Tag Archives: corruption

KENYAN LEADERS = REFUSAL TO PROSPER

Kenyan leaders seem to have a very hostile relationship with the country’s prosperity. They constantly and very determinedly refuse to let us, as a nation, prosper. They have honed their “turn non-issues into issues” skills so well that it’s almost amazing. Almost. They are too busy dodging the country’s pertinent challenges by proposing/passing laws that are so life unchanging it should be a crime.

Last week, members of parliament proposed a law that would result in people being jailed for a year or paying Kshs 2 million for failing to refer to MPs as “Honorable” when addressing them. Yes, you read it correctly…jail time or fine for not referring to an MP as  H.O.N.O.R.A.B.L.E! I understand the title but is it really necessary…especially given the fact that there is very little that is honorable about these MPs!? If you have to threaten Kenyans with punishment/fines so that they can refer to you as “Honorable” then maybe you should question why we are not inclined to refer to you as such to begin with.

According to the MPs, “the principle purpose of this Bill is to promote the good image of the country, foster orderliness, discipline and decorum in the process of governance.” When did having titles promote the image of a country!? If that is the case then we should all get titles. Instant boost to Kenya’s image right there! And orderliness!? Where is this that they are looking for orderliness? If it is at state functions then orderliness will be achieved through proper planning, coordination and execution. Titles are not going to do that for you.  Discipline and decorum in the process of governance!? Say what now!? Titles can make that happen!? Well, we have a president and deputy president that we refer to as such all the time but that hasn’t done anything for us on the governance front, dear MPs. How do you explain that!? Referring to you as member of parliament so and so hasn’t worked out well in that department for us either. MP is a title too no!? Or doesn’t it have the magic that the titles you are proposing have!?

“The Bill also proposes a hierarchy for State officials according to seniority. The ranking of the public officials will see MPs placed higher than governors, Supreme Court judges, former Presidents and Vice-Presidents.” In short, the MPs basically want to feel more superior than other public officials. What is that feeling of superiority going to do for you MPs!? Will it make you better leaders!? Will it ensure that you will play a pivotal role in attainment of the MDGs!? What is this silent fight that you seem to have, especially with governors, all about!? Why are you forcing the rest of us to join your ego trip!?

Dear MPs,

If you really want to foster orderliness, discipline and decorum in the process of governance then simply act right. Be disciplined individually as well as collectively and fulfill the promises that you made to your constituents. It wouldn’t hurt to take your responsibilities seriously instead of making a mockery out of the people who voted you in believing that you would make a difference. There can only be as much order as you want there to be. You are the leaders, you set the pace, you set the tone. Surround yourselves with people, and also be people, who are invested in making a positive impact on Kenyan communities, and all these things will fall into place. You want to be chaotic and then claim that a title will foster orderliness, discipline and decorum!? How now!?

As for promoting the country’s image, well, you can do that by acting right, as mentioned above. Also, tackling the issues that we as a country are facing. Focus your energies on addressing insecurity, corruption, poor education, lack of health care amenities, underdeveloped transport systems, poaching, inconsistent electricity and water supply, among others. If properly addressed, these are some of the things that will boost our country’s image not titles!

Try and get it together quick please.

Sincerely,

A Kenyan.

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Westgate Revisted

It’s been six months since the Westgate Mall in Nairobi was attacked by four gunmen affiliated with Al Shabaab. We still have as many questions as we had when the attack happened. The government’s handling of the matter does little to help.

From the get go it was clear that we, as a country, are ill-equipped and completely unprepared for such attacks. Initially there was a lot of misinformation both from the government and the media. The government claimed that there were about 15 gunmen in the mall. It turns out there were only four. The siege lasted four days. In those days, the Kenyan forces oscillated between cornering the gunmen and not cornering them. Senior security officials tweeted that they had control of all the floors in the mall. However, the operation was only officially declared over more than 30 hours later. Post-attack reports shed light on the infighting that was going on between the police and the army. There was no clear chain of command, a lack of communication and ego clashes between the two groups. This level of disorganization could only have worsened the situation. Here is one of the more comprehensive day by day accounts of the attack.

A more recent news article based on interviews with some Al Shabaab members shows that the attack had been carefully planned for three years. One of the members had this to say, “One thing that the media does not tell is some of the weapons had to be sneaked inside Westgate before the attack. Everyone has to be searched by security. There was a connection that helped get the weapons in.” He added that the reason the attack was so successful and lasted so long is that other members of al Shabaab were already positioned inside, having infiltrated the Westgate as vendors, bribing police and mall security to look the other way. He further claimed that bribes were paid to both private security guards at the mall and Kenyan police — “no less than 100,000” Kenyan shillings (about $1,156) all together — to get the weapons through.

People, security forces at that, were bribed to look the other way. Bribed to collaborate with Al Shabaab. Bribed to get the weapons through. Makes you wonder what they were thinking. Did they imagine the mall was simply being used as a weapons storage facility? Did it not occur to them that something more sinister was being planned? Did they simply not care? Were they just desperate for money? We know how our security forces are severely underpaid. Bribes are usually a side income generating hustle for a good number of them. Whatever their logic and reasoning was it is scary and disturbing. Where else are they going to accept a bribe and look the other way? Which other terror group are they going to work with?

Perhaps this helps explain the level of looting by Kenyan security forces that took place in Westgate Mall during the siege. This footage shows empty alcohol bottles on tables and the bar at Artcaffe, one of the restaurants in the mall. According to reports, the only people who had access to it were security forces. So, as Kenyans were anxiously waiting both inside and outside the mall, the security forces were sampling beer and liquor? Clearly they had time to kick back and relax. Why then did it take them four days to end the operation? Why didn’t they arrest the four gunmen? Shopkeepers and store owners reported that laptops and money had been taken from their properties. Of course the security forces took the deny, deny, deny approach. However, just recently, a police officer was charged with possession of goods suspected to be stolen from victims of the Westgate Mall attack. Read more here.

An investigative piece by a Kenyan journalist showed members of the Kenyan army walking out of a supermarket with healthy shopping bags. In other scenes they are seen rummaging through drawers in stores. After being exposed, they claimed that the shopping bags contained water. Really!? After many a Kenyans had been continuously donating water and other beverages to be given to the security forces as they carried out the operation? People came out in their numbers to give and support them. They were really trying to tell us that it wasn’t enough and they had to get more from the supermarket? If that was the case why didn’t they send two or three of their members to ferry the water in a shopping cart to the rest of them? Wouldn’t that have been easier than many of them going to do the same thing? Hmmm…they really must think we are some kind of dumb. Oh and they were rummaging through drawers looking for hidden threats, apparently. Huh? That’s how people look for threats? OK…yeah…sure.

The government promised an official inquiry into the handling of the attack. Not holding my breath for this one. We all know how official inquiries work in Kenya. Investigations will be conducted, people will shed light on happenings, a report will be written and we will be given the highly sanitized version. Finally, nothing will happen…well…the wrongdoers will probably be rewarded. Just look at Goldenberg and Pattni.

One would hope that our security forces would have learnt from the Westgate attack. But that hope dwindles when you see such – “Kenyan police failed to realise that a car that they impounded from a Somali man and stored outside their anti-terror unit offices for a week was packed full of explosives already attached to a Nokia detonator.” …sigh…no comment.

Of all the questions many of us still have the key one is…where are the missing people? What happened to them? Authorities had initially said 61 people were missing and then revised the number to 39. Is there a search operation for them?

On Kenya and Digital Gone Awry

The president and his deputy branded themselves as the dynamic digital duo during the election campaign period. They promised us many a digital revolutions in the country. Digital government, digital classrooms, digital government offices and digital public services to name but a few. Turns out that digital government simply meant they (or their social media handlers) would tweet links to their speeches and retweet praises from their superfans. Any questions or criticisms directed to them on their social media channels are either ignored or dismissed.

The digital classrooms are yet to become a reality. The dynamic digital duo had promised that all students in class one throughout the country would get laptops. Last month, the tender for the supply of laptops was awarded to Olive Telecommunications Limited, an Indian company. According to the Daily Nation, the Education Cabinet Secretary said that the company quoted the lowest and most advantageous amount which saved the taxpayers Kshs 8 billion. The cabinet secretary said that they were confident that Olive Telecommunications would deliver. They had after all sent a team of government officials to assess where the laptops would be assembled. They had also seen a list of companies that Olive Telecommunications supplied laptops with. The cabinet secretary led us to believe that everything was perfect and the laptop project was finally ready to roll out.

But this is the Kenyan government after all a.k.a scandal central. Just this month, the Public Procurement Administrative Review Board ruled that Olive Telecommunications Pvt Limited did not win the tender fairly. As a result the board cancelled the tender and asked the Ministry of Education to undertake a fresh tender process. The tender required that the company that got it would be an Original Equipment Manufacturer. Turns out that Olive Telecommunications is not. How exactly did the cabinet secretary and his people miss this? They assessed the company supposedly right!? How did this fact escape them!? Also, Olive Telecommunications did not have the financial resources required in order to qualify. Guess the cabinet secretary and his folks were just going to find a way to sweep that fact under the rug. In December, Olive Telecommunications had offered to supply the tender at Kshs 23.2 billion. By the time they got the tender last month it was at Kshs 24.6 billion. A difference of Kshs 1.4 billion. Pray tell Mr. Cabinet Secretary, why the Kshs 1.4 billion increase!? Is it a hidden transaction fee!? A signing bonus!? A good-job-on-duping-the-Kenyans-again golden handshake!?

We can only hope that the next process will not be as flawed as this one. Although, last I checked, the cabinet secretary has said he is not resigning over this. So if it’s the same people handling the process again, we can only wait and see what antics they will pull…sigh.

Seems like digital government offices are also a rumor as shown by the gem below.

tender

Really Lands Ministry!? A tender for TYPEWRITERS!? It’s 2014 and you are looking for typewriters!? Because why!? What can typewriters do that…I don’t know…say computers and tablets can’t!? I suppose they are the ideal portable device huh!? Are you just looking to collect antiques or what!? Are you planning to use them as decorative elements!? Oh wait…I got it…you are trying to create jobs for the youth…manufacturing typewriters right!?

Digital means different things to different people I guess.

The case of the anti (part 2)

I am convinced that some of our leaders are quite simply anti-women. Yes. Why else would people support and sign into law an act that has such vague descriptions of terminologies and puts women directly in harms way!? I am talking about Uganda’s anti-pornography act.

The anti-pornography act bans women from exposing their breasts, buttocks and thighs, and from “ dressing indecently in a manner to sexually excite” In order to comply with this law then it seems that you just have to wear a sack. You might wear your fitted clothes and someone decides that they are too tight and constitute an indecent act that will corrupt their morals. What exactly is considered indecent!? Are they going to circulate infographics on types of dressing that sexually excite people!? The act is extremely vague on definitions. It really is subject to the interpretation of the reader and the self-appointed keepers of societal moral codes…and that is a very dangerous thing.

The act has already resulted in the assault and sexual harassment of many women in Uganda.  There have been reports of women being undressed for wearing miniskirts as they are considered indecent. These violating acts are carried out by groups of vigilante men who obviously thrive on harassing women. Why else would they be so readily engaged in stripping women!? They justify their behavior with statements like “well she wanted us to see everything,” “it’s against the law,” “this will teach other women to cover up,” “why did she leave the house in such indecent attire?” There have also been reports of police harassing women and forcing them to remove their skirts in public. I thought the police are supposed to protect and serve!?…sigh

It’s infuriating to hear the so called leaders take on the matter. Simon Lokodo, Uganda’s Ethics and Integrity Minister, last year said that women who wore “ anything above the knee” should be arrested. Really Lokodo!? Why should they be arrested!? Is it because their uncovered legs are going to detach from their body and run off to rob a bank!? Or because they are going to interfere with the progress of development projects!? Perhaps women’s unclothed legs are going to engage in corruption…empty the public coffers and what not. Except politicians already have that angle covered. So why exactly should they be arrested!? Lokodo is also the same person that said “One can wear what one wants, but please do not be provocative.” Hmmm…so women are supposed to have the feelings and potential reactions of men in mind when they dress every day!? You can be covered from head to toe and there will still be someone who will be provoked by that. Why should women be assaulted/harassed/arrested because men cannot control and curb their sexual excitement!?

Yes, the act applies to everyone not just women. However, it is primarily women that are in danger because of the act. Why? Well, words such as “indecent” and “provocative” are more often than not used to describe women’s dressing. When is the last time you heard a man’s dressing being described as “indecent” or “provocative”? Even men who sag their jeans so low that you can see their knees aren’t typically described as being dressed indecently or provocatively. Makes you wonder, who is this act really against!?