the victim of the crime will be held responsible for the violence!

Not that they are ignorant of the facts. They know, better than most, that the usurper at the State House has committed armed robbery.   Yet they will not call for his immediate apprehension and prosecution.  There is too much at stake to dwell on small things like democracy and justice, morality and fairness. So the din of voices calling upon Raila Amolo Odinga, Kenya’s president-elect, to negotiate with Stanley Emilio Mwai Kibaki, the coup-leader in the Kenyan State House, continues unabated. A flurry of high-profile diplomats jet in and out of Nairobi. Their mission? A search for a peaceful resolution of a criminal act by one who swore to uphold the constitution.

First it is Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa, well travelled and experienced a peace-maker all can trust. He says his piece, and urges negotiations.  Kenya burns.    Then it is Dr Jendayi Frazer, representing US President George Bush, he who promised years ago to stand in solidarity with citizens, anywhere in the world, who search for freedom and democracy.  The good lady from America urges Mwai and Raila, the rival presidents of Kenya, to negotiate a settlement, that includes power sharing. She leaves with her head down. Her mission is incomplete. And Kenya burns.

Next is Ghanaian President John Kufuor, Chairman of the African Union, imposing and graceful, a man who looks like his blood is made of peace.  He urges an end to violence, and dialogue between the two rival presidents, but soon gives up like the rest, and returns to his turf in Ghana. And Kenya keeps burning. Kofi Annan, former chief of the UN, arrives this week to urge Raila and Kibaki to search for a settlement that should include  power-sharing. Soon he will be done, and Kenya may keep burning.

Trouble is that these distinguished messengers of Kenya’s elusive peace are yet to ask the Kenyan people what they really feel and what they really want. We know what Kibaki wants. We know what Raila wants. But what do the Kenyans want? And whose claims to the presidency enjoy the popular support of those who ought to choose in freedom, their leader and how they are ruled? Yes, we have heard from the violent ones.

 Their machetes have served their demons, of ethnic hatred and cleansing. Kenya burns and bleeds anew, with each day that dawns and sets. And our hearts are rent apart by man’s destruction of man. We have heard from Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK) Chairman Samuel Kivuitu, a sad man who continues to distance himself from the election “results” he read under great distress.

But the silent majority of Kenyans are yet to be heard from, for nobody has asked them what they think and wish to do. We know they spoke loud with their votes on December 27, 2007. But their voices were betrayed. 
Some seek to give them voice through a recount of the December 27 ballots.  Others still talk of an audit of the now infamous Form 16-A, where the tallied votes were recorded.  

Truth to tell, the ballots have been corrupted.  Ghost votes abound. A recount will not make them genuine. The Form 16-As have been corrupted, with fraudulent totals that exceed reality. The election was a farce. The only solution to the betrayal and the violence that has engulfed the land must surely be to give the people of Kenya an opportunity to express their collective opinion and judgment on their political crisis and leadership question.

Forget the economy for a moment, be it of Kenya or the neighbourhood.  Think of the stolen rights of the Kenyan citizens, to choose their government and governance. It is a human right that must be restored without delay.  The only sure way to do this is to hold another presidential election, this time under the aegis of the international community.

 It is a win-win proposition, for Kibaki and Raila, and for Kenya most of all. If Kibaki is the popular man he says he is, Kenyans will re-elect him by the millions. If the truth is the other way round, he will retire to his farm and wealth, and be saved, along with Kenya, from the disaster that awaits him should his stubborn streak get the better of him. This is the message that Kibaki needs to hear, not just from Raila and his party, but from all who claim to care about Kenya. 

Source: Daily Monitor, Uganda

mkmulera@aol.com



Election violence more than a Luo Kikuyu affair

By Ababu Namwamba, Jan 09 2008

Anyone imagining that the imbroglio engulfing Kenya is a contest between Raila Odinga and Mwai Kibaki is wrong. The two are symbols of a seismic battle rooted in the very foundations of our nationhood. It is equally off the mark to think that this is a tribal dispute. What we are witnessing is a battle for the very soul of our motherland. It is a battle to rescue our nascent democracy from imminent annihilation. A battle to salvage libertarian gains achieved over the last 15 years of pluralist democracy. It is a battle to reclaim the proud image of our land as an African beacon of hope.

By bungling presidential election, the Electoral Commission of Kenya and Kibaki have sabotaged priceless democratic gains that cost our country dearly in blood, lives, limbs, tears, sweat, time and money. ECK Chairman Samuel Kivuitu and at least five commissioners have admitted that they facilitated the overthrow of the country’s constitutional order by declaring Kibaki President under pressure. And Kibaki has upped this illegitimacy by suspending the Bill of Rights and turning Kenya into a virtual police state.

In the last one week since Kibaki was sneaked back to State House under the cover of darkness, Kenyans have lost their right to associate, assemble, move, access information and freely express themselves. Under express shoot-to-kill orders, police have unleashed unprecedented brutality against unarmed citizens, resulting in a massacre of genocidal proportions. Most of the Kenyans killed in the last week have died from police bullets, while others are victims of the supposedly outlawed mungiki goons that have been unleashed upon innocent Kenyans by misguided elements who style themselves as custodians of the Kibaki presidency.

The media have been muzzled in a manner never seen even in the darkest days of the Nyayo autocracy. In the twinkling of an eye, the ECK has lost all credibility accumulated since the 1997 IPPG deal that handed the country the first election supervision team with some semblance of impartial balance.

The team under Kivuitu had risen to command widespread public confidence after superbly handling the momentous 2002 General Election and the historic 2005 constitutional referendum. This premium heritage now lies in ruins of shame. Kenyans’ confidence in the ballot box has been shaken. Trust in public institutions like the ECK, Police, the Judiciary and the political leadership is in tatters. And so when you see ordinary Kenyans baring their chests to police bullets in protest, their ultimate objective is not merely reclaiming a stolen election. NO. They have a higher goal – restoring the constitutional order, reclaiming the sanctity of State institutions like the ECK and the Judiciary, which have been strangulated.

The goal of burnishing shameless deceit from the nation’s body politic; the goal of renewing public confidence in the power of the ballot; the goal of saving the very ideal of one Kenya for all. Standing in the way of these gallant patriots is a cabal around Kibaki that seems hell-bent on sending this country to the dogs, if that is what it takes for them to cling onto power. It is this stand off that threatens to tear our beautiful land asunder.

We have three options on how to deal with this conflagration: One, we can bury our heads in the sand like the proverbial ostrich and hope that the storm will pass. This would be foolhardy considering the ferocity of conviction among those determined to salvage the nation from claws of impunity.

Two, Kibaki and Internal Security minister John Michuki can step up the on-going repression to swat all popular resistance. This is a dangerous angle, as the resistance would most likely shift underground and blossom into a lethal monster. Suppressed street protests would just give way to ugly battles on the floor of Parliament that could well paralyse the State.

With a firm grip on Parliament, ODM is in a splendid position to bring down government by torpedoing all legislative agenda. In just five months, ODM legislators could reject the Finance Bill and deny government taxation authority while also starving it of funds from the consolidated fund.

ODM also has the numbers to determine the Speaker and the Deputy, to control all Committees of the House and to deploy a strong Vote of No Confidence. ODM MPs could also easily make it impossible for Kibaki to ever peacefully set foot in their constituencies, spread across the country, in six of eight provinces. But while all these measures may well bring down Kibaki, they would only divide the nation further.

Which brings me to the third, and what I consider to be the most viable option. Kibaki and Raila should climb down and consider a transitional government with two mandates: The first would be to restore the usurped constitutional order through such measures as reconstituting the ECK, enacting essentials of the IPPG deal into law, purging the Judiciary of political stooges and assenting to the Political Parties Bill.

The second mandate would be to preside over a fresh presidential election within six months. I make this recommendation aware that in the current circumstances, a winner-take-all arrangement is untenable given the sizeable support each side boasts of. It could even become desirable for Kibaki and Raila to skip the ensuing election in the interest of national unity. It is in such times as this that passion must give way to reason. When the nationalist must guide the parochial.

— The writer is Budalang’i MP-elect.

ababu@chambersofjustice.org


Kibaki's victory divides Kenya

By Shad Bulimo, London, Dec 30 2007

The people of Kenya have spoken. They have chosen their president; the people’s president. The people of Mount Kenya region have also spoken. They have chosen their president, the Gema president. Today, Kenya stands a divided nation, gripped by uncertainty, anarchy and despondency. All because, do or die, the leadership of Kenya shall never pass to one other than one ordained by Kirinyaga or so the majority of Kikuyus believe carting along their cousins, the Embu and Meru in an axis of evil that clearly makes the former Kenyan dictator, Daniel arap Moi look like a saint and Robert Mugabe an angel.

In one stroke of weak leadership, President Mwai Kibaki has turned the clock of democracy back to the days of darkness. As a father and a grandfather, one would have hoped that his conscience would be pricked and demonstrate strong leadership by acquiescing to defeat and if convinced he won the elections fair and square, then let the votes be tallied or recounted in the full view of the world. None of which he was willing to do. Why? Because the guilty are afraid.

The suspicions Kenyans had of the fairness of the elections in Kenya started when he refused to abide by the spirit of the IPPG (Interparty Parliamentary Group) skimmed off Moi at the height of clamour for fairness in the electoral process. Instead, he stuck his two fingers up to the rest of Kenyan political leadership and proceeded to select pliant individuals as ECK Commissioners to do his bidding and rig elections for him. And a day a before the elections, a convoy of buses left the Embakasi Administration Police Depot under cover of darkness captured live by media crew laden with police officers in disguise headed for different parts of the country allegedly to provide security but in reality to rig elections.

If President Kibaki is proud to be Kenyan president why was he not sworn in at Uhuru Park with the usual pageantry of army parade in full view of all Kenyans and diplomatic corps? Why was the announcement of his “victory” done in a secret location with only state-owned Kenya Broadcasting Corporation present? The ODM Pentagon gave a press conference in which they adduced evidence of poll irregularities in at least 48 constituencies.

Their cries fell on deaf ears and ordinarily these would be waived out of hand as the cry of the vanquished. Buy nay. A parliamentary official seconded to ECK, Mr Kipruto arap Kirui stood in front of the world and declared that at the risk of his life, his conscience could not allow him to sleep with what he had witnessed in the tallying room of ECK. He testified that he was in charge of Coast and the upper eastern region and rigging in those places was to the extent of up to 20,000 extra votes per constituency. Another voice of reason came from Nobel Laureate, Prof Wangari Maathai. She urged for the re tallying or recounting of the presidential votes in public to put paid to any conspiracy theories.

A European Union observer testified on Aljazeera TV that he was present in Molo when the results were read but that the ones read by ECK differed markedly with his records. ECK Chairman, Samuel Kivuitu admitted before the world that he could not trace his officials who had in their possession vital legal documents. Not even the police could find them; he announced and warned them not to cook figures. Amidst this entire hullabaloo, Kibaki is secretly sworn in. The country erupts in a spontaneous reaction to what they see as robbery of their rights as Kenyans to elect a leader of their choice. Kibaki orders a crackdown on media coverage, threatens to arrest Pentagon leaders and it’s just a matter of time before he declares a state of emergency. Is this Kenya or Pakistan? Perhaps Zimbabwe. Or both.

How will he walk to open the 11th Parliament? Head held high or cowed? All his lieutenants were felled by voters. One by one, they fell like dominoes. From Abagusi, the doyen of Kisii politics for at least two decades, Simeon Nyachae fell with a thud, courtesy of a political nondescript, a Mr Monde as did “Total Man” Nicholas Biwott from Rift Valley, Three of Moi’s sons, Raymond, Gideon and Phillip, the former vice president, Moody Awori, Njenga Karume, and David Mwiraria from Meru. In total more than half of his cabinet were confined to the political dustbin, an emphatic statement from Kenyans that they want change. Only a fool can pretend that Kenyans want to preserve the status quo – of intimidation, corruption, murder and unequal distribution of national resources. The Big Man Syndrome is a recipe for disaster. Kibaki is not that person to deliver change that Kenyans so desire.

Luhya unity - the Bukusu factor

By Sumba Snr, Dec 24 2007

If the Luhya expect to regain their poise ever, then it is time they (Thought beyond 27th Dec. 2007) set aside their various allegiances and thought as one grouping.  After this election my prediction is that Ford-K as a party will cease to exist and so will many loyalties.

Regardless of political affiliation, the Luhya must begin to recognise that they belong to one grouping and that if they hope to achieve anything in any Government coming (ODM, ODM-K or PNU), they must seek it as one.  Unity of the entire Luhya kingdom is paramount and must not be compromised if the community hopes to alleviate itself from the poverty that has been created in their midst by past regimes since independence- despite the fact that they supported them all. 

It must be seen for what it is that the current clamour for political patronage will come to an end on the 28th December soon after the President and other parliamentary winners are announced.  And that is when for most of the people reality will set in.  That is when we shall all remember that we had a life that we must live.  Children that must be fed, clothed and taken to school.  And when you look at those hungry eyes, you will not see any colours.  There will neither be the orange of ODM, nor the blue’ white of PNU.  It will back to basics.  The reality that is our lives, for yet another five years!

Ever since Independence, the Luhya have agreed to disagree when it comes to political affiliation.

The other tribal enclaves in the country have taken advantage of this and harvested enormously as and when they required support from this community.

And that’s why some pundits have said, that Western Province should surely go down in History as the most democratic region in the whole of Kenya.  Despite being dominated by one tribe (the Abaluhya), this area is so politically divided that almost all political parties vying for seats in the forthcoming elections will get a representation from there.

The political division is squarely attributed to the Babukusu who reside in Bungoma and Tarns-Nzoia Districts.  They have been accused by the rest of the Luhya as refusing to allow some flexibility in their political affiliation.  They follow their leadership almost blindly regardless.  This it is believed may be largely because as a tribal entity, folklore has it that they will once rule the country.  Because of these mythical legends, the Babukusu have clung together in the hope that this time it will be their turn.

From recent developments on the Kenyan political pano, this appears to be a bridge too far.  Not only do the Bukusu have no party, but they are split in two and maybe three, as to who they will vote for this time around.

According to one observer from the community; “I do appreciate the patriotism that our people portray, but let it be said, Ford-K remaining a viable entity after the elections is a dream. I don’t see that happening. A quick look at the voter profile in 2007 will give you the possible trend of politics in the next few years.  In 2007, 68 % of the registered voters in Kenya are below the age of 40, with 60% being below the age of 30. The older generation that still clings to archaic and mundane tribal politics makes up only 32% of today’s voter and this generation is fast diminishing. That’s why it was very easy to sell Raila as a candidate despite cultural objections.  Times are changing too fast and that’s why it is being said that the future is now with national parties as opposed to Ford-K yefwe (Our Ford-K).  After this election my prediction is that that Ford-K as a party will cease to exist. Can someone tell me who is standing on the Ford-K ticket?
 

The larger scenario currently has almost every political party having a Luhya as a running-mate; Mudavadi for ODM, Julia Ojiambo for ODM-K, and possibly Uncle Moody Awori, Dr. Kituyi or Musikari Kombo for PNU.  Do I see someone having a laugh or something?

The pain of losing Masinde Muliro in 1992 and Vice President Wamalwa Kijana in 2003 was painful enough for the Luhya (read Bukusu), but then playing second fiddle like the Kombos and Mukhisas of today are doing borders in the region of two wrongs never doing a right.

The recent saga in Kimilili portrayed immaturity beyond; when Mukhisa Kituyi and Musikari Kombo supporters heckled each other endlessly until the intervention of the President.  Sounded more like two girlfriends fighting for the bride-groom at a wedding that neither is the bride!

The Luhyas (Bukusus included), must wake up and smell the coffee.  These temporary stop-gap measures are not going to help the community.  It is ‘Unconditional Unity’ that is required for the community.  The kind of Unity that will see them vote as one in parliament and be able to demand for their share of the National ‘cake’ rightfully, otherwise that boat and all the ‘leopards on board is heading for the bottomless pit of Lake Nyanza (Lake Victoria or worse the Indian Ocean).  They can kiss goodbye to the famed ‘Bubwami Kimiandu’ (Power is Wealth) slogan coined by the late Elijah Mwangale another son of the Babukusu.

The concern in Luhya today should be more on who they are voting for at constituency level rather than at national Party level.  Field the proper candidates who will be able to represent you well in the 10th parliament.  Party affiliation should be secondary.  Although change of Government will certainly be a better option for the community.  But sense and purpose shall only prevail with a good grass root any which way.

Source: Kenya London News


Your vote counts: use it wisely

By Phitallis Masakhwe, Nairobi, Dec 14 2007

In a little over a week Kenya goes to the polls.  Faced with a choice of three main parties with charismatic leaders voters may be swayed into making a choice based on style rather than substance.  However, when standing in front of the ballot box on December 27th Kenyans must think carefully and remember that their vote really does count.
 
One of the most important issues during these elections is that of economic growth and development.  Politicians know this and make countless promises on how they will improve Kenya’s economy, infrastructure and education system.

However, voters must read between the lines to discover politicians’ real intentions with regard to Kenya’s economy.  They must be confident that their elected leaders genuinely intend to grow Kenya into the strong economic power it has the capacity to be.

There are many reasons why economies in Sub-Saharan Africa, such as Kenya’s, have failed to produce moderate to high growth rates.  A major problem is that the majority of these states lack the factors necessary for real growth and development.  During this election period voters must scrutinize the promises of politicians to see if they really plan to fill these gaps, or whether they are once again only making hollow promises.

Voters must, for instance judge their policies on education.  A growing economy requires a skilled, educated population.  The more skilled a country’s workforce is, the higher its rates of productivity, earnings, job mobility, entrepreneurial skills and technological innovation. 

Moreover, states need a skilled population with a wide range of skills.  Studies have shown that although education has improved in Sub-Saharan Africa countries, including Kenya, these states have not improved in terms of growth, whilst countries like Japan with modest growth in human capital are deemed to be ‘growth miracles’.

Education for the sake of it, therefore, does not necessarily lead to a productive labour force.  Kenya needs a population of workers educated to a high standard with a range of different academic and vocational skills.  This should be accompanied by a fair job market, where ability, not connections, and a strong work ethic is recognized and rewarded.
 
A real problem in countries like Kenya is that even when we produce highly skilled individuals, we lose them to competing markets in the West.  This is known as the brain drain factor and is a result of skilled workers fleeing low paid work, a lack of self-improvement opportunities and poor education and healthcare for themselves and their families.

These issues are not new.  Some policies, such as free primary education have been introduced, yet overall the present Government has made little progress in tackling the systematic problems facing Kenya’s education system.  Primary education alone is not enough. 
 
Kenya has mass potential for economic growth, yet the Government seems determined not to recognize or act upon this.  Kenya’s infrastructure, for example, is in a unique position of looking backwards rather than forwards.

A massive 41 per cent of Western Kenya is inaccessible due to the lack of and poor maintenance of roads.  Kenya’s railway system is archaic.  There are no airports outside of Kenya’s major cities, whilst Kenyatta International Airport is a mere airstrip, hardly fitting for one of African’s largest states.  Whilst the state of the country’s marine ports, both coastal and inland needs no mentioning.

Electricity and telephone lines are distributed along what seem to be political or ethnic lines.  The spread of the mobile phone has improved communication across Kenya significantly.  However, due to the high costs, mobile phones remain out of reach to the majority of lower to middle income earners who form the bulk of the population and who potentially have the most to contribute to the economy.

Technology is another area in which Kenya lags behind, but which is essential for the country’s growth and development.  Some improvements are currently underway, such as investment in fiber optic cables, which will widen access to the internet across Kenya.  However, how useful will this really be when only four to five percent of Kenyans have access to computers?

The Government must develop a comprehensive strategy to give all Kenyans access to technology.  This must be conducted in an equal and fair way, not based on political patronage.  Transparency will be key, therefore, in ensuring that the money for technology goes to the areas where it is really needed.
 
An important element of this strategy will be the need to invest heavily in national research and development programmes.  At present Kenya’s research budget is miniscule in comparison with those of our closest competitors.  Consequently, even Kenya’s leading researchers and scientists are unable to carry out any meaningful work.

Voters must also think carefully about which politicians are best setup to fairly distribute Kenya’s wealth.  For one of the factors that has contributed towards Kenya’s poor growth is a failure to successfully distribute income across the country fairly.

Taxes collected by the Government from across Kenya should theoretically be distributed evenly across the regions, yet the majority is spent in Central Province.  In 2005/2006 43 per cent of the road funds were spent in Central Province, although only ten per cent of the population lives there.
 
This unfair distribution of income hinders Kenya’s socio-economic development.  As a result of current Government policies growth is confined to Nairobi and Central Province, already the most prosperous areas of Kenya.  The next government should focus on fair and equitable distribution of wealth across all regions.

Similarly, any government should take a multi-ethnic approach to governance and ensure that all communities are represented fairly within Kenya’s political system.  At present this is not the case, with certain communities, and often individuals, occupying an un-proportional number of positions of power.

This cronyism is another way in which the current Government has failed Kenyans.  Corruption is rampant.  Efforts to build institutions to fight it have failed due to a lack of commitment and interference.  The constant corruption charges faced by the Government are a strong indicator of how its attempts to window-dress democracy have failed catastrophically.
 
Kenya’s next government should introduce, as a priority, structures that recognize and promote professionalism within government.  These must be put into place in every aspect of public life, and politicians must lead the way in upholding democracy and transparency. 

Kenya’s political system needs to abandon political patronage, and embrace a merit-based approach.  Only then will Kenyans really begin to see real change.

When Kenyans go to the polls on December 27th they must remember to choose political candidates who are serious about tackling the issues facing Kenya’s economic growth and development.  Remember, your vote really does matter for Kenya’s development

Careful how you pacify Mt Elgon

Deadly violence in the Mt Elgon region has by now become old hat, and very few people besides the perpetrators and the victims, seem to pay much attention to it any more.  Unfortunately, this attitude of resigned neglect could turn out to be very costly in an area which a militia seems to have hived off the rest of the country.

This will never do. And it appears our security machinery has come to the same conclusion and decided that only a strong-arm tactics will bring about the desired result – peace in the region where, according to some accounts, at least 300 people have already been killed and 65,000 displaced. When such a level of violence occurs, development suffers. Children do not go to school, land is not tilled, trade comes to a standstill, and human rights are routinely violated. 

The violence in Mt Elgon is about a land settlement scheme in which one community felt shortchanged, hence the rise of the Sabaot People’s Land Defence Force (SLDF), a murderous outfit that has been giving the authorities a nagging headache. Violence breeds retaliation, and the security machinery has, at long last, been unleashed to try and contain this chaos. However, there is danger that the so-called rapid deployment unit may resort to using indiscriminate force, making the situation worse.

Already, the result has been cataclysmic, with at least 3,000 people said to have fled the region to neighbouring districts. Why would the Sabaot stay put despite the malevolent presence of the militia and take off in their thousands as soon as the rightful law enforcers rush to their help? It would be tragic if the Mt Elgon people feared their own Government’s security personnel more than the marauding bandits. Already, there are reports about the security squad burning houses. Very soon, we may hear of other ‘‘security’’ measures like collective punishment.

In closed societies, ‘‘scorched earth’’ methods of containment are the norm; in a democracy like Kenya’s, other methods like dialogue and concessions must be explored first. Let there be no accusations that the cure proved to be a lot worse than the disease. The people of Mt Elgon deserve to live in peace like the rest of Kenyans.

Source: Nation Editorial


How Kibaki could rig elections

By Dominic Odipo, Nairobi, Nov 26 2007
When you travel around the country, you get a pretty good impression of how the people in the different towns and provinces are likely to vote in the coming presidential elections. If you go to Nyeri you will notice that the people there are not likely to vote for the ODM presidential candidate, Mr Raila Odinga. If you go to Kericho or Kapsabet, you will get the impression that the people there are not likely to vote for President Kibaki. This feeling, this ‘message from the soil’, is very different from the message the Steadman Group is trying to convey through its latest opinion polls.

My take, which I believe many hard-nosed political cognoscenti share, is that, if free and fair elections were held tomorrow, Raila would get about 55 per cent of the vote, beating both President Kibaki and the ODM-Kenya presidential candidate, Mr Kalonzo Musyoka. Yet there is a crucial difference between Raila being able to win and his moving into State House on December 29. And that difference can be reduced to just five words: The Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK).

Make no mistake. This election could be decided by the ECK, not necessarily by the people. The Raila onslaught could be broken by the logistical mechanics that ECK puts in motion on election day. Perhaps this point is best captured by turning it into a question: If I were a top official in the Kibaki Government determined to rig him back into office come what may, how would I proceed? I would move very deliberately but very ruthlessly along the following lines.

First, I would convince the President to appoint as many commissioners as possible to the ECK who are sympathetic to our cause and can do our bidding on or before election day. I would then get these commissioners to appoint returning and presiding officers who, in turn, can do as we say. Second, I would prevail upon the President to renew the term of the long-serving ECK Chairman, Mr Samuel Kivuitu, for both diplomatic and tactical reasons. After all, a lone chairman would be virtually powerless against all the other commissioners who would be working for our side.

Third, I would prevail upon the chairman to put some of our most trusted commissioners in charge of the printing and packaging of the ballot papers. These commissioners would then be sent to Britain, or wherever the ballot papers were being printed, with one very clear instruction: Make sure that the ballot papers destined for Opposition strongholds like Rift Valley and Western provinces have as many errors on them as possible. The idea here would be to have as many Opposition votes as possible declared spoilt.

Fourth, I would prevail upon the chairman to put one of the commissioners most sympathetic to our cause in charge of all the transport logistics of election day. This man or woman would be given the final say over how, when and where the ballot papers, election materials and personnel would be transported. I would then instruct them to make sure that, on election day, everything goes real slow in the Opposition strongholds and real fast in Kibaki’s strongholds. Returning and presiding officers would be secretly instructed to ensure that no voting starts in the Opposition strongholds before 1pm on election day.

Fifth, I would secretly designate one of our most trusted commissioners as the commissioner for propaganda and confusion. His main task would be to ensure that there is as much confusion as possible in the Opposition zones on election day. For example, the ballot papers for Belgut constituency would deliberately be flown to Mandera in the morning of election day. The returning officer in Mandera would then be instructed to ‘go slow’ while awaiting further instructions. The papers would finally be flown to Belgut at 2pm. Sixth, I would ensure that all polling stations in the whole country were closed at 5pm, regardless of when voting started nor how many people were still queueing to vote. This instruction would be more strictly enforced in the Opposition areas.

Finally, I would get a friendly opinion polling group to keep spewing out figures indicating that the election was too close to call. That would create the appropriate pyschological atmosphere within which to operate. In one word, this election is not yet in the bag for the Opposition. The latent power of incumbency and the totalitarian powers of a sympathetic ECK could yet do Raila in.

Source: Standard


Voters don’t like plans to forgive past corruption

By Gladwell Otieno

Over the decades, Kenya has accumulated a mountain of economic crimes which has largely remained unaddressed. The most serious attempts yet were made by President Kibaki’s Government, under the leadership of Mr John Githongo, then Governance and Ethics Permanent Secretary, but they eventually foundered. Debate on this issue continues and has been an important aspect of the present electoral campaigns.

The Africa Centre for Open Governance, a civil society initiative that focuses on anti-corruption and governance, commissioned a survey to find out what people think about grand corruption and what they want done about it. Presidential candidates have made various declarations on how they intend to treat past economic crime. ODM-Kenya’s Mr Kalonzo Musyoka promotes the unconditional "forgive and forget" line. ODM’s Mr Raila Odinga has at times promised radical action and at others offered the possibility of forgiveness after restitution of stolen wealth. President Kibaki, on the other hand, has generally maintained distance from discussions about corruption and preferred to focus on the achievements of his regime.

Responses to the survey made it clear that Kenyans do not support a "forgive and forget" strategy. It would be difficult for politicians to sneak a backroom elite bargain past voters, if any is contemplated. The survey reveals that people view corruption as the issue of greatest concern. Fully 89 per cent of them rate corruption as a national priority concern: 97 per cent think that corruption is a "big" or "very big" problem.

A commentary on the Government’s below par communication skills is the 25 per cent who are still unaware of official efforts to address corruption. Only 13 per cent of respondents spontaneously reported knowledge of the National Anti-Corruption Campaign.Only 23 per cent were aware of institutional efforts such as those of the Controller and Auditor General. However, 98 per cent knew about the Artur Brothers.

Demonstrating the futility of efforts to suppress information was the 39 per cent of Kenyans who are aware of the Government-commissioned Kroll report and had strong opinions about it. Asked to assess the performance of various Government efforts and initiatives on a scale of 1 to 10, many were uncompromising; none of them scored above the halfway mark. While 92 per cent were aware of the existence of the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission they were so unimpressed that they gave it a score of only 3.7 out of 10.

Questioned as to what should be done about various corruption offences, people’s responses ranged from confiscation of assets to prosecution and lengthy jail terms to the dismissal, or barring from public office of those guilty of corruption. Most think that wealth stolen and kept abroad, should be returned and used for health, education and other social welfare purposes. This shows that people attach a clear cost to graft and, indeed, see corruption and the loss of development opportunities as closely interlinked.

There was a marked perception of inequity and impunity in the treatment of prominent corruption offenders: 77 per cent said that there are sacred cows or "untouchables". Of the tiny minority (six per cent) who believed that there should be untouchables, fears on the potential for open ethnic conflict if prominent cases are pursued were cited, given the penchant of some suspects to seek refuge in their communities.

A full 93 per cent of Kenyans claim that they will not vote for a candidate who is widely perceived to be corrupt. Paradoxically, 48 per cent also said they would accept a bribe. Poverty and cynicism seem to be important motivators. However, 80 per cent said they had no intention of voting for the candidate whose bribes they would accept. Respondents listed the types of bribes they were aware of as money, clothes, jobs and, interestingly, title deeds which only the Government can offer. From their comments, voters seem to be well aware that the goodies being lavished on them by the Government in various voter-mollifying packages come with a price tag. All candidates should be aware that money spent on bribes is very likely money wasted, provided polling conditions are free and fair.

The aspect of the poll that receives the greatest public attention is people’s assessment of which presidential candidate is most committed to fighting corruption. Perhaps inevitably this directly reflects the results of various polls to date on voters’ preferred candidate overall.

A regional breakdown of the results shows all the candidates generally enjoying the "homeboy" advantage. However, Raila also leads in North Eastern, Western, Rift Valley, Coast and Nairobi. Raila’s support base is strongest among younger voters who are particularly riled about corruption. Interestingly, the poll shows that the candidates’ positions are sometimes at variance with those of their own supporters. For example, 77 per cent of Kalonzo’s supporters disagree with his "forgive and forget" stance; 36 per cent want the corrupt to face the full force of the law, lengthy jail terms and confiscation of property, 41 per cent were prepared to accept restitution and an apology. Forty-six percent of Kibaki’s supporters also support the more radical options. Only a small minority are willing to contemplate the "forgive and forget" option; 7 per cent of Kalonzo’s supporters, 6 per cent of Kibaki’s and 5 per cent of Raila’s.

What do they want the new Government to do about corruption? First, 94 per cent say the next President should not appoint any individuals who have a corruption record. Respondents also demanded the repossession of all illegally acquired property, the introduction of tough terms such as lengthy jail sentences; the immediate resignation of all those under investigation on corruption cases; proper vetting of Government appointees and "radical surgery of the Judiciary". Strong, focussed leadership will be necessary to respond to and manage these demands in an accountable and transparent manner.

The writer is the Executive Director of the Africa Centre for Open Governanc


Party nominations were a sham

By Peter Wanyonyi, Middle East, Nov 19 2007

For a nascent democracy with a desire to ground the principles of fair play and popular acclaim in its party and national politics, Kenya’s recent party nominations for the General Election were a disappointing exercise and an open sham.  It is fitting that they were called “nominations” and not “party primaries”, for the latter implies democratic election processes that were completely missing from virtually all the three major parties.

Most galling of all were the so-called “direct tickets” – cases in which ostensibly “vital” candidates were given automatic nominations to contest on their parties’ tickets in their constituencies. This arose out of an amorphous “realisation” that these candidates were “essential” to the fortunes of the party, and that they thus “must” be given a direct go at contesting the elections without having to undergo the hassles of contested primaries.

These direct nominations were a clear attempt to, not only defeat democracy, but also pervert the course of natural justice, especially since virtually all involved former MPs. They generally occurred in regions that are seen as strongholds of their respective parties, and in which, therefore, whoever contests the election on the given party’s ticket is almost guaranteed re-election.

The paradox would be funny if it wasn’t so tragic. In an area in which a party is guaranteed to win, why not win with the strongest candidate instead of foisting an unpopular person on the electorate? But what if the voters, as was evident in contested primaries all over the country, wanted to be rid of their MP? Many of these ex-legislators have been nothing but empty cans in Parliament, and some have delivered practically nothing to the people that elected them five years ago. 

By nominating such candidates directly, the parties effectively took this choice away from the voter – negating their trumpeted claims to be “democratic”, and effectively behaving like dictatorships. Not content with such unfairness, the parties then went on to doctor the results of the primaries themselves, wherever such contests were tolerated by the party machinery. This was directly counter to the actual results: cases abound where party members elected one candidate, only for a different candidate to be cleared by the party’s election board.

It is clear that this was done on the basis of “we cannot afford to lose so-and-so, and the top knows better” – which is surprising considering that such a candidate had been considered unworthy of a “direct nomination”. Why bother with the polls when you know you will rig in your preferred candidate? Even though all three major parties engaged in this charade, it is ODM that stands to lose most from the bungled-up primaries. ODM have held themselves up as the moral alternative to the PNU.

By assuming the moral high ground, ODM should, naturally, be held up to more scrutiny than PNU or any other party. After all, ODM’s campaign posters declare that they stand for equality and fairness across the board, regardless of one’s station in life. They state that they will, should they get the chance, govern Kenya in a better manner than President Kibaki has, and ensure that economic and other development is enjoyed by all parts of the country.

It all sounds rather hollow now, with the party’s shambolic primaries.  Maybe an ODM government will decide, similarly, that some constituencies – belonging to those worthies who received direct nominations, naturally – have a higher development priority over other, “lesser” constituencies.  Maybe they will decide that some MPs or ministers, having benefited from direct nominations, are more important than others, setting the stage for a repeat of the Narc fiasco in 2003 when some ministers were allegedly denied access to the President. 

Maybe ODM will just turn round and decide that the reasons for which we elected them were no longer overriding, and that the top knows better, and hence propound a different agenda from the one they are preaching now. Most worrisome of all, of course, is the possibility that we are changing nothing. That it is all a sham. That we will end up, having merely exchanged one lying government for another, one false liberator for another. 

This risk runs through all the parties, not just ODM. But the President’s style of government is already well-known. It is in the ODM’s chaotic nominations exercise that some voters will see cause for concern, with the possibility that the claimed party of change and accountability is, in fact, just as bad as the one we want to kick out. In which case, sticking with the devil we know suddenly starts looking very attractive.


Mr Wanyonyi is an information systems professional working in the Middle East.


AM SORRY KENYANS, I LIED

By Shad Bulimo, London October 23 2007
Look at me. What do you see? A corrupt, lying loony of a president or an accomplished, successful statesman of international repute? Don’t rush to answer. Look again more closely. This time, focus on my eyes. What do you see? Do they reflect one ordained of visionary leadership or someone who has something of the night about him.

Again, for sanity’s sake, don’t answer just yet. Let us now turn to my mouth; not its shape because that is stuff for Madd and co. For the adventurous and discerning lot, try to trace the history of what my mouth has said or not said over the last 15 years.

Quite frankly, you may never discover the really me for I don’t know myself either. I accept that in politics, mugumo tree can after all be uprooted if that accords me survival for another term. I   have sacrificed mama na baba to the point of leading them to the slaughterhouse of the volatile political theatre. Am not in politics to make a name like Mandela or Gandhi. And although I call myself a Christian, am not saintly. I live life to the full; I enjoy my cognac; I play golf. Am quite an ordinary bloke like you really. I have my moments of turmoil in my household especially during the volcanic eruptions of mama watoto.

That is where am coming from. But where am I going? To understand where am going, it’s instructive to look at this journey through the prism of my lieutenants. Let us start with the deputy captain. Dr Moody Arthur Awori belongs to the pedigree stalk of that fabled family of Canon WWW Awori. Although a septuagenarian, Dr Awori is a smooth business operative and helps me run the affairs of the state like a business empire in which the winners are the directors themselves and losers are wananchi because they are pumbavu.

I brought him in to continue being assured of the Luhya support after my other trusted lieutenant, Wamalwa Kijana died. Let me be honest for once, although I love uncle Moody to pieces, he failed to deliver the “Yes” vote to the banana camp during the constitutional referendum last November and the way things look he commands no influence in Western Province where ODM has camped root and branch. I stick with him because wazee hukumbuka. Am aware that he lies to me that things will change but he is by no means the only one.

Forget the watchmen and cooks. I have strong faith in the sons educated with the miraa economy of Meru. Although arrogant and drunk with power, they delivered killer punches that helped me neutralise Agwambo and his brigade seen sniffing around the corridors of power. Remember the famous words from my other political nemesis, Charles Mugane Njonjo. They are my guard dogs and would devour anyone contemplating, imagining or plotting to overthrow the legitimate government of Emilio. That is why I put garrulous Kiraitu Murungi in charge of all matters legal and my dating mate, David Mwiraria in a position where he could provide the financial firepower to ensure Agwambo continues to eat omena in political wilderness.

Sadly some jealous souls travelled to Liverpool and discovered a company going by the name Anglo Leasing was ghoulish. I blame a clever but stupid young man, John Githongo and regret why I ever met him. Whoever educated him, should have told him to read my lips; rather the lips of my trusted friends.

I now accept that mugumo tree can be uprooted after all and some things won’t go away. Not just yet anyway; this being election year. Although the spectre of Anglo Leasing consumed the rumbustious, Dr Chris Murungaru, Mwiraria and Kiraitu along with other small fish swimming in the ministries as permanent secretaries, I have had to help my friends to help me. That’s why I sent the first lady to Meru to re assure my cousins that we cannot let Agwambo win and they’ll return to the cabinet with or without Anglo Leasing.  After all, this is my original dream team; the drivers of my political vision; although arrogant and tainted.

Did someone say the old guard? Njenga Karume is my heart and soul. He doesn’t need the money; he just needs recognition. For years he was my financial kingpin; financed the Democratic Party of Kenya almost single-handedly and although, he goofed with the “project” when all Kiambu leaders rooted for Uhuru Kenyatta during the disastrous Elections 2002, he quickly made amends and I brought him back to the fold. You see what a true friend I am?

My fellow countrymen, let us be honest with each other. Who can fault my choice of transport minister? You should all be grateful to John Michuki, the flamboyant, rich, snake-like fellow from Kangema in Murang’a for bringing order to the matatu industry. I admit my mistakes. I should not have reshuffled him from transport docket. As the minister in charge of internal security, he has sat by as a spectator as mercenaries besieged the country unleashing terror to a legitimate publishing business but he took lessons in honesty from me: He conceded the raid on the Standard Group was a government project.

Two weeks ago, I heard Agwambo describing Kenyans as ants marching to evict the serpent. This man from the lake has a sick swagger about him; how dare he belittle my people. Just let him try. Remember “if you rattle a snake, you must expect that the snake will bite you back”. Because he can't be trusted, we copied a leaf from him and as Matere Keriri has confirmed, treated him with his own medicine (read MOU) to reward him for "KIbaki Tosha" buy my clever master strategists. Of course you have to be clever in politics; which politician keeps his promises?

Because of lies that the so called mercenaries has strong personal and business links to persons allegedly close to me, I decided to convene a commission of inquiry to dig out the truth. I appointed renown, ex police commissioner, Shedrack Kiruki from Meru to sift the truth from the lies. Honestly, I choreographed the inquiry after the usual noise from the international community when they hear sounds of gun fire in Africa, especially at the airport. I wanted to demonstrate that Kenya is not Somalia. As an accomplished economist; I put the alleged culprits (read key witnesses) on the plane to Dubai to save the country money through expensive and lengthy legal processes.

I hear the Artur brothers are writing X Files on their dealings with my government. Rest assured that book will be banned as we want to focus our attention on development rather than fitina.

As for Mungiki, these are not people you can take serious. I heard some cabinet minister suggesting that my government should hold talks with them. I just laughed. If you take Mungiki seriously you must not be serious yourself. If they kill a few people here and there so what; my government is dealing with bandits across the country.

I want to say thanks to my immediate predecessor, Daniel arap Moi for volunteering to campaign for my re-election and also the son of the founding president of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta for tearing the rule book as the leader of the official opposition in parliament by supporting rather than standing against me. He’s well bred to respect his elders.  But wait a minute did someone mention the “project?” Pumbavu that was in the past; right now I need the support of everyone, saint and satanic.   Even Pattni and Biwott are welcome. After all Goldenberg has been dealt with in a commission of inquiry. The report is with me. The Ouko inquiry has been dealt with by Troon Report as well as Sunguh Parliamentary Commission. Let bygones be bygones. It’s the future that matters. Only Kibaki can guarantee the status quo where the rich shall get richer and the poor poorer - because, ahem, they are pumbavu. What you see is not always what you get!

CONFESSIONS
Am sorry my dear Kenyans. Spare me a Saddam Hussein-type of ending. I now know that Kanu is not mama na baba and  that mugumo tree can be uprooted. Way back in the early 1980s’, me and Charles Njonjo had to stop Agwambo’s father from taking over the government by forming another party. Njonjo proposed the repeal of Section 2(a) of the Constitution and I seconded it to make Kenya a dejure one-party state (Kanu). Five years ago, I made a few lies to which I want to beseech forgiveness. I cheated the Rainbow Coalition on the so called Memorandum of Understanding. I lied when I promised the creation of 500,000 jobs per annum. I lied when I promised a lean cabinet. I lied when I said corruption would be a thing of the past. What I meant was do as I say but not as I do. And when I said the era of roadside directives was over what I meant was I’ll follow Nyayo za Moi who followed Nyayo za Kenyatta. I’ll maintain the status quo which protects the corrupt, promotes ethnicity and turns the country into a private club. This is me. What you see is what you get. Pumbavu.

JUDGEMENT:
Dear Mr President. I have taken into account your honesty and somewhat feel that perhaps you do not always get the credit you deserve. I have noted in particular the growth in the gross national product from negative five years ago to the current 6%. I have also taken into account your policies in free education and Constituency Development Fund. It’s cleat to me that yes there has been some change; positive change. However, I am not satisfied that the benefits of your policies have filtered through to the common mwananchi. These changes have happened in spite of not because of you. The country looks like a private club where the moneyed swim in luxury while the poor roam the land in empty search of economic survival. For that reason, Mr President, I feel that you have been here long enough for any good that you may have been doing. Depart, I say. In the name of God, Go!

Shad Bulimo is the editor of Abeingo.org, an online portal of the Luhya Community.


One man and politics of danger

By Wafula Buke

When Mr Musikari Kombo said Mr Raila Odinga was "one dangerous man" during the Kibaki Tena launch at Nyayo Stadium, he brought to the fore the issue of divergence in outlooks by those who get involved in politics to a new level. I recalled my dealings with the two gentlemen in relatively similar situations at different times. In 1992 when I arrived in Bungoma from exile, in an effort to integrate me into local politics, Dr Mukhisa Kituyi took me to Wamalwa Kijana and Mr Musikari Kombo. "I think it will be necessary for us to move around with Buke. This is the only way we can ensure that the Government does not pounce on him," said Kituyi.

He argued that my association with them would draw the requisite solidarity in the event of an arrest. Kombo quickly spoke: "Chairman, it is dangerous for us to move with him. Let him go back to his hiding place as we await the State’s reaction to his home coming." Wamalwa had to agree with Kombo, the richest man in their midst. Wamalwa added that it was not "safe" for them to tour the district with me.

Kituyi tried to convince them to no avail. Needless to say, I was confused. What kind of democrats were these who were not prepared to defend one of their own? Between the Government and I, who was dangerous? The driving force behind our reformist political efforts had all along been hinged on the notion that the Government was endangering the social integrity of the nation.

My victimisation during the 1995 Fera crackdown led me to see the difference between Raila and Kombo. While in prison, Kombo and his regional colleagues made no efforts to secure my release or safety under the pretext that it was "dangerous" and "unsafe" to show solidarity with me. Having failed to secure support from those she considered my allies, my wife sought the intervention of the man Kombo recently referred to as "one dangerous man". I had never talked to Raila or met him in person. My wife paid him a visit in his Kisumu office, where she poured her heart out about my frustrations and how I had been let me down by those I trusted.

Raila told her to wait for his call as he left for Nairobi. He called her the following day and told her that I would be released in three days. She did not believe him but true to his word I was released. That ended my 49 days ordeal in custody. To this day, I have never known the magic he played to secure my release.

I am also reminded of what Titus Adongosi’s mother asked Raila when he visited her in the company of Mr Kenneth Matiba in 1997. "I am told you were with my son in prison, who killed my son?" she asked crying. When Raila pledges to institute the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission, he speaks for those who were determined enough to cut the Mugumo tree with a razor blade. Kombo and Mr Simeon Nyachae, on the other hand, are still prisoners of fear and incapable of seeing Kenya under Raila.

Raila’s footprints on the history of the struggle for a better Kenya should not be a basis for subjective accusations. As the establishment struggles to tag reformers with distasteful labels, other questions must be asked. Where were Kombo and Nyachae during the struggle to return this country back to multi-partism?

An American black political activist Mumia Jamal succinctly says: "When you don’t oppose a system, your silence becomes approval for it does nothing to interrupt the system." If these alliances of conservative individuals under a conservative Head of State can achieve the little or much we see today, how much more shall Kenyans achieve under a crusader for social change like Raila with his team of "dot coms"?

The stories of Kombo and Raila can be likened to those of the vulture and the leopard. He should be warned that in the absence of the leopard the vulture must learn the ways of the leopard or perish. To those who deride strugglers for social liberation, take heed from Mandela’s epigram:

"To overthrow oppression has been sanctioned by humanity and is the highest aspiration of very free man."

bukewafula@yahoo.com


Moi, Kenyatta and Kibaki - axis of evil

By Solomon Gakungu, Sept 25 2007
After waiting a long time, we have seen a circus of tribal chiefs supporting President Kibaki's re-election as they launched PANU, a coalition whose aim is to maintain the status quo at all costs. By their speeches it was quite apparent that they live in morbid fear of one Raila Odinga. Ministers Chirau Mwakwere and Simeon Nyachae captured the frustration and fears of the ruling class against the indomitable ODM flag bearer.

On June 7th last year I had predicted in a local daily that a Moi/ Kibaki/ Kenyatta axis would inevitably emerge if ODM flag bearer Raila Odinga clinches the ODM ticket. In light of this, the dramatic endorsement of Mwai Kibaki by Moi and then Uhuru Kenyatta did not come as a major surprise. I have deliberately mentioned the two since they are the main pillars of this reactionary group.

Ironically, most analysts seem to have entirely missed the point. Some argue that Moi's decision is informed by the 2002 loss of power by Kanu, which fact has led to this revenge mission against the man who plotted Kanu's 2002 defeat, Raila Odinga. For Uhuru Kenyatta they cite ethnic interest. Closer analysis shows that nothing could be further from the truth.

Before my analysis on the opportunistic move made by the two leaders, it is my considered opinion that Raila Odinga remains the most misunderstood and vilified leader in Kenya , largely due to moves engineered by a class of political buccaneers who have expropriated the country's wealth with outright abandon. If his name featured in the Kroll and Associates report, that would have been big news but as one will realize, there is symptomatic silence over the criminal theft of 130 billion Kenya shillings by the political class as expressed in that report. This money is enough to run the CDF kitty for close to 15 years at a rate of Ksh.50million every constituency per annum.


 A  Kenyan slum / Raila's development record

Raila Odinga is blamed for poverty levels in the Kibera slums but few remember how the Treasury torpedoed his visionary move to build 150,000 houses for the poor. To make matters worse, after coming up with the much-acclaimed housing policy, none other than President Kibaki himself took this docket away from the control of Hon. Raila and put it under Hon. Kimunya, the then Ministry of Lands. The question is founded on faulty reasoning in any case given that Kenyans do not pay taxes to Hon. Odinga. Why are we praising Mwai Kibaki for his governments successes but looking to pass the buck onto others when the government has failed to address the most abject poverty as seen in these slums? And if Raila Odinga is to blame for Kibera, how will one explain the poverty levels in other slums like Mathare, Soweto and Majengo which are not in Lang'ata constituency?


The media is also culpable for this skullduggery. Early this month, a small caption in the inside pages of a local daily captured my mind. Pictured was a lorry that had been loaded with donations of medical supplies worth Ksh. 7 million from the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Foundation. There's little attention given to these efforts, in stark contrast to that given to the self-righteous Hon. Raphael Tuju. The media have taken to portraying the Rarieda MP as the one who is 'working' among the Luo leaders even as others politick endlessly.

Let me now go back to the gist of my analysis, is ex-president Moi's opposition to ODM really driven by revenge? Under Moi's watch, Raila spent a cumulative 8 years in detention due to his relentless crusade for good governance, democracy and social justice. During the confinement, the indefatigable freedom icon lost his mother and only came to know of it 4 years later. His family also went through a profound anguish during this period of detention as police harassing them incessantly. It is also worth noting that Raila Odinga's opposition to Moi did not spring from poverty, or a lack of success. He had already curved a niche for himself as one of the young pioneer industrialists in Kenya and was a senior manager at Kenya Bureau of Standards which he had played a critical role in establishing in the early 1970s. Few people will abandon that kind of comfort to fight for the down-trodden. In the same vein, few will forgive their tormentors or even have the tolerance to face them after losing the prime of their life in solitary confinement.

So the question remains, is it Moi that ought to forgive Raila because of a simple thing like an electoral defeat which in reality benefited the man he is backing today or is it the Raila that suffered the greater wrong?

It is rather curious that the media also claims that Moi was so instrumental to the Orange win at the 2005 referendum. They fail to cite the government defeat at the Bomas conference despite Moi issuing an anti-bomas draft statement which was almost similar to his anti-Wako draft sentiments. His stand on the two could only be informed by his anti-reform credentials and love for the current authoritarian constitution. Also, you need to note that Moi has hit the ground running this time round to campaign for Mwai Kibaki unlike the referendum where he was content with providing a mere statement of support. This explains one irrefutable fact; the stakes are higher this time than they were in 2005.

In my view Moi's move is informed by class interest. Kenya 's bourgeoisie have no time for the scion of Jaramogi despite his being a man of means. He has flatly refused to join in their conspiracy to subjugate the poor, a moral stand just like his father's i the 1960s. His altruism echoes the stands of other prominent global personalities from wealthy backgrounds who espoused pro-poor ideals like Fredrich Engels, Col. Gadaffi and Fidel Castro.

It follows then, that with an entrenched interest in the status quo, Moi will not sit back and watch a somewhat revolutionary brand of leader seize the reigns of power. I feel insulted when Moi dismisses ODM as a tribal grouping and a party without a vision or a manifesto. Don't forget it is only Kalenjins he is asking to remain in KANU and heed his 'advice'.What classical double standards! Needless to say, he will not be appearing in a talk show and articulating his vision as Kenyans field their questions.

But what I even find laughable is the assertion that Uhuru Kenyatta has endorsed President Kibaki's re-election in a bid to preserve Kikuyu interests. As one of those Kikuyus, I must say count me out of this. Uhuru Kenyatta did not represent Kikuyu interests in 2002 and to this day, he does not. Moi tried to force him down the throats of Kenyans in 2002 so he could rule by proxy as a self-preservation trick.

If the media could accurately flash back to the events of 2005, it was William Ruto who literally drove KANU into the ant-Wako draft campaign, Uhuru was giving mixed signals. The short time Uhuru defied Moi over the ODM party was out of realization that majority of his members, and especially his powerful Secretary General was for ODM. But finally he has joined his benefactor in campaigning for Kibaki.

Were these two not also together in their insistence that KANU would go it alone in the polls? What has changed? If I was an adult in 1966 I would have voted with KPU and not KANU. Ordinary Kikuyus were duped into rejecting Bildad Kagia while those they embraced so sheepishly were actually responsible for their squatter-status. In fact, KPU leaders had a vision to end landlessness which was comparatively more rife in Central Province than elsewhere. For strange unfathomable reasons, land-grabbers got their way under the guise of catering for tribal interest. I for that reason dispute assertion that Uhuru will safeguard my interest as a Kikuyu.

The Kibaki/ Moi/ Uhuru (add Biwott axis) is difficult to beat in terms of resources but it has its greatest weakness in the people's power at the ballot. Only one man in the current political set up has a strong ideological case against these forces of the status quo. This is none other that Raila Amolo Odinga. He has courage of conviction, passion, charisma, valour. He has awesome networking skills and a strong character to turn tables on these forces of darkness. If he succeeds, Kenyans of all walks of life must prepare for a paradigm shift. But for the Moi/ Kibaki/ Uhuru axis, Raila Odinga must be stopped at the cost of billions of shillings.


Hyenas feast as Kenyans bleed

By Emma Salano, Sept 30 2007

It is no secret that for a collective total of nearly 30 consecutive years, Moi and Kibaki have placed Kenyan public assets on Sale, literally at throw-away prices, to their kin, personal companies, and friends (locally and abroad).

Sometimes, the fortitude and patriotism shown by forthright Kenyans have succeeded in stalling their bid to throw away our public assets for a song, and in other instances , we have failed to stop their discounted give-away of national jewels - through their use of state machinery including a corrupted parliament.
History repeats itself in quite interesting ways.
We can remember how the Kenyan public lost its 49% stake at Firestone EA (held under the state corporation ICDC) to one scrupulous "enterpreneur" called Naushad Merali and his so called Sameer Investments company in 1995.
In 1995 Moi ordered the now defunct PRC (Parastatals Reform Committee) to recommend that ICDC offloads its49% Firestone shares at the NSE. That was just a gimmick because according to the Auditor General, Corporations 1996 report,.... Naushad Merali and his Sameer group got pre-emptive rights and bought all those shares for sh 100 million. (for source see below)
Their true value according to the Auditor general was Sh 500 million ( gross undervaluing). BUT WAIT A MINUTE. Three years down the line in 1999, the same shares were re-floated and sold at the NSE for sh 1.5 Billion. Merali made a 1500% profit in 3 years. Merali's genius here is the genius of grabbing and looting since he could have still made profit by buying the shares at their regular value.
Merali's Sameer then used the money to buy East African Cables from a British Holding company in 2000 for sh 110 million when Moi refused KPLC & KenGen from buying the British company's electric cables (economic sabotage). EA Cables true value at the time was sh 274 million.
FAST FORWARD to 2003. The first acquisition by Kibaki and his cronies at Trans-Century was the purchase of East African Cables from Merali. Kibaki had by then simultaneously appointed Trans-Century's god father Eddy Njoroge as KenGen's Managing Director (overt & unveiled conflict of interest). The rest is history,.......you know how EA Cables & KenGen are performing at the NSE.
Track down the business interests of Trans-century and you will see the Sharks, Homeguards and Sultans partitioning and selling Kenya under the guise of privatization.
In the twilight months of Moi's Presidency, just before Kibaki came to power, Moi had a rush to dispose off ( sell for ten pieces of silver) Kenyan public assets in a frenzy that astounded many. In the twinkle of an eye, Kenya-Re and Telkom shares were being offered for sale at exorbitantly discounted rates.
The disposal of these Kenyan public assets was riddled with overt corruption mainly through gross undervaluing of the entities. Coincidentally, at the epicenter of the privatization exercise in the late 90s, early 2000s was Nicholas Biwott's daughter, Ms. Esther Koimett, the then Investment Secretary -whom Kibaki found prudent to serve as Kenya's new Investment Secretary thanks to his renewed political dalliance with Nicholas Biwott.
In 2000/1 Esther Koimet almost facilitated the sale of Kenya-Re ( a public asset) to Zim-Re (of Zimbabwe ) in partnership with Monarch Insurance (owned by Gideon Moi) for less than one-third it's value. Gideon Moi and his shielders Zim-Re of Zimbabwe almost bought the entire Kenya-Re for 800 million shillings when it was valued at more than 2.5 billion shillings in 2001.
Who halted the sale? After the Parliamentary Investment Committee (PIC) failed to stop the sale on procedural grounds, three MPs filed a successful court injunction blocking the sale: Prof. Anyang Nyongo, Wafula Wamunyinyi and Musikari Kombo. The ruling was made by Justice Hayanga.http://www.nationaudio.com/News/Dail...usiness65.html
Thanks to the three MPs, we were luckily to have survived the transfer of Kenya Re into the hands of Gideon Moi in exchange of ten pieces of silver.
But we were never always lucky, we lost some battles to the Moi privatization frenzy.
Telkom had off-loaded much of it's shares in Safaricom (the mobile phone giant) to Vodafone, and within the shady transaction, a secretive entity known as Mobitelea ( Moi Biwott Telecommunication East Africa ), controlling 5% stake in Safaricom was born. Kenyans failed to read and pre-empt the illegal transfer of public assets into the hands of political families without their paying of a single dime. The Moi family and their two little partners in Mobitelea raked in Shs 850,000,000 last year alone thanks to that illegal transfer. The money is at their disposal to bribe weak and unprincipled political leaders, to create further confusion in the country, the perfect environment to enable their continued milking of our coffers.
Gideon Moi's Mobitelea is now subject to yet another controversy, since the government wants again, to offload some more Safaricom shares to the public in an attempt to further hide disclosure facts.
History is repeating itself. This time around, it's a Kibaki privatization frenzy!
This time yet again, some patriotic and forthright Kenyans like Raila Odinga, are demanding full disclosure about ownership of Mobitelea and strict adherence to the provisions of the Privatization Act 2005, before any Safaricom IPO's are floated. Finance Minister Kimunya's own floatation rules are quite suspect, listing only 47% shares available for the public, with 50% shares going to the so-called high net investors, the likes expected to occupy Kibaki's re-election fete - the million-per-plate dinner. Kenyans are being taken for some dumb fools here.
Raila has threatened to file an injunction in court halting the offer citing both procedural issues -failure to abide by the Privatization law and the failure to comply with the full-dislosure requirement of privatization.
On privatization, Kibaki has specifically succeeded in hoodwinking many unsuspecting Kenyans when he releases public reports citing "successful" privatization efforts and IPO floatation. This he did with the recent KenGen and Mumias offers, where his government craftily pretended to offer 97% shares to the public -when in essence they had a huge pre- allocation for high net investors (friends of Kibaki coming in names like TransCentury Investors and Baraka Afrika) who ended up acquiring huge stakes, 30% and 25% shares
respectively,......from the two companies.
This my dear friends is what is called transferring (giving away) public wealth into the hands of a few politically connected individuals. This largely contributes to the astronomically increasing gap between the rich and the poor in Kenya . It grossly undermines our economy in the long-run despite the short-term busy season it offers at the NSE.
I'll quote Macharia Gaitho's Jan 24th, 2006 Sunday
Nation editorial piece
quote from article.........
"one of the Ministers involved in the (Anglo-Leasing) cover-up is quoted as saying that 'President Kibaki is above money' and 'does not touch money'. The problem is, he depends on others to worry about how his political projects will be funded. And he asks no questions about the source of funds. Some of those fellows (he depends on) are now running some key state corporations, and are also linked to the investment groups that seem to have the inside track on a very opaque privatisation of public corporations. " end of quote. (Mr Gaitho is the managing editor, Sunday Nation)
Do the names TransCentury or Baraka ring a bell? The companies that have questionably acquired within four years under Kibaki's presidency : major stakes in all recently privatized parastatals besides, 20% stake in Rift Valley Railways, majority stakes in East African Cables, 2.13 million shares of Kenya Power (KPLC), 10% of Development Bank of Kenya, and a sizeable chunk of the mortgage giant HFCK.
What about Kibaki's friend Moi and Mobitelea? What about Kibaki's friend Biwott who's Kobil company also recently secured a Shs 3 billion oil supply deal to KenGen?
Githongo's own insight, has told us in Kiraitu's words & admission,...that the very Kenyan taxpayer, was to be robbed in excess of Shs 5 Billion,..to fund Kibaki's 2007 elections. According to Githongo, more than 200 billion shillings has been lost under the facilitatory watch of these two Wazees Moi and Kibaki.

COMMENTARY

Raila to fulfil Luhya dream of ascending to presidency

By Wafula Buke

Focus on prophet Elijah Masinde’s legacy and prophesies on the electoral politics of the Luhya is a welcome session on discussions going on in western Kenya.The theme under focus is his credentials as a prophet. Dr David Owuor, a Christian preacher, recently treated Kenyans to a prophesy about earthquakes that would reduce Nairobi to debris. When the city experienced tremors recently, focus went to him. In the ensuing national reflections, geologists gave data showing that Old Donyo Lengai, the epicentre of the quake, has been erupting every 45 years. Owuor’s prophesy was therefore in line with the predetermined geological processes involving the movement of tectonic plates.

A look at the Masinde prophesy suggests that prophesies that come to pass are in harmony with scientific analyses and propositions. While it may be debatable as to whether his prophesies were God send, and consistent with prudent analysis is beyond question. He predicted the departure of colonialists consistent with the growing social forces in his time that ensured the realisation of this prophesy.

At independence, Jomo Kenyatta’s many years in prison, age and the centrality of his community in the liberation struggle had prepared him to be the first president of Kenya. Masinde had similarly served a prison term hence more inclined to support Kenyatta’s bid for the presidency. He, therefore, disagreed with Masinde Muliro’s Kadu front in the contest for leadership in 1963. He threw his weight behind Kenyatta’s Kanu. Indeed, it did not take long before the argument for consolidation of national unity compelled Kadu to cross over to Kanu.

Additionally, if one ranked national leaders at independence based on age, profile in the struggle and numerical strength of their ethnic communities, the following was true. The most deserving was Kenyatta, followed by Jaramogi, the radical nationalist then the liberal Muliro would come third in that succession. Masinde’s prophesy was therefore consistent with a viable succession scenario after Kenyatta. If one foresaw Kenya’s ethnic voter bias, one could picture a scenario where solidarity among small communities was going to serve as a ladder to presidency for their aspirants.

The logic that informed the prophesy of Masinde on when the presidency would go to the Luhya holds water today more than it did at independence. Therefore, Musalia Mudavadi’s presidency after Raila Odinga is a viable venture than any Luhya bid after President Kibaki. The God who gave Masisnde the prophesy of a Luhya winning the presidency after a Luo understood the electoral dynamics of post independence Kenya.

Yet Masinde's politics transcend this narrow pre-occupation with power politics. Perhaps that’s why his ideas and legacy are being embraced by the youth in relation to this year’s General Election.The Dini ya Musambwa leader’s input in the Luhya political psyche is his heroic struggle for liberation from British colonialism and decolonisation of the African mind. He epitomised pan-Africanism, nationalism, social justice and the determination to pursue ideals however unpopular. Indeed, in him the region has a representative on the African chart of no-nonsense social justice crusaders.

He is only comparable to the likes of Oyangi Mbaja and Absolom Ingen. Ingen was Field Marshal John Okello’s second in command in their revolutionary insurrection in Zanzibar in 1964 according to his autobiography, Revolution in Zanzibar.

His distinct ideological identity is historically evident. For instance, while Muliro was a convert to the British version of independence, Masinde's was more revolutionary and that is why he launched a guerrilla campaign. The Bukusu, who were more loyal to the ideals of Masinde, were hesitant to respond to Muliro’s advice that they buy land from the departing white settlers in Trans Nzoia. Masinde instead mobilised them to repossess the land by force asking "How do we buy our own land?"

As the elite advocated for mass enrollment into formal schools, he cautioned against the colonial content of the said education. On religion, he cross-bred Christianity with the African religion and produced the hybrid Dini ya Musambwa with Mount Elgon being the equivalent of Zion. His prophesies in 1960s about the Luhya presidency provided the package that enabled Wamalwa Kijana and team to sell Jaramogi to the Bukusus during the 1992 elections.

At this particular time, his legacy helped the Bukusu rise a rung higher than others when they supported the deserving doyen of opposition politics for the presidency in 1992. This exploitation of the Masinde prophesy deepened the people’s faith in the authority of his pronouncements. Masinde’s radicalism earned him space in history but denied him appreciation from conservative leaders from his community. Unlike the late Muliro, who has been celebrated as national hero, the prophet’s legacy has only been selectively exploited by politicians without any honour accorded to him.

It would have made more historical sense naming a university after Masinde rather than Muliro because unlike others who embraced colonial education, Masinde interrogated western ideas and values and institutionalised opposition to colonial education through his brand of religion. As the wheels of history continue grinding on, it will not be easy to find fault in his pronouncements.

bukewafula@yahoo.com

The writer is a political commentator

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OPINION:

Luhyas closer to power through ODM

When it comes to succession politics of 2012, Mr Uhuru Kenyatta comes top on the list. Where does this leave Luyha leaders supporting President Kibaki’s re-election? Why should the likes of Mr Musikari Kombo, Dr Mukhisa Kituyi, Dr Noah Wekesa and VP Moody Awori agree to play second fiddle? It is because they are only interested in benefiting themselves and their kinsmen at the expense of the Luyha community. In ODM, Luhyas have a chance to ascend to power come 2012.

Joseph Kwimba, Nairob

Published in Standard of 19/09/07i

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FORD KENYA SHOULD NOT REPEAT THE REFERENDUM MISTAKE

As Kenyans prepare to go to election towards the end of this year, the positions taken by the various leaderships of political parties will determine whether the specific parties will be in the next government or in the opposition.
So far as many parties strategize to make alliances of political convenience, Ford Kenya remains in unpredictable situation with contradicting statements from its national leadership. While the party constitution endorses the chairman to be its presidential candidate, it’s so disturbing that up to date the party has not made any concrete or official communication on whether Hon.Musikari Kombo is seeking presidency, supporting president Kibaki or looking for another alternative.

It’s not long ago that in November 2005 the party delayed making a decision on the constitution referendum about which side to support and when it made that decision, it came out to be one against the wishes of the majority of Kenyans. So as a party we voted for the yes (banana) side which the majority of Kenyans rejected. The leadership of that time has not changed and it’s hard to believe that that leadership will advice its membership to vote for the popular presidential candidate that majority of Kenyans will support. It must be understood that majority of Ford Kenya membership has not tasted any benefits of being in the Kibaki government; a few appointments shouldn’t be used to hoodwink the party to support the incumbent for the second term, unless comprehensive reasons are given.

It must also be noted that Ford Kenya as a party has been given a raw deal as far as the Vice Presidency is concerned since the demise of our beloved Michael Kijana Wamalwa in 2003.we voted overwhelmingly for the banana hoping that the president was going to reciprocate our support for the government by appointing either Hon.Musikari Kombo or Hon.Mukhisa Kituyi as his vice president. It’s therefore obvious that the party membership can not take another false promise of vice presidency in the Kibaki administration. All that the party got were a few positions for a few individuals. It’s so disappointing that the party chairman was contented and so proud of those appointments whose impact to the party membership is yet to be seen.

The party chairman has perfected the art of horse trading by getting appointments of a few people to government positions and therefore proclaiming to be part of the government. Its saddening that in 2002, we supported Kibaki with an understanding that president Kibaki was the first among equals; including Hon. Wamalwa Kijana and Hon. Charity Ngilu (while forming NAK), but unfortunately the developments immediately after the 2002 general elections, indicate that Ford Kenya has always been treated as an inferior partner in the ruling coalition tubned government of national unity and can only get left overs. That is why it’s important for the party leadership to explain to the members on under 7hat circumstances should we support which presidential candidate.

It’s therefore important that the party leadership focuses on an alliance that can respect the party and also assure members that we are NOT being pushed to be in the opposition from January 2008.

It’s a known fact that the party will be the main loocer in the forthcoming election if it doesn’t consult its membership before making a decision to support any presidential candidate or field its own. The wishes of party members should be given priority. Therefore it’s wrong for the chairman to proclaim sup`ort of any other presidential candidate without formally consulting the party membership.
Ford Kenya through Hon Noah Wekesa and Hon.Wafula Wamunyinyi have already initiated talks with other “like minded” parties to form a coalition for the re-election of His Excellency president Kibaki while the party chairman sometimes claims to be in the presidential race and sometimes claims to be supporting the incumbent president. Which one is the right direction for the party members? Is Kombo running or supporting Kibaki? If he is supporting Kibaki, under what kind of agreement is he supporting him? Is it merely for horse trading? Given the developments in the Kenyan political landscape, Is Kibaki the right horse for Ford Kenya?
Kibaki’s presidential campaigns are said to be already in full gear. Narc Kenya has already overtaken everyone in campaigning for Kibaki. The Ford Kenya party leadership should make sure that the mistakes during the referendum are not repeated. It’s important for the party leadership to make a decision that is consistent with the majority of Kenyans and in favour of party members, lest we repeat the mistake we did during the referendum. So, who is the Ford Kenya horse?
FWAMBA NC FWAMBA
BOX 41046-00100
NAIROBI
+254721779445

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VIEW FROM HOME AWAY:

DETRIBALISE KENYA THROUGH LANGUAGE EDUCATION

By Shad Bulimo, London, Sunday 26 August 2007,
Politics has been described as a dirty game best left to seasoned political pugilists to spur against each other through sound bites. That has pretty much been the case for many years in Kenya even during the tyrannical reigns of Moi and Kenyatta. But for this fight to permeate into ordinary social life is extremely regrettable.

The Nyeri hotelier who chucked out Raila Odinga from his dinner table is adamant that she did nothing wrong and perhaps she might even be a heroine of sorts locally. But therein lies the problem. Where people take law into their hands in the name of fighting the corner of their political god father, must be condemned in the strongest terms. Management reserves right of entry in hospitality outlets but this is normally on account of unacceptable standards of decency such as dress code or drunken behaviour. It’s criminal and discriminatory to refuse to offer service on account of race, religion, ethnicity, sex or political persuasion.

I know it’s election year and temperatures are likely to run even higher than the barometer we saw in Nyeri. But for heaven’s sake, we are Kenyans; we love our motherland; we travel freely across the land, we live and work wherever life’s circumstances might take us. We are a mixed nation of some 43 tribes. We are a rainbow nation, to paraphrase Nobel Laureate, Bishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa.

Like the beautiful colours of Benetton, this rainbow nation is glittering with beauty, style and energy. We owe it to ourselves to tap into the strengths of all Kenyans to enrich all Kenyans.

Only recently, William Ruto told how Raila Odinga cannot be elected because of his tribe – Luo. That individuals should be seen in terms of their tribes rather than Kenyans is a testimony to the narrow mindedness of those aspiring to national leadership.

As a country Kenya is a big shame and a bad example to Africa. Our leaders keep squandering opportunities to rise above the tribe and demonstrate continental leadership. Instead, they preacher messages such as “it’s our turn to eat” or let’s hold onto the cow at all costs because other tribes want to rob us. This was certainly the case with Kenyatta who turned Kenyanisation into Kikuyunisation especially following his inglorious exit from Kisumu under a hail of stones in 1969.

Moi too retreated to the tribal corner to wage war against real and imagined tribal enemies. In Kibaki, Kenyans had finally chosen a leader of great political experience and intellectual ability and whom, it was hoped, would rise above the tribe and perhaps even “kill” it.

Sadly, the LSE graduate chose to follow “Nyayo”. In the early days of his helmsmanship, readers may recall that he received world acclaim from none other Bill Clinton, the popular ex-US president. Asked on a TV news programme which world leader he admired most, Clinton singled out not “Madiba” Mandela but Kibaki; citing his universal free primary school education program as admirable. In an instant, Kibaki became not merely an African president but a world statesman laden with tonnes of political capital.

How did he invest this capital? His choice of investment portfolio unmasked him as an opportunist rather than one divined of visionary leadership. For sure he had many Kikuyu friends who had supported him through thick and thin over the years and needed to reward them somewhat. At first he seemed reluctant to travel that path telling his people in Nyeri not to expect hand outs from the government but to apply for loans from the banks. That was a perfect beginning but he quickly retreated to the relative comfort of the tribe once political temperatures began rising in the governing coalition organ – Narc.

So yes he might survive and rule for another term. But Kenya’s Mandela he is not. The country is yet to produce a visionary leader who can “kill” the tribe so that Kenyans see themselves as Kenyans first and whatever else as second.

So how do examples from other countries in Africa inform Kenya’s struggle against the tribe?

TANZANIA
Under Mwalimu Julius Kabarage Nyerere, Tanzania may not have achieved pride of place among its economically prosperous neighbours. But hats off to Nyerere, his Ujamaa philosophy achieved something Kenyans covet in private: nationhood. Tanzanians speak of Ndugu na Dada rather that Jaluo, Baluhya, Kikuyu, Kamba, Kisii, Kalenjin, Masai – and they have 120 tribes (three times as much as Kenyans). These tribes co-exist peacefully and are culturally active but no one frowns against the craftsmanship of the Makonde or the business skills of the Chagga or indeed the dancing rhythms of the Sukuma. These are celebrated across the land.

Nationalism is Tanzania’s greatest asset which somewhat makes Tanzania richer than Kenya in the sense that it’s easier for government to disseminate messages across they board without certain tribes feeling crowded out.  Even in “poverty” Tanzania’s are proud of being Tanzanians. When the government’s spokesman, Dr Alfred Mutua issued his stickers “NAJIVUNIA KUWA MKENYA”, these quickly turned into a national joke “NAVUMILIA KUWA MKENYA”. He hastily withdrew them in a major public relations flop.

It’s joked that if you asked a Tanzanian what tribe he is, he would retort that “you must be  Kenyan”.

GHANA:
Under Kwame Nkurumah, the tribe was “killed” through the education system. Nkurumah decreed that all pupils must proceed, for their secondary education, to a different province of Ghana. This meant that an Ashanti child would leave his village and go to study in Ewe or Afante. This was  a master stroke. The child learnt not just academics but also vital social skills – the language and culture of his hosts. Language here assumes a stature bigger than a mere communications tool. In the case of Ghana, language empowered Ghanaians to roam freely across the land and build a strong foundation of shared national ethos. There is no such thing as a superior tribe.

ZAMBIA
Again, the government of Kenneth Kaunda tackled tribalism through his humanism philosophy. Most Zambians speak more than one tribal language.

SOUTH AFRICA:
In addition to English and Afrikaans, South Africa has officially recognised and elevated six formerly Bantu languages into national languages. You can speak in either of those in Parliament.

HOME-GROWN EXAMPLES
In the 1980s, one Luo man settled in Murang’a and taught Kikuyu how to eat fish. They loved him so much they elected him counsellor. Athletics, once a preserve of the Kalenjin has now attracted the Kisii and Kikuyu. And in football where once it was a Luhya/Luo affair, it is not uncommon to hear of Mutua na mpira. The village shopkeeper at Vigina in Vihiga is Mr Mwangi. He speaks Luhya, his children go to local schools; they too speak Luhya.

These are the dynamics of social change. No one can stop them including our Nyeri hotelier. Every tribe has skills that others can learn from and together prosper as a nation. Primitive behaviour, name calling, extremism and  tribal swaggering reduce our collective pride as country and make the task of nation building that much harder.

WAY FORWARD:
I was in a meeting recently where a linguist, Dr Kipnyango Seroney suggested the teaching of Kenya’s languages in the national curriculum. I thought the idea was really brilliant. This means that as a Luhya, I would be expected to learn one other Kenyan language in addition to my mother tongue, Swahili and English. For instance, Luos would learn Kikuyu while Giriamas would learn Kalenjin etc.

This sounds to me quite a realistic suggestion that can kill tribalism certainly within a generation. I remember when  was a pupil at Mulwakhi primary school, English was promoted at the expense of my mother tongue. If you spoke vernacular, you would be given a disk; a large wooden gadget worn around the neck in shame.

But why should it be shameful to speak your mother tongue? Only now I realise how the colonial education philosophy was meant to brainwash the natives to hate their language and culture and hence start life on a weak point. I now also agree with Ngugi wa Thiong’o that writing in Kikuyu is a good thing.

The Kibaki government has grand designs in education. Primary education is free and soon secondary will be as well. However, as a nation we need to clearly define what sort of pupils we are nurturing – tomorrow’s tribalists or nationalists. I sympathise with our lady in Nyeri. I see her as a victim of the colonial mindset that taught you to hate the other tribe in a grand dive-and-rule conspiracy. She needs education and I support Dr Seroney that all Kenyan pupils be required to learn at least one other Kenyan language besides their mother tongue as a first step in bridging the cultural divide and “killing” the tribe.

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Shame of selfish Luhya leaders

By Fwamba, Bungoma, August 25 2007

The ejection of ODM presidential hopeful Raila Odinga and his entourage from a hotel in Nyeri owned by a relative of President Mwai Kibaki was a primitive act that should not only be condemned but has no place in  modern civilization. Whatever the reason, this action underlines just how polarized our country is along tribal lines.

Raila proved that he was not a tribalist when he declared ‘Kibaki tosha’ in 2002. But it seems some people in this country believe that the seat of the president is their preserve and whoever else seeks it is an enemy who doesn’t deserve any hospitality even if he is paying for it.

It is shame if at all Raila’s ejection was as a result of a tall order from a senior family member of Hon. Mwai Kibaki as its being speculated. Such primitive characters have not had an opportunity to learn consequences of such primitive actions. Many will remember, the Nazi holocaust, racial hatred, the infamous Rwanda genocide which emanated from hatred between Tutsis and Hutus and the scenario where celebrated author and lecturer Prof.Ngugi wa Thiong’o was ejected from a hotel in California purportedly meant for whites only .Those ignorant of history and global political trends do not know repercussions of such actions.

If Raila is ejected from Nyeri because he opposes President Kibaki, why would Luo’s welcome him in Kisumu?  I have been watching events in the Kibaki camp for the last few months and I can tell you that a government of national unity is a sham as only one community tends to get the lion’s share of top jobs.

Its time for political realignment and we must only go where we are respected and recognized. Not where we are going to rubberstamp other peoples fortunes. We have less than 100 days to election and that means we need to make a decision that makes sense to us and our interests, especially we the young people both in western province and other parts of the country. If Kibaki team will be such a group, well if not we will certainly decide.

Kibaki has cancelled debts for coffee and tea farmers but when he came to western province he dilly dallied on the plight of the sugar cane and maize farmers.  A lobby group to re-elect Kibaki has been formed in Western but then coordinator is from Central Province.

We are certainly against this kind of behavior and condemn our political leaders like Musikari Kombo, Mukhisa Kituyi and Moody Awori who have decided to auction Luhya on the cheap.

All our networks in western province should share this information. Let us not rubberstamp the benefits the ministers have gained at our expense. FWAMBA NC

FWAMBA
KENYA YOUNG VOTERS ALLIANCE
BUNGOMA

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VIEW FROM HOME AWAY:

TRAGEDY AND POLITICAL OPPORTUNISM

By Shad Bulimo, London August 17 2007
Even before the mud dries in Khuvasali village in Kakamega, yet another tragedy hits Budalang’i in Busia. Within a week, more than an estimated 40,000 people may be misplaced; thanks to the flush floods occasioned by the bursting of the banks and River Nzoia while at least 18 are dead or missing in the Kakamega mudslide.

The two incidences are calamitous and illustrate just how useless we as a country in general and Western Province in particular are in disaster management. In the case of Khuvasali, rescue efforts were at best shambolic; the response too slow and too little too late for victims.

President Mwai Kibaki was touring Western last week when the tragedy happened. He sent shs 100,000.00 in donations while area MP, Soita Shitanda (Malava) who is also the Minister for Housing, donated shs50, 000.00. I know the president’s trip was planned in advance and he was as always on a tight schedule. I am disappointed the President did not break his journey to visit the area and commiserate with the people of Khuvasali.

His advisors should have spotted a window of political opportunity that presented itself. One man’s poison is always another man’s meat, so goes the altruism and in politics more than any other filed of human endeavour, shrewd politicians exploit whatever opportunity presents itself to gain political mileage – be they funerals, weddings or tragedies.

It’s an election year for heaven’s sake and moreover the president had arrived in the Province with fishing rod and baits. But in Khuvasali, nobody would have noticed how large or small the bait was. His face in Khuvasali would have gained him more fish than perhaps his entire effort for the four days he sojourned in Western.

It was left to the Special Programmes minister, John Munyes to rescue the government. Mr Munyes made a quick visit to the area and promised heavy mechanical equipment from the army to speed up recovery efforts. Day after his promise, nothing had come of his promise.

Neglected and abjected, the people of Khuvasali received some help from local sugar companies – West Kenya, Mumias and Nzoia – who sent in their diggers. Although these diggers attracted controversy as to their appropriateness, at least the gesture from the sugar giants was recorded in the rescue mission largely coordinated by the International Federation of the Red Cross assisted by the National Youth Service.

Photographs of NYS personnel digging into the sludge with spades illustrated the crudeness with which the rescue efforts were being handled despite warnings from the Western Deputy Provincial Geologist, Mr Duncan Lizunella that water was still flowing from the soil and the tragedy could be escalated.

The Vice President, Dr Moody Awori, sent condolences to the families of the bereaved.

It was left to presidential aspirant, Musalia Mudavadi to spill the beans. He visited the victims and donated shs50, 000.00 and blankets. From him though, we learn that apparently the government has a Disaster and Emergency Fund of shs 2billion meant to deal with such acts of God. Not a penny had come from this fund as we go to press begging the question: If Khuvasali Incident is not a disaster to merit help, then what is?

Flooding in Budalang’i is not new. It’s predictable and measures have been taken to lessen the impact when River Nzoia bursts its banks such as building of dykes. However, these efforts are uselessly too little and need to be revamped by building larger dykes or barriers. Reports indicate the current spate of floods have misplaced up to 40,000 people who are without shelter, clean water and toilets. The area is marooned and fears are growing of an outbreak of waterbourne diseases and cholera.

Predictable or not, it is crucial that a lot needs to be done in disaster preparedness. There is a strong argument that Western Kenya is too far away from Nairobi to matter and is only good as a fishing ground for votes.  It’s incidences like the above two that we expect the government to grab the bull by its horns and demonstrate that every part of Kenya is important and no one is marginalized.

Members of Parliament from Western Province met in Nairobi last Thursday to plot their political future and raised questions about the government’s handling of the mudslides, floods and insecurity in Mount Elgon.

The people of Khuvasali are still searching and mourning the dead. As the dead are buried we owe it their memory to put in place measures to avert and deal with such visitations in future.

Shad Bulimo is the editor of Abeingo.org, an online portal of the Luhya people.

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WHO WILL SPEAK FOR WESTERN?

By Shadrack Bulimo, London August 6 2007

As President Kibaki turns his campaign machinery to Western Province, it is worth asking ourselves just what role Luhya people are playing or are expected to play in the unfolding political dispensation in Kenya. Though populous and second only to the Kikuyu, Luhya land is one of the most backward parts of the country. Successive governments have only seen it proper to use Luhya as cheer leaders and dish out hand outs to a few individuals or kingpins to whitewash the masses of Luhya land.

During Kenyatta days, we had Joseph Otiende, Kenya’s first minister for education and the first Luhya graduate from Makerere University. Otiende was fiery in his delivery of political salvos. The late Jaramogi Odinga once told me that if there was one person Kenyatta feared most in his government, it was not him but JD Otiende. Otiende, like Bildad Kaggia from Murang’a were ideologues and shunned ill gotten state lucre stolen from the lumpen proletariat of Kenya. The man is still alive and tills his smallholder land in Vihiga District. A visit to his home reveals nothing of the stature of the man in the early sixties. But that is a moot point.

What is relevant in the case of Otiende is that in him, the Luhya had a leader capable of fostering and nurturing the spirit of entrepreneurship totally lacking in Western. In him, the Luhya had a direct link to the inner sanctum of the government; and where loans were easily facilitated by Kenyatta to the Kikuyu to purchase settler farms, the Luhya merely flocked to Nairobi and Central province to labour on the coffee plantations. There is absolutely no evidence that Otiende used his position to hoist the lot of Luhya people. It was a time of Kenyanisation of the economy but this largely turned into “Kikuyuinsatrion” of the economy with majority of ministers happy to get hand outs from Kenyatta as individuals. His material condition pretty much illustrates all that is wrong with Luhya.

Exit Kenyatta enter Moi and in Western enter one Substone Budamba Mudavadi. The late George Mbugguss sent me on a special assignment to interview Kenya’s first cabinet during the silver jubilee of independence in 1989. One, Harvester Jackson Angaine refused to be interviewed in Nairobi. He demanded that the interview take place in Meru. I did not mind where the interview took place so long as I got my story. On the appointed day, I found that Mr Angaine had laid out an elaborate ceremony at what he called “ikulu” with choirs, women groups etc drafted to entertain the King of  Meru. The activities took place from around 10am to around 7pm.

 All the time, Mr Angaine insisted that I must sit next to him and watch the entertainment. It was not until 8pm that he finally relented and agreed for the formal interview. Exhausted and frustrated, I had to get my story. It then transpires that the reason he kept me so long was to use me to send a message to all those who doubted that he was the King of Meru. In particular, to debunk the myth that besides Moi only Mudavadi enjoyed the near-kingly status.

That was amusing but underscores the influence Mudavadi had in the land even among his peers. So how did his power help the Luhya?  Ask untrained teachers in Western at the time and city council sweepers. He employed them by the busloads and nobody dared question why only Luhya. Besides that act of economic empowerment, I am disappointed that Mudavadi’s influence did not filter through where it’s most needed – large scale industrialisation and commercialisation of Luhya economy. There is no economic edifice in Western that can easily be identified with Budamba which has changed the lives of thousands of our people.

Another great Luhya emerges in the name of John Osogo. It is rumoured that Webuye Paper Mills was originally earmarked for Thompson falls in Murang’a but Osogo cannily sneaked in Broderick Falls in Webuye while he was minister for commerce and industry. Sneaky and undefendable but perhaps understandable given the economic and political climate prevailing in Kenya at the time. At least, Webuye was born, jobs and auxiliary services created. It’s a town of nearly 80,000 people all directly or indirectly involved in paper processing activities – thanks to one man.

The current government does not really have a pointer man who commands the whole of western. The only person who came close to that stature was the late Kijana Wamalwa. In his absence, Musikari Kombo, the local government minister comes close by virtue of the share of his political vote (30%) in Western. However where strength of character and leadership has been needed, it has not been found in Mr Kombo. He seems to busy himself jostling for handouts from the state largesse for his cronies. Which beggars the question, who will speak for the Luhya?

We have had great leaders of yore. The people’s watchman, Martin Shikuku, a priest by training, was largely a man suave in parliamentary procedures and horned debating skills. His record on economic matters is wanting. Musalia Mudavadi, the short-lived vice president and for many years minister for finance, has been described as lacking in go-getting skills; waiting to be spoon fed is more like it. He disavows all that criticism and describes himself as patient and calculative. He is now one of the presidential aspirants on an ODM-K ticket. History will either absolve or swallow him. But while in government, I never saw him reach out to Busia, Bungoma and Kakamega in an effort to kick start economic regeneration of Luhya land. Then we have buccaneers like Cyrus Jirongo; he of the YK ’92 fame (or is it infamy?). He started the Luhya unity drive, a very positive effort, but that seems to have petered out and the Luhya are once again back to the degenerative state they have always found themselves.

Kibaki begins his tour of Western on Wednesday this week taking in largely opposition zones. Housing Minister, Soita Shitanda has rolled out a wish list for Kibaki on top of which is the stalled sugar factory in Busia. But seriously western is bleeding. In Nyanza, Kibaki came with a shs12billion election bribe. He promised the elevation of Kisumu airport to an international airport, he chucked funds in the roads construction projects and talked of reviving fishing and cotton industries. Who knows what he has in store for Western. Whatever he has, it is not going to come out unless we make noise. We are far too fatalistic and contented to be noticed.

Western needs industries. Yes sugar is one of the mainstays of our cash economy, principally around Mumias and Butere Districts. But it is by no means the only one. Western, taking in the Rift Valley areas of Kitale has been described as the granary of Kenya. Maize farmers need extension services from the government. Initiatives taken by community leaders such as Dr Eusebius Juma Mukhwana of SACRED need support from the top. SACRED recently hosted the former UN Secretary General, Koffi Annan at its demonstration farm in Mubanga, Bungoma.

A university charter was recently granted to what was formerly Western College of Technology - Weco - (now Masinde Muliro University). The university needs investments to expand its research activities or expand on those currently being undertaken in Bukura Rice Scheme. A teacher training college is to be built at Kibabii, Bungoma at cost of shs1.7 billion and some roads have been tarmacked. All these is positive but more remains to be done.

The potential in western has not been fully exploited yet. There is for instance Kakamega forest, one of only two remaining rainforests in Africa (the other being the Congo). The forest is disappearing fast due to illegal logging, tacitly sanctioned by corrupt government officials. The forest is internationally recognised as a sanctuary of rare birds and snakes. The forest needs intervention from Kibaki to stop it from total decimation. It has the potential to attract ten times the number of tourists currently arriving. But this calls for investment in security, infrastructure and training.
In education, the ratio of our youth who gain admission to universities is far dimmer than that of say, Central. This is because the schools in Western are poorly equipped.
In the civil service, a recent survey found out that despite being the second largest tribe in Kenya, the Luhya share of the top civil service and parastatal jobs was under 10%.
Yes we are cooks. We accept that with thanks. We can cook for the whole country. But can we cook for ourselves? And yes we are watchmen. Thanks. We protect the whole country. But can we protect ourselves?  Someone please tell Kibaki that when cooks and watchmen down their tools, the whole country will be open to starvation and looting.

 

Shadrack Bulimo is the editor of Abeingo.org

Website: http://www.abeingo.org (broadband)
Or http://www.abeingo.org/luhya.html (dial up)

Email: editor@abeingo.org

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LAST CHANCE TO SAVE A VITAL RESOURCE

OPINION
The launch of the Lake Victoria Basin Commission this week by East African leaders marks a major turning point in the management of this vital water mass.   The lake is facing serious threats due to pollution, improper water use and general ecological imbalances that have led to marked reduction of water inflow.
For more than a decade now, the lake has had to contend with the choking water hyacinth that destroyed marine life and stifled economic activities.  In setting up a commission to harness the water resource, the message the leaders are sending out is that time has come when countries living around it collectively managed it. 
It does not make sense for one country to take care of its part of the lake, while the other parts are being destroyed through pollution or poor use.  When the lake dries up, and we are told that the water levels are declining fast, the entire eastern and northern Africa will suffer both economically and in ecological terms.
In the past, the lake was a transport hub between Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, and thus provided a vital link for business transactions in the region.  But this activity ceased when the then East African Community folded in the late 1970s. The ensuing loss is probably what prompted the East African leaders to set up the commission. 
Through this body, lake transport ought to be revived, as ought other joint activities, including marine research, irrigation and patrols to ensure sustainable water management and conservation.  It is gratifying to note that President Kibaki, who presided over the launch, pledged that the Government would provide infrastructure — roads and electricity — to the communities living around the lake on the Kenyan side to enable them make better use of the water resource.
For a region that is blessed with the continent’s largest fresh water lake, it would be inconceivable to sit back and watch as it dried up.
Source: NATION MEDIA, Tuesday 12 June 2007

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Sugar farming a fruitless pre occupation

S R Athembo Onyuro Nairobi, Monday, April 16, 2007
In a recent newspaper advertisement, Mumias Sugar Company posed a very important question: Is the Kenya sugar industry ready for full liberalisation by 2008? As a long time sugarcane farmer and transporter in the Miwani zone, my answer is YES. But for this to happen, teething problems afflicting the industry have to be overcome. The cheap sugar from the Comesa region vis a vis local expensive sugar is the bone of contention.
Kenya does not deserve an extension beyond the March 8, 2008, Comesa deadline. On March 8, 2003, Comesa member States allowed the Government’s request for extension — and by extension all the sugar factories — five years’ extension to put the sugar industry in order. Less than a year to the deadline, nothing tangible has been done to address the rot.
The Government has just woken up from four years’ slumber with fire fighting methods. Agriculture minister Mr Kipruto arap Kirwa now wants to open Miwani Sugar Factory before December. Both Miwani and Muhoroni mills remain under receivership. The Busia Sugar Factory is a white elephant, while wild game ventures are being mooted to start a sugar factory in Tana River District and open the one at Ramisi.
Mumias Sugar Company, the mother of all sugar factories, is calling for bids to study next year’s deadline, barely 11 months to the crunch. Four hurdles are the roadblock to the success of sugar farming.
High taxes and levies are the number one enemy to the liberation of sugar farming. They make local sugar the most expensive in Africa if not the world. A couple of years ago, the Kenya Sugar Board published the numerous taxes and levies imposed on the crop.
An analysis proves that local sugar can profitably sell at half the current price if the taxes were reduced by the same margin. With a stroke of the pen and a Kenya Gazette notice, the Finance or Agriculture minister can abolish or reduce the taxes and levies on sugar and it will compete with that from other Comesa states.
Setting up commissions, calling for consultancy bids and passing the buck do not help.
The second problem is the high cost of production. For example, ploughing an acre of land using mould bold plough costs Sh4,500 and Sh3,000 for second ploughing, harrowing and planting. Seed canes cost Sh2,000 a tonne and Sh150 to cut a tonne. It costs Sh750 a tonne to transport cane from Miwani to Muhoroni/Chemelil.
These charges do not include various hidden charges and levies. The high cost of production and the taxes and levies make sugar a worthless venture. No wonder sugar produced and transported thousands of kilometres away from as far as Brazil, is cheaper even after the cost of insurance, freight and local taxes and levies. The explanation is true for sugar produced in neighbouring countries such as Sudan, Uganda and Tanzania.
MPs from the sugar belt areas are the number three enemy. They have used the woes to make themselves sugar tigers for cheap publicity. The MPs know the Sugar Act is grossly flawed and defective, but have done nothing.
Instead of moving Bills and Motions to amend the Act, some MPs raid supermarkets to confiscate ‘illegal’ sugar to attract cheap public attention. They have also become specialists in unsubstantiated allegations. Some have colluded with importers and connived with sugar factory directors to steal funds and to have their relatives and supporters employed.
Some of the MPs who shout loudest about sugar are not farmers. At best, they are soiling their hands in the crop for the first time. They, therefore, do not share the physical, mental, emotional and economic tribulations of cane farmers. The MPs should lead cane farmers from the rear — not the front.
Non-payment of sugarcane by-products is the fourth hurdle standing between the sugar industry and next year’s Comesa deadline. Most sugar factories do not pay farmers for and have no capacity to use cane by-products such as molasses, burgesses (fibre remains after milling) and cane leaves, among others.
In Indonesia, for instance, sugar mills pay farmers for by-products and use them to make paper and spirits and generate electricity.
In view of the above facts, legal and illegal importation of sugar are symptoms, not the disease per se, of what ails local sugar farming. The focus must be to destroy the four major hurdles.

The writer is a sugar farmer and transporter
onyuroh@yahoo.com.

Source: THE STANDARD