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The Telescope


The runaway graft in Kenya is not news. Politicians and public servants squander public resources with impunity. Besides, they justify their wayward practices without shame.

Those who oppose the vice are threatened or done away with. Those who ‘eat’ are glorified while those who value ethics and integrity are vilified.The annoying reality is that the country is sinking into debt as individuals illegally accumulate wealth.

In the wake of inflation and rising bank interest rates, business and families are bound to operate on shoe-string budgets. Such scenarios, as history shows can erupt into civil restlessness- that can lead to even more wanton waste and destruction. In the long run, the corrupt and straight citizens are affected.

Kenya has been fiscally irresponsible. We have gone on spending and looting sprees, ignoring experts’ advice. For long, the annual deficit has been more than the annual economic growth rate. Consequently, the net debt has exceeded one-third of gross domestic product.

“The anti-graft agency should be given powers to prosecute without fear or favour. It should not be swayed through political manipulation. Once the graft kingpins see action, not rhetoric, they will stop the vice”

Ultimately, we are now paying the price of extravagance. Kenya’s financial status must be told as it is. Announcing populist measures with zero reflective signs only serves to evade the problem.

Though the Vision 2030 has achieved some mileage, the larger dream could be thwarted by poor leadership and self-seeking interests. The country’s economy will be dented and so will other key sectors.

While the middle class might not feel the actual impact of corruption, it will be a different scenario for slum dwellers who survive ‘well’ on minimal resources. The families, under stable heads cross over to the neighbouring leafy suburbs to earn a coin. In the evening or when they are paid, they spend their earnings thriftly.

Kibera Slums

Their patience could be overstretched if they witness their employers living in opulence as they try to stretch their cents.

Nations are no different from individual families. A family with sober leadership will survive through hard times and so will a country with wise leaders.

President Uhuru Kenyatta has the opportunity to save Kenya’s economic-socio-political situation. He should deal with the rogue leaders and public servants who want to take the country to the dogs. He should sack non-performing crooked leaders to save Kenyans from inflation and high bank interest rates.

He should reclaim illegally acquired wealth and enforce values and ethics in institutions. The anti-graft agency should be given powers to prosecute without fear or favour. It should not be swayed through political manipulation.

Once the graft kingpins see action, not rhetoric, they will stop the vice. This country should enforce policies that address wastage and pilferage. We should heed advice to avoid duplication of responsibilities that translates to duplication of payment.

One can now imagine the positive impact our former constitution would have had in the current phase of slowdown in the presence of uncontrolled wastage. Any takers?

This article was published on People Weekend on October 17-18, 2015

The Telescope


Women around the world at every socio-political level find themselves under represented in most places of decision making. Although Kenya has continued to show effort in incorporating women in those levels, though not sustainable at the moment, the country is making steps in the right direction.

However, in the recent past Kenyan women leaders’ style of leadership has left a lot to be desired. A blend of misplaced priorities and restricted tendencies have continually lurked around topical issues that craved for their voice and input; which they barely managed to give.

Recently Ruiru MP, Esther Gathogo, threatened to strip ‘naked’ to protest a fellow legislator’s remarks toward the President and a woman Cabinet secretary much to the bewilderment of those in attendance and viewers. Her actions which were to raise attention to the matter in the relevant corridors of power nevertheless contrast to the little or no attention that was given by women legislators when the bulletins were awash with news concerning the rogue gynaecologist Mugo wa Wairimu and his revolting escapades.

“The truth is that women leaders have failed the electorate. They ought to step up to their duty of representing national issues”

More disturbingly is that Gathogo, like the rest of the women leaders, was readily available to defend influential individuals over matters that were generated from a name calling contest rather than use the same energy in addressing rather more serious issues that concern women and society. In light of this matter how is it possible then, that there is hope for future issues that touch on women to be granted proper address that they deserve in the society?

Is it hard to account for the discrepancies of the weight of the matters above? Which of them fits into the profile of issues that the women in government should have put more focus on?051005_wangari_hmed_6a.grid-6x2

The truth is that women leaders have failed the electorate. They ought to step up their game on national issues rather than cow to their inner sense of hypocrisy on self-serving interests. Great women in history have championed and even sought to adopt more masculine styles to succeed in fighting for sustainable courses that affect society. A good example is the late Nobel Laureate Wangari Maathai and First Lady Margaret Kenyatta.

Additionally, women in power have been modest in championing tenable change. In their quest for re-framing gender balance, they have lost focus of what is important that could actually propel the country in achieving gender equality goals more quickly.

Keen focus on the kernel of key issues affecting society has the power to alter the current dominant majority and the mindsets. Besides, as much as Kenya and the world now needs a new model for leadership that eliminates the depressing syndrome of the second and instead places greater value on those who lead more with emotional intelligence, it is about time women leaders stepped up to their role in society.

At the end of the day, what matters is results and women leaders should collectively advance towards providing proper representation and sustainable solutions required in key areas affecting women and society and not serving their own welfare or participating in ludicrous gimmicks.

This article was published on People Weekend on October 3-4, 2015

The Telescope


Patriotism, or if you like national loyalty, is the love and devotion to ones country. This sentiment is closely related to nationalism where a group of individuals identify themselves with the nation based on political ideology, common cultural characteristics or even common religion or race.

But where do we draw the line between patriotism and nationalism? A clear line cannot be drawn but there is a positive and destructive side to both patriotism and nationalism.

The destructive force kicks in when one group of nationalists try to dominate others and refuses any form of criticism or elucidation. Patriotism becomes a problem when it is blind to the problems it causes the nation.

Blind patriotism is fanatical. It is also called chauvinism and can never lead to fascism.

As Mark Twain put it, “The true patriotism, the only rational patriotism, is loyalty to the nation all the time, loyalty to the Government when it deserves it”.

Today, Kenya confronts several challenges but the teachers strike still tops the chart. Seemingly, the conversation has evoked some passionate and heated debates over the past few weeks but like so many second-order priorities the Government risks letting the matter overshadow the real business of running an economy at its all tSRCchairime peak at the moment.

Truth is that the teachers issue runs deeper than what meets the eye.It’s also plain to see that at this point even the teachers representatives have lost focus of what is important. Rather than seeking a solution that will see teachers resume back to their duties news bulletins have over the recent past been flawed with mortifying threats between the Cabinet Secretary of Education, Teachers Unions representatives, Salaries and Remuneration chair among other quarters.

This stuff is just embarrassing and such destruction may drive popularity ratings among Kenyans for those involved but it’s in bad taste and diminishes the Kenyan brand- much to the delight of those stirring the pot but they do not advance the vital national discussion about the problem on the ground.

Stakeholders must ultimately unite around an answer that recognizes the gravity of the circumstances surrounding the strike and the urgency of implementing corrective measures. Teachers back at home want to hear solutions on the issues not the internal strife marred with brazen mudslinging and hate advertisements.

Also there is no great mystery here, we all witnessed in utter dismay this week when the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy-Cord took on the teachers issue on a public stage in their breathtaking contrast of a solution finding mission that backfired badly on them.

It’s not lost to many that CORD is manufacturing an outrage in part to undermine the Government, in part because they hope to tarnish President Uhuru Kenyatta’s name and in part, because we are quickly approachiPresident Uhuru Kenyattang the next elections and this is an opportunity to rile up its base for fundraising purposes.

However that aside good leadership means dealing with second order issues quickly and efficiently and not allowing them to ferment and dominate the political discourse for days or weeks on end while matters that actually make a tangible difference to our living are allowed to take a back seat.

For the government, the country borders between the boundary of decency and ridiculousness a solution is needed, now.

This article was published on the People Weekend on September 26-27,2015