KENYANISM, DEADLINES & NUMBERS

CompliantWhat brings us together as Kenyans majorly lies with Football and Deadlines. Kenyans love Deadlines and Deadlines love them back. They love working with each other most of the times too. Speaking of Deadlines they should be part of our National symbols and even entrenched in the Loyalty Pledge. Wait! Do kids still recite the loyalty pledge in school parades? Why did it sound difficult to us then, hehe. Anyway, aren’t we just loyal to deadlines?

Dear Kenyans, since when did Papa (Shirandula) appear on our TVs soliciting us to file our tax returns? Typically, we turned a deaf ear, blind eye and moved on to more important things ignoring the fact that Karma was alive and kicking and that a day would come when we will waste days hinged on stagnant queues begging for assistance. Those days have come home to roost. Just this week, here we were taking off days or closing down our businesses to rush to Huduma Centers and I Tax support centers to impatiently line up pulling remorseful faces and going back home having not got any assistance. We stared at those tired and demotivated faces from KRA personnel taking a century to find letters Q & F in the dusty keyboard and waiting even longer for I Tax website to process a single command. The elderly staff donning those multicoloured fat ties and oversize suits clearly looked overwhelmed by the crowded halls of humans who seemingly have a soft spot for deadlines. But seriously who still strangles his neck with a fat tie the size of a mother’s union kitambaa. We complained and threw tantrums in these stuffy halls together with hundreds of other laidback taxpayers because misery loves company, and demanded to be explained as to why there were clouded inefficiencies in these offices.

But to be fair to KRA, they took about 5 months sensitizing us to file our returns. The very educated Kenyans but perceived to be busy too (really) didn’t care a thing nor have time for such flimsy requests from government. We dismissed Papa’s ads and got submerged to more family talks at that crucial time before 9pm news. We went ahead browsing on our phones if not preparing supper or catching up with the day’s newspaper or retiring to bed early. We laughed at the poor bachelor who missed on marrying the love of his life for not filing his returns. The shocker he got from Papa is the same shocker that compelled us to make frantic calls to a Mr. Chris, the only accountant we know of to help matters. Unknown to us, Mr.Chris was making a kill from our procrastination-mentality and casual reasoning. Of late he has been laughing all the way to the bank cashing in from many of us who have a genetically modified problem of working with deadlines.

The very peculiar Kenyans who have each, half a dozen briefcase companies for no apparent reason, stare at the reality of paying sh.10,000 penalty of every company that didn’t file a tax return by 30th June this year.  Moreover, we will also have to pay an extra sh.1,000 unnecessarily for the Individual returns we failed to file querying how worse can be the consequences of defaulting to file! I even know of people who woke up at 12am or made it to the office by 6am to file their returns. From where I’m seated, that’s the shocker the Bachelor in Papa’s ad was battling with. We were not any different, caught flat footed by a Mr.Njiraini (KRA MD) who didn’t bulge or show any sympathy for those who hadn’t made it to the deadline. In any case, KRA put it on record they were targeting 2 million taxpayers (only), meaning the rest will have to prepare to pay penalties. Some crossed their fingers for Mr. Njiraini to extend the deadline but to their shocker (The same in Papa’s ad), that was a non-issue.

We are the same funny taxpayers who sabotaged the I Tax system this week. Predictably, we waited for the very last week and suddenly started running helter skelter to cybers to login to the system. How wouldn’t the system servers not get shocked too if suddenly millions of Kenyans bullied the KRA website with millions of attempted log-ins? Being an accustomed user of I Tax system by virtual of my career, I could tell it would disappoint taxpayers at the very last days. In any case, KRA officials disclosed that 28th June was the only day they witnessed the largest number of successful filed returns where the numbers stood at about 100,ooo. That’s tells you how complacent the system is, meaning, many would-be taxpayers were locked out which wouldn’t be the case if all took Papa’s ad seriously.

But what are consequences of not filing tax returns in Kenya? That’s the elephant in the room and the million dollar question. Arguably, there are no harsh consequences especially to individual taxpayers than they are to companies. Many will not lose sleep for a mere sh.1,000 haha. Call it mere but isn’t it not painful to part with a one thousand shillings note due to negligence and our very typical Kenyanism? The other consequence would be for those who apply for Compliance Certificates. But how many apply and when is it needed in the first place? I’ll come to that shortly. The shocker though comes from the news that KRA has been in active engagement with banks operating in Kenya to cooperate and release bank details of tax payers. If that succeeds and essentially have it that KRA will have powers to demand banks to deduct monies of defaulting taxpayers, that alone will be a game changer. Word has it that KRA is banking on a new law that will give it unfettered access to taxpayers bank accounts to improve revenue collection. If this succeeds one will be put to task in explaining the sources of incomes that find their to your bank accounts that probably don’t reconcile with what you disclose in the Income Tax returns.

They even went ahead to approach Safaricom salivating on millions of Mpesa transactions that process billions of monies, though Safaricom won the first knock out stage citing breach of confidentiality. Pundits have it, KRA will be back at Bob Collymore’s doorstep better armed with a law that will leave Safaricom a helpless opponent. This again is where the can of worms live and prosper. Mpesa will be the next battleground. According to Safaricoms 2015 Annual Reports; Mpesa active customers stood at 13.9million, 6 times more what KRA was targeting. You sense the disconnect. The devil lies in the numbers. This is where the cookie crumbles. If KRA storms Mpesa, millions of Kenyans will have to part with staggering penalties. As back as 2014, Kenyans moved more than Sh.1 trillion in 6 months. You can imagine how much more is moved in 2016!

I promised something about Tax Compliance certificate; you will need it as a requirement for some government jobs, County and Government tenders. The validity of a TCC lasts for 12 months, nowadays applied exclusively via I Tax and normally rejected if you have pending tax returns or have accrued penalties and interests.

THE MAN WHO MADE THE REST OF US LOOK BAD

alphonse-kambu1 I wrote this article with a very heavy heart. Saddened and shocked by this rare piece of two legged animal disguising as a male human being. So, last week we were treated with a gruesome news item of a battered woman one Ruth Gakii formerly married to a UNEP working guy, Alphonse Kambu. I watched that story unravel on my TV and felt defeated. I have never been more ashamed, for being a man. Dear readers, allow me to vent my anger in this week’s article as I try to make sense of what drives a man like Alphonse to wake up every morning and report to work with a happy face. I’m eager to decipher how he sleeps free of nightmares in the dead of a night if his actions are anything to go by.

When he dons his sleek suits and powers his car to life, driving all the way to his beautiful office in Gigiri (I imagine every office located in Gigiri is beautiful), what goes through his head? Are there infighting camps in his mind pulling in different directions every day of his life, thereby paralyzing his rationality? What is his life like; is he sensitive to pain or does it work in contradiction as far as he is concerned? Can the world afford to have such a cold, uncouth and brutal man alive today? I sympathise with Ruth Gakii and her family for the emotional and physical pain they were exposed to, since Alphonse the dare devil came to their lives. You would be forgiven to imagine guys working in blue chip companies and multi nationals are the last that should be expected to be struggling with such serious personality disorders.

The fact that this dude has for years battled and battered this woman in order to gain custody of their only kid is the most unfortunate of sad news. The guy whom I understand ironically works as a legal officer in the Division of Environmental Law and Conventions – UNEP has for far too long bragged about how untouchable he is. This kind of impunity should never have been tolerated in the first place. UNEP is an organisation of no mean repute hence it should have known better and raised eyebrows first and dealt with this guy firmly and decisively instead of turning a blind eye and purporting to be concerned when the issue is no longer in their hands. Borrowing from good practice models, ideally, serious background checks for employees of such organisations should be carried out regularly and thoroughly.

I feel cheated by the so called promise by them (UNEP) to ‘co-operate’ with the investigators. Their issuance of a statement that their organisation does not extend diplomatic immunity to such-like gross violation of basic human rights should be treated with a pinch of salt. Justice delayed is justice denied. As far as the public opinion is concerned, it seems like it is the case. We all watch news and all can attest that this is not the first time we have heard of Ruth Gakii being battered and mishandled by her ex-husband. UNEP cannot admit to be in the habit of knowing its employees better through local media. It’s extremely sad and unfortunate, to say the least.

And who is more daring than this Alphonse Kambu guy who is literally vomiting on our shoes and spiting on our very faces, not once, not twice but many a times. How do you go to a visitor’s house and totally disregard him or her? Is that African! Beating up your ex-wife in front of her mother and your kid! Dude, get a life. Who raised you? Where on earth were you brought up? Did you grow up in a family set up or were you raised in a zoo? Who taught you to trivialize women and all they got? When your family back home asks about the well-being of your family, what do you tell them? Does your conscious disagree with you or have you compromised it along the way with your evil theatrics? Did guilt give up on you? I have not heard more despicable news this year.

Mr. Alphonse, when you take your lovely son back to the mum while drunk, what can be said of you. Extremely ignorant, reckless and sickly! How then do you manage to sit in your office on a Monday morning in that picturesque headquarters in Gigiri with well-manicured lawns, chirping birds, artificial falls and more of a serene environment and deliver on your work? Does the quietness of one of the ‘coolest’ locations to work in Nairobi lull your evil mind to sleep waiting for the next weekend to stir the elusive peace in Ruth Gakii’s world? Or are you a man of different personalities which are unleashed or trashed back to where they belong, depending on where you are and who you are with?

Meanwhile to the people of the little known (at least to me) Papua New Guinea; you owe us an apology. How can you ‘export’ to our great nation a ‘wasted’ man with a rugged personality? A demigod kind of guy who objectifies women and imagines he should be worshiped by all if not his ex-wife. A man who roams with utter arrogance purporting he cannot be apprehended by the police. Surely, Papua New Guinea you could have done better. Kenya is a civilised nation that upholds the dignity of all, including women and so we expect all diplomats to toe the line and respect that, period! Alphonse made me hate his native country and left to imagine he is the best they could offer. Before I cement that thought in my mind I expect sooner than later the government of PNG to furnish us with a sincere apology addressed to Ruth Gakii, her family and the rest of Kenyans.

As if to add salt to an injury, a celebrated local actor Abel Mutua made bad jokes about Ruth Gakii on The Trend Show last Friday trying to justify why at times it’s ‘okay’ to beat up your woman. That was extremely shallow and insensitive. Now, to the many ‘Abel Mutuas’ of this world alluding to why Kenyan ladies shouldn’t get married to foreigners as if to say Kenyan men are wholly gentlemen and all loving; shed off that pedestrian thought. And by the way it’s important for them to say this prayer after me. “Dear Lord, I come before you, requesting you, to tame my slandering tongue, and give me wisdom of being considerate of others and learn how not to hurt them through my mouth. Forgive me my sins, especially my reckless tongue. So help me God. Amen.”

Free advice to you Alphonse; Kids are the most sensitive human beings. They are very vulnerable and have sharp memories too. Don’t ruin your kid’s life for your own aimless selfishness. Your son deserves a peaceful life devoid of an unpredictable dad with unstable emotions. The greatest initiative you can do for his benefit is to keep off from his life. He has made no sin being alive. If you need to sacrifice somebody to satisfy your beliefs, you better sacrifice yourself.

AN OPEN LETTER TO MY PRESIDENT – ALCOHOLISM

imagesMr. President, I hope this letter finds you well. Am aware you are a busy man. Having said that, am requesting you to spare utmost five minutes of your busy schedule to read these 1,000 or so words of my two cents thinking. Its about matters alcoholism in the context of your passionate appeal and directive on immediate stoppage of illicit brew production. I must admit its rather unfortunate that you had to personally intervene to this growing life threatening menace while we have institutional bodies like NACADA, KEBS, Public Health and Provincial Administration mandated to regulate and monitor the whole business of alcohol supply.

Am fairly young bwana President,(barely 30 hehe) and terribly sympathise with my generation. Am deeply concerned about our outright worship of alcohol (read mainstream beer/wine/whiskys) and illicit brews which lowly financially endowed youths are hooked in to. I can relate to your anger where unscrupulous entrepreneurs are sending our generation to their deathbed with no iota of remorse. I fail too, to comprehend why a young man would gulp a drink whose name is Rest In Peace packaged with a coffin image.

Here is my advise; Please reign on the Provincial Administration. To start with, give a terse warning to all chiefs. Meaning, any chief who fails to contain illicit brew in his/her location in the next 6 months should be immediately dismissed and put behind bars. Secondly, zoom to the OCPDs and Administration Police. They are the rock bed in matters corruption and protecting sacred cows in this scam. They either run these businesses in the periphery or have their girlfriends or relatives managing them. What this means is that their entertainment joints, be it pubs or wines and spirits dens are untouchable. The worse that can happen for them its to be warned that NACADA officials will do a spot check on a said date. This means they not only operate outside the mututho hours (5pm – 11pm on weekdays and 2pm – 11pm on weekends) but also become susceptible to selling illegitimate alcohol products. No chief or police officer should run an entertainment/bar business. That should be very clear.

Speaking of mututho hours, I know of a small pub where I always pass by while heading to the office, located less than 300 meters from a public primary school that opens 24/7. For very strange reasons, occasionally I find young ladies completely passed out at 8:00 am on weekdays. This bar sells anything from illicit brew to 2nd generation liquor. I don’t understand how it operates with this sheer impunity in a town’s CBD. The entire Provincial Administration is part and parcel of this tragedy. There is no way for instance, Murang’a County can net 1 million litres of illicit brew and business goes on as usual. Mr. President, chiefs and OCPDs in this region should have been sacked and prosecuted by now. The buck must stop somewhere. If this government shows more seriousness in fighting this war through nationwide enforcements, it can be worn.

There is no reason why my area chief down in the village( not a village per se) nets 1,300 cartons of 2nd generation alcohol and fails to destroy it, remains in office. This is the same chief who purports to be fighting illicit liquor now while he has been in office close to 20 yrs now. The habit with chiefs and police has been, seize off the liquor, take it to a police station and later release it to the market. The police are bribed to release it. The media will have reported how the police unearthed a major illicit brew cache. These monkey games must be reigned on, now.

The other group that you should prevail upon are the NACADA officials. Am not surprised that the top management level of NACADA is always in limbo from matters conflict of interest and corruption. Its officers on the ground can only be assumed to be incompetent or bribed to turn a blind eye. Until recently there has lacked enough sensitization on alcohol abuse, alcohol qualityness and alcoholism status in this country. The big boys in this game of alcohol brewing have been trying to vindicate themselves through adverts in national newspapers. The notion here is that there is good and bad alcohol. That’s a big lie. In a country so hooked to alcoholism, where the female gender is attempting to oust the men in alcohol imbibing; we have a big time problem. In my opinion adverts on alcohol and cigarettes should be completely banned.

KEBS and KRA should be put on notice. For the latter, there is no way its stickers can be so easily faked without them addressing the issue. Its either they have been compromised or are too incompetent. KEBS and Public health officers on the other hand have not been hands on to apprehend business men and women trading illicit brews in established outlets. Its one thing to give a clean bill of health and its another to ensure only the legitimate products are on constant supply. Bottom line is; heads must roll for Kenyans to take this renewed vigour seriously. Otherwise your government will be a laughing stock’s subject. County governments must also be advised to apply a formula on the number of bars a given area can hold. It should not just be about anybody who can raise the licence fees. The benchmark should be set very high. In fact I have am on record suggesting licence fees should be in the region of a million plus to discourage any Kamau, Ochieng’ or Wambua. Not to mention that no bar should be any near a residential estate. And to cater for the poor who must drink, kindly remove excise duty on Senator Keg to make it affordable to many and to discourage infiltration of illicit brew in the market.

Alcoholism will first be won by eradicating illicit brew and 2nd generation liquor. Enough said, lets walk the talk sir.

Regards.

WILL OUR DEEDS BE ‘BEATIFIED’ WHEN WE’LL BE LONG GONE?

ssteSr.Irene Stefani was born in 1891, the period around when Britain opened fertile highlands of Kenya to white settlers. She had 12 siblings, 7 of whom would die in their infancy. Her mother passed away when she was only 16, and ostensibly a young Irene was left with the task of taking care of her younger 4 siblings. On 29th January 1914 she consecrated her life to God by taking the Religious vows and on 28th December of the same year she left for Kenya. She would heed to every call in the night to serve the sick and baptise those in the blink of death. She would naturally speak to people she encountered, about God with joy and conviction. On 20th October 1930, she opted to visit a sick teacher who previously had spoken badly about her and her way of teaching. 10 days later, Sr.Irene died at the age of 39 after inhaling this teacher’s breath which probably caused her infection.

That’s Sister Irene for you. Her love and mercy transcended races, continents and people who disliked her work. Its on that note that this weekend, the entire world, catholic or non catholic zoom their lenses to a typical sleepy village of Gikondi, in Mukurweini, Nyeri County to witness a historical moment of their lives. Gikondi, will be trending globally as a mammoth of Christians congregate for a night vigil to commence the beatification process of Sister Irene. She died in this very village but not before walking miles, far and beyond, in her boots of glory to spend much of her time in sick peoples’ bed sides. People of Gikondi had nick named her Nyaatha, meaning Nyina wa Tha (Mother of mercy and love), for her rare sense of mercy. Sorry for telling you what you already know.

Sister Irene was phenomenal. She had a big heart. A merciful heart that touched legions far away from her country and family. Close to a century later, her deeds still captures the world’s headlines. Her rich impact still trembles the world’s sophistication and contemporary life. To me that’s beautiful and humbling. Thank God, social media was not invented then, and if it was, she wouldn’t care a thing. Her heart bled for the people. She cared less about basking in her glory. She was empathetic, noble and compassionate. Picture this, while your agemates, join campus and others venture into businesses while some start up families, Stefani harboured a different dream. A dream of carrying the emotional burden of people in a different continent, poorer and uncivilised, then.

Unlike Sr.Stefani, our lives are spent on social media where we exhibit any new dress, car or house. That flight trip that was 100% footed by your employer is flaunted on instagram for days. Our generation is obsessed with frivolous gratification of our naive excitement. We pose this demeanor of living large which is all but a life lived in denial. We live for others, while we auction our minds to them. We are too feeble to stand naysayers. We parade our spouses sent from heaven, our beautiful kids and the last escapade to the coastal beaches or hiking in Hell’s Gate just to make news. We badly crave to be worshiped or perceived in awe.

If Sister Irene was to resurrect today, she would be overwhelmed by the self – centered mentality in us. We no longer hear of good samaritan stories anymore. Do we ever raise an alarm when a neighbour’s house is broken into? When families lose their son or daughter whom they struggled to school, in a University attack, do we sympathise with them? Do such news bother us or what we only care about, is our very close relatives? Why is it hard for school going kids to come up with a list of role models? Sister Irene would be defeated by news of Presidents clinging onto power as their countries bleed with riots and melee. Would she come to terms with news of people killing comrades for the mere reason of them belonging from another country.

Its all waste of national resources and our time if we’ll spend an entire weekend glued to the TV screens or rather blazing the sweltering sun to witness this historical moment if it’ll not turnaround our lives. Beatification of Sister Irene should serve a purpose to us. It should trigger a sense of self interrogation and evaluation. We should have a moment with ourselves, mirroring our past mistakes, achievements and pondering on times we’ve set aside(if any) to help the disadvantaged communities around us. How many times, have you given way in traffic voluntarily? Or assisted a grandma carry her luggage home? When was the last time you were involved in your church’s development project or do you always look away when such announcements arise.

Your life’s footsteps will be judged harshly or otherwise when you pass away.Sooner or later. What will your eulogy read? Will tales of your generosity and kindness be told? Will humans who are not necessary your relatives or close friends be overcome by emotions by the reality of you being no more? Will you have touched lives by the time you meet your death? Or will your family be left with the burden of filling the voids and gaps of your pale or dull life as they bury you six feets under? We have no business being alive if we don’t make faces smile, give a hand and create time for loved ones. We have no business being alive if we don’t aid in wiping tears of a society.

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”
― Leo Buscaglia

147 VICTIMS OF A RELIGION

147So, last Thursday, several terrorists descended on the only public university in Northern Kenya and within hours, ( read, Kenya’s unpreparedness) wiped out 147 young men and women, full of life. Its very costly for a nation to lose young people. It was more disheartening to fathom that they were shot dead for having different religion beliefs with the perpetrators. Their young lives were cut short out of selfish, nefarious indoctrination of persons who don’t mind shedding blood. Its very sad for somebody to die while the parent is on phone trying desperately to convince an Al Shabaab guy to pardon his daughter. This is a true story by the way. Its unfortunate to die having put your hope against hope for seven hours only to be shot on the head, and your face disfigured in seconds. Am sorry for every parent who lost a son or daughter in this melee. Am sorry to you Christian, who is prodding so many queries and trying to understand the rationality of these extremists. I count on you Muslim brothers and sisters who declare disagreement openly on social media and on the streets with these wave of indoctrination.

Am perturbed by the new crop of terrorists. Techno savvy, well dressed, intelligent and who resemble your next door neighbour who just graduated from campus. Its now even harder to discern the so called ‘suspicious fellows’ who now prefer to meet in coffee shops than dark dungeons or in some mosques deep in the estates. They will plan meticulously for their next execution in school, offices or homes in the leafy suburbs.  Kenyans are a bitter lot. We are angry with the government handling of the Garissa attack. We are mad with the politicians who now purport to produce a list of terrorists in Northern Kenya. We are very mad with villagers who harbor and hide these villains. I was taken aback by a fellow on social media who claimed to have had the knowledge, that one of the four terrorists who was alleged to have graduated from U.O.N, was undergoing indoctrination and didn’t report. Its wrong to hide these guys. Whether you report and police don’t take action is not a worse mistake than you having the full knowledge of these terror cells and covering them up or not reporting. You are equally guilty of abdicating your responsibility as a citizen. God will punish you too.

KENYA-SOMALIA-UNREST147 is indeed not just a number. In that list, are young people who meant everything to their village. Some were the first to step on a “University door” in the history of their extended family’s lifetime. For some, their parents had to part away with their precious ancestral land just to make sure their sons and daughters got a university education. Here are families who survive from hand to mouth just to reap the fruits of their sacrifices later when their children are done with campus. For these families to come to terms with the events that led to the death of their children is a horrifying experience. Their kids paid the ultimate price of their faith. They died the season Jesus died. They died because they wouldn’t recite a shahada prayer. They died because in the eyes of a terrorist, they’re ‘wanafiki'(hypocrites). They died of a war they had nothing to do with.The question is, for how long, will Kenyans die in the hands of delinquents who are out to drive a pedestrian and inhumane ideology?

The President’s spokesman said it is a learning curve. For how long will young lives die, dreams be shattered, parents lose their goldmines, as the government ‘learns’? I listened to one of the callers in an evening show talking of how, with just  3 attacks, Kenya is capable of losing over 500 lives. He went further to put across that, a country like Pakistan which is hit by terrorists more often, loses an average of 13 – 40 people. Meaning it would take like 12 attacks to equal Kenya’s 500 deaths. For Israel, you need 100 attacks to achieve the same. Bottom line; it all boils to preparedness. Kenya’s disaster management and preparedness is ailing in the I.C.U. If I was to give a scorecard I would give it an ‘E’. Its laughable that we would rather send Interior cabinet secretary and his I.G, Boinnet in the first chopper available than the RECCE squad. Sadly, our government is obsessed with P.R and has its priorities upside down.

Speaking of RECCE squad, I stumbled on something shocking on social media from investigative journalist, Dennis Okari, that a guy with over 10 years experience earns a gross salary of sh.24,000. I even stumbled on one of the chap’s family raising funds to bury their son who died on the front line saving lives and battling belligerence minds. To say that the government is disorganised in the whole handling of Garissa massacre is an understatement. From Kisii, Bungoma to Kiambu and many alike Counties, tears and wails rent the air, as bodies of the poor souls were embarking on their final journey. I particularly draw attention to a lady I spotted on the newspaper, Angela Nyokabi aka Jojo, young, cheerful, beautiful and full of life. A couple of my friends on Facebook poured resentment and anger to the government and consolation to Jojo’s family. Though i hadn’t met her, I was touched by their messages. Rest in peace Jojo and all your colleagues who didn’t deserve to die a cold blood death.

After many years of rampant and runaway corruption from Immigration offices across to the border officials to the lazy chiefs who sit on intelligence, finally the chicken have come home to roost. That can only be mitigated when we learn very fast. Otherwise young and innocent lives, talents and legends, devoted parents and hardworking citizens will be wiped out in an eyes’ brink, all due to greediness of some few government officials. However the entire blame should not be solely directed to government, you and me that sit on intelligence and cover up terrorists are equally culpable.

I sympathise will all families that lost their loved ones. Your daughters and sons didn’t deserve to die such a brutal death. Am sorry for your irreplaceable loss. May the Lord be with you as you confront the grief and as you come to terms with your loved ones demise.

‘HONOROUBLES’, ROGUE MEN AND UNTAMED DESIRES

gggado“Women were created to be loved not abused. Any man who abuses women is ignorant, insecure and weak. Real men protect women.” Beautiful words from the late Myles Munroe, may the Lord rest his soul in eternal peace. I must reckon with all women across the country (Kenya), this has been a low and tough week for you. Its disturbing, saddening, annoying and unfortunate in the year 2015, for men to still view women with ‘sex tool lenses.’

Somebody on my twitter timeline raised an interesting fact; he was like, “as men, we’re more privileged, in that we’re more ‘safe’, from sexual assault. Don’t let this privilege make you ignorant of women challenges.” Its a sad reality, when females walk while turning round just to confirm who is behind them. If our mothers, sisters, female friends and colleagues are insecure, then the society has shot itself on the foot.

What we are experiencing, are stubborn and time barred ideologies of a patriarchal society, where men are still viewed as small gods, thereby running around with all manner of impunity, just because they are men. Being born a male comes with responsibilities, and the responsibilities don’t include sexual belligerence. Chivalry is so dead, at least by what is being projected by men from all corners of the country, poor and rich, educated or not in the man kingdom.

Tolerance of rapists and males who defile young girls is the worst tragedy of our times. How families are bribed to ‘calm down,’ when one of their own goes through the anguish, is even more painful. Women in this country have come along way. Time have come, for men to respect women as equal stakeholders in the institution of life. The chicken have come home to roost, whether we strip or rape them, we cant reverse this river’s trajectory. The gains made on upholding women values can’t be washed or wished away by few egoistic male chauvinists. Men must learn to respect and protect women around them. This cant be emphasized further.

This week alone, I have counted over 5 cases of defilement and rape, reported in the news. I shudder to imagine many more cases that go unreported. Of women battling stigma, shock and dirt of mindless delinquents. This comes hot in the heels after touts suddenly imagined they could be our moral police and compass. Just when we had started to heal, more bold reports from quarters you would be forgiven to contemplate, that would perpetrate atrocities against women, found their way to the newsrooms.

When an MP hops a plane for a house committee trip abroad and all he does is to salivate over a female colleague, even going to an extent of blocking her way in a hotel room, is a a very sad affair. And while you digest that, another MP is accused of allegedly raping a communication consultant in his office after forcefully ordering for a HIV test on her; am lost for words.

While at it, you hear of a 5 year old girl who was defiled and beheaded somewhere in Nyeri County. And before then, a man is charged in Embu for helping a neighbour defile a girl. Embu County is very notorious with rape cases. The same week you come across news of boys in Marakwet County accused of gang raping girls. Many more cases go reported , the same week. You lose count but not before you learn of a 42 year old man in Nakuru County, who was sentenced for 75 years this month, for raping and infecting his daughter with HIV.

For how long will the female gender suffer in the hands of unashamed men, with an untamed titillating desire? Why do we look away when disdainful men piddle over our values? Men who behave far worse than a male mule?  I salute and celebrate women who’ve surmounted the ordeal of rape, who can’t be crushed no matter what. Have a safe week, dear reader. To you rapists, columnist Ciku Muiruiri would ask you, who is your mother?

OF THE DOMESTICATED MEDIOCRITY AND CONFUSED SUBJECTS

ttthhParliament was yesterday thrown to pandemonium, when pro government and Opposition MPS went berserk, the hammer and tongs way, against each other. The house of laws, literally threw decorum over the window, all in the name of enacting the now controversial bill, Security Laws(Amendment) Bill 2014. For close to two weeks, government has been under pressure from the civil society and Opposition, to amend the bill that highly violates and infringes on the constitution we passed in August 2010.

As a country, we are badly hit be terrorism but instead of our leaders uniting at this critical time, they have chosen the myopic route, of baseless politics. Last evening, we witnessed the usual rivalry between Jubilee and CORD on the floor of the house. James Smart a TV anchor in one of the media houses twitted; “In our political division, we failed to isolate and deal with the enemy but are happy to exhibit our political rivalries. Let history record this.” The ugly scenes that took place in parliament yesterday have immensely tainted our international image. We will take years to redeem that image, on condition that this country does not go through an injurious moment akin to what happened. It’s that bad.

The Opposition missed an invaluable opportunity to sponsor amendment to the Security bill. Instead, they chose mediocrity, of antagonizing their counterparts, pro-government. It appeared CORD MPs were reading from the same script, to ensure the bill is not passed using all means possible. That did not happen though, as the controversial bill was passed in the most acrimonious way ever to be witnessed in Kenya Parliament’s history. It all started  with the newly “appointed through consensus”  ODM chairman, John Mbadi, MP for Suba, when he grabbed the order paper from Hon. Asman Kamama (who also chairs parliamentary committee on National Security and Administration) and tore it into pieces. I would say without any misgivings that the opposition has itself to blame for passing of the bill. Nonetheless, am neither sympathetic to the Jubilee side. They too, embarrassed the country by physically assaulting the CORD senators in the public gallery.

At the time of preparing this article, the President assented to the bill ; giving it life. This is what I was forced, naturally to delete; (The eyes are now directed to the President, to either bite the bullet by rejecting the bill, meaning it will have to be taken  back to Parliament for further deliberations or isolate himself from the people and in so doing,  polarizing the country.) I have always thought Justin Muturi, the National Assembly Speaker was never from the word go, the best candidate to head the highly influential legislature. He has failed miserably to show leadership and in many occasions cited not to be impartial. A case in point, yesterday, Justin Muturi overlook the standing orders, by overseeing passing of a law in an acrimonious house.

Articles 62 through 66 of the bill amending the National Intelligence Security Act broaden the powers of security officials to arrest and detain people and could violate due process rights. The bill expands the powers of the National Intelligence Service (NIS) to stop and detain suspects, search and seize private property, and monitor communications without a court warrant. This section has however been amended to read in part…”the NIS shall hand over suspects to the nearest police station immediately.” This section posed a threat of being abused, taking us back to the days of detention and torture of political activists. Article 62 authorizes NIS officers to “do anything necessary to preserve national security” and to detain people even on suspicion of “engaging in any act or thing or being in possession of anything which poses a threat to national security.”

Other amendments that propose alarming changes to current legislation include:

  • Article 18, to enable police to extend pre-charge detention for up to 90 days with court authorization, well beyond the 24-hour limit that Kenyan law currently allows. This contravenes the constitution; pursuant to the provisions of Article 49 (1) (h) of the Constitution of Kenya;
  •  “An arrested person has the right –
  • (1) (h) to be brought before a court as soon as reasonably possible, but not later than-
  • (i) Twenty-four hours after being arrested; or
  • (ii) If the twenty-four hours ends outside ordinary court hours, or on a day that is
  • not an ordinary court day, the end of the next court day.”.
  • Article 19, to allow prosecutors to not disclose evidence to the accused if “the evidence is sensitive and not in the public interest to disclose.”
  • Article 66, to enable NIS officers to carry out “covert operations,” broadly defined as “measures aimed at neutralizing threats against national security.”

Several other provisions introduce new, broadly defined offenses that could be used against people who associate, knowingly or not, with terrorist suspects, the organizations said.

For example, article 72, section 9(a), on “facilitation of terrorist acts” punishes “a person who advocates, glorifies, advises, incites, or facilitates” acts of terrorism. This language could be used against the lawyers of suspects, some Kenyan lawyers fear, or to limit speech. The offense is punishable with up to 20 years in prison.

Article 73, section 12(a)(2), creates a presumption that the “unlawful possession of improvised explosive devices, assault rifles, rockets propelled grenades or grenades shall be presumed to be for terrorist purposes” – placing the burden on the defendant to prove they were not using the weapon for terrorist purposes. The law provides punishment of up to 20 years in prison for anyone who uses a weapon for purposes of terrorism in committing an offense.

The bill also would amend Kenya’s refugee laws, including article 58, which would cap the number of refugees in Kenya at 150,000 and compel refugees and their families to stay only in designated camps while their applications for asylum are processed. The provisions contravene both Kenya’s Refugee Act of 2006 and international law, including the Organization of African Unity (OAU) Convention Governing the Specific Aspects Relating to Refugee Problems in Africa, which prohibit denying refugees and asylum seekers entry into the country.

The security bill includes provisions that would make it harder to expose and criticize violations by security forces, the groups said. Article 75, section 30(a) of the bill would punish with up to 14 years in prison anyone who “publishes or utters a statement that is likely to be understood as directly or indirectly encouraging or inducing another person to commit or prepare to commit an act of terrorism.” This overly broad provision could be interpreted to apply to social media or any other public forum. Social media has been very fast in exposing and humiliating corrupt public officers and other vices as well as ashaming the culprits in the popular twitter streets. This unfortunately, will be a thing of  the past. Woo unto you who share sensitive images on social media, soon you’ll be a guest of the state.

The bill expands the understanding of “radicalization” to possibly include activism, with article 73, section 12(d), describing “a person who adopts or promotes an extreme belief system for the purpose of facilitating ideologically based violence to advance political, religious and social change.” The unclear language could be interpreted to prosecute political and human rights activists, with sentences of up to 30 years.

Article 75, sections 30(f)(1) and (2), also broadly prohibit broadcasting any information likely to undermine investigations or security operations without police authorization and prohibits publishing or broadcasting photographs of victims of a terrorist attack without police consent. Investigative journalists have their hands tied with this article due to generalities. Kenyans will  have to rely on the police to detect, deter, unravel and do thorough investigations, which has been a tall order for them in the past. Investigative pieces and expose will be slowly chocked to extinction.

The security bill would limit basic rights to freedom of assembly and association with vague provisions subject to abuse, the groups said. Article 4 would authorize the cabinet secretary for interior, a presidential appointee, to decide when and where public meetings can be held. This section has since been deleted.

Funny enough, social media has been divided right in the middle, taking sides and remaining ‘loyal’ to their tribal and regional lords. Even the educated have not been spared, in fact they are the most tribal. I have chosen the rare trajectory, of objective criticism and not necessarily rubber stamping every opinion our politicians make, regardless of whether I voted for them. When we owe our allegiance to nobody, we shall have begun the grueling task of saving this country from ourselves.