Posted by: alpharwath | March 28, 2011

Challenges and Opportunities for County Forums

One of the most exciting things about the new constitution is Chapter 11 on devolved government which introduces 47 county governments. Initially calls for devolution were based on political and economic marginalization experienced by certain regions in the country; some continuously while some episodically, depending on their perceived political leaning. Thereafter there was broad political agreement that devolution was important but with differing viewpoints on the level of devolution and the extent of the fiscal power sharing between the national and devolved governments. The drafters of the constitution must be commended for devolution is captured across the constitution as per Kenyan’s views. The recently constituted Task Force on Devolution chaired by Moi University Lectrurer Dr. Mutakha Kangu has prepared a thorough guideline that they are currently using to discuss matters of governance, public service and financial management in all counties. Despite being complex, I trust that as the task force conducts its public hearings, it will break these guidelines down for the citizens to comprehend and respond adequately. Simplified materials for civic education on devolution should be developed from the Task Force’s reports.

Following the promulgation of the constitution, county forums bringing together multiple stakeholders to discuss development and governance issues have emerged. Most of these forums have websites or face book pages (Kiambu, Meru, Nyeri etc), have held consultative meetings (Bungoma, Isiolo, Kiambu, Baringo etc), launched strategic plans and even set up shadow county assemblies. Business people, professionals , religious leaders and public service employees are some of the competencies that have been brought together to contribute to these forums. However, in the majority of instances, urban based elites have firmly taken charge of the consultative process. The early involvement of rural based citizens will result in a powerful citizen’s engagement. Could this be the onset of issue based politics where voters can set the agenda and political candidates are evaluated against the same? A few counties, possibly due to the nature of the politics that their respective regions have experienced, have began grappling with key matters such as the “sharing” of county positions amongst different constituencies and clans to “protect minorities” (largely witnessed in Nyanza  and Rift Valley regions). The location of headquarters for each county will be straightforward for some and a tussle for others. Indeed, these are discussions that are best done early enough and dispensed with before the general election.

It will be interesting to observe and study whether the past political expression of the counties’ respective constituencies will influence the ability of these forums to convene freely to discuss their county matters and eventually, the governing and management of county affairs. Would regions that have elected civic and parliamentary candidates with little regard to their political parties (such as Central Kenya), convene and discuss their issues more freely than regions that have had a more homogeneous approach in their elections (such as Nyanza, Central – Eastern region)? Conversely would the politically homogenous regions experience fewer wrangles on county management than their heterogeneous counterparts?

 Several counties have key national public investments (Maasai Mara – Narok County; The Mombasa Port – Mombasa County; )and discussions on those investments that they will have control over should be held early enough to avert any conflict between national and county governments. The constitution provides for a phased transfer of functions from national to county governments within three years after the elections depending on the capacity that the counties have. If prior investments will be critical in determining the capacity levels of the counties, will the skewed development amongst counties result in an initial backlash against the central government when disbursements are made to those with capacity? Can the county forums take the cue and carry out a capacity assessment and capacity building strategy?

The Kenya Investment Authority (KIA) has graciously provided technical assistance to regional forums such as the Nyanza Economic Forum (2008), the Coast Province Investment Conference (2010) and the recently launched South Eastern Investment Conference (2011)). KIA would be best placed to lead a collaborative exercise to map the investment opportunities in the counties. Alongside any standard set out by statute, county governments should be able to explore diverse development models These questions notwithstanding, the bottom line is that the increased activity at the counties is an indication of the people’s desire to move from the centralized control of public affairs which many researchers cite as the cause of our governance problems. This is a grand opportunity for all counties to take advantage of their human, capital and natural resources to create investment opportunities that will spur economic growth.

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We continue with our historical perspectives building up to our thesis on whether we have a strengthened or a rogue parliament.

The 8th Parliament’s (1998 – 2002) reign was significant for the beginning of the autonomy of parliament from the dictatorial hands of the Executive that had reduced it to a rubber stamp over the years. Parliament enacted the Parliamentary Service Act of 2000 following a constitutional amendment in 1999. The Parliamentary Service Act made provision for the Parliamentary Service and for the establishment of the Parliamentary Service Commission that provides leadership and management to the Parliamentary Service employees[4]. Members of staff employed by the National Assembly were now employees of the Parliamentary Service and no longer answerable to the Civil Service.

The Local Government Transfer Fund Act 1998 was passed by the 8th Parliament. It provided for the Central government to supplement the revenue of local authorities across the country to run and manage certain local services, where the government provides funds to run constituency specific development projects, it being accepted that all the authorities revenue was inadequate. This act became a forerunner of the popular Constituency Development Fund (CDF), which has the same function.

Constitutional Reform debate began in earnest in the 1990s due to the level of dictatorship and the centralization of presidential power without any checks and balances. The numerous Constitutional amendments since 1963 eventually led to a weakened Parliament that had been emasculated by the Executive, a corrupt Judiciary, and gross violation of human rights.The Constitution of Kenya Review Act 2000 provided for the review of a new Kenya constitution. It set up a review Commission which oversaw the process, a Constituency Forum to collect the public’s vies and a National Constitutional Conferenc to debate and approve a final constitution.

Other notable milestones of the 8th Parliament included the acquisition of the County Hall and the Continental House buildings that are adjacent to the Main Parliament buildings, due to lack of operating space. The County Hall houses the offices of the Parliamentary Service Commission and also has a couple of committee rooms, staff offices and a large conference room. The Continental House was refurbished to house all MPs offices and includes a library, the research office, a member’s only health club, a restaurant, six committee rooms, a bookshop, a post office and extra parking[5].

The first coalition government was formed during the life of the 8th Parliament when NDP merged with KANU on March 18th 2002. The now defunct NDP members later resigned from Government to protest at the President Moi’s choice of Hon. Uhuru Kenyatta as the best presidential candidate to succeed him as he was serving his last term. President Moi later retired as MP for Baringo Central and made history as the longest serving Member of Parliament having served for 47 years.

The 8th Parliament played a significant role in institutionalizing the fight against corruption as well as in rejecting legislation they thought would not contribute to the fight against corruption. In December 1997, the Kenya Anti-Corruption Authority (KACA) was established following an amendment to The Prevention of Corruption Act Cap 65, Laws of Kenya. After a short while its first Director was dismissed for alleged incompetence.  Thereafter the entire Advisory Board resigned. KACA was reconstituted in 1999 with the appointment of a new Director and a new Advisory Board. On the 22nd December, 2000 the High Court of Kenya in a controversial decision ruled that the provisions establishing KACA under the Prevention of Corruption Act and especially those giving KACA the powers to investigate and prosecute cases were unconstitutional. Following the High Court ruling, the Government published the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill No-2 2001 which was intended to entrench KACA in the Constitution.  The Bill was rejected by Parliament.  Following the defeat of the Bill, the President directed that the Anti-Corruption Police Unit be established.

Related to anti-corruption was the tabling of the “List of Shame”. In 1998, Hon. Musikari Kombo chaired a Parliamentary Committee that produced a report known as the “Kombo Report” the appendix to which was the even more famously known “List of Shame”. The Kombo report borrowed heavily from the Public Accounts Committee and public Investments Committee Reports. The List of Shame read like a who-is-who in the government circles or linked to the government ministers and MPs. The eighth parliament, thanks to the combined strength of both Kanu and NDP legislators, opted to delete the list of shame from the report. When it was time to vote, most MPs either absented themselves or abstained from voting. The voting process was acrimonious with fistfights, accusations and name-calling.

View from the peaker's gallery

View from the peaker's gallery

The 9th Parliament was ushered in after the overwhelming victory of the NARC political coalition in the December 2002 elections. NARC came into power and Kenyans were polled by Gallup and described as the most optimistic people in the world due to the high expectations they placed on the new government. Indeed the new government began their work with earnest by implementing their promise of providing Free Primary Education, improving safety on the road by implementing traffic rules, setting up commissions of inquiry to look into mega scandals that had resulted in looting of funds and other violations of human rights, creating new ministries, commissions and offices such as the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs and the Office of the Permanent Secretary in charge of Governance and Ethics, promising a new constitution within 100 days.

Parliament’s first order of business was to increase their salaries and emoluments. The National Assembly Remuneration (Amendment) Act 2003 was enacted in April 2003 and given retrospective effect back to January 2003. It provided for the payment of enhanced salaries to members, housing, sitting and travel allowances, making of grants for vehicle purchases, obtaining of housing mortgages and other generous packages. This did not go down well with the public and continues to be condemned by the media.

One good piece of legislation that the 9th Parliament will be remembered for is The Constituency Development Fund Act 2003. This was an act of Parliament, which started as a private member’s bill proposed by Hon Muriuki Karue, the MP for Ol’Kalou provided that 2.5% of government revenue, which was collected, annually should be allocated to the 210 constituencies to be used on development projects. No enforceable guidelines on the application of the funds were established and the MP-led CDF committees, in many constituencies, have been accused of applying the funds on unworthy or partisan causes. The concept has turned out to be popular with the people as a replacement to “Harambees” (Public Collections) which had become a vehicle of corruption by leading politicians. A quick glance at the projects funded by Harambees and by CDF shows that the needs remain the same. These are Education, Health, Water and Infrastructure.

This parliament also passed crucial anti-corruption legislation including the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act 2003 and the Public Officer Ethics Act 2003. The Privatization Act 2005[6] is another important piece of legislation passed by the 9th Parliament.

A key activity that took up the bulk of Parliament’s energy between 2003 and 2005 was the Constitutional Review Process. Following the enactment of the Constitution of Kenya Review Act 2000, the Review Commission began collecting Kenyans views in 2001 and had come up with a draft constitution by October 2002. They then convened a National Constitutional Conference where all MPs were members and formed a third of all delegates. The President dissolved Parliament in accordance to the Constitution and in readiness for the General election. The Conference was suspended and only reconvened the following year at the beginning the NARC government’s administration.

The political divisions within the coalitions over what the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) termed as broken promises by its National Alliance Party of Kenya partner (NAK) were escalating and had crept into the Constitutional Conference. Each faction disagreed on key constitutional issues including the composition and organization of Executive power[7] and on devolution[8]. The NAK faction withdrew from the Constitutional Conference while LDP stayed on.

A case filed by a section of the civil society obtained a court decision declaring sections of the Constitution of Kenya Review Act unconstitutional and ruling that the National Constitutional Conference was not a constituent assembly. As a result, the Draft Constitution prepared by the Conference could neither be received by Parliament nor submitted to referendum. The government initiated a series of consultations, the consensus talks, to iron out the contentious issues and agree a new draft. After many false starts, these talks culminated in the Draft Constitution due for a referendum vote on the 21st of November, 2005. LDP ran a national campaign against this draft, complete with the formation of a movement together with KANU dubbed the “Orange Democratic Movement”. Other interest groups like the Church and the Islamic Community had their own issues and also ran campaigns against the draft. There was a 54% voter turn out. 56.6% voted against the draft while 42.3% voted for it.

The divisions within government ran deep and President Kibaki dissolved the Cabinet after the referendum. He later sacked all the ministers allied to LDP and replaced them with Government friendly MPs.

Next post will look at the run up to the 2007 election and the the post election parliament

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[4] The Parliamentary Service Commission comprises three appointed and seven elected Members of Parliament: The Speaker as Chair, the Leader of Government Business and the Leader of the Official Opposition are the three appointed members. The ruling party has four out of the seven slots reserved for the elected members.

[5] The Main Parliament Building’s entrance was refurbished to accommodate the first MP on a wheel chair, Hon. Sammy Leshore, who was paralyzed by an assassin’s bullet.

[6] The Safaricom Initial Public Offer has brought to the fore the two year delay by the Treasury in operationalizing the Act. The Speaker of the National Assembly has instructed the Treasury to immediately embark on this, which starts with the creation of the Privatization Commission which oversees divestiture of public corporations in the country. Barely 24 hours after this directive, the Treasury contracted a Human Resource firm to recruit a Chief Executive for the Commission while it continued to open bids for Legal and Transaction Advisors for what is billed to be the biggest IPO in the country. (These events to place on the week of 20th – 24th August 2007.)

[7] LDP preferred a Parliamentary system with the President as the Head of State and the Prime minister as the Head of Government. NAK preferred a presidential system where the President was both Head of State and Government while the Prime Minister was the Leader of Government Business in Parliament.

[8] LDP preferred a system of devolution with multiple tires of government that had constitutional powers. NAK wanted a two-tier government, national and local, and promised to give the local unity some autonomy but the central government would still retain a lot of its current powers.

The gates of the Kenya Parliament

The gates of the Kenya Parliament

The Kenya Parliament has indeed come a long way. Let’s take a walk down history to see where the Kenya Parliament has come from.

The 1st Parliament (1963 – 1969) operated under a dejure multi-party regime until the President banned the opposition party, the Kenya People’s Union formed by the dissenting former first Vice-President, Hon. Jaramogi Oginga Odinga. The 1969 general election was also the first election since independence. The Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Act 1966 came into operation in June 1966 and legalized detention without trial, which was previously prohibited under the Constitution.  During this parliament, the treaty for the East African Community Act 1967 was signed, establishing the East African Community and joint services such as Railways, Ports and Habours, Airways, Court of Appeal, amongst others.

The 2nd Parliament (1969 – 1974) was priviledged to have the first woman elected into the House[1]. During this parliament, the University of Nairobi Act was passed, establishing the University of Nairobi as a public university and delinking it from the University of East Africa, tri-partite system that included Makerere University in Uganda and University of Dar-es-Salaam. The unfortunate and unresolved murders of Hon. Tom. J. Mboya and Hon. J.M. Kariuki occured during this period.

The 3rd Parliament (1974-1979) was sworn in after the second general election which saw three women elected to Parliament including Mrs. Grace Onyango who was now serving her second term. The 3rd Parliament was also the time the founding father and 1st President of the country, His Excellency President Jomo Kenyatta passed on in August 1978. He was succeeded by Hon. Daniel Arap Moi who was his vice-president. The Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) (No 2) Act 1975 was introduced in 1975, to empower the President to reprieve anybody who had committed an election offence, which disqualified him, under the Election Offences Act, from standing to be elected in the subsequent elections. The amendment was specifically aimed at empowering the President to reprieve the late Paul Ngei who had been convicted of committing an election offence. Ngei was duly pardoned in 1975 and stood in the subsequent bye-election in Kangundo and won.

ODM leadership in the House

ODM leadership in the House

The 4th Parliament (1979 – 1983) set a landmark in the political history of the country by amending the constitution to enact the one party dejure status. This occured against the backdrop of the attempted coup. It also saw the first election of Kenyans of European and Asian origin into the House.

The 5th Parliament (1983 – 1988) saw a reduction in elected female representatives. Significant electoral events happened during this parliament: The infamous KANU nominations in 1986 and the Queue Voting system during the 1988 General Elections that was riddled with irregularities apart from being an irregularity in itself.

The 6th Parliament (1988 – 1992) saw an increase in the number of parliamentary seats to 188 elected members, 12 nominated members and 2 ex-officio members totaling to 202 members. This was the first increase since 1966 to accommodate the senators during the transition from bicameral to a unicameral National Assembly. The 1992 elections at the end of the life of the 6th Parliament were the first multi-party elections and ushered in the second multi-party parliament since independence. The Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Act 1992 made provisions on how to elect the President during a General Election. A winner in the first round was required to receive “…a greater number of valid votes cast in the Presidential election than any other candidates for President and also in addition receive a minimum of 25% of the valid votes cast in at least 5 of the 8 Provinces.” If there was no such a winner, a run-off was required. During the second round, only the top two could run and, a simple majority of votes was required to decide the winner. The Hon. Dr. Robert J. Ouko was murdered in 1990 and upto date, this case has never been resolved.

View of the House from the right of the Speaker's throne

View of the House from the right of the Speaker's throne

The 7th Parliament (1993 – 1997) had 7 political parties represented in the House namely KANU (ruling party), FORD-Kenya (official opposition party), FORD-Asili, Democratic Party of Kenya (DP), Kenya National Congress (KNC), Party of Independent Candidates of Kenya (PICK) and the National Democratic Party (NDP)[2]. The 7th Parliament was characterized by numerous defections and had the highest number of by-elections ever recorded (14)[3]. As a result, the official opposition party changed form FORD-Kenya to FORD-Asili. Other key milestones of the 7th Parliament include the review of the Standing Orders whereby four new standing orders were created, ten were modified and one was deleted. The pro-reform members of the opposition made it difficult for the Minister of Finance to read the Budget speech as they waved placards reading “No Reforms, No elections” and “No Reforms, No Budget” to press for reforms that would make the electoral field level.

The clamour for reforms resulted in The Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Act 1997 coming into force to put into effect the Inter- Party Political Parties Group (IPPG) discussions, which provided for certain political and legal reforms. These changes allowed other political players on the political scenes to participate in making certain appointments. Section 33 of the Constitution was amended to allow the parliamentary parties to nominate, in proportion to their popular support, the 12 nominated members of Parliament and also councillors in Local authorities. The amendment also increased the number of Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK) Commissioners from 4 to 21.


[1] Mrs. Grace Onyango had previously been elected as the first female Mayor in East Africa in 1965 when she was elected the Mayor of Kisumu.

[2] President Moi was the Chairman of KANU. FORD-Kenya was headed by the late Jaramogi Oginga Odinga and later by the late Michael Kijana Wamalwa following Jaramogi’s death. FORD-Asili was headed by Hon. Kenneth Matiba, DP by Hon. Mwai Kibaki, KNC by Hon. Gerald Ndwiga, PICK by Hon. Harun Mwau and NDP by Hon. Raila Odinga. Hon. Raila unsuccessfully tried to become Chairman of FORD-Kenya but failed and defected to NDP. He resigned from his parliamentary seat in accordance with the law and later won the by-election to retain it.

[3] Some of the by-elections were occasioned by death.

Posted by: alpharwath | October 15, 2008

Nairobi Java Coffee House – 9 facts

 

 

Nairobi Java House was rated no. 30 in the just concluded Nation Media Group/KPMG/Steadman Research survey resulting in the Top 100 Mid Sized Companies . And last week Friday, I (accidentally) broke my boycott and limped to Java Adams for lunch with wife. I’m sure the rest who boycotted had resumed long before me. The boycott was pending the outcome of a court case against one of the directors for “grossly breaking the law”!

 

Anyway, the feature on Java in today’s Business Daily newspaper is quite interesting. Nine things I have gleaned from this feature about Java are:

 

1.    The Java Brand name has grown without an advertising budget.

2.    The name “Java” is form a place in Indonesia where Americans used to import the bulk of its coffee.

3.    “It was harder to grow from one branch to three branches, than it has been to grow from three branches to ten” – Kevin Ashley, CEO.

4.    Java serves more than 6,000 customers daily. Assuming they spend an average of Kshs.500 each, that’s about Kshs.3m per day! (Kshs.3m in perspective is the price of a good , new Benz, a three bedroomed apartment in Thika, and Nairobi Chapel’s average monthly tithes and offering!)

5.    Java raised its employees’ salaries this year when others were laying off staff in the hospitality industry.

6.    Java contributes Kshs.125m in direct and indirect taxes.

7.    Java is considering listing in the Nairobi Stock Exchange.

8.    Java has some of Kenya’s leading industry captains on its board.

9.    Java recently acquired  the luxury bar and restaurant, Mercury Lounge at ABC Place.

 

The Nairobi Java House also has 9 outlets with one more scheduled to open at Sarit Centre in December

 

1.    Yaya Centre.

2.    The Junction.

3.    Mama Ngina Street.

4.    Koinange Street.

5.    Gigiri.

6.    ABC Place.

7.    Adams Aracade.

8.    JKIA

9. Upper Hill medical Centre.

 

Clearly, I jave separated the man, his sins and his coffee house.

 

 

Posted by: alpharwath | October 5, 2008

Surviving a road accident….and living to tell

September 19th began like any other day: Preparing for work with my wife and dashing out at 7a.m to beat the morning jam. We take a matatu to town and another to Westlands where we both work. What had I planned to do that Friday? Go for Anne Ofula’s burial (her husband Raymond is a good friend and I had grieved with him on the loss of his wife of 32 years) and prepare my hand over notes as I was leaving for Denmark the following day (my ticket and visa were ready). When we were in the matatu to Westlands, we discussed some of these things. Just after Consolata church the matatu breaks failed. I recall holding the handle above the door (we were both seated in front) since I was not belted up and for the next few seconds, watched what the driver was going to do. We were fast approaching traffic that had stopped ahead at the round about. The driver swerved to the right and rammed very hard to a stationary Nissan van ahead. He swerved to save himself, and we were the sacrificial lambs – the impact was hard and on our side.

The windscreen shattered infront of us but forward and outwards. That was the first miracle. Second miracle was that we were not flung out despite the impact. Our legs took in the impact and were temporarily trapped. I had excruciating pain and could only scream out loud for help as the rest of the passengers quickly ran out, unhurt. Meanwhile my wife, in anger, hit the driver several times while he retorted back that “this happens”. We were freed from the mangled wreckage and placed on the side of the road with Kenyans crowding aorund us, as usual. At this time my ankle and my knee were swollen and paining and numb and I was sure that I had a fracture. We called our offices and informed them of the accident.

A very good Samaritan who identified herself as Mama Muthoni quickly demonstrated leadership and took control of the situation. She encouraged us that all will be fine, mobilized money and got a cab to take us to the hospital. Mama Muthoni later told us when she visited us in hospital that she was on her way to town when the accident occured and she got off just to come and assist. She calls it her “full time vocatuon/ministry” and we believe God sent her to us.

The matatu conductor accompanied us to the hospital. My wife was injured and in pain but less than I was. While I was groaning in pain, she was able to muster strength to direct the cab, encourage me, and blast the Nairobi Hospital staff who took 15 minutes before deciding to take us in. Once in hospital, and once the doctors got the call from our offices and determined how payment would be made (welcome to Kenyan health sector), we were attended to. Tetanus and pain killer injections but no one dressed the wounds/cuts…till today!

We sustained soft tissue injuries and I had a tear on my knee ligaments. We were admitted for 3 nights…3 nights of taking blood pressure and temperature; 3 nights of taking pain killer tabs; 3 nights of watching tv (we managed to get a private room together); 3 nights of receiving visitors ; 3 nights of eating;(we have since been thanking God for those of our friends who visited with us at the hospital and those who have come home to check on us, cook for us, etc. We feel safe and secure in the hands of the friends we are blessed with). When the doctor dared make a suggestion that we spend one more night for observation, I almost walked!

We came back home and have slowly been recovering. I’m on crutches  and my wife has been taking extremely good care of me despite her own pain. I am glad I married her. She is a jewel.

Special thanks to our parents and family, our friends – very many of them who called, visited and later offered assistance at home but would like to mention a few – Our respective immediate families mums, dad and sisters; Mr. and Mrs. Chris Odongo; Mr. and Mrs. Martin Azenga;Pastor and Mrs. Kyama Mugambi; Pastor Gowi Odera; Mrs.Veronica Wachanga ;Jennifer Githae; Isaac Mutua; Esther Mutua; Mama Muthoni; Deborah Ross; Juliet Muthami; Waithera Kibinda;Mr. and Mrs. Paul Seko; Mr. and Mrs. Francis Kimaru; Mr. and Mrs. Joshua Kikuvi; Mr. and Mrs. Martin Ngacha;Mr. and Mrs. Ronald Osumba; Raymond Ofula (who visited a day after burying his wife) and our church i-group (David Kuria; Karimi Rimbui; Judy Gitau; Veronica Wachanga;Nick Owuor;Mark Kioko). More than 3 times this number of people visited and called and we are grateful to each and everyone of them.

Well, if God deems it fit that we continue living, who are we not to thank him for an opportunity to live out our pupose on earth? Many called this period of recovery “our second honeymoon – 5 months after the 1st” and yes you could say it was because we have grown close to each other during this period and closer to God together.

Finally the Subaru is at the port but is this the answer to the issues?

Posted by: alpharwath | October 5, 2008

I’m back – what I missed the most!

My goodness, its been like 2 months since I blogged. My constant source of internet was unreliable and I gave up on it. Now I have done something about it and hopefully I should join the blogosphere in analyzing our daily affairs. In those two months I have had a very busy time plus been in a road accident that has currently put me off work until mid-October.

Feel realy bad that I can’t really blog now on some crucial issues that have passed, like:

Obama-McCain debate and Palin-Joe Biden debate: I’m unashamadely democrat and have supported the Dem’s since the days of Bill Clinton. McCain was quite condescending towards Obama and Obama was quite respectful. Mc Cain and Obama both displayed extensive knowlegde on the issues. Sarah Palin shocked us all with an above average performance and she did keep her head up. Republican advisors must have really coached her. I think she performed quite well on all issues except (and ofcourse) Foreign Policy. Joe Biden was quite respectful towards her and also displayed his immense knowledge and experience on foreign policy matters – heck, he is the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. If Obama-Biden lose,I will be in shock.

National Youth Convention IV – Took place on September 19th and 20th and was graced by His Excellency the Right Hon. Prime MInister as well as the MInister of Justice. The convention brought over 1,000 youth from all over the country and crucial resolutions were made for major interventions into public policy. The event was supported by the National Response Initiative and MARS Group Kenya amongst others. The implementation of the resolutions as well as the transition of leadership in the youth movement are eagerly awaited for by the young people of Kenya . There is impetus to re-direct youth energies towards crucial economic issues such as employment, poverty, corruption, business etc alongside the hard core political issues.

The dynamic Kenyan politics – ODM revolt by Rift Valley MPs and other internal wrangles, Martha Karua’s presidential campaign, the still-born PNU membership drive, the Cockar Commission, the Kriegler Commission, the Waki Commission etc. Ofcourse, I will be commenting on more current issues both under the aforementioned topics and others.

International Politics –  SA politics (Jacob Zuma is really flexing his muscles as ANC Chairman but SA still want Mbeki to mediate the Zimbabwe crisis), Zimbabwe deadlock – after saying that they would not want to beocme like Kenya, Zimbabwe had a sham election, Mugabe was declared president and sowrn in, a grey headed African statesman helped them negotiate a coalition government and now Mugabe and Tsvangirai can’t agree on some cabinet ministries-they still don’t want to become like Kenya? Kenya moved on. We can only urge Zimbabwe to catch up!; US Economic Crisis – only hope that this shifts the world power to another country and teaches American’s to vote wisely next time; UN General Assembly.

Church/Faith issues – NCCK’s General Assembly,PCEA wrangles, Mavuno’s out-of-the-box marketing,Ray Boltz….

I’m back.

Posted by: alpharwath | July 18, 2008

Police lead in Kenya Bribery Index

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Transparency International – Kenya chapter released their annual Kenya Bribery Index 2008 at 10:30a.m. local time. This was the first bribery index to be released under the leadership of the new Executive Director, Job Ogonda, formerly in charge of the East and Southern Africa Desk at the TI headquarters in Berlin. It was also the first bribery index to be done by a different research advisor/consultant. Dr. Tom Wolf is now the new TI-Kenya Research Advisor taking over from Dr. David Ndii, who slowly withdrew his association with TI-Kenya following a series of events that dented the organization’s image including the forced resignation of its most visible Executive Director, Gladwell Otieno and the sacking of her successor, Mwalimu Mati by an over-enthusiastic board. Gladwell and Mwalimu are now running well funded outfits, AFRICOG and MARS Group, respectively. Within the secretariat, credible staff also left and though a few have remained, some continue to hold strings to the old board and to old thinking.

Away from the politics of the organization, the Police were top on the list of the Bribery Index. This faulty methodology of the bribery index will always produce the police at the top because they have the highest interaction with the public and no institution will dislodge them from this priviledge. Usual suspects on the Bribery Index list include the Local Authorities/Ministry of Local Government (the immediate former minister who is also the Deputy Prime MInister is under fire for disregarding the ECK’s list of nominated Councillors), Minsitry of Lands (already embroiled in the Grand Regency Saga), Ministry of Immigration (the minister is currently under fire for giving work permits to undeserving foreigners), the Provincial Administration, the Nairobi City Council and the MInistry of Health. The study was carried out between April 25th and May 4th, too early for Kenyans to demarcate their interaction with public offices and minsitries according to the new bloated Grand Coalition government.

The Bribery Index is slowly losing its flavour. Whereas in the days of John Githongo and Gladwel Otieno, it used to make the newspaper headlines, it no longer does so today. It’s on page 2 of Nation and page 18 of the Business Daily.

Reliable sources inform me that the police stopped caring anymore about their ranking on the Bribery Index and have consistently snubbed TI-Kenya’s overtures to undertake joint ethics reform because the Central Bureau of Statistics have enlightened them about the faulty bribery index methodology.

TI-Kenya is still parading the successes of its former strong workforce under Gladwell Otieno and Mwalimu Mati including ground-breaking and highly successful post Bribery Index institutional integrity studies with the Teacher’s Service Commission, the Kenya Commercial Bank and the Nairobi Water Company. The Kenya Commercial Bank’s head of the Ethics and Integrity Division attended the launch and made a presentation. The workforce under Gladwell and Mwalimu are all employed by leading international agencies including CHF International, PKF International, VSO International, UNDP, UN Arusha Tribunal and the Danish Embassy.

Though nothing was done under Lisa’s two year tenure as Acting Executive Director , she still remains a pillar of strength and bridge between the old TI and the new TI. All eyes are on the new Executive Director, Job Ogonda.

Posted by: alpharwath | July 15, 2008

Mourning Reinhard Fabisch

 

As I was having a late breakfast this morning (7a.m.), I was astounded by the news that the former Kenya National Football Team Coach,Harambee Stars, Reinhard Fabisch, died of cancer. He was 58. Fabisch also coached the National Teams of Zimbabawe, Unite Arab Emirates and recently, Benin, in the Africa Cup of Nations where he was accused of match fixing.

I was young when he first coached Kenya but I had already taken a keen interest in local football since my dad was a major fan who never missed going to the stadium. Fabisch coached a highly successful Kenya team that reached the final of the 4th All Africa Games which were being hosted by Kenya. Apart from being CECAFA Champions five times, The Kenya team has not had other successful runs before or after that, including not ever qualifying for the World Cup or going past the second round of the Africa Cup of Nations. The current team, though, offers a glimmer of hope.

Fabisch 1987 team boasted the skills of captain Austin “Makamu” Oduor, Abbass Khamis Magongo “Zamalek”, arguably the best player ever produced by Kenya, Wilberforce Mulamba, Sammy Onyango “Jogoo” amongst others. Gor Mahia then, produced the bulk of the National Team players. Today, Gor Mahia is a pale shadow of its former glory, and its place has been taken by youthful teams like Matahre United and experienced and well resourced teams like Tusker FC.

Fabisch ,like many other coaches of Harambee Stars, had his brushes with the ever-corrupt Kenya Football Federation.

Kenya still longs for a coach we used to sing and chant about ,”Fabisch for President”.

May God rest his soul in eternal peace.

Posted by: alpharwath | July 15, 2008

The Politics of the Grand Regency Hotel

 

 

 

                   

It is late in the day to make any meaningful comment of the Grand Regency Saga that cost the Finance Minister his job and his credibility. Questions abound as to who the real faces behind Amos Kimunya are with some analysts saying the President could be a/the beneficiary. We await what (another! sigh!) Commission of Inquiry will recommend as we also wait for the implementation of 10 other Commission of Inquiry reports. Meanwhile the heat is being turned on the Central Bank Governor, the Attorney General and the Ministry of Lands.

It’s been reported that the Lybians funded the PNU campaign to the tune of Kshs. 5 billion. For a political party that was cobbled up three months before the elections ,it was understandable that a quick source of funds was required to match the long term fund raising their arch-rivals, ODM, had engaged in. No wonder PNU’s spending was astronomical and reports of those who had access to the funds displaying exponential increase in wealth and lavish living.

ODM could have easily take the cue and used this opportunity to bring down Amos Kimunya in their quest to frustrate the PNU. It can be posited that they won this battle. But the war ahead is bigger. Otieno Kajwang, the Immigration Minister is under fire for giving work permits to welders and foremen, jobs that can be done by Kenyans according to his Permanent Secretary who doubles up as his chief Technical Advisor. But Kajwang’s case may not be big. The minister who should watch out is William Ruto. He is the most exposed ODM minister….exposed in that the unconfirmed allegations as to the extent of his involvement in the post-election violence in Rift Valley, still hovers around him. PNU may be sharpening their knives to make a stab at him. The stature of KImunya can only be matched by William Ruto. Both are second tier leaders in their respective parties after the top tier of the President and his Deputy, and the Prime Minister and his two deputies.

 Amos Kimunya, former Kenya Finance Minister

Martha Karua, PNU’s most brilliant mind and defender, did not stand by Kimunya. Martha is relatively clean in Kenyan politics and following her declaration to succeed Kibaki as the 4th President of Kenya, she may want to steer clear of any tainted individuals. Central Province succession politics will pit those who have illegally acquired their wealth (Uhuru etc) with those who have worked for the little they have (Martha etc).

 

The Finance MInister in Kenya has immense powers in managing the Exchequer. Virtually everyone who has been Finance MInister has put his hand in the till. I do not expect an end to corruption in the ministry. In fact, with Kibaki’s cronies (Transcentury et al) facing only four more years to increase and consolidate their wealth, the next Finance MInister can only be someone “friendly” to their cause. That’s why John Michuki is acting as we await the final confirmation of who will be minister. Since it is important , nay, unavoidable,that Kenya has a Finance Minister at any given time, top contenders for this seat include Peter Kenneth, former Assistant MInister for Finance and some good credentials with related tasks (except KFF) or John Michuki himself. In the spirit of portfolio balance, it will be PNU’s call to nominate for this office. It may also remain in Central Province.

Parliament is truly asserting its role and playing watchdog on behalf of Kenyans quite well. But some loop holes emerged even as they hounded Kimunya out of office. Parliament should have tasked the Parliamentary Committee on Finance to quickly carry out an audit and use this report to nail Kimunya. The Public Accounts Committee under Uhuru’s Chairmanship in 2006 did a brilliant report on the Artur brothers assisted by some of the most brilliant legal minds in the country.

Some of the members of the watchdog committees are the most tainted MPs in history. George Thuo is a member of the Parliamentary Accounts Committee. He joined Palriament against the backdrop of running down the Kenya Bus Service. Cyrus Jirongo, Ephraim Maina and Sammy Mwaita are members of the Public Investments Committee but don’t be shocked if they are adversely mentioned in their own committee reports. Cyrus was a master swindler in the 90’s after his Youth for Kanu ’92 tenure and construction projects where he conned the NSSF; Ephraim Maina of KIrinyaga Construction has reportedly carried out shoddy work and canvassed for jobs through his links; Sammy Mwaita was a former Commissioner of Lands where he approved irregularly on many occassions. Parliament is about to approve the new Standing Orders. I hope one of the recommendations will be to bar tainted MPs from sitting in Parliamentary Committees.

Posted by: alpharwath | June 25, 2008

Alpha Rwath is reloaded!

My goodness me. It’s been over a year when I last blogged and ran into “technical hitches”. I definitely missed out on some of the most important events taking place in the world, top on the list being my mother land’s dramatic election and post election issues (Kenya). I still maintain my strong inclination to the meeting point of faith, politics, public policy and culture and promise to give it my best in commentaries likenever seen before. It’s good to be back. So what do we talk about?

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