Tag Archives: Kitu Kidogo

Poetic Justice: Coming Home To Roost During His Son’s Regime: Jomo Kenyatta’s “Policies” of Land-grabbing.

Juxtaposed alongside the lengthy piece on Jomo Kenyatta’s formative years by Daily Nation’s Murithi Mutiga titled “Jomo Kenyatta’s troubled years in London that drove him to greatness” is a piece in the Standard titled “Trail of Blood, Big Money in Land Scandals in Kenya”. Taken together, these two articles underscore the negative impact the “policies” of Kenya’s founding father has had on the country’s long-term stability much like Jim Crowism has had on matters of race here in America. I put the term policies in parenthesis because one can argue that Mzee Jomo Kenyatta DID NOT have any policies for the accounting and the allocation of land after Kenya’s independence. In fact once they assumed power, Mr. Kenyatta and those around him ruled Kenya much like the “dreaded” Brits did. That opiate of the masses religion/Christianity, supposedly used by the missionaries to usurp land from Africans, was effectively replaced first by nationalism then by tribalism as Kenyans imbibed the euphoria of independence and of being in power respectively.

As much as Kenyans have sought to canonize Kenyatta Pere (and now Kenyatta Son), the inconvenient truth is that the country’s founding father bequeathed them a society of “ten billionaires and forty million beggars” as presciently opined by the late JM Kariuki. For Kenyans who have a notoriously short and selective memory, let me remind them that Josiah Mwangi Kariuki famously uttered the revised quote regarding Jomo Kenyatta’s Kenya shortly before he was assassinated in 1975. I will leave it up to those interested to research and conclude on whose order the MP for Nyandarua was murdered. Similarly poignant are the comments of one KimPP who wrote in reaction to the picture accompanying Mr. Mutiga’s piece that “jumping higher than Jomo” celebrating his (Jomo’s) release was Tom Mboya whose life came to a tragic and violent end much like JM’s. Not surprising, implicated in the assassination was the “big man” whose release from detention Mboya was celebrating!

There is no escaping the fact that the (land) policies of Jomo’s Kenya are coming home to roost in Kenya@50. The idea of blaming “the British policy of divide and rule…for what is ailing Kenya today and all its former colonies” as put forth by one Arsenal2014 is curious at best if not ridiculous and outright hypocritical. Mr. Uhuru Kenyatta himself has seemingly taken to blaming the west for what ails Kenya and Africa. Fully illustrating the hypocrisy of Kenya and her leaders is a piece titled “Home guards’ ghosts still haunting Kenya” where Mr. Maina Kiai argues that the president’s rhetoric may be anti-west but his Peponi schools are as British as they come, run by British educators and providing a British education; his public relations advisers are British, whispering propaganda against those wishing for a different Kenya; his business advisers are British; his lead lawyers at The Hague are British; and his K24 station has been funded by the British, among others.

Kenya will not have an honest discussion with the resultant real/permanent solutions to this most explosive of issues – land ownership – until it faces up to and ACTS on the reality that its leaders, including the revered Jomo Kenyatta and his son are up to their eyeballs in the corruption and greed that pervades the issue. The hypocrisy of Mr. Kenyatta’s handling of land-induced violence is underscored by the fact that the same president now warning “leaders to do their homework well before making reckless statements and naming people, linking them to (the Karen land) scandal” was the same person who accused unnamed “local political networks” and opposition politicians of being “reckless and hatemongers engaged in ‘ethnic-profiling’ of one community” during the violence in Mpeketoni and Lamu back in June 2014; violence also related to land. I am still waiting for Mr. Kenyatta to retract the rather impetuous and incorrect allegations he made back in June now that an investigation has revealed that the efforts of one of the individuals he accused of dereliction of duty were in fact stifled by his bosses and the individual relieved of duty during an on-going and active investigation.

To paraphrase a comment made by one Chiriku in response to Mr. Mutiga’s piece, Kenyans seem willing to revise the country’s history; in the process praising and absolving those implicated in the (historic) plunder of national resources. Instead, WaKenya Halisi take to blaming the colonialists who have been gone for over 50 years.

Daily Nation columnist Ms. Rasna Warah offers that Mr. Uhuru Kenyatta would have made a good president had he not relied on a coterie of advisers who are more interested in amassing personal wealth even if it means taking the country back to the days of the all-powerful presidency when the rule of law was considered a mere inconvenience. It does not bode well for Mr. Kenyatta’s fight against corruption at the highest level of his government when he chooses to transfer individuals adversely mentioned in scandals rather than suspending them pending the outcome of investigations.

One would grudgingly accept the angling for presidential plausible deniability offered by Ms. Warah’s article were it not for the high stakes involved: The columnist writes that the 2007 election showed that when historical grievances are not addressed and when issues of marginalization, equity and justice are left on the back-burner, aggrieved communities can rise up against the state and against each other. All it takes is manipulative and self-serving politicians (which Kenya@50 has by the boatload) to ignite the flame.

The chickens of land-grabbing are indeed coming home to roost and charged with confronting them less than half-way through his term in office is the son of the man who created the problem.

Poetic justice?

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Equivocating Corruption and Impunity

“Combating corruption is not straightforward or easy. But it is not impossible, especially with increased public awareness of the problem.”

Dr. Gesami; Secretary, Policy Coordination Office of The Deputy President

http://www.nation.co.ke/oped/Opinion/Improved-governance-the-best-way-to-reduce-corruption/-/440808/1940350/-/item/0/-/le04bbz/-/index.html

The foregoing is quote from an article in the August 7, 2013 issue of the Daily Nation. The piece was written by a Dr. Gesami who is identified by the newspaper as a “Secretary, Policy Coordination Office of The Deputy President.” I could not believe the equivocation and rationalization of and on corruption put forth by a seemingly senior official in the DP’s office. The doctor appeared to be justifying and excusing poor governance and corruption.

Maybe I have been in America for too long, as I am often told but combating corruption, from the spectacular Goldenberg or Anglo-Leasing types to the petty “kitu kidogo” variety that Kenya and Kenyans patented a long time ago is as easy as choosing not to ask for a bribe. It is also as easy as choosing not to pay out a bribe when asked for one. I wondered aloud what was difficult or to quote Ms. Gesami; “not straightforward” about saying “NO” when asked by an officer to “ongea vizuri” after being pulled over, ostensibly because of a nondescript and benign traffic violation such as a broken tail light? If the issue is the widespread culture of corruption that is Kenya and Kenyans, then the country would have already created a professional and well-paid police force with the relevant checks-and-balances to mitigate the culture (of corruption); something it has and cannot do, in part because its leaders continue to be more interested in cementing their (tribe’s) hold on power by creating a force based on tribal/regional allegiance, not professionalism and/or competence. The recent tragedy at the Westgate Mall and the subsequent attempts by government officials to explain the botched rescue efforts not to mention charges of looting by the soldiers is a prime example of equivocation and tolerance of incompetence and corruption at and by the highest levels of the government! For good measures, I will throw in the current storm swirling around Ms. Charity Ngilu, the Cabinet Secretary of Lands and the inevitable “circling the wagons” by “her people” who pleaded with her boss Mr. Kenyatta that “to err is human” and asked that the errant secretary be “forgiven” for her transgressions!

http://diasporamessenger.com/now-ukambani-mps-defend-ngilu/

Dr. Gesami works in the office of the deputy president. She should therefore have access to the best resources Kenya has to offer: Assuming this to be the case, what, therefore, is “not easy” about surreptitiously recording an
exchange between someone attempting to obtain title to a piece of land and a bureaucrat at the Land Bureau to expose any corrupt dealings during the exchange? The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) recently asked by the Jubilee government to help investigate the fire at JKIA and the attacks at the Westgate Mall routinely run “sting operations” that expose and take down corrupt politicians and businessmen with ease and regularity here in America. Kenya has the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), not to mention the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission (KACC), presumably investigative and prosecutorial bodies with adequate resources to emulate the American “feds”.

At the risk of asking the obvious: Is it difficult for the CID and KACC to run the FBI-like “sting operations” because the very people they’d be targeting for investigations are the very people said agencies report and pledge allegiance to? I will argue that the main reason Kenya and Kenyans have continued their corrupt ways is because corruption in its many mutations has existed and continues to exist at the highest level of the society with an impunity that allows the erstwhile Minister for Finance, now president of the country, to flippantly refer to a suspicious and inexplicable kshs. 9billion line item in a supplementary budget as “…a computer error, a typing error or whatever...” without being called to explain said typo or glitch to the nation: A nation that probably does not care because “ their son is being persecuted” by mischievous opponents! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pMsRIB-6UCg

It is the same impunity that has allowed perpetrators of high crimes and misdemeanors to walk around the country with nary a care in the world…because the crimes they are accused of committing, including murder most foul, of cabinet ministers and of members of parliament (MPs), have long since been swept under the rug…forgotten by all except those affected by said crimes.

Now presiding over Kenya is the same person who was at the helm when the “computer error, a typing error or whatever…” was uncovered at the Ministry of Finance – Mr. Kenyatta – the very person trying to woo investors by “… promising drastic measures to fight corruption…http://www.nation.co.ke/news/politics/Uhuru-Kenyatta-Machakos-Investors-Corruption/-/1064/2066024/-/wdp3dn/-/index.html

Where have we heard that song before?

Oh yes…from Mr. Kenyatta’s predecessors. The current president’s father continued the politics of patronage and of divide-and-conquer when the colonizing Brits “left” Kenya in early 1960s. Jomo aka Mzee continued governing Kenya colonialist-style and in effect cementing corruption and impunity into the fabric of the country and its people. Kenyatta Pere was then succeeded by M1 or Mr. Moi, also Kenyatta Fils’ mentor. Google “Kroll Report on Kenya” for some sobering reading on corruption in Kenya during the Nyayo (Moi) era. He, whose political vision is like that of a giraffe, gave control of the trough that is Kenya to Baba Jimmy and world-renowned economist Mr. Mwai Kibaki. Successive Kenyan presidencies have at one time or another promised to “wipe out corruption”…”end impunity”…or “take stern measures against grafts”.

I remember when President Moi set ablaze a mountain of ivory tusks in late 1989. http://www.nytimes.com/1989/07/19/world/kenya-in-gesture-burns-ivory-tusks.html. Now if ever there was political gamesmanship, drama and spectacular images symbolizing a “resolute” leader taking on the threat posed by poachers who threatened to wipe out the country’s elephants along with the tourist dollars the majestic pachyderms brought into the national coffers, this was it: The ignition of 12 tons of elephant tusks, artfully arranged by pyro technicians should have signaled to all that the Moi government was serious about putting an end to the killing off of Kenya’s elephants. Alas! It did not. The country’s elephants have been poached to the point of extinction in part because implicated in the scourge was the Kenyatta family! (Pges. 312-313, Charles Hornsby, Kenya Since Independence).

The point of the forgoing digression is to illustrate how and why the efforts to stem corruption and impunity in Kenya have been ineffective. The country’s presidents have bequeathed its citizens a country ranked near the bottom (or top) by Transparency International; an international organization that monitors and publicizes political/governmental corruption throughout the world:

http://tikenya.wordpress.com/2012/12/05/kenya-still-perceived-as-a-corrupt-country-both-globally-and-in-africa/ 

Let me blunt:

Until corruption and impunity are dealt with at the very highest level of Kenya’s government, the country will continue to be a poster child for the twin evils while lurching from one scandal to the next even as its leaders “promise drastic measures to fight” the two!

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Consequences re-visted

The Wednesday August 7 inferno that destroyed the arrival terminal at Kenya’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA), the country’s main airport, could have been prevented if not contained had some very basic mitigants been in place and (periodically) enforced. It is a very sad commentary on a country whose nationals, especially those who support the ruling elite, have so much pride, not to mention hubris, that its “international” airport has non-functioning fire hydrants and fire-fighting equipment, untrained or poorly trained and motivated personnel not to mention fire-suppression systems that would have detected the smoke…and fire…and at least mitigated the damage…if not doused the flames once the fire started.

I will say it again:

Consequences:

Of the continued embrace of a system of governance that rewards plum positions, including directorship/leadership positions in critical organizations such as the Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) without holding said leaders fully accountable for the performance of the organizations in their charge. That the fire hydrants were reportedly not working is a direct result of lack of maintenance – the director’s job – Yes, it is the director’s job to ensure that the organization in his/her charge adheres to all applicable international and national standards including maintenance of critical systems/equipment such as fire hydrants. It is also the job of the director to ensure that the organization has adequate resources – trained manpower and well-maintained and functioning equipment to perform the assigned tasks.

Of the continued culture of “kitu kidogo”; “something small” or bribery/bribes and impunity that Kenya and her leaders are known for all over the world; a culture that has allowed the construction of infrastructure/buildings such as the airport now reduced to rubbles, roads and bridges etc. that do not meet applicable local and international standards such as installation of fire-suppression systems, availability of functioning hydrants within the premises not mention use of sub-standard building material or material whose design-intent is mitigation of common occurrences such as fires, water leaks, wear-and-tear etc. The applicable standards would have been enforced during the building inspections prior to approval and final commission of said building. Subsequent follow-up audits and inspection would have ensured that the applicable standards had been met and if not, corrective action with due-dates and responsible person(s) would have been enacted. Unfortunately, the fore-going scenarios makes two deadly assumptions: that the building inspections and follow-up audits would actually occur and that they would be executed by incorruptible officials!

Of the very culture of “kitu kidogo” and impunity that has allowed a tipping point of employees who are hired, not because they have the requisite qualifications and experience, but because they are the relative of the hiring manager (or someone above the hiring manager) or as has always been the case in Kenya, because they are from the tribe of the hiring manager and those in power! While there is nothing wrong with hiring a qualified and competent relative or even a tribesman/woman, there is something absolutely unethical if said relative or tribesman is incompetent and unethical. This situation is compounded by the hubris and arrogance reflected in expressions such as “KANU itatawala milele na milele” or “KANU will rule for ever and ever” popularized during the reign of President Moi or that “the (Kenyan) presidency will never cross the Chania River” popularized after independence during the reign of President Jomo Kenyatta.

Consequences indeed!

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Filed under Corruption, Failed State, Governance, Governance - Kenya, Kenya, Law & Order, Life, Tribalism, Tribe

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

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

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