Monday, February 16, 2009

The tax-dodgers from Ukambani (not Muthama, though)

The benevolent munificence of the tax-dodging mambers of the 10th Parliament knows no bounds - now the Akamba members of that august House want to establish a KES 1 billion fund for the region. This being the Kenya I know and love, I should not be blamed if I receive this information with a significant quantity of salt. I know my MPs - munificent and benevolent, they are not. Not without some ulterior motive. Take for example, Mrs. Ngilu was a darling of her people when she was in charge of Health (we all got free health-care in Ukambani) but she is a disaster in the Water portfolio.

The good lawyer Mutula Kilonzo has been reduced to issuing platitudes and promises of 'swimming in Nairobi river within a year'. The other Kilonzos, Kiema and Charles, are apparently mouths for hire with little experience in the cut and thrust of competitive electoral politics (they should have a chinwag with Gideon Ndambuki, he'll set them straight).

Politicians in charge of large sums of money conjure up visions of their expanding waist lines and spreading buttocks at the expense of the mwananchi. Instead of these 'leaders' playing their role and lobbying government for the relevant funds for the development of the area, they intend to hoodwink us with a large wad of cash in the hope that we won't call them on their failings. I was glad that the shaded visage of The Boss was not there to be seen; else I would have been very disappointed if the Hon. Member for Kilome associated himself with the charlatans and loudmouths at the 'top of KICC'. While he has a hands-on approach to the development of Kilome, I am afraid that his particular model may not be self-sustaining after his departure to parts elsewhere. What we demand of our leaders is help on 'how to fish' rather than the fish itself.

Friday, February 13, 2009

An Evil Odd Couple

Now what? Somehow "I told you so" seems inappropriate, doesn't it. But I did warn you. They will never put one of their own in harm's way. The masterminds, financiers and footsoldiers that rained blood on this nation will never be brought to book. Not so long as that unholy couple is in power.
What surprised me (though it shouldn't have) is the way Kenyans spoke with hope of the possibilities of a Local Tribunal or a trip to The Hague. Haven't we learnt anything of the past 45 odd years of Uhuru? There is one thing you can put money on and receive short odds at the bookies: politicians have never and will never correctly read the mood of the people and do the right thing. Not so long as we keep taking money and bull-shit from them in equal measure. Not so long as we keep breaking the petty laws so they THEY can break the major ones. Not so long as we keep believing that our fate is in the hands of the government. Not so long as we believe short-cuts and panya routes are the only means to success.
I am glad though, that Kibaki and Raila were humiliated in Parliament yesterday. I never liked their partnership; not in 2002 and not in this bastardization of coalition politics. They are an odd couple: they spend more time intriguing against each other, it is even doubful they have any time to run the government and their political parties at the same time. Not to mention, meet the needs of the constituents that sent them to Parliament. I mean, what have Raila and Kibaki done for the people of Kibera or Othaya. Kibera is still largely a slum and Othaya is still largely a backward Kikuyu village. In that they have a common purpose: screw the common mwananchi.
Mr. Raila is increasingly starting to resemble the toadying politician-fixer of the Kanu days. Greedy and grasping with no shame or conscience. When 10 million Kenyans are dying of hunger, he fires an obscure aide in his office as part of his 'zero tolerance' to corruption while his fellow MPs are busy writing love notes to the MD of the NCPB to favour one thieveing 'miller' or the other. How do you explain one Mr. Jackson Kibor making KES 85 million without spending a cent of his own or even being a miller? "Ni biashara," he says. Raila and Kibaki remain silent. And people keep on dying.
One day, Karma will bite them in the ass. At least, God does not allow sin to go unpunished ... even if it be visited upon the 3rd and 4th generations. Vengence will be ours!

Told You So

Now what? Somehow "I told you so" seems inappropriate, doesn't it. But I did tell you. They will never see things from your perspective - you inow it as well as I do. Saitoti, Michuki, Raila, Orengo, et al are all cut from the same cloth, are two sides to the same coin, as as Janus-faced as the best of the rest. In politics, all that remains in Kenya is the amassing and preservation of wealth and power. And so, to preserve these, they will seek to have a tribunal they can 'control' (read, manipulate). Good luck to you all.

Friday, February 06, 2009

The Hague or Not The Hague

It is now apparent that there are issues to be resolved before the perpetrators of the murder, mayhem and chaos of January to March 2008 are to be brought to book. First, the good members of the august house we like to call the National Assembly conspired to water down the language of the Draft Bill on the Tribunal. Then they came to a tribal alliance to protect each other in the event of adverse mention by the tribunal. Then, they finally connived to intimidate potential witnesses by their public utterances.
Thankfully, one or two characters saw through their charadae. But, do they come with clean hands? Mr. Imanyara's gambit to delay the process may eventually ensure the matter goes to the ICC. But, is Ms. Karua right to say athat many of the culprits will go free as the ambit of the ICC is so narrow? So was Mr. Imanyara's act to ensure that suspects were tried at the Hague or to ensure they would not face the full brunt of the law? Time will tell.
The problem is that we were quick to dismiss the Kenya Penal Code. The main reason was that there were apparently legitimate fears that the Kenyan Judiciary was compromised from the get-go. What that assumption failed to address was the apparent courage of one Hon. Mr. Justice Philip Waki of the Court of Appeal. If he exists, then surely there must be others like him. Unless he is looked upon as a weed in a garden of corruption!
Wouldn't it have been easier to draft a new law to try these fellows under the existing legal framework (giving a nod to the Constitution), by hiring outside investigators (the FBI and Scotland Yard come to mind), which we have done before, to conduct the investigations, forcing all named persons to stand down from their positions of power and authority, and by establsihing independent fast-track courts specially mandated to hear these trials? This whole tribunal/ICC dance is a distraction; it may end up that none of the perpetrators will ever face the justice they so richly deserve. That would be a crying shame, ama?

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

A Valentine's Day Wedding

Romance in these times is a precious commodit and my friend has chosen February 14th to solemnise his long-term relationship to his partner. That is beautiful. Most of you know of my position regarding marriage. Howver, do not be surprised that I am celebrating, nay, participating in my friend's special day. He gives me hope that if many were as careful, caring, steadfast, determined and principled as he, then I wouldn't need to seriously consider a specialisation in divorce law! I wish my friends a long partnership, joy and happiness in their future.

Leave the Old Gal alone!

Now, there are things you can do when you are angry. For instance, you can walk into Garissa Lodge and buy an AK-47 and wipe out your office-mates ... or you can do what the First Lady did - give a press conference and demand that your questions be answered. As a mother and as a citizen, Mrs. Kibaki has every right to use her position in relation to Baba Jimmy to demand better from George Saitoti and his fellow ministers. And the president was right in stating that despite his wife's feelings, he still reposed faithy in the good Professor, even if he shouldn't have.
The media discourse on whether she should or shouldn't have asked for explanations from the dramatis personae of our most recent misfortunes is neither here nor there. What is germane is the fact that we, the ordinary citizens, the electors, are incapable of demanding accountability from our representatives and leaders. If it takes a person of Mrs. Kibaki's position to do so on our behalf, then more power to her.
I disagree with the First Lady on many issues - but let it not be said that I would not defend her honour against any person that would seek to tarnish her name. She has faced many challenges and she has made a few mistakes. Like Jesus said, "He who is without sin..." It cannot be gainsaid that while our politicians were maneuvering to find the most advantageous position to knife each other, Mrs. K cut through the bullshit and spoke her mind. She was the only national figure to demand that our vulnerable girls and children at the Coast be protected from sexual exploitation and abuse. And today, she is the only one demanding that ministers be held to account for the unwarranted deaths of scores of Kenyans. And for that, this nation owes her a great debt of gratitude that it has not even began to repay.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

What will the Gooners do now?

When GTV finally went off the air on Sunday (or was it Friday), there was almost a nationwide day of mourning confined to the pubs, of course. One of my colleagues at work knows more about Arsenal that he does about opening a post office box. He knows Arsene Wenger's entire biography while he would be hard-pressed to name any significant dates in the life of his political hero, Raila Odinga. This is interesting: we have created a new religion and we call it football. We understand football statistics the way actuaries understand insurance premia. Yet, the bible still remains a mystery. Perhaps the death of the GTV is a good thing; perhaps men and women will find time to restore some sanity to their lives. Read a little, talk a litlle and make friends.

Are we really that desperate?

Geoge Saitoti is a millionaire many times over, perhaps even a billionaire. Who knows? What we do know is that he will not want for anything in the near future. It is highly unlikely that we will see him scrambling across wetlands of fuel to scoop some for sale at the nearest market centre so that he can feed his dependents. The First Lady is also not a from a humble background, not today anyway. She enjoys all the trappings of the spouse of a head of state. Yet their takes on the tragedies that have befallen the victims of the fires in Nairobi and Molo tell a story of the near continental divide among leaders in Kenya today.
There are those who have realised (belatedly) that they cannot continue to use us as cannon-fodder for their political wars. Others, however, do not care whether we live or die so long as they can loot the National Treasury. Mrs. Kibaki exposed the vacuity of some of our leaders by questioning Prof. Saitoti's callous remark about the imperatives of poverty compelling some of my unfortunate brothers and sisters to risk life and limb in the search for a meal. Had he taken time to run this statement through his admittedly well-organised brain, he would have come to the conclusion that while his sentiments may be true, there are many truths as to the misfortunes befalling the good people of this benighted land.
Some have ascribed them to the powers of darkness; other have ascribed them to the venality of those in power. What is certain is that these people in positions of responsibility and power have done precious little to ameliorate the suffering of the tens of millions of Kenyans facing starvation, famine, drought, disease, pestilence and all manner of avoidable risks. It is dispiriting to witness thieves and robber-barons sitting in the august chambers of the National Assembly inveighling against corruption in high office and other vices while their bank balances could fund several district hospitals for years without having to bother the guardians of the Consolidated Fund.
Yes, we are really that desperate. While the fat cats in Parliament roll around in their Mercs, Beemers, Rangeys and Pajs, we must make do with the recklessly handled City Hoppas and 14-seater matatus. While they can afford five course lunches at the Parliamentary cafeteria, we must make do with a one-square at the local kibanda. Anything more, and we must make a choice between food and transport. Don't even get me started on where we live as compared to their palaces in Runda and Muthaiga. The plain fact is that whenever we see a trailer on its side spilling paraffin or kerosene or petrol, risk to life and limb is not a deterrent to the opportunity to provide for our families by engaging in potentially suicidal siphoning missions. After all, the Judases that promised us jobs and food haven't done anything for us, have they?

Monday, February 02, 2009

President Kibaki's Curse

Am I the only one who sees it. More have died or been injured in Kibaki's short tenure proportinately compared to the much-hated Moi and Kenyatta reigns of terror. I believe he has lost more Ministers and MPs through tragedies and crime than any other president, Kenyatta-era assassinations included. And more of his MPs and Cabinet members have been implicated in crime than at any other time in history. Tell me this is not an accursed administration. Is this not the Voice of God clearly telling us: "Get rid of this man!"

There will be blood!

We have become rather good at wringing our hands in sorrow everytime the sky falls on our heads. But, this previous week has been especially brutal. First, so many die in the Nakumatt fire. Just as we are coming to terms with that tragedy, an overturned tanker explodes and more lives are lost. And in the background, is the grim reality that many more Kenyans shall die slowly and painfully of starvation. Just because their deaths will not be mercifully brief as those of the ones incinerated or blown up, it will not make them any less tragic. Or painful.
There are now mutterings of a new disaster-management system for the country with clear lines of authority and responsibility. Mutula and his shiny new ministry are seized of the matter. So is Mudavadi in his not-so-new one. And Kalonzo is busy praying for all and sundry. Baba Jimmy, however, takes the biscuit: he's ordered a five-day mourning period for those that lost their lives in the two infernos. But not for the ones dying of starvation.
And herein lies the rub: he knows that the venality and corruption of his perfidious government will not change. Ever. He will not further endanger his immortal soul by praying to the Almighty when he knows the he alone is responsible for the thousands that will starve to death. We would all like to blame Ruto & Co. for the theft of millions of tonnes of grain from the mouths of the hungry, but the fact is the buck stops with the president. He is the boss. His employees are behaving like bulls in ten million China shops. And no matter how many people die, he will not wish to rock the boat because he has a promise to keep. Not to Kenyans, but to his fellow-traveller Raila Odinga. These two characters have a lot of blood on their hands. When we write our history, it will not show the courage they displayed when they brought down Moi's regime, but the number of lives that were lost to satisfy their bloody lust for power.