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Friday, January 5th, 2018

 

Police quells St Mary’s Mission Hospital tension as new team takes over

By JOSEPH OPENDA
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Police on Friday intervened to quell the tension that had built up at the troubled St Mary’s Mission Hospital in Elementaita, Nakuru after the staff paralysed services for fears of forceful eviction by the new management.

Gilgil Sub-county security team which was led by Deputy County Commissioner Mithike Ndambuki held a two-hour meeting with the workers at the premises aimed at restoring normalcy at the hospital.

This was after they received information that some staff had decided to take away hospital property before the new management takes over.

Operations at the hospital were grounded for hours as relatives transferred their patients from the hospital following the tension.

Police officers who had taken over the facility had disallowed admission of new patients.

“We came to try and quell the tension among the hospital staff who had paralysed activities at the hospital for fear of their lives. We learnt that some of them had run away after they suspected that police would come to evict them at night,” said Mr Ndambuki.

Addressing the Press after the meeting, Mr Ndambuki said the workers had run away with hospital equipment including, furniture, electronics, medicine and medical tools in the wake of Friday morning.

According to the administrator, the workers had reacted to information that the Assumption Sisters of Nairobi, a group of catholic nuns embroiled in a legal tussle with an American Missionary priest, Dr Bill Fryda over the ownership of the hospital, had planned to evict them on Friday morning.

Mr Ndambuki, however, said the planned eviction could not be executed after the staff obtained another court order restraining their eviction and dismissal from work.

From the meeting, it was resolved that the workers would go back to their respective departments and resume their duties as police provided security.

Gilgil Administration Police Commissioner Quantai Kabugo said he would deploy some police officers at the hospital to ensure the security of the staff is guaranteed.

TRANSITION

According to him, the police will ensure that any transition that will take place according to the court order is conducted in a peaceful and smooth manner so that nobody is hurt or evicted in the process.

“As a police service we will ensure that all court orders are effected in a humane manner for the good of the citizens. We however call upon the staff who took hospital property to return it,” said Mr Kabugo.

Mr Selesio Marangu, the Nursing in Charge at St Mary’s hospital, confirmed their resolve to resume operations and urged those who had planned to take their patients to hold on as the hospital had resumed operations.

St Mary’s hospital has been at the centre of a six-year management tussle between the New York-based missionary priest and the nuns.

It has recently hit the headlines following a violent take over of the hospital in Lang’ata, Nairobi, by the nuns who were declared the rightful owners of the property by the High Court in Nakuru where police officers stormed and evicted the staff.

Some of the students who were evicted from their hostels at the St Mary’s Mission Hospital High School in Nairobi have sought refuge at the Elementaita hospital.

Other security personnel who were present include the Gilgil OCPD, Ms Serah Koke, and the sub-county Directorate of Criminal Investigations officer, Mr Joseph Owiti.


Prof Calestous Juma the village boy who dared to dream

By WANDERA OJANJI
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Saturday, the world bids farewell to Prof Calestous Juma, a renowned scholar, prolific writer, influential thinker and world-class practitioner in science and innovation.

Prof Juma’s career growth is the story of a village boy who dared to dream. He was born and raised in rural Budalang’i – an area well-known for perennial flooding, high prevalence of malaria and marauding hyenas.

He attended local schools for his primary and secondary education, making do with the barest of facilities especially at Port Victoria Secondary School, now known as John Osogo Secondary School where he was a pioneering student.

“Until recently, John Osogo Secondary School did not have a library, running water or even electricity,” says Dr Francis Nang’ayo, a former student of the school. As a result of these limitations, Prof Juma could only manage modest grades but good enough to qualify him to enrol as a P1 teacher at Egoji Teachers’ College in Meru.

In 1974, he started off his career as a teacher at Shanzu Primary School in Mombasa. He would teach by day and at night he would write newspaper articles, a move that saw him gradually transition from an elementary school teacher to a budding science journalist.

He was subsequently hired by the Daily Nation in 1978 as one of the first science and environment newspaper journalists in Africa.

Prof Juma would later dream of something scholarly, something more intellectual. To realise his dreams, he successfully applied for a scholarship from the International Development Research Centre in Canada that enabled him to attend the University of Sussex, UK, where, in 1983, he earned a Master of Science degree in Science, Technology and Industrialisation. He subsequently received his doctorate in Science and Technology Policy Studies.

LOFTY DREAMS

Prof Juma’s lofty dreams did not diminish, if anything, they appeared to intensify with time. A born mobiliser and an engineer of ideas, he founded the African Centre for Technology Studies (ACTS) in Nairobi in 1988. ACTS was the first of its kind, a policy research NGO at a time when policy was seen as a preserve of the government.

“Prof Juma established at ACTS a culture of thought leadership, ground-breaking research, and a passion to ensure science, technology and innovation policies accelerate achievement of Africa’s economic, social and environmental sustainability targets,” ACTS said of its founder.

His pioneering work did not end at ACTS. The international community, in 1995, appointed him as the first permanent Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity  where he guided the early years of the organisation and helped shape global conservation programmes.

He brought together and maintained an international network of scholars, diplomats and researchers on issues related to conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity. He navigated the often stormy waters of international biodiplomacy, finding the balance between the dictates of international environmental law, science and biodiversity and the realities of national and international politics.

His colleagues once said that Prof Juma wrote faster than most people would read.

None of his books has been an island – each one has had an outsized influence by being part of a larger policy dialogue and network of influential people that Prof Juma nurtured.


No need for new traffic laws or agencies

By ERIC KIRAITHE
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Even the most optimistic analysis of safety on our roads will lead to one inescapable conclusion: That the current situation is untenable. Our approach to road safety has been reactive rather than proactive. For instance, erecting speed bumps to manage speeding is akin to using reinforced steel and concrete walls to manage robberies, yet this is evidence of a gap in law enforcement.

In 2009, President Mwai Kibaki described traffic law enforcement as “very lousy” during a conference on road safety at the Bomas of Kenya.

He directed the relevant agencies sort out this mess once and for all. In a simplistic approach, the solution was found to be a new law and a new agency, the NTSA. With the latest spate of accidents, talk of new laws, new agencies and new individuals is once again in the air.

However, for those armed with some basic knowledge in law enforcement, we know that road safety is a direct product of diligent and informed enforcement of driving standards as encoded in road traffic laws and regulations.

TRAFFIC LAW

Indeed, the sole objective of everything about roads from design to regulations to traffic law is moving people and goods safely and on time.

Unfortunately, there is just very little driving in Kenya. We have plenty of gear, steering wheel, accelerator and brake pad operators on our roads but very few drivers.

New efforts should, therefore, be focused on ensuring that there is a semblance of driving on our roads by deliberately and, if need be, forcefully creating a critical mass of conscientious drivers.

Driving has been defined as a “person of sound physical and mental health taking actual physical control of a motor vehicle”. A mad person cannot exercise actual physical control of himself leave alone a vehicle. Corporal Wanjohi  (who was my instructor years ago) placed one caveat on this definition: All driving is predicated upon the driver’s appreciation of the nature of the road, the amount of traffic and the condition of the vehicle.

PASSENGERS

A driver who is unable to keep to his lane, drops and picks passengers in the middle of the road or is demonstrably incapable of responding to the cautionary, regulatory and safety signs on the road is not possessed of the required level of intelligence.

He is, therefore, mentally unfit to drive on a public road and must be removed, but not after he has killed people! His license should be cancelled and his details placed on a public platform so that whoever allows him to drive can be punished by law.

Even the 1964 independence Traffic Act had explicit provisions to enforce that. Nobody needs to procure a digital driving licenses or hold a dozen press conferences on the subject. We just need to act.

The dictionary meaning of the word actual includes “true” or “real”. How then do you determine whether one is actually, truly or really driving?

Up to the time when self-driven vehicles take over the roads, automotive engineering and road design will continue expending much thought on control of these thrilling machines to achieve relatively predictable safety standards.

LOSE CONTROL

Actual physical control of a vehicle is that situation where a driver combines the nature of the road, the amount of traffic and the type and condition of vehicles to ensure that the vehicle cannot do anything he has not consciously and deliberately caused it to do, including ramming head-on into an oncoming truck.

A driver who losses control of his vehicle cannot claim to have been driving unless there is evidence that he was denied the physical control by unforeseeable factors beyond his control.

Fatigue, overtaking on blind corners or overlapping do not constitute unforeseeable factors beyond human control. These are acts in the realm of premeditated murder.

Drivers who must be controlled by road bumps or regulation of driving hours cannot be termed as drivers.

Instead of changing laws, introducing new driving licenses or creating new agencies, the solution is simple; agencies involved in traffic management must urgently train every law enforcement officer on what the highway code is intended to achieve and they must also remove mad people purporting to be drivers from our roads.


We should write words the way they are pronounced

By PHILIP OCHIENG
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One problem that nonplusses English learners is that pronunciation systematically contradicts spelling. English is the only language I am familiar with in which spelling stands as menacingly as Okot p’Bitek’s elephant. Why do Englanders write ought when they mean ot (the latter being also the word for a “house” in own mother tongue Dholuo)?

In any language, pronunciation, not spelling, is the basic significance of words. For, while humanity has always spoken a language, writing was invented only very long after humanity had evolved. In practically all languages, indeed, spelling and pronunciation are identical. Only in the Western European languages of English and French do we find the strange phenomenon in which spelling and pronunciation clash heavily and gratingly.

Resting squarely on a Teuto-Germanic fundament, English and French are the two Western European tongues with an imposing Mediterranean (Greco-Latin) roofing in such essential areas of human activity and thought as agriculture, philosophy, religion, science and technology. Spelling is not and cannot be a natural characteristic of language.

INVENTED WRITING

For human beings were speaking language long before they invented writing. Spelling, in other words, is an aspect only of writing, not of speech. Spelling was imposed on language only after writing had been invented in Nilotic Egypt much more recently. Indeed, in practically all languages, pronunciation and spelling remain identical.

To reiterate, I am not familiar with any other linguistic system in which, as in English and French, the way you pronounce a word is always likely to contradict the way you write it, and gratingly. French, a daughter of Latin, is the only other linguistic human tool I am familiar with which is beleaguered by the same grating clash between spelling and pronunciation.

Even in such a language, however, the clash developed only in history. Indeed, the clash took root very recently. It took place, in other words, only after writing had been invented in Nilotic Northern Africa and elaborated in Mesopotamia (a land called so because it is situated between two other history-making rivers, namely, the Tigris and the Euphrates).

In history, a number of Westerners themselves have made powerful suggestions that a deliberate official attempt be made to bring to agreement both the spelling and the pronunciation of English words. I think it is high time. For it serves absolutely no useful purpose for a language which has become such a universal human tool to remain so discouraging to all human children, including even England’s, in its own written manifestation.

As very many historians of language have put it, written English is the expression of a language which died a natural death a very long time ago. Indeed, the original owners of that language — those who, in time,  imposed it on humanity worldwide — are the ones who ought to take the initiative of modernising the way in which  the language is written so that — since it has become universal  property — the children of all nations can learn it not only easily but also with gusto.


Lessons for the youth on how to make successful pitches to investors

By KELLEN KIAMBATI
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By ANNE KARIUKI
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Pitching is one of the most critical skills for young people seeking investment opportunities, yet it is not something that comes naturally to many people.  It takes a lot of preparation, audience analysis and being very precise to guarantee chances of success. 

Young people preparing to pitch their projects to potential investors should ensure that they familiarise themselves with the basic knowledge that the investors require.

Occasionally, there is the temptation to hide information but a competent investor can easily discover hidden information, to the detriment of the person making the pitch.

A compelling, irresistible, outstanding and unforgettable pitch is one that is delivered in the form of a story. Young people with innovative ideas should perfect this story in a way that will capture the listeners and potential investor’s attention.

TIME MANAGEMENT

The focus is to make the pitch unforgettable. An audience can get easily bored with excel sheets, tables, valuations and numbers. As a matter of fact, if they want that information, they can get it. However, everyone loves a good story, even the most data-driven people.

Time management is extremely important when pitching. An innovative idea does not amount to much if it cannot be expressed in not more than five minutes.

The ability to do this shows that the idea has been internalised and is well-thought through.

If the idea is well-articulated, investors will be interested in asking questions and giving guidance where necessary.

Time is the most valued asset for focused people and investors are no exception. Conveying respect for their time is interpreted that the young person pitching is likely to treat their funding with respect.

This explains why it is important to develop an absolute focus on the core components of the pitch. 

Potential investors pay attention to what they will get as return on investment. They want to hear how much their investment will give them in ten years. As such, when the youth are making a pitch, the revenue model should be revealed explicitly.

Young people should show potential investors the real picture or actual product but cautiously so that all the time is not wasted on the product at the expense of the business idea.

They should sell the uniqueness of the project or product because investors want to hear how the idea is different from all others in the market.

It is important to use demographic and psychographic features to pinpoint targeted customers. Investors are interested in getting the picture of customers along with the relevant data.

INNOVATIVE IDEAS

To be persuaded, investors have to see an airtight strategy for getting the product to the market.

Young people should also show passion and enthusiasm about their innovative ideas. When making a pitch, increase the level of positive energy but do not overdo it. Enthusiasm will not obscure sophistication, insight, integrity and realism. It will only enhance it. This should be coupled with smart dressing, paying detail to the social and cultural context so as not to offend potential investors.

In conclusion, the aim of a pitch is to find that one investor who will be persuaded and become eager to invest in the innovative idea. We hope the ideas shared will help young people to have a truly irresistible pitch whenever opportunities present themselves.

Dr Kiambati is a management consultant and a senior lecturer at Karatina University. [email protected] ail.com. Dr Kariuki is a social scientist, management consultant and a lecturer at Karatina University. [email protected]


Do not jail petty offenders and let notorious looters walk free

By MAGESHA NGWIRI
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I spent the better part of the New Year trying to spring a relative from jail. The guy had been thrown into the slammer over alleged obstruction after trying to move a public service vehicle from one parking lot to another at a time that National Transport and Safety Authority officials were lurking around.

Eventually, a few family members succeeded in arranging the poor guy’s freedom, but not without a little drama of a suddenly missing file and open greed.

However, that is not a very big deal. Hundreds of petty offenders are jailed practically every day and nobody raises any issue.

What was most interesting was the reason the guy gave for admitting the charges even when some wisdom would have warned him not to.

He didn’t have the Sh33,000 fine the magistrate imposed on him, but then again very few touts walk around with that kind of loose change in their pockets.

Even more interesting was the reason he gave for preferring jail to spending even one day in remand, where, of course, he was headed directly should he fail to pay the fine.

Though he did not elaborate on the matter, it appears that over-crowding in the cells, bad food, inability to tell when the case might come up for hearing because of a crowded court calendar, and the enforced socialising with hardcore criminals — all these had a bearing on his decision to go to jail for seven months rather than being remanded.

However, none of this would have been necessary had the magistrate been allowed to use his or her discretion to impose reasonable bail terms instead of mandatory sentences that do not reflect the magnitude of the offence.

This particular verdict seems to have been close to the classic case of a chicken thief being jailed for half a year while a person who steals billions walks free on a technicality after years of litigation.

It happens too often in this country, and no attempts at judicial reforms seem to make any difference.

The event cited above also made me realise another fact — that justice in this country is not for the poor. Indeed, the sage who said that poverty is in itself a crime got it right.

If you have the money to keep yourself from the clutches of the law, then you can get away with any crime, except perhaps murder. If you don’t have any, you can even be sentenced to death for a crime you never committed.

I am sure there are many undocumented instances of this travesty of justice, but when you are a magistrate, and someone who looks like a habitual criminal is brought to your court and readily admits everything in the charge sheet, your options are very limited.

Something should be done to make the punishment fit the crime. Justice is all about fairness and one can hardly agree that the cause of fairness is served if fellows at the beleaguered NTSA throw the book at you to cover up their incompetence.

PRISON REFORMS

Also, we keep hearing nice things about prison reforms, and we are always told that one of the main objectives of those reforms is to decongest prisons.

But is jailing people over petty offences the way to go? Indeed, any attempt at real prison reform seems to have ended the day former Vice-President Moody Awori called it a day in politics.

This, by the way, is not an attempt to condone crime. The mark of civilisation is to ensure that everyone operates under the rule of law, for without it, there would be utter chaos.

However, prison reform is necessary for when many of these folks are locked up over misdemeanours, they do not cease to be human beings.

One way out, and the idea is gaining momentum with each passing day, is for able lawyers to be paid by the State or to do pro bono work representing those who cannot afford their own lawyers. However, even this hope is far-fetched because you won’t get many of those honest people willing to serve their fellow citizens for minimal or no fees. Lawyers, too, have to eat.

What is clear is that as long as the real criminals keep stealing our tax-money and nothing happens to them because they have the wherewithal to stall court processes for eternity, there will never be real justice in this country.


Our problems will not be solved by the many cosmetic changes

By MAINA KIAI
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The toll from road accidents in December has been horrific, with news reports chronicling the numbers of those killed, the horrendous injuries and the resultant traffic snarl-ups. Each dead person is a parent, a child, or a sibling of someone, and the impact of the hundreds killed is massive. Kenya already has one of the worst records in road safety, and December only served to confirm our ranking.

We have wringed our hands in despair, and offered prayers for comfort for those killed and injured. And we have sought reasons for this wanton loss of life.

Yet the answers are simple. It has everything to do with corruption, bribery and extortion by the police, and worse, the culture of impunity that has engulfed Kenya.

We all know that traffic stops are not about “un-roadworthy” vehicles, or overloaded trucks or speeding buses as it is about the police or the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) staff getting “something.”

Yes sometimes, genuine summons and tickets are issued, but often only after the driver refuses to part with a suitable bribe.

We have been there when vehicles are stopped by the police and every effort is made to find fault, even creating non-existent standards for fire extinguishers.

Or when drivers’ licenses are said to be defective because they look old and frayed as they do after a year in a pocket!

We have seen the easy handover of cash from matatu and bus drivers to stern looking policemen or policewomen.

We have seen drivers overlapping when there is a traffic jam, presuming that those on the line are either stupid, or have no urgency. Some may indeed have genuine urgent emergencies that warrant overlapping, but it can’t be all those other cars that follow the lead of one driver.

CORRUPTION

Because of the culture of corruption and impunity, the overlapping drivers know the most that can happen if they get stopped by the police is to part with that spare Sh100 or Sh200.

It would be way too simplistic and ineffective to think that focusing on the police officers and NTSA staff on the roads will solve the problem. For again, we know that there is a chain of command thing going on here with the foot soldiers on roads giving upwards till it gets to the top.

And the problem is not just with the police and NTSA. For as long as corruption thrives and it is impossible to tell how someone can build a house for Sh1.2 billion, corruption will thrive.

As long as hotels are “sold” cheap to powerful people, the police will take bribes. As long as ranches are somehow privatised and then fenced and guarded by police with no clarity about how the ownership came about, our police will act with impunity.

NYS SCANDAL

As long as it is clear that the SGR cost three times what it cost Ethiopia and there is no accountability, then the NTSA will seek “kitu kidogo.” As long as the NYS scandal goes unresolved, and the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission gives clearances to those favoured and builds pathetic cases against powerful people, while ignoring major scandals like the Eurobond, then deaths on the roads will continue.

It is not enough to cry crocodile tears and appeal to the Gods when our people are being slaughtered on the roads. And it is not enough to make illogical directives about travel at night for Public Service Vehicles when the rich and powerful corrupt get away scot free.

We have a crisis and little regard for the lives of those who have to use public transport. We could start by eliminating all the permanent traffic roadblocks — such as the Nyali Bridge one in Mombasa — which are simply cash cows rather than safety mechanisms, the way Georgia did.

We could also get Parliament to stop instituting the huge fines and jail sentences for every infraction pretending that this will deter offenses, when they know that it only increases the size of the bribe.

And we could start by showing serious political will to end grand corruption beyond the rhetoric. But this may be impossible for a regime built on the foundations of corruption and impunity.


We’ve gone past the worst and stocks can only move northwards in the New Year

By LINUS GITAHI
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This year promises to be an interesting one. Hopefully, the election is behind us and one can look forward to a more stable and predictable year.

The Nairobi Securities Exchange is likely to be vibrant with the foreign counters showing a rebound. Depending on how inflation goes, bond trading is also expected to be active. However, if inflation stays below the 6-8 per cent range, the stocks are likely to have a good year.

In this regard, which stocks are likely to do well and why?

First, consumer goods companies are likely to do well relative to 2017. Hopefully, there will be a full year of sustained, uninterrupted consumption.

Also assuming the government carries through with elimination or reduction of school fees, there will be slightly more disposable incomes available and that will be a boon to consumption.

I would, therefore, bet on EABL, BAT and Uchumi. The supermarket fortunes will, of course, depend on getting a strategic investor to ensure it is fully-stocked and takes its share of the gap left by the fast-fading Nakumatt. Uchumi appeared to have taken the first step by stocking up for Christmas.

Tourism is likely to do well, too. In spite of prolonged electioneering, tour-related businesses have still had a relatively good year. 2018 promises to build on that momentum.

Many companies have their bookings for 2018 already in the bag. Improved infrastructure across the country will also spur growth in domestic tourism. For this reason, I will put a bet on Serena hotels as a key stock to watch for 2018.

Are we likely to see construction re-bound? The answer is yes. This will not only be driven by government projects but the private sector as well.

Other investors are likely to come out of the ‘wait and see’ attitude and complete old projects or start new ones. For that I would think that companies like Bamburi and ARM are likely to do well on the basis of increased demand for cement.

With an economy that will generally do well, portfolio investors are also likely to do well. Companies that have invested in various industries like Centum are likely to do better with a caveat on their banking investments.

Banks may be the dark horse of 2018. Having had a full year of the interest rate cap in 2017, they are likely to show ‘growth’ over 2017 but will still likely be below their 2016 performance. However, they continue to pile pressure for the lifting of the cap and if this happens, they may be the surprise great performers of 2018. For the moment though, it is unlikely that any bank will have a dramatic performance this year.

Will insurance companies take the share of financial investments by portfolio investors wary of banks? This may be too early to tell but they certainly did not appear to benefit from the capital flight from banks’ shares in 2017.

The aviation industry will continue to see recovery globally. A KQ stock rebound will be a story that will dominate conversations for a long time.

However, has the stock appreciated enough? 2018 will start seeing the fruits of the airline’s reorganisation, but it is unlikely that it will lead to much greater appreciation of the stock than its current major jump has put it.

Media will be an interesting counter to watch. The two companies quoted in the stock exchange will be unveiling new CEOs, probably in the first quarter, and I am sure each will hit the ground running to show early results. The liberalisation of airwaves, however, reduced the barriers to entry into television.

This, and the onset of telecoms as content drivers, will continue to drag the media stocks. However, the one who drives profitable innovation early will guarantee a good stock in the medium term.

One other external factor that will have a direct bearing on stocks is the direction the shilling takes against the US dollar. A rapidly depreciating shilling will invite lots of foreign buyers as it will mean cheaper shilling-denominated stocks. The converse will also be true.

My sense overall is that buyers of stocks earlier in the year may have reason to celebrate around Christmas of 2018. I expect someone will remind me about this when sending next year’s Christmas messages.


Time for the nation to sober up and resolve our many differences

By KIMANI NJOGU
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Many Kenyans agree that our nation needs to sober up and imagine how best it can reconstruct itself after years of internal self-abuse. The nation is clearly in agony and there are too many lose ends in our political life, economic activities, social interactions, cultural expression and spiritual well-being.

Over the years, the political class has created too much anger, anxiety, and mistrust in the country, which peak during elections. This is because political power is viewed as to leading to access to public resources.  But with more accountability in service delivery, it is possible reduce these tendencies.

For the last four years, the political elite have ensured that no space is left for our imagination and creative impulse to flourish. They have used every nook and cranny to win followers through hollow promises and polarising rhetoric. No funeral or place of worship has been left behind by their antics.

Elite struggles over access to public resources are politicised and presented as battles of ethnicities.

In the process, leaders remain unaccountable and protected by their particular ethnic groups. Questions related to transparency in the use of public resources are trivialised, ethnicised and ridiculed. Institutions charged with delivery of services are targeted, weakened and beaten to a pulp.

This is unsustainable. We need a non-partisan framework for a dialogue on national values and principles.  Nations grow through the deliberate nurturing of accountable and transparent governance institutions populated by individuals of integrity.

We cannot develop national or county governance institutions within the current political culture. It is too corrosive, individualistic, materialistic, violent, dehumanising, and uninspiring.

Driven by criminality and the insatiable greed for material things, our political culture is hollow and incapable of forming the basis for socio-economic transformation. It is incapable of preserving the resources within our borders for future generations.

Yet, it is through this political socialisation that young people are building their frames of reference that will guide their choices about how to relate with other human beings.

How can the youth cross borders and break the shells of ethnic, gender, class or gender bigotries when at every moment they are confronted by intense images of the same from their leaders? How can the youth be expected to embody the values of humility and respect when in media all they witness is guzzling, conspicuous consumption and the negation of the value of labour?

The ability to cross borders is born through modelling of behaviour, practical interventions and the realisation of the transitory nature of living creatures. Article 10 of the Constitution of Kenya provides an initial point of reference for the nation to start imagining another future driven by ‘building bridges across divides’.

In this journey anticipated by the national values and principles of governance, the responsibility of leaders in all domains of life is to humanise the world through the practice and discourse of ‘reaching out’ to those viewed as different. Our current political culture is devoid of this philosophy.

As a result, it continues to entrench sharp economic inequalities, violence and social intolerance.  

There is something seriously wrong with an economy that is extremely unequal in terms of access to basic needs such as health care, food, shelter and education.

There is need to focus on a different economic model that seeks to help more Kenyans meet their basic needs.

This might require investing more in agribusiness, smallholder agriculture, sustainable pastoralism, small and medium size enterprises, basic healthcare, reliable public transport and building of skill sets that secure households. Many Kenyans just want a life of dignity as human beings.

They have no need for the primitive accumulation of material things they see among their leaders.  They deserve better from their leaders.

The fractured life we see at the political level is mapped socially in our communities. We are witnessing a rise in gender-based violence, insecurity, grabbing of public spaces, aggression on the roads, ethnic mistrust and inter-generation tension.

HARMFUL SUBSTANCES

We are no longer sure of what we are eating in hotels considering the adulteration of food through intentional addition of harmful substances but also the use of biological and chemical contaminants.

The rise in life threatening diseases is undoubtedly a result of these food adulterants. The corruption, low value of human life and disrespect for the rule of law which is perpetuated by the political class manifests itself most poignantly horizontally with the poor as the target in the extraction of capital.  

Over the years, Kenyan practitioners in arts and cultures have generally sought to humanise the world through their compositions and products.

They have tended to ‘reach out’ and ‘build bridges’ as part of their calling and vocation.

But lacking a facilitative policy and structured framework, these efforts have not had the impact that they would have had were they to be taken seriously by national and county governments.

Many of the artists who would prick the conscience of leaders currently struggle in poverty and lack the space to enhance their creativity. 

ECONOMIC ACTIVITIES

Luckily we know that as human beings we have a unique ability to transform social structures, the nature of interpersonal relations, economic activities and other behaviours within a short time. But this ability calls for humility and the recognition that one does not have monopoly over knowledge and what constitutes truth.  This process also requires appreciation and investment in the power of the intellect in problem solving. 

When intellectuals delink themselves from the chains of ethnic, partisan and personalised politics, they are able to see more clearly the possibilities of organising society differently.

Equally, when communities discover that their concerns might not be similar with those of the political elite, they build more horizontal, egalitarian and caring relationships. They demand accountability from their leaders irrespective of their ethnic, religious or geographical basis.

In this journey, the convergence of intellectual labour and community aspirations is likely to start a process of collectivised problem-solving unconstrained by the politics of identity, conspicuous consumption and plutocracy. But, again, who is listening?


Experts offer their views on who should be picked to the Cabinet

By BRIAN NGUGI
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President Uhuru Kenyatta unveiled part of his much-awaited Cabinet by picking several loyalists as well as experienced technocrats.

However, experts said that when picking the rest of his team, the President must also appoint experienced technocrats and his choices ought to be guided by inclusivity, competence and integrity if he is to secure a lasting legacy in his second and final term.

The remaining appointments must also be seen to unify a nation divided by last year’s prolonged electioneering.

President Kenyatta has said his administration will pay special attention to four key sectors he believes will drive Kenya’s economic agenda during his second term in office. The youth, he has said, will be at the centre of the four-pillar plan, dubbed “the Big Four”, that includes food security, affordable housing, manufacturing and affordable healthcare.

BALANCING ACT

Observers said the delay in announcing the full Cabinet line-up points to the delicate balancing act that he and Deputy President William Ruto face in picking a “dream team” on the back drop of the political realities informed by the 2022 succession.

Other insiders said the President is likely to bet on bold technocrats who will implement his vision for the country’s economic and social growth.

“He needs bold, efficient professionals who understand the inner workings of government and have a Matiang’i kind of effect,” said one of the President’s allies. He was referring to the work ethic of acting Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i who has been retained as a CS in the Interior docket.

According to Nairobi lawyer Charles Kanjama, the process of assembling a Cabinet should be guided by meritocracy and the need to heal the nation.

CORRUPTION

The University of Nairobi lecturer and economist Michael Chege said the President’s real challenge lies in crafting a team that will deal with the runaway corruption in government. 

“Repressing the prevailing trade imbalance, which is clearly unsustainable, and offering incentives that favour local manufacturing and consumption options should be prioritised,” said economic analyst Kamotho Njenga.

Similar sentiments were shared by Economist Anzetse Were, who said transforming manufacturing, agriculture and education should form Mr Kenyatta’s key planks.

Aly Khan Satchu said: “I would not be afraid to draw from a deeper talent pool. The likes of Michael Joseph and Bob Collymore spring to mind. They have delivered outstanding value to their shareholders and I am sure would do the same for Kenya Inc.”