Of Jubilee, NASA and the ‘Informed Voter’

President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto of Jubilee Party

With the political party nominations coming to a close, the countdown begins towards the August 8th elections. The yet to be concluded party primaries have seen a surge in the number of youth seeking elective seats whether as Members of the County Assemblies, Members of the National Assembly, Governors as well as Senators. The general youthful argument being to provide leadership that is a stark departure from the old guard ethnic balkanizing of the electorate as well as the open voter bribery incidences that have marred elective politics for decades. It, however, remains to be seen whether these sentiments are merely populist public pronouncements or whether the youth actually desire to be different in preaching political tolerance and accommodating diverse political views. This badge that many claim to wear with pride and honor is unfortunately just that, a badge. Deep down, many still desire the raw ethnic profiling and making politics about ethnic communities and not policy or ideology.

The social media today, unlike 10 years ago has become a key battleground in the scramble for a favorable public opinion. Unfortunately, it has also doubled up as a platform for bullies and ethnic chauvinists to quash alternative opinions with the hope of anchoring the very same divisive notions that took Kenya to the doldrums in 2007/2008. No Kikuyu or Kalenjin is obligated to support the Uhuruto ticket for re-election. In the spirit of democracy, the power to choose is vested on the voter, even where he or she may suspend reason in electing representatives. Similarly, the alternative leadership presented by the Railonzo ticket is never a do or die affair for the voters. The candidates have a right to sell their agenda to the people, who also have the right to apply or suspend reason in choosing or rejecting their political ideology. Therefore, like in the case of the Uhuruto ticket, no Luo, Luhyia or Kamba is obligated to support the Railonzo ticket.

The 5 NASA Principles during unveiling of their flag bearer at Uhuru Park

Kenyans have for the past 54 years of independence allowed politicians to colonize their mental faculties, operating like automated robots when engaging in civic processes. We have belonged to political parties because our ethnic kingpins subscribe to them, shifting allegiance in a heartbeat when our tribal henchmen change parties. No wonder elected representatives hardly deliver in the roles assigned them. All they need to do is take a swipe at a particular ethnic community or its leading figures and voila, their electoral base reeling in euphoria, fall in line. Aspiring politicians also play this very card to earn popularity within a desired ethnic base then present themselves as party loyalists and defenders of party leadership. But Kenyans already know this. We have read and re-read such analyses but opt to turn a blind eye because we believe that everyone else is playing by these crooked rules. We feign helplessness even when we know very well that we are getting a raw deal and suffering the repercussions with every passing day.

I fall in the bracket of Kenyans that believe that we can do something to change the dominant political narrative. Nothing, however, happens where the will is lacking. For starters, we can actively interrogate the political ideologies as presented by the political parties and coalitions we subscribe to. Secondly, we can look at the individuals constituting a political party or coalition and question their track record in meeting the ideologies they have outlined. There can be no two ways about this. A little bit of research to inform popular statements that we reiterate once spoken by politicians can go a long way into transforming the electorate and especially opinion leaders from ‘Yes Men and Women’ to principled individuals with a grounded idea on the type of future we want for ourselves and our country Kenya.

The Writer is a Research Consultant for Savic Consultants in Nairobi.

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Kenyans Are Not Angry Enough: A Call to Action

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By Ooko Victor

Something is wrong with Kenya. Many of us think that it is entirely with the leadership. Others like me see the leaders as the disease, not the cause. We are the cause, me and you. The leaders we elect are a reflection of who we are. The impunity we see is what we choose every 5 years. Of course it is packaged in glittering campaign slogans, and accompanied with enticing ethnic music and jibes; anything to make ‘our kind’ seem superior to ‘them’, something that appeals to one of our fundamental need: belonging. And we have constantly traded this for good public service; for transparency in government operations; for strict adherence to the rule of law. And no, we never learn.

There are lots of myths surrounding what it takes to be a political leader in Kenya. A popular joke goes that all you need to do is to engage in corruption, capital corruption. Corruption so big that when it is computed, it can adequately sink 500 boreholes in North Eastern Kenya and make you the undisputed kingpin of the region. The capital corruption that awards you enough capital to launch massive irrigation projects across the dry areas of Ukambani and of Coastal Kenya. If anyone stole public money to launch such projects, that person would not be a thief worth having in public service and roaming around freely dishing out proceeds to Kenyans who really deserve it, such a thief, a benevolent thief would have been locked up in the deepest cells available at the Prisons Department. That thief would never get media coverage and public sympathy. That do good thief, who broke away from the code of thieving and plunder would have received a straightforward guilty verdict destined for the hang, and Kenyans would jeer him.

Of course Kenyans know we are facing tough times. We are programmed to fasten our belts for even tougher times. We have doctors who have downed their tools for the third month and counting. The nurses, recently out on the streets for similar pay demands are already threatening to down their tools again, barely a month since resuming work. Students in public universities are disillusioned with lecturers joining the ever-increasing list of aggrieved civil servants with long-standing disputes. And our Members of Parliament, among the best paid in the world, are currently hatching a plot to award themselves Kshs. 3 billion in benefits for being in office for 4 years in which Kenyans paid them slightly over a million shillings in gross pay! As if to add insult to injury, there is also a move to pay another Kshs. 3 billion to Members of Parliament who served between 1984 and 2002, periods of time characterized by unchecked land grabbing and misappropriation of funds set aside for the running of parastatals to name a few. The funds are available, just not enough to improve the plight of common mwananchi; rather, little bits to ensure the comfort of mheshimiwa.

I am an angry Kenyan. I am so angry that when I hear Moses Kuria or Johnstone Muthama speak, I imagine myself holding a bat to their face, certain that the very words I am afraid to hear will stumble out of their mouths. The kind of words that make reliving the 2007/08 post-election violence a certainty. I am an angry Kenyan who cannot trust persons who grabbed land from private citizens and public corporations. A very angry Kenyan who refuses to be ‘cultured’ in the ways of blind loyalties to ethnic crusades. Anyone who wants my trust should earn it. And I expect the same treatment from the world; no apologies. My anger is also directed at my teachers, well schooled individuals who teach me the values of a true leader and a true patriot, only to pull the rag from my feet when the ‘community’ is affected. Preach, preach, preach, but no practice. This makes me so angry!

But I do not let my anger blind me, and neither should you. I will not vote a 6 piece because I want to be politically correct. I will vote the hat that fits; the shoe that is comfortable and the trousers that reaches my feet. I will choose the coat that hugs my medium build, not these reflectors that all preachers seem to wear or oversize jackets that are passed down generations. I will wear the cloth that fits to my character and my ideals; my hopes and aspirations for myself and my country. My duty to those that believe in me to be different, to be better. Not perfect, just better.

Kenya cannot change if we keep doing what our parents and grandparents did. The same thing over and over expecting different results. Why do we put leaders in office? To serve us or to preserve the political party kingpins with hardly any agenda for mwananchi? It is obvious that we will one day awaken from this stupor; we can as well get over with it right away. Pour some cold water on our faces and realize that we deserve more. Government collects more taxes and instead of this resulting to more services, what we get is more corruption and more rewards for parliamentarians and their cronies. Every single play on the chessboard a selfish move to amass even more for the rich and hardly any crumbles falling off the high table to reach the citizenry; de jure kings but de facto paupers. Such is Kenya for you!

It is time that you got angry enough. So angry that you choose to move beyond the angry tweets supporting Amb. Amina Mohammed’s loss at the AU to actually registering as a voter or changing your vote to a place nearer to you. Angry enough to grab a clip board, collect a couple of signatures and run for office yourself like President Obama did not so many years ago in the United States of America and as Donald Trump also did recently. Otherwise, you are just another whining Kenyan with nothing to show for your claims of entitlement. Yes, you pay taxes; it is your right to expect the best. But when you don’t get what you are owed, you fold your sleeves and hit the road. It is time they paid up. I am collecting; are you?

Kenya does not need angels to save itself, Kenya needs you.

The Political Combination that could topple Jubilee

kalmuEvery supporter of Raila Odinga seems to believe he is the only candidate able to wrestle the reins of power from incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta and thereby topple the Jubilee administration. That may be true as long as the perception is from a solitary point of view. Yet political strategy cannot just have a single stand point.  At least, not if the saying ‘there are many ways to kill a rat’ persists.

Raila’s greatest successes have come not while fronting himself as the candidate, rather, when standing up for the greater good. He is a mobilizer extraordinaire! And his loyal troop of soldiers from the Luo community would provide any general some level of pride and self-assurance, almost to the point of sheer arrogance and overconfidence. Yet even with three attempts under his belt, Raila could only be as close as to caress the presidency despite his political mastery. The game plan needs to change!

First, Raila should support the calls for Luhya Unity rather than seek to undermine it. If indeed the opposition is the best alternative government, then the unity of purpose would ensure an endgame to the Jubilee strategy. The people of Mulembe have been their own greatest undoing for quite some time now, it seems like they are now willing to unite and speak in one voice. And not just Luhya Unity, the Coast Leadership is crumbling too with Gideon Mung’aro keen to mastermind its eventual division. The Jubilee forays into the region have seen a few leaders singing to their tune. The hostility between Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho and the Senator Mr. Hassan Omar is public records. When battling against the tyranny of numbers, a little disunity should be a cause for severe headache.

Secondly, Raila could then recuse himself from contesting the CORD ticket and rather support Hon. Kalonzo Musyoka, with the condition that Western Kenya produces Hon. Musalia Mudavadi as his running mate. Now look at this combination! Odd? Indeed but capable of working. A growing number of Kenyans may not want Jubilee in power, and neither does Raila as the alternative. Therefore Kalonzo would provide a much better alternative. And why the Presidency? He is the only original co-founders of CORD beside Raila remaining in the equation. Besides, I have never really imagined Wetangula as the Western Kenya Kingpin. With the support of the Western Kenya Unity, Mudavadi may be just the person to deliver the Luhya vote if the Luhya unity were to actually work.

Thirdly, Raila could then mobilize the entire Nyanza machinery behind the proposed leadership and make these candidates into contestants for the Presidency. And like I had already said, Raila is the go to politician when you are after actual mobilization. And with this combination, all key players would urge their strongholds to come out and vote in a Kalonzo-Mudavadi ticket as fronted by the general himself, Raila Amolo Odinga. I believe a deal like this could be struck to first of all end the current air of political mistrust and disloyalties abound. And Raila could finally have another major win since 2002, enough to make him bow out gracefully and focus on matters of African statesmanship.

And talking about the numbers, uniting the Luhya population and concentrating the all other regions together is the best possible shot the opposition has at the Presidency. In fact, even Gideon Moi could finally throw his entire weight behind the CORD presidency without compromising his own family in the historical Raila-Moi feud. And with this pact in place, of course other deals may be stuck here and there to accommodate the political egos, then the ‘Kibaki Tosha’ memories that pushed President Kibaki from the confines of a wheelchair to State House are bound to get even better.

Would this combination be a wild card? Maybe, yet you cannot assume the capacity it has to actually work! In order to win, you must not always be the one on the front-line. Sometimes, being the one to push the others could be all that is needed for the country to take on a different course. Sacrifice.

Ooko Victor

[victorooko@gmail.com]

Why Ignorance Is Becoming Kenya’s New Normal

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Kenya is warming up to the next general elections. Today, it is close to eight years since the dark glares of the shadow of the post-election violence engulfed our country; tearing lives apart and turning neighbors against each other. Eight solid years since we last saw the glaring consequences of feeding from the raw political emotions of tribal chieftains; of taking it upon ourselves to perpetuate ethnic intolerance and outright hatred at them that we once considered our national brotherhood. Above all close to a decade since we followed through the path of war-torn states and engineered the massacre of fellow Kenyans as well as the uprooting of established livelihoods under the guise that they just did not belong amongst us.

Today, we have forgotten all about they that suffered the greatest pains that ultimately provoked the international community to intervene on our behalf and engage in saving us from ourselves. Even as we celebrate the gains of the new constitution, we fail to remember that it was that dark period that ultimately pushed us towards facing our opposition against each other and seek to strike a compromise that would ensure we pull each other and indeed our country into the future that though we view from different perspectives, we all admit is a shared necessity for our posterity.

The political class which back then was the key perpetrators of the violence, as well as the great beneficiaries of the peace-deal that followed has muddled the public scene with counter accusations over who betrayed their ranks. Who defiled their code of honor and ‘sold’ one of their own to the ‘monster’ that is the International Criminal Court (ICC). No one is talking about the fate of the victims; some of whom to date continue to live with the scars of the past and who, with every day we draw close to the general elections, relive the painful moments they underwent.

The finger-pointing however is not intended to hoodwink the political class! Not at all, the voting masses have everything to do with it. Whether it is the shuttle diplomacy to express solidarity with a colleague at The Hague or blunt dares at each other to explain the roles they played at sealing the fate of their own at the international court, the show is put up specifically to influence the masses and ensure the continued political cushion that comes with running the government of the day.

We are no longer talking about the rising cost of living. We are no longer talking about the dwindling quality of education (the World Bank having recently raised an alarm about Kenya’s half-baked graduates), even as the Law and Engineering students from several campuses across the country pursue accreditation for courses they studied so hard to qualify for in the first place. All these do not grab the headlines; all that does is the political games of who tells the best lies. Of course, no one is interested in the truth. We are busy buying what the politicians are selling, and in the process, playing straight into their political dragnet ahead of the 2017 general elections, where we suspend our problems for their own. We forget what is owed us by the political class and instead, play errand boys and girls at their pleasure.

When a politician openly uses inciting and derogatory language, we choose factions from which to analyze the statements and make prejudiced conclusions. In essence, we quickly forget how the 2008/09 political scene was manipulated to make us the vessels upon which the raw emotions of the political class were manifested to our own detriment. We choose to be used and reused at the convenience of the politicians on every run-up to the general elections and remain whining when the leaders we choose care not about their election promises.

When dusk falls today, we shall still be keen to watch the latest twist of the CORD-Jubilee counter accusations and forget that if ever there was witness coaching, then the political class not only engineered the darkest political period of our post-independence nation, but also denied us the opportunity at getting justice! Talk about being fu***ed both ways! And instead of calling for the arrest and prosecution of those who openly confess their role in the obstruction of justice, we ignorantly cheer at their political bravery and settle on our coaches with bowls of pop-corn to watch the drama as it develops.

Kenyans need to rally behind the pillar of true nationalism and not convenient patriotism if we are ever to learn from our mistakes and deliver our country from the political slavery that currently manifests through our biased political mentalities, either that or we shall forever remain the victims of different political generations that, in lieu of the current trend are bound to perfect the art of using us against ourselves.

Who Will Stand Up for Kenya?

Our country is is crisis. And am not a doomsayer to say this!

To begin with, we are currently playing witness to the attempted open arm twisting of the Judiciary by the Executive. A court order once issued is met by blatant disregard by those of might, while another that openly targets they that have less might is expected to be obeyed to the latter.

And secondly, is a lesson on how to deal with the courts, when you cannot get the judgement you expect, there are two options available, that you either craft up figures to justify the court’s apparent apathy of the economic times experienced, or you go looking for another verdict that suits you best. Mind you, none of these antics has anything to do with trying to read from the same script with the victims, in this case, the teachers who have been at the centre of the pay dispute for close to 20 years now.

This problem will hardly go away. A guarantee however is that, unless it is, then Wilson Sossion and Mudzo Nzili may not be there tomorrow, but whoever will be in charge, just like the preceeding governments, will inherit the right to keep pushing for the debt owed them and their predecessors.

It is a shame that teachers are always at the receiving end despite the nobility with which most of us regard the profession. Well, we may not necessarily have this feeling towards them but when the founding president Mzee Jomo Kenyatta reiterated the three enemies to Kenya’s development that needed to be vanquished, at the top of the list was Illiteracy. And it is the teachers who were the chief agents expected to oversee this transformation. Fastrack 50 years later and today, those same teachers continue to work under arguably disturbing circumstances with very little pay to effectively support their families and advance their individual aspirations. And as the country continues to lose billions of shillings to yet another of the independence setbacks (corruption), government still views an attempt to solve the teachers problem a luxury they simply cannot afford.

We continue to think that it is okay to still meet your teacher riding his old ‘black mamba’  to school while soliciting for funds through Harambees to educate his own children while the foundations they installed in our lives have made us millionaires!

We continue to think it is okay that the teaching profession continues to be associated with ‘low academic acievers’  yet still expect these same people to steer our children into the height of academic success? It is time we accorded the necessary respect to the teaching profession and gave them their slot at the high table as key partners in steering the national development agenda.

The ongoing court case should therefore not be viewed as a win or loss to the teaching fraternity. It should be a wake up call to government and Kenyans to note that the education sector if treated casually will continue being a perennial problem to all stakeholders.

In fact, the assembling of the Salaries and Remuneration Comission ought to have given special attention to the teachers plight. And unless the SRC is oblivious of the pay dispute history, they shouldn’t feign surprise at the open disregard of their authority by the teachers unions. In trying to comprehensively resolve a conflict, it is pertinent that you consider the historical issues that have rise to the conflict in the first place. Coming up with fresh laws doesn’t change the current problems, it just redefines them. The roots of the conflict still need to be addressed.

It really is time that someone stood up for what is right. Instead, the country is focusing on trivial issues surrounding the impeachment of the president (that definitely won’t mature)  and useless counter accusations surrounding the ICC; all clear political gimmicks aimed at diverting public attention from the actual problems bedevelling our country.

Ooko Victor.

Of Kenya, Uganda, Sugar and Brookside…

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Sorry I could not come up with a better title. This one appeals to me best; the tale of two countries, sugar, and a dairy processing giant in East Africa! To top it all, the politicking surrounding this entire issue having created a buzz that just refuses to go down. The big question here however is, does any of the political factions have the farmers interests at heart?

First, this is not the first time that Sugar has dominated the Kenyan political scene. The decline of Mumias Sugar Factory has been in the limelight for quite sometime now. Just recently, the Kenyan Government released Kshs. 1 Billion to help salvage the dying industry. Whether or not the mission is on its way to fruition is not public knowledge. At least not until it is realized that just like there is always an inlet to pour in ‘rescue funds’ in the name of the farmers, there is also an outlet that is very keen on siphoning every last penny off the sugar millers coffers. This angle however remains unaddressed.

The quantity of sugar consumed locally stands at 720,000 metric tonnes. This against a meager 520,000 metric tonnes produced by the local sugar millers. This therefore implies that we have a deficit of around 200,000 metric tonnes, the exact value for which COMESA had allowed for importation into Kenya, in accordance to the agreed on tonnes. What faces us now is the opening of the floodgates that would in turn see the influx of sugar into the country and a massive reduction in the purchasing cost of the same. The flip-side however will be massive losses by the local companies and maybe even their closure if they are unable to keep up.

 

Is it time we interrogated the level of technology of our local industries vis-a-vis the quantity and quality of sugar produced? If Malawi’s sugar production costs are 4 times lower that Kenya’s, doesn’t that point at something that could be done to improve on our current sugar woes?

It is common knowledge that we shall not always be protected from the market forces. Our industries have to keep up or risk losing out. Kenya needs to keep up pace with the rest of the world if at all we expect to compete effectively, not just where we have strengths but weaknesses too. If the sugar industry is so hot a task to manage then we really should consider privatizing it. That way, not only will efficiency be improved and bureaucracy eliminated, the farmers will be in safer hands. As things stand today, the government is perfecting the art of failing. And no matter the step they take, the ghosts of misappropriation of funds are not going away soon.

 

The opposition has a role in keeping the government in check. However, would they have approached the issue any different from the way government has? The Uganda deal aside, the Kenyan market was set to be opened to sugar products from the COMESA region anyway! So, is the calls for mass action just because Uganda was mentioned somewhere, or is it also in protest of Kenya’s trade agreements within the 19 countries in the COMESA region?

The opposition has not only to be realistic but thorough at approaching the whole issue. The elephant in the room is the high costs of sugar production. If they were lower, then maybe even the threat posed by COMESA would have been of no consequence. If we want to sell we must also buy. And that rule of trade will catch up with us one of these fine days, no matter what the opposition thinks.

Lastly, The Coalition for Reforms and Democracy has threatened to rally its supporters to boycott the products of the Brookside Dairy Company that is affiliated with the President Uhuru Kenyatta. My opinion is that this is a low jab. It is time we stopped personalizing national issues and actually sought to address the real problems affecting Kenyans. How will the boycotting of Brookside products reduce the cost of producing sugar in the country? Singling out companies associated with personality in the name of fighting for the well good of the entire nation is trivial. Does sabotaging one company that also provides jobs and revenues to the country necessarily contribute to national growth?

The opposition needs to get its act together if indeed they are keen on steering this nation one day. Otherwise, they will remain the whining dog that watches another dog gnaw at a bone they so much wish was theirs.

 

Ooko Victor.

A Government of Condolences?~Reminiscing the Garissa Attack

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Is the Kenyan Government nothing short of a scavenger that only comes to count and mourn the dead? Are Kenyans at all safe? Does the Kenyan Government really have an idea what they are up to in matters security?

These are the questions on the minds of numerous Kenyans today. From #WestgateMallAttack to #MpeketoniAttacks and now it is #GarissaAttacks. Sandwiched in between is the Thika Road blasts and the list is endless. And what does the government offer in return? Empty reassurances and messages of condolences. We bury our dead and the cycle continues.

The police force is unable to ensure security in the country. And so is the entire ministry that has seen its fair share of sackings and resignations. Only that the new players play under the same defunct conditions. The system is not working. No matter who is at the helm of the chain.

Joseph Ole Lenku was clueless. Yet Joseph Nkaisserry is not proving to be any better. Yes, the tough talk seems a little bit more convincing; but that’s just it, convincing. The actions or inaction continue to haunt us several months later.

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The sequence is the same. Foreign countries; Britain, America, France or Germany issue travel advisories; President Uhuru Kenyatta rubbishes these insinuations as baseless, reiterating just how safe Kenya is; then BOOM! Alshabaab strikes at exactly one of the areas mentioned as the basis for travel advisories.

When Kenyan Security Agencies claim to be on high alert, it must be in relation to collecting bribes by the roadsides! Since their efficiency is hardly noted. Either that or they intentionally stay away from loud gunshots until guns run out of bullets. A very costly tactic indeed!

At this rate, Mr. President, there may be no more Kenyans for you to govern. That is unless you are serious on our security.

The 147 souls lost in the hands of terrorists were breadwinners; parents and the youth. Bright young minds out to pursue their education with the goal of transforming the lives of the societies in which they reside. A price they paid for so dearly!

It is apparent that the most concerned persons about the state of Insecurity are the General Public. We don’t have bodyguards, unlike the president and the political elite. They are protected with the best of officers who should be out there protecting the country and its citizens. How can they understand the pains of the family of Miss. Janet Akinyi, terminated for being a non-Muslim student in Garissa?

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The President has once again issued a tearful message of condolence. Seems like this is what the government is best in. Putting on a forlorn face before the cameras and blurting out their #RESTINPEACE phrases. Then the shift focuses on the Opposition and the game of musical chairs continues.

Ooko Victor

Simple Talk Wont Fight Corruption, Actions Will.

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President Uhuru Kenyatta’s State of the Nation address was an early Easter’s gift to the ears of many Kenyans. Citizens who work hard toiling and eating from their sweat. Kenyans, most of whom are overworked and underpaid, yet are still swindled by the political bigwigs who understand little, what it means to pay taxes. People, who under the guise of Waheshimiwa set their own perks in their own terms. People we elect into office in the name of servicemen and women.

Yet close to 24 hours since the address, none in Government has stepped aside! The corrupt persons, or those linked to corruption charges know what is coming their way. They choose to stick it up in office! Typical Kenyan style! Close to 24 hours since the head of state addressed the nation and issued ultimatums, no heads have rolled; nor at least tilted. As the clock ticks, the hours mount. Another weekend as a Cabinet Secretary, a head of a Parastatal or any other capacity as a civil servant is a disgrace to the presidency, the constitution and the citizens of this great republic.

The contents of the report by the Ethics and Anti corruption Commission is damning. The move to publish and forward it to parliament is bold and patriotic. Yet that is hardly enough without actions to complement it. Ms Ngilu is well aware of the allegations leveled against her. She understands the best course of action, not for herself, but for this country. She knows she needs to go. And so does the other four cabinet secretaries aware that the public is keenly watching. The game is the same, let’s hope the rules have changed.

If president Kenyatta’s move is nothing but a mockery of the public, a cheap stunt at hoodwinking the public that the government is tough on corruption, the history will judge him. If the jubilee administration sweeps all the damning allegations against it’s top officials and hope that it will still be business as usual, then they are mistaken. Action needs to be taken to cement the place of government in the hearts of the public; and especially with the elections less than 24 months away. This could just be a make or break kinda scenario. The kind of strategy that leaves the opposition flat footed! And president Kenyatta knows he will be naive to let it pass.

As the nation awaits and the pressure mounts, it is my hope that the various political parties will take a cue from the president’s speech and request their MPs to step aside pending allegations on corruption leveled against them. Former premier, Raila Odinga should have led from the front like yesterday! And better still, why should we have corrupt parliamentarians deciding the fate of their corrupt friends? Will they too have excused themselves from parliament by Monday to pave way to credible deliberations on the matter?

With eyes and ears open for any breaking news, I choose to pen off.

Ooko Victor.

 

Corruption is the Real face of Kenyan Politics

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Hardly a year passes in Kenya without corruption allegations being leveled against politicians and senior government officials. from the Goldenberg to the Anglo-leasing sagas; Triton to the Standard Gauge Railway heat; Free primary Education funds…the list is endless! And fresh allegations keep streaming in. the latest being shoddy land deals as well as credible indications that the supreme law making body, the National Assembly, is now in the center of it all!

Suggestions that the old and tired politicians were the corrupt prone component of Kenyan politics is now a proven fallacy. Corruption is embraced by all politicians in Kenya, both young and old. Those with whom Kenyan taxpayers; as overworked, underpaid yet overtaxed as they are; have entrusted with the responsibility of ensuring proper utilization of their hard-earned tax cuts for the development of the country are the actual hyenas, greedy with the appetite of amassing more and more for themselves.

In fact, the youthful generation are smart enough to share the loot amongst themselves and hence compromise investigations intended to enhance transparency in the utilization of public funds! Corruption is a shared evil for all, whether in government or the opposition. Here, the code is the same, ‘eat while you still can’.

This article cannot go without mentioning the hot issue at hand surrounding the youthful and flamboyant politician Ababu Namwamba. That many started considering him as the crop of leaders required to take Kenya to the next level in terms of political democracy, transparency and accountability is not a light matter. It remains to be seen just how far he will grope in the darkness before finally finding the light.

It is also absurd that our leaders would rather retreat to their ethnic cocoons to issue threats and ultimatums whenever they are faced with corruption charges. Instead of piling pressure on the individuals to clear their names, they act as the safety valve and coalesce around the villain like a prized gem. For how long will this go on? And better yet, is this the mandate that best serves the interests of the electorate?

The times are changing and the tides are fast approaching. The civil society and like-minded Kenyans are taking it upon the,selves to be the direct instruments of change. The society continues to ail, but for how long will the cure be elusive?

Ooko Victor

Of Kenya and Tribal Foot-soldiers

ktbKenya is a nation of more than 42 tribes; yet it is the nation that the late J.M Kariuki lamented as one with 10 millionaires and 10 million paupers. Today at almost 51,the millionaires have graduated into billionaires and continue to amass even more wealth. The common mwananchi? Well,I bet this is none of the million/billionaires’ business. To them, is all about picking and dropping cronies who fit their selfish desires. Hunger for wealth and power.Yet even those with power opt to make it everlasting!They live in constant fear of that power ever leaving their grip or that of their immediate circles to fall further away from their influence.

Away from the philosophizing.Enter the real world. Kenya in the 21st century and we are still grappling with the menace that is tribalism. When our immediate neighbor Tanzania with more than 260 ethnic communities live in absolute peace Kenya with its around 42 tribes are always on the brink of war! Both verbally and at times even physically as is envisaged in the 2007/08 post election violence. Where did we go wrong? And are we that far from rising above the petty tribal politics to a more objective and issue based brand of politics? Our leaders plant the seeds of discord and ethnicity among us and yet we dutifully water them every calendar day of the year to our own undoing! And are they bent towards stamping out this vice that is tribalism? Hardly not! Believe me you if they had such objectives in mind then even the debate we are having today would have been of no relevance. We are here today because of the failure in leadership.

We are here today because of the masses having diligently taken the cue from the very same politicians and clung on their very words; boiling inside with every bit of inciting comment they make. The law is also either designed to give them a soft landing; or the implementing wing of the political brigade familiar with them see it best to brush it off as just another slip of the tongue by he political ‘bigwigs’ and or their lieutenants. We are where we are today because of cheering on this class of politicians and regarding the as our ethnic henchmen; yet have we really gained from their clamor to power ever since the blood of relentless Kenyans gave u the very freedoms we enjoy today?

The social media once the platform of goodwill and networking is awash with hateful messages which unfortunately continue to be re-tweeted and shared to even wider audiences! Facebook and Twitter platforms contain not messages of well wishes and common interests of a social nature but hateful articles and political content from morning till dusk!An attack on social media at a perceived political friend draws counter accusations about the opposing camp. This is a recipe for chaos in an already chaotic political space. Bad politics breeds war. Its time for our leaders to adopt a reconcilliatory attitude towards each other albeit to ease the political temperatures that are threatening to tear the nation apart.

It is time for Kenyans who have Kenya at heart to provide an alternative political discourse. One that does not center on either CORD and JUBILEE sycophancy but aims at uniting Kenyans across the ethnic divide. Above all, it is time for the most important stake holders in the country; the citizens to refuse being used at tribal foot-soldiers and hatemongers all for the sake of a united and stable Kenya.

Ooko Victor.