Friday, 25 September 2015

Kenya’s Clueless Government and Moribund Opposition

Living in the Second Republic is like being treated to a live comedy show at a dusty theatre somewhere along the streets of the city, neither Venice nor Guangzhou but may be in the south of Sahara. To those who do not understand, the Second Republic is our current state after the re-introduction of multiparty politics in 1990/91. Before this, we had the First Republic that came into existence after we were granted independence by the British colonialists.

The first phase of the Second Republic was from 1992 to 2002, the final ten years in which the self-proclaimed “professor of politics” Daniel Moi and his Kanu brigade were in power. The second phase ostensibly began in 2002 after the fall of Kanu and the legitimate assumption of power by the Narc coalition and it is still in progress. So, since the onset of the second phase, we have had three governments in place; the Narc government under the leadership of Mwai Kibaki, the Grand Coalition government led by Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga and the present government under the leadership of Uhuru Kenyatta.

Moi’s regime was egregious especially when issues that deal with the economy come into focus. The governments that have been in place from 2002 have economically outperformed Moi’s 24 years rule. My interest however, is the focus on the present government and opposition which have vitiated good governance and leadership. This is why we are treated to unpaid for comedy shows each week.

At the moment, as a state, we are in dire need of visionary leadership at the national level because it seems the government and opposition mandarins lack a clear agenda to push forward the Kenyan Dream. When I cross-check both sides of the political divide, I only see power-drunken monsters who have sinister and pernicious aims to further their own interests, perhaps a practical application of the words of Max Weber and Niccolo Medici Machiavelli of using power to propagate one’s own interest(s). 

Truth be told, both Jubilee and Cord were only formed as political marriages of convenience. For instance, Jubilee came into being because of the ICC factor. Cord, on the other hand, came into being on the common ground that its leaders were not suspects of the PEV and that they had been deserted by their political friends turned foes. Raila Odinga risked a political limbo after William Ruto and his team walked out of the Orange party. Kalonzo Musyoka had also been a temporary political orphan after he was bolstered out of the then G7 political outfit. They therefore found commonality for their unison. So can you candidly tell me that these separate political camps had genuine development agenda for Kenya? Certainly not.

Ever since the Jubilee coalition won the elections, we have witnessed situations where wrong decisions on governance are made or sometimes decisions have taken so long to be made until you start questioning thyself on the existence of government. On several occasions while seeking for people’s opinions regarding various governance issues, the blame is directed towards the advisors of the president and his deputy which is quite correct. This has been the case with the security situation in the country.

One thing that irks me with the ruling coalition is how they respond to criticism from their opposition counterparts. The opposition in any democratic society can say anything whether it is true or false but how you handle such castigation can either weaken or strengthen the opposition. How many times have we heard the president, the deputy president and their troops react angrily to criticism to a point where you think they are going to burst their chests and cheeks out of anger or end up crying like some grown up baby denied some piece of yam? This gives the opposition some political mileage because for them they can utter anything and then wait for the government side to react with so much anger. For heaven’s sake, you’ve won elections meaning you have the government machinery and this implies that talk less and do more to fulfill the election pledges. This is certainly where the man from Othaya needs to dish out his wisdom on how to deal with critics and cynics.

To what gives reaffirmation to my opinion of the Jubilee-led administration as a clueless government is the recent ignorant remark by the Executive of “can’t pay, won’t pay” in the wake of the teachers’ strike. The rule of law ought to be respected otherwise contravening it sets a bad precedence whereby the political class and the ruling elite will ignore court orders soon and in the possible future.

If at all a government has the zeal and chutzpah to fight and eradicate corruption then its leaders should say what they mean and mean what they say when it comes to matters corruption. The president was quite proactive when he named and shamed some top government honchos involved in corruption sometime this year. All that we’ve heard are the on-going investigations which when concluded, we rarely see and witness prosecutions and if they happen, then the corrupt individuals go scot-free. If indeed the current administration is committed to enhance the desired socioeconomic transmogrification then it should begin with tackling corruption which is the primary channel that profligates our economic resources. 

The Jubilee politicians led by the Executive dissipate some kind of negative political energy with some unfounded notion that Kenya belongs to them. The remarks given by them especially the deputy president are baseless as they only think of how they will win the 2022 general elections. Anyway, I have no objections whatsoever to the political ambitions of the deputy president but you cannot move from one corner to another proclaiming that the House on The Hill is reserved for you. I hate it and hate it absolutely seeing him get angry when he claims that some people do not wish him to be the president of this country sometime in the future. This is quite a skewed way of thinking.

The opposition on its part needs to do more if indeed it is the government in waiting. In criticizing the government, the opposition members should strive and endeavor to be more positive and constructive and shun from giving negative and destructive criticism. The problem with the current opposition is that it hardly gives solutions to the teething problems that we have experienced as a country except when they called for a national dialogue last year. 

And by the way, what happened to the calls for a referendum by Cord? They had began the process of collecting 1million signatures but according to reports from several quotas, it is believed that they failed to hit the target. In my opinion, this referendum was quite unnecessary because of several reasons. Firstly, the referendum sought to address issues of insecurity and disbursement of more funds to the counties. The call for a referendum to address these issues was a faux pas because through Parliament, we can get solutions for such challenges. Secondly, the calls for a referendum was an opportunity for the renaissance, reinvention and rejuvenation of the opposition. Without Raila Odinga in Parliament, it has been a challenge for Cord to take on the government head-on as he is the face of Cord. 

We cannot talk of a focused government and vibrant opposition if they end up politicizing matters of national importance. I am particularly concerned with the insecurity menace which has contributed to the digging of so many graves in Kenya. The common enemy here is Al Shabaab and instead of the two sides of the political divide uniting to provide amicable solutions, they end up trading accusations against each other and this makes the enemy happier. Take for instance the Al Qaeda attack on the World Trade Centre in the USA, the famous 9/11, the Charlie Hebdo shooting by terrorists in France or the Sydney Hostage crisis in Australia last year, where both the government and the opposition are usually united to fight a common enemy unlike in Kenya. What Kenyan politicians do not understand is that we should tolerate differences in ideological and/or philosophical dispensations but not differing on absolutely everything.

Before us is an issue that concerns the public wage bill which needs to set the stage for a sober and sound debate. When the courts decided that teachers are supposed to be awarded with a 50-60% pay rise, some MPs supported this move forthwith. Then came Ababu Namwamba, the Member of National Assembly for Budalang’i who drafted a bill that would see the salaries for the president, deputy president, Cabinet Secretaries, Principal Secretaries, MNAs, Senators, MCAs and commissioners of the constitutional commissions reduced by 50% but this is already gaining some insurrection. I am very sure that this bill will be smoked out of the National Assembly because of many MNAs who are greedy and in fact the Speaker, Justin Muturi has already opposed it; which kind of a Speaker is this? Influencing issues before Parliament deliberates on them. A weak leadership indeed.

There are other pointers of a clueless government and moribund opposition which I will reserve for another day. The bottom line however, is that presently in Kenya we are suffering from a very serious disease known as the Leadership Deficiency Syndrome(LDS), cutting across the government and the opposition. This is why a third force should be in the offing to create a Third Republic where leaders will give way to logic other than the hopeless shenanigans we are seeing around. The next republic needs to be people-centred but now its actualization will only depend on voting using brains and not the current lascivious voting based on tribalism and it will also entail a bit of radicalism when dealing with corruption and other governance vices. This will be the remedy for a state where the sentimental remarks of Lord Acton are vivid: power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Monday, 21 September 2015

Grokking The Miseries Surrounding The Limping Economic Giants of Mumias, Uchumi and Kenya Airways

Once regarded as economic giants in their respective sub-sectors and fields of operation, less can be heard and talked of them in terms of profits but only a lot can be said about the astronomical losses that have recently been posted by these firms. There is no doubt that the financial health of these former economic jewels has been worsening due to various factors; known and unknown. Mumias Sugar Company has for decades been the giant sugar miller in Kenya. Uchumi Supermarket has arguably been the market leader in wholesale and retail until the onset of its financial woes. Kenya Airways has been the pride of Africa until when the financial ebb caused by mismanagement set in.

These limping and sleeping economic giants have been victims of mismanagement which has been the onset of their decline leading to massive losses. Starting with Mumias Sugar Company, the last time the firm posted a profit was in 2011 where the pre-tax profit was Kshs.2.64billion. Since 2012 to date, there has been a stream of losses as follows: in 2012, a loss of Kshs.1billion was recorded. Come 2013, the sugar miller posted a loss of Kshs.1.6billion which worsened in 2014 when a financial loss of Kshs.2.7billion was realized. In 2015, financial normalcy was still far-fetched when the entity made a loss of Kshs.3.4billion.

Kenya Airways’ financial woes ostensibly began in 2012 where losses have been recorded until this year. The last time when the shareholders and stakeholders were smiling and in good books was in 2011 when a profit of Kshs.2.034billion was posted by the carrier. In 2012, the troubles set in when a loss of Kshs.4.2billion was made. The financial difficulties continued to hover around in 2013 when it reported huge loss of Kshs.7.86 billion. The following financial year, KQ posted a loss of Kshs.4.86billion but then in 2015, all hell broke loose when the once acclaimed pride of Africa recorded a massive loss of Kshs.25.7billion, money which is enough to fund the construction of another superhighway in Kenya. 

Beginning with Mumias, there have been scandalous activities and events that have characterized the economic giant of Western Kenya. One such clandestine activity was that in which the management squandered Kshs.1.1billion as a result of importing illegal sugar. This questionable tender and deal to import sugar is said to have been awarded to Dante’s Peak, a company that is primarily owned by one Benson Sande Ndeta, a prolific businessman who is also the chairperson of Savannah Cement. One astounding fact is that Dante’s Peak is registered as a company that deals with cement and ballast. This deal dates back to sometime in December 2012 when Peter Kebati had taken over as the CEO of the sugar miller. Other former directors who have been accused alongside Mr. Kebati include Emily Otieno who served as the Company Secretary, former Commercial Director Paul Murgor and Chris Chepkoit who is the former Finance Director.

It can be clearly observed that in the same year in which the deal was generated is when a continuous stream of financial losses commenced. With utmost certitude, the former CEO Mr. Kebati needs to answer the questions on the financial doom and gloom that has engulfed Mumias Sugar. During Dr. Evans Kidero’s time as the chief executive, Mr. Kebati served as the Chief Financial Officer and I thought of him as a prime replacement of the current Governor of Nairobi County. To my disappointment, however, it is during his unsuccessful tenure that things began heading south.

Another cause of the financial losses that have rocked the miller are the spiraling administration costs and/or expenses. These are costs that are incurred as a result of controlling and directing a firm and they include the salaries of senior executives and the costs of general services such as accounting, contracting and industrial relations. The administrative costs are not directly identifiable with financing, marketing or production operations. This implies that Mumias Sugar Company has been using a lot of money to pay the senior management and cater for other expenses which involve the issuance of contracts, employee relations and accounting. With diligent prescience, the new CEO Errol Johnston needs to design a turn-around strategy that will lead to relatively lower administration costs which may involve restructuring the management and also awarding tenders that are corrupt-free.

On the side of Kenya Airways, a number of factors are thought to have generated the losses that have been recorded at the firm especially the historical Kshs.25.7billion loss that is the largest ever in Kenya’s corporate world. The KQ management, while releasing its financial year results for 2014/15 listed cancellation of flights due to Ebola, a slump in tourism and competition on the continent as the key factors that contributed to the massive loss. 

Though there is a bit of dynamism in the industrial operations, I fail to understand why and how Ethiopian Airlines recorded a profit of $175million which is about Kshs.18.38billion in the same financial year of 2014/15. In my opinion, KQ’s management has to give an elaborate explanation to their losses because Ethiopia has also been affected by the instability occasioned by Al Shabaab, and the Ethiopian Airlines’ flights to West Africa were also suspended temporarily due to the deadly Ebola virus and compounding it all, it also faces stiff competition from other airlines.

The CEO and the entire management team of KQ have simply been unable to cultivate a strategy to continue making the airline the pride of Africa. There is definitely an atmosphere that oozes staleness when it comes to formulating a new results-oriented strategy at KQ. Stern action ought to have been taken the moment the loss was reported and in fact, some key decision-makers would have been sent packing and these include the CEO, the Chief Operations Officer (COO) and the Finance Director and the director in charge of supply chain/procurement.

KQ’s financial tailspin has been as a result of poor decision-making by the management amid other internal factors and issues that can be amicably controlled. You cannot wail and talk of stiff competition if you are pricing the air tickets at a high price compared to your competitors. This at one time or another has made several aircraft to fly when they are significantly empty with very few people on board especially on the local routes. Also, KQ has very high administrative costs which have partly contributed to the losses. Nevertheless, the airline went on to purchase a number of the Boeing planes and the Embraer jets whose maintenance costs have been extremely high. What we have not been told clearly are the  underhand tendering deals that are likely to have transpired in due cause of operation. Mbuvi Ngunze, as the CEO, is a man under siege as he is expected to normalize the financial books of KQ.

Methinks however, that Mr. Ngunze has fallen victim of a “rotten” system that has been in place. He only took over in November 2014 from the then CEO Eng. Titus Naikuni who had been at the helm since 2003. The last three years before his exit, Naikuni captained a team that made losses and in came Ngunze whose first year has been marked by the “mother” of all losses. But Ngunze has also been part of the “rotten” system because he was the COO during part of Naikuni’s tenure. So what is the way forward for KQ? There were suggestions of a Kshs.60billion bailout by the National Treasury which is set to cover the debts that the carrier needs to service. But with incisive forethought, the following can be done to resuscitate the airline: instituting  corrupt-free procurement procedures, downsizing the staff and restructuring the management to curb the rising administrative costs, re-looking into the price of tickets and a couple of other positive changes.

Uchumi chain of wholesale and retail stores was on a path of financial recovery when Jonathan Ciano was appointed as the receivership manager in 2006 before being the chief executive. Seen as the ‘king of turn-arounds’ having engineered the recovery of Kenya Power before joining Uchumi, Ciano has had his professional acumen tattered as the giant retailer was on the verge of making losses under his watch. In the mid-year results announced in February this year, Uchumi made a loss of Kshs.262million. Its financial impropriety has been traced to procurement deals that are corrupt. For instance, at his watch before he was sacked, Uchumi owed suppliers Kshs.1billion which is quite crazy. The most astonishing fact is that some staff members were awarded tenders to supply various items.

The recent appointment of Julius Kipng’etich to head the retailer has been deemed as a good move that will steer the firm into profit-making. The immediate former COO of Equity Group, former MD of Kenya Wildlife Service and former MD of the Investment Promotion Council has already announced a raft of measures to streamline the operations of Uchumi. Among the measures include downsizing, closure of loss-making branches and the introduction of mobile supermarkets to tap the low-end market especially in the urban informal settlements.

To say the least, the responsibility lies with the management to make sure that the economic giants awaken from the slumber. But in restoring efficiency and financial prudence requires that procurement procedures have to be above board because this is where most entities lose finances. Explicitly, the management needs to formulate and design strategies to deal with issues concerning competition and market relevance.

Monday, 14 September 2015

Of The Legal Teachers’ Pay Hike and The Executive’s Hubris On The Hike

The onset of this week marks the third week in which our honorable teachers are on strike apparently because of the unwillingness of the government to increase their salaries. In fact, it is not the government that has failed to honor the court order but its Executive arm since the government is made up of the Legislature, the Judiciary and the Executive. We have had the concerned stakeholders stating their positions regarding this national issue. The teachers have vowed to go on with the strike while the Executive led by President Kenyatta has also stated that there are no funds to finance the stipulated salary increment. This certainly implies that the future of Kenya has been compromised on the basis that the pupils and students are being denied access to dissemination of knowledge and information. 

Last month, the courts issued an order that the Executive should give the teachers a salary increment of 50-60%. The ruling on this matter was upheld by the Supreme Court after the Court of Appeal and the Industrial Court made similar rulings which were contested by the Teachers Service Commission. Seemingly, this issue concerning the teachers’ salary increment was in court from the month of January 2015 after we experienced another stand-off by the teachers and thus the ruling was due in the month of August.

In castigating our president and his Executive, it is a shame to disrespect if not to disobey a court order. It seems that this act of political tomfoolery is still rooted in our system where leaders still believe that the masses are composed of layers and structures of citizens who are dimwit and ignorant. Look, our current president is occupying State House because the Opposition chose to respect a court ruling which upheld his election after the contentious 50%+1 condition. In addition, while taking oath of office, President Kenyatta swore to protect the Constitution of Kenya and disregarding court rulings implies that the laws and the Constitution have been abused and overlooked. I understand that our dear president is a man walking on the sword given that his government has been embroiled in scams that have made us to lose a lot finances amid other comedy of errors that have characterized his administration. 

One of the hurdles that President Kenyatta is trying to deal with concerns the wage bill. With devolution and operationalization of county governments, the national wage bill as at December 2014 was approximately 13% of the Gross Domestic Product which translates to around shs.585 billion.  This 13% is way above Africa’s average of 9.5% and the global best practice of 7%. The current wage bill means that it is approximately 27.85% of the current budget and 52% of our domestic revenue. That is the way it currently stands but now let us factor in the proposed teachers’ salary increment. If the Executive was to implement the increment of shs.17.4 billion, then the wage bill will increase to around shs.600 billion. This translates to 13.3% of the GDP and 28.8% of the current budget and approximately 53.3% of the domestic revenue. Statistically, these changes are marginal.

The percentages given above are for the recurrent expenditure which are the finances used to cater for the wages and salaries. With the increase in recurrent expenditure, the capital expenditure which is meant to finance development projects ultimately reduces. The World Bank recommends that for efficiency in economic growth management then the recurrent expenditure should only be 30% of the GDP whereas the capital expenditure should take the lion’s share of 70%. But does this work for the developing countries? Many people will cast doubts on this but in my opinion it can work only if efficiency in managing the wage bill is instituted. Basing on this argument, at least we are in agreement with the president.

Two years ago when President Kenyatta assumed office, the Salaries and Remuneration Commission presented proposals for new salaries and wages structures for the state officers. These were the proposals: the President was to earn shs.1.7m from shs.2m, the Deputy President and the Speaker of the National Assembly were to earn a maximum of shs.1.4m each, the chief justice shs.1.38m, the Cabinet Secretaries shs.1.12m, the Speaker of the Senate shs.1.37m, Senators shs.740927, the Governors shs.1.1m, Members of the National Assembly shs.740920 from shs.851200, Members of County Assemblies shs.118000 from shs.30000. These proposed scales were to lead to an annual savings of shs.500m per year.

If the president and his clique had an objective of transforming Kenya’s socio-economic development trajectory, they should have religiously embraced the proposals and stuck to them come-what-may.  I have always professed and prophesied that achieving Vision 2030 is impossible if we are not going to take into account some economic and governance fundamentals. One of the fundamentals concerns the income disparities which the current government only knows how to talk about it but does less to right it. Take for instance how much the chairs of the following commissions take home monthly: Constitution Implementation Commission and Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission shs.1.08m, Salaries and Remuneration Commission and Commission for Revenue Allocation shs.750000, Public Service Commission/Teachers Service Commission/Transition Authority/Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission/Kenya National Human Rights Commission chairs earn shs.750000 each. If we include the commissioners to these commissions then the figures are quite astronomical.

Addressing income inequalities is what the commander-in-chief ought to have set as one of his top-most priorities and agendum as he took office. Why should we have MPs earning close to a million shillings and then get sitting allowances for attending committee meetings? What is the rationale for paying MCAs over shs.100000? Is there need to pay Cabinet Secretaries and commissioners close to shs.1m per month? This is where the SRC should come in full swing in conjunction with the Executive to streamline salaries and wages in Kenya. Let MPs take home shs.300000 which is taxable, chairs of commissions and Cabinet Secretaries should earn shs.250000 to 300000 and the MCAs should earn around shs.70000. Find out by how much this reduces the pressure on the wage bill.

Back to the bone of contention, the teachers need to be given their pay rise. As a matter of fact, three weeks ago, while on a morning show on Radio Citizen, the Deputy President was on record saying that the government will honor the order by the court and he clearly stated how the government cannot disrespect a court order. He went ahead and said that funds allocated to lesser functions will be slashed to fund the increment. His senior, President Kenyatta, after his return from Italy, openly said that there is no money to warrant any increment and Ruto had to change his tune and dance to be in line with the president and so the DP said that the TSC and the SRC, which are constitutional commissions, ought to be respected. But between a court order and commissions, which one supersedes the other? Let the Executive not fool us around. 

Yearly, we lose 30% of our budget due to corruption. If I was the occupant of the House on the Hill, then I would have ratified the increment through the following actions. Firstly, I would slash the allocation for the National Youth Service. Secondly, I would suspend indefinitely the implementation of the laptop programme. Many would argue that this will stagnate development but I would answer them that my actions would be a permanent solution to a perennial problem. Again, assuming that I was the commander-in-chief (may be one day I will), corruption would be history. Of our current recurrent expenditure, most of it is siphoned through the presence of ‘ghost’ workers (who are actually absent). If the government would have dealt firmly with graft, then our wage bill would be around the recommended 7% and increasing the teachers’ salaries would not have been a subject of debate.

One of the failures of the present regime is its incapacity and incapability to have amicable foresight in governing the state. In formation of the government, the president, his deputy and their team ought to have known that industrial strikes are a common feature in our economy. In fact, during his time as the Deputy Premier and Minister for Finance is when the government agreed to pay teachers shs.17.3 billion way back in January 2009 when they were demanding for shs.19 billion. Nevertheless, the government should have factored in the possible increment in this year’s budget just in case the courts would have ruled in favor of the teachers because the case was in court from January this year. This clearly depicts how less proactive the government of the day is. 

Generally, industrial disputes often cause economic deterioration in terms of the man hours that are lost. The current stand-off has led to an approximated loss of 120 hours for the fifteen days of striking. Persistence of a strike often means that socio-economic development is jeopardized. My hope is that the Executive will stop committing the sin of hubris by fulfilling what the courts have brought forth and in whichever way pay the increment to avoid other teacher strikes in future. Otherwise, as an omniscient observer, I will sit on the fence and watch as the next scene unfolds.

Monday, 7 September 2015

Reflecting On The Second Republic.

On 27th of August 2010, the Constitution that we have today was promulgated and this undoubtedly presented a new dawn and era in Kenya. Finally, all the struggles and initiatives directed towards the phasing out of the punctured Lancaster Constitution bore fruit after enduring political frustrations that were engineered by retired president, Daniel Toroitich arap Moi. With the ushering in of a new Constitution that is homegrown, this actualized the birth of the second republic with renewed hope and optimism of moving the nation forward towards the realization of the Kenyan Dream that was envisaged by our independence heroes and heroines.

Therefore, as a consequence, on the 27th of August each year we commemorate this historical event to see where we are and where we are heading to. Five years down the line, we have been able to make significant progress as a nation in general. This progress has been occasioned by devolution that has set up a mechanism through which resources are able to be accessed by the citizenry from the capital city, major urban areas, townships right to the grass-root level.

From my own point of view, devolution is the greatest aspect that is enshrined in our constitution. It paved way for the subsequent establishment of the county governments which have made us to believe that we the locals and indigenous people can help spur development with the resources that are available. Precisely, devolution has enabled the growth and development of infrastructure which is fundamental for the overall economic take-off of any given economy. This can be witnessed in a number of counties in the nation. 

It is through devolution that residents of Wajir County have been able to see and have tarmac roads for the first time since independence. This is just an example of the various benefits realized through the operationalization of devolution. As a Kenyan who believes in developing Kenya by Kenyans, I am proud of the county governments that have held investment conferences and cultural festivals. These investment fora serve as channels through which the respective counties broadcast not only to Kenyans but also the whole world on the available investment opportunities. The cultural events that have become an annual feature serve and act as impetus towards the promotion of domestic tourism which should be highly promoted.

Primarily, devolution seeks to promote development in the three basic facets of a state that is political, social and economic. Politically, centres of political power are now perceived to be closer to the people through the establishment of County Assemblies. Socially and economically, devolution ought to ensure that basic infrastructure, basic services and social amenities are made available to the people.  However, devolution has also brought forth a myriad of challenges that have been hillocks towards progress. 

Many Kenyans opine that the devolution of health services was a faux pas which to some extent is arbitrarily true. Since the inception of the county governments strikes and industrial stand-offs by the health workers have been the norm as they have been protesting about delays in their salaries and unfair treatment by the county governments. But what is the genesis of all these strikes by the health workers? Certainly, it is the delay by the central government to disburse the funds meant for devolution that gives rise to these stand-offs. Why does the central government led by leaders who purport to push for generational change and new way of doing things stick to the old system of executing tasks? The president and his entire team need to walk the talk and weed out the existential bureaucracy that has always made it difficult to disburse funds from the National Treasury. Efficiency needs to be the spirit in the second republic to ensure that the funds allocated for county governments are released in time to avoid various sectors and operations of the county governments from being crippled.

Devolution of corruption and the general misappropriation of finances is now a teething problem. This has been orchestrated by the Members of County Assemblies (MCAs) who to me do not befit the stature of being called as honorable members. They epitomize the ruling elite who are driven by the hunger to be rich and wealthy through the wrongful use of power bestowed on them. It has been challenging for a number of Governors to run their respective county governments due to the malice exhibited and negative energy oozed by the MCAs. Dancing to the MCAs’ tune and drumbeats has not been an option for the Governors and they have done this by financially sweet-talking these MCAs.

We need to the raise the bar for a person to vie as Member of the  County Assembly to reduce the level of ignorance that they have depicted. One thing that amuses me and amazes me negatively is the lack of understanding of the Standing Orders by these “honorable” members. Electing an educated leader is important to avoid such cases.

Continuous and endless wrangling between the National Assembly and the Senate has also characterized the second republic. At the time of drafting the current supreme law, it was envisioned that the Senate would be superior to the National Assembly but the reverse is what happened after it was realized that waiting for the inception of the Senate after the March 2013 elections would dampen the process of implementing the Constitution. What I dislike about the National Assembly are the political sideshows, games and gimmicks that come into play when matters of national importance are up for debate and discussion. Take for instance in December last year when we had a debate on the Security Amendment Bill which led to physical confrontations. I would also wish to castigate the Speaker of the National Assembly who has more than once proved to be partial and not chosen to remain neutral in some debates. History confines him to play second fiddle to the ‘Solomonic’ wisdom that his predecessor, Hon. Kenneth Marende had. At least the Senate wipes off the tears as they engage maturely and soberly in their debates.

Calls for a referendum have been in the air for the better part of last year. The calls have emerged from three quotas; the Opposition especially CORD and Narc-Kenya, the Governors and the Senators. The Opposition has been pushing for a referendum in order to have more funds for the county governments and the devolution of several aspects of the security system. The Governors, through the pesa mashinani campaign, seek to have more finances channeled towards the county governments. The Senators also came up with the Legal and Constitutional Review committee led by Kipchumba Murkomen which has been tasked to spearhead the process of amending the Constitution to grant the Senate more powers over the National Assembly and this calls for a referendum. 

The respect for the courts has also been a milestone albeit the defiance exhibited by some entities. The decision by CORD to respect the ruling of the Supreme Court on the presidential elections was a prodigious democratic step. Recently, the Executive has disrespected the courts as far as the 50-60% pay rise for the teachers is concerned. The Executive has no option other than to effect the ruling. It defeats logic that the Executive still runs to the courts even after the Industrial Court, the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court have all ruled in favour of the teachers. This is so sick. We have seen judicial reforms especially when Chief Justice Dr. Willy Mutunga began his tenure. But the reform embers seem to have waned along the way but at least there is a notable difference with regards to the reduction of corruption and incompetence in the judicial system.

The gains of the second republic have to be cherished and upheld. We however face an uphill task in eradicating governance evils of corruption and uncouth political leadership that has engulfed the system which remain a threat to our progress as a nation. These if not properly and effectively checked may otherwise create a political nebula in our second republic.