BBI’s promise on shared prosperity & Kenya’s chequered economic performance By Sitati Wasilwa

Chapter 7 of the BBI report exclusively focuses on shared prosperity with nothing totally new if previous or existing policy and legal documents are to go by. The report points out existential economic challenges such as extreme poverty and hunger, unemployment and underemployment especially among young people, extreme income inequality, lack of decent income and rent-seeking. 

In due course, the report puts forth a number of recommendations such as establishing initiatives for the youth to embrace innovation and entrepreneurship, better use of scarce resources, stamping out corruption, addressing unsustainable debt and environmental destruction, building the economy from the grassroots, and the need to ignite an economic revolution. 

Productivity of Kenya’s economy is highly questionable and hence the persistence of relatively high rates of unemployment and underemployment. Mandarins at The National Treasury have over the last five or so years presented a rosy picture of a growing and resilient economy but the reality suggests otherwise.

No doubt that a growing and robust economy is one that is highly productive and generates a high number of meaningful, decent and sustainable jobs. The 2019 Economic Survey published by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) indicates that a total of 840,600 jobs (formal and informal) were created in 2018 of which 78,400 were formal jobs. This translates to a paltry 9.3% of the total number of jobs created. 

In fact, a local daily reported earlier this year that “the number of formal jobs generated by the economy fell to a six-year low in 2018” with “the economy having expanded over the same period by 6.3%.” 

Recently, the Central Bank of Kenya Governor, Dr. Patrick Njoroge, castigated the suspended duo of Henry Rotich and Kamau Thugge of distorting revenue figures. The same could be said of the GDP figures which as elaborated in a previous article, is a powerful political tool that governments use to score political points. 

Persistence of a high number of informal and indecent jobs is firmed up by a news feature published by the Business Daily highlighting that “the number of Kenyans earning below Shs.30,000 per month has risen to nearly half of the total employed workers.” This amounts to a total of 1,279,982 workers. 

Statistical data by KNBS also indicates that three quarters of Kenyans (about 2 million) employed in the formal sector earn less than Shs.50,000 per month. The dire status of employed Kenyans is corroborated by an article published by Boston Review which indicates the reality of the zero-balance economy. 

Accordingly, the zero-balance economy refers to the economic situation where economic agents or individuals find it difficult to meet the daily or regular costs with the available cash. This is the norm for majority of Kenyans in the formal and informal sectors resulting into an increase in the level of private/household debt. 

While the BBI report recommends implementation of policies that would lead to creation of a high number of jobs, it is important to mention that the recommendations would be best addressed through the existing institutional framework(s). For instance, the National Employment Authority (NEA) established in April 2016 has the mandate of enhancing employment management, facilitating employment promotion interventions, and enabling the youth, minority and marginalized entities to access employment opportunities. 

So far, NEA has failed in its mandate and the BBI report should instead vouch for strengthening of its institutional capacity. 

Additionally, the BBI report recommends raising the “national savings rates beyond 25% of GDP.” This is simply not feasible with the prevailing economic conditions. Existence of a zero-balance economy, having more than a half of the total number of employed Kenyans earning below Shs.30,000 per month, and most jobs generated by the informal sector certainly makes it impossible for the majority to save. 

CEIC Data estimates Kenya’s Gross Savings Rate to be 6.1% of the GDP as at December 2018 compared to 11.7% in December 2007. While the figures should not be interpreted in absolute sense, they are indicators of the chequered performance of Kenya’s economy. The relatively high Gross Savings Rate recorded in 2007 is alluded to the robust economic growth buoyed by implementation of the Economic Recovery Strategy for Wealth and Employment Creation

An increase in the national savings rate will only be possible if a large proportion of government-sourced capitation is directed to sectors where majority of Kenyans eke out a living. In recommending the need for an economic revolution, the BBI report documents structured lending “to priority sectors such as micro, small and medium businesses, export credit, manufacturing, housing, education, health, renewable energy, sanitation and waste management, and agriculture.” 

The aforementioned recommendation does not require any sort of legislation or policy for its operationalization. Instead, it is a matter of the Executive and Parliament at both levels of government to implement existing policy documents that advocate for robust, grassroots-led economic growth. For instance, the Jubilee administration should have fully implemented the Agricultural Sector Development Strategy 2010-2020

We are accustomed to brick-and-mortar type of economic model with politicians well aware that the significant majority tend to rejoice with the sight of construction of roads, sea ports, airports, railway lines among others. This is the model adopted by the Jubilee administration with billions channeled to construction of very expensive existent and non-existent infrastructural projects. 

If only a half or a quarter of the total amount of money borrowed by the Jubilee administration from the East and West was directed to the agricultural sector, then the country’s economic performance would be visible leading to an increase in creation of decent jobs and the national savings rate. 

More importantly, the BBI report recommends securing Kenya’s future generations from unsustainable debt. A bit reasonable but ridiculous considering the economic policies on debt management pursued by the same administration and government that will possibly lay the framework for implementation of the stated recommendation. 

Kenya’s public debt is currently estimated to be Shs.6 trillion. Kenya’s Parliament has since 2013 voted to increase the debt ceiling at the behest of the faltering Executive. Recently, Parliament approved raising the debt ceiling to Shs.9 trillion which is almost equivalent to the country’s GDP. The motive for increasing the debt ceiling is to enable the government settle expensive debts with the approval premised on the recently assented Finance Act of 2019.   

The stated recommendation seeks to contain the upward debt spiral which is a positive move that could have long been implemented by The National Treasury in collaboration with Parliament. But as long as an irresponsible national government is in place, effective debt management is just a mirage.

The BBI report promises shared prosperity but this can hardly be achieved with an irresponsible government. Effective political goodwill will guarantee efficient implementation of existing policies and legislations. Therefore, the BBI report is just a reminder of the institutional failure that characterizes Kenya’s governance system. Shared prosperity can only be engendered by enlightened voters and a competent political leadership. 

The writer is a political economist and consultant/analyst on governance, geopolitics and public policy, and a youth leader at Kenya YMCA. Twitter: @SitatiWasilwa. Email: sitatiwasilwa13@gmail.com

This article was first published by The African Executive.

Of importance is livelihoods

The Building Bridges Initiative collected recommendations from 7,000 Kenyans and compiled them in what is now the BBI Report that was released on Wednesday, 27th November 2019 to the public for further discussion.

The taskforce was formed to look into 9 matters and recommend solutions by collecting perspectives from the public: How to end ethnic division, inclusivity, how to solve polarizing elections, safety and security, how to deal with corruption, how to deal with lack of national ethos, responsibility and rights, shared prosperity and enhancing devolution.

The BBI Report raises several concerns that Kenyans have with themselves, with their fellow citizens and with their leaders. On matters youth, because we are an institution that focuses mainly youth, there was mention of a 7-year tax break to support youth entrepreneurship and job creation, setting up business advisors in all Huduma Centers amongst others aimed at ensuring the Kenyan youth are empowered. Also beneficial to young people is the allocation to counties to be increased to at least 35%, it also suggested that parastatals carrying out county government functions be either wound up or restructured. Depending on the county, as a young person it is difficult to find a standardized department that works with young people. Some counties clump it with information technology, some business, others sports and culture. Due to this young people are often confused when searching for information or resources, while leadership is confused on representation on certain aspects. On that aspect, some counties have developed a County Youth Policy, which is not necessarily in line with the National Youth Policy, too many cooks can spoil the broth.

We need to recognize that the solutions for the problems bedeviling Kenya are not all legal. Indeed, the law is important and the hallmark of any democratic society is the reality adherence to the rule of law. But we cannot forget that a few weeks ago we witnessed the Chief Justice weep about an underfunded Judiciary. We have seen a number of governors and cabinet secretaries have court cases but continue to work unperturbed of the accusations that impact their office. The Governor of Nairobi is being defended Senators, whose main role is to oversight Counties. It is morally unethical. While some officials refuse to obey court orders, and behaving like spoiled disobedient children.

The issues facing Kenya today are complex that will not be solved by creating a happiness department. For the report to be deliberated on, it needs to be in a language understood by all and distributed to many. We have the same issue with the constitution, worded in English and available to some. There are options of online accessibility but not all have access to the internet, to read a soft copy document. 

The tradition of lack of implementation is a lingering fear. Political good will is important on the part of the Executive. But many are busy ranting about a Prime Minister position which is not the magic silver bullet to fix an entire nation. There are existing reports that we can pursue to bring about change that were once again shelved…Is there nothing from the past that we can build on? Eg. TJRC?  Encouraging whistleblowers is a step in the right direction, but much more will be needed to protect them, much more than 5% reward, which is useless when one’s life is cut short by a system controlled by the rich and powerful, and unfortunately for us, most are in government. 

The fact that the Ndegwa Commission is in existence and allows civil servants to do business with government is a contradiction of our constitution, in article 77, restricting some activities of state officers who should not be pursuing personal interests in the first place. That is how only the government appears to be doing well during these hard economic times. Historical injustices have still gone unanswered. Matters such as land were not tackled in any fashion, yet we are aware that land is a major tenacious matter.

Divisive elections majorly occur due to access to resources. The happiness in this country, having a department will not be the solution. If we never have an honest deliberation and actions focused on equity then we are talking about symptoms and not a root cause. Proper services provided by our government will quickly make us happy, accountable systems that do not plunder our taxpayer monies, would put a smile on our faces.

Not every young person is an entrepreneur, the implication of self-employment by young people is an overplayed tune. Decent work, gainful and meaningful employment is the conversation starter. The compromises that the country will require to make are such that the focus should be on identifying issues we agree on, suggestions we support and better alternatives. For far too long, politicians have held the country hostage. Citizens have been relegated to the background of most discourses. Following several debates, one gets the impression that this trend may be set to continue. We should not let this happen.

A collective written by Siasa Place

Cheers and Jeers in Handshake by Kaudo Philip

The unprecedented and historic handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga on March ninth 2018 was one event that sent shock waves to not only the political class but Kenyans as well. This is owing to the fact that Kenyan political environment since independence has been characterized by many twists and turns making it difficult for political scientists to predict future realignments. On one hand, the political class across the divide continues to cry foul of the handshake terming it a selfish move and a sense of betrayal while on the other side, some welcomed the two “heroes” move, terming it a show of nationalism and patriotism.

Kenyans have remained skeptical about the real motive of the handshake. Whereas the handshake proponents opine that the handshake main motive was based on a utopian or an idealist school of thought (aims at nation building through equitable distribution of the national cake and reconciliation), critics posit that the handshake involves a realist dimension (struggle for power).However, since politics is an art of possibilities and secrecy, it is hard to arrive at a conclusion on the basis of the golden handshake.

However, it is imperative to argue that the golden handshake can be described as a blessing and a curse to this great nation. On a positive note, it legitimized the Jubilee regime. The handshake was a product of several unconstitutional happenings such as secessionist politics, boycott of elections, creation of illegal county assemblies and an unrecognized swearing in which collectively sent legitimization of Jubilee regime into jeopardy. Therefore, the handshake was a proactive process to legitimize the Jubilee regime. It did depolarize the country hence to some extend creating a better environment for foreign investments and trade related activities to ensue.

Ideally, the handshake has changed the country’s political landscape. In as a much as it has to some extent unified the citizens, it has divided the political class with the principal arguments that the handshake has a hidden agenda-to thwart the successive political arrangements in Jubilee. The change in Kenyan political landscape is more evident in the current political feuds that characterize Jubilee Party. It has led to the creation of several splinter groups within Jubilee; Kieleweka, Tangatanga and Team Wanjiku whose members have openly expressed their level of resentments with the handshake. Members of these splinter groups have developed several conspiracy theories about the handshake in an attempt to invalidate or validate the handshake.

Interestingly, the handshake has fueled a spirit of togetherness leading to the weakening of oversight institutions like opposition parties as well as pressure groups. In as much as the war of graft for example has been stepped up, Kenyans are yet to reap the benefits of the handshake. In parliament, as result of the handshake, the members of parliament have occasionally with lots of ease passed self-interest based bills key amongst them the amendment to increase their salaries and allowances. In the same vein, the golden handshake has also led to politicization of the war of graft. Political players insinuate that the war on graft targets only specific communities. They have interestingly made comparative analysis on prevailing corruption cases to validate their claims on the partisan nature of the war on graft. The critics have at times argued that the oversight institutions are simply an extension of the executive. Therefore; the handshake in my view has derailed the war on corruption simply because of lack of a good political will for the course.

Conclusively, the motive behind the handshake may be fishy but it is high time it was given a chance. A handshake of purpose is one that principally seeks to address social injustices. Its real value lies with the ability of the government to utilize the opportunity to hold Lords of impunity accountable to their evil deeds as well as strengthen the institutions. The “reconciliation” should serve the interests of the majority. Kenyans are eager to reap the fruits of the handshake.

Written by Kaudo Philip Misori 

For comments and enqueries:philipmisori@gmail.com

 

It’s Not Just the Data. It’s Politics! By Sitati Wasilwa

Data has always influenced government operations and in the process used as a tool to score political goals. History indicates that invention of statistical procedures has often been instrumental in redistribution of economic resources and economic planning.
Ideally, national budgets should be formulated based on data collected by the government. The accuracy or inaccuracy of the data may lead to attainment or lack thereof of expected policy outcomes. A blog article published by the Center for Global Development (CDG) highlights why bad data is synonymous with African governments. The authors highlight that the political economy of bad data arises from factors such as lack of effective checks and balances on financial rewards associated with data, political interference and inadequate and inconsistent funding of statistical agencies.

Recently, the Kenyan government presided over a week-long national population census with fundamental concerns raised about personal data security and credibility of the exercise. A few days before the onset of the national population census, Uhuru Kenyatta assented the Statistics Amendment Bill into law (Statistics Act 2019) arguably to counter opposition to credibility of the process and outcome.

Need to Worry
A new clause in the Statistics Act 2019 allows for the cancellation, revision or adjustment of data deemed to be inaccurate. Well, this may quickly address the anomalies of bad data but considering the big brother role of government, there is need to worry about the eventuality of data manipulation. Manipulation of data (data on population, food security, Gross Domestic Product, inflation, affirmative action, public debt, wage bill, education etc.) will lead to formulation of distorted policies or lack of accountability from the national government.

Kenya’s rising public debt and consistent failure of the Jubilee administration to deliver on its big promises set stage for manipulation of data to gain political capital. Latest statistical information from the Central Bank of Kenya indicates that the total public debt amounted to Kshs.5.809 trillion as at June 2019.

It will not be a surprise in case the national government, the Executive in particular, resorts to present manipulated data to indicate that all is well in regards to the level of public debt. This would involve understating or misreporting the actual amount of public debt.

Why public debt?

It is spiraling upwards at an alarming rate and the performance of the economy is not sufficient to offset it, and politicians serving in the corrupt Jubilee administration would want to score political goals as far as borrowing is concerned with the 2022 general elections fast approaching.

GDP statistics may also be doctored by the regime ostensibly to paint a rosy picture to current and prospective ‘development partners’. ‘Development partners are religiously obsessed with fanciful GDP growth rates and the Executive would easily manipulate GDP data either to borrow more or not to scare the Chinese government and other debtors, on Kenya’s inability to meet its debt obligations. Lorenzo Fioramonti documents in his book, “Gross Domestic Problem”, that GDP is “an extremely powerful political tool” and “also a powerful propaganda tool”.

Assuring the Chinese that the debt mill is not running out of steam would be important for guarding Kenya’s sovereignty as Beijing may want to take hold of the latter’s resources such as the port of Mombasa or the oil in Turkana among others. China took over Malaysia’s key infrastructural project after Malaysia failed to service Chinese loans.

Last year, concerns were raised about the possibility of the Chinese government taking over the port of Mombasa and the then Auditor General Edward Ouko weighed in on the matter pointing out the possibility of Beijing annexing the infrastructural facility.
Kenyans have to be more worried about their privacy considering failed political projects like the Huduma Number. Huduma Number is undemocratic. The move by the Executive to force people to register for a dubious project even with a court order stating that the registration should be voluntary negates the rights and freedoms of the masses.

Dim Future?
In a world where data mining is a cash cow, Kenyans risk having their personal information misused. Cambridge Analytica demonstrated how to profit from data in the era of fast-paced technological advancement. Never mind that the firm was hired by the Jubilee administration to exploit Kenya’s socio-political fault lines in the lead up to the 2017 general elections.

The 2022 general elections may witness an intensified approach in reference to the use of big data as a political strategy. But who cares? The big brother government? Certainly not. Parliament no longer advocates for the goodwill of the masses. Although the Huduma Bill promises to protect personal data, the government cannot be trusted. Selfish interests trample collective interests. And government mandarins are without doubt more selfish.

Having the right data and good intentions would help the government and its agencies plan efficiently especially on food security, education and healthcare. Planning is a political process and data is an effective political and propaganda tool which could easily sabotage democracy. Kenya could as well be a statistic of politicizing data.

The writer is a political economist, consultant on governance and public policy and a youth leaders at Kenya YMCA. He blogs at sitatiwasilwa.home.blog and savicltd.wordpress.com (sitatiwasilwa13@gmail.com).

Issue Brief on the Proposed Amendments to the National Youth Council Bill 2019 by a Consortium of Youth Serving Organisations

Introduction
Article 55(b) of the Constitution mandates the state to take measures for the youth have opportunities to be represented and participate in political, social, economic spaces. Further on, in preparation for Africa’s youth bulge and succession planning, cognizant of best practices of the Commonwealth Youth Council, East Africa Youth Commission and Africa Youth Commission, article 55(b) necessitates an urgent move to harness the youth demographic dividend for economic prosperity of the nation.

Rationale
The National Youth Council’s mandate in fulfilling the above was structurally watered down by the amended bill of 2019 which shrinks further the democratic space of young people. Therefore, the YSO Consortium consisting of 50 national and grassroots organizations reviewed the provisions of the National Youth Council Bill 2019 and harmonized it into a memorandum with the following key provisions informing the 5-point agenda;

  1. Professionalization of Youth Work. Kenya is one of the commonwelath countries without a national-level policy that regulates, protects and promotes youth work as a distinct profession despite its significant youth bulge. To resolve this, we propose that the NYC will define the youth work profession model and work the MoPSYGA and other relevant stakeholders to establish locally relevant policies, procedures and mechanisms to accredit youth workers.
  2. Youth mainstreaming. The NYC will nominate youths into decision making bodies such as boards, agencies and other public institutions and organizations. They will also coordinate the youth agenda into national policy processes including youth mainstreaming, youth data and evidence based policy making , youth volunteerism and other relevant national development policy processes by public institutions and organizations.
  3. Structure and functions. The structure of the Council envisaged in the Bill transforms the Council into a national outfit that does not have any county presence. To address this, we propose the establishment of the County Youth Council, provide for its functions and powers. Secondly, the functions of the Council in the 2019 amendment bill are watered down and do not capture the spirit of a youth representative body and therefore we recommend the incorporation of functions in the 2009 Act with a few amendments.
  4. Corporate membership and resource mobilization. NYC funded from public coffers is hindered by lack of resources. We recommend having corporate membership as a mechanism to mobilize resources as such, Youth Serving Organization will be accredited as corporate members and will pay a subscription fee to remain in membership (provides resources and sustainability, representation) for a designate period.
  5. Capacity building. For the National Youth Council to transform, there must be a change in ways of engaging, therefore deliberate attempts must be mad to build capacity of council leaders to understand their role and repercussions of not executing their duties effectively.

Conclusion
In the interest of young people of the republic of Kenya, the memorandum proposes solutions to the loopholes in the 2019 Amendment Bill and seeks to gain the support of members of parliament, the initiator of the bill and citizens of good will.

By:Youth Agenda, ActionAid, PAWA254, Africa Youth Trust, Governance Pillar, Siasa Place, Nairobi County Network, AYLF, Global Platform, Young Democrats, My Leader Kenya, UJANA Africa, Red Cross, YOBBA, Activista, Nairobits Trust, Go Green, Y-Act, Emerging Leaders Foundation, World Healers Foundation, Nairobi County Youth Network, INUUA, ODBS Foundation, Youth Alive Kenya, Youth & Success Association, Akili Dada, Dada Power and Youth Senate-Kenya.

For access to the National Youth Council (Amendment) Bill 2019, check the following link:

http://www.parliament.go.ke/sites/default/files/2019-03/National%20Youth%20Council%20%28Amendment%29%20Bill%2C%202019_compressed.pdf

Think Different By Burns Noah

We live in a country where we anticipate, entertain and pay homage to corruption without guilt nor second thoughts. The integrity as well as the system’s sense of duty has been compromised and is vulnerable to attacks from people entrusted with responsibility. It is very unfortunate and clear that the political class is whining and fussing about the fight against corruption in a bid to secure their egotistic future ambitions. The war on corruption has been nothing but a witch hunt, an expose expedition where figures are quoted and the case will eventually be blown away by a magic wand. Surely, the burden is for us the people to carry, no aid or remedy is coming anytime soon.

When adamant, persistent people convene towards a common cause, the success rate is significantly substantial. A classic scenario is when issues went haywire for Algerians in terms of governance. They came out relentlessly in unison from all walks of life to call for the successful resignation of their former head of state Abdul Aziz Bouteflika. Across our boarder in a historical twist of events against all odds Omar AL Bashir was toppled through protest after weeks of demonstrations. The most intriguing part in the midst of all these is that the youth took the frontline in shunning despicable acts as well as being actively involved in the uprising. Corruption is ripping our society apart, it’s upon us the youth to rise up as one and take the most appropriate action as enshrined in our constitution.

Time has clearly stated that as Kenyans we are very forgetful, ignorant and don’t hold leaders accountable for their actions instead we mold an excellent audience that entertains mediocrity. The above conditions provide a lucrative environment for underhand ideas to take precedence as well as illegal businesses. For instance, today you part away with millions of public funds and you are branded an enemy of the people. Ironically, tomorrow you come with the millions for campaigns, sane citizens overwhelmingly hail your claim and elect you into office to loot billions while the same electorate languish in poverty. I challenge the youth in each and every county to ask questions, demand progress and keep their respective leaders on the watch list.

Finally, corruption goes far and beyond the political class to other fields of specialization. The perpetrators and architects of these heinous acts of corruption thrive and live among us; from distinguished public institutions, private entities to day to day activities of the Kenyan population at large. It is mandatory to embrace professionalism as well as observe ethical codes of conduct when exercising your expertise. In order to kick corruption out of our line of duty, young enthusiastic Kenyan practitioners should think differently, beyond greed for ill earned riches and wealth. We have an incredible future to orchestrate and a disgusting present to restructure, our reputation as a country is at stake

Written by Burns Noah an undergraduate at Kenyatta University pursuing BSc Petroleum Engineering
Twitter: @The_Analyst00

Do we plan some of our emergencies? By Victor Sijenyi

One will agree with me in one way or the other that, the drought and hunger situation being experienced in our nation currently is not a calamity or an emergency as being treated and mentioned by our so called leaders. It is something that we see almost annually.

Turkana county is one of the most affected counties with drought and food insecurity. Many a times, Turkana has suffered starvation frequently, not because they are lazy, not because during voting they are busy taking alcohol until they are not sober to elect, but because the leaders have a major reason behind vying for positions to serve the people but with a motive to sit over their rights and loot in the name of implementing non-existent development .

A hard fact that prevails up to date is that Turkana would be a rich county if the people would be left to extract their oils and sell as a right of ownership, but the so called leaders have sought to rule over them by making them to be beggars just to offer their resources in exchange of basic needs that their leaders have denied them. In the first place, the starvation in Turkana should be termed as a crime against humanity because it is orchestrated by the leaders who have deprived them energy and voice of unity to call for justice.

Many of the leaders who are calling for help, have subjected their people to, dams that were to be constructed and have taken over a decade and were fully paid for. These same dams have instances of requesting for more funding due to unforeseen circumstances, most qualified engineers for such projects should always give such estimations from the start. This makes it very clear who the tender winners always are.

Leaders have always been in this menace for years and even allocated funds for such emergencies, but funny enough, the county officials could not identify the national crisis. They instead responded by still organizing for cultural events. This puts it clear the kind of people we give responsibility to manage our funds and development plans.

I feel that as Kenyans, we have got too many lessons and events to learn from to make us not wait and see us suffer in the name of who we elected. We need to take precaution to be in the forefront correcting them even if the person in power is your close relative, remember that power is left here on earth you never know who will lead your children after you leave. Every county has their priorities and leaders too have theirs, these leaders will always want to support the needy to get attention on social media and the general public, in fact I encourage the public to device a way to generate support for themselves without leaving a space for such greedy leaders to take advantage of the situations.


Written by Victor Sijenyi. Victor is the Chair at Kasarani Youth Empowerment Centre and a volunteer at OAYOUTH Kenya
Email: thelegendsartsproduction@gmail.com

The Story of every African Nation By Ahmad Moalim

In life every one of us has their own story, all the stories are unique to that individual just like DNA, and stories may look alike but not the same.T hose before independence, and to date the stories have had 3 issues as the denominator, the issues mostly perceived and determined by the colonialists who regarded the African community as a backward illiterate society:

  • Illiteracy, the colonialist disregarded our social structure that catered for all, making us believe literacy is going through western educational system, and to achieve that our stories spread from going to school on empty stomachs to without shoes and accessing education at advance age in life like that of 84 year old Kimani Ng’ang’a Maruge, making him the oldest man in Kenya to attend primary school. The Guinness Book of World Records listed him as being the oldest person in the world to start primary school. Western education system became part of us growing up forgoing our culture
  • Poverty, white man collaborated with the Africans during colonial period and thereafter the tribal kings perpetuated the narrative of poverty in Africa. The perpetuated belief created stories and pictures shot of how poverty has its pangs on people including the story of southern Sudan girl whose photo was taken with a vulture behind her waiting for her death. The picture was taken in 1993 but since then has that changed even after attaining right to self-determination? And was poverty an issue in African society before the colonial masters and how was the societal setups before?
  • Diseases, from malaria to HIV/AIDS conditions and lately cancer that people have had their share of, to those with wealth and those without equalized by the pain of disease. The rich also cry for their loved ones, the powerful are powerless before the diseases. The current day colonial masters (tribal kings/ so called leaders) have ensured that systems (health, education, agriculture, manufacturing industries) don’t work so that they continue being beneficiaries of colonizing the masses with ‘mtu wetu’ syndrome. They are nor reaping from their own systems of neglect but they are slightly better because they can still afford to go abroad for treatment.

That which we are not told is, the continent is faced with the 3 issues as the main problems. Therefore being poor, sick or illiterate is normal what matters is what are you doing about your current status?

First we were told education has an effect of equalizing the poor and the rich as well as the solution to the 3 problems. However since the departure of the colonial power and inception of Africans as the leaders, things have taken a different turn. The Africans who fought for independence never enhanced the system of governance to accommodate growth through industries, and exploitation of natural resources. With 54 countries, the richest continent endowed with natural resources, every country has its tribes and every tribe has its own semi gods who call the shots. The tribes in power are the new colonial powers compared to the situation in which Britain had companies managing Africa on its behalf. Just like the companies the tribes in power manage Africa and on behalf of the western and eastern nations. Africa is growing and the debts are increasing every year, they are unable to negotiate for better deals because of the already incurred debts and the pressing demand for the infrastructural development which will never repay itself. The population has tripled since independence, democratic principles and laws are cut and paste without consideration of the people to extent of equating democracy to periodic shambolic elections. In Kenya government is taxing the citizens for every coin, and for everything including using the roads where the highway authority is introducing a new tax for those using highways!

Sounds brilliant as those with cars and businessmen will be the ones to feel the pain but the real effect is to the consumer who is the poor man who earns below a dollar. The cost will be transferred through increase of commodities. More to that, being young is equated to, a disillusioned and disinterested member of the society. Researchers have said that we (youth) do not care “how” we get anything what matters is we have it. Fortunately or unfortunately we constitute at least over 60% of our population not forgetting infotrak research, that Kenyans feel the country is headed in the wrong direction!

We were made to believe how our life should turn for the better after having gone through education but the reality is taking us into disarray. 90’s babies we grew up reading stories and society also told us how so and so became successful. Blinded with the stories, we went into education with expectations of success only to be stranded on the streets of Nairobi with our educational papers.

The same society revised the rules and told us to call our uncles/ aunties or they will call ‘mheshimiwas’, simply to find something other than having papers, that is connections or whom you know. From so and so went to school, the stories changed to so and so is related or known to who and through the linkage they got there. The education lost the “weight” and it became just a system that we have/had to go through as part of the growth / formal cultural expectations and get to the age of majority.

On July, 20th 2019, at unfungamano house, I was seated among young people from different walks of life for a book launch, entitled “UNBREAKABLE” by a young person who battled with his life story but decided to share the same life with us and those who come in long after we are gone. The author named Danish Odongo now is and will be described as an author for having shared the story of his life to encourage others and also fight for himself. “How” many of us can share their story only to inspire and tell their unfortunate story for others fortune?

Every story has its roots somewhere and for me the story lies within our governance. All our billionaires have had interactions with the government in one way or the other, what they possess may have been acquired through shoddy deals. Government ministers are the billionaires, state officers, are ranch and business owners, due to connection systems which have failed the governance system. Once on a dinner table, someone challenged us to think of a country as a home, government/ leadership as the two parents and the children as the citizens while those family members and neighbors as the neighboring countries! In the house if fathers and mothers fail to dispense their roles then that house becomes just another building and the children will suffer.

That said, the young people, today is a gift but you have to earn tomorrow!

Peace!

By Ahmad Moalim
Lawyer,Democrat,Community rights champion and student of contextualized democratic principles
Twitter: @moalim_ahmad

Summaries-Tweet-Header

MAY 2018 #SiasaWednesday SUMMARY

Title of the topic: Social Media & Politics: Where are we as a country?
Tweet Chat Summary For: May 2nd 2018
In today’s world, news and information are critical components of everyday life. With change in dynamics, various avenues of connecting with friends, sharing news and information, and real time connection has led to many people especially the youth, embrace social media to serve their various needs. Digital space has given many Kenyans a voice that was otherwise a monopoly of mainstream media. It gives platform demanding for transparency and accountability when it comes to political offices. Social media has straightened voices.

Social media will continue to be used as a tool for driving future changes in society as an avenue of enabling people express themselves. Measures must be put in place to curb the spread of fake news. Citizens must come together and shrinking civic spaces must be kept alive. Technology has the capacity to amplify the voices of citizens and greatly improve oversight. Government should instead embrace social media as a feedback platform for better service delivery and accountability.

Title of the topic: Disaster management: Where are we as a country? 
Tweet Chat Summary For: May 16th 2018

Disasters are majorly unpredictable occurrences that have serious negative consequences on the lives of the people. It is for this reason that as a society, we need to be fully and adequately prepared to initiate intervention mechanisms whenever faced with any kind of disaster to avert casualties, disruption of social order and to save lives and property. Disasters disrupt the functioning of society causing widespread human, material, economic and environmental loses which exceed the ability of the affected society to cope with using its own resources. Examples include drought, floods, fires and earthquakes.

All stakeholders in society must come together to form multi-agency rapid response units for interventions and rapid response. Government should involve and support stakeholders that deal with matters of humanity and disaster management to help mitigate emergencies. Both National and County governments should follow best international practice in handling disasters whenever they strike i.e. Preparedness, Reaction, Recovery and Prevention. Political goodwill and commitment is key to the implementation of the National Disaster Policy.

Title of the topic: What is the impact of public theft without consequences?
Tweet Chat Summary For: May 23rd 2018

Corruption as the abuse of entrusted power for private gain. Anyone exercising power given to them by others, if they abuse it for personal benefit they are corrupt. It results to very serious consequences that impede the overall well-being and order of any society/state. It impedes development and service delivery meant for public good. The AKU’s East African Institute youth study 2016 found that 21-58% of youth believe it doesn’t matter how one makes money so long as you don’t get caught; 30-58% admired those who made money in any way; 8-45% believed corruption was profitable. The problem today is too many points of theft with no accountability. Also cultural tolerance seems to have gone up, sadly watering down tenets of Chapter Six of our constitution.

Theft without consequences – impunity – causes an erosion of confidence in public institutions, leaders and the law. Ultimately this destabilizes the politics and causes dislocations in society that manifest in a myriad of ways. There is need to make it hard to steal and get away with it. If institutions fail to hold those who steal to account, publicly ostracizing them should be the norm. Parents should live upright and honest lives while moulding the lives of the young ones. If they are busy stealing from the government the apple will not fall far from the tree. We need to look critically at corruption as theft. We never celebrate those who steal from our houses. Why do we celebrate those who still from our pockets indirectly?

Research shows that between 2013-17 Kenya lost US$3.5billion as a result of theft by the Jubilee regime. This is economic delinquency on a grand scale. It is more than mere theft. Deterrence value of convictions and asset recovery is at the core of success against graft. Whistleblowers are essential in fighting crime. They must be protected if we are to succeed. Remember most whistleblowers are public spirited civil servants. As citizens we have what it takes to make sure our leaders are accountable. Also make institutions deliver. Let’s use the power. Sovereign power belongs to us

Title of the topic: Are social movements able to offer solutions to matters affecting the nation?

Tweet Chat Summary For: May 30th 2018

Social movements play vital roles in educating, informing and empowering communities. Through social movements, many communities especially in developing economies have realized serious changes in approaches to the challenges they face, while coming up with sustainable solutions modeled for long and short terms. Social movements have played a leading role in bringing about change in Kenya. All major social and political changes that have happened in Kenya have been birthed through social movements. From the Mau Mau movement in 1960s to the 2010 constitution. Social movements come in two fold, both negative and positive. Positive in the sense that the oppressive nature of the status quo has created interest in social movements as an alternative and a viable option to bring about fundamental change. Negatively in the sense that by keeping the majority of Kenyans from taking it upon themselves to bring about change. They have perpetuated the notion that the problems we have as a country were meant to be and no one can do anything about it.

Social movements can be a great vehicle to rally the people into taking on corruption in government rather than waiting on your favorite politician to do it. Through training and practice, we are not reinventing the wheel but building on best practices that others have used with great success. Most important is that it will spread its basic theory that change only happen when the people themselves participate in bringing about the change they desire. There is no other being coming to bring about change in Kenya, it’s the people to do it.

Summaries-Tweet-Header

#SiasaWesnesday Tweet Chat Summaries – June 6th to July 18th 2018

JUNE

6th June 2018

Is lack of evidence helping suspects go scot free in the justice system?

Kenya has an adversarial system of law, where the Judges take a spectator position and weigh the evidence brought before the court. The problem here does not lack of judicial powers, but it is whether the Judiciary is ready to apply the law effectively in corruption cases. The judiciary can, however, in practice set standards. Corruption laws (Anti-corruption Act) provides a mandatory sentence for twice the benefit a corruption offender gets from corruption. We have the laws, and the question that is raised is whether we are ready to prosecute.

The independence of the Judiciary has greatly improved since the Moi Regime, but we are not there yet. The Judiciary needs to prove to Kenyans that they cannot be intimidated; the recent denial of bail of the NYS suspects is a good start.

12th June 2018

Economic impacts of public theft

Poverty rates in Kenya are higher than they ought to be, and this is as a result of public theft. The causative relationship between poverty and theft of public funds is that, above all else, the resultant higher borrowing and taxes levied on the general citizenry discourages production and that leads to higher than natural incidence of poverty.

It is also possible for the taxpayer to exercise their sovereignty to protect themselves from the repercussions of public theft. The people can pass laws that can check this bad behavior through a referendum.

What other countries have done to reduce government over expenditure and theft, is to tie spending to revenues. The logic here is that the less they can spend, the less they can steal. Balanced budget amendments helps in adopting this approach.

Kenya is also a lucky country in the sense that it has a large private sector as government accounts for, perhaps, give or take, 30% of total spending. Consequently, private sector activity is typically more than 65%. This, to a degree, allows the economy to cope with government failure.
One of the main things that can be done to reduce public theft is education. We need to make economic knowledge general knowledge so that we look at things from a practical perspective. That way, we will be able to understand what is at stake better when political promises are being made.

20th June 2018

Can the Kenyan people survive a 3.07 trillion Kshs budgetary estimate?

This year’s budgetary estimate is 3.07 Trillion Kshs. Kenyans have witnessed a dramatic increase of more than one trillion Kshs, in comparison to last year’s figure of 2.6 billion kshs. This current budget highlights a major challenge, which lies in its funding. Research indicates that there is a gap in the budget of 562 billion KES, and the treasury claims that half of the budget will be financed from borrowing.

The budget is too high, and there are no justifications for some decisions such as the VAT exemptions for basic items, and keeping the VAT rate at 16.

On the possibility of capping the budget; the IEA, an economic think tank in Kenya, found that Kenya’s budget can be sufficient at just 2 Trillion KSHS, where the founder, Kwame Owino, suggested it should be capped.

On checks and balances; Article 12 of the Constitution has sufficient controls of the country’s expenditure. Through the Public Participation Act, Kenyan people can also voice their concerns over any public issues, including the budget. Through this act over expenditure can be minimized.
Within the budget there was no information on the challenges experienced with the implementation of last year’s budget. Fighting corruption was one of the key issue that was briefly talked about by the CS for the National Treasury, when asked about the issue.

JULY

4th July 2018

History of Political alignment in Kenya

The formation of coalitions in Kenya began on a positive note changing the monolithic structure that existed before 1992. However, the political structure in Kenya has become very corrupt which continues the ability of political parties/coalitions to withstand the test of time. As a result, Kenya’s political and economic system cannot guarantee free and fair competition. This is also because all systems are controlled by a small elite that determines who participates and how.

For this to change, Kenyan Youth and other oppressed population groups must realize how much political elites fear an informed, angry, mobilized and organized citizenry. They will be able to defeat bad leadership if they are equipped with knowledge, which will be followed by actions.

11th July 2018

Role of Media: Is it harnessing gains or losing ground?

The role of journalism continues to evolve, and we still haven’t taken time to evaluate this. As a result, media continues to seem like it has lost the integral part it played as the fourth estate in Kenya’s first liberation.

For the East African media to be effective, it has to be able to maintain the trust of the public. As this has not been proved to be the case yet, other alternatives such as citizen journalism will continue to change the course of how stories are developed and consumed. Citizen Journalism has opened up a space for citizens to hold their leaders accountable, and be able to influence political outcomes. Citizens are able to tell their stories without state interference. However, for citizen journalism to be efficiently explored, there has to be paid attention to fact-checking and source-balancing to avoid the spread of false information.

In regards to independence in media; the most important question is asking how this freedom can be harnessed. For instance, the Constitution of Kenya guarantees media freedom, but this is limited by Editors and the Media Council as a result of factors such as ownership and control. This challenge can be addressed through the establishment of publicly funded broadcasters. This way, citizens will easily demand for accountability and media will be more people and issue oriented, as opposed to media setting its own agenda.

Technology has also largely influenced East African media. It has liberalized the dissemination of information, and there is a wider and diverse audience that can be tapped into. There are now various ways in which content can reach consumers using means such as websites, videos, and podcasts. There has also been more employment opportunities as journalists are now working as freelancers. Every journalist can be their own cameraman, photographer, editor and producer.

In conclusion, the future position of media in the East African Region lies in the hands of its citizens.

18th July 2018

Equality in Media: Fact or Fiction?

Equal representation in media allows everyone to belong, gives everybody a voice, which can lead to freedom. Equal representation amplifies the voices of the minority, and raises awareness on their issues and work that they do.

One of the ways in which this can be achieved is if journalists learn to go beyond the headlines, do more homework, especially when it comes to minorities. Learning to listen, look for the story within the story, or change an angle to how they look into an issue, could make a big difference.
The government could also do better in ensuring that laws/policies on equality are well implemented in media. What ails these agencies is nepotism, corruption, and the fact that those within the field allow themselves to be manipulated by external forces.

Technology and citizen journalism have also given a voice to the marginalized groups. Women in the villages have been able to carry practice journalism and report from their own locality. Through citizen journalism, groups have also been able to raise pertinent issues that have brought about policy change. For example, #StreetNakuru and its founder James Wakibia pushed for the ban on plastic through the #ISupportBanPlasticsKE campaign.

In conclusion, every person has a unique story and they should be given a platform on which it can be shared.

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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