Archive for January, 2013

#Corruption vs #campaigns in #Kenya: where’s the thin line?

January 16, 2013

In my humble opinion, Kenyan voters are the most corrupt people this side of the Sahara. In fact most Kenyans love electioneering season and consider it “the time to eat” from politicians and those who are aspiring to be politicians.

This is one of the main reasons why we usually vote only for rich people. Tell anyone to vote for you and the reply is “nunua chai”(buy for us a cup of tea). Woe unto you if your only “currency” is issues and policies: people will just listen to you and tell you to get elected by “those policies of yours”. In some cases I’ve heard voters shouting that they need “standing allowances” before they can listen to political speeches at political rallies.  

The assumption in most parts of Kenya is that one can’t contest a political seat “hungry”, ie without having more money than just for basic needs. In any case, the voters argue, it’s a job you are looking for, and like all or almost all jobs in Kenya,one has to grease some palms in order to acquire it-Never mind the fact that once elected the same guys will never leave your office as “you were elected to serve them”.

In essence most of these politicians actually “buy” their elective seats.

This is especially effective during party primaries and especially in big parties in regions where a party’s ticket is almost a guaranteed elective seat. It’s made even worse by the fact that very few of the registered  voters actually take part in these party  nominations,so it’s easy to give money to enough of them to win.   

No one government body or organization can police against this kind of corruption. How does one differentiate between money paid as wages for campaigns and that paid to voters in order for them to vote for a candidate? One paid voter might influence one or ten people to vote for the candidate. In such a case, the money takes on the aspect of wages paid for campaigning. At the same meeting,another voter will take the money from the same politician, fail to campaign or even vote for him/her. The million shilling is: where does one draw the line between money given and received as a bribe, and money given and received as wages for work done(  campaigning)?

Only the voter can differentiate the two.

And the same voters whine lyrical about the government and politicians being corrupt…

In the USA elections of 2008, American voters actually funded Obama’s campaign. They also volunteered during campaigns; they didn’t wait for him and his party to come giving them money. I reckon this is because they believed in him as a person and the principles and policies he espoused.

Until Kenyans stop receiving money from politicians,I propose that once “elected”, the politician should NOT pay tax, should stay as far away as possible from the electorate,and corruptly amass as much wealth as possible…                          

Kenyans Whine about #Mpigs and #vultures, then vote most of them right back in. #BallotRevolution?

January 16, 2013

For starters, I’ll start blaming mediocre leadership on politicians  as soon as one politician gets his/her filthy hand into my pocket,chucks out my voter’s card and then proceeds to vote for him/herself!

I used to hate it when people said that “we deserve the political leaders we’ve got”, or “political leaders are a mirror to the society” . However, after careful analysis, the phrases seem to have more than a mere grain of truth.

How do politicians get elected? The “best” of them “listen” to the electorate. They familiarize themselves thoroughly  with the “issues” that the voters hold dear. The issues might be the traditional ones (employment, infrastructure, education etc) to social ones (eg tribe, religion, race). The social consensus on “issues” is arrived at depending on the values of a particular society, and the level of enlightenment of the most influential members of that particular society.     

The most important skill a politician need is the ability to decipher the “issues” and eloquently  amplify them. The voters identify with the politician as representing their views. They follow such an individual and eventually vote for him.

The unfortunate thing is that as a group, people tend to have an average IQ of the dumbest of them all, and as such the kind of “issues” that will gain prominence are at best non-issues and at worst destructive ones. The politician might subscribe to the issues he’s expounding on, then again he/she might  just be using the issues as stepping stones to an elective position.

The upshot: the followers (voters) set the agenda for the leaders, and then  elect the person who most eloquently amplifies that agenda. The tragedy of democracy is that it’s the rule by majority and if the majority in a community are engaged in trivia…

If you feel the need to blame someone for the leadership woes in your country or constituency,blame the voters or better yet, find a mirror…

Until the intellectuals get involved in setting the elective agenda in the society, we’ll always have mediocre leadership and the best we’ll do about it is whine in our blogs and scientific journals.

I have listened to the various contestants’ debates and I’m sorely disappointed. In all these debates,a contestant needs to have done something for the society: built a bridge,paid fees for some needy students,bought water tanks for women groups, funded football tournament for the youth, built a few classes in a school…

From all that, several things stand out:

1. We have no idea what an elected official is supposed to do,i.e, we don’t know the job description of an MP or county representative. CDF hasn’t helped matters a whole hell of a lot.
2.We’ve actively encouraged the routine crossing of the very thin line between campaigning and outright bribery(corruption).

3. To paraphrase the good book, It’s easier for a camel to enter through the eye of the needle than for those who’ve not amassed wealth, mostly the youth,to get elected. The means towards the attainment of the mountain of wealth needed for the “projects”  is pretty immaterial.

And maybe, just maybe  we vote for those corrupt, tribal, leaders because that’s what we are and what we’d become if we were given the opportunity- without naming names Kabando wa kabando & Mutava Musyimi being cases in point…                              

WOMEN AND MEN ARE LEADERS: why we should #electwomen 2013.

January 10, 2013

Elect women (GOVERNORS, MPS, SENATORS); let’s give our young daughters more WOMEN-LEADER role models. 

Racism In Football (soccer) : A solution.

January 5, 2013

Just for the record I hate racism and racists just like the next rational human being. In fact I hate, with everything I own, the very idea of discrimination in any form. I’d also support strong action- whatever form this takes- against those perpetrating the crime in order to stop or prevent it.

Racism in football has been an issue for ages now and despite the various  measures undertaken to prevent or stem it,it forges ahead undeterred. Hefty fines and other disciplinary measures being meted out on the perpetrators and the clubs involved seem all to nought. Probably we are doing this all WRONG.

I have a SOLUTION,but with your indulgence, I’ll take a short detour.

Like everyone of you,I grew up surrounded by friends, families, and enemies. During our various interactions, I got nicknames ranging from very loving to very offensive ones. Incidentally, the ones I rated very offensive didn’t always originate from my enemies.

I fought against those “labels” ferociously,until one day I noticed something: the shelf -life of a nickname was roughly directly proportional to the vigour in which I fought against it. Offensive nicknames lasted until both parties couldn’t even explain how it all started. But once a nickname stopped “pushing my buttons”,it readily receded into oblivion and with time it got forgotten.

As a teacher, I encountered the same situation. I took it in my stride and when I knew of one I’d have fun with it, and it worked like magic.   

Back to the story at hand of racist chants forcing a walkout of AC Milan during a match with  Pro Patria. I hope we all realize that during this unfortunate match, the racists won. They knew where the buttons were,pushed them and the aggrieved parties reacted predictably.

One thing we have to realize is that football/soccer, or any competition for that matter-even between religions- is never a religious affair. The supporters will do anything-and I mean anything- to make sure that the competition lost. I’m sure that if players were to listen to every word being uttered by competition’s supporters they’d never show their face in public let alone in a playing field. In fact most of the utterances are way worse than those racist chants; just scroll through your timeline on twitter of Facebook and you’ll see disgusting samples.

THE SOLUTION to these racist chants is for the players affected to stop giving away their power to simple-minded people who’s only aim is to psychologically unbalance them so that the whole team loses. Let the chants wash o over you like water on a ducks back. Show them you understand their ploy and you wouldn’t play to their tune; you aren’t their psychological puppet!

Once they realize that the chants aren’t having the desired impact,they’ll realize it’s them who come out looking like idiots, and the practice will peter out.

Of course those caught in the act of engaging in these racists insults should be punished like any other criminal. However,Anyone walking off the field because of such chants should quit competitive sports, or better yet come back to Africa where we actually eat those bananas…

It’s time for the sportsmen/women to act mature! The responsibility of ending racism in football rests on your ample shoulders!                      

How the constitution(thru removal of party hopping) ensures that Kenyans will elect ONLY Old unpopular rich men.

January 2, 2013

Kenyans had never been happier than when they were promulgating the “new constitution”. Apparently the constitution was sold to them as the panacea of all ills afflicting them, short of taking them to heaven.

The constitution was not without its detractors who considered it the infamous Antichrist’s manuscript.

I had issues with the constitution not for the sins it was said to legalize, but for the mere fact that it appeared to me that the COE wrote a legal document divorced from a Kenyan social context. They cared little about the eventual implementation, or even the implications once operationalized. This is precisely why articles such as 81(b) have been such  devils to deal with,a story for another day…

What has all this got to do with the youth and women without tones of money facing a hard time being elected,one might ask. Permit me to take you through the situation that had necessitated the much demonised party hopping.

In popular parties, during elections for any post there are many contestants hoping to get the party’s ticket to fight it out with the other parties’ candidates at the main ballot. This is usually a headache because, more often than not, the leaders of those parties are in support of candidates who are not very popular with the electorate.

To get their preferred candidates on the ballot, the party leaders either give them direct nominations, and where not possible they rig the nominations in their favour.

The dissatisfied candidates and their supporters then jump ship to less popular parties who don’t have candidates for that particular seat,they are given the certificate and most end up defeating the people  who were rigged in at their expense.

This has ensured that popular youth and women  leaders who lack money to buy friendship at the high echelons of party leadership end up being elected! A case in point being Martha Karua who lost in Matiba’s Ford,went to kibaki’s DP and got elected to Parliament in 1992.

With the advent of the rules against party hopping, once you lose during the nominations,whether fairly or unfairly,one has no recourse for a second chance until the next elections.

Political hopefuls with tones of money, usually old men, are busy cosying up to the party leadership which might give them an undue advantage over their rivals. These also have the ability to mobilize enough voters to vote for them during the nominations. This is especially so given that many voters don’t participate in the party primaries (nominations). Most of us just wait to vote during the main elections.

The constitution through the political parties act now require that a person must be a member of a party for over two months before s/he can vie through the party’s ticket. I’m sure the parties will hold their primaries within the last month before the elections.

Since we made the bed,let’s lie on it. I’d still advice the youth and women to vie using less popular parties, unless they are guaranteed a direct nomination or they have the machinery to mobilize enough  voters during nominations in popular parties…                         
                  

Party hopping bill assented: Time for women aspirants to move to smaller parties?

January 2, 2013

In big parties (Cord, jubilee), and especially in their stronghold areas elections will be won or lost during party  nominations. Being nominated a flag bearer in such parties is almost a guaranteed victory in March 4th elections.

Every aspirant would salivate at such a prospect. Unfortunately being nominated in such big parties is harder than a camel’s chance of passing through the eye of the needle for those without resources and who aren’t buddies with the bigwigs of the party.You see, with resources it’s possible to “transport” lots of voters to vote for you.   Being popular with the leaders of the party might  guarantee one a direct nomination, or even better, the leaders might prevail on the other contestants to step down on your behalf.

In the old constitutional dispensation, one would leave a party after losing in a party’s  primaries,hop into another party and still get elected. In the new constitutional dispensation the party hoping had, for all practical purposes and intents, been abolished. That is, until the new amendments to the election act was assented to by the president, which provides a party hopping window. 

If you ask around,most people who have voted during the main elections have never voted during party nominations (primaries) and most don’t know bean one about it’s point in the whole scheme of things. This is basically because none if their preferred candidate ever failed to appear on the ballot paper just because of a small matter of losing in the nominations,as there would be other parties waiting to cash in on the nomination fallout and dish out direct nominations to the losers and the dissatisfied.

One look at the people running for nomination in the various popular parties and the first thing that sticks out as a sore thumb is wealth. It looks like everyone who has billions in the bank is out competing for elective positions,popularity being a meer afterthought. My guess is that they realize that the new rules favour them. In previous elections they’d “win” the nomination and lose in the ballot to those they defeated in the primaries. With the new rules,one loses in the primaries and irrespective of your overall popularity you are effectively locked out of that particular  election. The rich will be able to somehow “buy” their way to elective offices. They’ll just ride on the Euphoria of the party and since they’ll have “defeated” their popular challengers they’ll just waltz their way to office.
                           
My advice to women is that unless one is on that league,please move to less popular parties. One’s chances of getting elected improves dramatically by one’s name being on the ballot.