Sunday, December 16, 2012

The New Political Face of Kenya

Peter Kenneth and Raphel Tuju
The new constitution gives the people of Kenya a golden opportunity to elect into public office people who represent a change of the political face of Kenya. Whether the electorate will avail themselves this opportunity, given the political parties alliances that have unfolded in the recent days, is not certain. To do this, they will have to vote for candidates outside these political alliances.

Martha Karua
The judiciary offers a good example of what change of leadership, through infusion of new blood, means. The appointment of Chief Justice Willy Mutunga and other new faces to the judiciary gave it a boost of the change of image it required. Today, the judiciary gradually is gaining the confidence of the people. If the other arms of the government, the legislature and the executive, are to have the confidence of the people, a change of the political leadership is need. This cannot happen if the electorate is going to recycle the same old politicians back into leadership of these institutions.

Prof. James Ole Kiyiapi
There are three compelling reasons why the political face of Kenya needs to change. Firstly, in order to end the domination of Kenyan politics by two families: The Kenyatta and Odinga families. The politics of Kenya since independence have revolved around these two families. The rivalries between the Jomo Kenyatta and Oginga Odinga dominated during the Kenyatta presidency and by proxy the Moi presidency. Their sons Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga, entered into the scene in 2002 and through proxy dominated the politics during Kibaki presidency too. Exit Kibaki and now it is full blown domination by the two sons. If in the next ten years Kenyans are to avoid the unfolding domination by these two families, a new face of leaders is required.

The second reason is to end the domination of Kenyan politics by KANU. KANU has ruled Kenyan in the last 49 years. The entry of NARC in 2002 and PNU-ODM coalitions in 2007 did not change KANU dominance as the new parties were off springs of KANU. To end KANU dominance Kenya needs a new face of fresh politicians who have had no flirtation with KANU in the past. The two main alliances fronting for the next elections, Jubilee alliance and CORD alliance are nothing new but reminants of KANU.

The third reason is to end the domination of Kenyan politics by tribal arithmetic and alliances. Voting in Kenya is tribal. The main ethnic communities tend to vote as a block for the candidate from their tribe. Even where they vote for other candidates, their choice of alliance is mainly determined by their tribal interests. The two main alliances, Jubilee and CORD are tribal in nature as they bring together tribal groupings in order to counter their rivals in other tribal groupings.

The analysis above begs the question - who are the new political face of Kenya? These are candidates who have nothing to do with the two dominant families, KANU off springs and tribal alliances. Can we find such candidates, especially in the presidential race? Yes. Peter Kenneth, Raphael Tuju, Martha Karua and James Ole Kiyiapi. These are the true new political face of Kenya. The electorate ignore these new leaders at your own peril.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Interview on Forthcoming General Elections in Kenya

In a recent interview with the editor of African Press International TV Sammy Korir, the author of this blog talks on various issues touching on the forthcoming general elections in Kenya 4 March 2013:  Insecurity and terrorism, rule of law, integerity and leadership clause, ICC cases, corruption and coalition making among others.

Part 1


Part 2


Sunday, October 14, 2012

Leadership and Integrity Clause a Slippery Ground for All Seeking Public Office

The Big 4 Presidential Candidates 

Kenyan leadership and democracy may be becoming of age with the entrenchment of the Leadership and Integrity Clause in Chapter Six of the Constitution. The clause read together with Article 10 on National Values and Principles of Governance is a slippery ground for all seeking public office in the country’s leadership. It is quite difficult to see which of the current politicians, presidential candidates and other aspiring candidates for public office will remain standing when the clause is strictly applied. For now application of the clause may be urgent in determining whether the two presidential candidates facing trial in the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague, Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto should be in the presidential ballot papers in the next election or not.  Nonetheless, the determination will have wide ramifications for political ambitions of many aspiring candidates. Most will be left lying down seriously scathed politically.

Chief Justice Willy Mutunga’s reference to the decisions on integrity and leadership in cases of the Deputy Chief Justice Nancy Barasa and the appointment of Mumo Matemu as the Ethics and Anti Corruption Commission chairman is a subtle pointer of the judiciary thinking. In the circumstances, it may be a matter of time before the Supreme Court slams the doors shut on the ambitions of the two politicians and many other political aspirants. When the decision falls, jubilations among politicians will be short-lived as one politician falls after the other on the slippery ground.

Kenyatta and Ruto should seriously be preparing for the eventuality that they are blocked from contesting for presidency. Who will take the helm of leadership in their respective political parties if the clause is interpreted adversely against their ambitions? To a keen political observer of the Kenyan politics it may seem that Kenyatta is doing precisely that. The entry of a former self-declared presidential aspirant, Mutava Musymi into The National Alliance Party (TNA), at first as a presidential nominee contestant against Kenyatta, and later the withdrawal of his nomination candidacy in favor of Kenyatta, is telling. He could be the “Prince” in waiting under the wings of Kenyatta for the leadership of TNA in case the latter is incapacitated as a result of the ICC trial. In contrast, in Ruto’s United Republican Party  (URP) such leadership positioning is not clearly visible.

The other self-declared presidential candidates cannot rest comfortably in their political loins. For Musalia Mudavadi of United Democratic Front (UDF), the Goldenberg scandal may haunt his integrity. Raila Odinga may have skeletons hidden in his yet to be widely opened closet. The maize scandal, molasses deal, and nepotism and corruption allegations by Miguna Miguna may blemish his integrity.  After all Miguna Miguna might not be a mad man running away with Odinga’s clothes. Could Odinga be really naked? Stephen Kalozo Musyoka could also not be the clean man he projects himself to be. If his political career is closely examined unpleasant things may be unearthed. There is already allegation of land scandal involving the current Vice President.

When the Supreme Court gives its opinion on the leadership and integrity clause as requested by the Attorney General, not only Kenyatta and Ruto will be casualties, all political aspirants will be put on notice and they will have to fight for their political lives. The field will be set wide open for candidates who pass the integrity test while the old recycled politicians’ political careers may be prematurely terminated.

To the surprise of all, the next President of the Republic of Kenya may be a man or woman that Kenyans have not given much attention to until now.

Monday, September 10, 2012

No More Soft-Gloves on Corruption

Former Tourism Permanent Secretary Rebecca Nabutola (left) and former Kenya Tourism Board Managing Director Achieng Ongonga

Corruption may soon become a dangerous and risky pass-time for public officials and private business person engaged in corruption and money embezzlement. 

The conviction and sentencing of two former senior public officials, a permanent secretary, a tourism board managing director and a tourism board member and entrepreneur to jail terms of 4, 3 and 7 years respectively and hefty cash fines should be deterrent enough. The courts have started to bit and should do so often if corruption impunity is to be eradicated.

The action by the courts is something Kenyans have been waiting for, for a long time. Others with pending cases should take notice. "Corruption lords" in the public service should also take notice. This is not time to fight back. It is time for taking responsibility and accountability.

One does not fail to feel pity on the trio remembering that they also served in various capacities. However, the lesson is that "good work is always destroyed by one act of impropriety." There is a great honor in serving the country impeccably rather than ending in jail as a criminal. Public officials should henceforth choose the former.

Friday, August 03, 2012

Wishing Kenya Olympic Team 2012 All the Best

We would like to wish our Kenyan Olympic Team 2012 all the best in London. Bring back a host of medals. We also wish David Rudisha success in his attempt for a new world record in 800 metres. All Kenyans are behind you all. Do us proud.

It is refreshing to see our streets being used to celebrate and not a scenery of street demonstrations and politcal fights. You guys have reclaimed the Streets.

Hongera Wakenya!

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Looking Beyond Oil Discovery

Oil Well Field Turkana
The recent news of oil discovery in the arid Turkana area of Northern Kenya is really good news. The discovery rewards the long search for oil.  It also comes at a time when the country is geared for long term investment projects in areas of infrastructure including roads, railways, oil pipelines, cities, airports and seaports. The recently launched Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia Transport Project (Lapsset) is the largest infrastructure project to be undertaken in Eastern and Central Africa. The Lamu Port is expected to act as the main gateway to Africa's Great Lakes region that includes the Horn of Africa, eastern Africa and central Africa. The project will include the construction of a superhighway that will link Kenya and Ethiopia and the creation of an oil pipeline from Juba in South Sudan to Lamu. The discovery of the oil will benefit from this giant infrastructural construction linking Turkana to Lamu port.

Once the size of the catch is confirmed, it will be time to look beyond the discovery to the future of Kenya as an oil producing country. Oil discovery in Africa has become a curse rather than a blessing. Instead of using the oil resource for the benefit of the country and its people in order to alleviate poverty and raise standards of living, the political elite in cohort with multinational oil corporations have plundered the resource for their own benefit. In order to avoid this path of pillage, Kenyan authorities must look beyond the discovery and envisage a future of abundance and prosperity for all Kenyan people, including the local Turkana population.

Oil revenue management is the key to prosperity. This entails transparency and avoiding deals that undermine peoples’ authority to benefit from the resource. The authorities must strike favorable agreements on resource and revenue sharing between the people and the oil companies. They must ensure that most of the revenue from the sale of oil remain and benefit the country. In other words, the government should avoid greed and act fairly for the benefit of the people.

For good managed of the oil revenue, the government should look and emulate success stories from oil producing countries, especially Norway. When Norway discovered its first oil, it was among the poorest countries in Europe. Since then, it has wisely used the oil revenue to provide its citizens with the highest living standards in the World.

The secret is to use part of the oil revenue for social and economic development and the other part for investment and revenue generation through the Norwegian Oil Fund. The oil fund was founded in 1990, and formerly known as “The Petroleum Fund Norway” before it was named “The Government Pension Fund Global” in 2006. It is managed by Norges Bank Investment Management (NBIM), and subject to ethical guidelines laid down by the Petroleum Fund’s Advisory Council on Ethics. The aim of the fund was to ensure a sustainable use of the income from the petroleum sector.

The rationale for establishing the fund was that the return on financial assets was expected to be higher and less variable than the return on oil in the ground. The first payments into the fund were made in 1996, and from then on the fund has accumulated rapidly. In 2011, the fund was the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund overtaking the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA). It has nearly NOK 3,100 billion (roughly USD 570 billion) in the fund today.  The fund was set up to give the government room for maneuvering in fiscal policy should oil prices drop or the mainland economy contract. It also served as a tool to manage the financial challenges of an ageing population and an expected drop in petroleum revenue. The fund was designed to be invested for the long term, but in a way that made it possible to draw on when required.

Looking beyond oil discovery to transparent and sound oil revenue management is the only way to ensure that oil discovery becomes a blessing and not a curse.  It can be done, what is required is political will and a people oriented approach as the Norwegian case reveals.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Election Date: Kenyans Should Support Institutions not Individual Politicians

The announcement of general election date by the Independent Election and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has raised a lot of hue and cry from politicians. Those opposed to the date want to tell us that the IEBC is not independent. The Prime Minister Raila Odinga even attempted to trash the decision by the Court as illegal.  This is chilling as one recalls what happened after his insistence that the Courts were not independent in 2007/08 election conflict and therefore could not impartially arbitrate the dispute. This time round, Kenyans should support the decision made by the IEBC and the Courts and not what individual politicians guided by their political interests purport to say is the truth. Kenya can maintain peace only if the democratic institutions are given a chance to arbitrate legal issues politicians cannot agree upon.

The genesis of the current problem is the lack of agreement among the politicians on the date of the next general election. When the matter went to the courts, the constitutional court gave two scenarios. Firstly, it held that election can be within 60 days after the end of current parliament life 15 January 2013, and second, an earlier date upon agreement between the President and Prime Minister to dissolve the ruling coalition government. Immediately after the ruling the Prime Minister while he insinuated consultation could be held between him and the President publicly announced December 2012 as his preferred date. The President early this month came out publicly too and indicated that his preference is 2013 after the expiry of the life of the Parliament and in accordance with the ruling of the Constitutional Court.

Due to a lack of agreement between the two Principals, the dissolution of the coalition became moot. The intervention of the IEBC only gave operation to the decision of the Court. Reading malice and ill-motive in the actions of the IEBC is a recipe for chaos and politician should restrain themselves. The public too should not let political interests of politician lead the country into an emotional distrust of the country’s democratic institutions.

At the same time, this situation gives the electorate a golden opportunity to assess the leadership qualities of the politicians, especially, the aspiring presidential candidates. From their reactions to the issue at hand, one can clearly distinguish the level-headed rational and nationally out-looking ones from the wavering or 'watermelons' and the reckless firebrands who could ignite the country at any cost.  In the first category you find Musalia Mudavadi, Uhuru Kenyatta, Raphael Tuju, Mutava Musymi, George Saitoti, Eugene Wamalwa and Peter Kenneth. In the second category is the professional middle road man Kalonzo Musyoka and the last category Raila Odinga, William Ruto and Martha Karua.