Sunday, March 30, 2008

Just Say No! (to bad leadership)


In conjunction with MOPA, the Movement for Political Accountability , we are planning a public action on Tuesday a.m. against plans for a bloated Cabinet.


We will convene on TUESDAY morning, April 1, 2008 at Freedom Corner at Uhuru Park at 10:30. Prof Wangari Maathai is keynote speaker so we will also plant a tree. We are also inviting the religious groups, who have spoken out against a bloated cabinet, for outreach.

We will then march to Harambee House with a stopover at Parliament. Exact details to be given on the day.

We are advocating a maximum of 24 under the slogan "No more than 24". That hopefully gives space to those who think we need 15 or none at all. Please feel free to think up any other slogans along those lines and bring placards (maybe something to do with April Fools??). We are having some made. It may be too short notice for T-shirts but we will try.

Mobilise your networks and remember rain gear if weather looks tricky.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Feed the People, Not the Fat Cats!

I want to share a piece by a fellow Kenyan and Civil Activist. First, some MPs try and get more cash for their retirement and now they want to spend billions more expanding Ministries while we can barely feed ourselves. I personally feel ashamed that I and many others have to reach out across the world to find funds for the victims of bad leadership whilst they insult us and shame us as Kenyans...I apologise to all the people who support and care for Kenya and who have come to our assistance while our own leaders continue to think about ways to line their own pockets.

By Mwalimu Mati

It is astonishing to hear that some crazy person, or people have suggested a Kenya Cabinet size of 44. According to the 2007/8 budget the total cost of running 34 ministries this year is Ksh 299.6 billion (an average of Ksh 8 billion per ministry per annum). Using the same average cost, 44 Ministries might cost you and I about Ksh 387 billion. Are you prepared to fork out another 100 billion shillings or so every year to accommodate your Member of Parliament’s desire to have a flag and to be called “Waziri”?

Let’s be clear, MPs were elected to represent us, not to agitate for wasteful government expenditure in the name of power sharing. Certainly,they are not meant to be inciting Government to spend Ksh 100 billion more for no serious purpose beyond contriving to get Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga to give them sinecures at public expense.

If you read the 2007/2008 Estimates of Recurring Expenditure of the Government of Kenya , you will find that Ksh 100 billion per year is equivalent to Kenya ’s current annual public debt repayments. Ksh 100 billion would finance the youth fund for 100 years and the women’s fund for 50 years. Ksh 100 billion would build ten 10-lane highways each of 50km of length – the distance between Nairobi and Thika. It is twice the aid in loans and grants received from bilateral partners for development;and four times all the grants Kenya receives from multilaterals such as the World Bank.

We cannot afford to spend Ksh 100 billion this year on a bloated
government. We have better things to do with our money. What has the GOK done about IDPs who are still living in tents and being chased from place to place by GOK security personnel whenever they dare to complain about their abysmal living conditions? Nothing. What provision is really being made for the resettlement and welfare of these unfortunate fellow citizens? Your guess is as good as mine. Do the people negotiating the size of the Cabinet have even a spare thought for the IDPs? I doubt it. Ksh 100 Billion is two times as much as we all lost because of corruption in Anglo Leasing. It is twice the amount of money Treasury will raise from the sale of public shares in Safaricom. In fact it is equivalent to at least 5 years of Safaricom’s profit at 17 billion shillings.

needs a good government not a big one. Today noone seriously argues that we have a good government in place. In fact, and here I am suggesting a vetting methodology for high offices, only 7 of the current Ministers would pass the test of not being adversely mentioned in PAC,PIC, KACC reports, or adverse court judgements. At over 30 Ministries(larger and better paid at top level than any World power) we already have a big government. Who is trying to get us to pay more for an even larger cabinet? For how long can we continue this way?

In my opinion, we need no more than 12 Ministries with one Assistant each.The rest of the Members of Parliament should represent us as they were voted, and are paid quite handsomely, to do from the Back Benches on both sides. We need good honest technocrats to run the public service for the benefit of the public with minimal political interference by temporary ministers. We need to stop pampering politicians who only recently caused us all to have the life threatening, or near death experience that we euphemistically call the “post election crisis”. On this point many of those jostling and lining up for positions at our expense ought properly to be investigated for their individual roles in the making of this
crisis. What were many of them doing in the run-up to the election of December 27th 2007? Where were many of them when we needed them to help Kenyans? Who has mismanaged our public resources in the past, present and in the near future if we don’t stop them? Indeed these are questions we should be focusing our energy in answering.

Our immediate and priority concern should be directed to the poorest and not the wealthiest Kenyans. Nearly twenty million Kenyans live on less than Ksh 64 per day. That means they will make no more or have no more to spend than Ksh 25,000 in a whole year. And that is for families! These are the Kenyans we should be spending money on. I would prefer to spend 100 billion shillings this coming year on poor Kenyans rather than continuing to fatten political sacred cows.

Finally, the only reason such a proposal is even seeing the light of day is the fact that despite the clear provisions of section 16 of the Constitution, Parliament has never made a law to establish and determine the number and portfolios of the Cabinet. Never - in 45 years! Is this the reason why there is no outrage from our elected MPs about the abuse of authority and culture of sinecures which has persisted in Kenya since the days of Jomo Kenyatta?

Mwalimu Mati

Section 16 of the Constitution of Kenya reads as follows:
Ministers of the Government of Kenya
(1) There shall be such offices of Minister of the Government of Kenya as may be established by Parliament or, subject to any provisions made by Parliament, by the President.
(2)The President shall, subject to the provisions of any written law, appoint the Ministers from among the members of the National Assembly.

Mars Group Kenya
Watching Out For You


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Kenyan MPs: Cut Your Salaries, Return Land!


After post-election violence, Kenyans are anxiously seeking peace and reconciliation, truth and justice, relief and rebuilding. As the 10th Parliament of Kenya begins to address these crucial issues, Kenyan and concerned global citizens have a message for Kenyan MPs: Reduce your drastic salaries and return land you acquired illegally.

The government of Kenya is chiefly responsible for the relief and reconstruction of the country. The funding of these efforts are hampered, however, due to the fact that Kenyan MPs receive one of the highest representative salaries in the world. Therefore, Kenyan citizens, who are the employers of their MPs, demand that Kenyan MPs reduce their drastic salaries and pay their own fair share to help rebuild the country.

Kenyan MPs are also holders of large amounts of land and assets, much of which has been documented in detail as being acquired illegally. Therefore, in order to proceed with justice and reconciliation, MPs must return any and all land and assets they have acquired illegally.

Please sign this petition with the attached letter to Kenyan MPs, urging them to reduce their outlandish salaries, give back land and help their country rebuild in this great time of need. We want to reach at least 10,000 signatures, slightly less than the US dollar equivalent of the Ksh 750,000/- that Kenyan MPs received on their first day of work this year, so please tell your friends and fellow citizens!


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Rising from the ashes?

Kisumu appears to be on the rise again as our friends, family and local reporters tell us. Business is back to usual for the better part of it but there is still a huge problem with Luos who have been forced to leave their homes upcountry and find somewhere to settle in their traditional areas.
As mentioned Ladies in Action are focusing on the Internally Displaceed people as much as possible. Yesterday, they went to a place called Mutumbu, 55kms out of Kisumu close to the Ugandan border as they had heard there were 33 people with next to nothing who depserately needed help. It turns out that there were 60 people! Nevertheless, Ladies in Action had carried enought supplies to get everyone going with what they call a business package consisting of basic items like omena (small fish), wheat flour and oil which they can use to start a small business cooking for people. They also provided them with seeds, and planting tools.
I just want to express a special thanks to the few individuals that make up Ladies in Action. Whilst most of us are trying to get back to our normal lives, they will continue as long as it takes...

Saturday, March 15, 2008

More cash for MP trash

I am sick in my stomach knowing that the first thing they do when they come to parliament is think about how they can secure more cash for themselves...

From Bunge La Mwananchi

Considering that an average Member of Parliament works for not more that 20 hours a week and takes home over Ksh. 800,000 untaxed plus travel, entertainment, insurance among other goodies in a country where taxable minimum wage is estimated at Ksh.10, 000, such inequalities cannot be tolerated.
Considering that an average Member of Parliament works for not more that 20 hours a week and takes home over Ksh. 800,000 untaxed plus travel, entertainment, insurance among other goodies in a country where taxable minimum wage is estimated at Ksh.10, 000, such inequalities cannot be tolerated. Further, considering that our country’s economy has millions of poor Kenyans without jobs to earn some income for food, shelter and clothing, such selfishness of our lawmakers cannot go unchallenged. Following a news article in our local dailies on the plans of Treasury to siphon billions of Kenya shillings out of public coffers into the MPs’ retirement kitty, Bunge La Mwananchi, a public forum for democratic expression after debates on the issue, seeing that our MPs maybe headed on the 9th parliament road resolved that the Bunge should write a protest letter to all the Members of Parliament to push them to rescind on that decision.
Bunge La Mwananchi urges you to join the civil society’s call to write a protest letter to your Member of Parliament to express your disappointment and also challenge him/her to hid Kenyans call for all Members of Parliament to take a pay cut and make contribution to the National Reconstruction Fund. The reconstruction will involve massive repair and expansion of infrastructures that will create jobs for Kenyans.
Bunge La Mwananchi also wishes to remind our Members of Parliament, Hon. Raila and President Kibaki, that wealth inequality, unemployment and grinding poverty besides land question remains Kenyans urgent concern. Specifically to Kibaki and Raila, remember that Kenyans are still fresh with the methodologies that forced you two into power sharing deal!"
Bunge La Mwananchi

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Lest we forget...

Its all well and good that the parliamentarians are sitting snuggly next to eachother sharing the cake but the country is still boiling, people are still dying and hundreds of thousands are still displaced. I just can't see how more talk shops are going to resolve this. We need affirmative action. We need our leaders to donate parts of their personal spoils - their land, their salaries. We need them to go out to their people and be on the ground because the last time everyone was busy filling in bits of paper this was the result...

Monday, March 10, 2008

Saturday, March 8, 2008

A Tribute to Nyar Okuyu - Daughter of the Kikuyu

Fidelis Wainaina passed away from cancer as our country's own cancer dug itself deeper into our entrails. Personally, I think she lost her faith - not in her God - but in humanity. She had worked relentlessly for over 15 years in rural Luo land to bring back the rewards of agriculture.
I met Fidelis about 12 years ago when I was writing my MA thesis. We connected so well and over the years, spent many hours battling our own thinking in the hope that we might be able to help somebody improve their own wellbeing. Ayodo's article in the Standard sums up her selfless success in what she set out to do:
"Her humble demeanour also belies her grand ideas that have changed lives. But Ms Fidelis Wainaina can be ranked among the models the world needs to feed the hungry. She has earned the accolades despite running a demonstration farm on a tiny piece of land near the equator in Maseno, Kisumu."
In retrospect, her absence from our lives in the last year makes complete sense. When Nakuru was burning, I called her to find out about here family as they had lived their whole lives there. They were huddled in a town apartment listening to the screams below for their blood from the very people they had once gone to church with as Fidelis said. She told me that two of her Aunts had been burnt to death already. Several of them were planning how to get out of Nakuru as I urged her to get out of there as soon as possible.
I called the next day and she did not pick up here phone. A few days later I received an sms from her which I could not quite understand. Three days ago, my folks told me they heard she had died from cancer. I understand her choice to suffer in silence. I also understand her choice to give up on living as she looked around and relfected on those hills in western Kenya which she loved and dedicated her whole life to.
On the hills,

Between boulders

And thrills,

A silent eruption quivers through


From the echo,

You can just

Make out these words:

If the radiance of a thousand suns

Were to burst at once in the sky,

That would be like the splendor of

The Mighty One…

i am become Death,

The shatterer of worlds.

Those hills,

That lake,

I know she is watching and waiting for her ride

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Some things won't change soon

Aid Agencies are estimating 300,000 people to be in camps while a similar number are displaced but not in camps reports the UN News agency, IRIN. Those out of camps have returned to their ancestral lands where relatives are housing them.
Ladies in Action have strong bonds within certain communities and are able to get a relatively accurate picture of the needy. Yesterday, they returned to Sinyolo where Tobias, the outreach officer identified 500 displaced and elderly ladies whom they distributed maize meal, soap, cooking fat, salt and matches to.

What I would really like to know is exactly how much the leaders are actually contributing out of their own pockets to assisting the people that voted for them. One thing is for sure, they are certainly splashing it out on fancy cars to protect them from poverty.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Where we are financially

So the politicians have signed their deals, and after all that hard work at the five star Serena have decided to take a break and have been given a nice fat bonus package for all the effort they have put in to...what is that they do?
Yes, it's over. Kofi Annan has left urging us to get on with life. We have a lot to do or as a poet once said, "Miles to go before we sleep"
But, we can do it and thanks to everyone, we have substantial funds to help continue addressing the immediate humanitarian crises and initiate some sort of reconstruction process. We have collected £9037 in total!! Ladies in Action have done so much with your support and they can do so much more.

We are no longer appealing for funds but will continue to put regular updates on how the remaining funds are being spent. You all reached out to us in Kenya and now we hope we can return the favour by rebuilding Kenya to the country you all know and love....Thank you.

Letters from the Lake Shores