Thursday, October 13, 2016

The mirror of Uhuru

On Saturday, 26th August 2016, the Second Republic celebrated its sixth year but you wouldn't know it because not even the 26 invited heads of state who were trying to ink deals with Tokyo were told of it. If you looked at the Lancaster House constitution that Kenya built its independence governments under and the one Kenyans promulgated on 27th August, 2010, you would think that we were in two different worlds. And you would be wrong.

From a constitutional and statutory perspective, the differences between 1963/64 and 2016 are profound. On paper, at least, Kenya has term-limited presidents, no one-party Stalinist cults of personality, a decentralised (devolved) government, a bicameral parliament, an independent judiciary, an honest and effective public service, free primary education or primary healthcare, and a booming economy, which it did not have in 1964. That paper is, however, worthless in the light of the realities of the day.

They might not be overtly Stalinist, but whether one is affiliated with the ruling party or the opposition, cults of personality are back with a vengeance, if they ever left at all. In recent days, the doyen of the opposition has raised serious doubts about what is known as the Grand Collector Tunnel. An acolyte of the ruling party declared, tongue-in-cheek, that if Raila Odinga praised his house, he would burn it to the ground because he couldn't trust that what Mr Odinga said was said in good faith.

Government may have been devolved but instead of bringing out the best among the Governors and elected representatives serving in county assemblies, what we have witnessed is the localisation of great corruption. Bungoma county purchased wheelbarrows at $1,000 apiece. Murang'a county paid a consultant $20,000 to open social media accounts for members of the county executive. The speaker of Embu county was kidnapped for being suspected in the attempted impeachment of the Governor of Kiambu.

The civil service is no longer trusted to be honest; the national police remains one of the most mistrusted civil service organisations in the Government while the Ministries of Energy, Land, and Transport continue to be roiled by their own corruption firestorms. The recent vetting of candidates for the offices of Chief Justice, Deputy Chief Justice and Judge of the Supreme Court were as a result of interconnected claims of graft against the judiciary, especially against a retired judge of the Supreme Court.

Primary healthcare continues to be humiliated by the procession of international celebrities, putting money into our begging bowl, highlighting that maternal and child mortality at birth continue to stalk the land like colossi. Free education, you say? It is only free when someone ;else is paying for it and the shenanigans surrounding the laptops-for-tots continue to cast a long dark shadow over the sector.

The only difference between 2016 and 1963 is in the players and the veneer of technological advancement. In the respects that matter, little has changed. It should give us pause that more than fifty years after Uhuru, we are yet to stare into the mirror and acknowledge that we fail ourselves everyday thieves, pederasts, murderers and the corrupt walk free.

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