Thursday, June 28, 2012

Diaspora aspirants hold strategic meeting in USA

By Joseph Lister Nyaringo
New Jersey USA
A caucus for Diaspora political aspirants from different parts of the USA in the coming general elections was held in June 24th in the State of Delaware. The meeting whose theme is Kenya for all discussed a wide range of issues on the status of our nation, which culminated to several resolutions.
The aspiring candidates met amid controversy surrounding the voting rights of Kenyan diasporians in the coming elections and the mutilation of the new constitution by sitting MPs.
The meeting resolved to form a forum dubbed “Kenya for all” which will address several issues among them the voting rights of Kenyans living abroad, organize political debates for all candidates running for office in Kenya and abroad and sensitize voters to elect value driven leaders as the only benchmark to transform the nation.
The aspirants who will vie for different positions plans for a Kenyan home-coming and also hold joint campaigns to showcase the agenda they have for their constituents electorates.
They singled out certain Presidential candidates whose support for Kenyans living abroad is lackluster. The meeting challenged honourables Uhuru Kenyatta, Musalia Mudavadi, William Ruto for being averse on matters affecting Diasporians but lauded Prime Minister Raila Odinga, honourables Martha Karua and Peter Kenneth for being the only presidential candidates who passionately support Diasporians especially on voting rights as stipulated in the current constitution.
Parliamentary aspirants who attended the meeting included, Jimmy Onkangi, Kitutu South, Joseph Lister Nyaringo, Bobasi, Denzel Musumba, Teso South and Shem Ogamba, Kitutu North constituencies.
Three gubernatorial candidates, George Munyotha, Dr. Barrack Abonyo, Dr. Matunda Nyanchama who are gubernatorial candidates for Kiambu, Kisumu and Nyamira counties respectively, attended the meeting and a senatorial candidate for Nyamira County Mr. Sam Abuga Mweberi. Several other candidates from USA and Canada sent their apologies.
They promised to hit the ground and educate Kenyans on how to identify the right presidential candidate before casting their votes; stressing that and the same candidate must be a reformer, believer in social justice and one who is consistent and incorruptible.
“Presidential candidates should not take Kenyan Diasporians for granted. We cannot support an individual merely because of talking tough or giving hefty promises but, consider their credentials, track records especially on building democratic tenets, respect to the rule of law, and advocating for marginalized groups- the poor, women, children, youth and students.” Said Joseph Nyaringo, one of the organizers of the caucus.
“We have put a microscope on all Presidential candidates and those with dubious records, purveyors of negative ethnicity and impunity will not be tolerated in the current Kenya, “said Sam Mweberi.
The meeting reiterated the importance of the coming election, which has a great promise for Kenya, especially the provisions in the current constitution which among other things gives Kenyans living abroad the opportunity to cast their votes.
However, it was pointed out during the Delaware meeting that the Independent Elections and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) hasn’t laid down modalities to ensure that Kenyans scattered in the whole of North America are provided with the opportunity to cast their votes.
It was also pointed out that the electoral body has failed to be specific on why it cannot provide proper logistics to ensure that specific areas in the USA, with a higher presence of Kenyans are utilized as voting centres in order to attract a higher voter turnout.
The general elections slated in August according to the constitution are likely to be held in March 2013, and this clearly gives the IEBC humble time to put logistics in place and ensure that that majority of Kenyans in the Diaspora gets the opportunity to vote.
We have faith in the electoral body and we believe that it is going to be the most independent in our country’s history.
As the constitution stipulates, all Kenyans living abroad have a right to vote for all leaders across the board, from the county assembly persons, MPs, senators, governors and a President. No exceptions!
We cannot condone a scenario to vote for Presidential candidates only since it will undermine the spirit of democracy and reflect that it’s only the presidency, which is more important than any level of leadership in the country. All leadership hierarchies are important to build a prosperous country.
The meeting also challenged candidates spreading the negative notion that Diaspora candidates are detached from the day-to-day challenges facing Kenyans, to remember that, the current constitution that borrowed heavily from the USA model is likely to be actualized if many candidates who have been exposed with American institutions are voted in. They pointed out that the devolution of power or the legislative process is similar to that of America.
The candidates also warned Members of Parliament who have perfected the art of making amendments on the current constitution with the intent of perpetuating their selfish ends, to remember that voters are keenly watching them. Come the next elections, they will be replaced by leaders who will respect and uphold the constitution.
It’s sad indeed that a constitution virtually two years old and whose fruits are yet to be tasted by Kenyans is being mutilated for selfish ends.
It’s ironical that the American constitution which has been in existence for over two hundred years has undergone only less than eight amendments, yet the Country remains a global economic leader. Our MPs moves are not only evil, but also against the determination of our nation to be a model for upholding the rule of law for posterity and not individual gain.
For purposes of encouraging issue-based politics, the aspirants will organize the first Diaspora debate, which will be held in August in Dallas Texas. It will bring together all aspiring leaders currently living in North America and will also invite Presidential candidates from Kenya for participation.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

High hopes on Judge Kalpana Rawal team

By Joseph Lister Nyaringo
New Jersey, USA
It’s encouraging that the five-member team led by Judge Kalpana Rawal which is tasked to unravel the truth surrounding the demise of honourables George Saitoti and Orwa Ojodeh, and four police officers through a helicopter crash has earned a lot of support from government organs and the Kenyan public.
Unlike in the past when controversy littered public inquests before and after their findings, there is goodwill from the executive, judiciary and the legislator.
Its however discouraging that the commission was not provided with a timeline to complete its task, and this is likely to be a toll on the exchequer hence a taxpayer burden.
Despite that, Kenyans and families of the departed souls want a solid truth on what happened, how it happened and why. This time round, we don’t want to see dirty washed under the carpet to cover inequity after the findings.
It’s also a great show of leadership and solidarity that The Attorney General, Chief Justice the President, the Prime Minister and the Minister for Transport, have unequivocally assured the Kenyan people of the government’s commitment to establish the truth following the helicopter crash.
The only skepticism Kenyans have is how the past and present governments treated findings of various commissions and inquests, which are often not made public especially when it’s suspected to touch key people in government.
We hope the truth will not be washed under the carpet like in1975 after the late Elijah Mwangale’s Parliamentary probe team implicated the government for the murder of Nyandarua North MP Josiah Mwangi Kariuki.
Expectations from Kenyans are very high. Being the first commission of inquiry for a major national tragedy under the new constitution with a reformist Chief Justice, a new Attorney general and Director of public prosecution who took office after thorough vetting, we believe all these will help to ensure that justice is pursued by length and breadth. It’s also a great stride in the fight against impunity.
The passion with which the government has in discovering the circumstances, which led to the helicopter crash, should be a precursor to backtrack unresolved truths on past tragedies like the demise of the late Robert Ouko, Oscar Kamau Kingara and John Paul Oulo, JM Kariuki, Bishop Alexandar Muge, and Father John Caesar and Arwings Kodhek amongst others.
This is the surest way to put our country on a better justice footing in the new dispensation. It will also help the affected families to heal following the mysteriously departure of their loved one, build harmony, peace and reconciliation in the Country.
Three things give credence to any commission of inquiry or public inquest. First, the credibility of those tasked to carry out the commission’s mandate, of which, I personally don’t have any doubt or pessimism on Judge Rawal and her team.
Secondly, the thoroughness and truthfulness of its findings and finally, if the findings will pave the way for restitution to ensure justice for the aggrieved parties.
After all, apprehending any suspects in case of a criminal intent over the tragedy will be something Kenyans will be looking forward to after Judge Rawal’s team is done with the findings.
Finally, for purposes of ensuring confidentiality and information gathering, a call hotline and postal box should be established in order for Kenyans to volunteer useful information to help with the investigation.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Constitutional appointees need to safeguard the law

Kenyans feel betrayed by politicians and those tasked with implementing the Constitution which they voted for two years ago.

It looks like we are not out of the woods yet. It has become hard to differentiate between the old and the new order. We continue to see the old operational styles being perpetuated by those who should guide the nation towards the change which is tandem with the new law.

Several bodies tasked with the responsibility of ensuring the implementation of the new law have either abdicated their responsibilities or failed to provide clear guidelines to ensure the nation reaps maximum benefits of the new constitution.

From the Independent Elections and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), led by Isaack Hassan, the National Cohesion and Integration Commission NCIC, led by Mzalendo Kibunja, Commission for Implementation of the Constitution (CIC), led by Charles Nyachae, The attorney General, to the Registrar of political parties Lucy Ndung'u, all these bodies have not played their role to the expectations of Kenyans.

It was a great contradiction early this year when the Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution (CIC) chairman Mr. Charles Nyachae told the nation that Honourables William Ruto and Uhuru Kenyatta, who are both indicted by The ICC, are eligible to vie for the Presidency.

The same argument was weathered down a month later by the former Minister for Justice and constitutional affairs Mr. Mutula Kilonzo who said that if the two legislators were allowed to vie, it will be against the spirit of Chapter Six of the constitution on Leadership and Integrity.

Mr. Kilonzo, who has since been moved to the Ministry of education advised Mr. Ruto and Kenyatta to stop their countrywide presidential campaigns.

It’s also discouraging that the Independent Electoral Boundaries Commission IEBC, the Registrar of political parties, the Attorney General and the Speaker, have failed to provide direction on the fate of six MPs who were recently declared partless.

If the law is followed to the letter, MPs Linah Jebii Kilimo, Richard Onyonka, Clement Waibara, Gideon Mbuvi, Barnabas Muturi, and David Mwaniki Ngugi technically lost their parliamentary seats.

Therefore, the Speaker should declare their seats vacant thereby giving the IEBC room to conduct new elections in the affected constituencies. It’s clear that the affected MPs were elected under the old constitution which did not have a provision for independent candidates.

This is the surest way of living and operating within the law.

It has also been observed that the IEBC hasn’t provided proper guidelines especially on the current premature presidential campaigns when the Country is 9 months away to the next general Elections. This is if the March 2013 will suffice.

Kenyan tax payers must be told by the government the mandate of bodies like Brand Kenya, and the Mzalendo Kibunja led National Cohesion and Integration Commission.

As citizens and tax payers, we have a right to question or even demand the disbandment of bodies which have failed to discharge their duties or have failed to operate within the mandate under which they were founded.
In any society, bureaucracies are created to enhance service delivery to the citizens as well as uplifting the status of a nation’s social, political and economic fronts.

What role is Mzalendo Kibunja playing to enhance national cohesion when there is hate speech all over the nation from top politicians to regular citizens?

It’s imperative for Chairman Kibunja, to fold up his sleeves to address hate speech which has not only become rampant in political rallies, eating joints, and social gathering but also in the cyberspace.

The current constitution cost Kenyans lives and resources and must be defended and protected. It was passed to steer our nation towards greater heights because of its wonderful provisions. Failing to respect and uphold it is the clearest indicator that Kenya is not ready to overcome impunity and upholding the rule of law.

Is it not at height of corruption and impunity when a Presidential candidate is flown in a tax payer paid Military chopper to his political campaign meeting?

I think this was a violation of the law and wastage of public resources when the deputy prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi was flown recently from Nairobi to attend a campaign rally in Western Kenya.

What is the purpose of having a good law merely on paper yet our governance systems and processes continue to thrive on the old constitution?

Our political leaders still thrive on the old culture and have become purveyors of hate and tribalism instead of purveyors of patriotism. The ethnic undertones which dominate their political campaigns are clear examples of flouting the current law.

The degree of patriotism from our political leaders is on low ebb. Instead of shaping intelligent debates to allow Kenyans make the informed choices before the next elections, they are busy propagating seeds of discords through ethnic nationalism which does not augur well for peace and harmony in the Country.

It’s therefore sad that the negative image portrayed especially by those vying for the Presidency is slowly sinking into the minds of their supporters when they are supposed to be role models. The arguments we see in social gatherings, social media, eating joints and funerals is tragic for the nation.

We want the law to be respected and those who are found flouting it to be punished. This is the surest way to build the Kenya we all want.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

The ICC Trials may not help to reconcile Kenya

By Joseph Lister Nyaringo
North America
We are talking about the ICC today because we love justice and we all want to see it applied to all Kenyans across the board and this includes post election violence victims.

Secondly, the passivity of the grand coalition government led by Kibaki and Raila, is to blame for giving room to the ICC. The two principals failed to lobby and rally their legislators in Parliament to support a local mechanism to try the suspects.

Its true people like Ruto preferred The Hague because they didn’t know it will turn out to be the way it is today but if Raila and Kibaki, were serious on the establishment of a local trial, we won’t be talking about The Hague today. They failed the true test of leadership and the unity of purpose on a very critical matter.

My suggestion over the ICC, which is slowly polarizing our nation and creating anxiety which may jeopardize peace, is not to postpone the trials for the sake of the coming elections, but for our sovereign government; serving a sovereign Country to pursue what is good for the future of Kenya.

The government has powers to suggest, or recommend to the ICC, a workable legal avenue which will ensure the stability of our country. We don’t want Kenya to sink into anarchy like we saw in 07/08. WE ALL CRAVE FOR PEACE & HARMONY.

Remember, the curtains have already fallen on a Rwanda Minister Nzabonimana through The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda for his role in the 1994 genocide, and Charles Taylor by the ICC for abetting crimes in Sierra Leone. These have sent shockwaves in Ruto and Uhuru’s backyards. Their tribesmen can do anything….. This is a reality.

Why shouldn’t we fore-go The Hague trials, forge for forgiveness and reconciliation for purposes of healing? It’s true, the nation of Kenya is seated on a precipice and this requires urgent contingent measures!

I know this is a bitter pill to swallow but the future of our nation is sacrosanct than international law….. We cannot sacrifice the hyena twice. We experienced enough pain, horror and suffering and what we desperately need is reconciliation to forge a head. This is my opinion.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Leadership is God-given

By Joseph Lister Nyaringo
North America
It’s true, by all measure, leadership is from God. However, even the best Christians are often skeptical on whether Adolf Hitler, Saddam Hussein, George Bush, Mobutu Sese Seko, Muamar Qadhaffi and Daniel Moi’s leadership was God-given. I usually question if our current president who bungled the elections and experienced our nation smouldering in 2007/2008 without doing anything until the international community moved in to help, was chosen by God! In fact, I have always questioned why God does not create African leaders similar to Nelson Mandela to change Africa once and for all! These are mysteries but it does not make me doubt God even an inch. Based on my understanding of the word of God, citizens have a moral responsibility to define their best leaders because God has given us the powers to make choices. Its us to choose between love and hate, peace and chaos, good and evil, light and darkness. In fact, this is the full dominion that God has bestowed unto us in the book of Genesis. We need to constantly call upon him through prayer for inspiration, guidance and healing our land. Otherwise, if we remain silent by trusting our intellect, we will end up voting in leaders who will send our country to the dogs. Let us pray for Kenya since we are entering into a delicate phase in our nation’s history.

KENYA MEDIA SHOULD ENDORSE CANDIDATES WHO STAND STRONG ON ISSUES!

By Joseph Lister Nyaringo
New Jersey, USA

The Kenyan media should be at the frontline in defining the leadership pattern the citizens should follow during the electioneering period.

While we are not used to political endorsements by the media in Kenya, I think it’s a trend we need to see so long as it’s done fairly, objectively and in good faith based on the policy issues of those running for political office.

In the Western democracies, major media Houses endorse candidates through a thorough research and analysis of one’s agenda based on popular opinion.

Our news anchors, reporters, editorial personnel, columnists and commentators have a great role to help build a better Kenya by ensuring that what is injected into the minds of the citizens will create harmony, peace and understanding.

I personally hold the media fraternity with high esteem the way I do to teachers. While the rather shapes a person’s skill, knowledge and professional career, the former is even more critical as it reports and analyses current events and often gives a critical view and conclusion on issues which enhance the lives of people in the society.

Rather than remain on the grey when the citizens need guidance and direction, it will fair if the media went spot on; giving facts on the values, characters and behaviours of candidates who want to take the leadership mantle of our nation. If the New York Times of USA and The Guardian of the UK endorse candidates running for office, we need to see the same trend in Kenya so long as it’s done objectively and without favourism.

Major Editors and columnists should go down to business and grill aspiring leaders especially presidential candidates who are currently hopping from location to location trying to entice voters with slates of promises.

We want these aspiring leaders to be grilled heavily especially on policy issues which the media should translate to the Kenyan audience- voters who are interested to know the viability of the promises the leaders are giving and if these promises are achievable, resonates well with the aspirations of the people of Kenya and whether, they are in tandem with our current laws.

Even if it means direct endorsement of presidential candidates, governors, senators or MPs whose leadership qualities and track record are in tandem with future of Kenya by the media, so be it. Even Western media houses usually endorse candidates who stand strong on issues and aspirations of their nations.

We wake up every morning thinking how the front pages of our print media will look like and what our Television screens will show in terms of the direction Kenya is moving and the same is made possible by our media.

The media played a pivotal role for the emancipation of our nation from the one party dictatorship in the late 80s and early 90s and Kenyans expected the same media to give direction especially now that we are in the 21st Century under a new constitutional dispensation, which has a great promise for our nation.

We will never forget the role played by the Nairobi Law Monthly formally managed by honourable Gitobu Emanyara, the Economist owned by Njehu Gatabaki and Society of Pius Nyamora. The three magazines fearlessly advocated for the repeal of section (2a) of the former constitution to pave the way for multiparty democracy.

I’m not trying to imply that our mass media should embark on political activism but to act as a mirror through which better leadership practices are nurtured, debated and shaped; thereby giving clear and informed direction for the nation.

The leadership we have defines the amount of freedom the media will exercise in its noble role as a guide, advisor, informer, ventilator, educator, dissector, and a critique of national and global matters. I’m convinced that if any of those who were behind the Standard Group raid was vying for the Presidency, the level of criticism to such aspiring leader will be heavy and the media will not advise Kenyan voters to elect the perpetrators of the raid.

Come on the Standard Group and Nation Media amongst others media Houses and hit the nail on the head on the strengths and weaknesses of aspiring national leaders! If every day we read your headlines and watch your news on Television mainly about politics and the coming elections, I believe you need to come out with a clear analysis of the agenda of the candidates who are vying for the Presidency in order for Kenyan voters to make informed choices before Election Day.

It’s encouraging that the media is the number one purveyor of civic education to the masses. Whether it’s through vernacular stations, mainstream media, tabloids or gutter press, Kenyans have a high reading and listening culture on matter of political leadership and if the content is geared to helping them understand the status of our nation and enable them make better decisions, this is the best form of civic education the media will offer to Kenyans.

The more the media remained objective, focused, fair, truthful and clear in its reporting, the higher the chances of seeing these values infuse into the national psyche; hence helping build a better citizenry.

The media should continue helping us overcome negative ethnicity, strife, corruption, hate speech and propaganda which are mooted by our politicians. Those who continue to incite and propagate hate before Kenyans must be condemned by our media at all times.