Monday, February 9, 2009



By Jerry Okungu
Africa News On Line
Nairobi, Kenya
February 8, 2009

Fellow Kenyans,

This is an open letter to President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga. I have decided to share it with you because the issues I am about to raise with them concern you directly.

As I sat there in that stuffy hall at Kenyatta Conference Center, I wasn’t sure if this meeting was appropriate in the middle of so many tragedies and scams, for which the public was blaming the present administration.

What caught me by surprise was the lineup of key speakers at the opening ceremony; speeches that lasted four hours. I wondered aloud whether, once again, 2000 poor Kenyans were gathered for lectures from the very leaders they were blaming for the mess we were finding ourselves in.

As we listened to Planning Minister justifying the efforts that went into putting the event together; as we listened to contributions from Daniel arap Moi, Kalonzo Musyoka, Raila Odinga and Mwai Kibaki in that order trying to spell out what was wrong with us and how we must deal with our present predicament, I wondered aloud why I needed to listen at all to the same talks I had heard over and over again in the same venue.

Then I recalled that in 2007, on different dates, in the same venue, we heard well articulated ODM and PNU party manifestos that Raila and Kibaki used in their campaigns. These manifestos spelt out the ills afflicting Kenya and our leaders actually prescribed a cure them. Kenyans listened for the better part of 2007 before they went to vote.

The fact that the three main party leaders are now in a coalition is the more reason they should not again have asked us to tell them what is wrong with Kenya or what Kenya we want.

They have the answers in the three manifestos which I’m made to believe were merged at some point to make the Grand Coalition deliver services they had promised during the campaign.

More importantly, the fact that this conference was the third such gathering with the same theme since 1962 was proof enough that the gathering was an ill-conceived exercise at a time when Kenya was plagued with all manner of calamities.

Had the organizers been a bit more prudent; they would have first gone to the archives, dug up what resolutions were passed in 1962 and 1980 to see whether those resolutions had been implemented. They never did anything of the sort.

Again, it was foolhardy to gather 2000 Kenyans of mixed background; some highly educated while others with bare minimum of education to share in a forum that was predominantly elitist. First it intimated the less endowed while it disadvantaged the rural folk whose arrival in the city was already traumatizing enough!

On another note; was it wise to bring Moi to speak of his 24 years of mayhem during which he ground the economy to a halt? Was it necessary for him to make that cruel joke that for 24 years he was the bus driver, he knew that back there in the bus; there were pick-pockets stealing from Kenyans? Why didn’t he stop the bus to flush out pick- pockets if he knew they were there?

Having said that, following is a list of some of the things I know Kenyans want done to restore their country to the Kenya they want:

Kenyans want their country back. They are tired of politics of greed and insensitivity

They want leaders who keep promises and resign from public office if they are alleged to be involved in public scams. They don’t want leaders who turn a blind eye to graft and theft of public resources just to keep their political careers

They want a Kenya that has two chambers of Parliament to guard against One Chamber dictatorship, public exploitation and greed.

They want a new Constitution with a political system that guarantees real separation of powers.

They don’t want MPs to serve as ministers. They should stick to their elective posts, pass laws and serve their constituencies. The Cabinet should be composed of people who are competent professionals, apolitical and have the national vision and interest at heart.

They want a small Cabinet of not more than 21 competent professionals.

Members of Parliament should be removed from CDF management at the constituency level completely. Their job should be limited to passing the allocations in Parliament.

Kenyans should be free to recall their MPs if they are not delivering on their election pledges.

Kenyans want to see that corruption, theft of public funds, police killings and other impunities are punished for real in the quickest time possible. They want to have an Attorney General who feels their pain rather than protect thieves and criminals in their midst.

Kenyans want John Michuki to head a special Ministry of Roads, Transport, Internal Security & Lawlessness to deal with cowboy contractors, traffic lawlessness, matatu menace, violent crimes and organized gangs.

Kenyans want a Kenya where there are roads worth calling roads

They want a Kenya where if there is hunger; government officials will fast in solidarity with the hungry to prove that the officials are responsible for Kenya’s food security. They want a country where the political class does not waste public resources in useless grandiose buildings, motorcades and aircrafts when on the ground peasants are feeding on snakes and shrubs.

They want a Kenya where private land ownership is restricted to a maximum of 100acres; however, any individual is allowed to hire unlimited tracks of land for farming from season to season for purposes of food production.

They want a Kenya where impunity is not allowed to deplete our Central Bank, Forest Reserves, Wild Life, Rivers and Lakes

They want a Kenya where every individual has a right to and is entitled to decent education, healthcare, food security, shelter and the right to earn a decent living

They want a judiciary that dispenses justice without fear or favor; not one that protects the rich but harshly punishes the poor

They want a Kenya where bank interests, fuel pump prices and prices of basic foodstuffs are controlled

They want a Kenya where women and the Youth have an equal opportunity and balance in politics and public service

They want a Kenya where political parties are not private property of individuals

They want a Kenya where bribing voters should earn a politician a life sentence in jail.

They want a Kenya with a new constitution and a devolved Central Government

They want a Kenya where one does not have to kill to be a Member of Parliament.

They want a Kenya where MPs and all constitutional office holders pay taxes

They want a Kenya where elected leaders serve their constituents rather than the reverse.

They want a Kenya where the electorate are not turned into perpetual beggars

They want a Kenya where all marginalized communities have an equal opportunity.

They want a Kenya with an Electoral Commission that they can trust and believe in.