Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Govt. spokesman too clever by half

Government spokesman, one hapless Dr. Alfred Mutua, must surely be holding the most thankless of jobs in the country, albeit well paying. I do not know what his job description entails but why a supposedly learned fellow would go out of his way to spew nonsense in defense of political party shenanigans is beyond me.

The PNU has recently been alleged to be engaging in questionable misuse of the administration police, obviously with government complicity, to carry out mischievous pranks that amount to electoral fraud. After clips were aired on television attesting to these deceitful acts, the good doctor came out with guns firing aimlessly and declared that nothing was amiss. That;

  • The KTN was displaying shoddy journalism because they should have contacted defense minister J. Michuki first for clarification or the AP Commandant or Mutua himself before going on air with the story.
  • That the relocation of the policemen was normal practice, like in previous elections, to provide security at the poll stations.
  • That privately owned buses were hired to ferry the ‘hundreds of thousands’ of policemen because the units did not have enough buses for the job. That the buses were more comfortable for the ‘more than a thousand kilometer, journey.

First, Michuki and the Commandant are at the centre of the allegations. What would one expect them to say other than deny, deny, deny? And the last time the old snake was rattled, a media house nearly burnt down. I guess once bitten, twice shy. As for Mutua, he’d have to get the facts from Michuki and the Commandant anyway. Although he just cannot skip a moment to speak even when he doesn’t have the ‘facts’.

Secondly, if the suspicious night relocation is normal practice, why did it not raise eyebrows the previous times when so much more was at stake for the incumbents? May be because they did not have a Mutua to make a bad situation worse. And why is there no movement reported from the NYS, GSU camps?

Third, it is all well to ferry policemen around in comfort. But how many? What figure is ‘hundreds of thousands’? The officially stated ratio of policeman to civilian in Kenya is 1:1000, which puts the force number to about 40,000. Who are the other ‘hundreds of thousands’ and what would they all be doing in Nairobi? Even if one were to be generous to Mutua and grant him the lower end of his figure, say 100,000, he would require 1600 (62-seater) buses to ferry them. To where? If, as he says, the journeys are 1000km from Nairobi, these folks will be disembarking outside the Kenya border!

Shouldn’t a government spokesman have all his facts right before attempting to spin them for advantage? These old wives tales just don’t sell

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Raising the stupidity index.

Listening to the utterances of politicians during this electioneering period can be quite a stressful expenditure of energy. Their foolish pronouncements suggest that it is futile to have great expectations from the 10th parliament.

Sample these…

RAILA TO PASTORALISTS ON LOSS OF LIVESTOCK DURING DROUGHT: “…we shall introduce an insurance scheme to compensate you for each animal lost…”
(To be run by the government? Without premium payments?)

KALONZO ON HIS PLEDGE TO ERADICATE POVERTY: “…we shall introduce food coupons for the poor…”
(Coupons to Uchumi supermarket? Cereals board warehouses?)

NJENGA KARUME ON WHY KIBAKI CANNOT LOSE THE ELECTION: “…remember I am the minister for defense…”
(Yes, we shall remember!)

PATTNI ON ERADICATING POVERTY: “…the government should reduce the gap between the rich and the poor. We shall pay allowances to the unemployed until they secure jobs…”
(Using Goldenberg money?)

RAILA CRITISIZING KIBAKI FOR CREATING DISTRICTS HAPHAZARDLY: “…we are going to make each constituency a district…”
(Matching Kibaki hummer for hammer?)

NYACHAE TO THE SDA ON THE RAILA-NAFLEM MoU: “…you cannot claim to be neutral when we are threatened with a Muslim incursion if Raila takes power…”
(Stupidity of an old man)

KALONZO ON IMPROVING THE ECONOMY: “…we shall make Kenya a 24hour working economy…”
(By opening government offices for 24 hours and employing more civil servants? By taking over private businesses and opening the doors round the clock?)

RAILA ON TRAFFIC CONGESTION IN NAIROBI: “…I am a qualified engineer. We shall build flyovers to crisscross the city centre…”
(And Kibaki is a qualified economist)

MUTULA KILONZO ON WHY KALONZO WILL NOT STEP DOWN: “…his photograph will be on the ballot. He is the most beautiful…”
(So Raila was right about the beauty contest opinion polls?)

KOIGI WAMWERE ON WHY THE GOVERNMENT DID NOT INTERVENE IN THE KURESOI CLASHES: “…Raila told the president to act but not to send the police there. The president could not therefore act because the army only acts on external aggression…”
(Kibaki takes orders from Raila?!)

KALONZO ON REVENUE COLLECTION: “…we shall reduce the PAYE tax bracket by excluding those earning less than Ksh 30,000 per month…”
(And increase the rate on those earning more than Ksh 30,000?)

These ‘leaders’ must surely think their audience to be foolish.

Friday, December 21, 2007

How Lucy is slapping Kibaki out of Statehouse.

[Guest post by NWW]

The other day I googled LUCY KIBAKI and this is what the world has to say about her.

WIKIPEDIA – Lucy Muthoni Kibaki is the controversial wife of Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki.

BBC NEWS - The BBC’s Gray Phombeah charts the transformation of Lucy Kibaki from adored first lady to object of ridicule.

BBC NEWS – The wife of President Mwai Kibaki burst into newspaper offices to protest at its portrayal of a row she had with a neighbor.

TIMES ONLINE - Blundering MC is slapped by the president’s wife – Kenya’s first lady.

KENYA DEMOCRATIC PROJECT – Arrest Lucy Kibaki before it’s too late!

WASHINGTON POST - In rural churches and urban back-room offices, the first lady of Kenya, Lucy Kibaki, was teased for being a pushy political wife.

YOU TUBE – Lucy, you have brought Mzee’s government down.

She has also earned herself spot in the ODD NEWS section of

There’s one more rather interesting story from - why Nigerians should be interested in the tragic-comical story of Mrs. Lucy Kibaki. Apparently they have also had some first lady woes not so unlike ours.

The Telegraph UK depicts his Excellency President Mwai Kibaki as a hapless president stuck in the middle as two wives go to war.

Oh! And the very last article is from Statehouse about the first lady being involved in some Philanthropic activities.

I grew up during the Moi era and I thought I’ve seen it all. Corruption, inflation, hunger, tribal clashes, name it. Kenyans saw it during the 24 year Moi rule. Except of course a first lady. And so my first unfortunate experience of a first lady and indeed for many Kenyans is one Mrs. Lucy Kibaki. When I think of a first lady I think of my Mum. Now my mum is not one to breath fire and brimstone like we witnessed a few years ago when Lucy stormed the Nation Center. Or slap full grown men in the face – or indeed slap anyone at all! She had other ways of imparting discipline and I’m pleased to report that my siblings and I are all grown up and well disciplined.

Each of us has a reason for voting in a presidential candidate come December 27th 2007. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve not read anybody’s manifesto or believed in their promises and miracles. And while I’m not in the streets singing yote yawezekana bila Lucy, mine is simply to kick disgrace out and to hopefully inject some decorum into statehouse. Nobody can be sure whether Ida Odinga fits the bill but I don’t think Kenya can possibly be third time unlucky. It just doesn’t work that way. And even if she comes in with some Drama of her own, it will not in my estimation be anywhere near what Lucy has subjected us to. Ida’s slate is still clean. I can hardly wait for her presence of grace Statehouse and public functions. And that is why I’ll vote for Raila Amollo Odinga despite the fact that I hail from Lucy’s Mukurwe-ini constituency in Nyeri District. Mine is one measly vote. How many more votes has Lucy’s behavior lost the president?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Who is underpaid again?

(A guest post by Naomi)

This is a product of Kiganjo. He’s a trained, certified and armed Kenyan policeman. He is the guy who protects you and will sprint to your rescue should you come across some bad guys and call for help. He should also be agile enough to squeeze himself through nooks and crannies for his own safety in case of shootouts which have become all too common in modern Kenya. Weight gain and weight loss is a matter of personal choice but for occupations such as his, I think there should be a ceiling on how much weight they can carry around. If such a rule actually came about it would be implemented by………..the police maybe? Ministry of labour? Defence?

It’s common knowledge that this guy is seriously underpaid. At least officially. Let’s analyze his pay. Lets assume he has a gross salary of Kshs.15,000/-. After Sacco deductions, loans, PAYE, NHIF, NSSF etc etc, he ends up with a Net pay of Kshs.4,000/-

He could be anywhere around 50 years of age. So he most likely has several mouths to feed. Say a wife and 3 children, a concubine here and another one there. Food and expenses for his family at the barest possible minimum could take up all of his Kshs.4,000/- net salary. If by some good luck his wife is working, then her income can cater for the children’s school fees and the occasional visit to the neighborhood clinic in case of illness in the family. We have said nothing of the extended family or the ailing old man back home.

But the policeman we see here is not living on bare minimums. To acquire a belly that size, the guy eats stuffs himself with three square meals per day and a snack every other hour or so. From the look of things he eats some roast meat and guzzles many liters of beer on most if not all evenings, none of which come cheap. I can bet my little finger he does not spend his evenings drinking cheap traditional liquor. That right there is a serious beer belly. Considering the price of Kenyan beer, he must be spending a minimum average of Kshs.1,000/- every single day. Probably more. And yet he takes home 3K per month? Only in Kenya.

Gender parity in handouts?

I am beginning to doubt whether there are enough women of substance in Kenya to agitate for gender parity in leadership positions. Substance being the stern stuff that political ambition is made of. Going by their Monday ‘trooping of colors’ at the US envoys residence with begging bowls in hands, their candidature in this year’s elections may just end up being feeble symbolism.

Somebody, most probably a man, duped them that the envoy would be funding their campaigns. And so they made a beeline to his residence armed with tales of misery to fortify their case for charity. Among them was the supposedly experienced Julia Ojiambo, prospective vice-president of Kenya. When no dollars were forthcoming from big brother, they started pouring out to him the trials and tribulations they were encountering on the campaign trail. Perhaps the good envoy has broad shoulders to cry on but the poor women must surely know that he does not have powers to nullify the polls on account of the rough treatment meted out to them. I hope they did not leave without a good ‘diplomatic’ dinner because that may well be the last time they go limping on the hallowed grounds of that residence.

Is it not vain to expect that an increase of women numbers in parliament will change in any helpful way how Kenyan politics is played? If they seem clueless on how to finance their entry to political careers, what creativity are they likely to bring to management of public affairs? Politics is not for the meek and if they are finding mobilization of masses a tearful venture, they might as well cheer the men candidates along and wait for the token nominations to parliament. At least in a nominated capacity there is no pressure to perform and they’ll be well positioned to attend stately dinners. With misadventures like this one coupled with constant whining and crying, there are no signs that their gender imparts on them any nobler motivation for high office. So far, they are not demonstrating why ‘vote for women’ will bring change.

If they cannot stand the heat, they should stay out of the kitchen….oops!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Raila’s oratory dismal

For a man working overtime to convince the Kenyan electorate that he’s the ‘people’s president’ for real change, Raila’s public speaking is increasingly getting dull and uninspiring. Opinion polls may be deluding him to take it for granted that he will be the next president and therefore sees no need to polish his act. That is unfortunate because I believe that persuasive oratory should be among the key tools for an agent of change aspiring to sway to his side a progressively enlightened and skeptical populace; more so, in a political field plagued with dishonest players spewing forth strange policies that they neither understand nor believe in.

That Raila has a poor grasp of the Kiswahili language is no excuse for him to resort to his droning formal speeches, written most probably by Anyang Nyongo. The way he labors through them belies his ownership of the content and puts him in an impossible position to display his passion for the issues at hand. No wonder sections of his entourage shamelessly doze through his performance while most of his weary audiences patiently wait for his abridged comical version in Kiswahili. Fortunately, he seems to have a well organized network of cheer leaders who serve to raise decibels with every faltering pause in his speech. To his credit though, his buffoonery on the podium has lessened in recent times, but I suspect that even he himself does not flatter himself about the effectiveness of his oratory. Maybe that is one reason why he is endlessly addressing crowds with no rest for reflection, resulting in clichés and pretentious rhetoric.

So what change will the ‘people’s president’ bring when connecting to the people is clearly such a daunting task? The past three presidents fell in the same category of poor orators and indeed many of the dubious ‘changes’ they brought about were attributed to wicked judgment of their advisers, the mysterious ‘people around the president’. These are the people on whom the task of interpreting presidential speeches fell on. Is Raila not treading the same path? Can the citizens draw inspiration from him or shall we have to look elsewhere like, say, Barrack Obama (remember Raila’s sheepish grinning as he displayed photos taken with Obama)? Or do we need to study the life and times of Mahathir Mohamed, PM of Malaysia (whom Raila recently declared as his hero)?

Sunday, December 9, 2007

KTN crew attends crude target practice.

Have the KTN management and crews ever heard of the phrase ‘safety first’? Probably not.

I watched in amazement last night as two TV crew members on tour in northern Kenya engaged in some shooting practice as they recorded how easy it was to acquire firearms illegally in those parts. Having made their point, I think it was foolish of them to go ahead and test the ill-gotten assault rifle (I’m assuming, of course, that KTN does not conduct in-house training for such activity). It was naïve for the two employees to presume that just because their young contact shepherds animals with an AK-47 at hand he was qualified to ‘train’ them. Or that the weapon was in good working order.

The KTN crew seems to have forgotten what their junior high school teacher taught in physics; forces, action and reaction. The way they used their shoulders to support the rifle butt before firing was wrong and unsafe. The recoil force of firing easily sprains ligaments and joints. I’d be surprised if the two can say that the experience was not painful.

Watching the ease with which movie actors, including children, handle firearms deludes many people to think that they too can do it. People are on record having blown off their limbs after clumsily handling firearms. Without training or supervision, one would be exposed to serious harm in case the weapon misfires.

Our journalists are increasingly getting over enthusiastic in their out broadcasts as they scrape together news items, routinely over looking their own safety. A few days back they even filmed themselves going through murky rituals in order to get into a sorcerer’s dark abode.

Do broadcasting houses carry out risk assessments of the tasks to which they delegate their staff? It is cheap to dismiss some things as hazards of the job but quite expensive to handle the aftermath of a mission gone awry. Think safety!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Where is mediator Kalonzo?

Kalonzo Musyoka often trumpets his mediation skills as being among his many outstanding qualifications for presidency. He cites involvement in the settlement of a peace agreement between the SPLM/Sudan government and cessation of inter-clan war in Somali among his achievements. Well, give the man his fifteen minutes of success, seeing that the Somali seem to erupt at whim depending on mood swings in the clans while the Sudan agreement is presently on the verge of collapsing.

Are Kalonzo’s skills only useful, however short-lived, at the international level? Has he heard of Mt. Elgon or Kuresoi? Unlike the Somali and Sudanese, these are people with whom he shares a border and whose votes he is seeking to become the next president of Kenya. He is often heard to declare that “my government will” put an end to these conflicts. Is it therefore to his benefit for the killings to go on until he becomes president so that he can take credit for stopping them? Or is his mediation skill only manifest when he is in high ranking government position?

It appears that his position in government accorded him only a ceremonial role in the Sudan peace talks after the real job had been accomplished by, among others, retired army chief Lazarus Sumbeiywo. The same for Somali. He could not bring his imaginary skills to the ODM, resorting instead to throwing lowly ethnic epithets and eventually the parting of ways with “my brother Raila”.

Kalonzo is busy strutting around the country in search of votes. What or who is stopping him from getting the warring sides in Molo and Elgon around a peace table? Probably the man has no mediation skill at all! IF the man makes it to statehouse, will the people of Kuresoi and Mt. Elgon know peace? Not with his evident spineless disposition.