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Thursday, July 19th, 2018

 

Simplify building approval regime

By EDITORIAL
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There is some really good news for homeowners and the many others aspiring to free themselves from the clutches of greedy landlords and join the club. President Uhuru Kenyatta has assented to a Bill allowing a 15 per cent tax relief for Kenyans wishing to buy houses under what is aptly dubbed the Affordable Housing Scheme. Incidentally, this marks the beginning of the government’s ambitious plan to build 500,000 houses by 2022.

Though generally seen as part of the President’s effort to cement his legacy as he serves his second and final five-year term that also ends in 2022, it’s a worthy public goal. If the President achieves his personal goal and, in the process, helps others to get a roof over their heads, what would be wrong with that? This is also the first tangible proof of his commitment to the implementation of his ‘Big Four’ agenda. Its pillars are affordable housing, food security, universal health coverage and increasing the contribution of the manufacturing sector to 15 per cent of the gross domestic product.

HIGH STANDARDS

Estimates show that out of the 150,000 new housing units required yearly in the urban centres, only 35,000 are ever constructed. In the rural areas, many people live in hovels — not because of some traditional fascination but since they cannot afford anything better.

But even as we welcome the tax relief, there is a need to review the obstacles to the building of houses, especially in the towns.

One of the most glaring handicaps is the stringent approvals regime. While vetting is essential to maintain high standards and enhance safety, some of the building requirements and by-laws by the national and county governments need to be eased. Some of the demands on the people seeking to invest in housing end up creating room for graft as the officials granting the approvals profiteer. Enabling more Kenyans to own their homes is a worthy goal.


Scam gives us window to reform Kenya Power

By EDITORIAL
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The arrest and prosecution of top managers at the Kenya Power marks a landmark in the process of cleaning the organisation. The firm has an unedifying history characterised by corruption, plunder, poor service delivery and inflated bills.

As the trial of the top officials proceeds before the court, the concern of Kenyans is: What next for the corporation? Clearly, the new team appointed this week to hold the forte has an arduous task ahead. For us, the immediate challenge for the new management is to stabilise electricity prices, which have gone off the roof and made the commodity inaccessible to the rank and file of the population.

BUREAUCRACY

Electricity used to be simply unaffordable due to huge connection fees and rigid bureaucracy that attended to the process. That changed in recent years, however, with the aggressive campaign to light up rural areas. But since the beginning of the year, the consumers have been subjected to high and irregular electricity charges and, despite assurances that corrective measures would be taken, nothing much has happened.

Initially, when there was public outrage over the exorbitant prices, the government intervened and the rates went down. But that was not for long. Many consumers continue to receive outrageous bills. The tragedy is, when consumers complain, they are told to pay first and ask questions later.

MISMANAGEMENT

As it has come to pass, the astronomical bills is the consequence of gross mismanagement of the power sector. Kenya Power has been engaging in grossly unethical practices. Reports show that the utility has been operating exploitative contracts with independent power generators, who are paid standing fees irrespective of whether or not they supply electricity.

This malpractice began in the 1990s, when there were severe droughts that adversely affected hydro-power production. The government was forced to contract independent power producers, who generated electricity using petroleum fuels. But this has continued even when the weather and other variables seemed favourable. The net result is the company paying for contracts it does not need and then loading the cost on consumers.

INFLATED PRICES

The irregularities include procurement of substandard equipment, such as transformers and voltage stabilisers. In the same vein, the corporation is replacing the wooden poles with concrete ones — which looks justifiable, because the latter is more durable, but masks another avenue for plunder through inflated prices.

Kenya Power must be transformed — and this requires reviewing and rationalising existing contracts, improving electricity supply and, importantly, regularising consumer bills.


Counties cry foul over new plans for special fund

By BERNARD MWINZI
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Governors from marginalised counties are up in arms over plans by the national government to change how the Equalisation Fund is shared by amending the law to include other counties. They also want the National Treasury to immediately release Sh14 billion owed to them, saying continued hoarding of the money is denying communities their constitutional right to the development fund.

Mandera Governor Ali Roba, who is the chairman of the Frontier Counties Development Council, said plans to expand the scope of the Fund were unconstitutional and, therefore, illegal.

FINANCE LAWS

“We are sensing danger through policy reforms using tyranny of numbers in the National Assembly to change what is constitutionally due to marginalised counties by changing the law,” said Mr Roba, who is currently attending a National Governors Association summit in New Mexico, US.

He was referring to plans to change public finance laws through Parliament to widen the scope of the beneficiaries of the Equalisation Fund, currently only available to the 14 frontier counties of Turkana, Lamu, Mandera, Wajir, Marsabit, Samburu, West Pokot, Tana River, Narok, Kwale, Garissa, Kilifi, Taita Taveta and Isiolo, to include other poor regions.

SPARKED DISPUTE

In May this year, President Uhuru Kenyatta gave the clearest indication yet that the Fund will no longer be the preserve of the frontier counties when he announced that slum dwellers in major towns will soon be included in the list of beneficiaries.

A proposal to create the Ward Development Fund through the 2018 County Wards Development Equalisation Bill, with an estimated annual budget of Sh24 billion, has already sparked a dispute among leaders, but President Kenyatta believes widening the scope of the Fund will yield better results.

PRECARIOUS CONDITION

“The urban poor, mainly those in informal settlements, live in precarious conditions and also need to be accorded equal consideration as other marginalised communities in the rural areas,” President Kenyatta said.

The Equalisation Fund is established under the Constitution as 0.5 per cent of all revenue collected by the national government every year, calculated on the basis of the most recent audited accounts of revenue received, as approved by the National Assembly. The money is earmarked for the provision of basic services such as water, roads, health facilities, and electricity.

But, in the middle of these plans to expand the scope of the Fund, the National Treasury has admitted that it has not been remitting money to the 14 counties that currently qualify for the disbursements.


Legal conference a great learning opportunity

By NICHOLAS SUMBA
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Nairobi having won the hosting rights for this year’s African Bar Association (AFBA) conference is a golden opportunity for the Kenyan legal fraternity to learn and benchmark with colleagues from Africa and the diaspora.

Judicial officers, eminent scholars, senior advocates and experts in various fields will be resource persons for the July 22-28 conference at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) whose theme is “Africa’s Socio-Economic and Political Future: The African Union’s Agenda 2063 in Perspective”.

DEVELOPMENT

The keynote speaker being Dr Benedict Oramah, president and council chairman of Egypt’s Afrexim Bank, an AU banking partner, there could never have been a better opportunity to dissect the continent’s economic and political challenges.

The theme of the 2017 AFBA Port Harcourt, Nigeria, conference having been dissecting the legal and regulatory framework for doing business in Africa, with the keynote speaker the former Tanzanian president, Dr Jakaya Kikwete, this year’s is primed to directly address the core issues hindering Africa’s development.

CONSTITUTIONALISM

The discussion is themed on Africa’s socio-economic and political future as tied up with the AU’s 2063 vision and agenda, the continental body’s achievements and its relevance in as far as Africa’s intertwined socio-economic and political challenges are concerned.

The AU’s capacity to cease to be a powerless entity would be an issue for great debate.

For the Kenyan lawyers, the meeting presents a great opportunity to break legal barriers, do limitless networking and explore new areas in the study and practice of law in various jurisdictions. There are enticing topics on human rights and constitutionalism and, for the women lawyers and child rights activists, a separate forum for the African woman and for children’s rights.

There are also sessions on the law of the mining and extractive industry, intellectual property and even sports — all new frontiers for the Kenyan lawyer. The African business round table, featuring the continent’s business community, will also be on the programme, and a bar-bench forum for magistrates, judges and advocates.

The conference also presents an opportunity to showcase Kenya’s tourism sector, beauty, great hospitality and potential.

It is commendable that the new office of the Law Society of Kenya (LSK), led by Mr Allen Gichuhi, immediately on assumption of office, saw in itself the compelling need to partner with the AFBA to enable the hosting of the conference. The AFBA-LSK partnership has enabled full sponsorship for 50 young lawyers to attend the conference, giving them the much-needed exposure.

JURISPRUDENCE

The Nairobi conference should therefore form the benchmark for the 2019 AFBA Cairo, conference in Egypt and should be an opportunity for the Kenyan lawyer to transcend beyond the Kenyan borders in a learning expedition. As the doors of the conference open at the KICC in Nairobi this Sunday, the Kenyan legal fraternity should be expected to attend in droves as they hunger to learn more so that the level of jurisprudence can continue to be developed in tandem with international standards and best practices.

Mr Sumba, advocate of the High Court of Kenya, is the international liaison manager for AFBA. [email protected]


Teachers in for July windfall as TSC starts phase two of CBA

By OUMA WANZALA
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Teachers in lower cadres will from next week get their full pay increase while those in special schools will have their allowances collapsed and consolidated with their salaries.

The Teachers Service Commission (TSC) indicated that it would stop paying the Sh10,000 special school allowance from July 1, 2018 in a circular dated July 16. The circular was addressed to country directors, education officials and heads of institutions on the implementation of the second phase of the Sh54 billion collective bargaining agreement (CBA) 2017-2021.

About 160,000 teachers in lower cadres are set to benefit from the full pay, while 3,000 teachers in special schools will have their allowances consolidated with their salaries. However other allowances such as house, hardship, commuter, annual leave and disability guide allowance of Sh15,000 per month will continue to be paid to teachers.

INCREMENTAL DATES

“Payment of applicable allowances to institutional administrators who have been upgraded will be gradual within the implementation period,” said TSC chief executive officer Nancy Macharia. She added that the circular applies to all teachers in service as at July 1 2018.

“Teachers converting into the new salary scales will retain their incremental dates. Annual salary increment for all teachers will continue to apply as provided for in the code of regulations for teachers (2015).”

She said the second phase, set to benefit 312,060 teachers at a cost of Sh18billion, would be concluded on June 30, 2019 while the remaining teachers will have their salaries deal implemented by 2021. The first phase, whose implementation started July last year, cost Sh13.7billion.

The circular on the second phase of the implementation is copied to Cabinet secretaries Amina Mohamed (Education), Henry Rotich (National Treasury), Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua, among others. The increase is being effected in this month’s salary.

FOUR PHASES

In the increase, Chief Principal in Job Group R (D5), currently earning Sh148,360, will now take home Sh152,937, while the lowest paid Chief Principal in Job Group Q, will earn Sh111,201, up from Sh102,807.

The lowest paid teacher (primary teacher II) currently taking home between Sh19,224 and Sh24,250 will now take home between Sh21,756 and Sh27,195.

The implementation in two phases is for teachers in job groups H and J while teachers in the upper cadre, who are mostly in administrative positions, will have the increase implemented in four phases.

On house allowance, teachers in Nairobi will get between Sh6750 and Sh50,000, those in Mombasa, Kisumu, Malindi,Kilifi, Lamu, Kwale and Naivasha will get between Sh4,500 and Sh35,000.

Those in Nyeri, Eldoret, Kericho, Kakamega, Kisii, Embu, Nanyuki, Nakuru, Lodwar and Garissa will get between Sh3,850 and Sh25,000 while teachers in other county headquarters and all other areas will get between Sh3,200 and Sh20,000.

PERFORMANCE APPRAISAL

Hardship allowances will be between Sh6,600 and Sh38,100, commuter allowance will be between Sh4,000 and Sh16,000 while annual leave allowance will be between Sh4,000 and Sh10,000. Under the CBA, Senior Master (III) falls under T Scale 9, Senior Master (II) under T Scale 10, while Senior Master (I) is T Scale 11.

For deputy school heads, the Deputy Principal (IV) falls under T Scale 10, Deputy Principal (III) under T Scale (11), and Deputy Principal (II) in T Scale 12 as Deputy Principal (I) falls under T Scale 13. The new TSC grading structure ranges from (B5 to D5), that is T Scale 5 to 15.

The CBA also provides for performance appraisal of teachers by their employer, which Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) is now opposing. TSC and unions had agreed that there would be  annual performance evaluations for all teachers in its employment.

IMPROVE ACCOUNTABILITY

Knut has threatened to mobilise teachers across the country for a strike starting September 1, if TSC does not withdraw the contentious Teacher Performance Appraisal and Development (TPAD) tool. Secretary-General Wilson Sossion said the use of TPAD had a  negative impact on teaching in schools.

“Teachers are spending a lot of time away from their stations as they have to visit cyber cafés to download, fill and submit forms to the employer instead of imparting knowledge on learners,” he said.

However, Mrs Macharia said the rating has improved accountability.


Cartels run the show at city’s main bus stage

By BRIAN OKINDA
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By COLLINS OMULO
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Machakos Country Bus station is a stage just like any other in Nairobi only more famous, right?

Wrong. Unknown to many, this bus terminus has sort of a semi-autonomous government complete with hierarchies and laws. Failure to follow the laws, just like with a government, will land you in trouble.

Here, there are a group of individuals who wield power and their word is law. They are out of sight, rarely spotted at their ‘fiefdom’. They operate incognito.

The infamous bus stage has a hierarchy of power through which tasks are executed by those working there. The chain of command runs from the lowest ranks — made up of proxies — to high-ranking individuals, only referred to as wadosi (bosses). Under them, are managers who report to them, not in words like Cabinet secretaries report to the President, but in cash.

Other than the agents who pick passengers outside the stage and rush them to those issuing tickets, who in turn book them into the buses, the station also has the ticket managers, who dispatch the tickets, the stage’s managers and another higher authority. They determine who enters the station, who gets a parking slot, for how long, how much is paid.

Failure to bow at the altar of these cartels is sacrilege punishable by ostracisation?

For a new bus owner seeking ‘admission’ to the station, it wouldn’t be a hard task, according to Joseph Wanjohi (not his real name), a manager at the stage. “You first register with any of the managers whom you can be introduced to by either the agents or ticketers. They will then advise you on the rules and directives to follow,” he says.

According to Mr Wanjohi, the manager will then assign the bus a “hole” (slot), where the vehicle will be parked in the duration it waits for passengers to board for which the owner will have to pay an amount ranging from Sh1,000 to Sh2,000, depending on the size of the vehicle. To an extent, the route it is assigned, given that different routes are perceived to have different passenger numbers.

The paid amount usually covers for a single day’s slot allocation since many of the buses travel long distances and hardly ever make more than one trip per day. “We can also help the bus owner to join any of the transport saccos working here since it is a government directive that transporters ought to belong to a sacco,” adds Mr Wanjohi.

Mr Charles Munyau, an agent, notes that the stage managers are the ultimate authority on the ground. “It is only them that we can communicate with in case an issue needs addressing. We only know there are other authorities, who, however, we only here about, but not see,” he says, adding that while it is true many of those working there are unruly, there are also honest individuals.

Matatu Owners Association  Chairman Simon Kimutai points the accusatory finger at the county government, which he feels should take control of the bus stage.

“Where on the planet would you find passengers being harassed and forced into vehicles they hadn’t planned to use? It probably is only here,” says Mr Kimutai who also accuses police of laxity.

But the county government says security is a challenge as they are not as equipped as the national police.

However, Central Police Station boss Robinson Thuku disagrees with Mr Kimutai, saying stringent measures are already in place to ensure security. He says brokers and agents are in the station illegally and should not be allowed to harass travellers.


Pharmacy board recalls batches of pneumonia drug  

By ANGELA OKETCH
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The Pharmacy and Poisons Board has recalled a drug used to prevent and treat pneumonia.

The board said the drug, Gentamicin, administered through an injection, causes severe headache. The drug is always given in combination with others to treat bacterial infections.

Gentamicin injection is commonly used to treat serious and potentially life-threatening conditions like chest infections, urinary tract infections and infected wounds or burns.

INVESTIGATIONS

Dr Fred Siyoi, the board’s chief executive officer said they have recalled specific batches of the drug including Gentamed injection batch numbers 170611 and 170603, Caregenta-80 injection batch number 171160 and Dawagenta injection batch number 170754 all expiring in 2020.

“We would like to advice consumers and health professionals that the recall of the four batches of drugs is being done in consultation with market authorisation holders. We are undertaking investigations to ascertain the suspected adverse drug reactions on specific batches,” Dr Siyoi said in a statement.

NATIONWIDE

The specific batches were manufactured in 2017 by different manufacturers namely Cspc Ouyi Pharmaceutical company limited, Shandong Shenglu and Shandong Xier Kangtai.

The move raises questions how the drugs ended up on the shelves and for how long they have been on sale in Kenyan chemists.

According to a circular to the counties health departments seen by the Nation, the board had instructed the counties to immediately confiscate the mentioned products.

Pharmacies that sell the drugs all over the country, were asked to submit to the board the quantities that their facilities had as well as the suppliers of the said medicine.

This, Dr Siyoi said was to make it easy to recollect the drugs available nationwide.

WITHDRAWAL

Apart from the severe headache mentioned by the board, the drugs are also known to cause hearing loss, kidney problems, little or painful urination, weak or shallow breathing, severe stomach pain and diarrhoea.

In all pharmacies, patients are always required to have a prescription from a doctor in order to get the injection which costs Sh2,000. The patient has to get 10 injections to clear the bacterial infection such as pneumonia and meningitis among others.

But with the recalling of the specific batches, the board has assured Kenyans that there will be no shortage of the medicine.

“We want to assure the consumers that no shortage is expected as this recall is batch specific and not a complete withdrawal of the products from the market,” said Dr Siyoi.


Pollution in Lake Simbi Nyaima sends away flamingos

By BARACK ODUOR
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Lake Simbi Nyaima in Karachuonyo, Homa Bay County is known for seasonal flamingos. But pollution and human encroachment could end all that.

Lately, locals say flamingoes have stopped flocking the lake as farming, sand harvesting and other human activities opens up the lake to pollution.

The change has irked environmentalists who are blaming residents and authorities for neglecting the lake.

Mr Willys Okeyo, chairman of Aluora Makare, a local conservation lobby in the county, has blamed residents and state agencies for the pollution.

HARMFUL EFFECTS

“Residents should be blamed for the land encroachment near the lake and pollution choking the lake ecosystem. The lake risks losing its tourism status,” says Mr Okeyo.

The National Environment Management Authority says it has a plan to protect the lake from harmful effects but it is yet to implement the plan.

Homa Bay County Director John Maniafu told the Nation the plan involves ensuring that residents do not empty waste into the lake and that farming takes place away from the shores.

“Our plan is  to boost eco-tourism for communities living around the lake,” says Mr Maniafu.

The local Luo community believes was formed due to a rainmaker’s wrath. In Dholuo, “Simbi Nyaima” means the village that sank. Some locals believe it came about a result of the villagers’ greed and arrogance.

CRATER LAKE

Legend has it that there once existed a community on the site. The village, however, disappeared in a violent storm when residents refused to shelter and feed an old woman who sought refuge there, creating a large depression that formed Lake Simbi Nyaima.

Mythical as it is, geologists say it is a crater lake formed about six centuries ago as a result of earthquakes accompanied by volcanic eruptions.

Lake Simbi Nyaima is a seasonal home of migrating flamingos.

They arrive from lakes in the Rift Valley, such as Nakuru, Baringo, Natron and Elementaita, every year.

SPECIALISED DIET

According to Mr Okeyo, flamingos require a very highly-specialised diet and habitat.

“The increasing rise in the water levels due floods adversely affects the ecosystem of the lake. On the other hand, during the dry season when the lake recedes, drought and pollution destroy the flamingos’ food,” said Mr Okeyo.

“Promoting eco-tourism within the region and implementing measures to reduce pollution can make Lake Simbi a more hospitable habitat for these exotic birds is key,” he adds.

The lake has been identified by the Lake Region Economic Bloc as a potential tourism site.

According to the Lake Region Economic Bloc blueprint developed by the Deloitte, the lake is listed as a potential site that is yet to be tapped in the western Kenya tourism circuit.

ALLOCATE FUNDS

The deteriorating state of the lake has attracted attention of other local environmental lobbies such as the Lake Simbi Nyaima conservancy which is seeking to have the ecosystem of the lake restored.

In 2014, the Homa Bay County government had allocated funds to have the protected from encroachment and pollution through fencing, but that has not been done.

County tourism and culture chief officer Julius Opala said the matter of conserving the ecosystem of Lake Simbi Nyaima is in the county’s plan.

“We seek to engage local communities around the lake so that they protect it instead of endangering its ecosystem,” says Mr Opala.


Ministry's failure to follow own rules main cause of school crisis

The recent incidents of school learners burning their dormitories has, in my view, exposed the weakness in the Ministry of Education to enforce its own regulations, in particular as contained in the Legal Notice No. 39 of April 8, 2015.

It is noteworthy that the recent burning of Chewoyet High School Longonot dormitory happened between 5am and 6am, Monday, July 9, 2018. The Legal Notice mentioned above stipulates that the bedtime of learners is from 9.30pm to 6am. Chewoyet High School learners were reportedly in their classes attending morning preps scheduled from 5am to 6.30am in contravention of the regulations. To be fair, many boarding schools are guilty of not obeying this regulation.

Another area where the Ministry of Education has failed to enforce its regulations is the reporting time in day schools. The same Legal Notice states that no day institution shall require their learners to report to school earlier than 7.15am. Many a parent would confirm that their children are required to report to schools much earlier, some even at 6am.

Another regulation states that no boarding school shall send away an unaccompanied learner later that 9am. I am sure many parents will attest that this regulation has never been enforced.

One other area is in the rampant cases of corporal punishment. The media has been reporting instances where excessive caning in the guise of instilling discipline has resulted in serious bodily harm or even death of learners. The Basic Education Act, 2013, Part IV section 36 (1) clearly outlaws learners being “subjected to torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, in any manner, whether physical or psychological.” Most schools actually cane students sometimes with parental approval saying “even us when we were in school were caned”.

As a teacher, it would be my responsibility to seek more effective ways of instilling discipline without caning. Does the Ministry of Education officers look the other way when it comes to corporal punishment meted on learners? Section 36 (2) has put out a provision of a fine of not exceeding Sh100,000 or imprisonment not exceeding six months or both for a teacher who is found guilty of subjecting the learner to physical punishment and mental harassment. I have not heard of any teacher who has been fined or imprisoned as stated despite the many reports we hear.

John Ngimor, West Pokot.

Make changes in how teachers are trained.

The burning of schools witnessed all over the country is a sign that our teachers are not well trained to handle children.

This can be seen in the cases that involve teachers caning children and causing untold pain to them. The Education sector is in a mess and the problem begins with the training of teachers in our universities and colleges.

Students who are in high school are still teenagers who are going through a very critical phase of their lives.

Therefore teachers who handle them should have training on how to solve issues in an amicable way rather than using corporal punishment which is illegal and inhuman.

Gilbert Mung’ei, Mombasa.

Current school unrest is worrying. As a parent I wish schools could involve the police officers and invite them to discuss with students matters security, safety and good conduct. A case in point is Kanga High in Rongo sub-county, Migori county where the area DCC, OCS, OCPD is always invited to key parents meetings to talk about security issues in the school. All through this school has enjoyed an atmosphere of calmness and performs well in national exams. Schools management should desist from only calling police when there is trouble.

Matsigulu EK, Migori.


Uhuru abandoning graft war, or Ruto not joining, is suicidal

By MUTUMA MATHIU
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Fighting corruption sure is hard. In a cynical country where everyone is presumed to be on the take and folks — including highly educated and intelligent, able-bodied people — are consumed by the pursuit of ill-gotten wealth, it is even harder.

Kenyans are not gentlemen thieves who, even when they act immorally and illegally, have limits. They are given to frenzies and binges. We have overdosed on graft — a decentralised and irresponsible looting of public coffers on an unprecedented scale in our dirty history.

SYSTEMIC FAILURE

Actually, I am not sure whether this is corruption at all, from the stuff that has crossed my desk. This looks like systemic failure of the State. The system is no longer able to enforce desired behaviour and, without that, the State is unable to function.

However you look at it, the Kenyan State is unable to procure goods and services. And it is unable to discourage deviance through punishment and surveillance. Folks have eaten the country into near collapse. And rather than hang their heads in shame, pouring ash upon themselves and covering their bodies in sack cloth, they have dug in to fight for their ‘right’ to plunder and claim protection from the law.

RECKLESS CONDUCT

If this looting is driven by greed, it is also oiled by tribalism and a generous degree of stupidity. Greed and ethnic entanglements cloud the capacity to intelligently assess the impact of behaviour. If you feed semi-processed sugar to the population, what is the impact? What is the long-term effect of importing and distributing counterfeits on your enterprise and the ability of the economy to support you and your family and business?

What type of madman quickly prepares a supplementary budget to pay corruption? Such blatant and reckless conduct is, at the end of the day, suicidal.

TURN OFF TAPS

Kenya suffers from the fact that folks don’t analyse issues deeply and no programmes to effect large-scale behaviour changes are consistently designed and implemented. If they can’t figure out that some things are bad, somebody probably ought to teach them.

Today’s corruption is different from that of the Moi State. Then, it was a bribe. You were allowed to be corrupt as a reward for loyalty; so, it was centralised and controlled. Not that that was any less harmful or pervasive. But there was a central authority which, if it was minded, could turn off the taps.

JOIN MELEE

My sense is that today, corruption is chaotic and out of control with no mad genius overseeing it. As a matter of fact, even those deep in government participating in it have joined the melee and are scrambling with their proteges to snatch the marshmallows from the flames.

Traditionally in Kenya, corruption is the preserve of civil service oligarchs — serving or retired to business — and tyrants both in formal government or serving as informal, but not any less influential, tribal rulers. The natives have upset the order of the corrupt State. They have jumped into the pool fully dressed. And everybody is now engaged in an unseemly scramble for taxpayers’ money.

In Kenyan culture, class is not a matter of blood or breeding but Sh100 million of stolen cash stuffed in an account. Those who only yesterday were digging jiggers from their toes are peering out of their bedroom windows on the upper reaches of the Burj Khalifa. Tragedy is, that does not take society anywhere. Blowing public money on fake taste is not productive investment.

PROTECT ALLIES

Kenya is slowly but certainly losing the race of progress in the region to nations that are better organised. Fighting corruption is no longer a luxury, favour or act of generosity; it is an existential necessity. Unfortunately, what many feared, that the fight will become politicised and a contest between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto, is coming to pass.

The camp that is trying to curry favour with Mr Ruto argues that he is the loser in all this. What is left unsaid is that President Kenyatta would be the victim if the war on corruption fails — he would be lame-ducked, lose relevance, possibly even power, before the end of the second year of his final term. Staying the course is not just a legacy matter; it is also a question of survival in power.

The fight is entering a decisive phase: The swollen ranks of corruption are massed, armed and pumped up. As usual, corruption is well resourced (the money doesn’t come from anyone’s pocket anyway), clever and massively motivated. If Mr Kenyatta loses his nerve and tries to protect allies and favourites, then the war will be lost.

If Mr Kenyatta and his allies get to a point where they believe the stability of government depends on ‘going easy’ on graft, the opportunity to do good will be forever lost and, maybe, so will his grip on power.

For the umpteenth time, I believe those who claim that Mr Ruto is the victim of the campaign against corruption are folks who have been in the rain of life and are seeking the warmth and shelter of patronage. Mr Ruto is better off owning, joining, taking over and advancing the anti-corruption campaign. Not only will it strengthen his electability, it will also disarm his perceived enemies.

We live in hard, but interesting times, thank God.