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Political & Social Empowerment

KENYA IS SUFFERING ITS GREAT ECONOMIC DEPRESSION

KENYA-COURT-POLITICS-DEMOAccording to the Biblical book of Revelations Chapter 21:8 – The fearful, faithless, abominable, murderers, whore-mongers (pimps), sorcerers, adulterers, idolaters and  liars will meritoriously have their part in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone. Adding From Luke 13:28-29 – People will appear from all directions to recline at the table in the Kingdom of God. Many that enjoyed themselves during their short sojourn on earth reveling in their perversion but will find themselves weeping and gnashing their teeth, when they will see Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and all the prophets in heavenly glory and comfort but themselves cast out! But I digress. Many Kenyans, even those apparently strong in faith will read these passages in the Bible and ask themselves if there is really any other hell worse than their current predicament!

But this suffering all seems well deserved. Allow me to indulge you. None put it better than the American Ben Carson, the World-renowned neurosurgeon and author turned politician during his visit to Kenya when he uttered, “Choices have consequences.” This was an indirect jibe in relation to the wildly unpopular election victory, more like state capture by then ICC-indicted duo of Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto; this undisguisable millstone around their necks, notwithstanding. Quick on his feet, the new national supremo; Uhuru Kenyatta, fired back opining that the challenges facing his partner-in-government and himself were personal and wouldn’t in any way affect their service delivery or mandate to the adoring throngs that ‘elected’ them overwhelmingly. Those who didn’t elect this duo knew better but as democratic tenets dictate, ‘the majority have their way, the minority their say.’ Then, among the supporters of this duopoly was great dancing and cheer. However, I enthuse you to now show me but one honest person celebrating their good fortune consequent to tragedy that has been the Jubilee Party in government.

Allow me to paint a little background. In early 2008, Kenya was engulfed in the throes of post-election violence sparked off by a bungled election where a clear leader in the early poll results had surprisingly and narrowly lost the election by a flurry of ‘late’ albeit disproportionately favourable entries from strongholds of the early trailer that apparently had more voters than the total population of those regions! A hurried swearing-in ceremony was set-up at dusk and the incumbent H.E. Mwai Kibaki was sworn-in, in retrospect comically holding the Bible upside down! Feeling a clear sense of injustice and with a blocked avenue to legal recourse, the opposition strongholds erupted into a spontaneous frenzy of mass action by setting up fiery roadblocks in the middle of highways and creating all sorts of pandemonium. State machinery hit back to quell the riots but used inordinate force by opening fire on unarmed civilians in the opposition leaning areas. The situation was tense countrywide. In the defunct Rift valley province things went, for lack of a better word ‘ape!’ One tribe that had eternally arrogated themselves the title of natives of the region took up their bows, machetes, arrows and spears, going on a spree of evicting all other communities from their spheres of interest more so, the one of Mr. Mwai Kibaki’s ethnic stock. We all know of Newton’s 3rd Law of Motion – For Every Action is an equal and opposite reaction. Retaliatory attacks were forthcoming and in the aftermath of this all, a suspected figure of more than 1200 people lay lifeless while 500,000 more were internally displaced. Later a unity Government was formed between Kibaki and his begrudged foe Raila Odinga and from a collapsing economy Kenya picked itself up and back onto the horse of an economic surge akin to that it had enjoyed for most of the former’s first term. Wrangles abounded in the coalition government but for most part these always ended up getting smoothed over by the principals to the best interests of the Republic.

There was no audacity of hope that wafted from the two characters that contested the Presidency under the Jubilee coalition come 2013. These erstwhile foes who had worked together before found themselves in the same boat again buoyed by similar existential interests. Consequently, they had no other endearing quality to their populace other than remonstration against the International Criminal Courts by their respective ethnic groupings and creating a narrative of being singled out for needless persecution, coercion out of politics and possible neo-colonialization of their masses. Two tribes ganged behind their sons and willed them on to high office merely to pervert the course of justice for the internally displaced, tortured, murdered and raped. A bromance was brewed between two guys previously at opposite sides of the spectrum that had a rapt following of their kinsmen willing them on. The World seemed to be going crazy and all strictures of logic were ostensibly thrown out of the window. But behind the scenes another group with sinister motives was forming. This was a group of schemers and connivers who knew what nobody else had an inkling of! They were sure that despite the massive following enjoyed by the then Prime Minister, these two upstarts would upstage him and take office by whatever means possible. So they worried themselves not. They simply went through the motions tirelessly behind the shadows paying fealty, fund-raising and creating a massive-propaganda campaign to get the aptly named ‘team-fresh’ elected. They knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that their pay-day was coming by cashing in on the green-horns of statecraft that was to be the incoming sprightly leadership. Against the will of the majority and to the great chagrin of many Kenyans, this seemingly wide-eyed duo usurped national leadership at the First Round of Voting with a suspicious 50%+8000. The winner took it all!

After this twosome had taken their respective Oaths of Office as the 4th President and First Deputy President of the Republic of Kenya, it was time to literally divide the spoils of war among those who had been loyal to the cause of TNA and URP. This was done in absolute disregard to the ethnic composition of Kenya and majorly favoured the two tribes where the President and his Deputy hailed. The remaining offal was distributed disproportionately among what for the lack of a better phrase will describe as the ‘scum of Kenya’ from among the opposition-leaning tribes that had elected to betray their kinsmen in support of Jubilee. The discord this created in the national psyche in addition to the ‘twins’ at statehouse choosing to honour their respective dates at the ICC at great inconvenience to the nation resulted in an economy in turmoil. But if there is something that I can pay adulation to the Jubilee government is being adroit at the use of the Public Relation machine at their disposal. They eternally worked in concord with state aficionados to create a rosy outlook of the initiatives of the government of the day in absolute variance to the reality on the ground.

The wheeler-dealers aforementioned who now worked as Principal Secretaries and Chairmen of State departments took advantage of the naivety and incompetence at the top to virtually loot the statutory bodies they were mandated to oversee. A dearth in accountability occasioned first, by State officials neither being answerable to anybody in particular nor filling-in wealth declaration forms prior to taking up office and secondly making a norm out of invoking the name of the opposition leader for blame and possible ‘circumcision’ each time they were caught in the throes of anguish pertaining to fingers firmly stuck in the cookie jar! Flexing of their newly-acquired muscle of state became the new sport as mismanagement gained prominence as the by-word in most institutions where embezzlement and mismatching of skills due to favouritism, were the temple at which they all worshipped. Tribalism was exalted, all the while veiled to create an impression of a leader only innocently keen to hire those he could trust but malevolently punishing the tribes that didn’t vote for him. Corruption and weak payroll management systems yielded ghost-workers giving rise to a new financial elite of civil servants who benefited from double payment cashing in on unaccounted dead colleagues in the payroll. Irreverence knows no limits. The injudicious culture of expending borrowed money based on expected future earnings to supplant it, has become engrained among the government elite. When government spends more than it earns through taxation it is only emblematic of an attitude of minimal prudence in financial management. The state was regressing from the gains made in the two decades of multiparty politics in Kenya, but who could possibly dare tell that to two autocrats who rode roughshod into statehouse on the back of injustice and coercion of state machinery?

Ultimately all that is done in darkness must come to light, all that is hidden must in due course become manifest to multitudes. After Uhuru Kenyatta secured his 2nd Term and sought to grab the opportunity to build a legacy he had lost in his first term he took a hardline stance against graft. After making peace with the People’s President; Raila Odinga, thereby earning back the legitimacy to run state, there was nowhere to hide for the guilty and ploys to distract popular attention away from their misdeeds were all foiled. It has now come to light that Kenya is in dire straits economically. Taking loans for infrastructural development devoid of a Kenyan-led feasibility study and plans for consequent Return on Investment are now biting hard on our economy. In the early days of the Jubilee regime, Kenya floated a facility in the temperate climes known as Eurobond that on maturity was supposed to be used as a supplementary tool for bolstering our economic prospects and government spending. Evidence is clear that on maturity, the impact of that sovereign bond acquired on behalf of the sovereignty; which is the People of Kenya, has been stolen and deposited in the private bank accounts of the well-to-do in the higher echelons of state. It has also become poignant that the erstwhile blue-eyed boy of the Jubilee Government that had for six years survived as Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Mr. Henry Rotich was in concert with his Principal secretary and in a small way the entirely vestigial Cabinet Administrative Secretary engaging in the practice of ‘Creative Accounting’ derogatorily referred to as ‘cooking the books’. This is creation of parallel books of accounts for budgeting purposes. One bears the authentic picture of the state of the economy while the other one is used merely to hoodwink the public, a vacuous PR entry! As this was done, behind the scenes was a vermin-like frenzy of eating by those state officers that has worked to eviscerate the state of whatever was left of the Kenyan economic prospects. The public may be ignorant enough to be fooled by sideshows but how do you explain the state not being able to pay its suppliers for goods and services for months on end? How do you explain the forced austerity measures by none other than the Head of State himself in contravention to the previously panegyrized healthy run of the national economy? Can you really wish away late salaries for civil servants with just an excuse of minor aberrations in the computer systems used in the disbursement of funds at treasury? How do you substantiate on the presidential directive to freeze all state projects despite our new economic boon borne out of the revenue from the SGR railway?

Even blind Bartimeus can perceive the economy is no longer liquid! You cannot gloss away cash-flow in a state of ebb. It is not lost on anyone, the closure of many businesses that have previously been thriving in Kenya partly or wholly dependent on doing business with government. Small and Medium Enterprises that were propping up the economy are now closing by the droves. Foreign investment is almost drying up as those that were initially attracted by the investment-friendly economic climate this side of the Sahara now find themselves without prompting being edged out of the market and are now in a life-death battle to stay afloat. They invariably are taking their businesses to fiscally friendlier African nations at our expense. Our economic prospects are abysmal to put it mildly. Don’t even mention companies retrenching and offering redundancy statements to their employees. Now it’s becoming apparent you cannot expect beans from an orchard! Lack of fiscal discipline symptomized by unrestrained borrowing and minimal frugality on expenditure once the funds have been obtained is now Kenya’s achilles heel. The monumental national friction created by UhuRuto’s ascent to power against the ‘vox-populi’ meant that they had to hire more politicians to the executive for fire-fighting purposes as opposed to prudent practice of head-hunting the requisite technocrat economists or professionals from other cadres to steady their ship. Immoral as it is, failed politicians now ask ordinary citizens to pick up the tab for their malfeasance, no doubt a case study in kakistocracy. Not to forget the interest rate caps on financial institutions like banks that has seen these creditors become risk averse, denying entrepreneurs the much needed lucre to remain afloat. Even before these new pressures, it was already hard enough to own a start-up business in Kenya as statistics clearly show that 90% of them fold before their 3rd birthday!

Uhuru Kenyatta has now adopted an anachronistic policy of hiring antiquated men and women, veterans of eons past, most of them the actual home guards who were the principal beneficiaries of our strife for independence. This in my view is pedantic at best but escapist and diversionary at worst. It is just a refusal to admit the obvious that anybody who had any concern for the best interest of Kenya and is anthemically patriotic could never in a million years think of supporting the Jubilee party. This directly means that if the President had a sagacious team around him, they would have enlightened him on the virtues of magnanimity. This loosely translates to against all odds, extending an olive-branch to the section of the populace which bitterly opposed his candidature and eventual ascent into office. I mean the youth in the informal settlements that were on-call to engage in running battles with the police day and night merely for the noble ideal that is democracy. Many of them as is with the rank and file of the Kenyan population are highly-skilled, educated and intelligent and so would easily have run these state departments in the way that glorifies our heritage of splendour. The result of his peccadillo is evident for all to see. Young men and women equally highly educated and edified on their respective areas of expertise but severely lacking in integrity, professional ethics, patriotism, nobility, temperance, any scintilla of self-control and pay homage to the god of privilege. This is clear from a former governor, now graduated to a well-connected state functionary that goes around boasting smug satisfaction of being, “ the perceptive fly that drowns in a glass of milk while the other daft ones die entombed in a mound of feacal matter invoking the bally-hoo of patriotism.” The thieving brigade of young-turks have ended up greatly embarrassing the President to such an extent that his pandering to the youth agenda appears to be dead in the water. Look at an institution like N.H.I.F where the youth got a chance to serve as C.E.O at the dawn of the Jubilee government. But these cretins have mucked it up for the rest by allowing funds that are painfully truncated every month from the meagre salaries of the hoi-polloi to end up being pilfered to building castles for junior officials some up to 200 million shillings in value! I will not engage in the activity of underscoring the importance of health insurance to the human resource that builds Kenya, for I may end up in a hissy fit and to no one’s benefit! The conflux of our political leadership are professional con-artists cavorting as pastors, drug-mules, snake-oil salesmen, pathological gamblers, ‘reformed criminals’, louts, touts, the aforementioned whore-mongers in paragraph 1, concubines of major party leaders and the tapestry that consists the grime of this world. Kenya’s pointer to being a nation in economic recession is the fact that you can call a rally in midweek which is decently attended pointing to crunching unemployment, economic disenfranchisement, deleterious hopelessness and the reality of the working poor.

But you would ask me what options remain for the down-trodden who have suffered the brunt of Kenya’s economic downturn:

  • For those who can afford it, time is ripe to start exploring opportunities outside our borders. Many youth find themselves bound by the shackles of unemployment, lack the tools for self-actualization and capital deficiency that make their dire fortunes increasingly miserable. For those who can, get the much vaunted ‘Green Card’ to the United States, alternatively move to Australia or England as either expatriates or even execute tasks the natives of those countries refuse to perform because someone has to do it, where your skill-set and competence will be rewarded at a premium as opposed to Kenya where your youthfulness is only misused as canon-fodder for inordinate violence that only adds peril to your survival.
  • Hope that the newly launched BBI will entail an economic stimulus package for the vulnerable in society. Investment in sports, culture and basically just entry-level job creation for the youth will do wonders to ameliorate our economic prospects.
  • Historically, during Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s first 100 days in office in the midst of a crippling recession in the United States of America, his administration passed legislation that aimed to stabilize industrial and agricultural production, create jobs and stimulate recovery. That is self-explanatory. As Kenyans we should be keen to support our President’s Big 4 Agenda for Kenyan prosperity.
  • Going forward, elect leaders not out of personal vendetta, youthful appearance or will to teach some nebulous dynasty somewhere a lesson! Instead take your time to read someone’s party manifesto and be keen to what ideology they espouse. Most importantly check-out your potential leader’s track record. You cannot re-elect men who escaped from prison and were fugitives until they bought freedom, have made wealth on the fringes of darkness or have stood on the docks on corruption charges and expect integrity and effective governance will be imbued unto them merely by your prayers. Let’s embrace the wisdom of learning from history so that we are not doomed to repeat it. The empirical definition of madness that also applies to foolishness is quixotically doing the same thing twice in similar fashion and expecting different results.
  • In the advent of the Great Depression, USA was the only industrialized country in the globe that did not boast some form of unemployment insurance or social security. Come 1935, Congress played its hand and passed the Social Security Act, which provided Americans with unemployment and disability security not forgetting pension for the aged. This could work for Kenya as African lives matter too!
  • There has never been a better time to abandon tribal-based politics and personality cults for ideological based stewardship. When Kibaki was elected in 2002, Kenyans were ranked among the most hopeful people in the world. This is because of the intrepidity of the future promised by a man who excelled in both academia and as a Finance minister winning the presidency. How is it that these same Kenyans turned to clueless individuals only selling the face of youth, new money and nothing else?
  • Wealth declaration and accountability in government is needed back.

In concluding remarks, all is not lost. Where there is a will there is a way. Just as long as you can find it and use it.

By dennismukoya

I am a consummate thinker of new solutions which I passionately endeavour to implement.

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