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Why middle-class Kenyans are a let-down

OPINION
By Vincent Achuka | March 10th 2018

I was at my friend’s house when news about the Treasury being broke was aired and his son asked why the government says it doesn’t have money yet people pay taxes. His father gave him the best answer I have heard so far.

“In every workplace there are employees who live way beyond their means that they have borrowed from everyone but you cannot explain where every penny they get goes to.” Had it not been that the boy was just 14 years I would have added, “In this situation Kenyans are the hangers on who know you are living on borrowed money but encourage you to buy beer.”

In any democracy a government is like a mirror. It is a fair reflection of the kind of people that live in a particular country. In short we deserve the high cost of food, power, fuel prices, authoritarianism and soon to be effected higher taxes.

It is sad that counties are yet to receive their full financial allocations from government but you have not heard anyone complaining. Constituencies don’t have CDF money in their accounts which means poor students cannot access bursaries but no MP has talked about it. Jubilee politicians are preoccupied with consolidating power while NASA which should question these things is already panning for 2022.

Meanwhile Parliament is busy collecting signatures to overturn the sacking of a CEO to a hospital which children are being stolen from and surgeries done on wrong patients. This is not the first time this government is saying it is broke but it appears everyone is comfortable. The worst thing about the current weighty issues facing the country is the enthusiastic supporters of the Jubilee Party and the lack of concern by the middle class.

Apart from Tweeting when they are stuck in traffic or DSTV delays in re activating their banquets, the middle class are the biggest let down in this country in terms of political affairs. Otherwise you would have heard noise when the import duty for cars was doubled in 2015 which brought down the number of imported vehicles. Or when companies downsize their employees to stay afloat. Better yet the recent agreement by government and IMF to do away with rate caps should have at least got this tweeting class who live on loans to protest.

Bad governance

Then to die hard Jubilee supporters the announcement by the Treasury that it is reducing the amount of money it gives to the counties probably means devolution is working so well that governors are generating enough money for development and payment of salaries.

Isn’t it just a few weeks ago that when the government shut down three TV stations half of the country was celebrating? Those in support said the country was more peaceful despite the fact that it was a violation of the Constitution.

Take for example this post on Facebook by Alice Maina, “The country is very peaceful without the gossip of the 3 stations. No tensions no hatred spreading. We better stay this way.” I have covered stories from every part of the country and during my travels I am always interested to compare the living conditions of areas where the Jubilee Party receives support and opposition strong holds.

In September last year I met IDPs who have been living in tents as squatters on a farm in Njoro for the last 10 years. I asked, “Did you vote?” They all agreed and I don’t need to tell you who they said they voted for.

So save for the exceptionally good roads I saw in the North Rift this week, the rest of the country is the same apart from the arid and semi-arid counties. The price of a packet of milk or tot of chang’aa in Nyamninia village in Siaya costs the same in Singila in Taita Taveta. Last week Moiben MP Sila Tiren complained about the price of milk and I wondered which party he belongs to.

The public must not forget that bad governance does not exist because those in power make mistakes but because we let them to. In the end it is those very supporters and everyone who feels the pain. But until we realise this the government should continue increasing the cost of living and Treasury should continue with its fiscal policies.

- The writer is an investigations reporter for The Standard. @vincentachuka

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