The law is an ass, so the saying goes.
Its origin is found in Oliver Twist, the novel by Charles Dickens. Mr. Bumble, when wrongly accused of being complicit in theft by his wife, he uttered the following words: “The law is an ass – an idiot. If that’s the eye of the law, the law is a bachelor; and the worst I wish the law is, that his eye may be opened by experience – by experience.”
In layman’s terms, any law that does not engender justice or is open to abuse is largely considered being an ass – a donkey in archaic English – and hence the need for review.
The same phrase applies to Kenya in two ways. The first is to the category of ordinary people imprisoned on trumped-up charges. The second group of people it applies to is criminal politicians.
Hence, the clearance of former Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu by the Registrar of Political Parties to vie in the by-election of Nairobi governorship was misinformed and illegal.
This is a man who had been impeached as Governor in Kiambu County for abuse of office and faces criminal charges in a court of law. He is now attempting to lead the capital city!
Prima facie evidence suggests he is a man of impaired credibility for having been found by Parliament – no less – as not fit to lead! In this case, any organization that deals with him or other leaders with integrity issues (particularly Government institutions), need to apply common sense.
It should not be the work of the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) alone, but individual Kenyans, the Registrar of Political Parties included, and all other entities to disbar such individuals.
A situation that mirrors Waititu’s is that of John Waluke. Here is an MP for Sirisia, who was confirmed a convict by a court of law. This means Parliament should have declared his seat vacant and called for a by-election from the moment his sentence for 67 years was passed.
But it has instead allowed for him to continue drawing a salary as an MP despite being found guilty of corruption in the NCPB maize scandal.
His appeal is completely irrelevant at this juncture. As things stand, he has lost the mandate of being an MP. Breach of Chapter Six of the Constitution, on integrity, is sufficient to trigger a recall of an MP.
Parliament has the right to make laws but not to stand by a breach of the law. It should be much more reactive to breaches than any other institution in order to give credence to the laws it enacts but alas!
Without institutions like Parliament being at the forefront of determining the law for what it is and not what it ought to be to criminal leaders, we shall never rescue this country from the clutches of cartels. Why did Parliament bother to enact Chapter Six of the Constitution if it does not believe in its spirit?
Determination of culpability and integrity is as much a matter of common sense as it is of law. Avoidance of common sense in the administration of justice has seen those in positions of authority get away with murder – literally. Despite the court’s decision that leaders charged with corruption and other heinous crimes step aside to facilitate investigations, some political parties are yet to ask them to do so.
I wonder why the Governor of Migori, Okoth Obado, who, with most of his family face serious criminal charges, continues to be considered a leader? His Samburu colleague Moses Lenolkulal is carrying on as he battles corruption charges in court.
Parliament and IEBC have gone against the decision of both EACC and DCI on vetting and caused appointment and election of individuals who later turned out not fit to lead. The likes of Waititu and his fellow impeached Governor, Mike Sonko of Nairobi, should never have led any institution had IEBC and Parliament followed initial concerns raised on both individuals’ suitability to lead.
Parliament, and political parties, are not exempt from Chapter Six of the Constitution. They are refusing to destroy impunity for no other reason but subterfuge.
Kenya legitimizes leaders’ criminality like no other society does. Warped laws that our political class stand by and are acquiesced to by some rogue lawyers who are perpetuating impunity. A man with blood on his hands is allowed to roam freely because the law is an ass, indeed a fallacy that only a rotten society can condone.
Somebody who plotted to steal billions of shillings from the public and abuse his office is both legally and politically punished. Which leaves his character in ruins. Such an individual has lost credibility and the right to represent honorable citizens.
The suggestion, on made-up technicalities in the law, by some lawyers that leaders charged with corruption, murder or rape should not step aside makes corruption and other crimes worse. Just like pregnancy and madness, integrity deficiency can be discerned by reasonable men and women. It is not a preserve of lawyers.
The law may be an ass but is not completely devoid of common sense when it comes to integrity.
The Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) has significant benefits for the youth of Kenya. Apart from the establishment of a Youth Commission among other direct benefits, BBI also opens up significant economic opportunities for young Kenyans most notably in agriculture.
Indeed, one of the key concerns voiced during the BBI consultative forums as captured in the report is the need for the State to do more in terms of reviving and growing grassroots agricultural, livestock, and industrial sectors as a way of eradicating poverty and propelling economic growth.
Specifically, many Kenyans especially in the rural areas, expressed the view that economic and development activities at the devolved/local level would be greatly boosted by rejuvenating various agriculture sub-sectors, promoting commercial livestock farming while supporting the growth of cottage industries.
Since 65 percent of Kenya’s population lives in rural areas, of whom 70 percent depend directly on agriculture, the latter provides a vital pathway to food security, employment generation, value addition, and ultimately, poverty alleviation.
Kenya is a very youthful country. About 75 percent of the population is aged between 18 and 35 years. This means youth have the largest stake in the country’s prosperity. In short, if the country prospers, the youth also prosper. Yet, the country has a growing youth bulge and unemployment is highest among this segment of the population.
Since agriculture accounts for 33 percent of Kenya’s GDP, the sector is a potentially powerful platform for creating gainful employment and income opportunities for our youth. Notably, the Kenya Youth Agribusiness Strategy 2017-2021 seeks to position youth at the forefront of agricultural growth and transformation.
On its part, BBI envisages sweeping reforms in the agriculture sector which will unlock opportunities for youth participation.
The main proposals are: improving access to land for agricultural production by allocating leases in settlement schemes; strengthening agricultural and livestock genetic resources; adopting of technology to increase productivity; expansion of agricultural and livestock extension and advisory services; improving market linkages for farmers; providing financial support; and fighting corruption in the sector.
All these proposals fall under the ‘Shared Prosperity’ pillar of BBI anchored on an economic revolution leading to a high-employment, high-productivity, value creation, and export economy.
The youth need to pay special attention to these BBI proposals as they directly and positively impact them. One, on the allocation of leases in settlement schemes, the move is aimed at enabling easier access to land for agricultural production by young people, women, and persons with disabilities.
A report by the Food and Business Knowledge Platform says young people lack the financial ability to purchase land and therefore accessing land that is not inherited is a major problem. This is one of the factors fueling rural-urban migration. But given the emotive nature of the land problem in Kenya, this particular proposal requires careful implementation.
Two, the adoption of technologies that increase agricultural productivity is an area where youth could play a leading role. The youthful generation of Kenyan farmers is increasingly relying on technology in farming activities. Research by Mercy Corps discovered that 90 percent of farmers in the 18-35 years bracket in Kenya are tech-savvy. The emerging digital farming phenomenon has created a new breed of ‘agriprenuers’ across the production and marketing elements of the value chain.
Three, BBI recommends enhanced financial support to farmers, whereby the government provides a legal and regulatory framework to enable banks to dedicate a portion of their lending portfolio to key sectors like agriculture. This will help unlock much-needed credit for youth to venture into agribusiness. Lack of access to affordable credit is often cited as a factor discouraging youth from commercial farming, a potential major source of employment.
Four, BBI also calls for accelerated investment in value addition including the use of innovative processes in agro-processing, expansion of cold chains, harvesting, and preservation systems.
Five, BBI urges the expansion of agricultural and livestock extension and advisory services with the hiring of additional extension and support officers. This would provide employment for our young men and women interested in pursuing a public service career in agriculture.
BBI also seeks to address rampant corruption in the agriculture sector which has allowed unscrupulous middlemen and cartels exploiting farmers to thrive. Eliminating graft and other malpractices in the sector is crucial to improving farmer incomes and attracting investors.
The ongoing reforms in the key cash crop value chains such as tea, coffee, and pyrethrum are geared to putting more cash into farmers’ pockets and streamlining efficiency, and promoting value addition activities.
BBI also prioritizes improvement of market linkages for farmers, for instance, public-private partnerships to provide mentorship support to farmers.
From the foregoing, youth stand to gain from supporting BBI as it will empower them to drive the country’s economic transformation.
President Uhuru Kenyatta has confessed, oftentimes, his love for the following Bible verse. “Remember, O my God, all that I have done for these people, and bless me for it.” Nehemiah 5:19.
Mt. Kenya region leaders are behaving like wounded sharks in the ocean that only need to see and smell blood to annihilate one another.
It is a New Year again but the leaders are still dancing the old tune that has become boring and meaningless to Kenyans. In the region, it is still the old wineskins with no potent and new wine. They keep on fighting over non-issues.
They have become the proverbial outsiders who cry louder than the bereaved. It is said whoever pays the piper calls the tune. These leaders are proving this to be true with their behavior.
We are only 5 days into the New Year but the political heat in the region makes one wonder what the situation will be like come the end of 2021. Do Mt. Kenya leaders really have what it takes at their fingertips? What exactly do they propose as the way forward? Much as we would like to believe, they are not as confused as their statements tellingly indicate. What leadership qualities are they exhibiting?
Central Kenya leaders and this is unfortunate, seem to believe that standing up to the President and defying him is a show of leadership. Though some may see this as a mark of courage, it is a no-brainer.
President Uhuru Kenyatta has nothing to lose in the current confusion.
It is Mt. Kenya leaders who are losing while those out to divide them are laughing all the way to the bank. Let these leaders reason together or perish together. Leadership right now should be about development for the people. Succession politics is a waste of time at the moment.
And as President Kenyatta states, from time to time, only God knows who will become the President of this country, in 2022.
The leaders should focus on leading their people to prosperity!
Deputy President William Ruto and his allies came under heavy criticism yesterday over political intolerance after a group of youths blocked KANU Chairman Gideon Moi from meeting Talai elders.
The backlash followed the blockade of a convoy that was headed for a meeting scheduled by Talai elders.
The group barricaded the road with logs at Sang’alo, forcing the Baringo Senator and his entourage to abort their journey to Kapsisiywo in Nandi County.
After the incident, Gideon then made several stopovers in trading centers where he met wananchi.
Joseph arap Samoei, one of the elders, said they were shocked to hear that their visitor had been blocked by the youths.
Reacting to the incident, Jubilee Party Vice Chairman David Murathe, a fierce critic of the DP, said what happened was extremely uncalled for given that it was happening in Ruto’s political backyard, and asked him to decide whether he is in Government or Opposition.
“These are behaviors of hired goons and should not be tolerated in a democracy like Kenya. The DP has been touring every part of this Republic without restriction and Senator Moi, in his own right as a leader, deserves the same treatment accorded to him (the DP),” said Murathe.
“Hiring thugs and goons to shout Senator Moi down is unacceptable and the police should thoroughly investigate what happened with the view of apprehending the culprits.”
Murathe called on the DP to rein in on his allies or ship out.
“We cannot allow people playing politics of Opposition in Jubilee. The DP has to deal with his troops or ship out instead of even going to the extent of entertaining insults against the First Family as was the case in the Coast. If he doesn’t, it will not augur well for him,” he warned.
However, the DP appeared to distance himself from the incident in a tweet posted hours after the occurrence, emphasizing on the importance of freedom of association and movement.
“Let’s make this year different and hopeful by protecting our freedoms to association, movement and choice while rejecting negative politics,” he urged without expressly weighing in on what befell the Senator and his entourage.
He instead thanked God for seeing Kenyans through the difficulties faced last year in the midst of the ravaging pandemic, loss of livelihoods, and devastating economic meltdown.
“We all had a difficult 2020 and by God’s grace, we survived,” the DP said in a tweet while wishing Kenyans a Happy New Year.
However, Tiaty MP William Kamket said they were caught unawares by the ambush which seemed to have been politically planned.
“The chairman was honoring the invite of the elders. There was no issue because the visit was no secret. There is nothing to try to hide. They planned for us and we were not prepared. Next time, we will be prepared,” he said.
National Assembly Minority Whip Junet Mohammed termed Saturday’s happening as bad.
“He (the DP) wants to go everywhere in the country but balkanizes his home turf. The occurrence brings out the true personality of the DP and we should expect worse now that he has brought on board the wheelbarrow party,” he said.
Governor Hassan Joho described what happened as political selfishness and explained: “His hustler narrative is exciting emotions and if not checked, will explode. He wants to visit other parts of the country but he is balkanizing his backyard. He is making it very difficult for other leaders, and this will destroy the country if not managed.”
Siaya Senator James Orengo said what happened in the DP’s backyard was unfortunate but not surprising as “he thrives on politics of hatred and community balkanization”.
“He thinks he can lead the country through divide and rule. It is sad for someone who calls himself the Deputy President to practice politics of intolerance,” the Senate Leader of Minority said.
He cautioned that if Jubilee fails to deal with the politics of the DP now, it might destabilize it from within and it will eventually explode.
“The DP took an oath of office to abide by the principles of the Constitution but his ambitions go contrary. If he is tired, he should call it a day and join his new political outfit but I know he won’t because he thrives in distractions and animosity,” said Orengo.
At the same time, Talai elders condemned the blockade saying they received the news that their guest had been stopped from meeting them and disowned those responsible.
Samoei, one of the elders, said they had invited Gideon to Kapsisiywo but some people who do not understand freedom of movement and association blocked him.
The youths, he said, were not to blame as they were hired to do the job.
“Some people who do not understand there is democracy in this country decided otherwise. The youths are not to blame and we believe there are faces behind the act,” he said.
Christopher Koyogi, the elder who was to host Gideon, said the youths who barred the Senator were not from the Talai community.
He said they will not be cowed and will soon have Gideon in the area to bless him as earlier planned. A month, he said, will not lapse.
“We were to bless him and make him an elder, we will not be cowed and soon Gideon will be here with us. We condemn the act by the youths,” he said.
Koyogi said they will stand with the Senator till he goes to State House as President and will not support the Tanga Tanga narrative.
He warned that the youth will know no peace until they apologize for their actions. The elders, he said, had done their assessment and were convinced that Gideon was the right man to lead Kenyans. The apple, he said, never falls far from the tree and as the late President Moi was, Gideon will be.
Joel Rono, the chairperson of Talai Kapturgat Council of Elders, said they are still looking forward to hosting Gideon.
The decision to bless Gideon and make him elder, he said, was reached after a long consultative meeting with residents from Tugen, Nandi, Keiyo, Mt. Elgon, Pokot, and Marakwet.
Ruto and Gideon have for long been embroiled in a supremacy political battle over the control of the Rift Valley.
In the recent past, Gideon has raised the political bar after he took the front row seat in spearheading the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2020, holding a series of meetings across the country.
The KANU chairman has also revamped the Independence party in preparation of the 2022 General Election.
Although he is yet to declare his interest in the 2022 race to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta, Gideon has hinted at working with ODM leader Raila Odinga, former Vice Presidents Kalonzo Musyoka and Musalia Mudavadi in uniting Kenyans through amending the 2010 Constitution to end the “winner-takes-all” arrangement that has been a source of electoral violence every election cycle.
In a year whose prospects were cut short by Coronavirus shocks, and a government running on empty after coffers ran dry amid a surging public debt, Kenyans could be marching into a bleak forecast for 2021.
Already, National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani has warned of hard times ahead that could lead to delayed disbursement of money for State operations as the country’s debt hits Sh 7.1 trillion.
“I will be dishonest if I say everything is okay. We are in a state never witnessed before. The drastic reduction in revenue and under-performance of the economy is a concern,” Yatani told MPs at the beginning of December.
With thousands of Kenyans out of jobs as a result of COVID-19, schools shut with learners having been forced to stay at home for nine months, the health system overwhelmed, and government coffers running dry, Kenyans could be staring at another difficult and unpredictable year.
The country’s economic output took a downward trend sometimes in May for the first time since the 2008 global financial crisis. Tourism earnings and agriculture exports, the main hard currency earners, have taken a big hit.
Analysts say it may take the whole of 2021 before the tourism sector, where hotels have remained closed leading to massive job losses, recovers fully even with the unveiling of Coronavirus vaccinations.
Tourism and Wildlife CS Najib Balala told People Daily that about 2.5 million people in the tourism sector, which controls an estimated 10 percent to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), lost their jobs. Balala estimates that the sector shed in excess of Sh100 billion.
Data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics and the Ministry of Labour and Social Services indicates that an estimated 4.64 million Kenyans lost jobs during the pandemic period.
“For those who may have been celebrating that they were burying 2020 with all her downwards, they should think twice. 2021 is going to be full of uncertainties, with the inflation rate likely to be high,” said Dr Samuel Nyandemo, a senior economics lecturer at the University of Nairobi.
Nyandemo warns Kenyans to be prepared for a long-winding and rocky road ahead, that would see many struggle to survive.
“The cost of living will obviously shoot up. People should start tightening their belts early to absorb the aftershocks of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the economist warned, adding that the government, which is facing a tax deficit of Sh125 billion, is already struggling to pay civil servants salaries on time, is unable to pay suppliers, contractors and pensioners, and other essentials.
Thousands of national and County workers celebrated their Christmas without salaries. The Council of Governors recently announced that the National Treasury was holding Sh78 billion meant for Devolved Units since September, effectively grounding their operations.
Perhaps, to signal what lies ahead, Kenyans are starting the New Year on a day the government is reintroducing taxes which had been suspended in March after the first case of Coronavirus was reported in Kenya, in a bid to cushion the economy against the devastating impact of the virus.
Although Members of Parliament (MPs), while voting to end the tax relief, said the move would help plug revenue shortfalls, investors are warning that the move could hamper the economic recovery process. MPs said the tax cuts were unsustainable, pointing to the Finance ministry’s estimate that the government will have foregone Sh65 billion in revenue.
“It is a move that we had to take to revive the ailing economy. Government operations are likely to be paralyzed unless the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) collects enough revenue,” leader of Minority John Mbadi told People Daily.
The MPs’ vote in favor of halting the tax cuts means a reduction of five percentage points to the income tax rate for top individual earners and corporations will be reversed to 30 percent.
The VAT rate will be restored to 16 percent from 14 percent during the first phase of the pandemic. But MPs, investors, and economists opposed to the tax cut reversal say the pandemic had not subsided and Kenyans still needed help.
“It is like abandoning people you have rescued from drowning in the midstream. The economy is still struggling and requires all sorts of incentives and support,” Aly-Khan Satchu, the CEO of investment adviser Rich Management, says.
The tax reliefs aside, Kenyan parents are staring at chaos likely to engulf the education sector as learners resume classes after a nine-month unprecedented hiatus.
While the United Nations has warned of a “global education emergency” if learners do not return to school after months of lockdowns, Kenyan teachers are concerned about the safety and lack of contingency planning.
The government through Education Cabinet Secretary Prof George Magoha has insisted that all schools must reopen on January 4 and has mobilized teachers, education officials, and National Government Administrative Officers (NGAO) to ensure all learners are in a class by the second week of the month.
But the chairman of the Kenya Secondary School Heads Association Kahi Indimuli says government support towards realizing the directive has been far from reality.
“They have neither released the money for free education nor the funds they promised for infrastructure development. Only a few schools are prepared to deal with the challenge of social distancing. Most schools are in dire need of more classrooms, dormitories, dining halls and other facilities.”
Indimuli says learners are also likely to find it challenging to cope up with the tight and congested learning schedule put in place to recover lost time. Apart from the candidates, all learners are expected to cover the lost second and third terms of 2020 before embarking on the first and second terms of 2021.
Indimuli has urged Magoha to come clear on the Sh19 billion the government has promised to disburse to schools and state whether it is for the capitation or infrastructure development. He says from their experience, the government is likely to release the funds sometime in the month when it would be too late.
“It is going to be hectic for learners. It is something that is unprecedented that we are not sure whether the young learners will handle,” says Moses Nthurima, the deputy secretary-general of the Kenya Union of Post Primary Teachers (KUPPET).
Educationists are also worried over the big number of learners expected to flood public schools from private institutions as a result of the closure of the latter due to the effects of the pandemic. An estimated 100 private schools have shut down as the owners were unable to pay rent and more than 300, 000 teachers.
In some cases, thousands of parents are seeking to transfer children from private academies due to hard economic times. The government has not helped matters either, after failing to remit the Sh7 billion it had promised the private schools in loans at friendlier rates to cushion them from effects of Covid-19.
“It is a tricky situation that we find ourselves in. Most of our members may never return into operation unless the government bails us out. At the moment, we have been left on our own,” says Peter Ndoro, the CEO of the Kenya Private Schools Association.
Political scientists like Prof Macharia Munene of the United States International University (USIU)-Africa are also warning Kenyans not to expect any help from politicians as they are likely to throw all their energies and resources to the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) and the 2022 general election.
“Bearing in mind that those pushing for the BBI have already told us they want the referendum held by July, we do not expect anything from them other than campaigning for its success. They will also be looking at 2022. In short, it will be a year of politics,” Macharia said.
The year 2021 is also beginning on a negative note with reports of the emergence of a new strain of COVID-19, referred to by scientists as SARS-C0V-2 that appears to be spreading faster than other existing strains. And given the fact that some learners have already tested positive for COVID-19, it is expected more learners may contract the virus in school.
Medics are also warning that the Christmas and New Year festivities could lead to a spike in infections. The virus has so far killed 1,655 Kenyans and infected close to 100,000.
“We are at a crossroads. We are reopening schools a few days after the festive season, which might pose risks. The way we saw people throw caution to the wind during Christmas is worrying,” says Dr Moses Masika, a virologist and a lecturer at the University of Nairobi.
With hospitals seemingly less prepared for another wave of the virus, and the government having stopped meeting hospital bills for Kenyans infected with COVID-19, Masika warns that the year ahead may not be far from being gloomy.
“The government must come up with a better strategy to deal with the pandemic. At the moment, the government has abandoned its own people. We are on our own and nobody cares,” says Dr Chibanzi Mwachonda, the acting secretary general of the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union.
But even as doctors give Kenyans a temporary reprieve by suspending their strike, nurses and clinicians have vowed to push on until all their demands are met.
Since our troops entered Somalia on October 16, 2011, Kenyan regions bordering Somalia have never been at ease.
Mandera, Wajir, and Garissa counties continue to suffer intermittent terror attacks orchestrated by the Al-Shabaab militia despite relentless efforts by our gallant security officers to keep the outlaws at bay.
For instance, on December 18, a chief was abducted and beheaded by suspected Al-Shabaab militants in Wajir County. The same day, the militants destroyed a communication mast in Mandera County. Early this month, a police officer was killed after the terrorists attacked a police patrol base in Fafi, Garissa County.
There have been other similar attacks in the border regions, many of which our vigilant security officers have managed to foil.
But while Kenyans have persevered attacks by these cowards who carry out their heinous missions, sometimes under the cover of darkness, we must not allow Somalia government forces and other militants to battle it out openly on our soil.
According to Mandera MCAs, there is a possibility of Somalia combatants squaring it out in the town. Members of Somalia militia by the name Janan, they say, some in armored vehicles, are already in the town while Somalia government soldiers are massing on the border. As a result, families living close to the border have abandoned their homes out of fear.
Unfortunately, this is not the first time Somalia combatants are threatening to bring their wars to Kenya. In March this year, the Kenyan government issued a strong statement after fighting between Somali National Army and its Jubaland region forces spilled into Mandera.
“Foreign soldiers,” it said, “in flagrant breach and total disregard of international laws and conventions – engaged in aggressive and belligerent activities by harassing and destroying properties of Kenyan citizens living in the border town of Mandera.”
The government further termed the incursion “an unwarranted attack by foreign soldiers with the intention of provoking Kenya”.
We urge the government to speak in a similar tone over current goings in Mandera. If the warring parties cannot thrash out their differences amicably and must find a solution through the barrel of a gun, they should do it inside Somalia. Bringing their wars to Kenya, displacing Kenyans and destroying their properties again would indeed be an act of provocation that should not be tolrated.
The government’s foremost duty is to protect the lives of citizens. For that reason, it should — through negotiations or force, if necessary — ensure that Mandera residents are not harmed by these foreign forces.