Friday, August 26, 2016

Trust, but verify, Nairobi style

First, an apology. In the run-up to the last General Election, I wrote at length in these pages how Nairobians had to elect Dr Evans Kidero – at the time viewed as a polished corporate titan – and reject the stone-thrower of Embakasi.
What a mistake. Today’s Nairobi looks worse than the worst days of rot and decay in the 1990s when mayors went by names such as "Magic" Mwangi; garbage, crime and potholes were the order of the day and kanjoras were known better for their sure aim with chairs during monthly wars at City Hall than offering services to residents of the capital. August 6, 2016
But Miguna has one huge advantage which basically virtually no other Kenyan politician can boast. He is a clean man untouched by the stench of corruption which has reached crisis proportions at every level of government from the very highest to the lowest ones in every village.
If Nairobians want a fresh start, they can make a bold statement to the rest of the country by donating to Miguna’s campaign because he won’t spend any money buying them. I will certainly consider it. August 15, 2016
These are extracts from Murithi Mutiga's column in the Sunday Nation. And having read Miguna Miguna's manifesto, I believe that there are many Nairobians who are doing penance for ever supporting Evans Kidero and who believe, fervently, that Miguna Miguna is the answer. I would caution them. They should do what they should have done when considering Evans Kidero's candidature in 2012/2013: trust, but verify.

The statutory environment is largely settled today when it comes to devolution and devolved government. Chapter Eleven establishes the broad outlines of devolution and devolved government, while the details are provided by the County Governments Act, the Urban Areas and Cities Act, and many regulations made under the repealed Local Government Act. Devolved governments are also regulate by the Public Finance Management Act, the Public Audit Act, the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Act and the Anti-corruption and Economic Crimes Act. Any candidate who wishes to govern Nairobi mus be intimately familiar with this statutory environment before they may even propose an anti-corruption plan of action.

The policy environment, too, is largely settled and the data underpinning the policy environment is available both online and from specialised State agencies such as the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics and the Kenya Institute of Public Policy Research and Analysis. Private think tanks such as the Institute of Economic Affairs have also contributed mightily to understanding Kenya's public policies, including public policy in relation to devolved government and their data and analysis is also available to the interested party. An aspiring governor of Nairobi must take a keen interest in these things if he or she is to propose a public expenditure scheme for the purposes of a students' bursary, public infrastructure development and public service delivery.

It is the political environment, though, that continues to give us pause, isn't it? Mr Mutiga points out that the tribal maths being relied on to divide the Nairobi vote banks is likely to be used to lock in votes for the incumbent as well as for his rivals. It is why the "right" political party matters to them and why Mr Miguna has chosen a different path: standing as an independent candidate. Indeed, it is Mr Miguna's bold declarations on everything under the Nairobi political sun that differentiates him from Evans Kidero, Mike Sonko, Dennis Waweru, Margaret Wanjiru, Esther Passaris and Eugene Wamalwa. If there are any Nairobians who trust Mr Miguna, they should verify that their trust is not misplaced.

It is almost impossible to prove a negative. But it is possible to assess a person's preparedness for high political office based on their acts of commission and of omission. Since Mr Miguna's return from political exile (as he likes to think of his long sojourn in Canada), he has contested and lost the Nyando Constituency ODM nominations, played a role in the political campaigns of Raila Odinga, has served in Mr Odinga's office when the latter was Prime Minister, been suspended from that office, refused all entreaties to return to work, shown and abandoned an interest in the Nairobi governor's office and appeared frequently on TV shows to launch polemical broadsides on his enemies and opponents. I challenge any of Mr Miguna's various boosters (including Mr Mutiga) to identify one public service achievement of Mr Miguna's whether or not he was a public servant. Just one.

For sure Mr Miguna has not been implicated in any corruption scandal but for sure, too, Mr Miguna is not remembered for doing anything for the residents of either Nyando or this benighted city except for being reminded in the most strident tones that we have been foolish to vote for thieves and drug dealers and that we don't know any better. Mr Miguna is offering to save us from ourselves and our tormentors. However, he doesn't support his offer with anything more than a screed against his enemies and opponents masquerading as a manifesto. It is invaluable to be reminded that some candidates are idiots, thieves, con artists and drug dealers; but their failings are in no way an acknowledgment that the one with the prescience to highlight them is qualified to govern our city.

So far, Mr Miguna has not demonstrated that he has a keep appreciation for the statutory or policy environments within which he will have to govern. None of his promises seems to be founded on any data. Perhaps his "economic blueprint" which he promises to unveil soon will shed some light on his preparedness. Until then, I will not hold my breath.

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