Elections 2017

Jubilee ignores the fact that most Kenyans are poor and need to be lifted first

We are living in strange times in this our Kenya. And it seems that things will get even stranger as what will certainly be the mess of the census falls on us, followed by electoral boundaries review conducted by an incompetent, corrupt and illegitimate election management body, and then elections.

In that cauldron also throw in a “tupende, tusipende” referendum seemingly designed to ensure personal and family business interests endure.

As these events line up, we are borrowing billions of dollars to pay for previous loans that went to personal coffers, and to pay salaries, rather than be used in schemes that generate revenue.

Last week, the World Bank approved a loan as budget support-- meaning cash to the Treasury--of Sh75 billion, enough to cover the Sh70 billion “lost” in Kenya Pipeline! If that is the digital way of running an economy, then pray, please take us back to analogue and fast. And if you believe all the World Bank money will survive intact without some “disappearing” then you live on Mars, together with the World Bank staff that wrote and supported this loan.

Most of us are getting poorer each day as every last cent is taxed from us to pay for things we do not need.

Most of us are a paycheck away from poverty, and we pray each day that we stay healthy, so we do not need to have to fundraise for hospital bills.

Food prices have gone up, and when we add in transport costs, school fees, and the extortion fees for police, city council, and other officials, we are in deep trouble. 

We have a war on corruption that is more rhetorical than real. The word on the streets is that there is strong evidence on the looting of the Sh21 billion Kimwarer Dams scandal but there is weariness in proceeding forward, because it involves an especially powerful man who knows the secrets about another especially powerful man! So, we get a stalemate and the looting and plunder continues.

Yet, if that evidence were to be shared to the public, we may even have civilian arrests as allowed by law.

It took a lot to get Uhuru Kenyatta out of his lull to try to figure what to do with the furious complaints of small-scale importers who can’t get their goods out of the Internal Container Depot in Embakasi because the new rules and regulations ignore the fact that substantial importation is done by consolidating with other importers.

Fundamental problems

Therein lies one of the fundamental problems with this regime. It operates as though our funds—borrowed or taxed—are there for their personal use and looting. And it operates as though it does not get that the majority of Kenyans are poor and need to be lifted first before any grandiose dreams like housing for middle class.

Nothing is more illustrative of this living in the clouds as the efforts to force a new Competence Based Curriculum. If Kenya was a more equal country where the middle class was dominant and with higher disposable incomes, perhaps it would make some sense.

But to ask a teacher with a class size of over 50 children (and some with over 100) to do individual assessments each day is asking for failure and deceit. To ask parents to ensure they get colour printouts of research from the internet, or homework, is to forget that this is Kenya with its deep urban and rural poor. And that in many public schools, getting sufficient textbooks is a luxury.

This issue is not one for chest-thumping or forcing down our throats. This is the kind of issue that needs serious public debate in which teachers from public schools are given priority to speak and explain, since those wielding power do not seem to get it.

Prof George Magoha the Education Cabinet Secretary has proven his ability to get things done at the University of Nairobi and as the head of the examination council.

But on this issue, he needs to step back, inhale, and listen or it will be his Waterloo.

Equally disconcerting is the news that one of the main purposes in the forced registration for Huduma Namba, is to compete with Safaricom’s M-Pesa. And this is made even more unpalatable by the fact that the bank heading the consortium of banks that will benefit from the fees, interest and government guarantees of the Stawi loan scheme is Mr Kenyatta’s family’s CBA Bank!

So what we have is a regime headed by Kenyatta forcing us to take up a new and additional registration, then that information is used to benefit a consortium of banks led by his family’s bank as they give us loans necessitated by the rising costs of living that have arisen from looting and mismanagement — complete with high fees and interest rates! And the banks are covered by a government guarantee meaning they take no risks.

If that is not conflict of interest, then I do not know what is. And we say there is a war on corruption

The writer is former KNCHR chair. [email protected]