Archive for September, 2012

The cabinet reshuffle in #Kenya was all about the @udfparty & @musaliamudavadi

September 21, 2012

The President and the prime minister decided on a mini cabinet reshuffle that saw the elevation of Hon Ababu Namwamba,Hon Khangati and Hon Ole Metito to full cabinet ministers. Hon Otuoma was moved from ministry of sports to ministry of local government.

Hon Namwamba,Otuoma,Khangati all hail from the western region where the ODM party has recently been dealt a major blow by the defection of Mudavadi to the UDF party.

By virtue of Mudavadi being a powerful presidential contender, western Kenya has gravitated towards the UDF party. In 2007, the western region was virtually ODM, thanks to Mudavadi’s position as the running mate to Raila.

To stem this tide of enmasse Exodus from ODM to UDF,Raila Odinga has decided to wave a few flags in the region. He’s in effect trying to tell the people of western Kenya that they are still in government and, therefore, they should stay in ODM. Khangati’s elevation was also trying to deal with Mukhisa Kituyi, one of the rising stalwarts of UDF. 

Kibaki is bent on delivering the presidency to the western Kenya region. At first, he had settled for Eugene Wamalwa, going as far as elevating him to the powerful cabinet position of the justice and constitutional affairs. He, however, realized that wamalwa is abit to close to Uhuru Kenyatta,and not as influential. From his calculation kibaki realized that the best Eugene can be in the forthcoming general elections is the running mate to Uhuru. Uhuru hails from central Kenya, and it’s my feeling that kibaki is not very comfortable having another central Kenyan succeeding him as president. Kibaki himself is from central Kenya.

With the defection of Mudavadi From the ODM,kibaki was given another lifeline. Mudavadi happens to have the political clout to be a real presidential contender and the kind of demeanor kibaki would consider “presidential”: cool, calm, collected and non-confrontational. He, therefore, settled on him as his successor.
However,the recent  by-elections for various parliamentary and civic seats have not been encouraging given the less than satisfactory showing by the UDF, mudavadi’s party. The  parliamentary seats from central Kenya & rift valley were taken by Uhuru’s TNA, and the one from nyanza was captured by ODM. ODM even won a civic seat in western Kenya, mudavadi’s backyard.  It’s still early days to take this as a reflection of the expected results in the upcoming general elections, but even kibaki had to make a move: He decided that waving the flag in the face of the TNA’s MP-elect Ole Sakuda was a good thing so, he gave the powerful internal Security ministry to Ole Metito, probably a UDF sympathizer.

The whole of that cabinet  reshuffle has all been about Mudavadi: Raila wants to clip his wings while kibaki wants him to soar.

I still think kibaki has a point.         



#By_elections in Kenya: only ONE woman won(civic seat). #electwomen

September 21, 2012

I’ve said this ad infinitum: it’s not that women don’t vie for elective positions,rather, we rarely vote for them. Most voters, women included believe that leader (especially in politics) means man.

If we can’t elect women in civic and parliamentary elections, are we likely to elect a woman as president in kenya? This a story for another day…    

It leaves me disgusted the arguments by very educated women that the reason we don’t have many women in politics is that they don’t run for office.

In America, the argument that women don’t run for presidential office may sound like a good excuse given that the two main presidential candidates are men (Obama and Romney). However, when one recalls that Hillary Clinton ran for office in 2008 and lost to Obama, and Michelle Bachmann lost against Mitt Romney recently, the argument start to look like a sieve: doesn’t hold water. It was actually disheartening to hear very influential church leaders who are GOP members saying that women cannot be POTUS. I’d be inclined to advice women to leave GOP and head for the Dem, but in light of Hillary Clinton’s defeat, Dems can’t exactly hold a light to GOP… 

In countries where there exists full suffrage rights for women,    women do run for elective offices. However, most of them lose during party nominations, while the rest lose during elections.

The fact that women lose during elections is not exactly due to their qualifications as capable leaders, or lack thereof: Wangari Maathai, the first Kenyan Nobel laureate, lost her presidential bid as well as reelection as an MP.

I’ll state (again!) that we don’t have a shortage of qualified women leaders, but we suffer a severe shortage of people who believe women are as good leaders as men and, therefore, very few of us vote for them.

Many women empowerment  organizations think that the problem of few women in politics is due to lack of leadership skills in women, and, therefore, pour money at leadership conferences for women leaders. This will not make women more electable: You cannot teach anyone (man or woman) to be a politician!
All these resources should be spent in civic education, advising voters on the fact that women are as good leaders as men, and encouraging them  vote for women.

Why elect women? My main reason for pushing for more women in politics is basically to break the vicious cycle of women marginalization.

For starters, Leadership is a subjective perceptual concept. It mostly denotes ability or capacity.

Secondly,political leadership is the most overt form of leadership given humanity’s, and especially media’s fixation with it.

When we overwhelmingly vote for men, Our young daughters grow up believing only boys will grow up to be leaders,and by association they consider  boys the leaders. Given that to be a leader implies capacity or ability, most of our daughters don’t struggle as much as the boys when faced with “difficult” subjects in school such as sciences and maths. Given that our daughters are also socialized to grow up to be wives,which doesn’t require much education anyway, doesn’t help matters much. Very capable girls, therefore,  fall off the education ladder at various points, joining the growing ranks of dis-empowered  women. By the time they realize how capable they are, most of them will be women with children of their own, most probably in bad marriages they can’t extricate themselves from as they dont have the papers to qualify them to search for jobs to take care of their children.
Others will be single parents who struggling against major odds to put food on their families table. All because as children  the society told them they are not leaders ie they are “incapable”. Daughters from such struggling families end up performing poorly in school and the cycle continues

Incidentally, daughters having educated mothers do well in school themselves, and this has absolutely nothing to do with genetics! It has everything to do with mothers as role models. As Caroline mutoko of kiss FM puts it, “you can’t be what you can’t see”.                

I posit here that most of our daughters fail not because they are biologically incapable, but because “difficult” things are left for the boys who are leaders anyway. Girls give up too easily. I have taught in both primary and secondary schools so, I’m talking from experience.

Elect women and let us give our young daughters more women-leader role models.                                       

#Obama admits that #Republicans are “hardworking family People who care deeply about this country”. #Dems…?

September 19, 2012

“And when I meet Republicans as I’m travelling around the country they’re hardworking, family people who care deeply about this country…”

This is a quote from Obama’s reply to Romney’s “47 percent” comment. The interview was recorded for  Tuesday’s “the late show with David Letterman”

These are the kind of people any country would be proud of, and the kind who essentially created the “American dream”.These are the people who want Obama out, and it’s a safe bet that they’ll most probably not vote for him.

One wonders, therefore, the kind of people Obama is representing…

By the way when did it become fashionable for the “great Americans” to look up to government for everything and to “act victims”?  Remember  “ask not what the gvt can do for you…”

Me thinks American Dems  should join their Kenyan brethren in “asking the government to intervene” in every aspect of their lives…             

If #Obama wins a 2nd term, #Dems will be guaranteed a minimum of 16 yrs in the political cold after 2016! #47percent

September 18, 2012

Let’s face it: Obama inherited one of the worst  economic legacies one can wish even on an enemy. Admittedly, he’s done his best in his first term as president, but apparently his best isn’t good enough.

The US economy is unlikely to improve miraculously in leaps and bounds in the coming four years, irrespective of whether it’ll be Obama or Romney at the helm. And therein lies the issue at hand.

If Obama were to win his second term, all the blame for any sluggishness in the economy will be blamed on him, and by extension the Dems. Incidentally, if he puts in place good economic policies, in addition to what he’s already done in his first term, the results will only start having a tangible impact in the long term (Most probably after his second term). Most unemployed and economically hard-up Americans will be hard pressed to buy into this logic, and will most probably give the Dems the boot. If the economy were to start improving markedly during the GOP’s presidential term( as it’s bound to anyway in about  5-7years), GOP will be seen as saviours and it’ll take ages(more than 16 yrs) to convince voters to elect Dems. 

On the other hand, if Romney were to defeat Obama,he’d inherit the economic woes currently afflicting the USA. His first term would most probably be marked by an economy in the doldrums. It’d be easier to convince voters that Romney, and by extension  the GOP were liars, and the voters feeling the pinch of the poor economy would readily make Romney’s a one-term presidency.                    

Why 2013 will not be the right time for a #woman-#president in Kenya. @Marthakarua,#Ngilu

September 9, 2012

Before you go ham on me ostensibly for being a misogynist this or the other, let me state this: I personally  know and believe that women are as good leaders as (some even better than) men.

The issue at hand, therefore, is not the qualification, or lack thereof, of the various women  presidential candidates. Rather, it’s the small issue of the presidency as stipulated in the current (new) constitution. I had this nagging feeling during the run-up to the referendum on the constitution that most Kenyans had no idea what was contained in the constitution, and even less the implications. This malaise  seems to have afflicted both the Wanjiku and the leaders alike, to the extent that one can question the origin of the document we now call the new constitution… that’s a story for another day.

My concern is the perception about the presidency and it’s powers. Having watched kibaki and his “unilateral appointments”,as well as the various presidential candidates promise Kenyans heaven once elected, I am convinced now more than ever that everyone is deluded that the presidency is as powerful as it used to be in the old constitution. It seems no one wants to come out and state the painful truth that the presidency is virtually ceremonial.

The implications of all this is that the president will get into office carrying a heavy burden of Kenyans’ unrealistic expectations. In fact, and as far as I can tell, most Kenyans are expecting once elected the president  will be a miracle worker or magician, and will thus be in a position to transform their lives instantaneously. The disillusionment that will follow when the Tyre that is their president meets the rubber that is the reality of a president who can’t help himself, let alone the electorate, will be a spectacle to behold. Then again one may always  blame Parliament and the gullible voter will buy it…
Now imagine that the president happens to be a woman. “The failure to perform” will be laid squarely on the perceived  “inability”/ “weakness” of women and their “lack of leadership qualities”. It’ll now be official that “women can’t be trusted with leadership”,and the vicious cycle of “women are weak” mentality will continue, together with it’s attendant implications for our young daughters. I envisage  a scenario where Parliament and the Senate will come together and impeach her faster than she can say CIC. I know this sounds sexist, but I’m just the messenger! Imagine if it was Hillary Clinton not Obama facing reelection in the USA in such a weak economy…

My advice, the women presidential candidates should take a break for 5 years (should vie at 2017) , let Kenyans experience the weak presidency under a man, then it’ll be hard to sell the idea that the presidency isn’t working because of the gender of the holder.

The presidency in the new constitution is so checked by the judiciary and legislature that the president will even need permission to scratch his/ her backside!                         

According to CRA, If we don’t elect enough women,there’s a gender penalty.

September 4, 2012

Recently I attended a gender forum organized by Heinrich Boll Foundation and Commission on Revenue allocation (CRA) on “Determining gender equity in fiscal devolution”

CRA is the body  charged with the mandate making recommendations concerning the basis for the equitable sharing of revenue raised by the national government. The distribution is both vertical( between national gvt and county government) and horizontal( between the various counties).

At the end of the day and after all the recommendations by CRA, Elected officials will be charged with the duty of legislating  and  prioritizing the specific allocation of  various monies allocated, be it in the counties or the national government. For any legislative body to meet and start discussing these allocations, it has to be constitutional.

The current constitution stipulates that not more than 2/3 of elected or nominated members of a public body should be of the same gender [Article 81(b)]. In our current set-up where both women and men elect men, we have only 9.8% women representation in politics. If the provisions of the constitution were to apply to our current situation,Parliament and the various county assemblies would be unconstitutional, and wouldn’t be able to meet and legislate on anything, leave alone monetary issues.

The constitution failed in giving the specifics on how the so called  “1/3 gender rule” was to be arrived at. The bill of amending the constitution to give effect to this article is still mired in parliamentary debates, and it’s debatable whether the bill will actually become law before vision 2030…

This exposes the country to the risk of having a constitutional crisis after the upcoming general elections, As it’s most probable that we’ll vote the same way we usually do thus ending up with fewer women than stipulated in the constitution.

To solve this constitutional  problem, the affected elective bodies (whether counties or Parliament) will have to nominate the requisite number of women before the start of any business. This is where the financial implications set in

Take a hypothetical scenario of  two counties (county A and county B), and a county is supposed to have 30 members.
County A ends up with 20 members being men and 10 being women, it’s home and dry.
County B, however,  happens to end up with all 30 members being men. Before it can meet and transact any business, it’ll need to nominate enough women to be constitutional. This county will end up having about 15 nominated women instead of the usual 10.
This is because if only 10 women are nominated, the whole  assembly will have 40 members and 10/40 is not equal to 1/3.

The extra members of county B compared to county A is what the CRA refers to as “the gender penalty”. This is because county B will end up saddled with an extra wage bill since nominated member will enjoy same emoluments as elected members.

This extra wage bill could’ve gone to other development projects and probably help more vulnerable members of the society.

The jury is still out there on who’ll will foot the bill ie  whether it’s the national government or the county government. What is clear however is that ultimately it’ll be the tax payer who’ll foot the bill.

Vote wisely, elect enough  women…    


         Heinrich Boll Foundation