Tuesday, August 09, 2016

A few questions for Miguna

I have read and reread Miguna Miguna's "vision" on Facebook. It is longwinded, to say the least. More importantly, it is a declaration of  new kind of governance for the county of Nairobi City. What differentiates it from other similar declarations and political promises is that it is being made by a self-confessed independent candidate. It requires interrogation.

Mr Miguna, better than anyone else, understands that even at a municipal level, governance is a partnership between the executive and the legislature. If he is elected, his agenda for the county should be supported by the county assembly. At the very least, it should not be actively opposed by the county assembly or else he will face five years of residents' frustrations expressed in colorfully profane ways on his Facebook page. Mr Migunaa's "vision" is quite thin to the point of absolute anorexia on how he will forge a political, administrative and developmental partnership with the members of his county assembly.

Mr Miguna watched from a front-row seat how cabinet ministers undercut each other in Mwai Kibaki's poisonous government and how senior civil servants became pawns in the games that ministers played. He witnessed first hand the shenanigans surrounding all the major Kibaki-era scandals so he knows what is required to manage a team designed to deliver on political promises. Beyond public vetting, Mr Miguna does not spell out what qualifications the members of his county executive should possess or what degree of experience they must have. He does not spell out what he will do to reform City Hall and what legislative or administrative tools he will rely on to achieve this goal.

Third, some of his plans are too vague. Take this little gem,
Within three months after assuming power, we shall actively source funds and embark on the construction of pedestrian walkways, bicycle lanes, under-passes and over-passes in all parts of Nairobi...
Either he has forgotten the basic rules of the funding of a government or he assumes that we are oblivious of them. Public infrastructure projects, whether in Kenya or overseas, are the lifeblood of municipal governments and their financing has always been highly politicised. When Mr Miguna proposes to "actively source funds" for his infrastructure plans, does he mean that he will raise the fees and levies charged by the county government, or does he mean that the county will float a municipal bond? Does he mean that he will go with a begging bowl to "development" partners or will he borrow from commercial banks at eye-watering rates?

One of his signature proposals is the establishment of the
Nairobi City County Asset Recovery Unit (ARU), which shall be headed by an internationally head-hunted and respected chief executive. The ARU shall review all previous Auditor General’s Reports, Parliamentary Audit Reports, the Ndung’u Land Commission Report, Kroll Investigative Report and other investigative reports for purposes of initiating public asset recovery proceedings against past and present looters.
How, exactly, does he intend to accomplish the goal of recovering Nairobi City County's assets that have been looted by past and present leaders? Will he push through his county assembly an asset recovery law or will he rely on the good offices of the Director of Public Prosecutions and Attorney-General to do the heavy lifting? He must know that the investigation and prosecution of offences, including corruption and economic crimes, remain the preserve of the nation government. The least he can do is to sue for recovery of public assets belonging to the county.

But what gives me pause is that Mr Miguna doesn't seem to have a slate of professionals whom he intends to nominate for confirmation as members of is county executive. It is a year to the election and we do not know whether his county executive will be split evenly between men and women, how many will represent persons with disabilities or youth, how many are coming from banking, law, engineering, healthcare, commerce, accountancy, nursing or academia, how many have held public office before, and other similar matters. Does he intend to spend the first three months of his administration headhunting men and women willing to work in his county executive or does he have a slate of people ready to work with him?

It is not enough for Mr Miguna to claim that his
opponents are a miss-mash of political potato salad: people without any clear progressive ideological commitments or agendas; a group of people driven by unadulterated greed and chauvinistic tendencies. Virtually every single one of them has presided over the looting and desecration of Nairobi City County.
Mr Miguna must concretise his proposals and publish a more detailed manifesto, long on the mechanics of a government and short on polemics and longwinded disquisitions on the unfitness of his opponents. Maybe then, we shall pay heed to his prophecies.

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