Revv22's Blog

October 11, 2013

Kenya Government: That Good Corporate Citizen

The Government® has announced plans to restore Westgate Mall and support traders to re-establish their businesses.

In a meeting that sought to explore ways and means of mitigating economic losses arising from the closure of the mall, Ms.Kandie (East African Affairs, Commerce and Tourism Cabinet secretary)  said her ministry would establish a team comprising Westgate Mall stakeholders to consider and advise on specific measures that Government®  and other parties would jointly take to restore the mall. According to reports, the proposed committee will also identify the immediate actions by the Government®  to safeguard on possible loss of more than 2000 direct jobs resulting from the terrorism attack.

The announcement has stirred a debate among the good “individual citizens” of Kenya. On one hand, there are those who support the Government® s move especially on the argument that the approximately 2000 persons who “lost” their jobs (and are still alive) will be able to work again. On the other, those who oppose the move saying the businesses were insured and tax payers monies should not be misused.

Recognising what followed Bomblast-1998 at the former Nairobi US embassy; I would refrain from suggesting that the mall be turned into a memorial something simply for the fact that it was private property. For the same reason, it should be none of the governments business to provide funds for the reconstruction of a privately owned; mandatorily insured businesses.

But is it as simple as that?

Firstly, the Government®  is tasked with ensuring the protection of life and property of its citizens, especially within our borders. Government®  security agencies have been blaming each other for bungling the response operations. The CEO himself, according to reports, also admitted that they bungled the operation due to a failure in the internal communications department. He went ahead and paid for a feast to calm down the nerves of one of the security agencies. In light of these blunders, and many other pending in-tray matters such as IDPs, and personal scandals facing the CEO and his deputy, Government®  is once again in need of a PR exercise that is relevant and can mitigate this particular Watergate Westgate fumble. If the government offered to pay all the hospital bills of the victims, both with and without health insurance, i have a feeling that the debate would be heavily swayed towards supporting.

Unfortunately, Government®  was beaten to that role by other “good corporate citizens” Who simply needed to keep doing what they do on an everyday basis, subsidize what it would cost normally and voila, have their names and banners over a “corporate social responsibility” event. It came naturally for them. That means that whatever CSR opportunity that is left for Government®  would expose something that the ordinary individual citizen has been made to believe doesn’t come naturally to government- prioritize business and investment over the promotion and protection of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of individual citizens.

The issuing of travel advisories by some of our “friends” was aimed at ensuring the protection of their citizens from physical harm in the event that Al-Shaabab are able to make good on their threats gain(read putting their citizens first). Our Government®  had pre-empted this and asked our “fiends”, not to issue travel advisories as “terrorist attacks can happen anywhere” (read will greatly impact negatively on our tourism revenues).

Having said this, it is important to let Government®  do all it can to mitigate the current problem it finds itself in. All corporate entities have a right to describe their mandate and find ways and loopholes around the small political problem of who actually gave them the mandate. Sometimes shareholders opinion might be split down the middle; or to be fair just above the middle with 50% plus, give or take, 8000 votes. After all, isn’t the Kenyan definition of democracy inteprated to mean majority takes all, is all and decides all?

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June 29, 2013

Love as a Crime: My statement at the launch of the Amnesty International Report by hte same title.

In Kenya, like in many African countries, gender transgression and non-heterosexual orientation are not as widely accepted and recognized as in some parts of the world. This can be attributed to the patriarchal nature in which most of our cultures are set up; a set-up that has, since time immemorial, oppressed the self-determination of women, youths and anyone that seems to challenge the balance of power in society. Apart from cultures, the conservative interpretation of religious doctrines has immensely contributed to not only non-recognition but also in creating a pre-text that encourages the use of violence and discrimination against same sex loving persons.

As human rights campaigners, we know that getting to that vital point of tolerance and eventual acceptance is a process of cultural evolution that will solely rely on the dynamicity of culture.

As we wait for this cultural change however, there continues to be gross violations to the dignity, equality and basic human rights of individuals that form part of our families, communities and society. In the last seven days there men from three different towns in Kenya survived a slit throat, hammer blows to the head and a machete attack respectively. The common denominators are that all three were perceived to be homosexuals and that a week prior; a study was publicly released claiming the three towns had the highest number of gay men in the country.

On a weekly basis, about five persons fall victim to blackmailing rackets that threaten to expose them, others face evictions from their homes as their right to privacy is invaded, some are expelled from learning institutions, while other people are unable to access vital healthcare for STIs and HIV.

It is the responsibility of the government to protect the rights of these citizens. This obligation cannot be transferred or put aside for a more accommodating time. The existence of regressive laws and policies that hinder government ability to protect the fundamental human rights of its citizens should be addressed and our African government must not continue turning a blind eye.

Human rights are not relative to geography, time and tradition. They are universal- as universal as the human being- each and every one of which is born free and equal in dignity and rights.

Thank you.

May 29, 2013

Constitution as the will of the Kenyan people, the AU and the ICC Affair

On the 1st of June 2013, Kenya will celebrate 50 years of Self-rule. A few days prior, the African Union (AU) commemorated 50 years of its formation following a successful pan-African push for self-determination and independence from European colonial masters. Among the more notorious colonial masters was Britain which colonised about 18 countries and whose Queen Elizabeth celebrated her Diamond Jubilee as ruler* of the commonwealth just months ago. It is indeed a Jubilee year, 2013.

Looking at the achievements of the three, with regards to missions set out 50 years ago, I can say that the mission is still relevant as the vision is yet to be achieved.

For Kenya, we still have to tackle ignorance, poverty and disease in a cultured environment of intolerance, corruption, impunity and a warped sense of democracy.

The AU has managed to successfully hold colourful ceremonies commemorating events such as changing its name from Organization of African Unity; holding AU Heads of State Summit and in the meanwhile failed to have such celebrations to signal the establishment of viable institutions such as courts with the capacity to handle problems such as human rights violations with an African dignity.

The ruler* of the commonwealth has managed to remain so, a ruler, since despite the existence of the AU, free African states colonised by Britain continue to have High Commissions as opposed to Embassies as the nomenclature for their diplomatic missions.

With the jubilee year, an appropriately titled Jubilee Coalition was declared the winner of Kenya’s Presidential Election 2013 after our Supreme Court unanimously voted against petitions challenging the electoral body’s declaration. What followed was an inauguration ceremony attended by Heads of African states and other dignitaries including, Rev. Jesse Jackson of the US (there had to be a face from the US). Apart from the couple of the day President Elect Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President Elect Bill Ruto, two other African leaders received significant news coverage; Sudan’s Bashir for the alleged invitation and dis-invitation due to his ICC arrest warrant status and Uganda’s Museveni for his anti-ICC rhetoric that has become more elaborate in recent days.

In one inauguration event we had three main indicators of how high regard our African leaders hold the ICC. Firstly, in his speech, the sworn in president mentioned that he will continue to co-operate with the international community and respect the rule of law and international treaties. Methinks the “dis-invitation” of Bashir, second indicator, was a ‘walk of the talk’. Lastly, Museveni’s speech was to show that when pushed to the wall a dog could still show its teeth as a reminder of its willingness to save its own skin. This to me was a perfectly orchestrated PR plan as complete as the trinity.

The AU passed a resolution to push the ICC to refer the cases against two citizens of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto back to their home country. This resolution was proposed by Uganda’s Museveni consistent with what he said during the duos inauguration as president and deputy president of Kenya.  The support for this resolution was unanimous and only Botswana was brave enough to object to it. It was guised in the spirit of Pan-Africanism and Sovereignty, an argument that has become sacrilege to speak against. Listening to the speeches by invited guests from the diaspora, particularly the Caribbean, one could not fail to appreciate their perception and vision of Pan-African as an idea whose time is long overdue. It would however be a lie to say that Museveni’s elaboration of the ideal inspired the same confidence, especially with regards to his sincerity.

The ICC handling of Kenya’s 2007/2008 Post Election Violence (PEV) cases was a result of the peace accord signed by Kenyan leaders. The accord, drafted and debated by Kenyan leaders in the presence of Eminent African Personalities recognised by the AU, recommended that a tribunal be set up to investigate and try the perpetrators of violence locally. It gave a deadline to establish the courts and deliver timely justice to the victims and whoever shall be accused. When efforts were being made to push members of the Kenyan parliament to create laws enabling the setting up of a local mechanism, t parliamentarians, particularly those affiliated to the now ICC indicted, vehemently opposed it and coined the famous chant, “Don’t be vague, let’s go to Hague”.  Where was the AU, Museveni and his anti-ICC rhetoric, oh yes… he was enjoying the international courts help in dealing with the elusive rebel, Joseph Kony.

One may ask why the parliamentarians opposed a local tribunal.  Simple: Elections, presidential campaigns and the eligibility to contest in an election so as to occupy the only capacity that is immune from prosecution-the Presidency and Acting Presidency.

The drafting of the Constitution of Kenya, 2010 was a very elaborate, civilian involving exercise that appreciated not only the historical context of Kenyan Law and its applicability in pursuing justice, but also the PEV and how fresh it was in the minds and flesh of the citizenry. Kenyans drafted and voted for it and in Chapter Nine-The Executive, they were very clear on what circumstances would grant anyone immunity from prosecution for alleged crimes. It also enshrined the establishment of various acts and the constituting of bodies that would determine who was fit to hold public office and especially the only office that grants immunity.

To circumvent these hurdles in the face being mentioned as suspects, Uhuru and Ruto managed to rally their troops in parliament to ensure that no local tribunal was set up.

They would have to deal* with the ICC when the time comes. Ruto is on record saying that the ICC cases can take up to 99 years.

Having cases in Kenya would mean that every time any evidence is produced in court, the newspapers and other media would be splashing it in the headlines and their popularity would drop. Every time a witness testifies against them or fails to testify or recants his testimony, it would have been felt first hand by the person who knows a victim of the violence and perceived in a way that would not favour them. Most importantly, every time a victim took to the witness stand to give their story, the cameras would turn to the face of the accused and Kenyans would associate that face with the ‘monster that sponsored it all’, whether it was true or not. Perception is everything. Their opponents knew it and they knew it and I believe they acted on it as any ambitious politician would. Despite the existence of a vetting body and challenges to their candidacy in the High court, Uhuru and Ruto managed to vie for public office. How regulations saying “facing charges in court”, lost to “innocent till proven guilty” I will never comprehend because this wasn’t not a challenge to natural justice but a challenge to integrity. Moving on.

It is utter nonsense that AU resolution. I am sure they are aware Chapter Nine- The Executive chapter, in 143(1) says clearly that “criminal proceeding shall not be INSTITUTED or CONTINUED in any court against the president or a person performing the functions of that office, during their tenure of office. If the President is away and the Deputy President is acting in that capacity, then in my lay opinion, he shall be indeed ‘performing the functions’ of the office of the president. Therefore what the AU is effectively telling Kenyan PEV victims to be patient and wait for justice when Uhuru and Ruto retire, probably ten years from now.

This is the ‘later’, which Uhuru and Ruto would have to deal with the ICC. Kenya is a willing signatory to the ICC, and we could pull out of the Rome Statute anytime we want to but that would not be a remedy for already on-going cases that were instituted while we were till signatories. This is why pulling out is not an option. An in any case, Sudan positions as non-Signatories hasn’t offered Bashir any sanctuary from the arrest warrant on his head. Heck, he couldn’t even step into Kenya for the Jubilee inauguration. Many are forgetting that Museveni himself promised to execute the arrest warrant if Bashir steps on Ugandan soil. Someone pointed out recently that when you look at the legal battle, especially in Uhuru’s case, you will find that it is white British lawyers, against an African, femal prosecutor. And we say our leaders have confidence in our local mechanisms?

There are many who are using 143(1) to mislead Kenyans on the level of immunity that a sitting president has. 143(4), leaves no ambiguity on the issue and says, “the immunity of the president under this article shall not extend to a crime for which the president may be prosecuted under any treaty to which Kenya is party and which prohibits such immunity.”

This was written by Kenyans and voted for by Kenyans at a time when we had experience something we did not want to experience ever again. It wasn’t written for Uganda, or East Africa or Africa but for Kenya. If we are to embark on Pan-Africanism as our chosen ideology, we cannot begin at a point of in-sincerity, selfish interest and convenience. Pan Africanism cannot be equated to reversed racism justified by sins of the father. The old colonial masters have to be challenged to compensate our people, but we cannot instil hate on our youthful population, especially not in a globalized world.  We must shun Museveni’s militarism when he blatantly accuses our ancestors and forefathers of being “weak” and “to blame” for slavery and colonialism. A leader, who kills democracy in his own country through violence, cannot be the role model that our young and vibrant president is to follow.

My word to Uhuru and Ruto; you are young and despite the fact that you need to clear your names before you have the full support of many Kenyans, your glass is half full and not half empty. Use this chance to break free of old-culture as you have already shown you are capable of. Make me proud to call you guys my president and deputy president.

May 3, 2012

New Kenya- Ethnicity vs Ethnicism

Filed under: Kenya Ni Kwetu — revv22 @ 6:43 am

A sitting MP recently stated that the contemporary battle in Kenyan politics is between “reformers and reactionary forces”.

I couldn’t agree more with this. Not because the MP and his political allies have my unconditional and blind support but because this is the reality of the matter.

Kenyan multi-party politics has always been based on two major factors; cultural ethnicity(tribe), and the personalities that forge as a result of a unanimous tribal endorsement. In many cases, these tribal-personalities are inherited positions from fathers, brothers and god fathers. In less cases the heir grows to outshine the father (or brother, or god father), assuming the image of not just a tribal bigwig but a nationally accepted personality.

It also happens sometimes that personalities arise out of a different type of ethnicity that may not necessarily be based on the African names and languages shared, but on the ideological stand points on matters such as economics and finance, ethics and human rights etc.. Am always taken to Tom mboya in the 1960s when I think of this cadre of political personalities. Despite being Luo, his “ethnicity” was mainly the economically minded Kenyan leadership who embraced capitalism as opposed to socialism which was being flogged by the late Jaramogi Oginga Odinga and in essence, the de facto ideology for Luo Nyanza.

In more recent times I would equate Martha Karua to this group of personalities. Mostly because her political path seem to have been one of total devotion to what she thought were like-minded thinkers, then betrayal and fortunately for her no assassination but a reinvention that sees her national acceptance index grow by the day. She has moved from the tribal affiliation to a more ideologically based ethnicity, that of Reformers who put at the pivot of their priorities, embracing and implementing the new constitution. She is one of the few cabinet ministers who have resigned their position on a matter of principle.

She seems to be of the thinking that the only way to get things done is to make sure you do it; even if it means existing in a different circle of “common ground”. After all, what is “ethnicity” if not a commonality in origin, ideals, values and thoughts for the future.

Professor Kimani Njogu, speaking at the inaugural session of “Kenya at Fifty-The making of the Nation-state” at the Goethe Institute, pointed that there was nothing like “negative-ethnicity” and proposed the use of the term “Ethnicism”, which he described as the negative manipulation of ethnicity. This is seen when in political and economic communication, “our people” and “those people” become the main reference points.
Ethnicism will continue to be used by socially irresponsible conglomerates only if we let them. It will continue to gain momentum only if Kenyans continue to be blind to their history, if they refuse to forge and abide by values that can serve to shape a better future for all.

It doesn’t make sense for the mwananchi to complain about “politicians” and label them all birds of a same feather, corrupt and unreliable; only to turn up during the elections and vote for them in huge numbers. There is need to provoke a more strategic voter. The way I see it, even if we get rid of every sitting MP, we shall still replace them with more politicians.

So the problem is not with the politician, it is with the appointing authority(read voter) that refuses to think like a player in the whole democratic process and is content with being a perennial pawn on the chess board. As a player, the voter will be able to think more strategically and see who is able to best serve their interest. One way to do this is to look at whom a vying politician is most likely to be accountable to when they are finally elected; if ones strategy is to coalesce with the elite for example, then they will be answerable to that coalition and serve their “protectionist” interest. On the contrary, a politician who seeks the support of the populous will be answerable to the populous and mere rhetoric won’t be enough to keep the people happy.

When participating voters realise and embrace the old cliché, “there are no friends or enemies,just common interests”, then we shall have a new Kenya in which a sense of self responsibility will echo beyond the political into other subsystems of society; a Kenya where Ethnicism will have no chance of survival and ethnicity will be able to take the various shapes favourable to our building of a true Nation-State.

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