Category Archives: Governance – Kenya

The massive log in our collective eyes!

I am a Kenyan living in the United States and find the article by Ms. Muthoni Thangwa in the July 29th edition of Daily Nation to be laughable at worst and misleading, not to mention a case of deflection at best.

 http://www.nation.co.ke/blogs/-/634/1929974/-/view/asBlogPost/-/gepjjkz/-/index.html

God knows that America has its faults. This country has a very painful and sordid history; one that it continues to deal with to this very day as evidenced by the events at the center of Ms. Thangwa’s piece. It is a past AND present whose details I delve into in my book Wuodha: My journey from Kenya to these United States. However, the one thing America; the country I have called home for the past thirty-plus years has which the likes of Muthoni and her compatriots can only intellectualize and fantasize about is a system of governance that holds people, including the president of the country, not to mention their friends and family wholly accountable for their actions. And on a slight but pertinent digression, United States of America has institutions – judiciary, legislative, police and infrastructures – roads, railways, and buildings etc. that while far from perfect, make those in Kenya the very embodiment of a banana republic!

I do not agree with the verdict on the murder of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman. My disagreement with the verdict is however based on emotional considerations than on legal ones.

The fact is: a young man needlessly lost their life and his killer essentially walked away scot-free! I feel more for Trayvon’s parents and friends. I don’t feel for Zimmerman’s parents or friends. At least they still get to see him – he is alive even though he will forever be haunted by the fact that he took the life of another human – Thou shalt not kill. Finally, and adding insult to injury is the afore-mentioned history of racism and Jim Crowism in America, the south (Florida) in particular that African Americans have endured over the years. I therefore get the perception this verdict has created, not only throughout the world, but even here in America. I also get how the acquittal of Mr. Zimmerman for the murder of Mr. Martin has added to the narrative the Ms. Thangwa is working with. However bone-headed, the verdict was made within the confines of the existing law(s).

Having stated the fore-going, let me also state without any equivocation that Kenyans are as hypocritical a people as I have seen and I am Kenyan! I also know that I am generalizing, the very crime Ms. Thangwa commits in her piece! I also know that two wrongs don’t make a right! To which I say “oh well!”

The same yahoos screaming about racism and bigotry in America will shamelessly hack one another to death because they are “uncircumcised” and/or from the wrong tribe! The very folks shaking their fists at America about “due process” for Trayvon are the same ones who will turn right round and tell those who disagreed with the Supreme Court verdict during the 2013 presidential elections to “accept and move on“. The very Kenyans who bloviate about “human rights for Trayvon…and the hypocrisy of America..blah, blah, blah” are the same ones who will turn right round and throw stones at the International Criminal Court (ICC) for “going after their sons”, sons who are accused of organizing over 1200 Trayvon Martins for the very reason Ms. Thangwa is accusing America of – violating the human rights of the less powerful! Maybe Muthoni can tell her readers whether the human rights of the internally-displaced people (IDPs) were violated by “our sons” as charged by the ICC. What of the rights of Robert Ouko, Tom Mboya, Pio G. Pinto, JM Kariuki?

In the 2012 US elections, there was a report of Kenyans, now naturalized American citizens who could not countenance voting for America’s first non-white president because he “…had Luo blood in him” courtesy of his father Barack Obama Sr.; the very definition of “judging someone by the color of their skin, not the content of their character!” These are the very people who will turn right round and tell those who accuse Uhuru of being the recipient of ill-gotten gains courtesy of his father Jomo “not to blame the son for the sins of the father.”

http://www.kenyan-post.com/2012/11/kikuyus-here-in-us-did-not-vote-for.html  

The very Kenyans who have no compunction about “toaring kitu kidogo” i.e. offering a small bribe or conversely asking someone seeking service to “ongea vizuru” i.e. give a bribe for said service will take to the streets to complain about “MPigs” or castigate the International Criminal Courts for “finishing off their sons and daughters”. It is this hypocrisy and double-standard that has resulted in a country and a people as synonymous with winning the Boston Marathon as it is/they are with corruption and impunity!

I challenge Kenyans, who are notoriously religious, are prone to being “born again Christian” and are religious (no pun intended) attendants of “prayer rallies” to follow the very teachings of their holy book The Bible and look at the log in their eyes before pointing out the sliver in the eyes of others!

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Filed under Corruption, Democracy, Governance - Kenya, IDPs, International Criminal Court - ICC, International Relations/Global Issues, Justice, Kenya, Law & Order, Life, Politics, Race, Racial Discrimination, Racism, The Hague, Trayvon Martin, Tribalism, Tribe

Twin Rorschach Tests: On Trayvon Martin et al.

I have just listened to son of K’Ogelo and American President Barack Obama address the dichotomous reaction of Americans to the verdict by the jury in Sanford Florida on the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, a 17year old African-American boy. Trayvon was shot by George Zimmerman a bi-racial volunteer neighborhood watchman. Mr. Zimmerman, against orders from the police dispatcher who was handling his “report of suspicious activities”, followed Mr. Martin, got out of his car and in the ensuing tussle, shot him dead.

The verdict by the jury of six women; five white and one Hispanic – acquitted Zimmerman of all charges, basically ruling the death of the unarmed 17year old “justifiable.” America’s reaction to the jury verdict, much like Kenya’s reaction to the ruling by the Supreme Court on the results of the 2013 presidential elections and increasingly to the charges of crimes against humanity facing President Kenyatta and William Ruto has been a Rorschach Test on the two countries’ view on social issues such as race, racism, tribe, tribalism and impunity.

The Sanford jury verdict pitted Americans who supported the verdict against those who did not. On one side were Americans who believed that Trayvon Martin deserved what he got i.e. death at the hands of an overzealous neighborhood volunteer watchman who was just “standing his ground” against those “punks who always got away.” On the other side were Americans who believed that once again, the American justice system had let down an innocent black man (not to mention his friends and family) whose only fault was “being black in a neighborhood pre-dominated by non-blacks” and dared to challenge Mr. Zimmerman, who was just protecting those represented by their peers in the jury from his ilk; a young black man!

The April 2013 ruling by Kenya’s Supreme Court to disallow forensic auditing of the much-maligned and sub-standard information technology (IT) infrastructure used by the equally maligned and incompetent IEBC and award the presidency and deputy presidency to Jubilee’s Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto pitted Kenyans who supported the verdict against those who did not support the court’s ruling: on one side were Kenyans who believed that the ruling by their Supreme Court was valid, rejection of the forensic audit of the failed IT infrastructure notwithstanding. On the other side were Kenyans who believed that once again, Kenya’s justice system had been manipulated by the rich, powerful and well-connected to maintain they hold on power.

And just as Kenyans who protested the Supreme Court’s decision awarding the 2013 presidency to Jubilee’s Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto were told to “get over it and move on”, so were Americans who rallied in protest against the verdict acquitting George Zimmerman of murdering teenager Trayvon Martin.

To paraphrase a line from the July 20th New York Times editorial piece on President Obama’s surprise appearance at the White House press briefing http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/20/opinion/president-obamas-anguish.html, just as the verdict crystallized the dissonance regarding race and racism in America, so has the dynamics of presidential politics in Kenya done on matters of tribe and tribalism. Americans idealize their society and mythologize the role the founding fathers played in the creation of said society just like Kenyans idealize Kenya and the role its founding father played in its creation.

Once again, paraphrasing the editorial piece from the NY Times: Viewed within the narrow confines of matters regarding racial justice and harmony, there is no doubt that America has done a yeoman’s job given its sordid history. The tangible/physical remnants of racism and racial discrimination are few and far between, definitely a rarity and an exception in the daily lives of Americans. Similarly, long gone is the overt and blatant tribal chauvinism originated by one Jomo Kenyatta after Kenya’s independence in the early 60s; chauvinism that included oath-taking by those around him after the 1969 assassination of Tom Mboya to ensure that “the (Kenyan) presidency does not cross the Chania River”. http://kumekucha.blogspot.com/2007/08/kenyan-presidency-was-not-supposed-to.html

http://diasporamessenger.com/this-woman-mary-wambui-kibaki/

Given the Rorschach-esque reactions to the twin evils of racism and tribalism in America and Kenya respectively, Republican Andy Harris may as well have been addressing the groups that reacted negatively to the acquittal of George Zimmerman and the hastily convened swearing-in (and prelude to the horrors of post-election violence) of President Kibaki in 2007, not to mention the ruling of Kenya’s Supreme Court to reject forensic auditing of the information technology (IT) system used by the electoral board commission with his flippant “get over it” remark!

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Filed under 2013 Presidential Elections, Democracy, George Zimmerman, Governance - Kenya, IDPs, International Criminal Court - ICC, International Relations/Global Issues, Justice, Kenya, Law & Order, Life, Race, Racial Discrimination, Racism, The Hague, Tribalism

Baba wa taifa alisema: On proclamations and diktats

http://www.nation.co.ke/News/Uhuru-urges-teachers-to-end-strike/-/1056/1904892/-/p9151oz/-/index.html
http://www.nation.co.ke/News/politics/Embrace-teamwork-Uhuru-urges-Jubilee-MPs-/-/1064/1902316/-/a92h51z/-/index.html
http://www.nation.co.ke/News/Uhuru-sees-deeper-Burundi-ties-/-/1056/1901810/-/7bpw6n/-/index.html
http://www.nation.co.ke/News/-/1056/1899410/-/w2o49hz/-/index.html
http://www.nation.co.ke/News/-/1056/1896904/-/w2q3bhz/-/index.html
http://www.nation.co.ke/News/Guard-against-corruption-Uhuru-tells-PSs/-/1056/1896636/-/1vmcvk/-/index.html
http://www.nation.co.ke/oped/Editorial/Enhance-security-at-port/-/440804/1895588/-/69vsot/-/index.html
http://www.nation.co.ke/News/-/1056/1894886/-/w2rhj5z/-/index.html
http://www.nation.co.ke/oped/Opinion/-/440808/1893362/-/jgdle9z/-/index.html
The fore-going are links to proclamations, directives or orders announced either on behalf of or by President Uhuru Kenyatta since he took office in mid-March 2013 after the Supreme Court ruled in his favor. The list is not comprehensive but methinks is comprehensive enough to make my point:

At the self-imposed 100-day review point of his presidency, the president is flailing.

http://www.nation.co.ke/News/IDPs-ask-Uhuru-to-give-them-land-/-/1056/1894522/-/27fim0/-/index.html

Mr. Kenyatta is jumping from one crisis to another with proclamations, directives, orders and diktats that beg the larger question:

Who is in charge of the institutions tasked with ensuring that the services Mr. Kenyatta is issuing directives on are provided as required?

While issuance of directives, especially those related to foreign affairs and national security are within the purview of the head of state, one wonders why he has to issue them on matters as sundry and benign as “teamwork” and “corruption” if, as we were told during the election victory-induced giddiness, those heading the various ministries were nominated and confirmed on the basis of “…their professional background, merit and experience.”

http://www.nation.co.ke/News/Uhuru-Ruto-pick-23-for-top-ministry-jobs/-/1056/1859232/-/aq1crg/-/index.html .

I would like to believe that a professional and experienced cadre of employees knows the importance of “teamwork”, do not abuse drugs and abhor corruption. Apparently that is not the case in Kenya! The unequivocal and confident presidential testament to the competence of the various cabinet secretaries during their nomination was promptly followed by a groveling and less-than-presidential plea for more time for the competent secretaries to hit their stride! The plea for more time came in the form of a parable by the ICC suspect turned pleader-in-chief; a style of speechifying that the president’s nemesis was repeatedly ridiculed for. Oh the irony!

Said the senior half of the digital duo, tellingly (subliminally?) at a church – ACK St. Paul in Embu: “If you get a wife, a child does not come after only three months. You give her enough time.” Mr. Kenyatta appropriately made this comments in a place people go to confess their sins and ask for forgiveness!

http://www.standardmedia.co.ke/?articleID=2000087807&story_title=uhuru-give-the-government-a-chance-to-deliver

The two diametrically opposed presidential proclamations are juxtaposed next to one another after the digital duo had sold their euphoric jubilants the li(n)es; in a sequence of presidential appearances that could have served as comedic skits right out of a Saturday Night Live or Churchill Live!

Unfortunately, the chain of events is not an act; but an apt metaphor for the bait-and-switch meme most politicians are notorious for. The same meme that has been perfected, packaged and successfully sold to a Kenyan public eager to partake in their share of “matundu ya uhuru” by their so-called leaders. The sad thing is that they, Kenyans, fall for the deception every election cycle! The enraptured jubilants were sold li(n)es they bought hook, line and sinker – as we say stateside.

Yes indeed, choices do have consequences that are painfully bearing out.

http://www.nation.co.ke/News/politics/-/1064/1860598/-/blj8wb/-/index.html

The latest presidential order was issued to Mr. Joseph Ole Lenku, the Cabinet Secretary for Interior Ministry. The minister was ordered to airlift the students involved in the tragic school bus accident in Kisii to Nairobi for treatment.

http://www.nation.co.ke/News/Airlift-Kisii-accident-students-to-KNH/-/1056/1911504/-/ib9m22/-/index.html

Along with the directive was the assurance that “the government will foot the hospital fees.”

A blogger named Zaze said it best with the following:

If it will take the President to intervene in everything including common sense issues like taking the injured to the best medical facilities, then to me that is a symptom of an administration with a knee jerk reactions to issues. It is an administration which is reactive to issues as opposed to being proactive. It is an administration that chases the wind as opposed to harnessing the wind’s powers for the benefit of its people.

While the compassion reflected in the president’s directive is unquestionable, indeed timely, that the directive had to come from Mr. Kenyatta and not the Cabinet Secretary or Secretaries responsible for the issue(s) harkens back to the days of pronouncements and edicts by Kenyatta Pere and Daniel Moi. It is a style of leadership vividly captured by Robert H. Jackson and Carl G. Rosberg in their seminal work on leadership in Africa titled Personal Rule in Black Africa (Pg.108-112). Such proclamations effectively sideline the cabinet secretaries/ministers and in a portending slippery slope, pre-empt the legislative role of parliament and other policymakers; replacing them with the annoying diktats of yesteryears: Baba wa taifa alisema….”

http://www.nation.co.ke/News/politics/Jubilee-government-will-be-known-for-rule-by-fiat/-/1064/1898416/-/49bvnuz/-/index.html

A very disturbing sign.

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Filed under 2013 Presidential Elections, Corruption, Democracy, Elections, Governance - Kenya, Kenya, Law & Order, Politics

Kshs. 700Million is NOT enough!

The utter shock and flabbergast over The Treasury’s request for Shs.700 million “for the purchase of building to house an office for retired President Mwai Kibaki…” is only be superseded by Mr. Francis Kimemia’s response/comment during a phone conversation with the Daily Nation on the subject. President Kenyatta’s Secretary to the Cabinet is quoted as saying that he thought the reporter “would say that the Sh700 million is too little…

Publically stating that seven hundred million shillings or $8.5 million is not sufficient to secure an “office” for an ex-president who is also one of the country’s richest men is akin to telling average and poor Kenyans to “eat cake”. If ever there was a public personality in today’s Kenya that was tone-deaf and completely clueless on the nuances of public relations not to mention the public’s perceptions, Francis Kimemia would be that individual. The man epitomizes arrogance, flippancy and poor administrative skills. The only thing more scary but would not be entirely surprising would be if Mr. Kimemia’s actions are at the behest of his boss President Uhuru Kenyatta or reflect his desires!

http://www.nation.co.ke/News/politics/MPs-reject-plan-to-buy-Sh700m-Kibaki-office–/-/1064/1887330/-/12ofmbb/-/index.html

http://www.nation.co.ke/News/Sh700-million-for-Kibakis-new-office/-/1056/1884298/-/qyiifwz/-/index.html

The Shs.700million office building proposed for the retired octogenarian is in addition to the following farewell gifts:

  1. A residence in Mweiga, Nyeri complete with an office wing; allegedly his retirement home.
    1. A petrol station courtesy of the National Oil Corporation,
    2. Four fish ponds from the Fisheries ministry,
    3. An aquarium – Huh? The four fishponds are not enouh?
    4. Two dairy cows,
    5. Four Boran bulls. As a lover of mbuzi, kondoo na kuku, I am offended that no one offered the fore-going livestock in addition to the bovines.
    6. A borehole to be sunk in Mweiga by the National Youth Service.
    7. A library to be established by University of Nairobi at the former president’s home. One wonders which home!
    8. A copy of each of the books published by the same university – in English or Swahili?
    9. 10.   And a partridge in a pear tree!! Okay this one is a joke but I could not resist.

Man things have certainly changed since the days of a golden watch, a potluck and an out-of-tune round of “for-he-is-a-jolly-good-fellow” when one retired!

Added to the fore-going list that rivals the one compiled by the Three Wise Men who travelled from the east bearing gifts for Baby Jesus, the package put forth by the Presidential Retirement Benefits Act also entitles the retired president to Sh195,000 in monthly fuel allowances or 15 per cent of his last salary of Sh1.3 million a month and a house allowance of Sh299,000, not to mention the lump sum payment of one year’s salary per term served or the equivalent of at least Sh25.2 million!

The listed cart of goodies does not even take into account the wealth Mr. Emilio Kibaki has accumulated over the years, especially after independence. The former president was among the lucky few who helped themselves to more than their share of “matundu ya uhuru” during the corrupt 60s & 70s and the sycophantic 80s and 90s when he was the MP of Bahati, Othaya, Permanent Secretary/Minister for Finance & Economic Planning and Vice President respectively.

Mr. Kibaki then spent the five (5) years between 2002-2013 as the Big Man or president who “toshad” as in “Kibaki Tosha” and was supposed to rescue Kenya from the scourge that was Daniel Arap Moi’s quarter century reign of terror. One word, albeit hyphenated and an acronym summarize Mr. Kibaki’s two terms in office: Anglo-Leasing and PEV. During his first term in office, the trained economist presided over one of the largest scandals in Kenya’s unchallenged history of corruption scandals. Anglo-Leasing, as the scandal was referred cost the country an estimated Kshs. 3billion. The scandal also touched the innermost sanctums of ‘Baba Jimmy’s” administration and tarnished his staff including very senior members such as Kiraitu Murungi, David Mwiraria and Chris Murungaru. Mr. Kibaki’s second term in office inauspiciously started off with a dusk time swearing-in ceremony attended by a posse of sycophants even as the country was erupting into tribal violence protesting the rigged election results. It is the violence after the elections of 2007 that give birth to the acronym PEV – post-election violence.

The one ray of hope to emerge from this blatant attempt at fleecing the public coffers albeit legally is the intervention of the National Assembly’s Budget Committee whose members rejected the request. I say “ray of hope” because the chairman of the Budget and Appropriations Committee Mr. Mutava Musyimi told the Treasury “to go back to the drawing board and come up with other options ‘affordable’ to the taxpayer”: A Pyrrhic victory if ever there was one because it gives Mr. Kimemia and his band of accountants and lawyers another crack at weaseling the Shs. 0.7billion from the public who already took it on the chin thanks to the first “digital” budget!

http://www.nation.co.ke/News/politics/Budget-team-rejects-Sh700m-Kibaki-office-proposal/-/1064/1886802/-/wh9ilyz/-/index.html

Even more perplexing is the fact that Mr. Kibaki, the so-called “urbane and sophisticated gentleman of Kenyan politics” and recipient of the basket of goodies has not been heard from on the propriety and probity of such lavish goods amidst the belt-tightening and poverty in the country. Similarly, his successor Mr. Kenyatta has been noticeably quiet on the subject of his predecessor’s gravy train even as his Cabinet Secretary stumbles and bumbles from one scandal to another and his Finance Minister asks Kenyans to pay Value Added Tax (VAT) Bill in his just announced 2013 budget, a bill that seeks to impose a 16 per cent tax on basic commodities including sifted maize flour, sanitary towels, newspapers, journals and periodicals, rice, wheat flour, bread, computers and computer software, and processed milk.

http://www.nation.co.ke/Features/DN2/As-food-prices-rise-brace-yourself-for-an-Unga-war/-/957860/1886176/-/5k1s1uz/-/index.html

I hate to sound like a broken record but choices have consequences and try as the jubilant supporters may, the consequences of their choice of Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto are fast becoming apparent and not in the most-positive of ways.

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Filed under Corruption, Disparity - Income Distribution, Elections, Governance - Kenya, Justice, Kenya, Law & Order, Life, Members of Parliament, MPs, Politics

Opening Pandora’s Box

Former Minister for Lands and Settlement and current Senator for Laikipia Mr. Godfrey ‘GG’ Kariuki has fired an opening salvo on the one issue that will define the legacy of President Uhuru Kenyatta, son of Jomo Kenyatta, the very person who, in my opinion, created the issue in the first place: the Pandora’s Box that is land ownership in Kenya.

Mr. Kariuki articulated, at the highest level ever by an influential and living Kenyan politician, a sentiment that has been echoed by millions of ordinary Kenyans across ALL tribes and regions since independence but until recently were deathly afraid to discuss publicly.

Said GG; “(T)here’s no reason why (President) Uhuru should not change this country forever. He has the power; he doesn’t need any other power. He has the wealth; he doesn’t need any other wealth.”

The context of the fore-going comment by Sen. Kariuki was Kenya’s history of land grabbing and suspicious accumulation of wealth by its presidents, politicians and the sycophants around them. The senator pointedly blamed the country’s history of corruption and impunity for the fore-going; an opinion broached by Charles Hornsby in the book KENYA: A history since independence, when he writes about “the monarchical nature of ‘King’ Kenyatta’s ‘divine’ rule…” (Pge. 107) once the country gained its independence from the British. Mr. Hornsby also argues that it was during this time that Jomo Kenyatta started to amass his personal fortune (Pge. 108) that was then inherited by his family. In short, the evidence is compelling that the current president is the beneficiary of ill-gotten gains courtesy of his father and is therefore uniquely positioned to address said subject.

http://www.nation.co.ke/News/Senators-urge-Uhuru-to-solve-land-problem-/-/1056/1889382/-/cjrhox/-/index.html#disqus_thread

Godfrey Gitahi Kariuki, who according to the website http://www.kenyahistory.co.ke/personalities.php?pg=personalities&id=76 was “at one time arguably the third most powerful man during the first four years of President Daniel arap Moi’s rule” is spot on with his assertion regarding President Uhuru Kenyatta’s unique position in resolving Kenya’s enduring issue of land ownership. Mr. Kenyatta can and should confront the sins of his father Jomo and those of his mentors Daniel Arap Moi and Mwai Kibaki. Were he to do that, even symbolically, Uhuru would forever endear himself to most Kenyans who will at least give him partial credit for confronting the subject of land ownership and by default corruption; subjects that his predecessors have avoided like vampires avoid sunlight. Son of Jomo will not only cement his place in the country’s history, but rather than relying on the bi-tribal support that won him the 2013 elections, Mr. Uhuru Kenyatta will garner support across a grateful and relieved country. Even more importantly, the self-proclaimed Christian and man of God would have done the “right thing” in the eyes of ALL.

Mr. Kariuki, as already mentioned, ministered the docket that oversaw all matters related to the subject at hand – land – at a time in his long political career when government ministers unabashedly lined their pockets with corrupt deals and outright theft! I doubt whether Mr. Kariuki, his proclamations to the current president notwithstanding, is an exception. He has therefore exposed himself to scrutiny and criticism by potentially “living in glass house AND throwing stones” so medoubts that his challenge to Mr. Kenyatta is a publicity stunt nor would I mind being wrong if it were one! The country needs to address the issue of land, plain and simple.  

I will never understand how Jomo Kenyatta could have amassed and “bequeathed” his family land the size of Nyanza Province http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=fvwp&v=wUgnetCkEbw&NR=1 while millions of Kenyans struggled to eke out a living within a stone’s throw of the splendor that is “Mzee’s” home in Gatundu! And the silly mantra of “willing buyer/willing seller” regurgitated by his son as recently as early this year during the presidential debates http://allafrica.com/stories/201302260131.html has been rubbished by several independent historians and historical analyses, the latest being the just-released Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) report that “accused all post-independence governments of having failed to honestly and adequately address land-related injustices that started with colonialism”.

By accusing the colonialists (missionaries) of trading their Bibles for Kenya’s land and turning around and doing the same thing to the good people of the Rift Valley and Coastal region, Jomo Kenyatta may have amassed enough wealth to make his third wife Ngina Muhoho and their children the wealthiest family in the land.  Unfortunately the very greed that amassed said wealth set the country on the ruinous path that exploded into the post-election violence of 2007 elections and in a bit of poetic justice, landed his son at The Hague for violence against Kenyans!

I am, and continue to be a strong proponent of letting the International Criminal Court process play out to its conclusion. In a previous article titled The Loyal Opposition and The Fruit I offered that Mr. Kenyatta and his deputy may yet beat back the charges they face at The Hague. I will offer that the one way the suspect can assuage those calling for Chief Prosecutor of the ICC Ms. Fatou Bensouda to figuratively off his head (and that of his deputy Mr. William Ruto) is by tackling head-on, the root cause of the tribal animus, ergo post-election violence of 2007, that got the “digital duo” in trouble in the first place – land ownership.

The septuagenarian senator from Laikipia has given President Uhuru Kenyatta an opening on an explosive issue that the “young” president should grab with both hands and turn to his advantage; much like he turned the ICC issue to his advantage during the elections of 2013. Mr. Kenyatta should not minimize or offer platitudinous responses to the issue of land ownership and by extension, the plight of internally-displaced people (IDPs) as he has done in the past via claims that his family’s land was acquired in transactions between “willing buyers/willing sellers” or the sophomoric Econ 101 lecture that “land is a factor of production.” Being an astute politician and I would imagine student of the country’s history, I doubt whether Mr. Kenyatta actually believes that li(n)e! Additionally, he should not do what his mother Mama Ngina did when offered the opportunity to act sympathetic and magnanimous to the plight of IDCs – internally-displaced children – in front of cameras. The former first lady literally fled when the subject was brought up http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dcKY-t0CkZo by a reporter even as an aide offered the rather curious “hiyo politics ita fanye akose kurudi tena” (that politically-loaded question will prevent her from returning). Mama Ngina, as the former first lady was called, who had led massive prayer rallies for her son and Mr. Ruto after the ICC confirmed charges against the two, reacted in a cold, callous and un-Christian way towards the interminable suffering of God’s children. Ms. Muhoho missed an opportunity to do for the least of God’s children, something she asked Him to do for her son and Mr. Ruto and in so doing, she failed to turn the millstone hanging around her family’s neck into a humanizing and positive moment.

Her son and current president should not do the same.

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Filed under 2013 Presidential Elections, Corruption, Disparity - Income Distribution, Elections, Governance - Kenya, IDPs, International Criminal Court - ICC, Justice, Kenya, Law & Order, Politics, The Hague, Tribalism

Acquiescence through Silence

There are so many ways to parse the saga over Raila’s twin encounters with the “over-enthusiastic” civil servants at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) that in my opinion, all lead to the same endpoint:

Preventing the former prime minister from using a lounge supposedly reserved for VIPs speaks to an (Uhuru) administration that talks a good game but is curiously terrified of Raila Odinga’s (next) moves and is also struggling to deliver on the lofty albeit nebulous campaign promise of “kusema na kutenda” especially as the mantra pertains to humility in victory, embracing former political opponents and being a president for ALL Kenyans including those who supported his erstwhile  challenger and nemesis!

In a slight digression, that JKIA has three (3) levels of lounges – State Pavilion, VIP III and Government VIP Lounge – is pretentious obfuscation to be deconstructed on another day in another article!

The letter that formed the basis for denying Mr. Odinga, retired President Kibaki’s co-principal in the Grand Coalition Government, entry into the “aprons of the airport” only reserved for VVIPs that include “retired former presidents of the Republic of Kenya” was written by Mr. Francis Kimemia – President Kenyatta’s Secretary to the Cabinet. The letter was copied to a host of high-ranking members of the president’s men including the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Transport, Mr Karanja Kibicho, Interior Permanent Secretary Mutea Iringo, the Inspector General of Police David Kimaiyo, the chairman of the Kenya Airports Authority Mutuma Mugambi and managing director Stephen Gichuki. Finally, the letter was also copied to Mr. Kenyatta’s co-defendant at The Hague and the Deputy President Mr. William Ruto.

http://www.nation.co.ke/News/politics/Raila-blocked-from-airports-VIP-lounge/-/1064/1871588/-/se2mgj/-/index.html

http://www.nation.co.ke/News/Raila-caught-in-fresh-VIP-lounge-drama/-/1056/1873606/-/15eqqio/-/index.html

One would forgive the actions of the ubiquitous “over-enthusiastic” underlings if they applied a Spartan reading and interpretation of the Secretary’s letter. However, given Mr. Odinga’s gravitas, history, popularity and some would say notoreity not only within the country, but arguably globally, interpreting Mr. Kimemia’s letter to include denying the former Prime Minister access to the lounge reserved for “very very important people” is an unlikely scenario and frankly very audacious of the hapless civil servants caught in middle of the silliness of their leaders. Similarly, I would argue that any claim that Mr. Kenyatta was not aware of such a significant decision; one adversely impacting one of the country’s most visible personalities by a member or members of his administration, including his deputy is asking even his most rabid supporter to suspend belief and lose credibility/objectivity in the process. Now if the president was truly unaware of a decision that basically barred his closest opponent in the 2013 election and former president Kibaki’s co-principal from a privilege reserved for the “most important of persons” then that opens a Pandora’s Box of questions; most regarding the quality of service the president is receiving from those around him including the following:

  • Are the individuals listed above that incompetent or so tone-deaf that they did not foresee the furor resulting from the content of the letter they appended their names to?
  • And if they foresaw the uproar, why did they proceed with the decision?

http://www.nation.co.ke/News/politics/The-letter-used-to-lock-out-Raila/-/1064/1877450/-/9dkfqq/-/index.html

http://www.jambonewspot.com/forces-behind-raila-airport-vip-lounges-woes-revealed/

You can tell a lot about someone by the way they act/behave in victory and in defeat. The issue for me is the on-going arrogance and hubris of those around Mr. Kenyatta and by extension, Mr. Kenyatta himself. In the piece titled “Getting His Groove?” I wrote that “…the president and his deputy should worry more about the advice offered by those around them than about what Raila and Kalonza will do next. Kenya’s history is littered with presidential aides and others with access to the corridors of power who acted selfishly by lining their pockets and fattening their bank accounts while claiming to act on “behalf of Bwana Mkubwa” or “The Big Man.” It is the actions of these selfish individuals that tend to erect a bubble/filter around the president thereby alienating him from the plight of everyday citizens.” I can now insert actual names of presidential aides and those around the presidency who act selfishly. I also still hold the preceding sentiment re: being wary of those around the presidency to be the case though I will now add that Mr. Kenyatta is not helping himself by keeping quiet when those in his employment – Messers Kimemia, Karanja Kibicho, Mutea Iringo, Mutuma Mugambi and Stephen Gichuki – come across as incompetent, vindictive and petty buffons.

The president’s silence on the disrespect shown Mr. Odinga at JKIA not once, but twice speaks volumes and can be filed under the heading those who refuse to speak out against an injustice are as guilty as those perpetrating the injustice – so goes the saying. Mr. Kenyatta’s silence is tacit approval of the actions of the “over-enthusiastic” civil servants. In failing to come out unequivocally against the disrespect shown Mr. Odinga by the airport employees, based on interpretation of a letter from the Secretary of Cabinet and copied to the deputy president and a host of other senior members of the Kenyatta administration, I can see the germination of the very “kitchen cabinet” that formed the sycophancy that was the hallmark of Mr. Kenyatta’s father’s presidency and that of his mentor Mr. Arap Moi.

Not a good sign.

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Filed under 2013 Presidential Elections, Democracy, Elections, Governance - Kenya, Justice, Kenya, Law & Order, Life, Politics, Tribalism

Sovereignty, Nationalism and Foreign Aid

So in the past 2-3 weeks, Kenyans have observed President Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto, toting the country’s well-travelled tin cup, meet with the dreaded “foreigners” America, represented by Microsoft and Japan to ask for assistance implementing the “free laptop” campaign promise and for modernizing the port of Mombasa respectively. The two principals are seeking help from the very entities (west/foreigners) they repeatedly railed against during the run-up to the 2012 elections for “trying to finish them off”. America and Japan represent the very “wazungu” Jubilee supporters rabidly and stridently accused of usurping Kenya’s “sovereignty” and “finishing off their sons” via confirmation of charges against them at The Hague; an institution that was accused by the revered and objective leadership of the African Union of, shudder the thought, being “racist”!

And while Mr. Kenyatta and Mr. Ruto were unabashedly soliciting aid from the west, their latest paramour and much-loved benefactor-of-the-month China is busy buying scrap metal from chronically unemployed and under-employed Kenyans, some who obtain said scrap metal by destroying their country’s own roads and bridges; infrastructure constructed by the same China using labor from; you guessed it: China! And as if the foregoing incestuous behavior and madness is not enough, Kenyans proceed to buy the sub-standard and disposable Haojin motorcycles, probably built using the (scrap?) metal they initially sold to China, at prices probably much higher than the sale price of said scrap metal in transactions between willing sellers and willing buyers!

http://www.nation.co.ke/News/Uhuru-secures-Microsoft-support-for-computers/-/1056/1871904/-/7i517tz/-/index.html

http://www.nation.co.ke/News/-/1056/1873230/-/w41ehaz/-/index.html

http://www.nation.co.ke/News/Scrap-metal-exports-to-China-up-/-/1056/1872490/-/103b8lqz/-/index.html

While I am happy that Microsoft (USA) and Japan are both willing to assist the very “independent” and “proud” Kenya/Kenyans, that the very people – Mr. Kenyatta and Mr. Ruto – who were vilifying and casting aspersions at the hands they are now asking to feed them speaks to the unbelievable hypocrisy of the two men and should give Kenyans and the international community (ICC) pause about their honesty and integrity, especially with regards to the real and active fear of witness-tampering and intimidation.

Beyond pointing out the hypocrisy of President Kenyatta and his deputy, I would be remiss not to question how the two deals with Microsoft and Japan line up against the very real threats posed by foreign aid as depicted in the book Confessions of an Economic Hitman by John Perkins and World on Fire: How Exporting Free Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability by Amy Chu; the former critiqued by Ms. Rasna Warah in her op-ed piece titled How American governments and corporations colonised oil-rich states.

Demonizing the west while accepting their aid sets the stage for the well-documented history of duplicitous relationships between donor- and recipient-nations not to mention the insidious and potentially corrosive progression of relationships predicated on double-speak. And for those who are tempted to argue that Microsoft is a private company that would not do the (American) government’s “dirty” work, I would point them to the on-going outrage over reports that Verizon Communications, an American company that provides communications, information and entertainment products and services to consumers, businesses and governmental agencies and ostensibly a private company, complied with a court order granted by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) to give the National Security Agency (NSA) details on all telephone calls, both domestic and international.

China, a country with an economy second in size only to that of the USA but with a history of long-term planning and a long-range outlook on relationships appears to be reeling Kenya and Kenyans into its lair at an alarming rate with implications that, while not completely known, have some indicators that should prompt our “digital duo” to proceed with caution.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/guardianweekly/story/0,,2007803,00.html

http://english.caixin.com/2011-11-10/100324752.html

The one difference between the whipping boy de jour and much-maligned west on the one side and China and to a lesser extent Russia on the other is the fact that the former have open/civic societies with mechanisms such as open and free media that would not hesitate to bring attention to any misdeeds and malfeasance by their government and corporations – think Wikileaks and the Pentagon Papers – and for the record, it was a British newspaper, The Guardian, that broke the story about National Security Agency (NSA) data-mining phone numbers from Verizon! Conversely, the latter two – China and Russia – are countries with histories of keeping civic societies on very short and tight leashes. The Russians and Chinese would not hesitate to arrest those with prying eyes/lenses nor are they shy about detaining anyone perceived as “causing trouble” or “threatening national security”; something past Kenyan governments perfected!

Unlike the past when the likes of former president Arap Moi could manipulate the west and organizations such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund to release financial aid by making token reforms only to resort back to status ante of repression and corruption, the era of multi-party governance in Africa and easy access to the Internet has put in place mechanisms that mitigate abuse of aid. On the other hand and as evidenced by the periodic disruption of Internet services by the authorities, several high-profile failures of infrastructure and introduction of sub-standard and/or tainted product into the market, it is not unreasonable to argue that China has yet to demonstrate the level of tolerance to criticism, vigilance nor institution of effective mechanisms that check and balance its leaders. Finally, given Kenya’s past history of impunity and corruption, one can only speculate on how effective the two sides – Kenya and China – will manage the relationship between two countries with demonstrably intolerant leadership and centralized planning.

As previously mentioned, there is a long and ghastly history of imbalanced and extractive relationships between Kenya (Africa) and the west; that of extracting resources from Africa/Kenya only to return the raw and inexpensive material back to their country of origin in shiny packaged and expensive form! Sadly, the jubilant Kenyan consumers seem willing to pay the piper from the east AND from the west and move on now that “their” sons are in power!

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Filed under Corruption, Democracy, Governance - Kenya, International Criminal Court - ICC, International Relations/Global Issues, Kenya, The Hague