MCAs, BIGOTRY AND BODYGUARDS

mmaOn the chilly day of 27th August 2010, Kenya promulgated one of the most progressive constitutions in the recent past. Amongst the great benefits of this new constitution was devolution. Speaking of devolution, the constitution gave immense powers to Members of County Assembly. Previously, councillors were controlling meager municipal council collections which were not near sh.100 million averagely. Fast forward now, MCAs are dancing with tremendous figures of not less than sh. 3 billion. During the last elections, it didn’t hit the electorate that much of the progress of counties solely depended with the quality of men and women they voted in to sit at the county assemblies. Forget the noise on referendum, where in the world do people demand more money without accounting for what they have beforehand.

MCAs work is now akin to what the National Assembly does in Nairobi; legislate, oversight and represent. period. Unlike the past when the country depended on the mercy of government of the day for development to see light of the day, with devolution, power is squarely placed on the hands of county governments. It is up to the leaders you voted to enact progressive laws, ensure prudency and accountability of tax payers’ money and more importantly uphold the highest level of integrity.

We are all cognizant of the fact, that is easier said than done. In fact integrity or lack of it, is what will draw the line between successful counties and failed ones. The cliche of blaming the national government every now and then will fade with time. We must realize the rain will start beating us if we do not hold our MCAs accountable. It can no longer be business as usual if we let bureaucracy, mediocrity, and unprofessionalism to be the new norm of county governments. How we start the trajectory will go a long way in influencing how we finish. It’s just like the constructor of house gambling with a weak foundation; it will end up affecting the whole building.

We must subject MCAs to the highest level of accountability. My heart bleeds with pain when we hear of MCAs holding governors at ransom across the country. If it is not demand for unavailing trips abroad, its advocacy for hefty allowance, bribes and bodyguards to guard them round the clock. No one cares about ‘Wanjiku’s’ security. The highest spending practices are on salaries, travel and conferences. For a long time we blamed Moi for bringing down the economy in the 90s. What we do not know, is how many thousands of ‘Mois’ we have sired since he relinquished power. It’s sad that we that we have devolved corruption and domesticated it.

The Office of Controller of Budget has put Members of the County Assemblies on notice over spending billions of shillings on foreign trips at the expense of developing legislation and facilitating county activities. The County Budget Implementation Review report, which covers the first quarter of the 2013-2014 fiscal year, raised some eyebrows when it was released to the public January 8th. The report revealed that county governments spent 13.33 billion shillings ($155.2 million) from July to September 2013. These expenditures were classified into four categories: personnel emoluments, operations and maintenance, development, and servicing of debts and pending bills. Of the total spending, 55% went towards personal emoluments, 38% for operations and maintenance, and only 7% towards development programmes. Out of Kenya’s 47 counties, 27 spent no money on development projects. The other 20 counties spent 872.9 million shillings ($10.2 million) on development activities, with the highest ratio of development expenditure to total expenditure in Nyeri (30.3%), Tana River (26.0%) and Tharaka Nithi (25.5%). The report also found that the counties spent 1.1 billion shillings ($12.4 million) on domestic and foreign travel, 241.9 million shillings ($2.8 million) on conferences, and 161 million shillings ($1.9 million) on training.

Narrowing down on Makueni County, a typical county that has been marred by infighting, high voltage politics, never ending ultimatums and blackmail, it has been a sad story to even write about.  There were reports running around that MCAs were paid sh. 100,000 to impeach Governor Kivutha only to realize the latter was spearheading dissolution of the county government through collection of signatures to bring up a petition. He termed the differences as’ irreconcilable.’ For Makueni County and the rest of Africa, that was unheard of, our leaders never quit, they die in office; ask President Mugambe. Am told Kivutha Kibwana is by far popular than a cross section of the MCAs, who by the way know too well once bitten, twice shy. This has caused many of them to wag tails between their legs ‘praying’ status quo will prevail.

Bottom line: we have much ground to cover. Devolution will make or break our very sensitive economy. If MCAs will be led by bigotry and continue enacting unattainable and irrational taxes hence scaring and chasing away investors, we will ‘cry in the toilet.’ The buck stops with the electorate; our future depends on whether we can discern leaders who bend rules from those who embrace integrity to longevity.

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DO WE NEED SONKO-PHILANTHROPY?

rev.During his lecture in memory of the late Wangari Maathai at the Storymoja Festival recently, the celebrated playwright and poet Wole Soyinka called on all of us to be fundamentalists of liberty.  The same way terrorists are devoted in their doctrine, we should precisely in return give them a dose of their own medicine. It is this context that I feel cheated by one Mike Mbuvi  Sonko.  Whatever he is doing has nothing to do with philanthropy but what I would compare to pulling stunts. Now, before you throw shoes at me the Migori way, let’s indulge; when he pays air tickets for middle class Kenyans flying  to coast for serious businesses or holiday, how is that transformative leadership? What of dishing out money to youths or paying for shoppers’ wares? No pun intended to his overzealousness in kindness, in fact the good books talks of blessings to the hand that gives than which that receives. My only problem is when a politician insults or rather compromises our conscience through hiding under financial generosity. How sustainable is it to dish out money? He is only worsening a culture of citizens soliciting for money from their leaders. Assuming Sonko was rich enough to give all Kenyans a million shilling each, the question is, would he have solved all our problems? No, because our fundamental problems do not require money to solve them. Ignorance cannot be won through money; it’s a change of mindset that is needed. Wole Soyinka warned of acceptance of general status quo, it’s through its results that the likes of Al shabaab ideologies are borne, a catalyst of bad leadership.

This country needs systems that are working not politicians practicing populist politics. We need the leaders we voted for, to influence policies that can bring sustainable solutions to our afflictions. If we are talking about the senator initiating programs to assist vulnerable girls from the slums, through technical skills that can discourage them from being lured in ‘selling their bodies’; then we will be transforming the society. If he is compelling the county government to pay doctors and nurses on time as well have transparency and fairness in promotion, we will be moving in the right direction. If Mike Sonko would be putting pressure on national government to employ more teachers to reduce the ratio of teacher – pupil in the slums, I would be the happiest person. If he has so much money to give out, let him advice youths, women and men to form chamas that can sustain them through revolving funds. With that he will instill financial discipline in the society. Next time they will have no reason to queue for handouts. Money will never be adequate for any single person; we can only do so much with what we have.

Philanthropy has a connotation of sustainability and transformation, it brings long term solutions. Whatever Mike Sonko is doing is in fact, creating new problems. In any case it will be extremely catastrophic if we‘ll judge our leaders through their financial prowess. Americans were brave enough to vote overwhelmingly in 2008 for a black president Barrack Obama, yet he didn’t have any financial muscle at the expense of John McCain, in fact they mobilise funds to support a candidate of their choice.   In Africa we do not question the source of the money; we’re only interested in what it does. That’s the major underbelly, perhaps a reason why we’ll remain developing countries. If for instance the source is drug trafficking, meaning 60% of the population which makes up the youth is vulnerable, if the money is from illegal charcoal business, meaning weather patterns will change drastically, so will be the environment, and our very existence jeopardized, then we’re shooting ourselves in the foot.  My point is, whether that money is channeled to build roads, or bring piped water closer home, it’s all in vain. It’s beyond being myopic.

For me, philanthropy is what Wings to Fly Initiative under the brain child of Dr.James Mwangi is impacting on our society.  Bright kids from humble backgrounds have doors of opportunities equally open as those of their counterparts from more privileged families. Philanthropy is what the celebrated icon Oprah Winfrey is doing through Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa, training girls to be the best decision makers and leaders. Boniface Mwangi through his savings founded PAWA254, Nairobi’s unique social enterprise through which innovative professionals from diverse artistic fields exploit their creative genius to foster social change. A platform where photography, music, graffiti, poetry and journalism meet with one resolve, to promote positivism and offer inspiration.  That alone is by far more productive than giving random youths handouts.

With all the cash flowing freely from Senator Sonko, Nairobi is still on the list of shame with the largest urban slum in Africa and more continue to sprout in every corner you dart your eyes. As they say an apple does not fall far away from the tree. Her daughter went all loose in the press, attacking socialites claiming the ‘real socialites’ are from influential families who have ‘real money’ to afford the limelight. It’s one thing to be wealthy but it’s a totally different thing to be successful. It goes without saying, true success changes generations positively and it embraces wisdom.

WHAT’S IN A ‘LEADER’ – KALONZO

Let me Imagestart with a disclaimer that am not trying to say we are any better than the former Vice President Hon. Kalonzo Mosyoka son of Saikuru village. The reality is, we are a deeply divided nation, down in the middle. The only grip that is holding us together is the fact that we are a bit civilized and economically advanced and not to mention we learnt a myriad of lessons from the infamous 2007-08 Post election violence. This is unlike our sister nation South Sudan which for over 3 months have witnessed a silent massacre of its people barely a year after the same citizens celebrated the birth of a nation that they fought for decades.

Now, the sentiments of Kalonzo are very unfortunate coming from a public figure who purports to be a national leader. Two wrongs do not make a right, its self-defeating .Him being a seasoned politician should know better than any of us that these reckless statements are akin to what  has made South Sudan degenerate to civil war killing thousands of innocent civilians.

The last time I checked, CORD fraternity created the impression that it is a coalition built under strong pillars of reform, democracy and a champion of human rights. What human rights are being championed when its top brigade discriminate a fellow Kenyan due to his last name and even afford to find it funny to laugh about it. 

Am not suggesting Jubilee government have performed very well, neither am I trying to justify profiling Somalis is legitimate nor Hon Duale’s infamous comments two weeks ago. My point is, no politician should be allowed to run away with such draconian and retrogressive statements at this day and age. That is why am ridiculed by anyone supporting Kalonzo on this matter. The lame excuses led by one  Robert Alai were that Kalonzo said what we all hold onto our minds.

In the last two elections Kalonzo campaigned to be the president of this great nation. Simply because your fellow politicians or citizens are or make such statements does not justify you to take cue. What is in a ‘leader’ if he is led and conforms to the subjects mediocrityA leader should inspire not to scorn people.

I have a problem with anybody abusing the principle of an apology, Kalonzo did not apologise he simply did what can only be construed to be a ‘PR’ gimmick. I wonder what’s in an apology if you go ahead to say you did not mean what you said. It should be simple and clear; “I regret for the unfortunate remarks I made earlier ….” or something close to that, not escapism.

Former Presidential candidate, Martha Karua tweeted “something wrong cannot and must not be justified because others are doing it”.

 

DEAR MY PRESIDENT

ImageAm writing this open letter to convey my fears, concerns and discernible opinions which might help you as make your decision to attend or not to, the ICC sermons. I understand the trauma and anguish of going on with your normal life with a screaming sticker on your forehead, that of an ICC inductee.  Am cognisant of the fact that former ICC prosecutor one Moreno Ocampo did a  shoddy job. In fact he caved in to our petty politics. In simple terms, as a opposed to being professional enough to go out and gather tangible evidence and sift it thoroughly enough, he chose to be complacent and play politics. He opted for the easier route, copy paste ‘evidence’ which judge Waki had. I understand how painful it is,  when the result of the so called ‘investigations’  have you as one of the suspects. 

 The situation is more complicated by the fact that you are our president. You are the Chief Commander of our Armed Forces and more importantly, you hold an office which epitomises our sovereignty. I sympathise  with you Mr. President after enduring a lot within a very short span of your presidency. From the Supreme court battle, industrial strikes, governor-senator feuds, a deeply divided nation, WestGate siege, slow economy, skyrocketing number of jobless youths and the rest. I understand the double standards and imperialism of the international court of late, it only nets the ‘black fish’. I similarly refuse to be convinced that its a coincidence that only African states are charged. We are aware of the atrocities caused by George Bush and Tony Blair governments in Iraq and Afghanistan. Syria crisis is still unfolding at the full glare of International community. Why hasn’t Bensouda ‘offered’ to investigate.

Having said that, my two cents thinking is as follows;Image take advantage of your world class legal team to turn around flaws of the OTP to your strengths. And as they say, if your are going through hell, keeping going. Am suspicious of the African Union position. Agitating for a deferral wont help Kenya. Where was A.U when we needed it most. Why didnt it offer dialogue or advice then rather than now. I hold the opinion that A.U is extinct, vague and selfish. Its members are our leaders, we should come first before any other discussion. Its a rotten club, existing to protect impunity of the 21st century.  We have gone through more delicate situations like the 1982 coup and 2007- 2008 unrest. Am not suggesting that ICC should fail to acknowledge that we have a shaky security situation that demands strong leadership from the government to surmount it. Am neither trivialising your responsibilities as the president, my suggestion is that lets follow the law, deal with this elephant in the house now than later. I have never been a student of procrastination. 

Am suspicious of President Museveni harsh tirade in relation to ICC, there is more than meets the eye. For starters, most of the witnesses have passed and even lived in Uganda for quite sometime. His tears might not be genuine after all. We all know of his feud with Raila Odinga with each other outdoing the other in the name of being a darling of the West, sometimes back. He is doing more harm than good. He might as well be ill advising us for his own good. He has been on the forefront to pressure you not to owner the summons but what he is not telling us, is that the consequences are detrimental. My intuitions tells me, you will be vindicated in the end. There are a couple of options starting with ignoring A.U position in earnest. Just yesterday, ICC ruled you can skip most of the sessions and only attend opening and closing statements and presentation of victim views. Am also aware of an appeal to convince the court to terminate the case because of the shoddy investigations. If you ignore the ICC, consequences will be more than dire. Kenya will risk diplomatic isolation, tattered image across the globe and be on the verge of a failed state.