Row over Bashir Visit to Kenya

August 28, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Sudanese President Omar Hassan al Bashir (R) arrives escorted by Kenya's Tourism minister Najib Balala for the promulgation of Kenya's New Constitution at the Uhuru Park grounds on August 27, 2010 in Nairobi.

As Kenyans came together to celebrate the promulgation of a new Constitution that would mark the birth of our 2nd Republic, few would have guessed that among the invited guests would be a man capable of stealing the spotlight from the Nation.

But one such guest, Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir, who is a wanted man Internationally for War crimes and the alleged role of genocide in Dafur, did just that..

Having signed both the International Court of Justice (ICJ) declaration and International Criminal Court (ICC) Rome Statutes, the member states are mandated to arrest Mr. Bashir, should he happen to visit any these Countries. Kenya is certainly one of those countries, having ratified the ICJ treaty in 1965 and Ratified the Rome Statute in 2005. As one of the veteran members of the Court, Kenya is expected to be among it’s staunchest supporters.

It is with this in mind that many have found the Governments decision to have invited Bashir, un-called for. So much so, that Pres Obama saw it fitting to condemn the act in the same breath as his Congratulatory message in Kenya’s most significant day since Independence. Voices of disapproval did not only come from Diplomats around the world, as more were to be found at home. Among them was Medical Services Minister Prof. Anyang Nyong’o, who sought to distance ODM from this decision and later the PM himself, who cried foul – stating that he was not informed of the invite.

However well placed the tongue lashing over Bashir’s visit is, there are a few voices that simply ought to have been mull over the matter. I am of the opinion that POTUS (Pres Of The U.S.) shoud have held his tongue on the matter. Given the at the US has shied away from ratifying the Rome statute, it has no business advising any Nation on how to be an effective member of the same. The other vexing voice, was that of the good Minister for Medical Services, who never seems to appreciate that he is part of the Government of Kenya. He should have spared us the press conferences and save some of these debates for closed cabinet meetings.

But that is water under the bridge.

However, one can not help to wonder why Pres. Kibaki would find it fitting to invite Mr. Bashir. What does his government stand to gain by openly defying the ICC? Additionally, why would ODM not tow the Govt line on this issue? After all, last time we all checked it was ODM that had more individuals under ICC’s radar who would be sent to the Hague in the event that ICC Prosecutor Mr. Ocampo, made his rounds in Kenya.

My bet is that it was meant to send a very strong Signal to the Hague, not to dig too deep into the events of the P.E.V, especially if those efforts would lead to implicating the State House occupant. What the Government was saying, is that they could very well opt not to cooperate and instead seek the now ‘expert’ Counsel of Pres. Bashir on how to ‘make it’ as an International fugitive.


August 4, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 


Kenyans Vote in the August 4th 2010 referendum.

There is much to be excited about today, few other generations have had such an opportunity to impact the direction their Country goes as this present one. This is a defining moment for Our nation. After 20 years of seeking a new Constitution, I believe this is the day we get one.

God Bless Kenya!

East Africa, the Great?

July 1, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Flags of East African States

Flags of East African States

East Africa, The Great?

Have you ever wondered what the future holds for the East African Corporation? Current trends would have us dream that a Super State is in the offing; the Great Federation of East Africa (FEA), or is it the East African Federation (EAF)? Hmm… Whatever the name, if realized, it would mark the beginning of a new Era in the region and in the long run, perhaps even a ‘super’ state.

With its current membership, the would be Federation would unite 5 countries; Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania & Uganda and with that Union, create a Country sprawling 1,817 Sq KM and bring together 132 million East Africans with a purchasing power of $73 B. This would make the EAF the 4th Largest Country in Africa and the 2nd most populated.

We also have Congo, DRC which has an observer status in the Community. If admitted, it would add a 2,344 Sq KM land mass, inject 68 million residents and a piddling $ 11.6 B purchasing power. Thus, Making the EAF the largest, most populated Nation in Africa and 4th in size at the worlds stage.

Taking a sober look, one would  see that these are not numbers that would warrant excessive excitement. They do not fair well in comparison with some of Sub-Saharan Africa’s giants like S. Africa with 49 million people that realizes a GDP of $276 B or Nigeria’s 150 million who have managed a $207 B purchasing power. To be impressive, EAC needs to ‘show me the Money!!!’

The union would nonetheless, thrust East Africa into a grand stage as a regional power for a myriad of reasons.

Chief among those reasons would be the market that it would open up to investors, both local and international. They would have access to 5 countries for the price of one - Yaani, a company seeking to  penetrate the market would only need to be registered in one of the five countries, NICE!

For local companies, the deal would make expansion even more attractive – whereby, a company based in Kampala would find it almost as convenient to open a branch in Mombasa, Kenya as it would opening it in Jinja, Uganda. It is therefore easy to see that this would spur great competition in the region, with the the benefactors being the consumers and the Tax collectors – and with that, economic growth and hopefully shrink the number of our dollar-a-day residents.

There would also be an increase in trade, and in particular regional trade which in recent months has already started reaping the benefits of the EAC’s move to remove all border tariffs in the Bloc. The tariffs have vanished and revenue collection is in the process of being normalized within the community. The EAC has also in it’s sights for 2012 a fully integrated common market, complete with a single currency and stock market that are expected to elevate the EA Stock exchange to be among the most traded on the continent.

Kaunda, Nyerere, Kenyatta & Obote

There are also other benefits of this corporation, such us a unified foreign policy and even cost cutting by having only one High Commission per country, instead of Five. As a Block, we could certainly wield more bargaining power at the UN and other Bodies. There would also be the advantages that come with an integrated Defense program, as the armed forces merge to form one formidable Army. Over time, we would not be vulnerable to threats by nations such as Egypt, who have in the past postured in a manner suggesting the use of force, should the EAC countries dare utilize the Nile Basin waters for development. Dialog would be the only acceptable way to deal with the Block.

This is why today’s official launch of the Common Market Protocol is much cause for celebration. I congratulate our leaders for moving us closer to this dream.

Btw~ Way to go Kenyan Parliament for pissing all over our EAC Parade, your hefty pay increase is yet another reason why we optimistically await a People’s Parliament in Arusha. I wonder if it’s possible to register a briefcase Political Party in the mean time, perhaps East African National Union, EANU Juu!

Devolved Government

November 19, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Devolved Government: CHAPTER 14 of the Harmonized Draft Constitution of Kenya

committee of experts logoI’m sure that most by now have had a chance to look at this chapter, being the Juiciest of them all. Ladies and Gentlemen Majimbo is Here and it looks like it may be here to stay.

Many politicians in the Republics short life have attempted to bring about a devolved government.

It is not a well known fact however, that the original plan was created by Wilfred Havelock, Michael Blundell, and R. S. Alexander – all members of the Pre-Colonial Parliament, who envisioned hiving the country into 3 devolved Regions. That plan never came to fruition then – but but that was not the last we ever heard of it.

mr-ntimama In the decades that followed, this idea would be the subject of much controversy. With it’s opponents claiming it to will promote ethnicity and tribalism, and on the other side supporters championed its  focus on equitable development.  The most famous proponents of Majimbo in different dispensations of the nations Political timeline were the Kenyas First VP, the late Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, the late Minister Hon. Ronald Ngala, the soon to be octuagenarian Minister Hon. William Ole N’timama and lately joining those ranks are Agriculture Minister Hon. William Ruto and the Prime Minister Hon. Raila Odinga.
They have tried different tactics to market it: From the infamous Majimbo brand to District Focus and now Devolved govt.

After years of being against it…. I seem to have developed some optimism towards the devolved government. However, the number of Governments that have been proposed in this latest draft maybe enough to through the country into a bureaucratic mess.

As stated in Chapter 14 of the Harmonized draft Constitution, Kenya will have 4 legislative levels of government.
Senate, Parliament, Regional Assembly & County Assembly

We will also have the pleasure of being served by 4 levels Executive officers with their corresponding Executive Councils to tow. They are:-
The Prime Minister & Cabinet, the Regional Director & the R. Executive Council, The Mayor and at the ‘mashinani’ (ground level) the County Governor and the County Exc. Council.

In Nairobi, the Mayor will enjoy a more powerful role than other Mayors in the country as he will serve as a defacto Regional Director. The Metropolitan region’s four Counties will have no County Governors, leaving the Mayor to be the only executive authority in the region. The corresponding four County Council Assemblies, however, will exist  adn they will be represented by a Senator and in Parliament alike.

The Bureaucracy will not be in Nairobi, as much as everywhere else in the Country.

One would expect, that  for the first few Decades, as we get used to the new constitution – confusion and bickering would prevail in governance. The Mwananchi will continuously be pushed back and forth in his/her bid to access services that is the right of every tax payer.
One can not help but wonder what the conversations would be like with a COuncil representative. “Hapana, hio sio mambo ya County kanjo… Eeh, tafadhali enda uongee na kanjo ya Regional. ” And even the most helpful official could only offer advice, “Na wikikataa, jaribu Mayors office ama uongee na MP wako.” ISH!
And if one had a need for renting a public space or even set up a business, getting the right permit could prove to be more than a trip to kanjo. Try 3 kanjos.

Then we have corruption, which as it stands according ot the TI- Kenya reports, accounts for 30% of the average workers income issued as bribes. if not curbed, the situation could arguably get worse under this new constitution. Should your Council Askaris, regular Police or any government official decide to give the Mwananchi hard time,  they could use any number of  excuse. From tickets for not having an appropriate permit per any of teh given government bodies to finding ways to make the red tape work in the benefit of the official – the citizens rights could easily be trampled on, and to undo this mess could take a mind numbing court action and expensive legal fees.

Then there is the issue of Ethnicity. If our Politicians are allowed to Hi-jack the process, each Regional government could end up serving as a Tribal HQ that could be used to nurse and develop Anti-Nationalistic views and movements. There are those who would seek to take advantage of the regions to solidify their positions as community leaders.

Much of the Majimbo talk that preceeded the 2007 Election, is directly linked to the post election violence that was witnessed. A mis-informed lot was convinced by their leaders that instituting Majimbo would result in taking over farms, businesses and property that was in ‘their region’ and was owned by ‘outsider communities’. This type of thinking woudl need o be cartailed…. and in a Country that has been in the precipice of war, such matter can not be ignored.

All this could be averted however, if care is taken to see to it that the need for devolution does not come before, national Peace and the need for effective service to the citizen. It is easy for one to see that the idea is a noble one, but perhaps we would end up with one too many ‘regional governments’.

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