Monday, August 19, 2013

It's time for the President to trim some fat.

I just read a ridiculous story of three American medical students being held hostage by their hotel over unpaid bills. I thought this sort of thing only affected new mothers when they failed to settle their maternity fees in public hospitals. Apparently, until Uhuru Kenyatta decreed that no fees would be charged for mothers who delivered their bundles of joy in public hospitals, even the premier medical facility that is Kenyatta National Hospital had an entire wing dedicated to holding new mothers, and their new-born children, hostage until bills were settled. In fact, it is not just new mothers-and-babies that here held hostage; the remains of patients who died while undergoing treatment would be detained until the families of the deceased paid settled the hospitalisation bills.

This is an indictment of a nation that has consistently prioritised the wrong things. For example, even in the new-breath devolution spirit, it is absolutely vital to provide armed police, chase cars, flags and other accoutrements of State authority to the legion of ill-prepared, ill-tempered and capriciously greedy governors, but it is still a to-do-list item when it comes to hiring new nurses or paying the ones who are there.

Right after he received the Instruments of Power, President and Commander-in-Chief Uhuru Kenyatta ordered the Cabinet Secretary of Defense to spend four billion shillings in military procurement in the 2013/2014 fiscal year. But his government could not find money to settle a fifteen-year debt owed to the teachers of Kenya or lecturers in our public universities. Some of his minions, perhaps thinking that it would curry favour with the boss, went out of his way to budget hundreds of millions of shillings for our Jubilee celebrations, including an obscene amount for a statue in commemoration of a president who had studiously avoided all forms of pomp or circumstance in his ten years in power. It is fit that the President fired the idiots who came up with that harebrained scheme.

Mr Kenyatta, and his boon-friend William Ruto, made many promises while campaigning to succeed Mwai Kibaki. Some of their promises were incredibly ambitious and would transform Kenya for the good if they were realised. Some of them were as harebrained as the multi-million shilling presidential statue, but since we elected them, we can't really bitch too much about them. Among their promises was that they would work towards enforcing the rule of law impartially and fairly. Everyone would be given a fair shake. It seems that this is one of the promises that will take the Jubilee administration time to realise.

The reason why the President and Deputy President seem to be taking two steps forward and one step back seems to be the sundry minions, hangers-on and kiss-asses determined to preserve whatever residual powers they imagine they possess. It is why you find civil servants who have managed to the game the system for decades seem to be finding reasons to issue new guidelines on this, that or the other, performing duties and exercising powers that no longer exist. They are living in a world where the Presidency is the sun, and they are the preferred planets in orbit around him, benefiting from the presidential solar afterglow. They are the reason why wazungus are getting detained by two-bit hoteliers in Kenya's boonies. The President and Deputy President need to step back and scan their immediate environments and bench every Hitler-in-waiting among their minions, hangers-on and kiss-asses.

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