Showing posts from 2010

Thoughts on the next elections

Just like I predicted in September that there will be fireworks over the date of next elections, it has come to pass. I now feel comfortable to add my thoughts to the debate. The next elections, according to the Sixth Schedule will happen WITHIN 60 days after the dissolution of the current Parliament AT THE END OF ITS TERM. Now, the end of its term, I submit, is catered for under the clause that the government and Parliament keeps quoting: “The National Assembly existing immediately before the effective date shall continue as the National Assembly for the purposes of this Constitution for its unexpired term.” So, the same Constitution at article 101 gives Parliament a five-year term. And they say, this term expires on the DATE OF THE NEXT ELECTIONS. Fine. The question is, five years from when? Some lawyers, like Mr Abdikadir Mohammed and Mutula Kilonzo –both with personal interests in this matter - argue that it is five years from the date of the last elections. Both are bri

What a month it has been!

October is gone, here comes November. The Christmas promos are on the way. The anti-corruption bug has hit the National Assembly. Ministers have gone home, the adrenaline is so much in such instances and churning out copy is what I do. It's been a good month all things considered! I may not have blogged that much, but then, that's a story for another day. I have another 31 days to do the blogging. I hope, I will succeed. So far, adios October!

This man is just the one!

Well, I can't sleep without telling you about my experience at the first public interview. The Justice and Legal Affairs Committee had Justice Isaac Lenaola and Principal Magistrate Emily Ominde for interviews. As I looked on, I heard the committee members ask the usual interview questions: "Tell us about yourself? what awards have you earned? Have you published any papers? Are you 'clean'?" And such stuff. Then, my pal David Ochami, when we got the chance to put in our questions after the meeting, turned on the committee. He questioned the kind of reasoning that went behind their minds as they came up with the list of questions. He wondered if knowing where a judge went to school was more important than say, their opinion on death penalty and such stuff. He wondered if the committee, which was full of lawyers, knew anything about jurisprudence. The committee members were shocked. But then, I can get soft on them and say, they didn't expect that a journalist c

Kazi kwa Vijana, like M-Pesa, is on its way to the UK

So while Kenya was busy celebrating Mashujaa Day, the UK, it's colonial master, was busy worried about balancing books. I Just got lucky to see the UK Finance Minister George Osborne reading his first budget and goodness, it seems life will be tough. While Kenya is struggling to create 500,000 jobs annually, the UK wants to cut 490,000 jobs in government and another similar number in the private sector. So, really, how were Tony Blair and Gordon Brown managing? It seems Cameron will have a super hard time turning that economy around. But looking at all that they have in that budget, I see as if someone is experimenting bigtime with things that can backfire both economically and politically. I hear politicians are the same everywhere, and that if they do anything in the name of the people, then we all have to be wary. Let's see if they can implement that budget, because, what my head of State gave me as a speech for Mashujaa Day looked like a cut and paste job of many of his spe

Dear President Kibaki

Dear Mr President, It’s my humble duty to share in your disgust at the state of indiscipline on our roads. I agree with you that we are perhaps the ‘worst’ in the world, though; I am not sure what you’d say if you went (not as President) to Nigeria’s Lagos, Egypt’s Cairo or Pakistan’s Islamabad. I am even surprised that you know about how careless our motorists can be, yet, whenever you want to use the road, any road, it is cleared hours before you step into your limousine. Nonetheless, I am glad that you know what we go through and that it makes you angry. You sounded really peeved at the way drivers get “excited” for ‘doing’ the Nairobi-Nakuru (you called it ‘Nyaikuru’) stretch in less than an hour. Seriously, a motorist who achieves such a feat experiences a super feeling. He tastes, for that hour, what you Mr President, enjoys everyday --the speed at which your motorcade moves. There’s a day I met you at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. I don’t think you remember. You had j

A Marriage Crisis in Egypt? How now?

This morning, Al jazeera carried this story from Egypt about what it called a marriage crisis. I was a bit confused. In the Al jazeera story, there was this beautiful girl who said that "it reaches a certain age, where a lady thinks that there's more to life than love". In her words, at that age, you just look for a person to grow old with "as long as that person is well-mannered". Then the reporter went into a match-making office and as I looked on, I couldn't help but marvel at the 'Westernness" in Egypt. Yeah, it's more America and less Saudi Arabia. You know, in Egypt, weddings happen from Thursday night to Saturday night --yeah, night weddings, plenty of boat rides and vows are taken while cruising on the Nile. (That's the impression I got when I was there). On the face of it, such ceremonies look grandiose, but when you look or even attend one, they are very simple weddings. But then, I asked a guy, how much it costs to get married and

Opportunity cost

A pal directed me to the Daily telegraph story of Tanzanians stealing fuel in, wait for it, a gold mine! Come on, he said, there's gold right there. And I thought, if the security measures were that tight where Gold is concerned, why not go for the next best available option--the opportunity cost. But seriously, with all that gold, and the poverty levels down south? For real, I now know, that some vampire is being fed big time.

A lesson in history

Every day I learn something new. Today, while reading Simeon Nyachae’s biography, I came across a funny line. Nyachae notes that when he was Cabinet Secretary he had a run-in with Martin Shikuku. He says, Shikuku was once an assistant minister in the Office of the President. At that time, Shikuku used to come early and stand at the doors of Harambee House, marking what time each of the civil servants reported to work. Complete with a register. Now picture that! Then when Nyachae complained that the civil service had its own mechanism of dealing with such matters, Shikuku raised the matter in Parliament saying Nyachae was “behaving like a Prime Minister!” Of course, something had to give, and in this case it was Mr Shikuku who was shown the door. Life happens! PS: This is my first blog in October. I hope to write 20. The countdown begins. One down! of dealing with such matters

Shaking off the 'leave' hangover :)

"The challenge of being employed, in my perspective, is that it is a cage. It is cyclic; you get a hang of what it is that you need to do. And what you need to achieve, it becomes comfortable, a routine you whine about, but yet too afraid to leave. I guess those who really live life, are the ones who dare to do the things we all dream about. I have been thinking a lot lately about skydiving and learning the Argentinean Tango."-- Rose Ondeng Sorry for the intermittent postings over the past two months. I have been on leave. But now, the hiatus is over and I am right back. For some reason, after the promulgation frenzy, I just went off newspapers and stuck to the good old radio and, sometimes, TV. But it is sad that when I read the newspaper, after all that time, it’s like the politics hasn’t changed. It all sounds “background” to me. It is stuck right where I left it: the politics of who sit in what committee; the International Criminal Court and Kenya’s Government stand-off;

The 'noise' over Provincial Administration

“Look at the Constitution. Read it. And then look at the people asking you to vote for it. Then ask yourself: What’s the worst that it can come to (in its implementation)? If you trust the letter and the spirit, vote ‘Yes’, if you trust the spirit but not the letter, vote ‘No’ ” –Talkshow Guest, (was it Charles Kanjama or Chris Foot, one of the two). The controversy over the provincial administration has the media and politicians talking at each other. The debate is unwarranted. IMHO, it is just politics. The Constitution is very clear at the Sixth Schedule (17): “Within five years after the effective date, the national government shall restructure the system of administration commonly known as the provincial administration to accord with and respect the system of devolved government established under this Constitution.” I find it stupid for some MPs and journalists too, to argue that this role does not lie with the folks at Harambee House. Seriously, I think it does. Or what do yo

I don't think these fellows will pay tax!

Well, it is September and people are wondering if the MPs will pay tax on their allowances beginning this month. On my part, I don't think they will. But I could be wrong. Indulge me. According to the MPs, section 210 (3) of the new Constitution, is explicit that they should pay tax. But they argue that doing so will be taking away a right that they already enjoy. On the other hand, the Sixth Schedule extends the powers of the Parliamentary Service Commission and its mandate to set the lawmakers’ pay package, so constitutionally, MPs are not barred from seeking more money from the Treasury. It is a question of morality. Still, the new Constitution favours MPs at 259(1), which directs that the Constitution shall be interpreted in a manner that “advances the rule of law, the human rights and fundamental freedoms in the Bill of Rights; permits the development of the law and contributes to good governance.” If the legislative, representation and oversight mandate of the MPs is looked a

The NHIF tax! Thank you Industrial Court!

The news filtered in from the courts during the day that the new tax by the nationalhealth insurer had been suspended, albeit for the time being. In my not-so-humble opinion, I think, the National Health Insurance Fund was becoming greedy. For the last three years they have been taking in my Sh320 per month. Now, all of a sudden, they sit in a boardroom somewhere and decide that I ought to pay more so that I can access the outpatient cover. What I didn’t understand was why they went for the inpatient cover, then wait for us to get the private medical schemes to charge us highly for outpatient cover, and now when we have managed to squeeze in whatever we have to the private medical schemes, then they show up with this new deal in the name of the poor. Yes, they say they’ll improve the hospitals, raise the standards of the facilities and all that flimflam, but then I have my doubts. If all along the government’s official excuse has been “the hospital has not been built because there’s no

The Maseno Experience --Who said 'money' defines 'class'?

Hey. If you are reading this post and you wondering what the fuss is all about, then perhaps you haven’t experienced the get-out-of-my-face attitude. Well, I was at Maseno University today. And I am shocked beyond words at what I saw. Well, for a campus, where people go to read and grow, it’s not such a bad place. The people, right there, were well organized, they served the freshers rather quickly, that by one o’clock, a good number of the fellows were already settled. So, as I took a stroll to go for lunch, a decent lunch, kind of a send-off (what guys in Nairobi call ‘a treat’), for my small brother. I saw this signpost: “Snr Staff Guest House.” Knowing “Guest Houses”, I figured that they’d serve all guests, because in any case, my brother was there at the invitation of none other than the Registrar of the University. So, we sauntered in. There was a Volkswagen Passat with the blue number plate, (definitely some university big-shot), then there was a Toyota (two of t

Splendid thinking...



By ALPHONCE SHIUNDU, EMEKA-MAYAKA GEKARA and OLIVER MATHENGE At exactly 8.40pm on Thursday night, August 5,2010, the national electoral agency declared the proposed Constitution ratified. The Interim Independent Electoral Commission declared that 5,954,767 Kenyans had given the document a thumbs up in the second referendum to be carried out in Kenya. A total of 2,687,193 voted to reject the document. The total voter turnout,according to IIEC chairman Isaac Hassan was 71 per cent . “The constitution has therefore been approved by more than 50 per cent of all votes cast and has also been approved and received support of over 25 per cent in all provinces of Kenya. The proposed new Constitution is hereby ratified,” Mr Hassan said amid cheers from the retinue of ‘Yes’ supporters in the audience. He added: “This is not a victory for any group. It is a victory for Kenya. It is now very important for the country to move forward and unite the country.” He alluded to amendments as the only reaso

Re-reading the boss!

“ The Nairobi of a decade ago was an urban wasteland, where human suffering was no less endemic than in its rural polar opposite, Turkana, and where the danger of being eaten by hyenas, albeit in the human form, was no less real. The crowds of street people, their excrement caking the pavements, the muggings and shootings and the potholes, which were more consistent in their population that the few stretches of smooth tarmac, were metaphors of a desolate, beaten society. Kenya is in the tight hug of the before-the-election-violence and after-the-election-violence polarity, a piece of shallow but vicious analytical malfeasance, which has wrestled history to the ground, torn it into two contrasting pieces, and pegged it down like wet skin, with the antics of the political elite writ large, in blood. This polarity ignores the fact that one big mistake may have defined the decade, but it was neither alone, nor was it the only event with influence on the future. The stealing of election

"Four legs good, two legs better! Four legs good, two legs better! Four legs good, two legs better!"

It's George Orwell's Animal Farm all over again. The politics of two grandfathers is selling newspapers and hogging media airtime. Kibaki is better than Moi. Moi is better than Kibaki. Depends on who you are. But I will remind you that none of them is better. They all failed the country in their own ways. I saw two old men behaving badly this week. They were attacking each other over this document called ‘katiba’. Well, they are politicians. They’ve both made false promises. And we all know it. Does any of them have a track record? They both have. Both good and bad One of them, President Kibaki, ensured that in seven years we have good roads (that’s what people say until they step on the Mumias-Bungoma cattle track. It’s like you are going to the Mara! When Moi was there…it was like the Naivasha-Gilgil) and a bouncing economy, the other one, former President, Daniel Moi, made sure we never killed and slaughtered each other, even as we died as paupers. So all of a sudden –beca

The 'jury' has returned the verdict, the 'crime' is still in progress

The above photo has a comment that was posted on my Facebook page. I don't know why he chose my wall and referred everyone to my wall. Maybe he respects me, may be he thinks I agree with him, Or may be he thinks I am suspect numero uno. I don't know. Only he knows!

The 'Galileo syndrome'

"[Every week], I sit at my desk and bang out the first draft of [stories, or as I call them analyses] that I will then agonize over and rework and rewrite and read aloud for days before hitting send. And then (because the confessional memoir is all the rage) I will go into the “Sent” portion of my e-mail account and re-open the document that I have sent out into the world and I will worry about it until it’s published. And then I will wait. Not for accolades or notes of congratulations. I wait for someone to tell me I am wrong. Part of this is because of the way I was raised. I was surrounded by a strong extended family that was there to be measuredly proud for our successes but also to remind us who we were and where we came from. Often. And loudly." That's not me. It is Tom Avila writing in one of my favourite websites. I recommend that site to all Kenyan journalists, including editors who've ever written a story. For real! I agree with him one hundred per cent. I

Enter the whiffler!

“Politicians bore me personally; they know how to manipulate the news…I don’t believe anything any politician tells me.” - a media consultant (a former BBC journalist) now based in Tanzania Enter the most recent king of whiffle politics, Kigumo's MP Jamleck Kamau. He's one chameleon (forgive the cliche). Really! I don’t mean to be slanderous, so let me start with what I can prove. For the record, I will not call him an inconsequential doofus. Neither will I call him a moral no-show. He is just a politician suddenly thrust in the limelight by virtue of being “a roadblock” in what Kenya’s scribes have baptised as an 'impending life-changing moment in Kenya'. Mr Kamau is a vice chairman of the Party of National Unity and a commissioner in the Parliamentary Service Commission. A fortnight ago, he was all over Parliament making noise that the House Business Committee –that powerful team that decides what’s debated in Parliament—had kicked out his Bill. The crux of