Sunday, January 12, 2014

UHURU'S APPOINTMENTS, POLITICAL LOSERS AND GRAYING "WAZEES"

Reading newspapers nowadays, one would think there is a new tribe in Kenya on top of the 42 official ethnic groups.

During the past month or so, President Uhuru Kenyatta's appointments to parastatal boards have yielded a new tribe in Kenya called "losers." Currently, the six-letter word has become one of the most over-used item in the Kenyan political dictionary. Sample these headlines:-

1. President Uhuru Kenyatta gives poll losers, allies, lifeline. (the italics are mine)
2. Uhuru appoints election losers to head parastatals
3. Election losers make a comeback in appointments
4. Poll losers appointed by Uhuru to head boards.
5. Protests as Jubilee election losers and cronies picked.
6. New Year gift for poll losers.
7. More poll losers get State appointments, (and so on and so on).

(a)Who are these losers? (b)What did they lose? (c)Are they citizens of Kenya? (d) Do they pay taxes? (e) Are they qualified for the jobs offered to them? (f) Are they loyal to their country? (g) Are they criminals and shouldn't hold public offices? (h) Is President Kenyatta violating the constitution by appointing them?

If the answers to questions (c) to (g) are yes and (g) and (h) are no, then Chief Justice Mutunga would slam the gavel and shout: case dismissed!.

Now let us turn to (a) and (b). The so-called losers are full-blooded Kenyans who chose to try their luck in elections. Unluckily, they lost. But they are Kenyans; most likely, they are not criminals; and most likely they pay taxes regularly.

Now, apart from fighting losers, critics have also taken issue with graying old men who are given positions which, they say, should go to younger people. The appointment of former Civil Service boss, Francis Muthaura, as Chairman of the multi-trillion shilling Lamu Port South Sudan-Ethiopia Transport Corridor, Lapsset, has been the most controversial.

Such critics appear not to appreciate the level of knowledge, skills and expertise Muthaura brings to the project. He is undoubtedly the most qualified candidate for the job. He has had an exemplary stint in government. Moi depended on him; Kibaki cherished him. The fact that Uhuru Kenyatta is entrusting him with a project of such monumental importance to our economy says a lot about his professional and individual qualities.

It needs to be said that the Kenya Constitution bars all forms of discrimination. Singling out a part of our citizenry on the basis of age and political performance is as myopic as discriminating people on the basis of religion, gender, race and tribe.

Mwai Kibaki and Uhuru Kenyatta both lost elections, but they came back and we elected them. Raila Odinga, Kalonzo Musyoka, Martha Karua, Peter Kenneth, Abduba Dida, Paul Muite and Prof. Ole Kiyapi, should not be written off just because they have previously failed to win the presidency.

The bottom line is: we should let President appoint the people he thinks will help him govern effectively in accordance with the Constitution and in line with the objectives he has set for his government. This does not mean he should be blind to public opinion. We gave him the mandate to rule. We should not restrain him from executing this mandate by dictating to him who to hire and fire.

And that is my say.