Friday, February 24, 2017

Monkey + AK-47. What could go wrong?

Who among you remember that day when the agents of a company that had a contract with the Government of Nairobi City County dumped a tipper-load of stinking-to-high-heaven garbage in front of the main gate to the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation on Harry Thuku Road, because the parastatal had failed to settle its dues with the county government? I do. 

The incident came to mind when the managing director of an energy-sector company that distributes the fuel products of a global oil company went, in person, to the repossession of the physical facilities at a petrol station which was at the heart of a commercial (and, some say, political) dispute between the company and the operator of the petrol station.

The reason I see parallels between the two events is that in Kenya, business activities are sometimes an extension of political activities. The KBC is a parastatal, a state-owned broadcaster, which enjoys a certain measure of protection from the application of some rules, especially because it is located in the Capital City, a county that is under the political administration of the Minority Party. The governor of Nairobi has singularly confirmed that what academic and professional credentials are provided on a piece of paper are irrelevant to the management of a county government if the candidate is a shameless self-promoter with the common touch of a leper, but also that when it comes to the management of political conflicts between him, his party and the Majority Party, he lacks any kind of touch.

Rather than find a political solution that gave both his government and the information ministry, which is nominally responsible for the KBC, a win/win solutioon, the Governor went went to DefCon 4 and dumped stinking rubbish in front of KBC's premises. How an act of vandalism was meant to compel either the KBC or the ministry to pay what it owed the county government  remains a mystery only the pin-heads in the executive suite at City Hall can explain.

The same is true of the business-cum-political dispute between the oil company MD and his tenant, a senator representing the county. The senator had demonstrated a certain political independent streak that rubbed his business partner the wrong way and regardless of the terms of the contract between the two men, the MD was determined to make an example of the "disloyal" senator. When an opportunity presented itself to turf out the senator from the petrol station, the MD took it and ran.

Both sides to the dispute hired gangsters to protect their interests. Both gangs confronted each other at the petrol station ending up in a classic Mexican Standoff, except the other-bodied senator was in a chair wielding a pistol while the MD was on his feet rallying his troops. The incensed senator was not letting the contract voided without a fight; when the MD casually and dismissively turned his back on the senator, the senator fired off a round past the MD's ear, sending bystanders and gangsters fleeing in all directions. It remains a mystery why both the MD and the senator were both on site. The mystery is cleared up when one remembers that the MD's failed political ambitions are on a lifeline held by the leader of the majority Party, leaders who are unhappy with the mule-headed independence of the senator and who are unwilling to separate business from loyalty.

A win-win scenario was possible between the MD and the senator. If the senator kept it quiet that he was the MD's senator, his independence wouldn't have caused the MD to have to prove his loyalty to the Majority Party by throwing off his petrol station. Neither party comes out of this smelling of roses: the senator comes off as a trigger-happy madman; the MD comes off as the king of brown-nosers willing to put his life in danger to keep himself in the good graces of the party leadership.

Politics is a zero-sum game in Kenya. There are never any win-win scenarios. As a result, close shaves such as vandalism and shots-across-bows (literally), tend to escalate into blood feuds that rope in entire families, communities and ethnicities. The line between mass bloodshed and political live-and-let-live is wafer-thin. More often we are on the wrong side of that line. Governors, senators, parastatals and business tycoons are proof that we are monkeys-with-AK-47s when it comes to politics.

Can money and power buy good health or resurrections?

Nderitu Gachagua has died. He was undergoing specialised treatment in the United Kingdom. He had, in 2016, spent months undergoing specilised care in India, another Kenyan doing so in India because of the state of healthcare in Kenya. He had undergone specialised treatment in the UK earlier in 2015 too when he spent two months in hospital. Mr Gachagua should have resigned. There is simply no way he could have successfully led his county government from hospital beds all over the world.

It is for this reason that the National Super Alliance should rethink its lineup. So long as it has Mr Odinga in the top tier, NASA is as wedded to the idea of One True Leader as Nyeri's politicians were in their loyalty to a man whose pancreatic cancer eventually killed. In the late Mr Gachagua's case, the office of governor was literally a matter of life or death.

Michael Kijana Wamalwa died in office as Vice-President. He would not or could not step down even when it became clear that he would not be walking away from his London hospital bed. Mwai Kibaki refused to step down even when it was clear that the lucid-minded former Makerere University lecturer, former London School o Economics-trained economist, former leader of the official opposition, former finance minister and former vice-president was not the same man who was, as rumour had, sustained by the incredible medical alchemy of doctors and pharmacists. His fateful decision not to step down contributed to the bloodshed of 2007/2008.

In Kenya, public officers, whether elected or appointed, never step down, especially if they are serving at the highest levels of the government. No matter what the reason, be it ill-health, accusations of corruption, incompetence or the mistakes of their underlings, they never step down. They would rather be carried out of office, feet first. Sometimes, as in the case of Mr Wamalwa and Mr Gachagua, the feet-first route is the only one left and it begs the question, do they really believe that money and power can buy good health or secure resurrections?

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Faking it till we make it

Elections matter. They don't matter more than the rule of law or the integrity of the executive, but they matter. Anyone who argues that elections are an expensive boondoggle for choosing political leaders and determining national priorities fails to take into account the problems of restricting political activity to the narrowest elite slice of the population of a nation. Elections matter because they are proof of the resilience or weaknesses of a political culture. In Kenya, both are in stark display in 2017.

The Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD), the Minority coalition in Parliament, has entered into an agreement with the Amani National Congress (ANC) to form a "superalliance" called the National Super Alliance (NASA) to take on the spawn of the Jubilee Alliance now finally known as the Jubilee Party (JP). I don't think it really matters what the manifestos of the NASA or the JP really are; no political party, alliance or coalition has ever even tried to live up to the lofty promises in an election manifesto.

I don't think that the alliances, superalliances, coalitions and agreements are seen by many as the ethnic vote-bank politics that have come to define election contests in Kenya as a bad thing. After all, even children and politicians with mixed ethnicities and mixed heritages are forced to choose the one they consider the "dominant" one, usually the one their father belongs to. Ethnicity, both positive and vile, infuses every aspect of politics and is enshrined in the Constitution in the anodyne phrase "the regional and ethnic diversity of the people of Kenya" which tells all you need to know about the place of ethnicity (code for "tribe") in Kenya.

What matters is that Kenyans are at least paying lip-service to the ideals of the constitution on multipartyism, pluralism, tolerance and the peaceful transfer of political power between one political regime and the next. In the United States they have a saying: fake it till you make it. Perhaps if Kenyans fake political liberalism long enough and hard enough, Kenyans might actually build a nation and political culture that espouses all the values and principles that make our ridiculously long-winded and dull constitution the most progressive and liberal in the world.

My case for disarming the police

For as long as I have been alive, the police have always been armed. They ordinarily bear the Heckler & Koch G3 battle rifle, the Kalshnikov Concern AK-47 assault rifle or the Heckler & Koch MP5 submachine gun. Few of them carry side-arms, sniper rifles, general purpose machine guns or light machine guns, except when dealing with large-scale unrest. It is inevitable, thus, that if you encounter policemen on patrol, they will inevitably be armed with assault or battle rifles.

I believe this lies at the heart of the problems with policing in Kenya. When it is founded on an armed, national police force, renaming it as a police service, will not resolve the inherent contradictions. A police service should be established for the safety of the people first, and then the safety of their property. Things like the security of the state and the stability of the government are dealt with by the security services and the defence forces.

A police service that is called upon to perform both public safety and national security functions will develop a schizophrenia from all the pressure bearing upon its usually meagre resources, particular its human resource. The National Police Service is called upon to perform both functions, even when the Kenyan intelligence community can be tasked with a great deal of the national security work. The pressures that have come to bear on the National Police have, I believe, contributed to increasing cases of insubordination, indiscipline and violence among professional colleagues.

In recent weeks policemen have turned their firearms on each other, turned their guns on their intimate partners, committed suicide or threatened or attacked their commanding officers. This too during an expansion in their material capabilities, from the purchase of more guns to the purchase of more military and paramilitary materiel.

The need to protect the country from terror attacks has been used to justify the continued presence of armed police on our streets and in our neighbourhoods. However, from the response to the attacks at the Westgate Mall, Mpeketoni in Lamu and Garissa University College, it is clear that the existence of armed police did not prevent the attacks. It however, revealed the intelligence failures at the continued menace of terrorist groups.

A reorientation in policing towards its demilitarisation and a focus on public safety might also improve the national police's disciplinary challenges. The fewer policemen that are armed, the fewer policemen that are tempted to use their firearms to settle personal or professional scores with each other or with civilians. This might also reorient the relationship of the national police service with the communities that it is charged to keep safe; fewer encounters between the police and civilians will be likely to escalate into violent confrontations if the civilian population doesn't feel like it is living under siege.

Better co-ordination by the national police and the intelligence community might identify communities that will require armed police patrols; however, this should be the exception and not the rule. A generally disarmed police service has the opportunity to forge better community relations which will help identify threats to the safety of the people or private property before they escalate into crimes that warrant a police response. Of course, each police district will still need a small contingent of armed police to respond to situations where the force of arms are necessary but, again, this should be the exception and not the rule.

One other outcome might be the redirection of scarce resources towards the improvement in the quality of life of rank and file police officers and, perhaps, a reduction in corrupt acts among them. If less money is spent buying more guns and ammunition, the savings can be directed at police housing and other social amenities for police officers and their families, reducing the psychological pressures they're under, improving discipline within the ranks and reducing the chances of police officers turning their firearms against each other, intimate partners, other civilians or their commanding officers.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Sex and Murder

Serena Williams. She, I can recognise from a hundred paces. Maybe even two hundred paces. She is, without a scintilla of a shadow of a doubt, the most important athlete. Ever. More important than Lewis Hamilton. More important than "Iron" Mike Tyson. More important than the walking refrigerators known as American football players. She has dominated a sport that was for the longest time the preserve of doped-up ex-SovBloc athletes and she dominated it when even today, many of her challengers are still doped up. If there are athletes to be conferred with sainthood for their complete domination of the sport, Serena Williams would be one of them. Together with Mohammad Ali.

Ms Williams reminds me of the very pregnant Beyoncé Knowles-Carter. No, Ms Williams doesn't remind be of Queen Bey because Ms Williams has put on a bit of weight or anything like that; she reminds me of Beysus because Mrs Knowles-Carter is the most dominant musician I have heard of for the past decade. From what I have seen, the Beyhive is a cross between a world-dominating religion, a cult and a gang: only its members truly understand what it is to live in a world in which a magical creature as Beyoncé lives.

Speaking of entertainment, billions of English-speaking women (and the men who simply can't resist) are glued to idiot boxes because of Shonda Rhimes, a place my beloved and her cohort know as ShondaLand. In ShondaLand two TV shows occupy pride of place: Grey's Anatomy and Scandal. In Grey's Anatomy, doctors spend almost a whole hour every week sleeping with each other, planning to sleep with other, regretting that they slept or didn't sleep with each other...and dying in creatively violent ways. In Scandal, political operatives, congressmen, first ladies and presidents spend almost a whole hour every week sleeping with each other, planning to sleep with other, regretting that they slept or didn't sleep with each other...and dying in creatively violent ways.

What these women have in common is that they bear the same skin colour as some of my favourite athletes and entertainers: Maria de Lurdes Mutola, Blessing Okagbare, Congestina Achieng, Leleti Khumalo, Mbilia Bel, Nayanka Bel and Mary Atieno. One day, a Kenyan won't have to pine after ShondaLand to get their fix of sex and murder. If a Kenyan is very, very lucky, of course.

Can you?

Can you afford food, shelter, healthcare, transport, electricity, and water services? (Okay, okay, when it comes to water services, can you afford to pay for a water bowser of "clean" water in the middle of this drought?) In addition, can you afford to save for your retirement, entertainment and a holiday somewhere nice that is not shags? Finally, if you are employed, can you afford to go a year without a job or if you are self-employed and "in business", can you afford to live off the proceeds of your hustle for a year?

These questions keep me up because on almost every metric, "barely" seems to be the only word that comes to mind. I wonder how many Kenyans listen to the "booming economy" PR with agreement. I wonder how many believe the PR gurus when they hashtag you with #TukoPamoja.

Mr Owino is right; they're priority payments

I have written about the Consolidated Fund and Consolidated Fund Services. I argued,
Consolidated Fund an accounting term relied on by the National Treasury to make the payments required to be made as charges on the Consolidated Fund...Consolidated Fund Services encompasses all the payments that are a charge on the Consolidated Fund, that must be paid and are ordinarily not subject to the appropriations processes of the National Assembly.
Subsequently, Kwame Owino and I had a twitter argument on whether these charges on the Consolidated Fund are priority payments or protected payments. Mr Owino argues that they are priority payments, while I argue that they are protected.

This is what the Constitution provides in Article 221(6) and (7):
(6) When the estimates of national government expenditure, and the estimates of expenditure for the Judiciary and Parliament have been approved by the National Assembly, they shall be included in an Appropriation Bill, which shall be introduced into the National Assembly to authorise, and for the appropriation of that money for the purposes mentioned in the Bill.
(7) The Appropriation Bill mentioned in clause (6) shall not include expenditures that are charged on the Consolidated Fund by this Constitution or an Act of Parliament.
The purpose of an Appropriations Act is to authorise the withdrawal from the Consolidated Fund of the money needed for [the] expenditure but because charges on the Consolidated Fund are not subject to the approval of the National Assembly, they are not included in the Appropriations Bill. However, because they are part of the estimates of national government expenditure, they must be must be approved by the National Assembly.

I admit I am more confused now than when Mr Owino and I argued yesterday, and I think that in the absence of a clear interpretation of Article 221, Mr Owino is probably right about the prioitisation of payments that are charges on the Consolidated Fund. I say so because there are two stages in the appropriations process: approval of the estimates by the National Assembly and the introduction of an Appropriations Bill in the National Assembly. The approval of these charges fit into the first part; their payment is not subject to the Appropriations Bill.

Non-discretionary payments, the term Mr Owino and I agree describes these charges, because they are not subject to the passage of an Appropriations Bill by the National Assembly, may be paid as soon as the National Assembly approves their estimates. It isn't an explicit rule but it is a logical one. The National Treasury has made it a convention to pay them out first, thereby prioritising them.

Mr Owino, I will no longer quibble over whether the protected charges are also priority charges. You were right and I was not.

Monday, February 20, 2017

The Consolidated Fund

The following sentence caught my eye:
However, the Constitution prescribes a minimum level of payments that must be made through Consolidated Fund Services (CFS). (Kwame Owino, Why the State Can't Afford to Give Every Kenyan Money)
To be blunt, the Constitution doesn't prescribe any such thing. The following are the payments which are a charge on the Consolidated Fund established under Article 206 of the Constitution: the remuneration and benefits of the President and Deputy President (Art. 151), the remuneration and benefits payable to or in respect of judges (Art. 160), the expenditure of the judiciary (Art. 173), the public debt (Art. 214), and the remuneration and benefits payable to a commissioner or holder of an independent office (Art. 250).

In respect of any minimum payments to be made in accordance with the Constitution, presumably as a charge on the Consolidated Fund, though the Constitution is silent on this, this would be the "at least fifteen per cent" allocated to county governments out of all the revenue collected by the national government under Article 203(2) and the half a per cent paid into the Equalisation Fund established by Article 204(1).

Consolidated Fund Services, CFS, does not exist, either in the Constitution or in the Public Finance Management Act (No. 18 of 2012), the principal statute on the management of the Consolidated Fund. It is an accounting term relied on by the National Treasury to make payments the payments required to be made as charges on the Consolidated Fund. In other words, it is a line item in the National Treasury's books of account. Consolidated Fund Services encompasses all the payments that are a charge on the Consolidated Fund, that must be paid and are ordinarily not subject to the appropriations processes of the National Assembly.

In short, the Constitution does not prescribe a minimum level of payments that must be made through Consolidated Fund Services. It simply prescribes what are charges on the Consolidated Fund.

Friday, February 17, 2017

The Big Switch-Off (Redux)

Article 31 of the Constitution states, "Every person has the right to privacy, which includes the right not to have (a) their person, home or property searched; (b) their possessions seized; (c) information relating to their family or private affairs unnecessarily required or revealed; or (d) the privacy of their communications infringed."

But Article 24(1) also states, "A right or fundamental freedom in the Bill of Rights shall not be limited except by law, and then only to the extent that the limitation is reasonable and justifiable in an open and democratic society based on human dignity, equality and freedom, taking into account all relevant factors, including (a) the nature of the right or fundamental freedom; (b) the importance of the purpose of the limitation; (c) the nature and extent of the limitation; (d) the need to ensure that the enjoyment of rights and fundamental freedoms by any individual does not prejudice the rights and fundamental freedoms of others; and (e) the relation between the limitation and its purpose and whether there are less restrictive means to achieve the purpose.

The proposal by the Communications Authority––a proposal that seems to have been made to all telecommunications' services providers in Kenya since at least September 2016––that telecommunications' services providers shall allow a private contractor of the Communications Authority to install a "link at the data-centre or the mobile switching room" that shall "terminate close to the core network elements that shall integrate to the DMS solution", according to the Daily Nation, to "track countefeit phones" has met with suspicion that the purpose of the "link" is to spy on phone users by accessing their phone calls, text messages and other data without having to obtain a warrant from a court of law, an invasion of privacy that many will challenge.

Assuming that the alleged nefarious scheme by the Communications' Authority s true, can it actually do so? Article 31 can be limited if the limitation meets all the criteria set out in Article 24. Therefore, yes, the Communications Authority can, for lack of a better word, spy on you through your mobile phone.

Mr Wangusi, the chief executive officer of the Communications Authority, says that this "link" will be used to track counterfeit mobile phones. Few believe him. But if that were true, Mr Wangusi has not made any attempt to demonstrate that other less intrusive measures have failed. In 2012, the Communications' Authority's predecessor, the Communications Commission of Kenya, proposed to "switch off" millions of "fake" mobile phones that were in use in Kenya. Little, if anything, is known about the 2012 exercise, including whether or not it was successful and what the Communications Authority had done since then to prevent counterfeit mobile phones from being activated in Kenya.

In 2012, the big switch off revolved around the International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number, a fifteen-digit code, that identifies each mobile device that has been activated on any mobile network in the world. These IMEI numbers are entered into a global Equipment Identity Register (EIR) principally to help manufacturers track counterfeiters and sue them for intellectual property theft. The Communications Authority, hand in hand with telecommunications services providers, can still use IMEIs and the EIR to identify and track counterfeit phones. Why they need an advanced system with the potential of being used as a tool for violating Kenya's right to privacy remains unexplained.

The Communications Authority can limit Kenyans' right to privacy but before it does so, any Kenyan can challenge the Communications Authority's actions in the High Court. I don't believe Mr Wangusi and his other officers will be able to persuade a High Court judge that this "link" is "is reasonable and justifiable in an open and democratic society based on human dignity, equality and freedom" or that there isn't a "less restrictive means to achieve the purpose". I wonder if he ever will.

No heroes of conscience, only victims.

The Ministry of Health, the principal institution of the national government in the health sector, is responsible for national referral health facilities (such as the Kenyatta National Hospital and the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital) and health policy while county governments are responsible for County health services, including, in particular (a) county health facilities and pharmacies; (b) ambulance services; (c) promotion of primary health care; (d) licensing and control of undertakings that sell food to the public; (e) veterinary services (excluding regulation of the profession); (f) cemeteries, funeral parlours and crematoria; and (g) refuse removal, refuse dumps and solid waste disposal. Those are the broad provisions of the Fourth Schedule to the Constitution on the distribution of functions between the national government and county governments.

The functions of the national government are restrictive while those of the county governments are not exhaustive. Neither of these facts is sufficient to resolve the question of who is ultimately responsible for the state of the health sector. In August 2013, the Transition Authority published in the Kenya Gazette its interpretation of "county health services". These included,
county health facilities including county health facilities including county and sub-county hospitals, rural health centres, dispensaries, rural health training and demonstration centres. Rehabilitation and maintenance of county health facilities including maintenance of vehicles, medical equipment and machinery. Inspection and licensing of medical premises including reporting;
promotion of primary health care including health education, health promotion. community health services, reproductive health, child health, tuberculosis, HIV, malaria, school health program, environmental health, maternal health care, immunization, disease surveillance, outreach services, referral, nutrition, occupational safety, food and water quality and safety, disease screening, hygiene and sanitation, disease prevention and control, ophthalmic services, clinical services, rehabilitation, mental health, laboratory services, oral health, disaster preparedness and disease outbreak services. Planning and monitoring, health information system (data collection, collation, analysis and reporting), supportive supervision, patient and health facility records and inventories.
It is its interpretation of promotion of primary healthcare that is interesting because it entails providing community health services, maternal health care, immunization, outreach services, referral, ophthalmic services, clinical services, rehabilitation, mental health, laboratory services, and oral health [services]. These are services that can only be provided by doctors. If these are services provided by the county government, then these doctors are employees of the county government, that is, county public officers. Their terms of service, whether they are members of a national union or not, are the responsibility of the respective county governments. Unless they are doctors employed in national referral health facilities or for the purposes of developing a health policy, the national government has nothing to do with their terms of service.

The Kenya Medical Practitioners', Pharmacists' and Dentists' Union attempted to prevent the devolution of health services to county governments in 2013. Their argument that devolution of health services would be prejudicial or public interest was rejected by a three-judge High Court bench of judges Weldon Korir, Mumbi Ngugi and George Odunga. The doctors' union was determined to prevent the devolution of health services so much so that while it was suing the Transition Authority to get it to reverse its decision to transfer health services to counties, it was also negotiating a comprehensive bargaining agreement with the national government.

Mutuma Mathiu reminds us of the doctors' resistance to devolution and a possible motivation for that resistance:
In the past, doctors would be posted to some far-flung place. Many would rarely leave the city but would continue earning a salary. They would visit their stations in the manner of consultants while in actual fact they were on the staff.
But you can’t do that if there is a governor and local officials watching over what you are doing. This is partly what the doctors are resisting, along with the difficulties of working for corrupt and inept county governments. Daily Nation, 17th February 2017
The union resisted the devolution of health from the beginning. Few of them wanted to have the county government as their employer; after all, in 2013, none of the county governments had covered itself in glory regarding priorities, such as the improvement of health services. Things have not changed four and a half years later. Going by the precedent set by the High Court in 2013, the devolution of health services will not be  reversed by the courts; that is a political decision and neither the national government nor county governments seem interested in such a reversal.

I am sorry, I don't think the doctors are the heroes they are painted to be nor the national government the monstrous villain everyone says it is. The national government is not responsible for the terms of service of the vast majority of doctors; that responsibility falls on county governments. Therefore, the negotiations must be between a representative of all county governments, a responsibility that has been undertaken by the Council of County Governors, and the doctors' union. The Ministry of Health will do the same with the health workers under its jurisdiction. The labour ministry can only help in mediation but with the establishment of county public service boards, the labour ministry has no role to play except in the establishment of labour standards, including labour standards in the health sector.

I fail to see how the national government could have "implemented the CBA" signed in December 2013. I fail to understand why the CBA was signed in the first place. But I can understand why it was not registered with the labour court: the court would have had to point out the anomaly of the national government, which was no longer responsible for county health services, entering into an agreement with doctors it no longer employed regarding terms of service that it had no authority to entertain at all. The only thing that the national government can do is come up with a health policy; its implementation, however, must be done jointly with other stakeholders, especially county governments and doctors.

In the heat and noise of the #CBA7 and #LipaKamaTender hashtag campaigns, this important point has been lost: the proper negotiating entities with the doctors are the county governments, through the Council of County Governors, not the Ministry of Health or the Ministry of Labour. That is the constitutional bargain that Kenyans made. The insidious attempts by both the Ministry of Health and the doctors' union to undermine the devolution of health services, and the gross incompetence of the county governments in policy and financial management, has led to the almost complete shutdown of all health services in Kenya. There are no heroes of conscience in this dispute, only victims.

The Hippocratic Oath (1964 version)

The Hippocratic Oath, as re-written in 1964 by Dr Louis Lasagna, Academic Dean of the School of Medicine at Tufts University, says,
I swear to fulfill, to the best of my ability and judgment, this covenant:
I will respect the hard-won scientific gains of those physicians in whose steps I walk, and gladly share such knowledge as is mine with those who are to follow.
I will apply, for the benefit of the sick, all measures [that] are required, avoiding those twin traps of overtreatment and therapeutic nihilism.
I will remember that there is art to medicine as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the surgeon's knife or the chemist's drug.
I will not be ashamed to say "I know not," nor will I fail to call in my colleagues when the skills of another are needed for a patient's recovery.
I will respect the privacy of my patients, for their problems are not disclosed to me that the world may know. Most especially must I tread with care in matters of life and death. If it is given me to save a life, all thanks. But it may also be within my power to take a life; this awesome responsibility must be faced with great humbleness and awareness of my own frailty. Above all, I must not play at God.
I will remember that I do not treat a fever chart, a cancerous growth, but a sick human being, whose illness may affect the person's family and economic stability. My responsibility includes these related problems, if I am to care adequately for the sick.
I will prevent disease whenever I can, for prevention is preferable to cure.
I will remember that I remain a member of society, with special obligations to all my fellow human beings, those sound of mind and body as well as the infirm.
If I do not violate this oath, may I enjoy life and art, respected while I live and remembered with affection thereafter. May I always act so as to preserve the finest traditions of my calling and may I long experience the joy of healing those who seek my help.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Could Miguna take it?

Make no mistake. Nairobi doesn’t belong to the rapacious cartels. Nairobi belongs to the 99% of voters who can hardly make ends meet. The power is in our numbers. Join our movement. Let us crush the cartels. We must transform Nairobi City County into a prosperous and glorious place to live, work and grow together. Viva!
Donald John Trump, the forty-fifth  president of the United States, and Barack Hussein Obama, Mr Trump's predecessor, have radically different perceptions of the United States. In Mr Trump's eyes, the United States has fallen on hard times, is the laughingstock of China, is constantly being undermined by its friends and allies, is facing cataclysms on its southern border that only a wall will fix. In other words, the United States is not great. Mr Trump vowed to Make [the United States] America Great Again and restore it to True Americans. Since his election he has set off to do exactly that.

Mr Miguna is Nairobi's Donald Trump. In his eyes, Nairobi is divided between the 1% made up of rapacious cartels who have not only robbed the peoples of Nairobi blind, they have inculcated a culture of looting, lying, thieving and incompetence that has denied Nairobi City County prosperity and glory, and the 99% [of voters] who can hardly make ends meet. Mr Miguna will lead Nairobi City County to prosperity and glory by crushing the cartels by implementing the promises he has made in his manifesto and policies he is loath to share lest his ideas be stolen by members of the cartels.

Stripping Mr Miguna's words of their hyperbole leaves one with the unvarnished reality of Nairobi's straitened times. Evans Kidero, Jonathan Mueke and the members of their county executive committee have singularly managed to make the former City Council of Nairobi look like the paragons of Six Sigma effectiveness. In the four years that Mr Kidero and Mr Mueke have been in charge, not only has Nairobi become filthier, it has become more chaotic, congested, loud and hostile.

If Messrs Kidero and Mueke were solely to blame, we would leave it at that but special mention must be made of Nairobi's county assembly, its senator, MPs and woman representative, whose antics have done little to compel the incompetent Kidero/Mueke team o do better. As the saying goes, sooner or later the chicken will come to roost. That day is fast approaching and Mr Miguna and a host of rivals are hoping to make Mr Kidero a one-term governor. No one will be sorry to see Mr Kidero go. In fact it is possible that many might wish to see more muscular outcomes for Mr Kidero including robust prosecution by the DPP for what they believe has been a government of the corrupt.

Mr Miguna is neither soft nor cuddly; he is one of the most abrasive politicians in Nairobi today. He faces off against the suave and urbane Peter Kenneth, the spectacularly colourful Mike Sonko, the celebrity businesswoman Esther Passaris and the combative woman of God, Margaret Wanjiru. Mr Miguna brings a razor-sharp intellect; perhaps Mr Kenneth is the only politician who can match wits with him.

Mr Sonko, Mr Kenneth and Ms Wanjiru have served as elected representatives; Mr Kenneth was even celebrated for his stewardship of the Gatanga Constituency CDF kitty. Mr Miguna has never held elected office before, two previous attempts never having seriously gotten off the drawing board. His only stint in the public service ended in bitterness, accusations and public displays of pique that left every party involved looking foolish and small.

In 2013, the city's politics were a tribal census with the "dominant" ethnic communities in Nairobi dominating the elections. Mr Miguna argues that in 2017, the people of Nairobi are ready to put tribal identities because they are fed up by how their city has been run. Mr Miguna may be onto something. However, Nairobi is also the principal operating base of all political parties in Kenya and national political party leaders command a sizeable share of the loyalty of the city's voters. For Mr Miguna to prevail in August, he must not only smash the seemingly white-knuckle grip that Mr Odinga or Mr Kenyatta seem to have on Nairobi's voters, he must also convince the voters that he has the ability to govern and govern well, regardless of his personality, uhmm, traits.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017


The #CBA7 are free. Sort of. The Court of Appeal has ordered release of the leaders of the doctors' union pending the hearing of an appeal by the union against the decision of the employment court regarding the legitimacy of their strike. The politicians and their acolytes are going to have a field day with this new development. Propagandists are about to earn their shilling today.

If you really thought that the fate of the #CBA7 was not going to be "politicised", you are an idiot. It offered politicians an opportunity to paint each other in especially bad light, the Minority Coalition would say that the Majority Alliance is led by idiots while the Majority Alliance...I don't know what it thinks except it repeats "rule of law" over and over like an article of faith.

Now the Kenya Medical Doctors', Pharmacists' and Dentists' Union are players on the political field of combat. They will become cannon fodder for the insatiably egos of the political classes. They may win or they may lose; there are no guarantees when it comes to CBAs with the Government. But they will no longer be anonymous. Those cute days are long past.