Siasa Place Kenya

Tweet Chat Summaries | July-Oct 2018


Topic: High Schools in Disarray

Guests: Wawira Njiru, Mark Bichachi and Eric Otieno
Date: 25th July – 2019

The most significant underlying issue behind the current fracas in public high schools can be attributed to the fact that students are seen as subjects, but not partners in their education.

The disarray also indicates that our education system does not encourage independent thought. Furthermore, high schools lack appropriate disciplinary structures for the modern kid. Students should not be blackmailed every time they react to a situation that they face in schools. The government offering threats to students is also not a solution, but another source for chaos.

The way we can start to resolve the current crisis is if the lack of parental participation and overcrowding in schools are acted upon as factors that lead to the rebelling of students. More importantly, students must voice their concerns, and they should be heard.

Topic: Election Safari: One year on, stories of young people from the 2017 General Elections

Guests: Shiku Kihika, Andrew Letting, Samwella Lerno and Arnold Maliba
Date: 8th August 2018

There is a negative narrative that young people are incapable of leading. This is slowly changing and it will continue to do as more young people are standing up to check the systems that do not work for them. We need to keep encouraging the youth and stop telling them that they are the ‘future leaders’. They are the leaders of today, not tomorrow, and they should be fully engaged in all political processes. The increased participation of young people in politics was seen in the 2017 General Elections, and the numbers will even go up during the 2022 General Elections.

While we fight for young people’s spaces in politics, it is important that a lot of focus is also directed towards encouraging more (young) women to vie for elected positions. This will be done if women are enabled to take part in public life. Through intense political education, they will be able to understand their rights and the Constitution. This will also empower them to protect their positions when they get elected into office.

Finally, there should more advocacy for the 2/3rds gender rule, and more pressure should be put on the Executive to ensure its implementation. The second liberation stands incomplete without women’s participation.

Topic: The Y Follow Campaign

Date: 15th August
Guests: Silantoi Lengewa

The Y Follow campaign is a youth led initiative that seeks to empower the populace to question status quo, and ask relevant questions when it comes to governance in the country. The main objective of YFollow is to empower the common mwananchi to demand for accountability from the leadership and therefore a mindset change that will inform voting patterns from tribal to issue-based.

The Y in #YFollow stands for youth and they are the main focus in the initiative, on both National and County levels. The youth have always been associated with being ignorant to current affairs, and this seeks to show them how political decisions affect them personally and how they can get involved.

Having also realized that Information is what most of the population is missing, #YFollow will aim to provide relevant information as well as a platform to air grievances and provide solutions in the community and to the leadership.

Our main concerns as a movement are Corruption and lack of convictions by the Judiciary. We can see some efforts from the leadership in terms of tackling the issue of corruption with the arrests and court cases, but these remain ineffective until convictions are made and assets are retrieved.
One of the other many issues that YFollow will push for, is the review of the 2006 Youth National Policy that is currently outdated, and not in line with the new 2010 Constitution.

Topic: Political Violence Against Young people in East Africa

Guests: Rosebell Kagumire (Uganda), Caroline Ndosi (Tanzania), and Ruth Aine (Uganda)
Date: 22nd August 2018

This tweet chat was addressing the general mistreatment of young people in East Africa who are punished for demanding better leadership, with particular attention to Robert Kyagulangi’s (Bobi Wine) who was the illegally detained by President Museveni’s regime.

Why are young leaders considered as a threat? The current leaders believe that they alone are the custodians of power. For long young people have been expected to be spectators of political contestations, but this has to change. There is an abundance of young leaders in the continent today and we are saying, WE WANT MORE SEATS AT THE TABLE.

What can young people do to bring down oppressive regimes? Young people need to show up and question their leaders and institutions. The following can guide them:

  • Radical organizing can help citizens deter the state from meting out violence against young leaders. It is easier for the state to isolate few, which is why citizens must find different ways to engage the state in an organized and radical manner.
  • Online spaces also play critical role as governments tighten the noose on media through beatings and threats of closure. Young people must create their own channels, and tell their resistance story.

What are the impacts of political violence against young people? Political violence can alter ways of organizing, it slows change but certainly won’t stop it. Like Shirley Chisholm says “If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.” Young East Africans already have millions of folded chairs. We have also have to be mindful of the intention of those deploying violence. It is make many disinterested in politics, especially young women. We have to ensure that they, and other marginalized groups are also part of the struggle.

How can young people protect themselves from state violence?

  • Identify what we are good at: Not everyone will take to the streets, so young people have to create more rooms for different kinds of thoughts around protest. Young people should find what kind of protests to deploy, when, and how can they be more inclusive.
  • Protection: Make sure your digital footprint is intact –VPNs, password protection and encryption.
  • Networking: Cultivate important contacts within government institutions that can come to your defend.
  • Education: Know your rights, understand the constitution, be an active citizen and take responsibility. Vote and advocate for systems that are truly for development of the nation.
  • Uphold your truth and values: Young people can target different pillars of the establishment, using various means. For instance they can start by boycotting businesses that are run by those behind state sponsored violence.

“You are more useful to the struggle alive than dead. So by all means, stay alive.”

Topic: Pushing for open political primaries in Nigeria

Guests: @YIAGA Africa
Date: 29th August 2018

Nigeria has at least 91 political parties with different ideologies all within the ambit of the Constitution. Political parties form government and since 1999, we sadly still clamor for good governance.

Political parties decide what kind of primaries (direct or Indirect) to hold. They conduct the primaries themselves, under the monitor of Electoral Management body and independent observers like YIAGA AFRICA. Despite parties conducting primaries by themselves, they must adhere to their own guidelines, Electoral Management body guidelines, electoral laws and ultimately the Constitution.

There is another aspect of our democracy that needs intensive reform, and this is ensuring that the outcomes of political party primaries are credible enough to instill confidence on the part of citizens. The issue of imposition of candidates, inducement of delegates or manipulation of party members register has continued to cast questions over the credibility of the process.
Role of young people in political party primaries

Young people have a lot of roles to play when it comes to party primaries, but the question that remains is whether they are taking part in these processes. The answer is not enough. Young Nigerians can be more involved by first registering as members. This will allow them to be part of party primaries, in case a direct one is conducted.

Young people also vote during party primaries, but most times do not fall into the delegates’ categories when it comes indirect primaries. This, in turn makes it difficult for them to have a say in the emergence of candidates.

To solve this, the #NotTooYoungToRun movement that is now @ReadyToRunNG has embarked on a ferocious campaign to demand youth candidacy, and open party primaries from all political parties. This will ensure inclusion in our democracy.

Topic: People, Police and the Parallel relationship, (in partnership with Amnesty Kenya)

Guests: Irungu Houghton, Martin Mavenjina, and Patrick Safari
Date: 6th October 2018

Since independence, the Police force has been used as a tool of repression, and various systemic human rights violations continue to be committed by police officers. This, has resulted into mistrust between the police and the people.

Relationship between the young people and the police:

The relationship between the youth and the police is only characterized by conflict and tension, with high levels of anger, fear and mistrust on both sides. In the recent past, many Police officers have killed youth for allegedly engaging in criminal acts and have unlawfully arrested many.

Measures to reduce extrajudicial activities by the police:
We must make sure the police are only accountable to the people and not anybody else. For this to be done, there has to be:

  • A greater sense of command responsibility.
  • Deeper and intentional community policing
  • Intensified oversight by the public and state organs mandated to oversee the police.

Amnesty Kenya also highlighted that the above can only be possible in an environment that is:

  • Able to empower those at risk of extrajudicial executions.
  • Of propositional with the duty bearers and making clear asks/ demands.
  • Is able to bring partners’ and allies together.

The other measures that can be taken is if we make crime prevention a community business, and not just the police. This can be done by sharpening civic support for predictive and intelligence-based policing. This can also help to avoid blanket profiling. Investing in digital capacities including GPS, wearable body cameras, and CCTV cameras in police stations could also make a big difference, as the performance of the police can be easily tracked.

Role of the people and the civil society in improving the police and people relationship: 
There needs to be community sensitization forums that involve both the Police and the public, which can help improve their relationship. The state must also respect, protect and fulfill the right to life, liberty and security of the person, as well as the absolute prohibition of torture.

The Civil Society Organizations also work greatly with grassroots organizations (The Justice Centers) to ensure a grassroots approach on police conduct. The grassroots organizations are able to monitor, document and report human rights violations by the police. This information, as well as data can be used to hold them accountable for their actions.

Improvements in police training
The training needs to be one that is intelligence based. The officer should not only be trained on how to use violence to fight violence, but also on other aspects such as Alternative Dispute Resolution and Peace building mechanisms.

Topic: Repercussions of increased taxation

Guests: Mukami Mungai, Asamoh Rein and Hilda Muteshi
Date: 12th October 2018

There are several reasons that can explain the continued increase in taxation. There is a need by the government to raise revenue to bridge the funding gap in the Financial Year of 2018/19, which includes the ability to pay back the 4 trillion foreign debt that we owe our lenders. Other reasons include money lost through corruption, gaps in the tax collection system, and major investment in infrastructure.

Increased taxation Vs. reduced expenditure: Tax policy attempts to balance many goals. These include revenue generation, economic efficiency, redistribution, equity between similarly situated taxpayers, and stabilization of economic cycles. However, increasing taxes is what is going to lead us into an economic crisis. A tax policy geared towards stabilization must reduce reliance on tax expenditures relative to government spending; tax expenditures imply that government subsidization moves in tandem with the business cycle, thereby destabilizing the economy. Increasing taxation will discourage investment and saving as income available to households will decrease.

Effects of increased taxation on the people: The increase in taxation has only added to the burden of the low-income citizens. Kenyans have been facing high levels of poverty and disparity for the last few years, and this hike will likely exacerbate the problems. Other effects include Increase in commodity prices, reduced investment and savings and inflation.

Short and long-term changes as a result of increased taxation: Tax policies can also affect the supply of labor in the short run. A cut in payroll taxes could bring some workers into the labor market or encourage those already working to put in more hours. Other short-term changes include increased government revenue, increased product prices and cost of production, as a well as hiked transportation costs. The long-run effects of tax policies depend not only on their incentive effects but also their deficit effects.

Kenya’s debt/GDP ratio: According to Cyntonn Investment, Kenya’s public debt to GDP was estimated at 56.2% in 2017, rising from 44.0% 5-years ago, and 38.4% 10-years ago. This is against the global recommendation of 50%, and the 30%-40% standard range for developing countries.

The Kenyan people and power: The people have the power to reverse increased taxation through their representatives in parliament. However, the question that stands is whether these representatives have the people’s interests at heart. Organized demonstrations can also put pressure on the government to revert high taxes.