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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