Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A REFERENDUM TO SCRAP THE SENATE OR MERGE SMALL CONSTITUENCIES WILL HELP REDUCE THE PUBLIC WAGE BURDEN

There is no doubt, the current constitution is better than the one we had. However, the crafters failed to adhere to one fundamental aspect: the ramifications of the bloated legislature and its impact on the national exchequer.

So far, we need to applause the Jubilee government for crafting a lean Cabinet, but the raging debate on the wage bill isn’t something that can be wished away when the national economic indicators reflect a downward trend.

Just recently, the Controller of Budget Ms Agnes Odhiambo, publicily expressed how the Country is being drained on paying salaries instead of development projects. This was the clearest indication that a small government is a panacea for Kenya’s economic success.

It’s through downsizing the public workforce and scrapping unnecessary bureaucracies nationally and at the County levels that Kenya can move forward to become a developed Country.

On the current constitution, we all know that laws are not carved on stones but formed by humans to be changed, augmented, scrapped or improved to suit prevailing governance systems and processes.

It can be remembered that former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, hinted during the referendum that any anomalies can be rectified after the passage of the current constitution.

Therefore, since it was not a perfect document during its passage by the Kenyan masses, it means that it can be subjected to amendments to suit the needs of the Country.

The debate to downsize the national assembly has come at the right time when the country is gearing to celebrate 50 years of nationhood. It’s therefore healthy for Kenyans to point out the pros and cons of the current constitution in order to streamline the faulty areas through a referendum.

We need to look at how to scale down the bloated legislator, especially Parliament and see if the country real needs the Senate. There is no reason why Kenya; a nation of 40 million people should have 358 Members of Parliament and 67 Senators. It will make a lot of sense if we either scrap the Senate or reduce the current constituencies by merging them.

Additionally, weird as it may sound; if we had transformed the 8 provinces into Counties, it would have saved the treasury huge expenditure costs because, as it stands today, funding 47 Counties has proved to be a burden. Besides, it’s emerging that the Counties; once touted as the pillars of development are proving to be pillars of disunity and clanism especially those with one ethnic group like Gusiiland where we have Kisii and Nyamira Counties.

Secondly, we need to abolish the apportioning of seats to special interest groups in the Senate and Parliament because, it doesn’t serve any purpose. Laws are not made to benefit a particular group but to serve all every Kenyans fairly, justifiably and with impartiality.

Instead of apportioning seats for special interest groups, we need to strengthen our laws so that every person is empowered through equity and equality. In fact, when the interests of all Kenyans are catered for in the constitution; irrespective of their status, gender, creed, age, physical or mental abilities, we don’t need affirmative action in the legislature for women, youth or persons with disabilities.

Take for instance if our electoral body (IEBC) ensured that vulnerable candidates like youth, women and persons with disabilities were provided with a level playing field during election campaigns, we shall not be talking about merely nominating these groups to the Senate or Parliament.

Otherwise, if the trend is not halted, it will continue to reflect us as a Country with no regard to her vulnerable population. It’s just a piecemeal to merely nominate these people to the Senate or Parliament under the aegis of addressing their interests when we don’t have solid laws which protects all them across the board.

On restructuring our legislature to save tax payers, I support the deputy Chief Whip Jakoyo Midiwo, who brought up the debate during the burial of former Juja MP George Thuo last week. We need such mature bipartisan approach to scale down government expenditure.

This united spirit to reduce waste is pegged on the national good to help the growth of our economy and therefore, must be pursued from all political aisles - Cord and Jubilee.

I believe that our legislators will help us pursue a path to reduce government spending if they truly care about Kenya. As it stands, we will gnash our teeth to service the current structures under the aegis of devolution if we can’t revise the status quo.

The duplication of roles is also another area that needs to be looked into both at the national and county governments. In the Counties, there is glaring waste … no definite role for the County commissioners when we have elected Governors. This has often created not only a waste of funds but also conflict of interests between the two offices; thereby hampering service delivery.

It’s also worthy to note that the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) need to be given more muscles to restructure the salaries of public servants without unnecessary contests especially the one we experienced recently from the members of Parliament.

Finally, a stitch in time saves nine. Flaws in the current constitution have emerged before Kenyans can access its fruits. The best way to go is to have a referendum in order to fix the anomalies.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

THE ICC WILL BE RENDERED TOOTHLESS IF SUGGESTED AMMENDMENTS ARE MADE

Its my sincere hope that the Twelfth session of 122 nations who are also signatories to the Rome Statute congregating in The Hague will put emphasis on the genesis and intent to the founding of the ICC before they even contemplate any form of amendments majorly pursued by President Uhuru and his deputy.

Any hasty amendments to the Rome Statute will have dire consequences on the strength, respect and legitimacy of the court in fighting injustice and impunity in less democratic nations.

As they congregate in The Hague, from 21st November, we hope that the plight of the Kenyan victims of the post election violence and those from other nations will dominate the plenary and not the amendments pursued to protect the powerful.

Indeed, if the court was formed to deter people or leaders who use their powers to unfairly torture and kill the innocent, then the current arrangement where the accused are prosecuted irrespective of their status in society is the best option. Those who want to reverse this arrangement are enemies of justice, fairness and the war on impunity which continues to derail democratic success in Kenya.

For purposes of fairness, equality and access to justice, I don't agree with Britain's latest gesture where they suggest for President Uhuru and his deputy William Ruto to be tried via video link.

Besides, why should an accused person- leaders attend court sessions from the comfort of their State palaces to the glare of the victims who are alleged to have been inflicted with pain by the same leaders?

Suppose the evidence adduced by the prosecution in court appears to implicate an accused national leader, will the flexibility pursued to amend the Rome Statute, not give that leader room to build more avenues for dictatorship in order to remain in power and therefore abscond the court process altogether?

I'm not savvy in criminal law, but I'm sure there is no court in the world where an accused criminal dictates the court on the way he or she should be tried. Mutilating the Rome Statue to make Uhuru and Ruto happy is killing the court which is the only haven for safeguarding justice to those who cannot easily get it in their countries.

Besides, perceived dictators and purveyors of impunity need to be kept in check and the surest way it to avoid tampering with the current structure of the Rome statute.

Take for instance the former candidate of the ICC, the late Slobodan Milosevic of Serbia, and former Liberian dictator Charles Taylor who has since been sentenced by the Hague court, would they have travelled from their respective countries to the Netherlands to serve their prison terms if they went on trial through video link?

Secondly, will the ICC indictee and President of Sudan Omar Albashir’s regime nurture any democratic reforms in the Country when he is an international fugitive? Mr. Bashir is only interested in shielding himself from trial while consolidating power in perpetuity-life presidency?

Suppose the Sudanese strongman opined to attend his trials via video link from his Khartoum palace, how would one expect him to leave office and travel to The Netherlands to start his jail term if he is found guilty?

Immunity from prosecution for all sitting heads of states will be the best way to make the ICC toothless, create more life Presidents and manufacture more despotic leaders especially in the Africa Continent.

Its ironical that President Kenyatta, who is exerting too much energy to stop his case and his handlers plus his defense team have hinted several times that his case is weak and that the prosecution witnesses were coached by the Civil Society to implicate him. Why can’t he just join his deputy to let justice take its cause while he continues with his Presidential duties?

When the motion for deferral for Uhuru and Ruto’s cases was defeated at the United Nations Security Council, the Kenyan Government has been ballistic; mostly excoriating two key world powers- the USA and Britain, whom they have consistently accused of wrongly targeting Kenya and Africa, unfairly.

It’s extremely undiplomatic for the Kenyan leaders to peg the Country’s foreign relations based on the cases they face at The Hague.
Truly, how can personal challenges facing a President and his deputy define a nation’s global policy? When mortal Ruto and Uhuru will exit the scene, does it mean Kenya will fade from this planet?

In fact, Deputy President William Ruto who openly professes the Christian faith should be the last person to castigate other nations on the nature of their friendship with Kenya. An entire society cannot be punished because of alleged inequities of a few individuals.

Ruto should remember that we are in a new Covenant where you take responsibility for your own actions.

For instance, in the book of Ezekiel 18:20, it's clearly written that, the soul that sinneth, it shall die; a son shall not be punished for his father's sins, neither shall a father be punished for his son's sins.

The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him. That is why; I vehemently differ with the deputy President who early this week called the nations who voted against the deferral of their cases, enemies of 41 million Kenyans.

How can you call the USA and Britain, enemies of Kenya, when the two countries have always acted as our bigger brothers? In fact, they are the first to show up during our desperate moments.

If a leader has no intent to cause any atrocities, why is there too much energy from the Kenya leaders to amend the Rome Statute, and pave the way for immunity from prosecution? We will hate to see characters reminiscent to the late Bokassa, Mobutu, Idi Amin, Samuel Doe and Milosevic if the Rome Statute is amended.

The leaders who care about global peace, justice, security and checking impunity MUST resist the intended mutilation of the Rome Statute.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

THE ICC WILL TEAR UHURU AND RUTO APART DESPITE BRINGING THEM TOGETHER

We must be worried about the unity of Kenya when the two largest communities- Kalenjins and Kikuyus who voted as a block in the March election to form the Jubilee government are now tearing each other down over the ICC cases.

The cases facing Uhuru and Ruto at The Hague is the major reason why their two communities came together to vote them as President and deputy President. It’s saddening that an issue-ICC, which was the glue in the March elections, is now the cause of tension in the Jubilee family.

Now that the closest confidants of Deputy President William Ruto, have come out openly to demand the resignation of key officials in the Jubilee government mostly from the Kikuyu community, for alleged coaching of witnesses against Ruto, it has put the nation in a quandary.

In the coming days, it will be hard for the two leaders to fully focus on nation building, their ICC cases as well as trying to pacify the animosity which is flaring up between Kikuyus and Kalenjins in the Jubilee government.

It’s very likely that the challenges facing Kenyans will be put at the back banner as Uhuru and Ruto tries to hold the TNA and URP government together.

Truly, it’s too early that history is repeating itself. Virtually 8 months in office, the Jubilee government is embroiled in a similar circus that we experienced in the Kibaki Raila grand coalition government. WILL THE UHURUTO GOVT SURVIVE THE CURRENT IMBROGLIO? TIME WILL TELL.
http://listernyaringo.blogspot.com/2013/11/will-uhuruto-govt-survive-current.html?spref=tw

Sunday, November 3, 2013

UHURUTO ICC CASES MAY BE A TOLL TO KENYA’S EXCHEQUER

For any questionable expenditure malpractices in the government, we have a right as Kenyan citizens and tax payers to voice our concerns because in the long run, if we fail, it will affect the larger spectrum of our country’s economic growth.

Therefore, knowing the way the government spends our taxes is not a preserve for those in government but a responsibility for every citizen.
For purposes of fiscal accountability and effective management of our taxes by the government, those tasked with the responsibility of ensuring that all is well in the exchequer need to conduct an audit to divulge how the costs incurred on the ongoing ICC case of the deputy President William Ruto, and the shuttle diplomacy for deferral are paid off.

Kenyans need to know who incurred the costs for the recent delegation to the African Union (AU) in Addis Ababa, whose purpose was not the good of Kenya but to rally the AU for the deferral of the cases facing President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy at The Hague.

Secondly, the current delegation in New York which encompasses our national diplomats and several others from other African nations supporting Kenya for the deferral like Rwanda and Ethiopia is a costly affair. We need to know if Uhuru and Ruto are meeting these expenses and not Kenyan tax payers.

Besides, its note worthy that our two leaders are engaging the most expensive lawyers in the world in their cases. Kenyans will want to know who is meeting the hefty legal fees since not many people can afford to hire Stephen Kay, who is also the Queen’s Counsel and the combative Karim Khan for Uhuru and Ruto respectively.

Lastly, the travel and accommodation expenses for MPs who have been accompanying the Deputy President to the Netherlands, is now in a tune of millions. We also need to know who is footing the heavy bill since we all know that, life in Europe is extremely expensive which is often characterized by their strong currency- the Euro.

I’m not trying to imply that our two leaders cannot afford the said expenses but as a nation moving towards high levels of transparency and accountability in the way we conduct our national affairs, it’s better for the tax payers to know who is responsible for the high costs related to the current predicaments facing the President and his deputy.

Uhuru and Ruto are among the few billionaires we have in Kenya, but if they get a loophole to use our taxes for their cases, they may not touch their wallets. This is solid reality if the hustler’s jet scandal which cost Kenya taxpayers a whooping 25 million shillings for Ruto, is something to go by.

Since the ICC is a personal problem to the President and his deputy as they told the nation during the campaigns, wananchi don’t need to pay a penny for the delegation currently in New York and the recent one in Ethiopia. We therefore can’t pay for their personal cases when we are paying for their salaries and heavy benefits.

As taxpayers, we risk losing billions before the end of the ICC cases thus, the need not to assume that all is well, when a stitch in time saves nine.
Finally, as a concerned Kenyan, I evoke the Parliamentary Budget and Appropriations Committee, the Public Accounts Committee and the Auditor General to tell the nation the truth on the above. May they effectively monitor government spending lest we end up crying.

This is not an accusation and I do not have any evidence to conclude that our leaders have used state resources in their ICC cases.