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ACHIEVEMENTS 2020

DEFEND RECORD YAKO 

Defend record yako, a one year project (January to December 2020) that was aimed at  improving attitudes and behaviours of right holders and duty bearers to uphold and defend human rights, democratic culture and gender equality in Kenya by capacity building the youth on avenues and strategies through which they could demand for responsiveness from duty bearers and hold them to account both at the national and county levels. 

The project used various interventions including supporting three (3) youth leaders training on avenues through which they can engage duty bearers, three (3) strategy review meetings and  twelve (12) ward based community engagement forums reaching a total of thirty (30) ward based youth. The strategies led to

1). Establishment of youth governance structure in Kericho: Through the project, we were able to train thirty youth group leaders out of which they elected twelve (6 male and 6 female) to lead the process of social accountability. They led in following up on the issues that were identified during the meetings. The committee represents all the six sub-counties and leads the process of follow up on issues identified during community engagements with respective leaders.  

2) Increased engagements between youth and duty bearers: From zero (0) to six (6) correspondence including four letters, one (1) memorandum (MOU)  and one (1) petition from the youth to the duty bearers. Out of which three (3)  were responded to by the duty bearers while they also took action in regards to our letters.

Youth in Kericho petitioned the county assembly to allocate budget for youth programs in the current financial year. Through the petition submitted by youth in Kericho, youth programs were allocated thirty million (Ksh 30,000,000) into the current financial year from zero (Ksh 0) budget. 

3) Improved levels of duty bearers responsiveness:  From the correspondence, letters were seeking county police to apprehend people who were selling alcohol without observing covid-19 adherence and within three days the shops that were not observing covid-19 restrictions were closed, asking the assembly committee on implementation to investigate spending of covid-19 monies and the department responsible were sermoned to respond to the allegations. Action was taken against the people who failed to follow the procurement procedures

The duty bearers have been writing to Siasa Place to support them hold youth engagement forums within their wards. Until December, four members of the county assembly had written to Siasa Place seeking support to help them hold youth engagement forums in their wards. 

4). Increased youth responsiveness to accountability issues: From the twelve (12) ward based community engagements, youth identified issues and established committees. Until then, youth committees established have been organizing accountability follow-up meetings with the respective leaders. Out of the 12 meetings, youth have organized three meetings on their own to meet leaders responsible on how they could address the issues that were identified during the meeting.

5) Improved corporation between youth and duty bearers: The forums established that the county had not created avenues for youth to prosper economically. As a result, the project supported Kericho Youth Empowerment bill 2020 which is ready to be sent to government printers. 

IMARA FELLOWSHIP 

A sixteen (16) months project (November 2019 to February 2021) aimed at promoting social accountability through the development of community based mechansims. The mechanisms included capacity building youth policy enthusiasts (Imara fellows). and county based social accountability champions  as a way of ensuring sustainability, consistency  and promoting collaboration.  As a result, the project will generate a shadow plan which will set the standard for leaders to work towards. 

Through the interventions, the project was able to realize the following: 

Improved communities ability to organize social accountability forums: The program organized two sets of capacity building training workshops. Imara fellowship academy(fellows) for the twenty nine (29) youth with interest in understanding how to influence decision making to improve service delivery and training of 16 County social accountability champions with the aim of capacity building them to promote youth participation in governance and enhance social  accountability. The training has started yielding results among the youth

There is increased youth involvement in governance by embracing constructive engagement with government institutions.Unlike before where youth used to complain,they now use letters, petitions and memorandums among others to engage government. For instance,  we have seen youth write memorandums  out of which some have yielded positive results. For example Youth in Busia presented a memorandum demanding for youth inclusion in the composition of the board in Busia County vocational training Bill 2020. 

There is also improved youth responsiveness on issues of accountability. For instance,in Kericho, the County social accountability champion was able to mobilize youth to hold the executive to account for the one hundred and twenty million (Ksh 120,000,000) COVID-19 supplementary  approved budget. This was after youth  established that the executive had not installed six (6) hand washing water points per ward as per the approved budget prompting them to write to the assembly committee on implementation to further investigate and take action. The committee Chairperson Hon Erick Bett raised the matter on the floor of the assembly and as a result, the chief officer had to be reshuffled. 

Improved the level of engagements between youth and duty bearers: We have observed improvement in use of accountability tools including letters, petitions among others. For instance when the Railway ward member of the county assembly wanted to name a public hospital after himself, Kisumu champion wrote a petition to block that as misuse of office and name was changed to reflect what the community desired.  In Busia, the champion submitted a memorandum demanding inclusion of youth to be part of the board of managament of a vocational training institution as a way of increasing their ability to check management of the institution from within.

Improved youth attitudes towards seeking information: Through the training, the county social accountability champion identified that Kisumu Central national constituency development fund allocated money to already tarmark Obunga-Police post  Kikomi road, he wrote a letter to the ethics and anticorruption commission and TI-Kenya helped to review the letter.

Improved analytical skills for the youth. Through their analysis, Kisumu champions were able to establish that Kudho nursery had been allocated money in three consecutive financial years  without any progress. In the 2016/17 financial year the nursery was allocated 1.5 million  which was the cost for construction  to completion. Tender was awarded to the first contractor who worked upto the foundation and left. After follow up by the school management committee, the 2nd contractor was given the work during the financial year 2017/18 who also left. In the 2018-2019 financial year the nursery was allocated 2 million again for construction, finally nine hundred thousand (Ksh 900,000) in financial year 2020/21. The  champion led the community to demand accountability from the County Executive Member for Education  who visited the school and gave an undertaking to audit all the other schools to ensure they are completed however, it was not allocated any money in the financial year 2020/21.

Improved leaders responsiveness to youth issues: Due to the collaborations established during the period, leaders have improved how they engaged youth whenever called upon. In Kericho, the assembly committee on implementation has been working with the youth to share information that has helped the youth in providing oversight. For example, the committee shared with the youth the approved budget which helped the youth to audit expenditure.  The committee also shared a report on the stalled project through which the youth are currently following up with respective offices responsibke. In Busia, the committee through their chair have always been receptive to the youth. For example, when the youth submitted the memorandum, he followed up with a phone call to thank the youth for submitting and expressing his commitment to support. 

Improved partnership and collaborations. The program institutionalized collaboration and partnership which has since helped carry out social accountability within the counties. Through our collaboration with transparency international (Kisumu Office), the youth have been trained on how to draft a petition.  

 

SAUTI YETU (OUR Voice) 

SAUTI YETU (OUR VOICE) project was aimed at creating a platform for youth to effectively participate in the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) processes and other governance processes on issues affecting young people. This is because it was observed that youth had limited information on BBI, they were unaware of the importance of their participation in decision-making or avenues to participate while governments had failed to facilitate their participation either due to lack of necessary skill, limited resources or just lack of political good will.

For the period between March 15th and September 30th 2020, the project implemented various strategies to create platforms for youth to engage in BBI process by holding six (6) county based youth barazas (meetings), nine (9) radio talk shows, one national convening to validate youth views that were previously collected and social media engagement targeting youth residing in Nairobi, Kisumu, Kirinyaga, Busia, Nakuru and Mombasa. The engagements were implemented in partnership with a total of eighty seven (87) County based youth serving organizations, five (5) radio stations, networks, movements, students groups and youth wings of political parties among others.

Consolidation of the  youth voice was aimed at making it easier for the task force to track youth views and also make it easier for the youth to follow up on their recommendations which were in four. 1) As much as young people are the majority population , that was  not reflected in the  leadership and thus recommending the need for establishment of a Youth Ministry or National Youth Commission or National Youth Council be independent. 2) Youth joblessness and recommended the need to prioritize youth economic empowerment. 3) Runaway corruption thus recommending the need to handle corruption cases within one year and 3) underrepresentation of youth in leadership thereby recommending the need for youth to be considered for the position of the proposed prime minister. Of the four, establishment of youth commission or council was adopted when the final report was released.  

The project also supported the development of youth perspective on BBI which since uploaded on the website on 27/08/2020 has been viewed  by a total of 4313  and  Youth Agenda, a youth serving organization based in Nairobi having asked to cite the report as  their  point of reference.

The project created an enabling environment for youth to participate in governance processes in that through the baraza, youth were asked on their opinion on the status of the implementation of the constitution and whether they thought there was need for a referendum. Majority felt that the government had failed to implement the constitution (79.9%) and almost uncertainty as to whether there is a need for a referendum or not with 51.8% supporting and 48.8% opposing. The survey was conducted through the use of technology (online) during county based baraza.

In addition to providing avenues for youth engagement, the project also created methods for learning for both the youth serving organizations as institutions and leaders. For instance after holding a youth baraza in Kirinyaga and Busia, the Kirinyaga County Women Representative and Busia  nominated Member of the County Assembly respectively adopted the model  and  have also  organized youth engagements forums in their respective jurisdictions hence helping to improve the level of youth involvement in governance.  

 

 DEEPENING YOUTH INCLUSION IN GOVERNANCE

The project is aimed at capacity building duty bearers (administrators and members of the county assembly) to conduct public participation, embrace collaborative development and youth to understand avenues through which they could engage duty bearers during governance decision making and implementation. The first phase had established that there were conflicts between  administrators and members of the county assembly caused by either a lack of understanding among the leaders or overlaps created by law within the counties,  failure by the county government to allocate resources to facilitate youth engagement within the counties and lack of good will.

The project used various  interventions including capacity building of duty bearers (100 county officials from wards across 3 counties) on ways through which they could engage youth in project life within the counties and the youth (167youth leaders drawn from 100 wards, across three counties) on avenues engaging duty bearers. As a result,the project supported a total of two trainings. One for ward administrators members of the county assembly and other administrative offices that were identified as vital for youth inclusion and the other for ward based youth group ladders and ward based community engagements forums leading to the follwoing:

Improved level of youth engagement with duty bearers: From the evaluation, baraza helped youth understand the role of different leaders and how they could engage them. As a result, ten (10) youth had since visited administrators’ offices to engage them on governance issues affecting them within the ward. Ward and village administrators in Nambale (Busia county) reported to have received three (3) and four (4) youth to consult on youth issues after the baraza respectively while the administrator in Nyakach East Kisumu county received three (3).

Improved youth attitude towards enhancing engaging duty bearers on issues affecting them: Youth have started expressing interest to engage county leaders on the projects that were identified to have problems, and need follow up during public baraza. For example,  Mercy Amoit from Busia county, Malaba South Ward  had mobilized youth to follow up on the projects that they identified during the baraza.

Duty bearers adopting the use of alternative communication to deliver services to the locals: A ward administrator in Kisumu and acting ward administrator in Busia has established a social media (whatsapp) group to engage the youth. The administrators in Busia in collaboration with youth  have started an  initiative to help the vulnerable within their community by helping in washing their clothes and cleaning houses.

County officials embracing engagements with youth: Some of the government officials have started embracing engaging young people. For example Mr. Sammy Omulepu – Senior Administrative Officer, Office of the Governor; Mr. Buluma Stephen – County disability Mainstreaming Officer, Office of the Governor were helped to organize and attended both the baraza.Mr Okwach, chief officer office of the governor responding to youth sending him messages on WhatsApp and also urging ward administrators to always respond to questions from the public because that is why they are hired.

 

Terms of Reference (ToR) for consultant to facilitate a two day workshop on Youth advocacy plan for more democratic political processes

ABOUT SIASA PLACE 

Siasa Place is a youth-led non-governmental organization (NGO), established in 2015 that specializes in working with youth and building institutional structures that support youth. Since its inception, the organization has been working with young people aged between 18 and 34 years. SP has focused on youth expertise in policy review and youth participation in decision making processes including the budget process. SP has trained youths on policy making and networking with other youth organizations at both the national and county level, to improve policy and on the budget process to increase accountability

PROJECT BACKGROUND

Per the 2019 census, the Kenyan population aged below 35 years was 75.1 %. Those age 0-14 were 39% of the total population. Yet, youth are largely excluded and underrepresented in governance and decision-making structures.  Most do not understand the importance of their participation while the government has failed to facilitate civic education or engage them in the development agenda. At the same time, poor service delivery, the mismatch between government priority and people’s needs, regional, political and ethnic animosity and run-away corruption dominating the governance system have resulted in governance failures that led to the birth of BBI. After extensive engagement with stakeholders, the BBI taskforce drafted a report that recommended administrative, policy and constitutional reforms in the country.  

While some youths engage in political discourses, a significant proportion of them are undecided about the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) and the possible referendum. Other youths make their decisions based on regional or party inclinations, without necessarily reading the report or understanding the consequences of different proposals. During BBI events in 2020, youth were used to mobilize people to attend meetings. They booed people and even in some instances physically assaulted people who were opposing the BBI document. If youth were more organized and strategic, they would have used their numbers to mobilize their issues instead of concentrating on protecting the interest of political leaders. 

Youth and women are the most affected with joblessness and lack of services. Being a majority and yet the least represented, more avenues should be created to take their priorities into consideration, particularly, youth women and people with disabilities. As a result, key development processes like the County Integrated Development plans (CIDP) and Annual Development plans (ADP) do not reflect the youth voices. The just concluded BBI process was not an exception. These plans impact the very communities that they live in. They determine the budgets that county governments will utilize in certain periods, and what issues are termed as priorities.   We believe that if the capacity of youth is built, dialogue forums organized and information dissemination platforms created, then youth will understand the importance of their participation and have the knowledge to either support or reject the BBI document based on facts because they will be able to determine whether the document will serve their interests or not.

Since inception in 2015, Siasa Place has extensively been involved in capacity building and creating platforms for the youth to engage in governance processes. In the recent past, through the Sauti Yetu (Our Voice) project, the organization collaborated with county-based youth serving organizations to create a platform for youth to participate in the BBI process. The project organized county-level forums through which youth were able to compile views from youth serving organizations which were then presented to the BBI taskforce in an organized manner. SP partnered with a total of 87 organizations in 6 counties: youth serving organizations, movements, networks, political parties and universities among others. 

SP identified four key recommendations. One, given that youth are the majority of the population which is not reflected in the national leadership, SP recommended the creation of an independent youth ministry, national youth commission, or national youth council. Two, SP recommended that the government prioritize economic empowerment of the youth. Three, given the scale of corruption and its impact, corruption cases should be handled in short periods of time (for example, one year. Four, one of the two proposed deputy prime minister positions should be reserved for a youth. SP’s submission was 1 of 7 submissions that came from a total of 21 youth organizations across the country. The final report adopted one of the four recommendations: the establishment of a youth commission. Yet, the effective fruition of the council is still a challenge and many other issues have not yet been addressed. 

To realize the above recommendations, the project scheduled various strategies. One of which is to conduct a Youth advocacy plan for a more democratic political processes workshop. 

The two-day workshops will be attended by sixty (60) youth leaders representing the eight regions. The workshop will target thirty (30) youth representing county based serving organizations, twenty (20) youth representing political wing of political parties and ten (10) youth representing National youth council and ministry responsible for youth affairs. 

SCOPE AND MAIN TASKS DURING THE WORKSHOPS

The Consultant will be responsible to:

  1. Conduct desk research on the status of youth governance looking into strength, weakness and recommend lasting solutions on the gap identified. 
  2. Facilitate a two (2) day comprehensive governance workshop to evaluate the status of youth governance, establish strengths, weaknesses and recommend what needs to be done to meet the gaps identified.
  3. Review the BBI final report on how youth governance issues were addressed. Propose a way in which the recommendations can be incorporated into the status of governance report and for action to provide a long lasting solution. 
  4. Facilitate development of an action plan on how to carry out the advocacy on the issues identified by the report targeting the identified stakeholders
  5. Conduct pre and post workshop evaluation to demonstrate your program’s success or progress.

CONSULTANT DELIVERABLES 

The following will be the expected deliverables of the consultancy:

  1. Develop work plan for conducting the workshops, including strategy and proposed methodologies, as well as quality assurance plan;
  2. Produce status of governance report with advocacy strategy around the agreed issues and plan of action towards addressing each of the issues identified within seven (7) days after the workshop
  3. Supporting the development of an action plan on how to carry out the advocacy on the issues

CONSULTANT COMPETENCE AND SKILLS

Interested consultant(s) should demonstrate the following qualifications:

  1. Proven record of previous experience in youth governance work with at least two written recommendation letters & recommender’s contacts.
  2. Proven excellent drafting ability (English) and analytical skills.
  3. At least three years of knowledge and experience in practical governance program work, public participation and devolution work.
  4. Good spoken and written communication skills in English. Kiswahili is an added advantage.
  5. Ability to meet deadlines.
  6. The lead consultant must possess at least a degree in Social Sciences, Development Studies, and Economics.

DEADLINE AND SUBMISSION OF EXPRESSION OF INTEREST

Siasa Place invites interested consultant(s) to submit the following by 5th February 2021 to support@siasaplace.com. 

  1. Expression of interest (EoI) outlining how the facilitator meets the selection criteria and their understanding of the ToR. 
  2. A summarized description of the scope of work and the intended methodology to be used as well as a tentative work plan including activities and time frames. 
  3. Three page curriculum vitae (CV) outlining relevant qualifications, experience and contacts of three recent professional referees (previous clients) for whom similar work has been conducted
  4. A copy of an example of similar pieces of work completed recently
  5. Itemized financial proposal.

EVALUTATION AND SELECTION PROCESS 

The selection process of the consultant will be based on the set of criteria developed by Siasa Place evaluation committee.

Access to Information at County Levels – by Faith Ogega.

It is no secret that access to the right information is paramount, and nothing can undermine the power it holds. When a government, a politician, a representative, a chief, or a leader in any capacity tries to withhold vital information from their immediate community – that’s where the society begins to drift.

For years now, access to the right information in Kenya has been the biggest drawback that has not been fully addressed. And if it has been highlighted, implementation of the right channels for the flow of information has not been executed. When a leader withholds important information from the people who are intended to receive the message, corruption, inequality, and violence begin thrusting in such a society. It all begins from the top; the government. If public information is not properly disseminated to the public, there will be no public participation.  If only a few chosen individuals, communities, or groups receive the information, inequality across counties or communities begins to thrust. How can the youths (the said future leaders) contribute to the economic development and foundation of a better economic state when they are not allowed to access the right places where the information flows from? Hiding information from your county, community, or the public members when it is meant to be distributed to them is acting shallow. 

Dishonesty, miscommunication, and spreading half-truths trigger violence against each other. Access to the correct information is essential in the promotion of peace and order. When a leader in charge of disseminating information decides to distribute half-baked information, it ends up triggering an uproar. How can a nation thrive in violence? You answered that right (it can never); it is even clear how access and restriction to the correct information can help build or destroy a nation. Information is power. Refusal to access the right information makes it challenging for any member of the public to know what exists and what doesn’t exist.  When a society is well- informed, cases of corruption will cease to increase as they will act as watchdogs against fraud within and outside the government. 

But selfishness among many leaders is killing our nation. Instead of planning on tactics on how to distribute such information, most leaders prefer to withhold it to benefit their close associates and families. Corruption is a deadly killer of any nation. It begins the moment a leader chooses who needs to access certain public information and who remains in the dark. The act is contrary to the fundamental right of access to information under Article 35 of the constitution of Kenya. How can one choose who has access to information when it’s meant to be public? It is ignorant of any representative to do so; in such a time of modern technology when access to information is broad, and differentiating between the right, and incorrect information is strenuous. Access to the right information (meant for the public) should be straightforward, available, and convenient to everyone looking for it. How can the youths grow when opportunities meant for them don’t reach them? And when they try to access the information from the right offices, they are denied access?

Recently Kenya Fight Inequality Alliance (Kenya FIA), organized Usawa Barazas in 10 counties across Kenya. Their two main demands were; transparency & accountability, and Services (Mental health, water, universal health and education). The ten counties that took part in their 2020 – Usawa Baraza under the theme of the year, Gender Justice, were Isiolo, Kakamega, Kiambu, Kilifi, Kisumu, Laikipia, Lamu, Mombasa, Nairobi and Vihiga. A report from all the counties indicated how access to the right information and places is still a major challenge to both the youths and the public at large. Isiolo, one of the participating counties in the fight against inequality at their county level, highlighted how tough it is in their county to access correct information from authorities.

Such restrictions are hindering the youths who are not aware of the opportunities available to them. Kenya FIA is a combination of over 200 groups across Kenya. Kenya FIA has been part of the global Fight Inequality Alliance since 2017, and they are all together working towards bringing change at the county and national level whilst uniting groups locally and internationally for support, solidarity, and training. But when their members have no access to the correct information, they cannot support the rest of the community members who depend on them, the elderly, the disabled, and the children and youths who are the future of the nation. Yes, the government has the right to classify certain information as classified but not all the information can be classified; therefore, government leaders and representatives need to plan on ways in which counties can access information without barriers. Not forgetting who is responsible, to disseminate certain information is vital to ensure accountability and transparency. Most of the time, those with information decide what to say and what to withhold. Setting criteria that will guide those seeking information is necessary for every county.

Poor Decisions no more – by Muthoni

What will we tell the next generation?

When we vote in leaders not on the merit of works done and not on the merit of the capacity they hold to improve our lives, then what we have are cahoots of greedy individuals who are simply in power for self-gratification. What will we tell the next generation?

Will we be man enough to face them and tell them that we let our forefathers’ struggle for independence go to waste? How will we answer when they ask how we made such poor decisions, over and over again, electing leaders not on merit but on flimsy reasons such as tribe, ‘mtu wetu’ disease and based on the handouts that big wigs gave to us in dark alleys, some do so even in broad daylight. 

How it was a surreal moment in 2002 when we unanimously spoke up in one voice, to do away with a regime that ruled as a monopoly. We all know the harm that comes with monopolies, need I go there?

An opportunity always presents itself after 5 years in Kenya, to correct an error where we made one, but do we do? At times it is as if we go to the ballot blindfolded and do guesswork when it comes down to us and the tick mark. Rather, I do not understand what happens, some witchcraft there at the ballot, no. It can’t be, that must be some strong stuff for the whole country to be swept away in that wave.

Maybe it is the term ‘vote that has been misconstrued to confuse us Kenyans. Let me shed some light in that dark corner then. Vote stems from Latin votum “a vow, wish, promise to a god, solemn pledge, dedication.’’ Voting is quite literally a solemn pledge, I would equate it to a prayer for good tidings, oh you religious friends, hear! The same way you are devoted to the faith calling onto the higher deities and offering days on end in service, then come forth and vote wisely. Do take time to understand the governance space, look at the crop of leaders in place, and identify with their strengths and weaknesses. Just as we offer wholehearted prayers, then should we not offer ourselves to making wholehearted promises to forthcoming generations, on the ballot?

That leaves those who are not religious then, dare I say that I find these ones to be quite reasonable people. Individuals who make decisions based on the feel and see of the now. Correct me if I am wrong, might be hanging with the wrong crew. It is these reasonable minds that hold the key to unlocking the ‘mtu wetu’ stalemate. It is they who are our Messiahs from the troubling decisions we have made time and time again. Why I dare say so is because these individuals have unlimited capacity to make informed decisions. These individuals could go to the ground and sniff for pro and against reasons before making decisions. This is the lot who can ask questions that make you doubt your stand in matters of which you have strong convictions. In these dire times, I believe making a decision despite the view that the candidates’ popularity does not guarantee them winning is the right wave to be swept in. By making the right decisions, I am referring to feeding fodder to individuals with their hearts and minds in the interests of the citizens, individuals with a clean bill of political health, a track record to show a positive impact on society. It is our responsibility to the forthcoming generations to make the right decisions at the ballot. Let us remember that voting is a solemn promise that we are making. Let us not promise to choke our children’s futures. Let us make wise decisions and elect individuals who are set to propagate the counties and the country in the right direction without the baggage that takes us all a thousand steps backward.

Two Cents on Political Involvement – By Philomena Irungu.

Do you know that even if you do not vote, the elected leaders do rule over you with their decisions entrenching themselves onto the very details of your precious life? Yeah, check how much VAT you pay on your next supermarket run, or the power token taxes imposed. Let us not even get to COVID, the KQ plane that came in from China after cases were confirmed and the COVID millionaires who are still living free and large with a government in place to take action.

Funny how we all long and yearn to turn 18 and thump our chests that we are adults. Sometimes I wonder why it never sunk in that I am being given a passcode to decide my future and my children’s future, in terms of whom I want to oversee our community resources. Funny how all I could see is that I just ceased to be a minor. Oh, I hope it is not too late to start over. I hope it is not too late to make my voice count, to speak out on issues that are of concern and importance to me and my people. 

I have come to agree that bad leaders are outrightly elected by the people who do not vote; those like me who have had a huge disinterest in politics. It was for understandable reasons you know, don’t judge. Tuko wengi, I am sure. For instance, saying political engagements are messy and dirty, oh what do we gain, yet they will rig the votes, ninahustle or I will be resting without using my leave days! Let us not get into the lingering question of queueing under the unforgiving Machakos sun without Githeri man for some bitings and entertainment. Clearly, I have a plethora of inexcusable excuses that simply display politics and governance as too adversarial to meddle into.

The Awakening

Have you heard John F. Kennedy’s wise words, “The ignorance of one voter in a democracy impairs the security of all” 

Now you know.

You see that person who is already swearing that they will not and cannot vote, they are already exercising their power over you.

The disaster is that the elite who have figured that out, hardly take time to reach out to fellow citizens to pour out their brains and ideologies. What do they do instead, they bury their heads in the sand and pore over books to gain more educational qualifications, advance in careers, take their kids overseas, and simply divorce the whole political situations. After all, does it not make sense to exert more efforts in areas that produce tangible material gain? Maybe just to calm the inner conscience, an occasional tweet or a half-hearted comment on Facebook will do. Most of the time, without even verifying the validity of the statements reposted. Maybe over drinks with friends, the issue of who will be voted in next comes up and it is all banter about people and not policy or progress made by the leaders, a little whining on how times are rough follows.

I do not mean to put somebody in the spotlight, this is the plain truth of vitu kwa ground. What we fail to see is that, once bad governance is in place, we will all face the consequences. We will all pay heftier taxes, use the bad roads and watch our leaders pocket the change, painfully lose a loved one due to a broken healthcare system, watch the education system crumble even with our big ideas in our minds, watch as insecurity increases due to desperate times that push our youth to the brink of survival, get tired of corruption scandals but most of all, continue feeling disgruntled of the status quo.

The good thing about democracy is that every vote counts. Even the uncast ones. Voting is not your right only, it is your power, it is your power to decide. It is your ticket to a better future, to your children’s future. Yes, it is time for new prospects and optimism. It is a time for a paradigm shift in how we view voting engagements and politics. We need to get out of that cocoon where we lie to ourselves that politics has nothing to do with me as an individual. Voting is a right but also a responsibility, do not be a deadbeat who does not meddle in the murky political world. It is about that time that we realize we hire government officials to work for us, sio serikali saidia.

Somewhere inside of all of us is the power to change the world.” – Roald Dahl.

Implement the two-third gender rule now, it is long overdue – By Kibet Brian.

Of the innovations of the Constitution of Kenya, 2010 the gender parity provision that not more than two-thirds of positions in all state offices shall be occupied by persons of the same gender, has proved to be the most problematic to implement. A decade after the promulgation of a constitution that has been described as transformative and revolutionary, processes aimed at attaining this particular aspiration have remained reactionary with the trading of barbs and blames being a norm.

Gagged and barred from decision making for many years, the voice of women has been heard at the periphery and muffled to mean nothing even where it matters. On August 4th, 2010, in a plebiscite, Kenyan’s spoke in one voice and decided it was time their women who form a majority of the population deserved more than they were getting. It was time for women’s voices to be heard.

It is said that this is yet to be. It is disturbing to note that the gender rule is still a mirage even in instances where it can be achieved vide presidential fiat; appointive positions. It will be utter tomfoolery to suggest that there are no women who can be appointed to these positions given the strides made by women in education and the participation they have shown in civic society and in other spheres of leadership. To this end, there is a need to see that more women are appointed to the cabinet and as directors of government agencies and departments.

As to how this noble cause will be attained in elective positions, particularly in the National Assembly remains a Gordian knot. Gender parity has been attained in the county assemblies at the face of it, this is laudable. However, critics have been quick to point out that men have been hell bent to influence and actually control how these nominations are done. As such, a majority of women who are nominated to these positions are stooges who are only keen to assuage the interests of men who nominated them and do little to articulate the issues of women who they supposedly represent. 

The good news is that although women are yet to be accorded the opportunities the constitution grants them, a few strides have been made. In the recent past, women have been appointed to serve in cabinet positions that are considered “powerful”. In this regard, Monica Juma and Rachel Omamo continue to serve the nation as defense and foreign affairs cabinet secretaries. Our very own Amina Mohamed went very close, with the support of the government, to serve as the African Union Secretary-General. This demonstrates a bit of commitment from the government to actualize the gender parity dream.

Women in leadership positions continue to demonstrate that they can equal and even surpass their male counterparts in terms of service delivery and in meeting the development demands of their electorates. Kitui governor, Charity Ngilu best exemplifies this. Her administration is a benchmark for what devolution means to the people. The county has made great strides in the attainment of food security and continues to be a trailblazer in the provision of quality and affordable healthcare. Her brainchild Kicotec, a textile factory based in Kitui, is proving to be a game-changer in the fight against the ravaging coronavirus as it continues to churn out thousands of facemasks every day. 

It is therefore oxymoronic that society continues to place hurdles to the ascension of women to leadership yet they have shown they are capable of delivering and they possess the willpower to go for global positions when given the necessary support.

The zeitgeist of our times is the full liberation of women from the shackles of oppression they have been bound in for a long time. Let us accord them the opportunity to serve in state positions. They form the majority of the population and therefore deserve more than they are currently getting. The achievement of this is dependent on the full implementation of the two-third gender rule. This is long overdue and should happen now. 

 

Do hashtags that push for social justice really connect us? – By Billy Osogo

WHAT IS SARS?

SARS is an acronym for the Special Anti-Robbery Squad formed in 1992 to combat armed robbery and other serious crimes.

WHY #ENDSARS?

#ENDSARS was created in 2017 by Nigerian human rights defenders and activists. This was in response to the brutality and torture perpetrated against innocent Nigerian citizens. It gained even more traction in early October 2020 when a video surfaced online of a man being shot allegedly by members of SARS. The situation careened on October 20th. It is reported that CCTV cameras and lighting were deliberately disabled prior to the shooting of protestors. Amnesty International confirmed that the Nigerian army and police killed at least 12 peaceful protestors. 

#ENDSARS has continued receiving global attention with citizens from all walks of life asking the Nigerian government to put an end to the violence. 

COLONIAL UNDERPINNING

Reports of the use of excessive force, extrajudicial killings, and other forms of human rights violations by the police are not new. Despite enormous strides in democratization, there remains an uneasy relationship between law enforcement and citizens in many parts of the world. The unjustified use of excessive force on Wycliff Cox and the gruesome killing of Breonna Taylor are stark reminders of its pervasiveness. Not even the most advanced democracies in the world are inoculated.  

Africa faces an inevitably uphill task in arresting police brutality. The obsession with excessive force by law enforcement was inherited from the colonialists. The brutal force was the glue that held the colonial state together. Land, taxes, resources, and even loyalty, were all taken by sheer force. Native Africans were either beaten to submission or death. Post-independent elites, despite their erstwhile promises of reform, merely inherited the colonial infrastructure. State-sanctioned violence (via the military or the police), has remained a constant weapon in governments’ arsenal. 

WHY YOU SHOULD CARE

The life-force of police brutality is the unholy trinity of power, corruption, and control. This nexus is designed strategically to scare citizens into fear and disillusionment. It works to shield the powers-that-be from accountability. Which ipso facto defeats the very purpose of elections. 

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. writing from his Birmingham jail aptly said:

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught up in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

The #BlackLivesMatter, #MeToo, #Iamwillie and #EndSARS are testament to this. Technology has made it possible for us to connect with each other’s pain and suffering. The global coalescing behind these campaigns has revealed that we all aspire for the same things – dignity, respect and love. The outpouring of support from people continents away shows that we understand what’s important. That there’s more that unites us than divides us. That our common humanity is far greater than our differences. 

Moreover, the youth are leading these protests world-over. It corroborates what we have known all along. The youth remain the joker in the pack. They collectively hold more power to catalyze change than any other force on earth. 

WHAT NOW?

A lesson from Kofi Annan’s memoirs, Interventions.

“What is needed are, on the one hand, a set of governing institutions and rules, which have to be built up over time, that protect the results of elections and so the rights of people; and, on the other hand, responsible and accountable leadership that serves the people.”

BIO: Billy Osogo

BA Political Studies. Researcher on Governance, Elections and Human rights.

Facebook: Billy Osogo

Public participation; histrionic yada yada or real? – By Kibet Brian.

Article 10 of the Constitution of Kenya, 2010 recognizes public participation amongst others as one of the national values and principles of governance. The end game of public participation is to put the citizen at the core of decision making. Tacitly it gives effect to the constitutional provision in Article 1, that the people may exercise their sovereign power directly.  Therefore persons who may be affected by a government process or activity are accorded an opportunity to influence the substance of the decisions made. Consequently the elevation of a citizen from a mere bystander in governance to a person that actually influences the decisions and actions taken occurs.

By consulting persons on decisions that affect them, the quality of the decisions made is enhanced and is more likely to be acceptable since they conform to what that community considers ethical and moral. This consultation also makes people feel dignified since they are involved in their own governance structure. It also provides the opportunity for the interests and wants of the community to be heard directly from the horse’s mouth.

Whereas public participation seeks to give citizens the power to interrogate and actively engage with decision-makers, it remains a foreign concept amongst many Kenyans. It is commonplace to walk into the forums convened for this purpose only to find the halls technically empty. It seems to me then that people are yet to fully embrace their right to participate. Why then is it so?

While human lives may have equal value, inequality in literacy and au courant levels is inevitable. That the ability to speak the ‘right language’ in these forums remains a big problem to many is not rocket science. As a result, many people feel intimidated to give views. Access to information is a major obstacle to persons making insightful contributions. Hence the contribution of many is considered ‘bland’ and takes the form of general views that are not considered critical to usurp the status quo.

This partly explains why many still refrain from making their views known. Further, Kenyans are brutalized, people. Perhaps the torture that marked the second liberation is still fresh in people’s minds and so many are not keen to speak about issues even where they are remotely connected to politics for the fear of being politically incorrect. An even more important question arises in the form of the level of consideration that decision-makers give to the views submitted by the public.

To this end, methinks decision-makers need to picture themselves as a cog in the wheel. They must never, even in an instance think of the power they exercise as innate. Rather they should view their power as a ‘public trust’ as ensconced in Article 73 of the Constitution. Thus the views of the ‘small man’ must be considered in accordance with this ‘trust’.

The Kenyan person also needs to see themselves as an important part of the Kenyan hegemony. The country does not belong to a selected few but all. Everyone must therefore arise and make their voices heard when it is sought. Cowering and giving a wide berth to forums meant for raising voices on pertinent issues only makes the views of a selected few to be considered the common view. No wonder, many go challenge some laws and development projects in court later on yet they themselves participated in formulating the nitty-gritty of the impugned matter.

The refrain is that public participation is only real when views made actually influence the decisions made thus the citizen is actually able to pinpoint the impact of their views on important decisions. It is histrionic when citizens do not avail themselves and even when they do, the views are not taken to account when decisions are made. Public participation is an excellent concept that needs to be ingrained deeply in the fabric of governance and public policymaking.

The next time public participation on a matter is convened near you, do avail yourself and add your voice to the matter at hand. It matters.

KENYA’S YOUTH: G.O.A.T. OR SCAPEGOATS? – By Billy Osogo

The death of the two young people in Kenol, Muranga, should disturb us. I watched poignantly as their families spoke to news reporters. The anguish in their voices was palpable and their tears should drown the people responsible. 

Reports that scores of young people were ferried to the venue, their raison d’être being to cause violence, are damning. This is a testament to the malignant equipoise that bedevils the youth in this country. The diabolical paradox of being a youth in Kenya – under-qualified to direct the script (read as duty bearers), supremely qualified to be cast as victims of rabble-rousers (read as goons). 

These events are reminiscent of the days leading up to the 2007/2008 post-election violence and the Rwandan Genocide. Both were characterized by a smattering of small, ominous incidents that should have set alarm bells ringing. This anomaly should have captured the attention of our security agencies. People don’t suddenly develop a craving for farming tools. 

Both our Constitution and National Anthem acknowledge the supremacy of the Almighty. All our Commanders-in-Chief since independence have sworn the Oath of Office, on the Bible. The police, whom they command, lobbied teargas into a church is blatant betrayal. It is incontrovertible proof of the malaise that plagues us. Nothing is sacrosanct anymore. Parliament is dishonorable. The Executive is remiss. 

Remember the Kiambaa church tragedy? With everything and everyone in it incinerated to ashes? That fire was lit by young people in the name of supporting their preferred candidate. 

Thirteen years and a new Constitution later, we are staring down the barrel of the same gun. In the words of George Bernard Shaw;

“If history repeats itself, and the unexpected always happens, how incapable must Man be of learning from experience?”

 In many ways, COVID-19 has been a blessing in disguise. The cessation of movement order and a ban on gatherings tacitly cooled down political temperatures. Albeit tentatively. Over the last few weeks, the premiere of ‘Impunity’, guest-starring our politicians, has graced our homes. We have witnessed the very people who banned gatherings address mammoth crowds. Our leaders are preaching water and drinking wine. Billions meant to alleviate the suffering of Kenyans have disappeared in astonishing acts that would baffle Houdini. 

The youth are used as scapegoats. Loans are taken in our names only to disappear as soon as they hit the Exchequer. Administrations are formed on our backs only for octogenarians to be rewarded with government appointments. Constitutional dispensations are mooted for our futures only for us to be relegated to the periphery. Funds are constitutionally allocated for our empowerment only for them to be swallowed by the black hole of government bureaucracy.  

As 2022 nears, there are only going to be more of these overtures. The youth form 75% of Kenya’s population. Numbers don’t lie. We mustn’t be used as pawns. He mustn’t be used to further anyone’s agenda at the expense of our own. We mustn’t be used as the matchstick to light the powder keg of violence. We must break that cycle. 

In lieu, we must be the change we wish to see. In the words of President Obama:

“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”

Billy Osogo.

Concerned, Aware, Active Youth.

International Tax Justice Academy 2020 – by Faith Ogega.

Illicit Financial Flows are a significant threat to Africa’s Sustainable Development Goals.

The International Tax Justice Academy (ITJA) is a capacity-building program launched in 2014 under the umbrella of the Tax Justice Network Africa (TJNA). The academy was started as a pan – African initiative to bridge an existing knowledge gap on tax justice in Africa. And since then they have been on course to achieve the goal.

International Tax Justice Academy’s main objective is to encourage the participation of tax justice campaigners at national, regional, and global levels. The capacity building program is to intensify the capability of Civil Society Organizations (CSO), academia, trade unions, researchers, journalists to enlighten and engage citizens on tax justice issues.

ITJA training strengthens evidence-based advocacy, awareness, and distribution of relevant information to increase knowledge-base, influence policy reform, and monitor progress. The methodology of training ensures learners grasp the knowledge and meet TJNA’s aim of increasing participation of CSOs and journalists. 

Since the United Nations member state adopted Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) in 2015 as a global call to action for zero poverty, hunger, and protecting the planet by ensuring peace and prosperity. African countries have a long way to go, and the 17 SDGs are all integrated; one effect on an area will affect the outcome of the rest and SDGs can only be achieved by initiating a balance between social, economic and environmental sustainability.

ITJA offers skills for sustained advocacy, dialogue and discussion through courses on Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs), tax governance and Domestic Resource Mobilization (DRM) in Africa, supported by research and participation of key players. Illicit Financial Flows are a significant threat to Africa’s Sustainable Development Goals. It has slowed and destroyed the progress of African countries’ economies and contributed to the increase of insecurity and inadequacy to raise tax revenues.

On the contrary, most developing African countries are not maximizing the use of domestic resources not because they lack them, but due to the significant levels of Illicit Financial Flows that have reduced the ability to raise the required tax revenues.

Hence, the Sustainable Development Goals in African developing countries are at risk. IFFs have posed multiple threats to SDGs’ agenda by consuming the much-needed tax base for public investment and social spending.

Instead of working towards achieving SDGs in Africa; reduce the continent’s $31 billion infrastructure financing gap, youth unemployment and tackle climate change, governments are continually using domestic savings that could help replenish our infrastructure systems. All we see is African countries struggling in poverty, governments fighting against each other, and an increase in inequality and rent-seeking rather than maximizing the use of domestic resources for productivity.

Illicit Financial Flows is destroying our African nations as this practice threatens not only banks and financial intelligence units but also legal mechanisms for detecting and prosecuting perpetrators of illicit financial flows. These trends leave us desperate for external aid, putting our continent in the light for exploitation, and yet we have the resources to build Africa and even supply to the rest of the continents.

IFFs have continually made us helpless and economically dependent on other continents for aid. Such a scenario is reflected by the proportion of official development assistance in the budgets of African Governments.  In some countries, official development assistance accounts for 70 percent of total government revenue. If it were not for Illicit Financial Flows, our African countries would not be so dependent on foreign aid. And yet we could use our domestic resources, grow our economies, and still employ millions of African youths.

It is time for our African governments to establish working policies and stop the flow of illicit finances, apply their ‘political will’ in achieving SDGs and most importantly, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive organizations at all levels. While those in the private sector expect fair, clear and transparent tax and trade policies, they must do their part by ensuring their tax and trade practices comply with local laws.

If our governments work closely with the private sector, civil society organizations, trade unionists, and the media, to stop the circulation of incentives to engage in illegal behaviors, we could give the people their rights, security, and opportunities to develop our economies.

Men, we must check our privilege – By Billy Osogo

Data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics’ 2019 census count shows that there are 24, 014, 716 women in Kenya compared to 23, 548,056 men. Women account for 50.5% of Kenya’s population. You’d think this to be a good thing. After all, there is strength in numbers, yes? Yet nothing could be further from the truth. 

In the words of Malcolm X;

“The most disrespected person in America [rea+d as world] is the black woman. The most unprotected person in America is a black woman. The most neglected person in America is a black woman.”

In Kenya, women continue to receive the short end of the stick. Bereft of their contribution, the Mau Mau struggle for independence would have come to naught. Women participated as fighters, gathered food, and disseminated information to those in the forests. Since independence, however, the Kenyan State has systematically marginalized its largest population group from decision-making platforms. 

The Constitution of Kenya in 2010 tried to remedy this systemic ill. Article 27 (4) stipulates:

“The State shall not discriminate directly or indirectly against any person on any ground, including race, sex, pregnancy, marital status, health status, ethnic or social origin, color, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, dress, language or birth.”

Ten years later, Parliament is yet to pass the Two Third Gender Bill. This contravenes the spirit and letter of the Constitution. Failure to implement this provision perpetuates the historical and systemic marginalization of women. Whereas strides have been made, victory is still far off. Not too long ago, we were treated to the mortifying scenes of a mother forced to give birth right outside the hospital gates. Successive administrations have promised free delivery for expectant mothers. However, the horror movie that is Pumwani Hospital seems to have no end. 

An electioneering process is a sacrosanct event that profoundly determines and vindicates the democratic maturity of a country. Yet it is during such periods when the grossest human rights violations are committed in Kenya. Guess who are the biggest victims? Women!

True freedom can never be attained when the largest section of our society is still shackled in the chains of patriarchy, sexual abuse, retrogressive cultural practices, and negligence. We, men, have inherited so much privilege.

Privilege can be understood as systematically conferred advantages individuals enjoy by virtue of their membership in dominant groups with access to resources and institutional power that are beyond the common advantages of marginalized citizens. 

Men, we must check our privilege. The benefits are twofold. One, we will identify areas where we are perpetuating oppression and therefore arrest it. Two, we will also be identifying areas where we have the power and access to change the system as a whole. 

In the words of Ijeoma Oluo:

“When we identify where our privilege intersects with somebody else’s oppression, we’ll find our opportunity to make real change.”

Written By Billy Osogo

Instagram: @a.b.osogo  |  Facebook: Billy Osogo

 

Implement the two-third gender rule now, it is long overdue – by Kibet Brian

Of the innovations of the Constitution of Kenya, 2010 the gender parity provision that not more than two-thirds of positions in all state offices shall be occupied by persons of the same gender, has proved to be the most problematic to implement. A decade after the promulgation of a constitution that has been described as transformative and revolutionary, processes aimed at attaining this particular aspiration have remained reactionary with the trading of barbs and blames being a norm.

Gagged and barred from decision making for many years, the voice of women has been heard at the periphery and muffled to mean nothing even where it matters. On August 4th, 2010, in a plebiscite, Kenyan spoke in one voice and decided it was time for their women who form a majority of the population deserved more than they were getting. It was time for women’s voices to be heard.

It is said that this is yet to be. It is disturbing to note that the gender rule is still a mirage even in instances where it can be achieved vide presidential fiat; appointive positions. It will be utter tomfoolery to suggest that there are no women who can be appointed to these positions given the strides made by women in education and the participation they have shown in civic society and in other spheres of leadership. To this end, there is a need to see that more women are appointed to the cabinet and as directors of government agencies and departments.

As to how this noble cause will be attained in elective positions, particularly in the National Assembly remains a Gordian knot. Gender parity has been attained in the county assemblies at the face of it, this is laudable. However, critics have been quick to point out that men have been hell-bent to influence and actually control how these nominations are done. As such, a majority of women who are nominated to these positions are stooges who are only keen to assuage the interests of men who nominated them and do little to articulate the issues of women who they supposedly represent. 

The good news is that although women are yet to be accorded the opportunities the constitution grants them, a few strides have been made. In the recent past, women have been appointed to serve in cabinet positions that are considered “powerful”. In this regard, Monica Juma and Rachel Omamo continue to serve the nation as defense and foreign affairs cabinet secretaries. Our very own Amina Mohamed went very close, with the support of the government, to serve as the African Union Secretary-General. This demonstrates a bit of commitment from the government to actualize the gender parity dream.

Women in leadership positions continue to demonstrate that they can equal and even surpass their male counterparts in terms of service delivery and in meeting the development demands of their electorates. Kitui governor, Charity Ngilu best exemplifies this. Her administration is a benchmark for what devolution means to the people. The county has made great strides in the attainment of food security and continues to be a trailblazer in the provision of quality and affordable healthcare. Her brainchild Kicotec, a textile factory based in Kitui, is proving to be a game-changer in the fight against the ravaging coronavirus as it continues to churn out thousands of facemasks every day. 

It is therefore oxymoronic that society continues to place hurdles to the ascension of women to leadership yet they have shown they are capable of delivering and they possess the willpower to go for global positions when given the necessary support.

The zeitgeist of our times is the full liberation of women from the shackles of oppression they have been bound in for a long time. Let us accord them the opportunity to serve in state positions. They form the majority of the population and therefore deserve more than they are currently getting. The achievement of this is dependent on the full implementation of the two-third gender rule. This is long overdue and should happen now. 

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

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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