Wednesday, July 30, 2014


In the next few days, President Uhuru Kenyatta will travel to the United States to join President Barack Obama and other Heads of State for a crucial meeting dubbed the Africa Summit.

Apart from the issues that will be discussed, including economic development, security and conflicts in the African continent, the Kenyan leader will also, hopefully, have a chance to meet one-on-one with the leader of the most powerful nation on earth to exchange views on sensitive matters that appear to hinder the smooth growth of relations between the two countries.

First, there is the issue of the country's vulnerability as a target for terrorist attacks. Kenyans may have stopped counting, but more than one-hundred fifty people have been killed through terror attacks perpetrated by the Al Queda-linked Somali terror group Al Shabaab. This group continues to issue threats of more attacks against our people.

Kenya and the United States have been working closely on  intelligence matters in recent years to stem the tide of international criminal activity including terrorism, money laundering and drug trafficking. These efforts have yielded some results, but the results have not been enough to calm the nerves of terror-scared Kenyans.

Linked together with terrorism has been the question of travel advisories that have slowed down the tourism industry and inflicted untold injuries to the country's economy. America, more than any other country, has been active in issuing advisories to its citizens to avoid Kenya. My feeling is that this whole issue must be put on the table for discussion so that a more benign solution can be found to take the place of debilitating travel warnings.

Recently, Washington made it known it was in the process of withdrawing its Peace Corps personnel and reducing staff in some of its crucial developmental agencies, again because of increased insecurity. Unfortunately, when America coughs the rest of Europe catches a cold. Some European countries appear geared to follow America's path, a situation which could lead to immense economic loss and human suffering.

While in the American capital, Kenyans expect Uhuru to extend an invitation to President Obama to visit Kenya before the end of his second tour in office. Kenyans were disappointed when a few years ago, the American leader skipped Nairobi during his visits to Africa. It will be a big public relations and psychological boost if Obama was to tour his motherland while in office. The visit will instill renewed confidence and signal a complete recovery of relations which have suffered since Uhuru took over government in 2003.

Kenya needs America more than America needs Kenya. We need American investments in all fields including in the emerging oil industry; we need its continued assistance in funding health programmes and youth empowerment schemes; and we need America's shield in security and defence. Let Kenya make no mistake. While we need China for loans to upgrade our infrastructure, we need America more to fuel real growth and to power our human capacity.

And that is my say.

Sunday, July 27, 2014


If I had not been a politician and an MP, I probably would not be able to understand the mentality and thoughts now in the minds of Coast MPs as they rattle and battle over the trivial matter of the sacking of the deputy chief whip of the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) in Kenya.

As seen during these past few days, a section of legislators from my region has been throwing tantrums, shouting itself hoarse and making a fool of itself on an issue that is of no benefit at all to the residents of the Coast. Gideon Mung'aro has been CORD's deputy chief whip for more than a year. Has this position benefitted the people of the region? Has it improved the failing educational standards? Has it ameliorated poverty? Has it......?

I would have been impressed if the legislators had been agitating for something that directly benefitted the people. But fighting for a position that offers nothing but prestige and perks for the title holder is glorified absurdity.

Annoyingly, most of these noisy MPs are soundless when in the House, (some of them have not even made their maiden speeches a year and half after Parliament opened) and are only occasionally heard in the villages making all manner of blustering speeches. They do this because they know our people are ill-informed about what goes on in Nairobi.

Chest thumping at funerals, weddings and trading centres may temporarily transform these legislators into heroes - and perhaps boost their egos - but it does not make Coast people any more advantaged.

Also, if these legislators think CORD belongs to the Coast then they need to re-evaluate their thinking. We Coast people must agree that we are only guests in major political parties. We are not masters, and moving to Jubilee or to any other political grouping because some are dissatisfied with an administrative decision of another party will not make us masters.

In any case, the post of whip is an honorary title offered as a gift. Any member of the party qualifies to hold this or any other party position in Parliament. Furthermore, those chosen to hold these positions are not expected to represent their regions but the entire party membership.

In Kenya, one does not require special qualities to become a whip. We have had extremely competent whips over the past fifty years, one of them being Norman Nyagah of the Ninth Parliament; but we have also had many dunderheads. If CORD now feels that Mung'aro has not met its expectations, then it should be permitted to make changes without drama.

Finally, a whip must be a zealous, conscientious, loyal, and competent person who commands the respect of his colleagues. He must be influential and charismatic enough to reach out, not only to his party colleagues, but to others across the isle for support (and votes) on legislative matters that are of interest to the party. A whip is not a flower girl who sits and cheekily smiles at passersby, but one who is constantly on the move, in isles and in parliamentary offices.

Therefore, the juvenile outbursts we are seeing coming from the Indian Ocean shores are demeaning and embarrassing especially to residents who yearn for mature and responsible leadership. That is why I say with conviction that the mentality of some of our leaders is way off the mark.

If these legislators love CORD so much, why don't they stick to it and stop sleeping with the "enemy?" And if they hate it so much as is evident, then why don't they resign and seek fresh mandate? They don't have to wait for sacking letters.

And that is my say

Wednesday, July 23, 2014


Four years after Kenya's last referendum in which people voted for the country's constitution, and months after a failed push by county governors for a plebiscite to decide on issues to do with devolution, the referendum talk is with us again.

This time, calls for a vote are being driven by the opposition Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) which believes the government of Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto has taken a wrong turn in dealing with critical national issues.

CORD hurriedly crafted the referendum proposal after failing to arm-twist the Jubilee government into accepting a structured discussion over such issues as the growing insecurity, the future of the electoral commission, corruption, nepotism, and the high cost of living, among others. This week, CORD nominated a team of four experts to craft and formulate key referendum issues and to ensure the agenda will be consultative.

Let me say without batting an eyelid that, like the governors' attempt almost a year ago, CORD's initiative for a public vote will fail flat on its face, and this is why:-

First, Kenyans are unwilling to enter into a campaign mode a year and half after the hectic and acrimonious general elections of 2013. What the population wants is to be left alone to concentrate on making the best of its living environment. Given this obvious fact, few Kenyans will pay attention to the politics of referendum, making it an impossible task for the opposition to collect the one million signatures of genuinely registered voters as required by the constitution.

Second, Parliament will be the final decider on whether the country  goes to a referendum or not. At some point it will have to vote to accept or reject any referendum Bill brought before it. With the composition of the House, CORD cannot win a vote such as this in the National Assembly.

Third, the current budget does not have any fiscal provision for a plebiscite, which means, Parliament will only be able to allocate money for the exercise in the 2015/2016 budget, a herculean task given that the ruling coalition holds a majority in both houses.

Forth, it will take not less than two years to put together structures for a referendum, meaning that such an exercise - if everything else works - can only be held in 2016 at the earliest, a year before the general elections. It will be impossible for the electoral body to conduct the two polls so close together. Logistical, technical and administrative tasks necessary for such an exercise - as we saw in 2005 and 2010 - are complex and taxing, involving national mobilization, voter education, staff training and field preparations.

Finally, the referendum Bill will have to be approved by twenty-four assemblies in the fourty-seven counties. CORD is counting on twenty-four counties it theoretically controls to meet that requirement, but support in those areas cannot be guaranteed in view of the overall fragmentation in the opposition.

Therefore, it is my opinion that the four-person committee appointed by CORD to look into the matter has its work cut out. The proposed referendum is untenable. Instead of wasting time and putting Kenyans on a waiting mood for a decision, the committee should simply recommend that, given the above hurdles, the idea of a plebiscite is dead in the water.

And that is my say.

Sunday, July 20, 2014


The way things look, this year's Christmas will be a nightmare for thousands of civil servants unfortunate enough to fall victim of the Kenya government's overbearing job evaluation exercise expected to be effected as early as November this year.

In a move to cut the national wage bill said to be hovering around 500 billion shillings annually, the Jubilee government has announced sweeping measures to reduce the bloated civil service budget now gobbling over 70 percent of government revenue. The restructuring programme of the public sector will reportedly involve re-deployment, transfers and elimination of "ghost workers."

What the government is not saying is that as part of this process, thousands of workers will be rendered jobless - thrown into the deep end of the unemployment market that is already saturated with millions of unskilled, highly educated and professionally qualified Kenyans. The entry of additional people - estimated at close to 100,000 - into this cesspit of idlers will further destabilise Kenya, a country where 42 percent of its people already live below the poverty line.

During the first year of its existence, the government of Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto announced the creation of over 700,000 new jobs - even though it had promised one million jobs per year during the campaign. Now, with the expected new staff reductions in the public sector, it will be impossible for the government to fulfil its promise of effectively re-vitalizing the labour market and boosting the economy.

But what baffles me most is why we allow reckless spending in the form of questionable allowances; useless official overseas travels; and fiscal wastage of all manner if we really want to reduce the wage bill.

What Kenya needs to do is to: eliminate all the allowances in the public sector; reduce duplication of duties in the two tier government; eliminate budget wastage; clean up our procurement procedures, end corruption and reduce the number of elected leaders and nominated commissioners. We also must get rid of all the Government of Kenya guzzlers from our roads and enforce regulations that bar the use of official cars beyond six in the evening; disallow Cabinet Secretaries from using expensive choppers for transport and enforce work discipline in the civil service.

Anything short of these measures will not do.

Finally, let this so-called evaluation exercise be conducted fairly and justly devoid of tribal, gender or religious considerations. Any form of discrimination will expose the government to criticism and condemnation.

And that is my say.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014


One does not need to be a political analyst to conclude that this week's visit to the Coast by President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto has everything to do with politics and very little to do with development.

If presidential visits to the Coast were equated with development then the region would be the most developed in the country, for each of the three previous Presidents spent record time visiting it. Uhuru is not any different.

The general elections are three years away and the scramble of votes has begun in earnest. The main target? - the Coast, Western and North-Eastern regions of the country.

Both the Jubilee Coalition of Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto, and the opposition Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) of Raila Odinga, Kalonzo Musyoka and Moses Wetangula, are in a race to woo the areas, and for two main reasons: one, because they lack strong political leadership, and two, because they are viewed as swing vote regions especially in relation to the 2017 elections.

Since the death of Karisa Maitha, the flamboyant Mijikenda kingpin, the Coast has remained rudderless and directionless. It has been difficult to find a worthy heir to the coveted position once held by firebrand Gideon Ronald Ngala. Moreover, the people there have failed to agree on a single political party that could propel the region to the front row of national leadership. The result? Petty fragmentation based on race, religion, party affiliation and ethnicity.

The Western region has not done any better. The demise of Masinde Muliro in 1992 and Kijana Wamalwa in 2003 unearthed rudimentary schisms that have been difficult to heal. If there is one region with the highest number of presidential wannabes it is the country of Mulembe: Musalia Mudavadi, Cyrus Jirongo, Moses Wetangula, Eugene Wamalwa, and others of a lesser breed. Despite its huge voter register, the Western region continues to lag behind in almost everything political and economical.

Another region with a leadership vacuum and attracting the attention of national political bigwigs is the North-Eastern region. One man who could have made a difference, Godana Bonaya, was killed in a 2006 plane crash as he travelled to Marsabit on the Ethiopian border to reconcile warring clan factions. With an infestation of militia and terrorist groups from across the Somali and Ethiopian borders and with prevailing political inadequacies, this region is destined to remain behind in development for a long period to come.

It is these regions that both Jubilee and CORD are interested in for vote harvesting. Recently, both Uhuru and Raila were in Western. Now, Uhuru plans to spend several days at the Coast, following immediately after Raila's high-profile visit there a few days ago. Two weeks ago, Ruto spent several days in the region in what many consider a successful wooing mission in what was previously a CORD stronghold. From the Coast, Uhuru will head to Garisa, in North-Eastern.

Therefore, while Kenyans are told the President's visit is to inspect infrastructure development and commission projects, the actual reason lies in the potentiality of those regions as vote baskets for 2017.

So, the race is on.

And that is my say.

Sunday, July 13, 2014


DALLAS - Monday, June 14, 2014. Yesterday, a Catholic Church outside the American city of Dallas welcomed a Kenyan priest to its parish by treating him to a sugary ice cream and chocolate chip party.

The ice cream bash was appropriate because the outside temperature was hovering at a record 100 Celsius, and spewing out the kind of biting heat found only in some parts of northern and eastern Kenya.

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Plano is a big Church compared to the size of the structure and number of services we are used to in Catholic Churches in Kenya. It is predominantly white but has a sprinkling of Latinos and Africans including Kenyans, and offers an amiable and felicitous Christian atmosphere for its community.

A week earlier, Father Martin Mwangi, fresh from a five year stint at a seminary in another part of Texas, had presided over his first Mass before a curious congregation, amused by his strange accent. Immediately noticing that, he said in jest: "Let this accent not distract you from our journey to Christ." They applauded.

The youthful priest moved his listeners when he recalled his birth at a small village in Central Kenya; his baptism at the age of seven; his days as a herds-boy; and how he took the family Bible along with him to the bush for company because, he said,  tending cows and goats was "sometimes boring." He described his "journey" to priesthood and the challenges he encountered on the way and asked for prayers as he sought to strengthen his faith.

I mention this episode because I teared a little as I listened to Father Mwangi. I was proud to be a Kenyan after all listening to a fellow countryman who had crossed oceans to save the souls of strangers thousands of miles away.

Father Mwangi is just one of the many uncelebrated Kenyans flying our flag overseas. Very few people back home know about them, but they are there.

Many years ago while living in America, I watched star athletes Kipchoge Keino, Ben Jipcho,Naftali Temu and others break world records. They have since been followed on that path by many others.

Now we also have Lupita Nyong'o making waves in Hollywood; Daniel Odongo pioneering in American football; dozens of elite footballers playing soccer with top teams abroad; and artists, entrepreneur and scholars; all making a name for Kenya in faraway lands.

That is why sometimes I feel we are too harsh on ourselves while in Kenya, but those in the Diaspora understand what it means to be a Kenyan away from home. They know Kenya is not a dead-beat, delinquent state weighed down in malfeasance, but a country of hope driven in all spheres by a committed and patriotic people. It is an African phoenix that only needs good governance, a safe environment and committed leaders.

And that is my say.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014


The much talked about Saba Saba rally in Nairobi came and went. There was no tsunami, no mass action and no dreams fulfilled. And thank God, no violence.

The thousands of people who arrived at the Uhuru Park grounds as early as six o'clock in the morning for the afternoon rally of the opposition Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) sang, danced and listened to a cacophony of repetitious and colourless speeches. At the end of the day, they left the city, hungry and disappointed, while their leaders went home to dig into fillet steaks, washed down with Cabernet Sauvignon.

Like the May 31 rally that was promoted as the genesis of the Third Liberation but fell far short of expectations, the latest gathering flopped miserably in content and action and exposed CORD leaders Raila Odinga, Kalonzo Musyoka and Moses Wetangula as political acrobats capable of attracting crowds but unable to juggle.

The rally was the climax of a string of meetings throughout the country called to protest the government's refusal to convene a national dialogue to discuss some issues affecting the country. However, it turned out to be a storm in a tea cup. Even the resolutions adopted at the rally were, to use the word of Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero, common.

The rally failed to produce the anticipated sting. Instead, it disrupted businesses in Nairobi and caused a security scare country-wide.

The huge amounts of money spent to fund security operations could have been used to improve the lives of Kenyans including those at Uhuru Park.

One person I feel sorry for in these opposition theatrics is Kalonzo Musyoka, the self-proclaimed born again adherent, peace ambassador and a designated co-leader of CORD. We all know about Raila's radical background and his obsession for extremism but to see Kalonzo at the centre of runaway opposition politics tells me there is something seriously wrong with our politicians. They move from the extreme left to the extreme right at the flip of a button and without care.

There is no reason why the former Vice President - a two-time presidential candidate - cannot chart his own independent political direction instead of shadowing Raila. His involvement in radical politics will surely haunt him if he decides to go for a third presidential attempt in 2017. My appeal to my former party leader is: Instead of wasting time in CORD, go back and rebuild your own WIPER party.

Finally, now that CORD has chosen to change tact, my hope is that it will stick to constitutional provisions to advance its agenda for change, instead of making a joke of itself in the public domain.

And that is my say

Sunday, July 6, 2014


Let me state that I am a card-carrying member of the United Republican Party (URP), partner of The National Alliance party (TNA) in the Jubilee Government of President Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto.

I stood as its candidate for the Kilifi North parliamentary seat in the corruption-ridden 2013 general elections. Though I bowed out of active politics a year ago to pursue my passion in writing, I am still a political animal who is attracted to political events, and therefore follow them closely.

For months, I have been resisting the temptation to crucify the Uhuru/Ruto Administration on matters of insecurity because I felt the government needed more time to consolidate its hold on governance and to muster the skills and gather the resources to fight crimes of all kinds.

But after more than a year of incessant and blatant failures on the part of the government to rein in terrorist activities that have led to hundreds of innocent people losing their lives, I have no reason to believe - after the latest attack in Hindi, Lamu, where more than 20 people perished this week  - that this regime has the wherewithal or the political clout to end terror attacks against its people.

It doesn't matter whether the attacks are perpetrated by the dreaded Al Shabaab, the audicious Mungiki or by the baneful Mombasa Republican Party elements who are agitating for secession of the Coast region.

The bottom line is that the Jubilee Government has failed its people on security. The country is no longer safe, whether in the capital city of Nairobi or in far flung regions. Policy makers who are supposed to protect people have either run out of ideas or have given up because they can't cope. Departmental transfers of officers within security agencies have not worked to improve the situation; official assurances of safety have become a cliché, and all anti-terror efforts have come a cropper. Westgate, Mpeketoni, Hindi and dozens of other sites of horrors tell me enough is enough.

Consequently, it is now my view that time has come for the Jubilee Government to call it quits. Three and half years until the next elections is too long for Kenyans to live under constant threats of annihilation.

In any case, we have seen governments elsewhere give way for more or less similar reasons.

In February, for example, the Egyptian government of Hazem Beblawi resigned following a protracted strike by public sector workers. In South Korea in April, Prime Minister, Chung Hong, left following a ferry disaster in which 300 people died. In Ukraine, Prime Minister Mykota Azarov, saw no reason to continue ruling after two months of demonstrations that threatened the country's economic and social development. I can cite many other such cases.

There are enough reasons in Kenya - and this has nothing to do with the Opposition push for a national dialogue (which I strongly oppose) - for Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto to voluntarily disband government, allow an interim administration, and prepare people for fresh elections. Let us give a chance to leaders out there with more gusto and fresh ideas to secure the lives of Kenyans.

Finally, allow me to borrow a quote from George Saitoti as he involuntarily abandoned his quest for the presidency during the Kanu delegates conference at Kasarani Sports Complex in 2002. "There comes a time when the nation is more important than an individual," he said.

That time is now.

And that is my say.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014


Next Monday - July 7 - is Kenya's "D" Day:  D for Decision; D for Destiny, and D for  Doomsday.

It is the day the increasingly restless opposition group, the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD), under Raila Odinga, has set as the country's equivalent of Armageddon.

It will be the day when oppositionists will decide how to handle the Administration of Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto; whether to proceed in peace or to embrace unconventional means to bring the System to its knees.

It is also assumed that that day of Saba Saba (the seventh day of the seventh month) will be when CORD will officially begin its journey for the country's so-called Third Liberation.

Given that CORD had given Uhuru enough time to convene a national dialogue over matters of security, devolution and the disbandment of the electoral commission - which Uhuru has tactically ignored - much should be anticipated before, during and after that much-touted rally in Nairobi.

In May when Raila returned from a three month sabbatical in the United States, he gravely disappointed his supporters by failing to issue orders for a grand march to State House. A huge mass of people left his welcoming rally at Uhuru Park dejected and annoyed.

This time around Raila is under pressure to announce a Decision for a grand plan aimed at making the country ungovernable. If he fails to do that, his political career could be as good as dead. On the other hand, if he succumbs to populist pressure, Raila's action could lead to Destruction of lives and property. It would be the beginning of Doomsday; and none other than Raila Amolo Odinga will be held responsible. In brief, the Kenya's Destiny is partly in his hands.

So, the former political detainee is damned if he calls people to action and damned if he doesn't.

There is no doubt that the decision to hold country-wide rallies has polarised the nation. The issue has rocked the Jubilee Government and divided even CORD itself. It has caused a split of opinion in religious denominations and elicited divergent positions within the world community of nations.

What will happen on Monday - and the Government has pledged full security support - will determine whether Kenya moves forward as one nation or splinters into a tribal, partisan grouping.

And it only needs a spark from a hateful tongue, or a stone from a deranged element, to plunge the country into a state of anarchy.

And that is my say.