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Friday, January 12th, 2018

 

Who says a Prime Minister will have a cure for what ails Kenya?

By MAGESHA NGWIRI
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During the festive season, I had a dream in which I overheard a senior Nasa member address the President as irreverently as usual: “Listen, Mr President, and I only call you President in quotes because we don’t recognise your legitimacy.

You stole our victory on August 8 last year, and we have the facts to prove it because we opened the servers. However, to show real leadership, you must initiate dialogue.

“If you don’t agree to do so, we shall swear in the people’s president and his deputy on January 30. We shall then form an alternative government complete with a Cabinet. After that, our people will demonstrate and resist. In the end, we may even secede, form a People’s Republic of Kenya, and leave the Mt Kenya region on its own. It’s your choice.” I woke up in a sweat only to discover it had been just a dream.

On matters political, I must confess, I’m a complete naïf. Nothing I read or hear these days seems to bear any logic, which is why I cannot understand the convoluted arguments that have been making the rounds.

It is difficult to see how, if you don’t recognise the president, you can then turn round and demand that he initiates dialogue.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with a national conversation to fix our politics as long as it is done with motives that are not merely self-serving.

What is wrong is to seek such a dialogue with too many prior demands and pre-determined outcomes, especially when those demands are not only nebulous but also populist.

Nobody would seriously object to talks meant to bring about national healing. Ensuring that future elections are never rigged is a noble goal.

But to expect that your rival will voluntarily agree to a conversation in which he will be forced to shoot himself in the foot is patently ridiculous. It won’t happen.

It was not until last week that Nasa co-principal Kalonzo Musyoka spelled out what his Alliance wants during the proposed talks.

POSSIBLE SOLUTION

At least, and that is where Mr Musyoka differs from the rest of opposition leaders, he came up with a possible solution.

What this country needs, he said during a newspaper interview, is to go back to the Bomas Draft which was rejected more than a decade ago.

To recap, back in 2005, the Bomas Draft was the first attempt to make a new Constitution.

It had many features, most of them forward-looking, others, especially those relating to the Executive, quite curious. Among the latter was one in which there was to be a President elected directly by the people, who would then appoint a prime minister elected by Parliament on the strength of numbers. To assist him would be two deputy prime ministers.

What was strange was that in this so-called hybrid system, the prime minister, as head of government, would pick all Cabinet secretaries and chair all Cabinet meetings.

CONSTITUTIONAL MOARCH

The President would then sit above the fray like a constitutional monarch, unbothered by the hurly-burly of actual governance. Strangely, Nasa was to make the same recommendations 12 years later in its manifesto.

The ostensible reason for preferring this model was that it would lend itself to inclusivity, meaning that leadership at the top would be shared among many ethnic communities and not just two or three.

That would be a very attractive proposition even today were it not for the devil in the details.

Many people didn’t then, and still can’t, understand how a person can go through all the rigours of an election and then cede all the powers he sought to a person elected by a few hundred.

BOMAS IDEA

If Mr Musyoka and others think the Bomas idea is worth revisiting, they should either go all the way for a parliamentary system in which a prime minister elected by the people wields all the power and the President is nominated as a symbol of unity, or stick to a purely presidential system with all its imperfections. A hybrid system as proposed at Bomas is as nonsensical as it was 13 years ago.

In the meantime, Nasa leaders must shelve the idea of swearing in Mr Raila Odinga and Mr Musyoka as president and deputy of  . . . nothing! Such melodrama will not cure what ails this country, for the medicine will inevitably turn out to be worse than the disease.


Kenyans must start early preparations to ensure smooth elections in 2022

By GABRIELLE LYNCH
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Most Kenyans are understandably bored of talking about elections. The 2017 elections dragged on; they cost lives; and they went hand-in-hand with a slowing down of the economy, which many are now struggling with as they try to buy food, pay school fees and meet their other needs.

At the same time, many are sceptical about the point of even holding elections when – in their opinion – the loser has been announced the victor in the last three presidential elections.

However, while many are bored of thinking and talking about elections, it is clear – as the final European Union election observation report recently stated – that, electoral reforms are needed and must “be carried out well in advance of any election”.

As the report notes, “the very late legal amendments and appointment of the leadership of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) before the 2017 elections” – with new commissioners only sworn in on 20 January 2017 – “put excessive pressure on the new election administration”.

Ideally, this process of reform will start with a change of commissioners and some members of the secretariat. In short, while it is far from ideal to change the IEBC’s leadership between every election, it is clear that the Supreme Court ruling and opposition boycott fatally undermined the commission’s credibility among many Kenyans and that a change of personnel is needed.

However, such a change would ideally happen in 2018 so that new officials can come into office and oversee the reform and planning processes.

In turn, while August 2022 – when the next polls are scheduled – may seem like a long way off, four and half years is actually a relatively short time to complete the various stages of reform required.

This includes the need to appoint new commissioners and members of the secretariat; conduct an audit of what worked in 2017 and what did not.

There is also need to propose and implement a series of reforms through broad consultation that includes key stakeholders.

CLEAN REGISTER

This is also the time to clean the register, procure the necessary technology and materials and conduct voter education. None of these stages are quick. As such, changes need to start happening this year if the country is not to find itself in a similar position to 2017 in 2022 when new commissioners came in far too late in the day.

The first stage – namely, the need to gain new IEBC commissioners and key officials – is difficult and time-consuming process.

First, the existing commissioners and key officials have to be persuaded to stand down. Second, there would have to be some agreement on how to appoint their replacements, which is complicated by the level of political polarisation and by the consideration that, ideally, this recruitment process should be done differently compared to last time. 

In 2016, new commissioners were appointed by a selection panel comprised of four members nominated by the parliamentary service commission and five religious leaders.

POLITICAL SUPPORT

However, while this process enjoyed broad political support, it was inherently problematic.

In short, the various political appointees seem to have blocked relatively strong candidates who they believed might be biased towards their opponents, and simultaneously tried to ensure that their preferred candidates succeeded.

This led to a bizarre situation where applicants with the highest scores were not appointed, while many of the final appointees had clear associations with one side or other of the political divide. This then fed through into divisions, or camps, within the IEBC, which came to the limelight after the Supreme Court’s annulment of President Kenyatta’s re-election in September 2017. 

Given this context, new selection and appointment procedures ideally need to be agreed to before the labourious selection and appointment process begins. But this would only be the beginning.

Decisions are required, among other things, on how planning is to be conducted in a way that six elections can be held across the country in a single day in a way that is largely free from technical problems. This is critical given the difficulty of distinguishing technical problems — that are simply the result of poor planning — from those that have a more Machiavellian intent and the capacity of the latter to undermine the entire electoral process.

 Lynch is a professor of Comparative Politics, University of Warwick, UK [email protected]; @GabrielleLynch6 


Without electoral reforms, the 2022 result is already known

By MAINA KIAI
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Here is free advice to those seriously contemplating running for the Presidency in 2022. To Kalonzo Musyoka, Musalia Mudavadi, Amason Kingi, Hassan Joho and Gideon Moi: If there is nothing done on electoral justice, uprooting and remaking the IEBC — from staff to commissioners — and ensuring that electoral laws are fair, just and promote competition, you have absolutely no chance.

You will waste time, money and energy for a cause that is already decided.

This is not about who has what votes and what sort of coalition you can cobble together. In the current scheme of things, actual numbers do not and will not matter. For who can affirm with confidence what votes were cast for who in August, given the fact that fake forms were reported in the court-led scrutiny? Who knows what the servers — famously in Europe — actually showed?

STRANGE FIGURES

And who knows how many actually voted in October, given the strange figures that belied the turnout we all witnessed live on television? All we have are figures from the IEBC, full of contradictions and confusion!

Fact is, the structure of the electoral system is seriously wanting, and produces numbers that are convenient for those in power. It is about the fact that Supreme Court orders can be ignored willy-nilly, without contempt charges or pushback from the Supreme Court.

And it is about the fact that IEBC — from its staff on up — remains a tool for those in power, as Roselyn Akombe and Wafula Chebukati confirmed so graphically for us.

Some of you may be thinking that given this situation, it may be better to accept the bribes of Cabinet seats and other ‘lucrative’ parastatal positions so you build a war chest for 2022. But be warned: If there is no progress on electoral reforms and justice this year, you can kiss your ambitions goodbye. Time is of essence.

DEVELOPMENT

Never you mind the self-serving counsel of the US ambassador that elections are over and we should focus on development or something else.

That he speaks the language of Jubilee speaks volumes about his motives. He wants calm, not justice.

He wants calm on his watch rather than the turbulence we need as a country to sort out our problems or they will come back and bite us even more painfully in a few years, after he has written his memoirs on how he “saved” Kenya.

And for those thinking that they can somehow wangle the running mate position in Jubilee in 2022, you better think again. Precisely because of the lack of electoral justice and because numbers count for naught, all the cards are in the hands of the person in defacto power today. Period.

ELECTORAL JUSTICE

This is the person who will decide who the running mate will be, conscious of the fact that without electoral justice and deep reforms, the results are as good as done. So for the Mt Kenya mafia fighting over whether to support the status quo because it may lead to the running mate position, you are dreaming. And for those in Western Kenya salivating for the position and hoping that that will cement their status in their home regions, you are lost.

Essentially, the situation we are in is eerily similar to where we were at in the 1990s when Daniel Moi tossed around the Vice Presidency (VP) position as a bait to potential rivals to remain in Kanu with him.

So there was Simeon Nyachae in 1992 convinced that he was the anointed one, but coming to naught after he had messed his credibility with the opposition.

INHERIT PRESIDENCY

There was the “Central Province Development Group” (where the present Attorney General was a valuable member) bending over to ensure that George Saitoti was retained as VP so he could inherit the presidency. There was a vast array of inconsequential politicians in Western Kenya giving it their all to be seen as loyal so as to get the nod.

Ultimately, without electoral justice, we can be sure that the return of the Moi era will be complete in 2022 together with the corrosive corruption and repression that those of us born before 1980 know so well. Pity we are the minority now!

Maina Kiai is a human rights activist and co-di- rector at InformAction. [email protected]


Why severally and several times have separate meanings

By PHILIP OCHIENG
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If the word “severally” existed in English, it would be an adverb meaning “several times”. But, as I have warned here many times, “several times”, not severally , is the English expression. Yet the word “severally” remains common in all of East Africa’s English-language media.

In East Africa, the culprits include even individuals whose positions in the media and throughout the education system should long ago have compelled them to tame completely the Western European language called English. For the word severally remains wrongly used especially on the pages of East Africa’s print media.

However, I should remind all my readers throughout the lacustrine region that it was of our own political volition that, at independence, we (our nationalist leaders) unanimously latched onto English as our medium of classroom instruction and intellectual engagement outside the classroom.

LITERATURE

Yet on page 20 of Nairobi’s own Daily Nation of Saturday, January 6, a scholarly columnist wrote as follows: “I told the students that the professor (had) taught me modern poetry and (had) severally mentioned ‘modernism’ in T. S. Eliot’s poetry…”  I freely confess, however, that, in that context, the word “severally” is the scholar’s. It is not my own .

Said he: “I told the students that the professor (had) taught me modern poetry and (had) severally mentioned ‘modernism’ in (the poetry of) T. S. Eliot…” That is part of the problem that faces us from our having latched onto English as our medium of instruction and of our daily political and cultural engagement.

For what passes as literature on East Africa’s university campuses remains nothing more than British — often just English — literature (as opposed even to Irish, Scottish and Welsh).

SINGLE ENTITY

That shows how insular were those Europeans who introduced literature to all of us in high school as part of our intellectual grounding and discourse.

The point, however, is this: If you mean “several times”, please say “several times”, not severally. For — let me warn again for the umpteenth time — though severally exists, it does not mean “several times”. No, severally only means “separately”, “separate(d) from”, “severed from”, “apart from”, “one after the other”, suchlike.

The adjective several and the adverb severally, then, refer to the situation of something or some idea having been severed — that is to say separated — from something else into a number of other things.

GREATER NUMBER

It is in that way, then, that something becomes several things, namely, a greater number of things.

What was originally just a single entity has been divided into a number of entities. What was originally just one has been severed or separated and become several things. It is important to grasp this point because the word several gives most East Africans — even those engaged in newspapers and other media — no end of grief.

Thus to sever and to severe mean to divide something into several parts. Thus the two verbs , to severe and to separate, have the same etymological root, namely, to divide into several parts.


Teachers’ training colleges need reforms

By KEN NDORI
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As the country rolls out the new education curriculum, the massive failure of the 2016 P1 teacher trainees continues to elicit mixed reactions. Ironically, this comes in the wake of yet another dismal performance by the 2017 KCSE candidates. It is both shocking and worrying that more than 5,000 trainees, out of the 12,000 that sat the examination in 2016, failed or were made to repeat.

It is a high time stakeholders in the education sector sought answers into what ails the teacher training in Kenya.

The World Development Report, 2018, titled, ‘Learning to Realise Education’s Promise’ paints a grim picture of the preparedness of our teacher training colleges in terms of the programmes they offer, the quality of students they admit and even the competence of the teachers who finally qualify to teach in schools.

According to the report, most Standard Two pupils in Kenya cannot perform simple reading or mathematics tasks. Very few public primary school teachers can assess children’s abilities and evaluate students’ progress.

CURRICULUM IMPLEMENTERS

Teachers are both developers and main curriculum implementers. They address the set goals in education, the needs and the interests of the learners by creating experiences from where students can learn.

They design, enrich and modify the curriculum to suit individual learner’s characteristics and failure to adequately prepare and this is likely to herald a false start to the new 2-6-6-3 system since the kind of teachers a system produces largely determines not only their effectiveness in handling learners but also impacts heavily on their self-confidence when they get into practice.

The teachers in the new dispensation will be required to have both subject and pedagogical knowledge.

In addition, the teachers should be ready to adopt a problem-solving approach in teaching as opposed to a topical approach, aim at becoming more creative and innovative, effectively make use of technology in their teaching; in general, the teachers need to be fast learners to keep tabs with the proposed new curriculum if they wish to remain relevant, productive and efficient in the new dispensation.

It is majorly during their training that all these can be acquired and should first be reflected in their individual performance at the end of their training.

COMPETENT TEACHERS

In order to produce effective and competent teachers, teacher training programmes need to be harmonised across all the institutions.

The relevance of teacher education programmes, poor recruitment attitudes of student-teacher trainees, the training period, the availability of resources for teacher training and learning, the relevance of teacher education curriculum and the knowledge on ICT equipment and skills should also be addressed.

In 2016, school-based teacher trainees were the most affected by the poor results.

Though these programmes were meant to ensure teacher trainees are able to access training at their convenience, a review of the appropriateness of such programmes needs to be done because some of them could be more into business in total disregard of the quality of teachers they produce at the end of the two year period of training.

Without appropriate focus on the quality of teacher training, effective implementation and success of the new curriculum will turn into a pipe dream. The quality of teachers creates all the difference in learning outcomes. Proper recruitment and continuous professional development strategies must be put in place because when all is said and done, only teachers who have gone through adequate training can play an effective role in defining and implementing the curriculum.

 The writer is a teacher of English and Literature at Mvita Boys High School in Mombasa County. [email protected]


Take urgent measures to address inequality

By GABRIEL DOLAN
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Youth unemployment in Kenya stands at 40 per cent, yet two sectors of notable expansion are religion and security.

Every street corner thunders out messages of repentance, redemption and a prosperity gospel. Preachers learn the trade in one church, then purchase a suit, an enormous loudspeaker, a few second-hand mabati sheets and you have a church.

I guess this would be called a Small enterprise in the business world.

Security companies have greatly expanded too. Currently, there are over 3,500 registered companies employing up to 400,000 guards; that figure is four times as high as the regular Kenya police. The continuous growth in local churches and private security firms is perhaps the greatest indicator of inequality in our society.

Churches that promise miracles and wealth are found in the poorest areas where their message has the greatest appeal.

Security companies operate in the wealthiest ends of town to protect businesses and property. Put another way, security companies protect the wealth of those who have acquired it, while religion comforts those who survive on a hand-to-mouth existence.

This is true not only of Kenya but even in the developed world. There are 5.2 million security guards in the USA, while in a more equal society like Sweden the number is four times less per 1 million of the population.

Kenya is an unequal society, frequently ranked third behind Brazil and South Africa in terms of disparity of wealth.

If in doubt, just remember that MCAs earn 10 to 15 times more than the teacher to whom you have entrusted your child’s education.

EXECUTIVES

County Executives earn 20 times more than clinical officers and company executives often take home 100 times more than their employees.

So what is being done to redress this horrible injustice? The country is awash with microfinance organisations but there is not a shred of evidence to prove that microfinance has helped to reduce poverty.

In fact microfinance often increases personal debt burdens even in countries like Bangladesh where they are lauded.

The various Uwezo funds for youth and women have just been cash cows for well-connected individuals that teach young people to be dishonest and unaccountable.

Well-managed cash transfer programmes provide a much better stimulus to local economies. Jaindi Kisero recently wrote about the impact that such a programme made in one community in Nyanza.

MONTHLY STIPEND

The provision of a monthly stipend to senior citizens and the disabled is a positive move but needs to expand and the amount to be increased.

But the disparity in wages is what needs urgent attention. One proposal would be to increase the minimum wage.

Currently, the average wage in Kenya is K144 per month. The median wage is K80. Now what if we were to regulate that 50 per cent of the median wage would be the minimum wage? Then every worker would be guaranteed Sh40,000 per month.

This would not only be just but would circulate more money and stimulate local economies. It would also reduce the crime rate and provide jobs other than security. Many may argue that the country can’t afford it, but can we afford to continue in such an unequal society?


Little pleasures of driving DP Ruto up the political wall

By KWAMCHETSI MAKOKHA
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Tales of trouble in Kenya’s political paradise are grossly exaggerated, and in no way a reflection of the hanky-dory relations in government.

Deputy President William Ruto is still beaming like a Cheshire cat, relieved to be excused from matching the President’s shirt and tie at last week’s naming of the half Cabinet, as was the case in May 2013.

As the President’s heir apparent Mr Ruto is being put through the paces of measuring his temperament by subjecting him to stress tolerance tests in preparation for the big job.

There are those who hope to aggravate him into showing his true colours but he has a template in the conduct of former President Daniel arap Moi whose cloying Uriah Heep humility lasted 11 years when he was Number 2 to President Kenyatta I.

POPULARITY

Mr Uhuru Kenyatta’s rock-star popularity, which saw him score 98.3 per cent of the vote in the repeat presidential election of October 26, 2017, has dimmed the prospects of internal revolt to near darkness.

Jubilee started the current political term with more votes than the 50 per cent needed to govern; and a super majority in both houses of the legislature and a commanding majority in the Council of Governors.

The wild popularity of government would not tempt a fool to rally rebellion against it whether or not the prices of kerosene, electricity or food went through the roof.

People who want to hug and kiss the government for the great comforts of life in Kenya are only prevented by difficulty of wrapping arms around it or performing other acts of intimacy.

SUBSIDISED

Ugali, the maize meal staple of Kenyan tables, is no longer subsidised and farmers are smiling all the way to the bank as the maize market matures for reaping. There are thousands in slave jobs granted rest away from work for months as firms take a well deserved break from business, and overjoyed monkeys are tripping over electricity wires to save power.

Anyone who believes Mr Ruto should pick appointees to government who will help him secure the presidency through election would be coming to the party a little late.

With the benefit of hindsight, had Mr Ruto rigged Jubilee Party’s nominations last year to plant his sycophants in the National Assembly and Senate, he would be fearsome.

Mr Uhuru Kenyatta would be serving as president entirely at his deputy’s pleasure, oblivious of when the power plug would eject from the socket.

IMPEACHMENT

An impeachment motion at the midpoint of Mr Kenyatta’s second term would be one of the many options on the deputy president’s table, especially if there were crowds with pitchforks and slashers seeking to band with those demanding electoral justice.

None of the nightmare scenarios about the country becoming restive because of hunger, corruption, division and exclusion will pan out and Mr Kenyatta will be allowed to serve out the full length of his term, putting the final touches to his legacy.

Since Mr Ruto did not secure any numbers for himself in the National Assembly, in the Senate or the county assemblies, he has no choice but offer Mr Kenyatta his full and undivided loyalty. His position is more precarious because his people are not populating powerful independent offices in the Judicial Service Commission to pick the next Chief Justice; or the directorate of public prosecutions.

These tests are useful for the country to gauge if Mr Ruto has enough humility to follow without question, the selflessness to support without expecting reward and the patience to suffer without complaining.

 The writer is a Programme Advisor, Journalists for Justice. The views expressed here are his own and do not reflect those of JFJ. [email protected]


Let’s back Safari Rally bid

By EDITORIAL
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Long before our world-beating athletes made international headlines, Kenya was already famous in global sport, thanks to the Safari Rally.

Started in 1953 as the East African Coronation Safari Rally to celebrate Queen Elizabeth’s ascent to the British throne, the Safari Rally quickly developed into the most difficult yet quite popular round of the World Rally Championship (WRC).

But cash flow and other organisational problems saw the famous race withdrawn from the WRC calendar in 2003, much to the chagrin of motorsport enthusiasts.

RACING CALENDAR

However, the government and Kenya Motorsports Federation (KMSF) have launched an aggressive bid to have the rally back onto the global racing calendar by 2020, with Sh250 million voted to drive this project.

A WRC Safari Rally Project team was gazetted in November by the Sports Cabinet Secretary.

That we successfully hosted the IAAF World Under-18 Athletics Championships in Nairobi last July was proof that Kenya can organise global competitions.

That is why we must rally behind the team headed by KMSF chairman Phineas Kimathi to see the Safari Rally back onto the WRC roster by 2020. This will also market Kenya’s sports and tourism potential.


Clear grey areas in school bus directive

By EDITORIAL
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Public policy and debates on education often revolve around access, quality and performance in national examinations.

Scarcely do the discussions focus on the safety of learners in schools, except when misfortunes like fire occur. With renewed focus on enhancing access and transition, it is imperative to review the social contexts under which schools operate.

On Friday, acting Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i issued a number of directives intended to consolidate gains in revitalising the education sector, among them the safety of learners.

Among others, he directed that all school buses must be painted in a uniform colour — yellow — by March to distinguish them from other vehicles. The objective is to give them identity and make them recognisable, which makes it easy to assist them whenever there is a problem.

STRICT POLICIES

However, school principals have raised the question of cash for repainting the buses because they do not have votehead for that.

Given the strict policies on fees and use of government capitation, the Education ministry should explain to schools how to raise the money for that expenditure. Perhaps, the ministry should allocate some funds for that and use relevant government institutions to do the work.

In the same breadth, all school buses will not be allowed to move at night, strictly operating between 6am to 6pm; which directive reinforces the ban already placed on public service vehicles by the National Transport and Safety Authority. There is wisdom in discouraging night travels because they are fraught with perils.

We have seen school buses involved in road accidents at night. But that does not mean it is the panacea to mayhem on the road.

TRAFFIC JAMS

Of concern, however, is a situation where the buses may be caught in traffic long jams and unable to reach their destinations before the designated time — do the buses stop immediately? And what happens to the students? What happens to school buses in Nairobi, which are often caught in the perennial city gridlock?

The ministry should issue proper guidelines to clarify the grey areas and make it possible for the schools to enforce the directives.


We need to talk about money and how to ensure that we remain financially stable

By BURINI GLADYS
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Growing up, what is your most memorable financial lesson? At the end of last year, we were bemused to learn that you can quickly go from being a millionaire football player to an everyday man struggling to make a living. Would a little bit of financial literacy have leveraged the footballer to be a wise spender and investor?

Regardless of your level of income, you need to have an interest in your finances. It is beyond risible that you would work meticulously and tirelessly only to lack interest in where your money is going.

Finances might be one of the disconcerting areas in life to address, but unfortunately we owe our current and future selves financial security.

Unknown expenditure is one of the prime reasons that lead us into financial constraints. Persistently spending without keenly scrutinising what you have is not sustainable.

Eventually, it leads into debt which, sadly, progresses to borrowing, yet all this can be avoided. We do not need forensic accounting, we just need to pay a little bit more attention to what we have, track our spending and, where possible, save and invest.

The difference between debt and an income is a budget. You might be surprised some of the little nuggets you spend on take up a lot of your finances cumulatively over a year.

The good Lord has also called us to invest and save. Remember the guy with five talents? “Master, you delivered to me five talents; here, I have made five talents more.” His master said to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much.”

After keenly managing our money, it is of paramount importance that we come to terms with our financial world.

None of us can afford to be duped into false, pretentious and non-existent investments with supposedly very high overnight returns.

What is a pyramid scheme? What is the Central Bank of Kenya rate? What is the savings rate? 

INVESTMENTS

Despite mobile money fast becoming the most preferred banking method; it is worth walking into your bank from time to time.

Financial advisors are at your disposal; consult them and learn which investments are worth your hard earned money with favourable returns.

There is no excuse for financial insecurity or indebtedness because of lack of knowledge. Do not assume knowledge either. If there are financial terms or conditions that are unclear, ask for clarification. When it comes to finance, there is too much at stake for us to be blasé.

In this vein, we should also take a keen interest in our national finances. We elected our leaders and entrusted them to use our taxes for our benefit, but we should also be holding them to account.

What is your county government’s budget and expenditure? How much is your constituency development fund and how has it been allocated?

We cannot always put in on the media to keep us informed. The onus is on us; after all how else will you measure the success of your leaders and know whether to re-elect them back into office?

Nationally, we should also be aware of how our economy is growing. What did the World Bank predict as Kenya’s 2018 Gross Domestic Product growth?

This is essentially the total value of everything we will produce in the country. Is it better this year and if not what can we do to improve the projections?

If the growth is slow and continues to reduce, this reduction is a recession. What if the economic growth continues on the negative? This leads to a massive dip in the economy, which is depression.

Then we should seek a high growth rate, right? No, this could lead to inflation, which leads to a rise in the price of goods and services, increasing our overall cost of living while reducing our standard of living. It all comes full circle; know your GDP, it affects your finances.

To answer the questions, the predicted GDP growth is 5.5 percent, the Central Bank rate is 10 percent, the savings rate is 6.43 percent and inflation is at 4.5 percent.

And so, if we spent just an eighth of the daily time we invest in politics on our personal and national finances, we would all be financially stable.

 The writer works with international businesses on commercial litigation. [email protected]