National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK) Press Statement : Move Kenya Forward

The Executive Committee of the National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK) has met here at Jumuia Conference and Country Home, Limuru, between 3rd and 4th December and deliberated on matters of national concern in addition to transacting Council businesses. We wish to share the following with the nation.

Review of 2008

The year 2008 was a difficult year for Kenyans. We began on a sad note as violence that broke out after announcement of presidential elections results on 30th December 2007 escalated to cover more areas. The violence had also changed character from mere protests and riots to murderous attacks on members of specific tribes and those suspected of having supported specific political parties.

The gloom attendant to the violence did not really lift from the nation until around the month of June when most Kenyans finally began to focus on the future.

Moving on however is yet to happen for hundreds of thousands who remain displaced from their homes. The resettlement and reintegration programme has not moved as it should have. At the same time, there are millions whose means of livelihood were destroyed by the violence and who now depend on the mercies of well wishers. It is sobering to realize that while as a nation we are seeking to heal and move on, pain and hurt remain in the hearts and bodies of countless thousands who were in one way or another affected by the violence.

It is against this background that as we come to the end of this year, we give thanks to the Lord God Almighty who has brought us this far. We are especially grateful that peace has reigned in the nation and despite the sporadic scares, the coalition government is holding together. We encourage all Kenyans to take a moment this Christmas season to reflect on God and give thanks to Him.

Further, we call upon all Kenyans to extend good will to the internally displaced persons. Many are still held up in the transit camps without access to food or essential services.

The government should especially move with speed to conclude the resettlement programme.

Food Security

We are appalled that Kenyans have had to demonstrate before visitors and the Prime Minister to demand for a reduction of food prices before action was taken. For the government to have sat back and allowed the situation to deteriorate to such a point is grossly irresponsible. We aver that the food crisis is not an act of God but the outcome of ineptitude and carelessness on the part of our public officers. How is it that the government did not plan and put in place measures to ensure that all Kenyans have access to quality and affordable food at all times?

Regrettably, the government has an annoying and ridiculous way of focusing on only one issue at a time, thereby missing the benefits of planning strategically from a wider scope. Today, Kenyans are crying about maize. A few months ago we had a shortage of wheat. Before that there was a shortage of sugar and rice. Such a narrow minded approach to food security is an embarrassment and is inexcusable by the Kenyan public.

Kenyans, like the rest of humanity the world over, elect governments so that they can be protected from people and circumstances that would be harmful to them. The government of Kenya should have in place measures to regulate the activities of the middle men instead of whining about them through the media if they indeed are the cause of the shortages of foodstuffs.

At the core of the food security crisis is endemic corruption that pervades every sector of our society, and which the government does not seem willing to deal with. The reports that some people, who include Members of Parliament, corruptly acquired licenses to irregularly buy maize from the National Cereals and Produce Board and later sell it to the millers at inflated prices is alarming. This must be dealt with conclusively. We demand that independent investigations be conducted and all who are found to have participated in or abetted this cartel be removed from all leadership positions and be made to stand trial in courts of law.

To conclusively address the problem of food shortages, be it food for routine use or the strategic reserves, we expect the government to urgently spearhead the development of a national food security policy. This process should of necessity be widely consultative so that the policy is comprehensive and practicable.

Further, it is our hope that more resources will be allocated to the Ministry of Agriculture since food security is an essential component of national security and stability. We on the same breath urge the Ministry to develop clear plans on how the money will be used to help strategically secure food for Kenyans.

Environmental Concerns

While regretting the state to which Kenyans have been reduced by the current and previous food crises, we note that poor environmental management has greatly impacted on food security.

We therefore urge that the national food policy developed by the government gives clear guidance to the nation:
  1. Increase of forest cover so as to reverse the deforestation in the country and instead promote afforestation
  2. Water management appreciating that every year, millions upon millions of litres of water go to waste when rains fall only for Kenyans to suffer a few weeks later when the sun shines. Development of dams and other rainwater harvesting facilities will go a long way in promoting our national food security
  3. Water pollution, noting that many rivers and even lakes are getting more and more polluted, making their water dangerous for human consumption and use Genetically Modified Organisms
We are concerned at the speed at which the government is moving with regard to the issue of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). We urge for restraint on the part of the Ministry of Agriculture and other stakeholders especially those with vested interests.

The government should not make decisions on whether to allow or bar the use of GMOs in the country before engaging other stakeholders and indeed all Kenyans with a view to ensuring that we all understand the merits and demerits of GMOs. We must be interested not only in producing more food, but also in avoiding possible negative impacts of fhe same on our food production and security.

Constitution Review

We are glad that the Constitution of Kenya Review Bill 2008 was passed by Parliament with the amendments proposed by different stakeholders. It is of extreme importance that all Kenyans be involved in this process of developing a new constitution that will bind them for years to come.

It is anticipated that attention will shift to the content of the new constitution since the roadmap will soon be law. In this regard, we call upon the different religious institutions and other stakeholders to put in place structures for a sober engagement of the content of the new constitution especially with regard to the contentious issues.

Reports from Kriegler and Waki Commissions

While reiterating our position that the reports from the Kriegler and Waki commissions be implemented without further ado, we appreciate that the cabinet finally gave clear leadership on this matter. It is our prayer that the myriad of committees being formed to strategise for implementation of these reports will not serve as a time wasting measures. We remind our political leaders that Kenyans are watching; and Kenyans want to put impunity behind them. It must not be a perpetual cancer in our land.

Taxation of the salaries and benefits of Members of Parliament

We reiterate our statement of 19th June 2008 in which we noted that "Members of Parliament, like all other Kenyans, have a duty to finance the operations of public offices and the government as a whole. No one should expect to have quality services if they are not willing to pay for it. Members of Parliament should show Kenyans the way in contributing to the national budget by allowing taxation of their salaries and allowances."

We therefore expect nothing less than measures being put in place immediately for Members of Parliament and holders of constitutional offices to pay taxes on their salaries, benefits and allowances on the same regime as other Kenyans.

Reproductive Health Bill

Parliament is currently debating the Reproductive Health and Rights Bill 2008. We wish to state that as a rule, there are two non negotiable principles that all proposed laws in Kenya must observe:

One, sanctity of life, which begins at conception

Two, traditional family values that facilitate stability in the society

We therefore find it presumptuous that a group of people have spearheaded a bill in Parliament that contravenes these principles. We demand an immediate unconditional withdrawal of this bill.

Public Transport

It is saddening that the condition of public transport in the country is worse than deplorable. Many lives of Kenyans have been lost in the recent past to meaningless road accidents. On the other hand, reports indicate that traffic police focus more on soliciting bribes from motorists than on enforcing traffic rules. We therefore call on the Ministry of Transport and the traffic police to strictly enforce traffic and road safety rules.

This is especially essential during this festive season when many Kenyans will be traveling to their holiday locations.

We also call upon the public transport operators to reduce fares to reflect the improved fuel prices. It is not appropriate for the operators to add an extra burden on the people who are already heavily weighed down by high food costs. In the same vein, we urge that operators resist the temptation to hike fares unreasonably during the festive season. Kenyans are coming from a particularly difficult year and the contribution we can make is enabling them to travel to their desired holiday destinations fairly.

In addition, the government needs to be keenly attentive to the condition of roads in Kenya. The deplorable condition of roads only goes to increase the cost of vehicle maintenance.


We conclude by appreciating that Kenya is still at a make or break point. We can either move Kenya forward or draw ourselves backwards into chaos and anarchy. We therefore call upon all Kenyans, and moreso the political leaders, to provide space for all of us to boldly examine our past and national challenges and make necessary sacrifices in order to re-engineer our nation and its institutions for a more secure and prosperous future.

Let us all make it our personal responsibility to promote peace and ensure it prevails in our environs and in the nation during this season and in the New Year.

May we all have a merry Christmas and a blessed new year.

Signed on this 4th day of December 2008 at Jumuia Conference and Country Home, Limuru.

Rev. Dr. Charles Kibicho Chairman

Rev. Canon Peter Karanja General Secretary

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