Thursday, October 25, 2007
Published on October 14, 2007, 12:00 am
By Ababu Namwamba
Change versus the status quo — that is the cutting edge issue that could determine the outcome of the General Election.
Top challenger, ODM’s Raila Odinga, has fashioned his campaign around the clarion call of change.
His argument is that what Kenya needs is reconstruction (ujenzi) and not mere recovery (ukarabati). The incumbent, PNU’s Mwai Kibaki, is hanging on the mantra of continuity (kazi iendelee). The thrust of his campaign reflects the American saying that: "If it is not broken, don’t fix it."
The President is asking Kenyans to seriously question the prudence of firing a man who has turned around a vessel that seemed headed to the seabed when he became captain.
Kenyans could not have asked for a better platform in an electoral duel that perhaps has more at stake than any other since independence.
I have one fear though.
The aftermath of this election could well leave another foul taste of disillusionment, unless we remain hyper vigilant and the new leadership keeps faith with the dream of truly setting Kenya free.
My apprehension is fed by three fundamentals.
The first is the danger posed by political opportunists and brokers.
As troops mass on either side in readiness for this grandmother of all battles, there are amazing acts of somersaults as all sorts of characters excitedly hop to the side that seems poised to triumph. Many are fellows of questionable credentials that have never taken a serious risk in their political lives, only waiting to ascertain the direction of the wind before making a move. A few do bring some premium with them, but most are musketeers who add absolutely no value to the platoons they join.
Indeed, they are more of costly baggage that only get in the way of true soldiers, eventually distorting the tempo of change. Tragedy is that in a haste to swell the numbers, all sorts of charlatans will be received with glee, like some prize catch.
Second is the risk of re-emergence of hero worship and sycophancy. It is perfectly fine to garland and venerate our great leaders. But we must never forget that we are all fallible and only human, however towering our stature.
Holding back his image
The Kenyatta and Moi eras took sycophancy and hero-worship to sickening levels. The Kibaki regime must be credited for halting that slide, with little but significant measures like holding back his image from our currency and brushing patronising proclamations like "mtukufu rais".
We must not allow a resurrection of those ghosts. Our faith must be invested in strong institutions of State and servant leadership that recognises shortcomings of the individual while celebrating team play and a corporate management style.
But perhaps most chilling is this niggling apprehension that the more things seem to change, the more they actually remain the same.
I look at the leading teams in this year’s election, and I see such a confusing blend of characters, histories and interests on either of the sides. For this, my mind is left reeling as to which side really is sheep and which is wolf.
Confronted with this alarming reality, my prayer is that those heading the respective teams will somehow escape being held hostage to the demands of the confusion. Unless this is guaranteed, we could as well be headed for another false start. That would be a tragedy of monumental proportions, for our country craves a momentous transformation.
Kenya craves for real transition. We need a generational transition, not in terms of age per se, but in ideology. The neo-imperialist mindset should give way to vibrant visions in consonance with the third millennium. Kenya must slay the serpent of negative ethnicity, by replacing dark shadows that amplify our differences with a sunny mosaic that celebrates our diversity. We must give every Kenyan good reason to transfer their primary allegiance from the tribe to the nation-state. Those reasons are equitable sharing of the nation’s wealth, security for person and property, dignity, justice and fairness to all.
Kenyans deserve a new deal anchored on equity, which appreciates that there is enough within our borders for us all – what we must do is to nurture and share it fairly.
As Former South African Nelson Mandela would say: " Sometimes it falls on a generation to be great. We can be that great generation, by midwifing the momentous transformation our nation craves.
The writer is an advocate of the High Court
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Monday, October 22, 2007
Story by MAZERA NDURYA and MATHIAS RINGA
Publication Date: 10/22/2007
Only a federal system of government (majimbo) can uplift the living standards of Kenyans, ODM-K presidential candidate Kalonzo Musyoka said on Sunday.
ODM Kenya presidential candidate Kalonzo Musyoka acknowledges greetings from party supporters during a rally at the Tononoka grounds in Mombasa yesterday. He said his party would introduce federalism if it wins the December election. He is the second presidential candidate to make a similar pledge. The other is Mr Raila Odinga of ODM. Photo/GIDEON MAUNDU.
He said majimbo had been misconstrued to look like a recipe for chaos by its opponents and this had instilled fears among Kenyans, yet it was a harmless system that would guarantee equitable distribution of wealth.
“Majimbo simply means a region and was well defined in the Bomas draft constitution which was well received by majority of the people of Kenya,” he said.
According to him, only a few individuals in the Party of National Unity (PNU) were against what was good for Kenyans.
He said that the Bomas draft had identified various regions that would form jimbos. These were Luo Nyanza, the greater Kisii, upper Rift, South Rift, Central, Central Eastern, Lower Eastern and Coast among others.
Mr Musyoka was speaking at Tononoka Grounds in Mombasa at the climax of his three–day campaign tour of the Coast Province.
Giving examples of disparities in the distribution of resources, he said Coast Province contributed Sh57 billion to the Treasury in 2003 but still lacked basic infrastructure.
During the same period Nairobi gave Sh129 billion while Central Province delivered about Sh1 billion. But when it came to disbursement of funds, he said Central Province gets the lion’s share while the Coast got very little.
“Majimbo is the only system that can correct the imbalance in the distribution of the national cake. Regions like the Coast that produce a lot of revenue have to get their rightful share to address economic and social development,” he said. According to him, the area had been marginalised for many years “and this must come to an end.”
PNU has strongly opposed majimbo, saying that it would divide the country along ethnic lines and that it might trigger chaos.
Some PNU leaders have said that people who do not come from particular regions will be evicted by indigenous people. However, both ODM and ODM-K have said this would not happen.
The position taken by Mr Musyoka contradicted that of his party secretary-general, Mr Mutula Kilonzo, who said majimbo was an idea whose time came and went and it should be left to rest.
“It is unfortunate that men and women who were teenagers or younger when the debate for majimbo in the 1960s polarised the country should be the ones to bring it back,” he said.
“It is a political backslide and worse, they are confusing federalism as a political system with Majimbo, a tribal snake pit,” Mr Kilonzo said in his opinion piece.
Mr Musyoka, who praised the system, asked Coast residents to reject PNU and Shirikisho Party of Kenya whose leaders have opposed to majimbo.
“After sensing defeat, these people are now creating fear yet they know too well that Coast people and others from marginalised communities have suffered under the unitary system,” he said.
Earlier, Mr Musyoka had pledged to engineer economic and social change in the country if he wins the General Election.
He said: “Today, I take this opportunity to make a solemn pledge of ensuring that there is change in this country should I win the top seat.
“It is evident that majority of Kenyans are hit hard by poverty making life for them unbearable. I will ensure equitable distribution of the national cake to benefit all and sundry.”
The Mwingi North MP spoke at the Jesus Celebration Centre in Bamburi where he attended a service before addressing a well attended rally at the Tononoka Grounds.
At the rally, Bahari MP Joe Khamisi said he was shocked by President Kibaki’s rejection of majimbo but assured Kenyans that ODM-K will revive the Bomas draft which contains the tenets of the system. “It is sad that Shirikisho Party of Kenya whose ideology is against unitary government has now joined PNU which is opposed to majimbo,” he said.
He said president Kibaki was solely to blame for the problems that Kenyans were facing and should stop blaming it on the opposition.
“I do not deny the fact that I served in both Moi and Kibaki governments but I was just a mere minister who had no powers to authorise anything because the Presidents had all the powers to make things happen,” he said.
Mr Musyoka said if elected, his administration would set up a metropolitan police force in Nairobi and Mombasa to root out insecurity and allow businesses to operate round the clock.
“Hawkers have suffered for long in the hands city askaris but promised to turn hawking into cottage industry to enable small scale traders do their business in dignity and build a strong economy,” he said.
Mr Musyoka said the Muslim community in Kenya was being cheated by some leaders who want to use them for their political gains then dump them.
Muslims have rights like all other Kenyans and this will be guaranteed under an ODM K government, he said.
His running mate, Dr Julia Ojiambo said cases of insecurity were rampant and this had caused bitterness among Kenyans. She called on Kenyans to vote for Mr Musyoka because he was focused on security and peace.
She also urged wananchi to avoid violence during the campaigns.
Monday, October 15, 2007
It is no secret that for a collective total of nearly 30 consecutive years, Moi and Kibaki have placed Kenyan public assets on Sale, literally at throw-away prices, to their kin, personal companies, and friends (locally and abroad).
Sometimes, the fortitude and patriotism shown by forthright Kenyans have succeeded in stalling their bid to throw away our public assets for a song, and in other instances , we have failed to stop their discounted give-away of national jewels - through their use of state machinery including a corrupted parliament.
History repeats itself in quite interesting ways.
We can remember how the Kenyan public lost its 49% stake at Firestone EA (held under the state corporation ICDC) to one scrupulous "enterpreneur" called Naushad Merali and his so called Sameer Investments company in 1995.
In 1995 Moi ordered the now defunct PRC (Parastatals Reform Committee) to recommend that ICDC offloads its49% Firestone shares at the NSE. That was just a gimmick because according to the Auditor General, Corporations 1996 report,.... Naushad Merali and his Sameer group got pre-emptive rights and bought all those shares for sh 100 million. (for source see below)
Their true value according to the Auditor general was Sh 500 million ( gross undervaluing). BUT WAIT A MINUTE. Three years down the line in 1999, the same shares were re-floated and sold at the NSE for sh 1.5 Billion. Merali made a 1500% profit in 3 years. Merali's genius here is the genius of grabbing and looting since he could have still made profit by buying the shares at their regular value.
Merali's Sameer then used the money to buy East African Cables from a British Holding company in 2000 for sh 110 million when Moi refused KPLC & KenGen from buying the British company's electric cables (economic sabotage). EA Cables true value at the time was sh 274 million.
FAST FORWARD to 2003. The first acquisition by Kibaki and his cronies at Trans-Century was the purchase of East African Cables from Merali. Kibaki had by then simultaneously appointed Trans-Century's god father Eddy Njoroge as KenGen's Managing Director (overt & unveiled conflict of interest). The rest is history,.......you know how EA Cables & KenGen are performing at the NSE.
Track down the business interests of Trans-century and you will see the Sharks, Homeguards and Sultans partitioning and selling Kenya under the guise of privatization.
In the twilight months of Moi's Presidency, just before Kibaki came to power, Moi had a rush to dispose off ( sell for ten pieces of silver) Kenyan public assets in a frenzy that astounded many. In the twinkle of an eye, Kenya-Re and Telkom shares were being offered for sale at exorbitantly discounted rates.
The disposal of these Kenyan public assets was riddled with overt corruption mainly through gross undervaluing of the entities. Coincidentally, at the epicenter of the privatization exercise in the late 90s, early 2000s was Nicholas Biwott's daughter, Ms. Esther Koimett, the then Investment Secretary -whom Kibaki found prudent to serve as Kenya's new Investment Secretary thanks to his renewed political dalliance with Nicholas Biwott.
In 2000/1 Esther Koimet almost facilitated the sale of Kenya-Re ( a public asset) to Zim-Re (of Zimbabwe ) in partnership with Monarch Insurance (owned by Gideon Moi) for less than one-third it's value. Gideon Moi and his shielders Zim-Re of Zimbabwe almost bought the entire Kenya-Re for 800 million shillings when it was valued at more than 2.5 billion shillings in 2001.
Who halted the sale? After the Parliamentary Investment Committee (PIC) failed to stop the sale on procedural grounds, three MPs filed a successful court injunction blocking the sale: Prof. Anyang Nyongo, Wafula Wamunyinyi and Musikari Kombo. The ruling was made by Justice Hayanga.http://www.nationaudio.com/News/Dail...usiness65.html
Thanks to the three MPs, we were luckily to have survived the transfer of Kenya Re into the hands of Gideon Moi in exchange of ten pieces of silver.
But we were never always lucky, we lost some battles to the Moi privatization frenzy.
Telkom had off-loaded much of it's shares in Safaricom (the mobile phone giant) to Vodafone, and within the shady transaction, a secretive entity known as Mobitelea ( Moi Biwott Telecommunication East Africa ), controlling 5% stake in Safaricom was born. Kenyans failed to read and pre-empt the illegal transfer of public assets into the hands of political families without their paying of a single dime. The Moi family and their two little partners in Mobitelea raked in Shs 850,000,000 last year alone thanks to that illegal transfer. The money is at their disposal to bribe weak and unprincipled political leaders, to create further confusion in the country, the perfect environment to enable their continued milking of our coffers.
Gideon Moi's Mobitelea is now subject to yet another controversy, since the government wants again, to offload some more Safaricom shares to the public in an at temp t to further hide disclosure facts.
History is repeating itself. This time around, it's a Kibaki privatization frenzy!
This time yet again, some patriotic and forthright Kenyans like Raila Odinga, are demanding full disclosure about ownership of Mobitelea and strict adherence to the provisions of the Privatization Act 2005, before any Safaricom IPO's are floated. Finance Minister Kimunya's own floatation rules are quite suspect, listing only 47% shares available for the public, with 50% shares going to the so-called high net investors, the likes expected to occupy Kibaki's re-election fete - the million-per-plate dinner. Kenyans are being taken for some dumb fools here.
Raila has threatened to file an injunction in court halting the offer citing both procedural issues -failure to abide by the Privatization law and the failure to comply with the full-dislosure requirement of privatization.
On privatization, Kibaki has specifically succeeded in hoodwinking many unsuspecting Kenyans when he releases public reports citing "successful" privatization efforts and IPO floatation. This he did with the recent KenGen and Mumias offers, where his government craftily pretended to offer 97% shares to the public -when in essence they had a huge pre- allocation for high net investors (friends of Kibaki coming in names like TransCentury Investors and Baraka Afrika) who ended up acquiring huge stakes, 30% and 25% shares
respectively,......from the two companies.
This my dear friends is what is called transferring (giving away) public wealth into the hands of a few politically connected individuals. This largely contributes to the astronomically increasing gap between the rich and the poor in Kenya . It grossly undermines our economy in the long-run despite the short-term busy season it offers at the NSE.
I'll quote Macharia Gaitho's Jan 24th, 2006 Sunday
Nation editorial piece
quote from article.........
"one of the Ministers involved in the (Anglo-Leasing) cover-up is quoted as saying that 'President Kibaki is above money' and 'does not touch money'. The problem is, he depends on others to worry about how his political projects will be funded. And he asks no questions about the source of funds. Some of those fellows (he depends on) are now running some key state corporations, and are also linked to the investment groups that seem to have the inside track on a very opaque privatisation of public corporations. " end of quote. (Mr Gaitho is the managing editor, Sunday Nation)
Do the names TransCentury or Baraka ring a bell? The companies that have questionably acquired within four years under Kibaki's presidency : major stakes in all recently privatized parastatals besides, 20% stake in Rift Valley Railways, majority stakes in East African Cables, 2.13 million shares of Kenya Power (KPLC), 10% of Development Bank of Kenya, and a sizeable chunk of the mortgage giant HFCK.
What about Kibaki's friend Moi and Mobitelea? What about Kibaki's friend Biwott who's Kobil company also recently secured a Shs 3 billion oil supply deal to KenGen?
Githongo's own insight, has told us in Kiraitu's words & admission,...that the very Kenyan taxpayer, was to be robbed in excess of Shs 5 Billion,..to fund Kibaki's 2007 elections. According to Githongo, more than 200 billion shillings has been lost under the facilitatory watch of these two Wazees Moi and Kibaki.
And my true vote Goes to Raila. Lets use Internet media to campaign for our Man " Kimibei"
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
By Wafula Buke
When Mr Musikari Kombo said Mr Raila Odinga was "one dangerous man" during the Kibaki Tena launch at Nyayo Stadium, he brought to the fore the issue of divergence in outlooks by those who get involved in politics to a new level.
I recalled my dealings with the two gentlemen in relatively similar situations at different times. In 1992 when I arrived in Bungoma from exile, in an effort to integrate me into local politics, Dr Mukhisa Kituyi took me to Wamalwa Kijana and Mr Musikari Kombo. "I think it will be necessary for us to move around with Buke. This is the only way we can ensure that the Government does not pounce on him," said Kituyi.
He argued that my association with them would draw the requisite solidarity in the event of an arrest.
Kombo quickly spoke: "Chairman, it is dangerous for us to move with him. Let him go back to his hiding place as we await the State’s reaction to his home coming." Wamalwa had to agree with Kombo, the richest man in their midst. Wamalwa added that it was not "safe" for them to tour the district with me.
Kituyi tried to convince them to no avail. Needless to say, I was confused. What kind of democrats were these who were not prepared to defend one of their own? Between the Government and I, who was dangerous?
The driving force behind our reformist political efforts had all along been hinged on the notion that the Government was endangering the social integrity of the nation.
My victimisation during the 1995 Fera crackdown led me to see the difference between Raila and Kombo. While in prison, Kombo and his regional colleagues made no efforts to secure my release or safety under the pretext that it was "dangerous" and "unsafe" to show solidarity with me.
Having failed to secure support from those she considered my allies, my wife sought the intervention of the man Kombo recently referred to as "one dangerous man". I had never talked to Raila or met him in person. My wife paid him a visit in his Kisumu office, where she poured her heart out about my frustrations and how I had been let me down by those I trusted.
Raila told her to wait for his call as he left for Nairobi. He called her the following day and told her that I would be released in three days. She did not believe him but true to his word I was released. That ended my 49 days ordeal in custody.
To this day, I have never known the magic he played to secure my release.
I am also reminded of what Titus Adongosi’s mother asked Raila when he visited her in the company of Mr Kenneth Matiba in 1997. "I am told you were with my son in prison, who killed my son?" she asked crying.
When Raila pledges to institute the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission, he speaks for those who were determined enough to cut the Mugumo tree with a razor blade. Kombo and Mr Simeon Nyachae, on the other hand, are still prisoners of fear and incapable of seeing Kenya under Raila.
Raila’s footprints on the history of the struggle for a better Kenya should not be a basis for subjective accusations. As the establishment struggles to tag reformers with distasteful labels, other questions must be asked. Where were Kombo and Nyachae during the struggle to return this country back to multi-partism?
An American black political activist Mumia Jamal succinctly says: "When you don’t oppose a system, your silence becomes approval for it does nothing to interrupt the system." If these alliances of conservative individuals under a conservative Head of State can achieve the little or much we see today, how much more shall Kenyans achieve under a crusader for social change like Raila with his team of "dot coms"?
The stories of Kombo and Raila can be likened to those of the vulture and the leopard. He should be warned that in the absence of the leopard the vulture must learn the ways of the leopard or perish. To those who deride strugglers for social liberation, take heed from Mandela’s epigram:
"To overthrow oppression has been sanctioned by humanity and is the highest aspiration of very free man."
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
Seven students who are public / nonprofit administration majors, minors or MPA candidates have become Leadership Fellows with the Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies (HCPS): Megan Sall, Stephen Duckett, Patrick Reagan, Selma Tucker, Gerald Baraza, Allie Bush, and Robert La Fave.
Leadership Fellows will broaden their understanding of effective and virtuous leadership through several means. First, they will attend a series of eight monthly Leadership Academy meetings where local leaders will talk about the challenges of leadership in their arena. These people include Marty Allen, Chairman Emeritus of the Gerald R. Ford Foundation; Richard Breon, President & CEO of Spectrum Health; Chico Daniels, Director of the Guiding Light Mission; Ralph Hauenstein, Founding Benefactor of the Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies and the Hauenstein Center at St. Mary's Health Care; Birgit Klohs, President of The Right Place; Kevin Stotts, Executive Director of Leadership Grand Rapids; Bernard Taylor, Superintendent of Grand Rapids Public Schools; and Lucille Taylor, Trustee at Grand Valley State University and former chief legal council to governor Engler. Fellows will also be encouraged to attend the Ralph W. Hauenstein Series -- six evening programs with leading scholars and writers who have studied leadership.
The Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies (HCPS) was established at Grand Valley State University in 2001, to "provide a foundation for influencing present and future leaders through the study of the presidency." The generosity of Col. Ralph Hauenstein -- former presidential advisor and chief of intelligence during World War II --made possible the Center's establishment, and his vision gave it shape.