May 29 2009
By Patrick Mathangani and Benson Kathuri
The coffee and tea auctions are to be disbanded by the end of the year, Agriculture Minister William Ruto has said.
Ruto said instead of selling through the auctions, coffee and tea would be branded and sold as premium Kenyan products.
However, a section of the players in the tea industry argued the existence of the Mombasa Tea Auction is not a hindrance to value addition in the tea industry.
"Even in countries that have succeeded in value addition efforts like India and Sri Lanka, the auctions still exist and tea packed is first sold in the auction," said Kipkurui Langat, managing director of the East Africa Tea Traders Association that runs the Mombasa auction.
Ruto had on Wednesday said the move to abolish the auctions would improve prices and fortunes for farmers, who have been battered by poor prices in recent years.
He said the auctions were being used to exploit farmers as their high-quality produce is used to blend other lowly products from other countries.
"What has been going on is unacceptable," Ruto said in Karatina Town. " We want to have our own brand so that we get value for our work."
He was speaking when he officially opened Agriculture Finance Corporation’s (AFC) new branch in the town. It is the corporation’s 37th branch.
Ruto said those who buy the produce at the auctions take it to other countries for packaging, where they more than double the price and make super profits.
"They don’t even have tea farms there," he said.
"Such action will create wealth, encourage farmers to take care of their crops as well as create employment," the minister added.
Friday, May 29, 2009
THE NEW VISION
28th May, 2009
The Africa Leadership Institute’s latest report on the performance of Members of Parliament is a welcome move in advancing democracy in this country.
Democracy is about checks and balances. The three arms of government, the executive, judiciary and legislature, serve this purpose.
However, business and civil society also have a critical part to play in a functioning democracy.
In the case of Parliament, which has oversight over the executive, the question has always been: “Who will monitor the monitors?”
The Africa Leadership Institute has answered this call and should be supported in making this survey come out at least twice in the five-year term of every House.
By making it a regular feature of our political culture, our representatives will be compelled to be more vigilant in the execution of their duties and give their constituents a better feel of what they are up to in Kampala.
Hopefully, an additional benefit will be an incremental improvement in the survey results, with an eventual capacity to chart long-term trends of individual legislators and the House in general.
There still remain some loopholes, but none that compromises the report to the point of uselessness.
For example, the ministers’ contributions in the committee were marked as not available, which is a major omission. It is in working with the committee to pass bills that the ministers’ main work in Parliament is seen. Also, while judging the effectiveness of an MP in the House will always be subjective, there’s need for a few more objective criteria.
But it also raised interesting questions like the usefulness of the current crop of army MPs and whether they are the best representatives of their institution. All of them earned Fs in their contributions to the plenary.
The survey needs to be tweaked to be more effective, but its usefulness, will be vindicated by history.
THE NEW VISION
28th May, 2009
By Anthony Bugembe
THE GOVERNMENT has described the motion on Migingo Island passed by the Kenyan Parliament on Wednesday as “uncalled for”.
The motion, which was resisted by Kenyan ministers, asked President Mwai Kibaki to deploy the military to resolve the border dispute, should diplomatic efforts fail.
It also asked Kibaki to refer the dispute to the UN Security Council if it threatens peace and security in the region.
“I don’t think that is called for. We are waiting for the outcome of the border survey. Kenya’s action could pre-empt the team’s work,” said information minister Kabakumba Masiko.
Fred Opolot of the Uganda Media Centre called the motion ridiculous and baseless, saying the Ugandan army is not present in the disputed areas as is alleged.
“It does not hold any water at all. The UPDF has never been deployed on Migingo or in West Pokot. All the Kenyan MPs could have done was to verify these allegations that have been made through the media,” Opolot commented.
He said he did not believe the motion represented a consensus in the Kenyan Parliament, since only 47 legislators were present.
“What matters is that the relationship between the governments of Kenya and Uganda is good. Both want to solve the problem diplomatically and amicably. A technical team is on the ground. We all hope that by the end of June the survey will have ended and the result will be known.”
The disputed island is home to about 200 people and a docking station for the lucrative fishing area of Lake Victoria.
In February, Nyanza provincial authorities accused Ugandan fisheries officials of trespassing and illegally collecting sh50,000 in annual operation fees in the Kenyan area.
The foreign affairs state minister, Okello Oryem, said Kenyan and Ugandan leaders should have confidence in resolving the row diplomatically.
“There is an ongoing process to survey and determine where Migingo Island belongs. Our Government is willing and ready to honour the decision of the border survey team,” Oryem said.
THE NEW VISION
27th May, 2009
By Barbara Among
Members of Parliament of the ruling National Resistance Movement performed better than their opposition counterparts at constituency and committee level, according to the latest report of the African Leadership Institute, a Kampala think-tank.
However, MPs from opposition parties performed better in plenary sessions of Parliament, while independent MPs were slightly better in influencing the debate.
The third Parliamentary Scorecard, to be released officially today, reveals that while opposition MPs scored an average of 61% for their contributions in plenary sessions, NRM members scored only 50%.
In committee debates, however, opposition MPs scored 50% while the average NRM MP scored 54%. Similarly, at the constituency level, opposition MPs received a score of 43% while NRM MPs scored 48%.
The best performing party over-all was the Uganda People Congress (UPC). It scored 70% in plenary work, 65% in committee work and 73% in constituency performance.
The African Leadership Institute, headed by former External Security Organisation boss David Pulkol, assesses MPs on their contributions, attendance and influence in committee and plenary (full House) debates.
It also evaluates MPs’ performance in their constituencies by checking their attendance of LC5 meetings, their accessibility by phone, and the presence of an office or staff.
This year’s top-performing MPs were Nathan Byayima (NRM), John Odit (UPC), John Arimpa Kigyagi (NRM), James Byandala (NRM), Ssebuliba Mutumba (DP) and Stephen Tashoya (NRM).
At the bottom of the list are ministers and army MPs. For the backbenchers, worst performers are Jim Muhwezi (NRM), Pius Mujunzi (NRM), Aston Peterson Kajara (now a minister), Sylvia Nambide Ssinabulya (NRM), Sara Mwebaza (NRM) and Ali Lubyayi Kisiki (NRM).
MPs who were unimpressive last year and remained at the bottom of the list are NRM’s Mujunzi, Lubyayi, Peter Bakaluba Mukasa (NRM) and Anthony Mukasa (NRM).
The three best performing in the plenary debates were MPs David Bahati (NRM), Tom Butime (NRM) and Livingstone Okello Okello (UPC).
The best performing committee chairpersons were John Odit (UPC), Deusdedit Bikwasizehi (NRM), James Kubeketerya (NRM), Kaddunabbi Lubega (NRM), Nathan Byanyima and Tindamanyire Kabondo.
Among the ministers, best performing were Adolf Mwesige, Bright Rwamirama, Emmanuel Otaala, Janat Mukwaya, Beatrice Wabudeya and Matia Kasaija.
The 2009 report, which covers the period between June 2007 and July 2008, invoked fury among MPs who tried to block its release claiming they had been unfairly judged in the previous report.
However, this year, MPs participated in the survey. Each was asked to asses the performance of 15 colleagues in terms of quality, analysis, teamwork, oversight, intra-party influence and public conduct.
The data from this year’s scorecard suggests that parliamentary business is dominated by a small number of MPs, often leaders of their respective parties.
Opposition leaders receive high scores for their level of participation, which is more than double the average participation of Government leaders.
Although Government leaders participate less, they are more influential when they do participate, the survey says.
Male MPs performed marginally better than their female counterparts. However, many individual women did extremely well and among those elected by universal adult suffrage, women performed better than men in many respects.
Constituency MPs performed particularly better than those elected to represent special interest groups, with MPs representing the army performing the poorest.
The report also shows that MPs from the West performed better than other MPs. Moreover, unlike MPs from other regions, they performed consistently well in both plenary and committee debates and in their constituencies.
MPs from the East and North performed well in plenary debates but poorly in constituency work, while MPs from the Central region performed the poorest across the board.
Although their constituencies are closer to Parliament, MPs from the Central region performed worse on attendance in the House than their colleagues from other parts of the country. Overall, plenary attendance was significantly higher this year than last year, climbing from 23% to 45%.
While 15 MPs did not attend a single plenary session last year, the number dropped to four this year. In addition, 136 MPs attended over half of all the sittings this year, compared to only four MPs last year.
Attendance of local council meetings has worsened since the last survey. About 69% of MPs and district woman representatives did not attend a single LC5 meeting, up from 40% in the previous scorecard.
The study, however, found that MPs are more accessible by mobile phone than in the past. In only seven constituencies, none of the five participants was able to obtain a correct phone number for their MP.
Although MPs are provided resources to facilitate the hiring of an office and a staff member to handle constituent issues, the study found that nearly one third of MPs did not have any.
It also found that most MPs (308 out of 321) officially accounted for the money they received under the Constituency Development Fund.
Overall, 55 committee reports were presented this year and 25 Bills were initiated by 13 different NRM MPs. This is not much of a departure from the previous period under investigation, when 22 Bills were brought to the floor by 14 NRM MPs.
Of the Bills presented in the House this year, 17 passed. The Bills covered a range of topics but the majority focused on issues relating to the economy and governance.
THE NEW VISION
28th May, 2009
By Mary Karugaba, Madinah
Tebajukira, Catherine Bekunda & Brian Mayanja
Several MPs, both from the ruling National Resistance Movement and the opposition, yesterday scoffed at their performance rating by the African Leadership Institute, calling it ‘rubbish’.
The parliamentary scorecard assesses MPs’ performance based on their contributions, attendance and influence in committees and plenary debates.
It also grades their performance at constituency level by checking their attendance of LC5 meetings, their accessibility by phone, and
the presence of an office or staff.
The latest report, which was officially launched yesterday, covers the period between June 2007 and May 2008.
Trade minister Kahinda Otafiire did not mince his words when asked to comment on his score (0%-40%).
“It is rubbish,” he said and switched off his phone.
Opposition MPs accused the Government of using the African Leadership Institute to taint their image in their constituencies.
Addressing the press at Parliament yesterday, FDC secretary general Alice Alaso said although the principle of the survey was good, the Government could be using the institute’s director, David Pulkol, a former boss of external security, to portray them as non-performers.
“The report rates MPs from western Uganda, mainly from NRM, as best performers. Yet I know many members who are always in their constituencies. It is unfortunate that they have been rated poorly,” she said.
Citing herself as an example, she said MPs who had done excellent work in their constituencies were judged unfairly in the scorecard.
“Who doesn’t know that I am a very good MP, both in Parliament and in the constituency? I am exceptional. My car is sometimes used as an ambulance, carrying bodies and sick people,” Alaso, who scored F for constituency work, stressed.
She added that people in her constituency would not give out her telephone number, one of the ways of assessing MPs’ accessibility, because they are protective of her.
“You can’t ask them for our telephone numbers and they give it to you. The researchers asked three out of five people who had my number and all of them said they did not know me. But moments later, they called me and informed me that some strangers were looking for me.”
The researchers, she suggested, should change their methodology by consulting MPs and letting the people in their constituencies do the rating.
Julius Emigu (FDC) wondered what Pulkol’s agenda could be. “What is his interest? Why didn’t he do it when he was still an MP for Matheniko? I think he is now revenging.”
Elijah Okupa (FDC) believes the best people to judge them are the voters.
“I have opened more than 60 community roads in my constituency and one of the roads is named after me,” the Kasilo MP, who scored D for constituency work, said.
He suggested they use the MPs’ roles in monitoring and legislation as parameters.
But others who scored highly in the survey welcomed it.
Erias Lukwago (DP), who scored Bs for both plenary and constituency work, said it was a reflection of the performance of Parliament in Uganda.
“We have failed the people of Uganda who expected a multiparty Parliament to be more vibrant. We have not fought corruption to expectation. Pulkol and his group have done a good job. We should accept to be assessed,” he noted.
Matia Kasaija, who tops the list of ministers and scored an A for constituency work, said he was pleasantly surprised.
“Every fortnight I have to be with my people so that I listen to their problems. One needs to know his constituents’ problems to present them to Parliament,” he noted.
Animal industry minister Bright Rwamirama wondered which parameters Pulkol used.
“I do not go to the plenary to talk for the sake of talking.”
He explained that as a Cabinet minister, there is collective responsibility whereby the leader of Government business presents their views.
John Arimpa Kigyagi (NRM), who was the best performing MP, said he owes his score to research and analytical skills.
“To be a good MP, you need good communication and public relations skills and you must have the ability to understand and resolve conflicts,” he advised.
Emma Boona (NRM), who scored highly across the board, argued that voters were more interested in service delivery than their MPs’ attendance in Parliament.
“People in the villages have more pressing issues which are not about attendance. This report is in bad faith, intended to arm our opponents,” she said.
Matthias Kasamba, another NRM MP and chairperson of the defence committee, dismissed the report as inaccurate.
“How can they say I have no committee yet I am a chairperson? Based on this, how can I believe the rest of the content?” he wondered.
Abdu Katuntu (FDC), who scored among the highest, described the scorecard as useless and outdated because it contained members who ceased being in Parliament. Yet, he said, the idea was good.
“Though the report might have its own weaknesses and intentions, we should work hard to improve on the gaps.”
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Posted by Features Editor
May 27 2009
In April, when Somali pirates captured the MV Maersk Alabama and kidnapped the captain of the ship for four days, the news shocked many. While earlier reports of piracy may have made the news, they did not capture the public’s attention in the same way that this incident did. The fact is that piracy is not just a legend from days long past, but is a dangerous trend that is actually on the upswing and for the past few years. Read the following facts to discover what you might not know about modern-day pirates.
1. Weapons used. Many modern pirates have heavy-duty firepower, including automatic weapons, mortars, and rocket-propelled grenades. Pirates are also often equipped with cell phones and other tech gadgets to keep in contact with organizers who feed them information about ships and their locations. Many pirates’ weapons are specialized to their geographic location, with the most dangerous usually being in the South China Sea and Somalia.
2. Geographic occurrences. With the recent news about the pirate capture off Somalia, it may appear to some that modern pirates are isolated to this geographic area. While the political upheaval in Somalia does provide an ideal, lawless hideout for pirates, the fact is pirates are often found in many places around the globe. Some areas most frequented by pirates include the Red Sea, the Indian Ocean, and the waters of Indonesia and Singapore.
3. Financial loss. The estimated annual loss due to piracy worldwide is about $13 to $16 billion. Unfortunately, most carriers decide not to report piracy incidents due to the financial burden. When an incident of piracy is reported, ship owners experience insurance rates that can increase by as much as 30% as well as the daily loss incurred during an investigation that can often run about $1000 a day.
4. Ties to government and organized crime. Many modern pirates have ties to the government and organized crime, such as the pirates in Somalia and the Far East, with some pirates in the South China Sea reportedly working under the protection of the Chinese government. Other pirates take advantage of a lack of government involvement, such as the pirates near Brazil, where there is no Coast Guard or its equivalent.
5. Anchored ships vs. high seas kidnapping. Pirates boarding ships at sea and kidnapping the crew have been making the news but an older report suggests that 72% of pirate attacks occur on anchored ships where the pirates either steal the ships or take cargo and crew members’ belongings. Recent trends show that kidnapping the crew in order to get ransom money is on the rise, as pirates cannot only profit from the ransom but stolen goods as well.
6. High ransom. When kidnapping is involved, ship owners sometimes must pay high ransom prices to help their kidnapped crew. Ransoms average around $120,000. Some owners will hire security organizations to escort their ships, at costs of around $120,000 per trip to avoid the high ransom payments, danger to their crew, and potential loss of the ship and its cargo.
7. Frequency. Piracy is a frequent activity happening much more often than what makes the news. Take a look at the Live Piracy Report and the Live Piracy Map at the ICC Commercial Crime Services and you will see that reported piracy incidents are currently occurring at about 20-30 per month. While not all incidents result in kidnapping or theft, many do.
8. Environmental pirates. Not all pirates use lethal weapons and are seeking riches. Some pirates, such as those in the group Sea Shepherd, are known to ram ships, throw rancid butter on their decks, or even sink ships in an attempt to disrupt their activities. Usually target ships are participating in whaling or fishing that harms other marine wildlife such as dolphins, seals, and sea turtles.
9. Little deterrent. Due to the current legal situation, most pirates who are captured are merely questioned and released. Unfortunately, there are almost no laws against modern pirates. Local laws pertain specifically to citizens and may not apply to pirates, and finding witnesses and translators can be difficult once pirates are detained. Additionally, many countries do not want to take on the expense of imprisoning pirates, so they are often returned to their life of piracy–complete with few deterrents to slow them down.
10. Help from London. London, the world headquarters of ship-broking and insurance, is also likely a hub for intelligence that is sent to Somali pirates. It is thought that at least one of the known pirate groups has "consultants" in London sending information to the pirates that include the layout of the ships, cargo, and routes. With this much information, the pirates have plenty of time and ability to carefully plan their attack so that the ships have little defense.
May 28 2009
By Alex Ndegwa
MPs vented their anger on the Government proposal to increase salaries of constitutional office holders, setting the stage for a showdown when the issue comes up for voting next week.
The MPs insisted that the timing for the proposed new salary scales was wrong, saying Parliament would appear insensitive to the plight of the poor at a time the economy is doing badly.
The Cabinet approved the proposed pay raise through the Statute Law (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill before Parliament, but the move has apparently outraged members and they have vowed to shoot it down.
Yesterday, Parliament concluded debate on he Bill, with MPs opposing the pay increase for the Attorney General, Chief Justice, Controller and Auditor-General, judges, electoral and public service commissioners.
With the Bill passing the Second Reading, the stage is now set for fireworks at the Committee of the Whole House, where members scrutinise each section of the Bill and vote on controversial provisions.
The pay raise proposal has outraged MPs who have urged the Attorney General, Amos Wako to shelve it or face their wrath. Yesterday, former Justice Minister Martha Karua became the latest to criticise the pay increase, arguing that the timing was inappropriate.
"I oppose any pay rise before the constitutional review that spells out guidelines for remuneration is completed," the Gichugu MP said, adding that the performance of some would-be beneficiaries was wanting.
"The Public Service Commission is one body that has continued to encourage corruption and nepotism in Civil Service appointments," Ms Karua said.
Karua, who quit the Cabinet in April, said cartels that seek to obstruct reforms should realise that their welfare can only be improved alongside that of others. The former minister said during her tenure in Cabinet, she had reluctantly signed a Cabinet memo endorsing the pay raise since salaries of staff at lower cadres had not been considered.
Karua also said pay for Interim Independent Electoral Commissioners (IIEC) can be negotiated, just like that of the committee of experts tasked to rewrite the Constitution.
However, Justice Minister Mutula Kilonzo, who seconded the Motion, said the legislation provided for the salaries of the IIEC commissioners.
MPs Danson Mungatana (Garsen), Johnstone Muthama (Kangundo), Millie Odhiambo (Nominated), Eugene Wamalwa (Saboti) and Mutava Musyimi (Gachoka) are among those who opposed the proposal, arguing that it would be a slap in the face of suffering Kenyans. But Mr Wako defended the proposed new salary scales for constitutional office holders, saying their pay had not been reviewed since 2001.
Deny pay rise
The AG said it was unfair to deny them a pay increase while others had benefited. "It is a matter of tightening the belt, or they should revert to their 2001 salaries," he said.
During that period, he said, salaries of MPs and civil servants, teachers and members of the disciplined forces had been increased at least twice. Opponents also poked holes into some provisions of the Bill like the new perks covering the IIEC vice-chairman, a position that is non-existent for now.
MPs urged the AG to shelve the section on the pay increase to allow for public discussions and until the proposed Permanent Public Service Remuneration Review Board is set up to harmonise salaries.
"I urge the AG to withdraw this provision because we would not want to throw away the entire Bill, which has some good provisions," Mr Mungatana said. He added: "None of the beneficiaries will die of hunger if the new pay is not approved now."
If Parliament approves the proposed perks, the AG’s new basic pay would rise to nearly Sh1 million a month (exclusive of allowances), up from Sh531,650 a month.
And when allowances are added at current rate, the AG and CJ will take home up to Sh1.7 million a month if they have served in their posts for at least 10 years.
Wako has served for 18 years and will automatically qualify for the new rate, while Chief Justice Evan Gicheru, who is doing his fifth year — will have to wait for another five.
Yesterday, Parliament first approved a procedural Motion speeding up debate on the Bill because Standing Orders require the relevant committee to scrutinise a Bill for 10 days and submit a report to the House.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
By Jerry Okungu
May 27, 2009
Of late the American Ambassador to Kenya, His Excellency Michael Ranneberger has gone to town blasting the coalition government left and right about its slow reform agenda. In this crusade, the Ambassador has received applauding ready-made audiences in the form of the youth and some not so youthful Kenyan activists who have made it their profession to smell cash in every movement that purports to fight for reforms and all manner of human rights under the sun.
Right now those Kenyans at Ranneberger’s high table are the same individuals who for selfish and ethnic reasons derailed the 2002 Narc MoU and ensured Kibaki reneged on it claiming it had no legal standing.
Very early in the Narc government, they ensured that a gentleman’s agreement between NAK and LPD was derailed because at that time, some of them were looking for jobs that they could only be assured of if Kibaki remained the absolute ruler; never mind that in the days of the Moi repression, they were the same characters on the frontline with another American Ambassador, Smith Hempston to remove Moi from power or at least bring reforms that would reduce his powers.
It is true we have a coalition government that is not working as smoothly or as efficiently as Kenyans would have liked. It is also true that Kenyans have realized the bitter truth that left to them, neither ODM nor PNU politicians will push for any meaningful reforms. However, this cannot and should never be an excuse to have a foreign diplomat acting as our prefect on every issue under the sun.
I know some politicians have likened him to a colonial governor. I think Ranneberger’s role in Kenyan politics is increasingly becoming worse than that of a colonial governor. The ambassador increasingly exhibits a level of arrogance he would never dare display in another African country like Rwanda, Nigeria or next door Sudan.
If Ranneberger were posted to Kigali and he as much as criticized Kagame’s regime just once, he would be sent packing even if it meant temporary closure of the American embassy. If he doubts me, let him ask the French government.
I am a strong supporter of Barack Obama as president of the United States. I know he means well for Kenya. But in the same breath, I think Ranneberger is using Obama’s relationship with Kenya to cover up his tracks- especially his role in Kenya’s bungled elections of 2007.
If the truth be told, the Republican Administration that Ranneberger represented in Kenya suppressed the truth or at best misled the White House to endorse a flawed election in more ways than one. One such method was to hurriedly congratulate Kibaki for winning the elections. The other was to suppress the IRI Exit Poll results that were sponsored by USAID.
In this scheme of things, two operatives at UNDP and the World Bank Country Director were in the know.
It is common knowledge that once the American administration changes, most ambassadors that serve under Republican or Democratic administrations are recalled depending on which party is replacing which at the White House.
It is wrong to retain an ambassador who now pretends to know what is good for Kenyans yet when Kenyans needed him to stand firm and neutral he wavered left and right.
But the most disgusting thing is this desire by Kenyans to follow blindly one foreigner who will not miss an opportunity to abuse Kenyans and their country under the pretext of fighting for reforms. Worse still, prominent Kenyans; some of them former holders of prominent public offices can actually find time to cheer him on!
What is it that these Kenyans can do, now that they are out in the cold which they couldn’t do when they were in Parliament or serving in influential commissions in this country? When they were in office, they looted public coffers just like the rest of our leaders. Now that they are out; suddenly they are our next saviors! Give us a break brothers and sisters; we are not that dumb.
The other day I watched the Indian general elections, a land of 1.9 billion people. And I started thinking aloud. I realized that if just 10% of their population voted, they would have to count 190 million voters to decide a winner. It never took them long to announce the winner.
How long did it take us to announce the results of just 10 million voters? It took forever and finally we never knew the winner.
The beauty of a working democracy saw Indian Prime Minister name a cabinet of 19 ministers from outside parliament; one cabinet post per 100 million people!
Here in Kenya, for a mere 35 million people with an economy that grows at 1.7% we load ourselves with a cabinet of 90 politicians that cannot even prepare a supplementary budget let alone scrutinize it!
So much for our democracy!
By OLIVER MATHENGE
May 25 2009
Lobby group claims budget passed by MPs last Thursday also has a Sh10 billion hole
The government was on Monday headed for more embarrassment after a lobby group wrote to Parliament pointing out fresh errors in the supplementary budget approved by MPs only last week.
The group is demanding thorough investigations into the budget before the main Budget is read next month.
Last month, Finance minister Uhuru Kenyatta had to withdraw the supplementary budget after the same NGO, Mars Group, pointed out mistakes amounting to Sh10 billion.
The minister said they were typing errors, an explanation accepted by the House.
Now Mars Group is questioning the new figures and has asked Parliament to apply pressure on the government to audit the new supplementary budget.
The group on Monday accused the Treasury of “cooking” the figures and prepared a memorandum outlining its allegations.
Government Spokesman Alfred Mutua later said the government had “noted” and was “studying” the Mars Group claims.
Mr Kenyatta and Finance permanent secretary Joseph Kinyua could not be reached the whole day and were said to be going over the figures afresh.
Mars Group claimed an analysis of the new supplementary budget raised serious concerns, which require further investigation as part of a forensic audit.
The group claims that the Treasury changed portions of the government book to balance the figures while leaving the total amount it was requesting intact.
“The Independent Forensic Audit as recommended by the Joint Committee Report should be formed to commence its work immediately and should complete its report ahead of the National Budget 2009-10, in order to restore public confidence in the budget books of the Ministry of Finance,” Mars Group director Mwalimu Mati said on Monday.
The chairman of the parliamentary budget committee, Mr Martin Ogindo, who was present said he had noted the concerns and would forward them to his team.
Earlier revelations of a Sh10 billion discrepancy in the budget in April are being investigated by the CID.
Mr Mati and his team say that the Treasury adjusted the estimates as directed by Parliaments but failed to amend the Supplementary Appropriations Bill, 2009. This, Mr Mati said, could mean MPs approved the wrong sums.
He also accused the Treasury of shifting money from one vote to another to cover up the Sh10.7 billion problem identified in the earlier estimates.
By doing its own calculations and going over the details of the budget line by line, Mars Group said the total of Sh26,087,512,713 which the Treasury says the country needs to run until June is overstated by Sh163,799,077.
“This amount is not tied to any approved budget line item and is therefore liable to be misused,” Mr Mati said.
In addition, Mars Group says that a manual calculation of the sub-totals of expected income to be used for Recurrent Expenditure would total Sh4,488,352,694, less than the Sh4,628,325,694 approved by Parliament last week.
“The difference is an inflation of expected income by Sh139.9 million, thereby freeing up this money for application as recurrent expenditure elsewhere since it is not tied to any budget line items,” Mr Mati said. “And these are not the only arithmetical errors. There are more in the supplementary estimates which the Minister for Finance managed to get passed by Parliament on May 20.”
However, Siakago MP Lenny Kivuti who is a member of the Finance Committee, dismissed the errors pointed out by Mars Group, arguing that they were the same errors the parliamentary team discovered during their enquiry.
He said it was surprising that the lobby group was now quoting a Sh10.7 billion error which was brought out in their report.
“They are quoting the same lines that we cited in our report and the figure of Sh10.7 billion is what we detected. I doubt whether there is anything new they have found out,” said Mr Kivuti.
He said the joint committee sat with experts from Treasury and top officials of Mars Group who pointed out where the mistakes were.
“If there are any other errors the work should be left to the forensic audit, which we recommended, and we are sure that no money is going to be lost,” he said.
Former Ntonyiri MP Maoka Maore, who blew the whistle on Anglo Leasing and is knowledgeable on corruption, said if there was sabotage within Treasury, then it was not being dealt with well.
“Making mistakes is normal, the issue is what you do when you are found out,” he said. If the minister is being sabotaged, what has he done about it?”
Quoting a Baganda saying he added: “When you are cheated at the market, you go quarreling on the road.”
On Monday, the lobby group asked Parliament to scrutinise its allegations before the main budget is read next month.
It also proposed stringent measures be put in place to control how the government spends public money.
“Currently, ninety five shillings in every one hundred shillings paid as tax by the public is used to service recurrent expenditure leaving only five shillings to be used for development,” Mars Group managing director Jayne Mati said.
Mrs Mati noted that Parliament, as the people’s representative, must work hard to ensure that public funds are not wasted. She added that Parliament must fix the size of the Cabinet to no more than 13 ministers.
The lobby group wants the development expenditure increased to 40 per cent of the entire budget in order to meet objectives under agenda four and Vision 2030.
They are also calling for a reduction on external borrowing, which consumes 24 per cent of the government’s loan repayment vote in the budget.
“It is high time that it is made illegal for the government to borrow money on our behalf without seeking approval from parliament,” Mrs Mati said.
Submitted by nyasgwa
Posted May 27, 2009 01:27 AM
We forgave even when he was EXTREMELY arrogant to Imanyara, a man who was representing the tax payers. ALLWATCH you are right. MARS and someone like Kimunya can do a splendid job. This Uhuru does not seem to be able to add 1 plus 1. AIBU tele!!!! Go home. Enough.
Submitted by kagzz
Posted May 26, 2009 11:40 PM
Mwizi !! Mwizi !! Thats the cry of the majority....and this is just but the tip of the iceberg. I bet you figures have been cooked elsewhere to fatten some already fat pockets. And watch him run for president...or be prepped for the same. Good job well done MARS GROUP...keep pushing the hot buttons.
Submitted by scanfish
Posted May 26, 2009 08:21 PM
Why is Mati right and Uhuru and all those treasury technocrats, finance professionals all,WRONG?!! Something really smells and Mati should be asked to explain how he arrived at his outrageous conclusions.
Submitted by nimmy
Posted May 26, 2009 07:44 PM
This is so shameful for Kenya. A Finance Minister who has no clue whatsoever about the ministry his running. Kibaki should put Kenyan interests first by appointing a Finance Minister who has an actual degree in Finance, Banking and/or Economics! N Chokwe.
Submitted by SJ502
Posted May 26, 2009 06:08 PM
Uhuru should do the honorable thing- just Quit. Unless he can prove for a second time he is being set up by rebels in the treasury- it is either they go or him. Have your pick.
Submitted by yesuwangu
Posted May 26, 2009 06:06 PM
Since their were allegations of MPs being bribed the treasury can be on top of the list in making bribery.Treasury has just suddenly become incompetent and careless in its normal duties,Now errors are being blamed on computers and assistant clerks and secretaries.let the budget be held until the ministry gains confidence from the Kenyansr otherwise parliament or private firms should write form 2009-2010 budget
Submitted by sammuho
Posted May 26, 2009 05:33 PM
Well what of that person who does not have a kitchen assistant will who will the t blame on their burnt food? accountability is a choice which every politician is falling amiss. kenya need more than meet the eye power to bring it to better order
Submitted by oywaken
Posted May 26, 2009 04:35 PM
Will the minister for finance, the treasury officials and all the other relevant investigating committees prove that they are non-partisan to this budget scandal? Why, even after the investigation by the CID, the parliamentary committees, the treasury officials and the committee in charge of budget preparations the anomaly is still evidenced???? Does it mean the error was intended and must exist?
Submitted by vgogero
Posted May 26, 2009 02:55 PM
It seems that there are no accountants left at the treasury can Hon Uhuru swop places with Hon Oparanya .Or there is no one to proof read the figures is someone sleeping on the job and what are the credentials of the chief officers Kenyans have a right to know
Submitted by dope145
Posted May 26, 2009 02:54 PM
I think kenya is doomed.
Submitted by George Kimathi
Posted May 26, 2009 02:46 PM
Wakenya tumezamishwa na viongozi tuliochagua wenyewe. Hope we learn and remember when time comes - FIRE them OUT!!
Submitted by jkimani
Posted May 26, 2009 02:15 PM
There's a Greek proverb that says a fish rots from the head downwards and this perfectly reflects the state of the government where you have a president who way out of touch with reality and a finance 'minister' whose incompetence is only matched by his arrogance! People are tired of this lame government and we must surely be close to the tipping point. This cannot carry on for another 3 years, we need to be looking at 2010 for a new government with a new constitution.
Submitted by mza
Posted May 26, 2009 02:02 PM
Parliament looked at the figures and didn't see any scheme to defraud. I have no reason to doubt them. So why are so many bloggers shouting corruption? Do we not fall into the imperialists trap if we resort to calling any Kenyan leader corrupt? Do we not realise that that has a wider implication on how the world perceives all of us? If you tell me your brother is a thief, do you think I'll be very comfortable leaving you with my purse?
Submitted by mutimle
Posted May 26, 2009 02:00 PM
Once can be excussed for an error, incompetence or sabotage. Twice by the same amount can only be attributed to a desparate attempt at Fraud - plain and simple. Ngina's son should be naming the cohorts.
Submitted by candy001980
Posted May 26, 2009 01:39 PM
Surely you can't be in the kitchen twice, and both times come out with burnt food. Something must be amiss in that kitchen of yours. Either the cooker u are using to make your food is defective (burns too hard), or one of the people who help you in the kitchen hawakutakii mazuri. And moreso, you can't emerge with burnt food in the full knowledge of the fact that there will be professional chefs waiting outside to sample, and rate your food. Something else, which Kenyans are not being told about, is happening at the Treasury.
Submitted by machiavelli
Posted May 26, 2009 01:39 PM
Incompetent and totally unfit to be a Minister.
Submitted by MJOAN20
Posted May 26, 2009 01:32 PM
I think the best thing Uhuru should do is to contact Kimunya on how to keep such typing erros away from Mars Group and the likes to avoid continuous embarrassments. We know it's his eating period .
Submitted by MFIM2009
Posted May 26, 2009 12:48 PM
Kenyans, Kenyans don't u get tired of politics???????? who is Mars!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Submitted by Dinah1
Posted May 26, 2009 12:48 PM
During the approval of the revised supplementary budget, Khalwale and Ogindo raised queries over anomalies but were dismissed by Waititu and Shakeel sabir and the thing passed it in a record 9 minutes.It is quite obvious watu walikuwa wame kula ugali before hand.Oh,Cry my beloved country that we are saddled with a bunch of greedy hyenas.Mungu wetu ushuke and sweep these lot from our midst
Submitted by Obwakemwatugul
Posted May 26, 2009 12:40 PM
This is incompetence? How can an error be done twice. This is an innevitable mega scandal...The civil servants are innocent, the big fish are should face the law. When a thief is being chased, they will always also point at others in front shouting thief? thief? there thief? and in most cases in Nairobi, the thiefs escape while innocent people are arrested, shot or killed by the mobs.
Submitted by Adenopapa
Posted May 26, 2009 12:19 PM
Only bright kenyans used to be sent out of the country for further studies but Uhuru and Gideon Moi are perfect examples of what happens when you send kids of politicians (most have no brains) to study! Well, the donkey gets to the river but you cannot force it to drink! Kenyan MPs, pls resign...the whole lot of you, you know nothing!!!
Submitted by jsalmin
Posted May 26, 2009 11:56 AM
Sheer incopetence, wakenya tumechoka!!! jay U.K
Submitted by janamsemo
Posted May 26, 2009 11:36 AM
This culture of impunity will only decease when Kenyans are given the right constitution whereby no one is above the law. But with the present constitution, our politicians will still syphon poor tax payer's money money and walk on the street dancing with their heads high.
Submitted by kbtrobert
Posted May 26, 2009 10:50 AM
Whether it is sabotage,error or even incompetence on the part of the minister,there exist only one solution and that is 'political responsibility'.Take it Mr Minister.
Submitted by k_mutinda
Posted May 26, 2009 10:48 AM
Ministers should be separated from politics, they should be professionals appointed by the civil service to run ministries. Then the country's development will be less dependent on the politics of the day
Submitted by kusimba
Posted May 26, 2009 10:06 AM
Now, this is callous. Just the other day we excused the guy because of "sabotage talks". He went on gagged his staff and headed for the kitchen a second time. Surely the buck must stop somewhere. It is time to call a spade a spade. By the way who is he working for....?
Submitted by weda
Posted May 26, 2009 09:51 AM
Uhuru should have taken his time to go through the budget carefully after the anomalities were identified by this same same group. I would have expected him to go beyond the norm and invite some of these exparts who seems to be familiar with the budget estimates. It cost nothing to work with well knowledge people in particular area as this will benefit the tax payers whose money is being missapropriated by mindless idlers at the treasury.
Submitted by Mpakamwisho
Posted May 26, 2009 09:50 AM
Incompetence cannot be better defined as it has with Uhuru. He definitely does not merit the position. He should not wait to be sacked, he should just resign. There is no politics in this case, it is simply INCOMPETENCE.
Submitted by GEDYK
Posted May 26, 2009 09:46 AM
We have always been fooled by our leaders but they should take note that we shall take our share un pursusded.... for now the may paly us al;lthe fool untill our time. why dont they learn from other dictators who ahve playe similar games without much success?
Submitted by carolo
Posted May 26, 2009 09:06 AM
How much incompetency can we stomach. Can someone not start this sabortage business, coz there is no way Uhuru can be sabortaged if he is the same person who picks up the document from treasury and drops it off at parliament. You want to tell me this guy never reads documents he's carrying before he presents them to others. He needs to give up politics and go take care of the family business - he can mess up that one, we don't care
Submitted by karabu
Posted May 26, 2009 08:50 AM
Its been well said by Kenyans. Kudos, keep up the good ideas. If gov. does not have money to run its affairs, how can it afford such mistakes. Let a qualified person run the ministry. Kimunya?
Submitted by njerirose24
Posted May 26, 2009 08:50 AM
This is a big let down for us from Mt Kenya.Sure if we must lead in key ministries, can't we get a qualified person? The fact that Uhuru got his degree from abroad does not mean that he must run that ministry! We need to show others that we are one. This family dynastic administration wont help us. Where are we heading to now? Uhuru, please clean up the mess. We from the mountain must show competency in all areas.
Submitted by Ness
Posted May 26, 2009 08:49 AM
One have to ask him/herself. Is this whistle browling or sobatage with some people at the treasury??????? The authorities should take this up>
Submitted by Kibutu Kiiru
Posted May 26, 2009 08:46 AM
Ministers are just politicians and do not go into the technical depth of ministries. They concentrate on policies. As such, if any we have few ministers who are qualified to run their ministries. If a minister does not establish rapport with the technocrats he/she will end up in an abyss without knowing. As patience pays, impatience ruins. The treasury staff who is confiding in MARS should be raising the issue with his fellow staff first and only pass it on to MARS if correction is not undertaken. Let us not nourish the sabotage gene always.
Submitted by simondondi
Posted May 26, 2009 08:21 AM
That guy's only qualification to run the Finance Ministry is biological. There are millions of very good guys from mt Kenya who can run that ministry. Why is Obako not picking on them. Uhuru is no friends with figures!!!
Submitted by muia
Posted May 26, 2009 08:14 AM
you see, mps should not be ministers, change katiba let ministers be appointed from kenyans who qualify to to head such crucial ministries
Submitted by rofi
Posted May 26, 2009 08:11 AM
Uhuru is too casual about his job and to imagine he is deputy PM to boot. The right thing for him to do is let those with the relevant skills and competencies get on with the job. I am thinking of Mr. Kimunya! I think the permanent Secretary in the ministry should also move on.
Submitted by cyberspc
Posted May 26, 2009 08:10 AM
What is the work of Kenya's Parliamet? Why do you elect your rpresentatives? Just to go there and sleep all day? Money is being stolen and they cann't see? Outrageous!
Submitted by mpisha
Posted May 26, 2009 07:34 AM
His reputation and competence with that Ministry is going down the drain,he should save face by resigning.But dont expect much,they will start throwing tantrums towards MARS group using their cronies! It clearly shows how these politicians care less about kenyans-(
Submitted by r.kariuki
Posted May 26, 2009 07:31 AM
This guy thinks kenyans can elect him President despite the casual manner he handles business ?
Submitted by joemutungi
Posted May 26, 2009 05:29 AM
Politicians who understand little or nothing at all about mathematics of burget preparations should shut their mouths. It is high time we as Kenyans, appreciate proffessional whistle blowers like the MARS group.I think history has placed them in good books.Instead of "quarreling on the road", Uhuru should check out thoroughly where the problem is, and if he can't handle the ministry, just quit.Do we remember the Japanese finance minister who resigned just because he appeared as if he was drunk in a crucial meeting?!Why cling onto something you can't handle??
Submitted by MUTHETHENI
Posted May 26, 2009 04:44 AM
Nobody makes a typing error for Ksh 10 billion. These guys know what they are doing. They are cooking the books!
Submitted by wilsonoketdh
Posted May 26, 2009 03:30 AM
This guy has proved over and over he is not straight. Why they still have him as a finance minister nobody knows. He always looks drunk, slouchy and careless. Its a high time they told him to step down before Kenya gets into a deeper economic crisis.
Submitted by crimson
Posted May 26, 2009 01:44 AM
no surprises anymore... nothing puzzling here... what qualifications did kenyatta have to be a finance ministry anyway??? i wont answer that... you know maybe we should let the libyans and other arabs run our treasury too, at least the poor wanainchi will know exactly where their tax money is going to.... and maybe only maybe there computers dont make these kind of errror...but again they shouldnt after all we trust them with our resources right...but honestly is kenyatta serious with these... i hope all these are not true
Submitted by maugo1234
Posted May 26, 2009 01:12 AM
If the allegations are true, it is the incompetence of the minister,the weak parliamentary watchdog committee as well as the quality of the mps. I never heard of Uhuru as a serious professional or business executive in the private sector before the countdown to project 2002. managing illegally acquired land and wealth is not a qualification for such an important ministry. Tribalism and dynastic rule coupled with succession positioning will ruin Kenya. I only hope the reforms could be completed at the earliest possible time so that voters are given a chance to clear this mess.
Submitted by ogweny
Posted May 25, 2009 11:45 PM
Yeah, Uhuru, if they find u with any mistakes this time around, then just pack and go. i am tired of defending you.
Submitted by allwatch
Posted May 25, 2009 11:17 PM
Maybe we should make MARS GROUP Kenya's official Ministry of Finance and send Uhuru and the political Treasury home. I can't believe there is no calculator at the treasury...
Submitted by bobcat
Posted May 25, 2009 11:11 PM
Mati, u r my hero today,parliament,u deserve to be all bombed together,an Uhuru,I 4give u bcoz u never ever pretended to have a high affinity for cerebral stuff, and ur only qualification which u don't hide is pedigree.
Submitted by wanmt
Posted May 25, 2009 11:00 PM
It is known ministers are actually ceremonial heads of their ministries. The chief accounting officers are the PS's. Politicians never realize this fact to their detriment. The PM and other ministers should know this and let the PS's work more efficiently. The only politician with executive authority is the president(Head of State) by the current law.
By PETER LEFTIE
May 26 2009
Kenya is likely to lose billions of shillings as professionals return home from the diaspora due to the global economic crisis. Foreign Affairs assistant minister Richard Onyonka on Tuesday said the most affected were those in the United States and other Western countries.
“The government is very concerned about the situation because we have been getting a lot of money through remittances from Kenyans working abroad. We are closely and cautiously monitoring the situation to see what we can do for them while they are in the country as they wait for things to improve wherever they were,” Mr Onyonka told the Nation.
High cost of living
According to the latest Central Bank of Kenya statistics, Kenyans in the diaspora channelled back home close to Sh47 billion in remittances last year alone, while between January and March this year, they sent close to Sh12 billion. On Tuesday, TheWashington Post quoted recent studies which had documented the flight of immigrants, including Kenyans, from the US in recent months, as a result of the high cost of living abroad.
The report quoted several Kenyans expressing their reasons for quitting their well-paying jobs in the US to return home. Mr Onyonka disclosed that a special desk at the ministry dealing with international jobs was closely monitoring the situation with a view to helping arrest the situation.
“It is very serious, I know five of my own relatives who have come back home in recent weeks and many of them have left everything there. Luckily, many of those returning are getting a soft landing because they had invested back home,” said the assistant minister.
He feared that the recession would impact adversely on the remittances as more Kenyans living abroad return home. He called for the fast-tracking of the law to grant dual citizenship status to Kenyans abroad.
“This is the more reason why we need to pass the law on dual citizenship so that Kenyans returning home, and those who had taken up citizenship of other countries, enjoy opportunities entitled to Kenyans and are free to return abroad once things improve without having to re-apply for citizenship,” he added.
The Washington Post cited a former Texas truck driver, Mr James Odhiambo, who traded the comforts of his apartment in Dallas and all its trappings for the relatively simple, “stress-free” life at his mother-in-law’s house in Kisumu.
By The Standard Team
May 26 3009
Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta was last night headed for more trouble following fresh claims that there were new discrepancies amounting to Sh10.7 billion in the revised Supplementary Budget approved by Parliament last week.
The claims have dealt a huge blow on Uhuru, who is also Deputy Prime Minister, and put Treasury on the spot again only two weeks after the minister was let off the hook for presenting budget figures with errors.
On Monday, Uhuru did not take calls while Finance Permanent Secretary Joseph Kinyua flatly declined to speak to The Standard. But Uhuru’s allies swiftly rallied to his rescue, with a majority turning the heat on the whistleblower — Mars Group — dismissing their revelation as a cheat publicity stunt.
Mars Group Kenya chief executive Mwalimu Mati said in memorandum to the National Assembly at the weekend that the Budget "remains as erroneous and full of discrepancies as its earlier version."
Mati said a closer look at the resubmitted Supplementary Estimates shows that even as the printed estimates error was corrected a "completely new set of errors and discrepancies has been introduced into the current Recurrent and Development Estimates."
But Finance PS Joseph Kinyua would not be drawn to speak about it.
"Oh no, I’m not talking to you…No! No! No" Kinyua said when The Standard reached him on the telephone.
According to Mars Group, the variances between the revisions contained in the first and the second versions of the Supplementary Budget cannot "be a computer error but a deliberate parlance in cooking up figures."
Last week Parliament passed the Supplementary Estimates, giving the Government a go ahead to spend the money.
Speaker Kenneth Marende directed that the motion for consideration of the of the estimates for the year 2008/2009 approved by the House in April 29 pursuant to Standing Order No.156 stood valid and that the House could proceed to transact the Supplementary Appropriation Bill 2009.
The Finance minister then presented to the House the two Supplementary Estimates — the Recurrent Expenditure 2008/2009 and the Supplementary Estimates Development Expenditure 2008/2009.
Uhuru then told Parliament that the earlier estimates had been withdrawn and that what he was presenting would supersede the estimates table in the House on April 22.
But Mati said recommendations made by the Joint Committee of the Budget Committee and the Finance Committee had not been followed.
The joint committee recommended an independent forensic audit, and the estimates withdrawn from the House and the Fiscal Management Bill be approved and enacted as a matter of urgency.
Mati says that in moving the "corrected" Supplementary Estimates, the minister implied that Clause 2 of the Bill provided for issuance from the Consolidated Fund of Sh26,251,311,790 and to appropriate the funds for various services and purposes during the financial year ending 30th January 2009.
"This cannot be true. If one adds up all the revisions of supply taken directly from schedule one of the Supplementary Appropriations, then the figure in Clause 2 ought to be Sh26,087,512,713," said Mati.
Another contested item is the aid to be applied in the recurrent expenditure of Sh4,628,325,694, whereas manual calculations of the vote-by-vote sub totals of expected appropriations in aid totaled Sh4,488,352,694. The difference is inflation on the expected income by Sh139,973,000.
Another grey area was the appropriation in aid of development expenditure worth Sh5.2 billion, whereas the manual calculation for the same was Sh6.06billion.
Mati, who raised the alarm in the first estimates that were tabled in the Parliament, said the minister made changes to the revised estimates without amending the Supplementary Appropriations Bill 2009, raising the prospect that Parliament had approved sums not detailed in any law, and creating a loophole for misappropriation of public funds.
The Sh10.7b errors are affecting 211 lines items from 36 ministries.
The Chairman of Parliamentary Budget Committee, Mr Martin Ogindo, said last night he is yet figure out any discrepancies in the Supplementary Budget although the committee was scrutinising the estimates.
"I need to appreciate the discrepancy first before I can comment, but it would be a tragedy if it there," Mr Ogindo told The Standard.
Turkana Central MP Ekwe Ethuro said he had no knowledge of the error but added that it would be shocking if indeed a discrepancy exists.
"When there was an error in the Supplementary Estimates last time, the minister assured us they (the minister and Treasury officials) would be more careful next time. I’ll therefore be surprised if this error exists," said Ethuro, who is also a member of the Budget committee.
He blamed such mistakes on failure to give Parliament capacity to scrutinise the Budget process.
The Parliamentary Investments Committee Chairman Mithika Linturi said he was not aware of the discrepancy, but added that if it was true then Uhuru should take the blame.
Siakago MP Lenny Kivuti discounted any possibility of an error in the estimates, and dismissed Mars Group as publicity seekers.
He said: "Even assuming there were printing errors again, it would be wrong to blame it on the minister. He does not write the figures."
Kamukunji MP Simon Mbugua said this was an attempt by some people to sabotage Uhuru.
COMMENTS FROM READERS:
1. On Tuesday May 26, 2009, 8:23 AM , marvin libale, Kenya wrote:
Uhuru must go! coz he is where his not supposed to be, even if he got his degree from abroad it does not mean that he can run the ministry. there are a lot of people who can work in that ministry well, Uhuru is INCOMPETENCE so let KIMUNYA come back we want somebody who is straight and competence.
2. On Tuesday May 26, 2009, 7:31 AM , Bobnabby, Kenya wrote:
"Kamukunji MP Simon Mbugua said this was an attempt by some people to sabotage Uhuru". There is nothing like sabotage in this case. Uhuru is just not an able person to handle public affairs. He is inept. History has it that Uhuru has never delivered satisfactorily in any docket he has handled. Finance ministry is just too big for Uhuru just as it would be for people like Mbugua.
3. On Tuesday May 26, 2009, 6:32 AM , Bradley Kisiab, Kenya wrote:
For Kivuti and Mbugua, the minister is already cooked and well done. So far, he has not shown competence. He is done, even if he stays in that position till then of parliament's term.
4. On Tuesday May 26, 2009, 4:50 AM , Meshack Maarufu, United States wrote:
Treasury's budget process is a fraud syndicate, benefiting a region as the rest of Kenya yawns with want. It is staffed, like a club by tribesmen who wont question resource-skewing tricks. Why even hawk-eyed Namwamba's are soft on errors? Complacency can been bought secretly. Bunge will not solve this problem. MPs don't care. They have their 1m+ monthly. So? Now a regional mob will defend him, see!
5. On Tuesday May 26, 2009, 4:28 AM , Sifu Msafiri, United States wrote:
I guess Kenyans haven't heard the last of the never ending saga of "typing errors". Unless Uhuru is removed from this key docket Kenyans can only expect the worst. This is part of a wider scheme to loot the Treasury in preparation for 2012. And don't expect any help from the MPs: they hardly pay attention to detail.
6. On Tuesday May 26, 2009, 4:11 AM , Patrick Juma, Kenya wrote:
We don't expect young MPs like Mbugua to give such blind support as leaders of this generation. The error MUST be fixed by Treasury. We are not worried about gaming with figures but most scared when our dreams to have food, education, water, stima and good road networks are vividly in vain. The figures refer to our taxes, the PUBLIC FUND.
7. On Tuesday May 26, 2009, 3:20 AM , Mlanguzi, Kenya wrote:
I am not surprised. Very strange things happen at the treasury and the other closely related departments within the ministry of finance. The funny thing about it is that a greater percentage of people working in these departments are from one ethnic community. This is a fact that one just needs to pay a visit there to ascertain. There is a lot of negligence, sluggishness and arrogance with the "I don't care. There is nothing you can do to me" attitude at the treasury. These fellows behave as if they own the place! A complete overhaul of the work force there is urgently needed for efficiency to be enhanced.
8. On Tuesday May 26, 2009, 2:39 AM , Joe Kimanthi Mutungi, Japan wrote:
Politicians who understand little or nothing at all about mathematics of budget preparations should shut their mouths . I think Kenyans should appreciate professional whistle blowers like the MARS group. Uhuru should check out thoroughly where the problem is, and if he can't handle the ministry or if he also doesn't understand balancing a few figures, just quit.
9. On Monday May 25, 2009, 23:41 PM , Ken Alila, United States wrote:
We should not cry foul. Let Uhuru nyakua na asikamatwe! That is is the fruit of leadership without people's mandate.
10. On Monday May 25, 2009, 22:45 PM , Ahmed abdullahi, United Kingdom wrote:
The finance should be very clear about what he is presenting to the kenyans citizens as this could cause a major backlash on his reputation and in his effort to potray himself as a capable legislator.
11. On Monday May 25, 2009, 21:57 PM , hg, Canada wrote:
Kenyans are represented by officials who can't type nor to the Math! What a joke!!
12. On Monday May 25, 2009, 21:42 PM , James Kamau, Kenya wrote:
Poor African countries do better than my country Kenya. They have better infrastructure such roads, electricity supply, water and the list can go on. I was shocked to see Kenya which has very active citizens still having no infrastructure to be proud of compare to these countries. Do these Kenyan leaders travel? Or they are busy corrupting our country? Why can't our leaders think before messing up the future of our children? If you think I am lying visit Lesotho or Swaziland. That is when you will hit tribalism and primitive mode of governance. Please Kenyans of good will, do you love a bright future of our children? Let us put pressure on these useless leaders. Let us think how to remove all these crowns who are cronies in every evil. Otherwise Kenya is going to the dogs!!
13. On Monday May 25, 2009, 21:21 PM , andrew, United States wrote:
Uhuru needs to do his homework. It does not make any sense for him to present a faulty budget to an already hurting economy unless he has something up his sleeves.
14. On Monday May 25, 2009, 19:22 PM , Alex Kiplangat, Kenya wrote:
Why should Hon Simon Mbugua be rushing to conclude that it is sabotage?The youthful MP is a disgrace to the youths of this country. Instead of pointing fingers to other people "saboteurs" he should be advising the Minister to sack the whole group at the Department of Budget and then resign from the Ministry.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
By Stephanie McCrummen
Washington Post Foreign Service
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
U.S. Downturn Drives Immigrant Professionals Back Home
In Kisumu, Kenya, home town of former Texas trucker James Odhiambo, traffic jams involve bicycles as often as cars.
With the U.S. economy in turmoil, his job as a truck driver no longer secure and his upwardly mobile life in the Dallas suburbs in jeopardy, James Odhiambo decided it was time for a change.
He wanted a healthier lifestyle for his family, less anxiety, fewer 14-hour days. So he recently traded his deluxe apartment, the pickup truck, the dishwasher and $4.99 McDonald's combos for life in a place he considers relatively better: sub-Saharan Africa.
"Right now I'm no stress, no anxiety," said Odhiambo, 34, relaxing in his family home in this western Kenyan city along the shores of Lake Victoria. "Think of it this way: When I was in the U.S., I was close to 300 pounds. Now, I'm like 200. The biggest thing for me was quality of life."
While that may seem counterintuitive to Americans accustomed to bleaker images of Africa, recent studies have documented the flight of immigrant professionals from the United States to their home countries. Chinese and Indian workers increasingly say they see better opportunities and lifestyles at home. And Diaspora associations of Nigerians, Ghanaians, Kenyans and other Africans say their members -- mostly from middle-class backgrounds -- are joining the exodus, choosing life in the land of slow Internet connections and power outages over the pressures of recession-era America.
"I personally know many people who are going back," said Erastus Mong'are, who works as a program manager for an insurance company in Delaware and heads an association of Kenyans living there. "The people I know here work two or three jobs just to make ends meet, while in Kenya -- despite its problems -- people seem happier.
They seem to be getting more time with family. More relaxed. Here, if my neighbour sees I've parked in his spot, he becomes so upset."
In a broad sense, the return migration to Africa is in line with studies suggesting that despite persistent poverty and civil unrest in places such as Congo, Somalia and Sudan, much of the continent has been buoyed in recent years by a sense of optimism driven by economic growth. Pew Research Center studies tracking global attitudes have found that people's level of satisfaction with their quality of life is rising across much of Africa, while it has stayed level or decreased in the United States. For Odhiambo, disillusionment with the American way of life grew more or less with his waistline.
As a lean young man, he moved to the United States to attend a community college in Upstate New York, an idea nurtured by images of American life he saw on television growing up in a middle-class family in Kenya: "Different Strokes," "The Six Million Dollar Man," "Beverly Hills, 90210."
"You'd see all these manicured lawns, all this organization," he recalled on a recent day, while having a long lunch at an outdoor cafe without once looking at his watch.
He arrived in the mid-1990s with a sense of possibility in a land promising immigrants a better life. After college, he moved to Texas and worked as a long-haul truck driver, crisscrossing the country delivering auto parts, televisions, soda bottles and big containers from China. He marvelled at innovations such as the car cup holder; he was inspired by government efficiencies that made it possible to get a driver's license in one day. And as his pay improved, he and his wife moved into a luxury apartment complex outside Dallas called Sonoma Grande at the Legends.
"It was really nice," Odhiambo recalled, noting that it had a pool, a Jacuzzi, a gym and other treats unheard of in Kenya.
But as his workdays grew longer, he hardly enjoyed any of those amenities. He worked 14-hour shifts trying to keep up with his $800 monthly rent, payments on a new Ford Ranger pickup, health insurance that did not cover a pair of tinted prescription glasses needed for long hours at the wheel, and bills driven by must-haves such as air conditioning.
"I couldn't get any exercise at all, and I was restricted to truck stops for food," he said. "I'd go for the buffet -- meat with gravy, fried chicken -- or fast food. I didn't have time for my daughters. In the movies, they only show one side of America."
In Kisumu, Kenya, home town of former Texas trucker James Odhiambo, traffic jams involve bicycles as often as cars. (By Dominic Nahr For The Washington Post)
His daughters were approaching school age, and they would have attended a public school with metal detectors and gangs. He said the alarmingly regular reports of shootings at schools, churches or offices frightened his family more than the post-election violence sweeping parts of Kenya at the time. The recession only confirmed a decision he and his wife had been mulling for a while: It was time to go.
Earlier this year, they packed up, explaining to their confused American friends that Congo's rebel fighting was thousands of miles from Kenya, and that no, Odhiambo is not a king back home.
And so, on this day, Odhiambo tooled around Kisumu, a medium-size city full of government workers and small-business people, street hawkers selling newspapers and vendors selling tennis shoes dangling from tree limbs. He drove the modest Toyota Starlet he bought for $1,500 cash past a minor traffic jam of bicycle taxis and people pushing carts loaded with plastic jugs of water.
"This city has grown, but they still have the water system from the colonial days," he said, not seeming to care.
He drove past a golf course and through an upscale neighbourhood of bamboo hedges and pink bougainvillea, noting the few cars in driveways. "Here, if you have a car, you'll share it with four or five people," he said. "In the States, if there are five people in the house, they have five cars. There's a lot of 'this is mine.' "
With the money he saved in the States, Odhiambo figures he has a six-month cushion during which he plans to start his own business -- a kind of private coast guard for Lake Victoria, modelled on the community fire stations in the United States. But because of the famously slow Kenyan bureaucracy, his business registration is taking weeks, leaving Odhiambo with something he rarely had in America -- time.
He is farming some in his mother's village, where he has another family home, and getting back into his old ham radio hobby. He enjoys afternoons watching small planes buzz in for a landing above the rolling green sugar and tea farms around Kisumu. His family lives in his mother-in-law's tidy -- and paid for -- one-story, cinder-block house. There are no credit cards in Kenya, and mortgages are just catching on, so life mostly runs on cash. "Here, you really can live on about $5 a day," Odhiambo said.
Instead of running a dishwasher, the Odhiambos wash their plates by hand. Instead of running an air conditioner, they open the windows. Instead of shopping for groceries at Wal-Mart, Odhiambo's wife heads to the local market and bargains for fresh tomatoes, onions and the Kenyan equivalent of collard greens, sukuma wiki. She has dropped four dress sizes.
"Here, you can't say 'Give me a number 4,' " he said, pulling into his neighbourhood, where a few goats trotted along the dirt road, and some elementary-school children in gray uniforms shuffled home.
"See that?" he said. "Think of that! In America, you'd never let kids walk home" alone.
Odhiambo has noticed that his girls, who are 4 and 2 and will attend a private international school here, are becoming less leery of strangers and the outdoors in general, an attitude he says they learned in the United States. "When we first got here, people would say, 'Why don't they go outside and play?' “he said.”They were scared."
Gradually, though, the family is relaxing. "Right now, I'm just waiting for my business registration," Odhiambo said, savouring a warm sunset breeze. "Here, the pace is a whole lot slower."
Thursday, May 21, 2009
By Jerry Okungu
Africa News On Line
May 21, 2009
I have been forced to respond to the Washington Post story on Kenya that was filed by one Stephanie McCrummen supposedly working for the same paper’s Foreign Service department.
The article appeared in the Washington Post of May 19, 2009
It is my hope that despite the contents of this rejoinder, the Editor of the Washington Post will still find it professional to give me as a Kenyan , the write of reply on behalf of all Kenyans at home and abroad so that falsehoods, innuendoes and rumors contained in the article are corrected.
I am not here to defend the obvious weaknesses of the present regime nor am I here to take a partisan stand on the events of December 2007 when Kenya erupted in an orgy of violence.
I am here to correct the falsehoods that the Western Press is fond of visiting on Kenya and Africa in general.
McCrummen believes that “ethnic gangs burnt to death 28 people inside a church” in Kenya’s Rift Valley region. Yes, many people perished in a Kiambaa church whose numbers we will never know.
We will never know the true numbers because the figures have been changing from time to time depending on who one actually talks to. Others have put it at 35, 40 or even 50.
More importantly, the cause of the fire, according to eye witnesses is still in contention with others talking of a cigarette smoker inside the church inadvertently starting the fire.
This is the single reason why Kenyans have been demanding for a thorough inquest into the Kiamba fire and other killings in Nairobi, Naivasha and Nyanza in order to deal with conflicting rumors if peace is to be restored in Rift Valley and Kenya in general.
McCrummen needs to be educated on the history of land conflict in Kenya, particularly in the Rift Valley and coastal regions of Kenya before making sweeping statements about the cause of the conflicts.
She needs to know that Kenya is a multi-ethnic society just like the United States of America. The difference is, you call us tribes when you prefer to refer to various American ethnic communities as races or nationalities.
Groups that caused mayhem in Kenya soon after elections were not “thugs” as McCrummen would like to call them. They were normal human beings with grievances that had lasted nearly half a century. They were ordinary people that had become fed up with lies, conmanship and blatant abuse of their rights to exist with dignity.
The 2007 election campaign was a special one in Kenya’s history. For the first time in more than 40 years, Kenyans were ready to elect a truly democratic government purely on the basis of the popular vote in all of the 8 provinces.
When this obvious theft of votes and abuse of the rights of citizens became apparent, the peasantry rose up in arms to claim what they believed to be truly theirs.
Four types of violence erupted.
First was the State organized terrorism by deploying armed police to ensure votes were tampered with in ODM strongholds. These police officers were deployed in their thousands in Rift Valley, Nyanza and Western regions where ODM had the largest number of supporters. However, what the state was not aware of was the counter intelligence network that ODM had put in place that monitored every government’s move.
With each passing day, these officers were spotted, arrested and handed over to the nearest police stations and mysteriously released even though they were ‘ civilians with dangerous weapons”.
These events built tensions all over the country long before the ballot day.
As a Kenyan, I voted 200 miles away from the capital and returned to the city to wait for results.
The whole day had been extremely peaceful and for the next 24 hours, Kenyans already knew which party was winning the elections. The exit poll conducted by the International Republican Institute and paid for by American tax payer’s funds can testify to this.
However, with counting in progress, ODM had won 6 of the 8 provinces by a landslide.
Suddenly the Electoral Commission claimed it could not receive votes from Central and Eastern Kenya where Kibaki had his base support.
With such delays, panic and tension gripped the entire nation. What with careless humor from the Election Commission chairman quipping that some of his returning officers had disappeared with ballot papers from Central Province and were probably still “cooking the results!”
When suddenly the Press Center where the results were to be announced was cleared by armed forces, Kenyans knew something was amiss. When they saw a few minutes later that the results had been announced in Kibaki’s favor with just 43 parliamentary seats against the ODM’s 105 seats, Kenyans went in a rage.
But worse was to come. Within minutes of announcing the results, Kibaki was taking the oath office as the sun was setting at his palace lawn!
That swearing in was the last straw that broke the camel’s back.
Spontaneously, the country erupted in chaos; chaos that even State security could not handle.
If the Kalenjins attacked the Kikuyus in Rift Valley, it was not because they had planned it. They saw them as members of the Kibaki tribe that would do anything to steal their land , votes and even their rights. It was like saying, “ we are tired of being neighbors with people who can stop at nothing to have their way”.
Were they right in doing so? No, I don’t think so because many ordinary innocent Kikuyus suffered for no fault of their own.
But this suffering cannot be analyzed in isolation no matter how self righteous we may want to sound.
We have to see it in terms of the Civil Rights Movement in America in the 1960s, the King riots in Los Angeles in the early 1990s, ethnic cleansing in Bosnia, Rwanda and Hitler’s Germany.
It is natural for a human being to react angrily if injustice is visited upon him. It is called self- preservation instinct. And in most cases , the aggressor is not necessarily right. It is an emotive thing.
This was the second type of violence was seen in Rift Valley, Kiambaa church included.
The Kalenjins found a perfect excuse to reclaim their ancestral lands that were forcibly occupied by the Kikuyu tribe when Jomo Kenyatta was president between 1963 and 1978.
It must also be remembered that the Kikuyus that settled in Rift Valley had lost their ancestral lands in Central Province to the Kenyatta family and his ruling elite to the extent that to date, the Kenyatta family alone owns land equivalent to one province in Kenya.
Another thing; the current killings going on in Mt. Kenya area by Mungiki militias has a direct link to the Kenyatta era’s land grabbing spree. These are descendants of Mau Mau fighters who came from the bush to find their land taken by new leaders. That is why Mungikis are causing mayhem in Central province to destabilize the ruling class.
The third type of violence erupted in Nyanza, Western and Coast provinces.
In their nature, they were a class uprising when the have-nots found an opportunity to rise up against the haves in Kenya. It was an uprising occasioned by years of deprivation, inequality and lack of opportunities for young people to earn a decent living.
To illustrate my point; my car was destroyed by marauding youths right in Kisumu my home town where I grew up. They saw me as a symbol of what had deprived them of a bright future! In other words, they wanted me to explain why I was driving a 4 wheel car when they could not afford a bicycle! And I understood their frustration.
The fourth violence was when prominent politicians and businessmen from Central Province, and their names are with Kofi Annan, actually paid and transported Mungiki militias to go and carry out reprisal killings in Naivasha town, 50 miles from Nairobi. In that town, members of the Luo, Luhya and Kalenjin communities were flashed out of public transport buses and hacked to death in broad day light as other gangs locked families in their shanty dwellings and set them ablaze. In one case of James Ndege, he lost 9 children and 2 wives in one fire!
The last type of violence is related to the first, organized by the State and carried out by its armed police.
It targeted mainly Luos, Luhyas and Kalenjins in Nyanza, Western, and Kibera slums in Nairobi. The police alone shot to death unarmed youths , some as young as 15 years of age on the run. Most of them were shot at the back from close range according to government pathologists.
In this operation, 450 were shot in Kisumu, 119 in Kakamega, 39 in Kibera slums in Nairobi and many more in Nakuru and Eldoret in Rift Valley. A simple Arithmetic would tabulate police killings at 600 known deaths out of the 1500 casualties that McCrummen is quoting. The police therefore accounted for 40% of the deaths we are talking about here.
The reason why the Kiambaa funeral service and its planned monument is causing concern and raising tension is the way it has been planned and organized. Kenyans are asking the wisdom of reconciling Kenya by celebrating the deaths of 28 souls of a single tribe while ignoring the other 1000 plus.
They are seeing preferential treatment being given to a handful of one tribe that happens to belong to President Kibaki when nobody is talking of those 450 police killings in Kisumu or those that perished in a similar fire in Naivasha.
They are seeing the usual hypocrisy when leaders talk of reconciliation yet the wielders of state power still would love to discriminate against other communities as they use state resources to mourn and bury their dead.
They know they are lying to the public and the public know it too. That is why than lone voice looked at Kibaki and the 28 coffins and told Kibaki to his face that among those coffins, he could not see any of Kibaki’s or Raila’s children.
It was a statement that spoke volumes for ordinary Kenyans; Kikuyus, Luos and Kalenjins alike.
There is more to Kenya’s problems than the gossips and rumors in Nairobi’s pubs.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Africa News On Line
By Jerry Okungu
Barack Obama knows how to exert pain where it hurts most. The American President is livid with Kenyan political leadership. This is in spite of the fact that his late father worked with President Kibaki in the Ministry of Finance in the 1960s and ‘70s. Never mind that he is a distant relative of Prime Minister Raila Odinga.
When Barack Obama last visited Kenya in 2006, he was still a senator from Illinois with ambitions for the White House. Nobody really knew whether he would make it to the White House considering that he was black, a real roadblock to the presidency in America.
However, he was already massively popular with Kenyans , hence the packed University of Nairobi Great Court with Kenyans of all walks of life that had gone to hear and have a glimpse at the son of a Kenyan who was causing commotion in American politics back in the United States of America.
However, when it was all over, it was not what he discussed with Kibaki at State House that carried the day, nor what he said at Kogelo where his step grandmother still lives; but what he said at the Great Court that shook the establishment to its bones.
He treaded on the State’s sore thumb when he bluntly told the government to deal decisively with corruption and wastage of public resources among other social injustices that Kenya was famous for.
No sooner did he board his plane back to the US than government operatives, some too junior to criticize a visiting foreign dignitary, started wagging their tongues about his lack of respect for the Kenya government he had no idea about.
At that time, Obama’s crime was to have told Kenyans to love their country more than they loved themselves by putting their country first. His only crime was to have talked about glaring inequality in Kenya, landlessness and rampant lack of opportunity for young Kenyans to find jobs. His only crime was to have told government officials to stop stealing funds, plundering resources and grabbing every parcel of land at the expense of the less fortunate commoners.
Yes, he implored the Kibaki regime to be more tolerant, practice fairness in the distribution of resources and build and strengthen democratic institutions. At that time, he hoped that the then coming elections in Kenya would be free and fair and would usher in a new generation of visionary leadership. Alas, it was not to be. We plunged in unprecedented bloodbath soon after the elections were disputed.
Let’s give it to Obama. Soon after he won the elections, the first head of State he called in Sub-Saharan Africa was Mwai Kibaki.
He called to thank him and the people of Kenya for the massive moral support they had shown him during his grueling campaign. In that phone call, whose contents were generously shared with Kenyans, he promised President Kibaki that he would visit Kenya soon. The same exciting message was delivered to Raila Odinga in his capacity as the Prime Minister and a principal signatory to the coalition government.
Now, more than a year later, the situation is different. Instead of coming to Kenya, the son of a Kenyan is instead heading to Egypt and Ghana, avoiding Kenya like a plague because we have refused to learn from our blunders of the 2007 elections. He is avoiding Kenya because we have refused to implement the over-arching issues that the APRM process pointed out to us as early as June 2006.
Had we implemented the programs of action as recommended by Dr. Graca Machel in her report to the AU Summit in Banjul in June 2006, Kenya would never have had a bloodbath in 2007. These programs of action asked the Kenya Government to urgently implement acceptable land reforms, reform the electoral system, give women a greater voice in the affairs of state, provide healthcare, job opportunities, fight graft and reform parliament so that it is not seen as an institution that is there to exploit public resources.
Had we gone the Ghana way soon after we threw KANU out of office, Kenya would today be the model state in Africa.
However, as Ghana strove to exploit its Peer Review results and used it to market itself worldwide, we were busy recoiling into our tribal cocoons. Yes, we became too busy identifying who came from Mt. Kenya, Lake Victoria, Mt. Elgon, Miji Kenda or Mau Forest. We forgot that we were one nation that should move together.
Now that our leaders have refused to hang together to the extent of embarrassing one man who is proud of his origins in our land, they have only themselves to blame if the world community hangs them separately.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
By Oscar Obonyo
Kindly accept apologies for my countrymen’s rather raw and crude attack on you over remarks on Migingo Island, last week. Forgive them Your Excellency, for they know not who exactly you are and what you are capable of.
As your neighbour on the Kenyan side of Busia border, I know better. My paternal grandmother, who hails from Samia-Bugwe in your country, understands you even better. Before she died — a couple of years ago — her single most prayer was that one day her family shall be united in one free happy nation.
I am particularly excited about the recent developments and my grandmother, Namude, must be grinning in her grave. But as you embark on executing your "shared dream", I want to advise you on three critical points. First, hit the ground running fast, because time is not on your side.
As you may already be aware, your political buddy President Kibaki has three more years before the end of his second and last term in office, and this scheme, whatever it is, has to be executed before he departs.
Through Dr Bonny Khalwale, the Kenyan MPs have told you as much — "it will not be business as usual" with new leadership in 2012. Remember in 1976, when one of your predecessors, Idi Amin, laid claim to the Kenyan territory stretching all the way to Naivasha. Founding President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta instantly repulsed him with reverberating verbal threats. Then Mzee warned that he would declare war on Uganda if Amin continued kutuletea nyokonyoko (territorial interference).
And not so long ago, retired President Moi stopped you in your tracks at Nairobi’s Nyayo Stadium, during a national day anniversary. You were excited by Pokot traditional dancers and attempted small "tribal talk" upon getting a chance to address the nation. You stated you had finally seen "Pokots who steal our cattle in Uganda", but Moi responded firmly that his citizens are not cattle rustlers. Those were no-nonsense Commanders-In-Chief, but this time you are lucky. And for some strange reason Kibaki has a soft spot for you. So make hay while the sun shines.
Secondly, brother M7, it is important that you sustain your divisive antics. Over the years, this has helped you survive. Do not be dissuaded from singling out the "mad Wajaruo", because it will help you appeal to a section of the country. Indeed, my former MP and Vice-President Moody Awori can attest you are a master of divisive antics. When his younger brother, Aggrey Awori, was Samia-Bugwe MP in your country, you plotted to draw a rift between the brothers to humble Aggrey.
"You are a nice man but you have a brother here, who is stubborn and reckless," you told our VP in Uganda in 2004, at a public function.
Finally, as you execute your expansionist plot to win us over into Uganda, you must prepare to uphold democratic principles and accommodate divergent views. Kenyans are allergic to dictatorial traits. They cherish freedom and other democratic ideals.
In the meantime, an inner voice tells me the marauding territorial battle is not what my poor grandmother envisaged. Hers was a regional integration that would allow the border communities to interact beyond artificial borders.
A second voice tells me, brother M7, that helpless as Kenya looks today, soon it will get a President who will fight for its territorial boundaries, and reclaim it (if you run away with any portion) within your lifetime.
Obonyo is a senior political writer, with The Standard, Weekend Editions.
May 19, 2009
By Standard Team
A social crisis is unfolding across Central Province, with the community turning against itself and violent beheadings becoming the order of the day.
In areas worst hit by violence linked to Mungiki, neighbour has turned against neighbour, and vigilantes policing villages have made matters worse.
Now, residents in Nyeri and Kirinyaga are living in fear of Mungiki and vigilantes.
Two of a kind
Whereas the Mungiki extort from the residents and kill anyone who stands in their way, the vigilantes have carried out gory killings of those they think are involved in crime.
Since the killers are well known, the executions blamed on vigilantes have created a sharp rift among residents. Most of the vigilantes are parents and neighbours of those they have executed.
"People are no longer talking to one another," said a resident of Kabaru village near Keruguya town, where four suspects were executed. We wonder if we will ever be able to live as one people again."
The small community of mostly farmers has worked together and helped one another, but with the killings, the communal spirit is falling apart.
The scenario is replicated in other places where the violent killings have been carried out. A month ago, even before the war between vigilantes and Mungiki began, more than 10 people were beheaded in grisly attacks in Kirinyaga.
Now, sociologists warn the situation could worsen unless problems facing youth, especially unemployment, are tackled decisively.
Church leaders say there is urgent need for dialogue to reconcile the community and hold it together.
A psychology expert, Prof Samson Munywoki, says the Mungiki menace is a social problem that if not addressed may lead to further turmoil.
Munywoki, a lecturer at United States International University (USIU), described the people involved in the brutal killings as "a group of frustrated youths with feelings of helplessness." He said: "They are people who cannot meet their daily needs and the way to satisfy themselves is to vent their anger on the society, which they accuse of neglecting them."
He said for a human being to resort to such weird actions that involve severing body parts, it shows they are "terribly desperate". "They are people who seem to have lost hope in life as everything seems to be against them. This makes them behave in extra-ordinary ways," said the lecturer. Some victims of the macabre deaths last month had marks of cult killings, with body parts, including ears and tongues sliced off.
The killers of two women in Ngurungu village, Esther Wanjiku and Susan Kirunda, slashed off their breasts, while another victim had his tongue forked out.
In Maragwa District, Bernard Macharia and Lawrence Muguro had their heads sawed off by killers in Mugumo-ini village last month.
Their deaths were ritual like:
Their ears and tongues were cut. In the past few years, the greater Murang’a has had its unfortunate share of grisly beheadings, most blamed on the underground Mungiki gangs.
The killings are executed by young men, mainly aged between 20 and 30, a generation that should be at the forefront making the community better.
Leading psychiatrist Frank Njenga said the Mungiki problem is more of a social problem than a medical condition. Dr Njenga said contrary to a widely held belief, the youths carrying out the killings are highly unlikely to be suffering from any medical condition.
And counseling psychologist Jane Ngatia says the killings are a result of psychological disorders among the youth involved. Ms Ngatia said for a human being to reach the level of carrying out such grisly killings, the person must be suffering from a social disorder. "They carry out bizarre things to get extra-ordinary pleasures that are due to their social backgrounds or drug-induced," said Ngatia, a Nairobi-based psychologist.
The best way to deal with the Mungiki menace, Ngatia suggested, is for the Government to change its approach and engage the youth in dialogue.
Church leaders agree and say they will spearhead a healing programme to bring the community back together.
They will also offer counselling services to affected families. Central Bishops Forum Chairman Bob Kabugi said the decision is aimed at healing wounds left by the murderous acts of Mungiki and vigilantes because residents are living in fear.
Bishop Kabugi said the programme would involve gradual healing, as well as bringing the communities together.
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