KENYA MONTH IN REVIEW: AUGUST 2014

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August-2014The MUGO Report:

Kenya: August 2014 Review
Summary
1. The War on Drugs
2. The US-Africa Summit
3. Governance getting groovy
4. Referendum redux
5. CORD strengthened

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1. The War on Drugs
August 29, 2014, President Uhuru Kenyatta witnessed a ship going up in flames on waters off the coast of Mombasa. This was no ordinary ship – it was impounded after officers discovered an estimated Shs 1 billion cache of heroin in it.
Ordering the vessel’s destruction was a bold move on the part of a president clearly eager to stamp his ‘no nonsense’ imprimatur on the effort against drugs in Kenya.
There are those no doubt who feel that UK contravened the Constitution by acting on a matter still in court.
I would have been more likely to join this chorus were we talking about UK shielding billions of shillings illicitly stashed away in overseas accounts from being repatriated back home.
But we’re not.
Because this presidential directive was so overwhelmingly beneficial to the national interest; because it was done in the light of day; because the only persons to benefit from delayed actions would have been parties sympathetic to the drug traffickers; and lastly, because Kenya’s history with drug seizures have ended up with the very drugs disappearing, I believe that what some construe as a legal misstep is a small price for us all to pay, and that Kenyans would gladly bear it.

2. The US-Africa Summit
Being a resident of the US, I was glad that this summit finally took place, and was particularly satisfied at the strong representation at the highest levels of African governments.
I’ve never really had a problem with a tilt towards China safe for the fact that Kenyans have been surprisingly native and astoundingly benumbed about the real cost of Chinese involvement in our nation’s development.
We gleefully take pride in the new roads and bridges but fail to see the systematic decimation of our tourism sector, a destruction that, to be blunt, is simply and purely horn-driven!
Two areas likely to benefit as a result of the Washington DC meet: large scale infrastructure investments by US companies like General Electric (in the energy sector) and an enhanced US-Africa cooperation on the fight against terrorism.
Concrete benefits are likely to be medium term, that is, 5-10 years downstream.

3. Is Governance getting groovy?
If you’re Devolution CS Anne Waiguru, the answer’s ‘Yes.’ If you’re a magician who can move KShs 8.3 billion in and out (mostly out) of the Office of the President, you’re probably rooting for a ‘No!’
For the rest of us Kenyans…..’About time’ sighs.
Two areas that I find very exciting are:
1) the recently launched biometric registration/audit which is happening as we speak, and which is expected to be completed by October 15 of this year.
2) The e-payment system risks dealing a massive blow to corruption with the caveat, of course, that political will (yaani UK & WSR are unwavering) subsists.
No other African government has done this – not South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana or Egypt, to name the continent’s leading economies.
As a matter of fact, only one commercial entity on the entire continent -a huge mining conglomerate in South Africa – has successfully implemented this, and have reported impressive savings.

4. Referendum redux
I’m persuaded by UK’s arguments about not hurrying to make changes to “a house we only moved into about 1-1/2 years ago.”
But of course precious little resonance of this is likely to animate the CORD side of the political aisle.
A little detour: I have a to-do list, meaning that if #1 on my list get scuttled, I simply proceed to the second item. I suspect you might too.
The question is: does CORD have a to-do list? If for some reason the referendum issue were to be entirely set aside, what would their #2 item be?
If you think of it in these terms, then you can begin to understand why without money, assets and other privileges of power, all that the Raila-led CORD has for the purposes of remaining relevant in Kenyan politics is mass mobilization.
The loser is the nation as a whole which, to use an analogy, becomes like a promising and endowed swimmer with a great, big log tied to his leg.

5. CORD strengthened
Kenyans decided that democracy was the way to go. Democracy demands a vibrant Opposition.
Here are two areas that I’d like to see CORD strongly wade into and make a dent in:
1. Define in concrete terms a Vision of a de-trivialized Civil Service.  Without some kind of blueprint against which current practices can be gauged, Kenya will make little if any headway tackling this enduring legacy of tribalism in the Civil Service which has long been seen, true or not, as a vestige of Kikuyus and Kalenjin privilege
America tackled a similar problem many years (and tears) ago by deciding that geographic size would be irrelevant to the concept of people’s representation at the federal level.
Thus little Rhode Island (pop: 1.05 million) and tucked-away Maine (pop: 1.32 million) have as much clout as humongous California (pop: 38 million) or boisterous Texas (pop: 26 million)
Why can’t CORD show Kenyans some love in this way? Another feather in Raila’s cap?
2. Kionjo….now we know how great speakers and mobilizers CORD principals are. No one on the planet can doubt that.
All they now need do is show us a small achievement. Like clearing just one quarter of a square mile of hyacinth we all know where.
How about CORD-procured cooling fish facilities for wananchi around our Lake regions.
You can go on with all the meetings and debates about Pesa Mashinani….that is fine and dandy.
But let it not just be about funerals and Mapambano Mapambano. Just one small act for us to see and say “OK, hapa twaona kitu Fulani.” Then people would stop saying ‘Empty Debes make the most noise.’

BY MUGO MUCHIRI

[email protected]

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