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