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Kenyans hope for change of fortunes in 2013

By - | Updated Tue, January 1st 2013 at 00:00 GMT +3

By Peter Opiyo

Kenyans usher in the New Year with anxiety and optimism as the country prepares to turn the page on bad political governance.

The first elections under the current Constitution take place on March 4, and many Kenyans expect it to open a new chapter.

The Constitution, a document that captures the spirit of Kenya’s Second Liberation struggle, has opened new opportunities by changing governance structures, and Kenyans hope there will be no turning back after the elections.

The appointment of a new Cabinet, whose members, for the first time in the country’s history, will not be Members of Parliament, and the election of 47 county Governors, are the major milestones expected after the polls.

Also key is the appointment of the first Governors and Senators in a year that will also mark a return to the pre-Independence era two-Chamber Parliament with the election of Senators and an expanded 349-member National Assembly.

Higher spending preceding the March 4 polls, including a huge investment in infrastructure, is expected to spur growth.

This year, independent Kenya will turn 50 and a successful and violence-free-poll would be the perfect gift to mark the Golden Jubilee.

One of the commissions created by the new laws, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), will thus loom large in people’s lives this year. The IEBC announced that the General Election will also be held in March for the first time, as opposed to the traditional December period.

Already the Government has allocated additional funds in its supplementary budget to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission to fund the elections. An additional Sh6.68 billion has been allocated to the electoral body.

This is on top of the Sh17.5 billion allocated to it in the State Budget last June.

Crowded ballot paper

Voters will be confronted with a crowded ballot paper, as they will have to pick their choices for six positions compared to three in the past. Apart from voting for the President, Kenyans will also cast their ballot for Senator, Member of the National Assembly, Women Representative in the National Assembly, Governor and County Assembly Representative.

Events far away at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, Netherlands where trials for a presidential aspirant and his would-be running mate start on April 10 and 11.

A possible run-off in the race for State House has been scheduled two weeks later when

Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and his chosen running mate, Eldoret North MP William Ruto, will be in the dock facing trial for crimes against humanity charges allegedly committed in 2008.

The two are joined at the hip under the Jubilee Alliance and have dismissed warnings from the international community that their election would see Kenya isolated, tearing down its economy.

Facing trial with Uhuru in the second Kenyan case that starts on April 11 is former Secretary to the Cabinet Francis Muthaura, while radio journalist Joshua Sang is charged with Ruto in the first case and their trial begins a day earlier.

The four have been accused by the ICC Prosecutor as being co-perpetrators behind the violence that led to the deaths of 1,133 Kenyans and uprooted over 500,000 others from their homes.

They were indicted by former ICC Prosecutor Moreno-Ocampo in 2010 after MPs blocked attempts to establish a special local tribunal to try 2008 post-election violence cases.

At the time, the MPs led by Ruto, who by then did not know if he would be charged, claimed politicians would use their authority to influence the tribunal’s proceedings to their favour.

They quickly changed tune after the indictments rolled in and condemned The Hague as a puppet of Western powers, blaming their plight on political rivalry, a line of argument that analysts believe will influence voting patterns this year.

Also of immense interest would be how the devolved units to be rolled out once the elections are held. The 47 counties are devolved units with the Governor as the chief executive officer. But there are concerns that county Governments will be starved of cash unless Bills to facilitate sharing of revenues among counties and between national and county Governments are passed. 

The Parliamentary Budget Committee sounded the alarm, saying the Bills must be ready for enactment by Parliament before its term expires this month. Committee Chairman and Maragwa MP Elias Mbau accused the Government of delay in presenting to Parliament the County Revenue Bill and County Allocation of Revenue Bill.

?“These two Bills are crucial to allow the County governments to access resources for delivery of services to the people. We can see some looming crisis and we have raised the red flag,” said the legislator.

Insecurity remains a major concern ahead of March 4 as almost every General Election in Kenya’s history has been preceded by violence.

The Kenya Defence Forces’ intervention in Somalia in 2011 to fight Al Shabaab militants has occasioned sporadic revenge attacks inside Kenya raising questions ever the preparedness of the police to guarantee homeland security.

Away from terrorism-related incidents, inter-communal conflicts in parts of northern Kenya and the Coast have resulted in the deaths of hundreds and Kenyans will hope for a peaceful 2013.

Trouble spots

Already the first Inspector General of Police, Mr David Kimaiyo, has been appointed and yesterday he announced that the police have mapped out trouble spots and are will deploy extra security to prevent a recurrence of 2008 killings.

The government has allocated an additional Sh6.59 billion to national security operations and the welfare of police officers

An additional Sh5.68 billion has been allocated to the Ministry of Defence to cover operations in Somalia.

Issues of budget will continue to be of concern to professionals as more unionised employees seek higher wages.  A strike by doctors, lecturers, nurses and teachers paralysed operations in key institutions, forcing the Government to give in to some of the demands by workers. 

It is because of the teachers’ strike that Kenya Certificate of Primary Examination candidates and their parents opened the year without the results of the national examination, another first.

The KCPE results usually come out in December, but this time round, the results will be released at the end of January, giving candidates and their parents four more anxious weeks. and an expanded 349-member National Assembly.

Higher spending preceding the March 4 polls, including a huge investment in infrastructure, is expected to spur growth.

This year, independent Kenya will turn 50 and a successful and violence-free-poll would be the perfect gift to mark the Golden Jubilee.

One of the commissions created by the new laws, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), will thus loom large in people’s lives this year. The IEBC announced that the General Election will also be held in March for the first time, as opposed to the traditional December period.

Already the Government has allocated additional funds in its supplementary budget to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission to fund the elections. An additional Sh6.68 billion has been allocated to the electoral body.

This is on top of the Sh17.5 billion allocated to it in the State Budget last June.

Crowded ballot paper

Voters will be confronted with a crowded ballot paper, as they will have to pick their choices for six positions compared to three in the past. Apart from voting for the President, Kenyans will also cast their ballot for Senator, Member of the National Assembly, Women Representative in the National Assembly, Governor and County Assembly Representative.

Events far away at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, Netherlands where trials for a presidential aspirant and his would-be running mate start on April 10 and 11.

A possible run-off in the race for State House has been scheduled two weeks later when

Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and his chosen running mate, Eldoret North MP William Ruto, will be in the dock facing trial for crimes against humanity charges allegedly committed in 2008.

The two are joined at the hip under the Jubilee Alliance and have dismissed warnings from the international community that their election would see Kenya isolated, tearing down its economy.

Facing trial with Uhuru in the second Kenyan case that starts on April 11 is former Secretary to the Cabinet Francis Muthaura, while radio journalist Joshua Sang is charged with Ruto in the first case and their trial begins a day earlier.

The four have been accused by the ICC Prosecutor as being co-perpetrators behind the violence that led to the deaths of 1,133 Kenyans and uprooted over 500,000 others from their homes.

They were indicted by former ICC Prosecutor Moreno-Ocampo in 2010 after MPs blocked attempts to establish a special local tribunal to try 2008 post-election violence cases.

At the time, the MPs led by Ruto, who by then did not know if he would be charged, claimed politicians would use their authority to influence the tribunal’s proceedings to their favour.

They quickly changed tune after the indictments rolled in and condemned The Hague as a puppet of Western powers, blaming their plight on political rivalry, a line of argument that analysts believe will influence voting patterns this year.

Also of immense interest would be how the devolved units to be rolled out once the elections are held. The 47 counties are devolved units with the Governor as the chief executive officer. But there are concerns that county Governments will be starved of cash unless Bills to facilitate sharing of revenues among counties and between national and county Governments are passed. 

The Parliamentary Budget Committee sounded the alarm, saying the Bills must be ready for enactment by Parliament before its term expires this month. Committee Chairman and Maragwa MP Elias Mbau accused the Government of delay in presenting to Parliament the County Revenue Bill and County Allocation of Revenue Bill.

?“These two Bills are crucial to allow the County governments to access resources for delivery of services to the people. We can see some looming crisis and we have raised the red flag,” said the legislator.

Insecurity remains a major concern ahead of March 4 as almost every General Election in Kenya’s history has been preceded by violence.

The Kenya Defence Forces’ intervention in Somalia in 2011 to fight Al Shabaab militants has occasioned sporadic revenge attacks inside Kenya raising questions ever the preparedness of the police to guarantee homeland security.

Away from terrorism-related incidents, inter-communal conflicts in parts of northern Kenya and the Coast have resulted in the deaths of hundreds and Kenyans will hope for a peaceful 2013.

Trouble spots

Already the first Inspector General of Police, Mr David Kimaiyo, has been appointed and yesterday he announced that the police have mapped out trouble spots and are will deploy extra security to prevent a recurrence of 2008 killings.

The government has allocated an additional Sh6.59 billion to national security operations and the welfare of police officers

An additional Sh5.68 billion has been allocated to the Ministry of Defence to cover operations in Somalia.

Issues of budget will continue to be of concern to professionals as more unionised employees seek higher wages.  A strike by doctors, lecturers, nurses and teachers paralysed operations in key institutions, forcing the Government to give in to some of the demands by workers. 

It is because of the teachers’ strike that Kenya Certificate of Primary Examination candidates and their parents opened the year without the results of the national examination, another first.

The KCPE results usually come out in December, but this time round, the results will be released at the end of January, giving candidates and their parents four more anxious weeks.