Death announcement

12 years ago, after several years of agitation, civil society action and hotly contested election among others, we promulgated a new constitution that in some ways expressed the aspirations of the people- sort of. For the most part, it was a national effort. And when it was taken to the polls, it was supported by a majority of Kenyans and it became the supreme law of the land. So we can say that was a rebirth of the nation.

But it was infected immediately with terminal illness. Immediately after, other opportunistic diseases took hold and the rest as they say is history. The nation is hurtling down a fast lane to death. Maybe it is already dead and walking among us as the living dead.

You see, the new law had a whole chapter dedicated to integrity. It had minimum ethical or should I say moral requirements for would be office holders. It was hoped by the framers of this law and the people, that this requirement would with time see the public service cleaned up of people of questionable characters but this wasn’t to be.

Kibaki infected the new law with impunity- the terminal illness- by making appointments outside the law. The judiciary did not and still doesn’t seem to know what to do. But the disease got a boost when Kenyans against all common sense decided that the best thing to do is to elect, among others, the two people who were at the time answering charges of instigating a sort of ethnic cleansing. Unless you are slow, you know where this ends.

Impunity has reigned supreme in the last 12 years. The gender rule, parliament failed in its mandate to actualize it. Even the Chief Justice failed when it mattered. So in effect, the supreme law was infected with a deadly disease from which it would not recover. And my friends, when the law dies, the nation dies it.

We recently had elections and in his first act, the president has appointed a cabinet that says in no uncertain terms that death to chapter 6 is the intended goal. How does he defend appointing to his cabinet a person who is in court answering to charges of murder, discharging a fire arm in public and all.

So, it is the supreme law and with effect the nation that I today I announce its death. It leaves behind impunity, lawlessness and sleaze as its orphaned children. We hope they will not suffer greatly.

simplifying the electoral process in Kenya

Last night when i couldn’t sleep and reading wasn’t helping, it occurred to me we have a problem with the conduct of elections and the type of people employed to do the work. First I admit here that the process has improved but it can be better.

To address the efficiency of the voting process, we must first look at the political players who benefit from an inefficient system.

Next we look at the people who manage this process. The voting process is controlled by a team of commissioners appointed by the president. They have a secretariat with a CEO and other staff I guess who are involved in the elections. The commissioners enjoy security of tenure, are paid huge salaries and it does seem to me, do very little in terms of simplifying the voting process. Our elections get more expensive every election cycle instead of cheaper, smoother and more transparent. So what to do?

First, make the commissioner position a volunteer position. They shouldn’t expect any pay. Add a condition that should they botch the elections, they will forfeit their freedom and property. But if they should improve the voting process, they will be rewarded handsomely or beautifully whichever you identify with.

Do away with the lawyers. Damn it. They have demonstrated they can’t do arithmetic. They have been at the centre of the election disputes, over numbers, we have had in the last three cycles and it seems the country hasn’t learnt from it.

It should be a requirement that whoever wants to be nominated as a volunteer in the election body must demonstrate how they intend to ensure the vote counting and tallying is both efficient and open to scrutiny. I have ideas on this but that’s for later. The voting process should be treated as a project with a start and end date. The risks identified and classed. Mitigation measures agreed, roles allocated, budgets agreed on and whatever processes required to execute the project made available. A move to a paperless system should be considered.

I had said I would deal with the political players first but look at us. I don’t know about other countries, but I think there is a general luck of trust that each of us will follow the maxim of one man one vote and to cure this, political parties and candidates employ vast numbers of observers to ensure there is no shady dealings going on. The question is how do we address the conflict between private and public morality?

The other question that presents itself is how to reduce the stakes in the political game. As it is, the high stakes means winning by any means has become the mantra. I am not naive to the fact that being a legislator offers many goods that so many would die for. All around, politicians seems to outlive everyone else. They don’t ever die. They have access to government contracts- and in a world where the richest people or organizations are those that do business with the government, then the stakes can not be any lower. A time must come when this madness will get to its apex and the only way out is down, but we don’t have much time so interventions are needed now.

It occurred to me quite recently that the requirements for political office are so low compared to any other office. You apply for a job in almost any field and they want millions of years in experience, your achievements, bonafides and all. But when it comes to politics, the bare minimum which shockingly, this class of clowns don’t have. Take the case of the current governor for Nairobi. When asked to produce his certificates, he went to court as if the courts can cure such a deficiency!

But all this is wishful thinking. A man can dream.

Kenya decides:2022

7 days ago, my fellow citizens turned up to vote for the next government. While turnout was low, with only 64% voting the process was smooth. Tallying of the results however took a good 6 days. I think we need help here.

If the presidential results are not contested, then William Ruto will be the 5th president of the Republic. I am not very enthusiastic about it but I think there could be silver lining. For one, the attempt to mutilate the constitution might die a slow death with uhuru and raila. I am not confident that he will do any better in terms of bring faithful to the law.

The choice for Nairobi governor I like. With the election of Sakaja all the functions of the county government will return to the county. Some of these had been taken over by the national government in a move that appeared to me to be a power grab.

With his 5th loss, I hope Raila goes home and exits the political scene. Should this happen, there is room for others to grow in stature and possibly expand the democratic space.

I hope we will have a functioning opposition party in parliament to check the excesses of the government and to provide alternative policy direction. If this doesn’t happen, we will effectively be a one party state- though with different political players/parties.

And finally, to make a note that this process has been quite peaceful. And transparent. I believe there will be very few petitions going forward and the process can only get better.

Bye for now.

In one of our dailies

A Dr. Chacha wrote an article where he seems to lament the absence of god in Kenya during elections. One would think there are jurisdictions where god has a voters card since he tells us that god doesn’t vote in Kenya which should be obvious.

He takes umbrage on a politician calling himself a son of mau mau instead of a son of god and interprets this as choosing violence as a means of resolving political dispute instead of peaceful alternatives. I don’t think this interpretation is correct nor justified.

In the same article, he writes evil always triumphs over good evidenced by the bad leaders we end up with. These leaders are voted by the masses. I hope the good lecturer is willing to agree that the voters prefer evil to good, otherwise I don’t see how his argument can be sustained.

It is parsons who have always insisted leaders are anointed by god regardless of how dubious their character is.

His conclusion that religion doesn’t affect how we vote should not be mourned but actually celebrated. We are not electing the bishop but representatives who shall legislate on our behalf. And religion shouldn’t determine how people vote.That ethnicity affects how people vote is an area for study for social scientists.

And with that, have a great weekend everyone.

Madaraka day celebrations

Yesterday was the 59th Anniversary of our Republic. An occasion where the president gets to address the nation, award national honours, exercise his powers of clemency and all.

One queer thing during the celebrations was a display of hardware by the defence forces and it got me thinking, to who is this display meant? Is it to our neighbours with whom we are not at war? Is it a show of force to the citizens in case they have the crazy idea to overthrow the government?

The country has made some progress in the 59 years of neo- colonisation. Whilst there is still work to be done, women representation has improved. Infrastructure has improved. Access to health care is still struggling. There is improvement in access to education but the quality is doubtful.

There is improvement in access to justice though the office of the president is a notorious law breaker. The police still behave like those employed by her majesty’s colonial office.

While unemployment was already high, the pandemic made things even worse. Because of the different public containment policies implemented at the height of the pandemic, many small and medium sized enterprises had to relieve their workers. And now the situation has been even worsened by the Russian- Ukraine conflict.

One hopes that a country could learn from mistakes and successes of others and follow those paths, but naah. Private interests come before public choice and the result is the same mistakes over and over.

Have a good Friday everyone.

On the war in Ukraine

Power play in Ukraine War

I have no dog in this fight, for the moment, except for the fact that 2 of my friends are stuck in Kyiv. I hope they remain safe. The above article puts most of the responsibility for the war on NATO, EU expansion and US foreign policy. Since I am not a student of Int’l politics or foreign policy, I let those more knowledgeable to comment and share their views.

As for me, I hope the war ends soon with no much further loss of life.

How will war end?

We are back again to this question now that Russia has invaded Ukraine, and for the time being, Abiy’s war in Ethiopia is momentarily forgotten, how will war end?

I accept to be called naive with respect to war but I must ask, what is it about soldiers that makes them religiously obedient? What is it about rapine others who have done them no harm propels them to action? Is the promise of a medal should they die on battle so tempting that all commonsense goes out of their ears?

Now, someone will remind me, as often as they have, that I sleep peacefully at night because of the soldiers. Well, I pay them as a start. Secondly it’s unlikely that my neighbours would want to attack me at the scale possible only with an organised state or non state actor. Which, I think, makes their point a moot one.

I have two friends in Kyiv and for the moment they are safe. And I hope it remains that way for long.

Now is an opportune moment to ask if there’s a just war? I am tempted to say that the Ukrainians have every right to defend themselves against an aggressive neighbour who threatens their existence as a sovereign state, in fact to use whatever is in their power to do so whilst every avenue is sought to bring hostilities to an end.

To peace.

There was never a country

In the past, in this country, we have had a parliament that at least, in perception, had a functioning parliament. Many times they wouldn’t be successful in challenging the government position but they did attempt to. In those days, we had an official opposition party and a back bench. Then Kibaki came, stole elections and that was the end of active check of government in Kenya by parliament.

When Uhuru got elected by 93% and Raila got sworn in as the people’s president and shortly after, was bought by Uhuru, the government has been free to do as it pleases. And recall, most of the sitting MPs are what we call vifaranga vya komputa– computer generated MPs- for those who don’t understand my French. These crop of legislators owe only computers their allegiance and no one else. The country has in the mean time gotten worse as a bandit state.

in the days of yore, people would disappear but mostly at night and be accused of subversion by the Moi government or they would be involved in some gruesome accident with a tractor or some other such contraption. Not anymore. The current government lays siege to your house without shame and no one representative of this poor constituent raises a voice.

Then there are the cases of people who are found in sacks floating around rivers or in forests. And many other such banditry. It’s crazy when you think about it, really. The question one want to ask, is, how sick is this society that we live in? And how callous are the people who do these things?

And these same people want our votes.