A lost academic year for many – Kibet Brian

With the coronavirus pandemic ravaging the world and changing peoples’ lives in many ways, the education sector is arguably the most hit. In conforming with the new normal, most schools have adopted online learning as a way to continue engaging their learners.

Whereas the adoption of online learning was adopted with noble intentions, the opposite has been the reality for many learners across the nation. For many, it has been a nightmare to attend lessons convened online leading to a feeling of alienation and disenfranchisement from the institutions they had put their trust and faith in. Many of them have been left to their own devices with very little done to mitigate their suffering.

Think with me, is it probable that with the high costs of data bundles and versatile devices required to access the lessons coupled with the cognizance necessary to navigate the platforms on which classes are held, that a young person in an impoverished neighborhood can possess all of the above in these hardest of times when livelihoods and lives have been lost? I think not.

For those in rural areas, the network signal is poor and in some cases zilch. Electricity connectivity in most of these areas remains low and thus many learners do not have a reliable power supply for the devices they are to use in their classes. This is no bloviation but a reflection of as-is on the ground.

By technical learners who have no access to the aforementioned, compulsory online classes and examinations are discriminatory. The Constitution of Kenya, 2010 though Article 27(4) outlaws discrimination of persons on several grounds including social origins. Further, it is only right that quality and affordable education is availed to all regardless of social standing if education is to be the equalizer of the conditions of men.

However, this is not to imply that learners should completely stop their educational discourses. Those with access to the online learning resources should continue doing so but the institutions running them should not make them compulsory for all and if they must, then they should lay down measures to ameliorate and enable those who cannot access them easily and seamlessly access them.

Kibet Brian is a  student at the University of Nairobi, School of Law in Parklands. He comments on topical issues with a bias for Tax, Social, and Administrative Justice.

Twitter – @Kibett_Brian   |   Facebook- Ki-Bett Brian

Government Responsible for Rising Rates of Unemployment & Underemployment – Sitati Wasilwa

The discussion about unemployment and underemployment in Kenya could be considered by some as tiring or stale but still remains as relevant as schooling and seeking means of survival are. 

Youth are the most affected cohort of the population. Recent statistical data published by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) indicates that out of about 1.8 million unemployed Kenyans, slightly more than 1.4 million are aged between 15 and 34 years. Further, 651,491 youth aged between 15 and 34 years are underemployed out of almost 1.2 million underemployed Kenyans. 

Of course, the above data was based on sampling implying that the unemployment/underemployment situation could be worse in real terms. 

Considering that the situation is gloomier on the ground than the figures otherwise presented by KNBS, then who shoulders the blame of an economy that’s typically a jobless growth model? The buck stops with the government, and by the government I mean its three arms; Parliament, Executive, and Judiciary.

Collectively, these three entities have failed especially in taming runaway corruption, and secondly, by allowing warped economic policies to flourish. 

Kenya loses approximately one-third of its annual budget due to corruption. Based on this, then we have cumulatively lost at least Kshs.7 trillion since the Jubilee administration assumed office. This amount dwarfs the country’s real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and trails the nominal GDP which the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) estimates to be Kshs.5 trillion & 9 trillion respectively.  

Even though GDP does not accurately measure an economy’s state, the truth of the matter is that more decent jobs would have been created in the public and private sectors if the government was fully committed to stamp out corruption. 

The Jubilee administration has failed to deliver the annual 1 million and 1.3 million jobs it promised in 2013 and 2017 respectively, largely due to corruption and indecent borrowing to finance high-cost infrastructural projects. 

According to the 2020 Economic Survey report, from 2015 to 2019, about 502,000 and 3.7 million jobs were created in the formal and informal sectors respectively. From 2017 to 2019, there has been a consistent decline in the number of jobs created in the formal sector which can be attributed to most business enterprises closing shop. 

Warped economic policies have contributed to slow growth in the number of employment opportunities created. For instance, borrowing to invest in high-cost projects like the standard gauge railway line instead of investing in sectors where the majority eke out their living such as smallholder farming, eventually crowds them out and suppresses their productivity.

Although prioritized as one of the four pillars of the farcical Big Four Agenda, the manufacturing sector is still struggling and yet, with effective political goodwill, could create hundreds of thousands of jobs, directly and indirectly. 

A harsh business environment that has forced some enterprises to relocate from Kenya and local ones to collapse is an indicator of unfavorable economic policies. Taxation, in particular, is cited as one of the main causes of relocation and folding up. 

The government has embarked on short-term solutions such as the government internship programs and the Kazi Mtaani initiative to address unemployment. Economically, this is neither a necessary nor sufficient condition to fix the challenge of unemployment. 

In 2019, the national government hatched a plan to export one million jobs yearly as a measure to address unemployment. Recently, Labour Cabinet Secretary Simon Chelugui, revealed that Kenya was finalizing bilateral labor agreements with some Gulf countries to formally export labor. This could appear economically and socially viable in the short-run but may actually perpetuate brain drain in the long-run.

Therefore, addressing unemployment and underemployment in Kenya starts with electing competent politicians. That’s how we can get an effective government, and on matters of unemployment/underemployment, the buck stops with the government. Accordingly, the only path to economic prosperity is political prosperity. 

Sitati Wasilwa is a political economist. Twitter: @SitatiWasilwa LinkedIn: Sitati Wasilwa Facebook: Sitati Wasilwa Podcast: Sitati Wasilwa

 

People Power – Lincoln Oyugi

Kenya describes itself as a Democratic Nation but that Democracy is largely on paper. I say so because the wielders of power are the minority few. A certain clique of leaders has addressed themselves as the owners of Kenya. This sets a very terrible terrain for the leadership of the country. Among the mature Democracies, that we purport to admire, no individual wields any excess powers to an extent of capturing the state. For example in the USA, of which we’ve borrowed a huge chunk of constitutionalism from having the best illustration of what a Democracy should look like. The power is vested in the people and through political parties. Separation of powers has also been inclined so well, that the Executive, Judiciary, Congress, and the Federal units know what is expected of them.

For Kenya to be like these countries, then the people must come out and claim what belongs to them. This power belongs to them. They are the true owners of the system. The constitution gives us the freedom and the chance to exercise our mandate and power through the ballot.  Politicians however have mastered the art of dividing the local man. They know that in case the local man is given the platform to exercise his will without any interference, the likelihood of change is high. This is why instead  of just asking for your vote, they go to the extreme to a point of bribing you to make a decision. Voter bribery is not uncommon and this has led even to the phrase, the ‘biggest briefcase’  takes it all. Where this cannot apply effectively, they marshal their community against the other on divide and rule tactics leading to deep ethnic divides. And when this fails they employ violence. 

It is such practices that have made the  Kenyan people unable to partake in good governance as it is enshrined in the constitution. However, as Kenyans, we must let go of the notion that power only belongs to a few lucky people. This makes Kenya sound rather like a monarch than a democratic state. 

We must guard our conscience and take responsibility for our leaders through the ballot. We must come out as the lot that refuses to be suppressed into submission. We must take back our power. But for that to happen, then we have to let go of ethnicity and stop accepting bribes from politicians. We must also fight violent attacks and hold the electoral commission accountable for the election results. 

Through this, we will achieve complete people’s power and we will always partake in nation-building.   

Lincoln Oyugi – Law Student at MKU and Member of Africa’s Formula For Development

Facebook@ Linc Oyugi   |  Twitter @ lincoyugi Instagram@lincoyugi 

I know things are tough, but we should spend more – Melchizedek Asuma

“On or about 1910,” writes Virginia Woolf, “human character changed.” 

The truth behind this statement – despite the writer’s conviction- is sketchy at best, fallacious at worst, and frankly portrays a sort of wishful thinking that I, and the irony is not lost on me, am about to espouse today. 

“On or about 2020, Kenyan character needs to change.”

 Now, there are so many ways that Kenya could benefit from a character change. However, today I am only interested in one: a simple, extremely simple, character shift that many, elites and otherwise, might consider, as undoable. However, all I ask is that you suspend your judgment for a few minutes to hear me out.

“CoronaVirus.”

Without any further explanation, your mind has probably conjured up some dreadful statistic or fact about the virus. You may have also reflected on its effects upon your life and felt a sense of hopelessness and dread about what comes next. The word ‘next’ here does not strictly imply ‘what follows after’ as experts have speculated that the virus might never go away. Even more importantly, we are all feeling the economic sting of the halt that the disease has brought our country to right now.

Following a record number of employment losses that left many Kenyans impoverished, people have turned to businesses, more specifically hawking. Everywhere you turn, you see a former teacher – and I use the word ‘former’ loosely – hawking foodstuff, former students selling clothes, former journalists selling tomatoes from the boots of their vehicles, and so on. It is increasingly seeming that there are more businesses than there are customers. This throws us into a quagmire, where everyone is selling, yet no one is actually buying; We all remain broke.

With many of us down on our luck, and looking for ways to re-strategize, we need to turn our eyes to and heed the advice of Gordon Brown, former UK Prime Minister, who after the 2007-2008 economic crisis urged his countrymen to increase their spending. And with China also has set the groundwork for this strategy, Kenya should not be far behind. It is a simple enough strategy which, I admit, seems too simple to be true, yet has the potential to restore our economy, and grants the added benefit of boosting local industries.

Splurge. Comma. Kenya Splurge. It is essentially a simple strategy that plays on the principle of the circulation of money: A Ksh 1000 note is valueless inside your pocket but achieves its pecuniary value when taken out and exchanged for a good and/or service. As a people, we should splurge to increase money circulation and boost businesses that are already threatening to close their doors for good.

Kenyans as financially conservative people is a foregone conclusion. We bargain incessantly whenever we shop, and we tend to keep money in our pocket (and mattresses?) for longer than we should, and we look for the lowest prices when buying, and we resort to buying faux goods just to save. Hence, we need to change ourselves at the atom level to accommodate such a strategy.

Some will interpret this as a utopian view of the world – that if everyone spent more, then there would be more money for everyone. However, there is both a sound rationale behind it -with evidence backing it – and a charitable aspect to it. Whenever you stop to buy a cup, you help the vendor fill another with tea the next morning. 

Splurge. Comma. Kenya Splurge. I am no financial expert. Yet it is a commonly known fact that the higher the demand of a product, the higher the supply tends to get. Essentially, as Kenyans spend more, then producers will have to produce more, and employ more people, with higher pay, to assist in the production. This completes the chain quite neatly: As spending increases, then revenue for the government increases, and, hopefully, our national debt decreases, and, even more hopefully, our inflation rate decreases.

The government and financial sectors will also need to take an active role to facilitate such a movement. Long term, low-interest credit should be made available to the people to boost their businesses; Short term tax bailouts offered to allow some breathing room for Kenyans on the onset; Major discounts are given, and social protection programs extended to cover more people.

Splurge. Comma. Kenya Splurge.

Wriiten by Melchizedek Asuma, Journalism student at the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology.

Instagram: @asuma_melchi  |  Twitter: @MelchiAsuma

 

Youth Inclusion – By Halanga Adam

On a daily basis a number of youth support groups and various individuals across the country rally for youth inclusion and empowerment. Fortunately, this song appeals to most youths if not all, and we all dance along enjoying the tune and the beats. “What exactly is the meaning of that song?” That’s the million-dollar question we all seem to be concerned about.

The youths have to be involved in major development programs and also in policymaking. This has been the song no one seems to be able to clearly break down. Masses have continued to move in the wrong direction in solidarity with our “youth leaders” chanting slogans that only they understand in all perspectives. A sample of the youths has been brought on board to positions set aside for youth and this has been embraced as a great step towards youth inclusion. The government and other stakeholders have formulated policies and other strategies through the Ministry of State and Youth Affairs just to ensure matters affecting the youth have been looked into.

On the other hand, non-governmental organizations have come up to help roll out programs aimed at containing the youth bulge. These programs have been embraced in various sectors and they include entrepreneurship programs, scholarly programs (tertiary and higher learning), counseling, talent search, and cultivation among other programs. These have helped a great deal and the narrative is changing by the day.

Youth inclusion entails more than we are already doing and it needs some things done right for it to have meaning. Youth inclusion involves the youth being empowered to identify challenges facing youths across the country, find solutions that are sustainable, and independently formulate informed policies and strategies. The legal procedure should be youth-oriented not forgetting other civic duties. Most importantly, the youths have to be properly educated and create an enabling environment to foster their ascension to key positions in government and the society at large.

Youth inclusion in Kenya is a paramount aspect necessary in the process of brightening our future as a nation. Youth account for a greater percentage of the population and their inclusion in the government is the most important step towards realizing the Vision 2030 Agenda and containing the numerous problems that are almost weighing us down and having us wallow in unending debt. Give meaning to youth inclusion, save the nation.

Written by Halanga Adam

Revenue Allocation – Saruni Lemargeroi

The recent debate on the allocation of revenue elicited mixed reactions, offering a glimpse into challenges and opportunities in the counties that, for decades, have been classified as either underdeveloped or “non-starters”. The Senate has been unable to arrive at a consensus, this shows how complicated and difficult the process is. But we must not forget that the heart of this conversation is about devolution and it’s the high time to allow counties to have their share. 

The fact that they are fighting to have their funding increased indicates that many of them are struggling to undertake development. This has affected not just the salary payments but also the development mandate of devolution. While many counties are struggling, it’s the historically marginalized that bear the brunt. 

Unfortunately for the arid and semi-arid land counties, the revenue is not the only struggle but rather a lack of transformational leadership, continued conflicts, many cultural practices, and associations that have made it impossible for them to prosper. While the stalemate on release and sharing of revenue is part of the problem facing the marginalized, it’s prudent that they seek to overcome these historical challenges.

Since Independence, there has been a negative association with many of these counties which range between tribal clashes, banditry, and divisive politics often based on clannism. For decades the regions were marginalized, viewed as unproductive with negative media publicity.

Of the 47 devolved governments, ASAL comprises of 29 counties, making it difficult to ignore them in national conversations. Leaders have in the past promised to unlock the potential that these regions hold for its citizens. Unfortunately, they haven’t been able to set off and largely due to myriads of challenges including scarce resources which have been worsened by delay in the release of funds by the treasury. 

While most of the area consists of arid lands, where rainfall is low, temperatures are high throughout the year, and where people’s access to and control over critical livelihood resources such as land is insecure, the local leadership must concentrate its annual plan to uplift the region.

Sadly, while some communities have made strides in overcoming issues regarding natural resources, there has been the politicization of conflicts and conflicting policies in seeking to make the North an oasis of peace and prosperity. This has made it almost impossible for counties to raise standard revenue.  As we hope for breakthroughs on revenue sharing, it’s up to the leaders across the spectrum to arise and face their own challenges and seek to create conducive environments that can stimulate change and stability for the northern frontier. 

Some of the conflicts pit governors against the county assembly and this adversely affects operations. We need to get a mechanism to resolve these issues to properly utilize the revenue for social transformation.

In pursuit of an inclusive economy and shared prosperity, we must not leave ASAL regions behind. But to make them prosperous, let us focus on the prudent use of resources, including the revenue allocated by the national government and other donors.

There seemed a clear correlation between the scarcity of natural resources resulting from the drought and violent conflict in the ASAL areas. It has been proved that stability can be achieved within fragile states and it’s up to the affected areas to seek alternative ways to end these cycles of conflicts that often derail much-needed development. But with good leadership and the right people at its helm, societies have the ability to overcome myriad challenges. While good leadership is a critical ingredient of the developing world, those entrusted must be men and women of integrity, accountability, and foresight for the furthest we can go is intertwined with the vision of the leadership we do have. 

There is a need to elect leaders of integrity and good morals to accelerate the huge promise that ASALs hold for national development. We can’t just sit back and wait for the national revenue share. So no matter the outcome of the stalemate, we must consider the marginalized regions and bring them at par with the rest of the country in matters of development.

Written By Saruni Lemargeroi, Political/governance analyst and Mandela Washington fellow

 

The need to be considerate when electing leaders – Felix Odhiambo

We are the people guided and guarded by the constitution, we are the same people exploited and used in the face of the constitution. After casting our votes we are left to trek on our muddy roads, we die of hunger while they gamble to measure their powers, we keep yelling every day in the media of how unemployed we are while they keep talking of succession and just like ever before they come to devour us with few notes then we end up pushing them to higher levels of leadership.

There is a difference between a leader and a politician, a leader is one who stands firm for the people and in the interest of the people, a leader is one who values his followers and makes them a priority, a leader is born not made even though most people will defer with this opinion. On the other hand, a politician is one who trades the money game, politicians are not worth it, they are made not born. This a person who climbs the ladder while looking at his or her subjects down on the ground. As much as we have a distinction between leaders and politicians, we also have political leaders. Who is a political leader? A political leader possesses the characteristics of a leader but politically exercises them. Now, contrast the three people and categorize who you voted for. 

Being considerate while voting simply means questioning the integrity of the contestant. Is he worthy to be given a political seat? Has she ever been involved in a scandal before? Is he/she trustworthy enough to deliver the promises he/ she sings about during campaigns? Is he/ she eligible for the position? Being considerate is being free from bias when casting a vote, forgetting about tribal links associated with the contestant, and focusing on electing the perfect leader and not the perfect politician to suit your personal needs through corruption. It is time we elect based on good performance since 2020 has taught us a lot, politicians exercising corruption even as we struggle with the pandemic. 

Written By Felix Odhiambo – Journalist, Blogger, and Writer. 

Facebook: Poetic Felix |  Instagram: Felix Odhiambo  |  Twitter: @felixOdhiambo 

Katiba @ 10 – Lincoln Oyugi

“We the people are the rightful masters of both parliament and courts. Not to overthrow the Constitution but to overthrow men who pervert the constitution” Abraham Lincoln.

Just as Lincoln said more than 200 years ago, we remain the greatest part of the constitution. It is designed for and by the people. And in our supreme law as Kenya, the preamble states, “We the People “. However, while celebrating ten years of existence of the Kenyan Constitution of 2010, a lot lingers in the mind. The main question remains, does the constitution stand for the direct benefit of the people of Kenya, as it is written in the preamble? And the simple answer is a big fat NO. Even though the main aim of the constitution was people-focused, it was hijacked by the politicians immediately after the inauguration.

On the 27, August of 2010, I was barely 10 years old, yet just like the rest of Kenyans, I was full of hope that the New Constitution was dawning the new beginning of Kenya. However, how wrong I was! The narrative has remained just as it was decades ago, just like the tale of some monkeys but different forests. So just how has this document that was intended to serve the interest of the people not lived to expectations?

Runaway corruption: Chapter six of the constitution places weight on integrity and leadership. The constitution also established independent offices to deal ruthlessly with runaway corruption.  However, a few people have hijacked the process making it difficult, or rather impossible to pin down any corruption suspect. In fact for the lifetime of the constitution, corruption has gone too far too extreme levels. The bodies tasked like EACC, ODPP, DCI, and even the judiciary has been weakened to an extent that despite the overwhelming evidence on grand corruption, no convictions have been made.

Devolution:  When the constitution was enacted, devolution was a major clause. It was applauded as the new dawn towards achieving the elusive equity in Kenya. The central governments of the previous years had sidelined parts perceived to be in opposition. However, devolution was to bring power close to the people. The Governor was to be the president of and serve the interest of the particular counties. However, ten years on there is nothing much to write home about. On matters of development, the counties are just the same as they were pre-devolution. In fact, the ASAL Region of Kenya which was basically ignored by the previous regimes has not improved 10 years with their local governments under devolution.

Calls for a change in the constitution. A good constitution is often argued as that which cannot be changed easily. However, currently, the political class is already in a rush to change it. This has been brought by the excitement behind “The Handshake”. Yes, the Handshake is good considering the times we were going through, which I am an ardent supporter of, however, its end game being a change in the constitution is completely puzzling. While the 2010 constitution is yet to be implemented, a clamor to change has already begun. This makes Kenya a weak democracy, with weak institutions and laws which are changed by politicians to suit their will. This makes Kenya equal to any banana republic, only now that it involves democratic dictatorship.

In conclusion, I believe that the implementation of the Kenya 2010 Constitution has been done in the worst way possible, and no matter how many times we change the laws, without great implementers, then the constitution is doomed to remain pieces of paper forever.

Written by Lincoln Oyugi – A Law Student at Mount Kenya University and a member of Africa’s Formula For Development

Facebook @Linc Oyugi  |  Twitter @lincoyugi  |  Instagram @lincoyugi

Youth should take ownership of their future – Levin Banns Ouma

Talk of youth as future leaders may sound so novel. This is despite the fact that it has always been the case all along- it has, for the longest time, been said that the youth are the future, or leaders of tomorrow if you may. The current crop of leaders, together with the government of the day, has time and again peddled this narrative through the various platforms and channels available to them. However, there has been very little, if any, development over the years to promote the realization of youth leadership. This, therefore, begs the question: Is this merely a simple, empty, and overused cliché?

The youth form the bulk of not only our country’s population but also the electorate. A lot of young people are enthusiastic and eager to be involved politically and to shape their destiny and society(ies) in which they live. The youth are, thanks to their visibility, exposure, and progressive ideas, better placed to assume higher, more effective political and leadership roles. Despite their qualitative and quantitative visibility, the sorry state of their inclusion/ involvement in the management and development affairs of the country is deeply troubling. There are numerous factors that have stood and continue to stand between young people and their quest for leadership. Among the notable obstacles and challenges that make it difficult (or nearly impossible) for young people to lead include; suppressive government structures, corruption, poverty, lack of education, and unemployment. These factors significantly muffle and/or even extinguish their voices, thereby making it imperative that they seek and adopt strategies targeted at making the much-needed change. 

Current leaders have also gone to great lengths to cast the youth in a bad light and to portray them as immature and having negative idealistic attitudes that taint their reputation. This should not necessarily be a bad thing. Why? Rather than trends, youth are largely moved by ideas, which they have the potential of staying true to and not giving up on despite the cost, challenges, and obstacles they’ll come across. While this idealistic attitude could earn them a bad reputation in the eyes of veteran leaders, it is precisely what will see them as being good leaders. The veteran leaders have also argued that this digital age has reduced the youth into a mere generation of followers only moved by trivial pursuits, not leadership. In this regard, the youth should remember that social media has been used the world over by other young people to bring about change, lead, and hold the government to account. Through social media, youth have been able to organize unprecedented change in, for example, Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Bahrain, and so on. Youth have also used social media to get their messages across and to drive various causes- such as human rights, unfair or discriminatory policies, injustices, and climate change- which have been responsible for various historical developments in the world. 

It is, thus, all too clear that the youth are the ones best suited to drive positive change and pave the way for the future. Without youth empowerment, the country cannot thrive. While the country is led by veterans, its future is highly dependent on the youth and young leaders who remain highly disenfranchised and excluded despite their having the skills, ideas, motivation, and power to lead. The youth should, therefore, rally together, remind their leaders of their duties and responsibilities, take it upon themselves to demand good leadership and accountability, and take ownership of their future by pushing for the change they’d like to see. 

Written by Levin Banns Ouma

Profile: I am a Kenyan youth who is interested in and closely follows politics and governance issues in the country. Facebook: Levin Leweezy Ouma

 

Kenya needs Kenyans, now more than ever – Kibet Brian

“Will we succumb to chaos, division, and inequality? Or will we right the wrongs of the past and move forward together?” the United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres posed to global leaders in the 18th edition of the annual Nelson Mandela Lecture. The lecture was given as part of the celebrations of Nelson Mandela International Day which is celebrated on the 18th of July every year to honor the legacy of a global icon whose values continue to inspire many seven years after his death.

The question above resonates well in the Kenyan context we find ourselves in today. Many Kenyans feel the supplication in our national anthem, “O God of all creation bless this our land and nation”, has gone unanswered or the blessings have been few, with the rest praying for more blessings upon the few. It is worth noting that we are in the middle of a global pandemic whose effects on the economy have caused untold suffering to countless Kenyans. Declining income, closure of businesses, and the loss of jobs only reflect the tip of the iceberg. The political climate in the country, however, seems to suggest otherwise. One would be forgiven for thinking we are months to a general election with the novel coronavirus already contained.

The political doldrums in the midst of a pandemic make one wonder whether it is a blessing or a curse to be born in this country. It seems this quagmire is what made a netizen to hilariously assert that this country should be closed for repairs.

However, all is not lost. Amidst all these, we are given a chance to correct mistakes and build a future while appreciating our not so memorable past. It is while we are down that we scratch our heads for the way up. It is no longer tenable to remain in the trenches and complain about poor governance and corruption in government. It is time to advance against the ills that bedevil our societies and stand to be counted. After all human history is replete with circumstances where the unfathomable has been achieved by the unexpected.

In this sense, rising up means fighting the undoing that fan negativity and embrace those that bind us in unity and form the hegemony that Kenya should be. This means extending our arms to the less fortunate in our communities and demanding action from authorities where we feel there are issues. It also means the citizenry making an effort to become more informed on how they are and how they should be governed. Above all, it is all about raising the political cautiousness of the people to enable them to make decisions that benefit them in post-COVID 19 elections.

Finally, it is also about our leaders owning up to the great responsibility bestowed on them by leading from the front. It is a great dereliction of their ordained duties to be the ones leading in subverting laws which are meant for the good of the people to oppress and deny citizens their right. Politicking on succession politics in these extraordinary times is at best pharisaical of them.

The good for all is a prosperous country where unemployment is eradicated, healthcare accessible by all, housing no longer a preserve of a few, food security attained, and where the rule of law reigns. Now is the time to begin the actualization of this, because this is what we signed up for.

Written by Kibet Brian who is a Student at the University of Nairobi – School of Law in Parklands. He comments on topical issues with a bias for Tax, Social, and Administrative Justice.

Twitter: @Kibett_Brian   |   Facebook: Ki-Bett Brian

What is so public about participation when youth are not involved? – Stephen Gathaga

Considering the fact that the youths are the future and the representation of any nation, Kenya is not exempted from such a fact due to the high number of youth in the country. This is because these are the people who are mainly engaged in any nation-building process or any destructive process due to the high levels of energy that they have and the capability of them adapting to new environments. In recent years, we have seen youth being engaged in certain reforms of our nation. The latest has been witnessed during the Kazi Mtaani Project that has seen the cleaning and rehabilitation of our environment. This was a great boost to the youth since to some extent; the levels of unemployment and poverty were reduced. However, there is much that needs to be done to counter the unemployment notwithstanding the fact that most of them have attended institutions of higher learning. Though most of them are now being encouraged to attend technical institutions so as to create self-employment, the government should feel the urge of providing sufficient capital to them after successful completion of whatever course one has engaged in. Also, there is a need to engage the youth in administrative processes such as governance and policy implementation. As stated earlier, the youth are the future of any nation and in regards to this, a generation of responsible youth will be raised and this will create a stable transition of them from junior to some of the senior positions in governance. This will help our nation avoid going into a governance crisis.

Public participation
In Kenya, the executive, legislature, and any other administrative bodies have been given the power to come up with legislation and policies. However, any undertaking that these institutions do engage in should be in the best interest of the citizens and through their involvement.

According to Article 1 of the constitution, the Sovereign power belongs to the citizens and hence the need for the citizens to be engaged in public participation as guaranteed in the Constitution of Kenya in Articles 10 (2) a, 69(1)d, 174(c), 184(1), 196(1)b and 232(1)d. The government usually uses the Kenya Gazette to present any issue that needs public participation. The question that arises is: how many Kenyans are able to access the Kenyan gazette and fully air out their views? How many Kenyans are able to read and fully comprehend whatever information has been placed before them in the gazette? Are the timelines provided for public participation regarded as sufficient? Despite the fact that public participation is guaranteed in law, the government of Kenya has not yet reached the threshold that is required for sufficient public participation to be stated to have taken place. This is clearly seen in instances whereby the public is not involved and if they are involved they are not given enough time to participate. Recently, it was witnessed when there was a transfer of functions from the county government of Nairobi to the national government.

The deed of transfer of functions was rendered illegal by J. Hellen Wasilwa in Petition 52 of 2020. This is because the county assembly was not involved in the process which was a clear violation of the constitution. In such a case, public participation would have been conducted by the members of the county assembly who are the representatives of the citizens of Nairobi County. In conclusion, public participation remains not to have been fully implemented and hence the need for the government to institute measures to ensure the same will be conducted fully in the coming instances.

Written by Stephen Gathaga Mihang’o, a student at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa

Facebook: Stephen Gathaga
Twitter: @gathagastephen

Repeated lies and accepted truths – By Barbra Ouma

There are always two sides to a story. A story is never complete if you don’t listen to both sides. This is especially where there are controversies or disputes but especially when it involves the death of a person. In case of an accident, if the victim survives and lives to tell their tale then that’s okay and great as well. At least the family of the victim will know what really happened and if there are things that can be avoided as well as lessons learned from the accident. But what happens to the victims that die instantly…who lives to tell their story? Who can attest to what really happened that led to the death of the victims? Their story will always be forgotten tales. No one will ever know what really happened that led to their demise.

When one loses a loved one, there are more questions than answers. Questions that only the dead can answer. Questions we carry for a lifetime. Questions that do us more harm than good. These questions hurt so deeply, pierces the heart like a knife. The questions lead us to a place that no one wishes to be in. One is left in limbo. It is hard to move away from such thoughts and only God can give you peace of mind, serenity, and tranquility that you so badly need.

COVID 19 for instance came with a bang. Like the uninvited guest, the virus came unnoticed, settled among us, and set the pace and tune which everyone dances to at the moment. The tunes may not be melodious as we all wish it should be but we forcefully have to listen to it and settle with the rhythm however boring. Every nation worldwide has been affected by the virus, so many have died and Kenya has not been spared either. There are those who have died as a result of the virus. There are those who suffered from mild headaches and died from it. There are those who have died from childbirth. At the same time, there are those who have suffered from major and minor accidents and died at the hospital, there are those who have had heart failure and died as a result. Some of these cases have been reported as COVID 19 cases thus creating stigma on the bereaved families.

Unfortunately, the dead cannot speak for themselves. The living is the one left to defend the dead. It is only the victims that can truly tell their tales but it is unlikely that anyone would listen because they cannot speak nor can their voices be heard. The stories of their struggle, suffering, and the feeling of loneliness and abandonment by their loved ones will remain untold. Only the ones who have survived the ordeal can narrate their survival journey. Sadly, the dead will always keep the pain and agony they went through when they were sick when they suffered when their heart failed. They cannot tell the world they are not COVID 19 victims as it is claimed by others. Theirs will always remain to be so only to be forgotten by others with time.

Forgotten tales are stories worth listening to and sharing the pain of the victims, but mostly it is never the case. The owners travel with them to an unknown destination and no one will ever know what truly happened. Their stories are in a safe haven but forgotten by many.

Written by Barbra Ouma from Kisumu county
Twitter: @barbaraouma18
Facebook: Barbara Ouma

Siasa Place is an NGO formed 2015 that aims to create an enabling environment for women and youth mainstreaming into our body politics.

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