Archive for August 2008

Obama Senior: The Untold Story

He has been hailed as the personification of the American Dream, but some people see him as an egomaniac who only had himself to blame for his downfall

America today is enthralled by the oratorical prowess of Barack Obama, the youthful Illinois senator carrying the Democratic Party's flag during the presidential elections. If elected, he will become the first black president of the world's leading economic powerhouse. He is constantly being scrutinised and written about in this groundbreaking run-up.

Unknown to many, however, is the story of his father, Barack Hussein Obama, a man who apparently lived before his time, was highly educated and brilliant, but whose unconventional life ended tragically after a series of misfortunes. Yet in his bestseller Dreams From My Father, Obama praises the man who inspired him to pursue politics.

In a classic rags-to-riches tale, Obama Senior, the son of a Kenyan peasant, emerged from the impoverished Kogelo village in Alego and became a Harvard-educated economist.

Throughout his life, he battled racial prejudice, anger about his interracial relationship and corruption in his homeland, but despite these trials, argue some, he spearheaded the struggle to decolonise Africa.

Back home, however, many people say Obama Senior was a long way away from being an iconic figure. Veteran journalist Philip Ochieng', who writes for The East African, portrays him as an egomaniac who only had himself to blame for his downfall.

Ochieng' writes that although Obama Senior was charming, generous and extraordinarily clever, he was also imperious, cruel and given to boasting about his intelligence and his wealth.

In 1959, at the age of 23, Obama Senior was among a few bright students, including Ochieng', who had been selected to study in America through the student airlift programme organised by Thomas Joseph Mboya, one of Kenya's independence heroes and one-time Minister for Economic Affairs. He had impressed leaders of the Kenyan independence movement with his keen interest in economics and politics.

In Dreams From My Father, Obama Junior writes that his father was selected to attend university in order "to master Western technology and bring it back to forge a new, modern Africa".

Obama Senior then headed for Hawaii, leaving behind his pregnant wife Kezia and their baby son.

While studying in Hawaii, he became smitten with Ann Dunham, a young white woman from Kansas, whom he married shortly thereafter. Barack Obama Junior was born in August 1961.

According to Prof Frederick Okatcha, an educational psychology lecturer at Kenyatta University, who was studying at Yale (one of America's Ivy League colleges - so-called because entry is only for top students), America was still very segregated at the time. It took a lot of guts for a black man, whom Obama Junior describes as "pitch black" to marry a white girl from Kansas.

At 26, after graduating top of his class in econometrics, he transferred to Harvard in New York, one of the most prestigious universities in the world. Again, he left behind a wife and a child.

For a simple Kenyan from a simple Kenyan village to be admitted to Harvard was in itself a great achievement - even more so in the 60s. "Kenyans at Harvard were countable at that time, probably two or three," says Prof Okatcha.

It was at Harvard that Obama Senior made a name for himself as an intellectual. He was studying econometrics, which Okatcha describes as "pure economics", because it involves mathematics and requires a bright mind.

His friends and documented works reveal that he was a brilliant economist, although there is little evidence that he used this knowledge and brilliance to much effect after leaving the US.


Obama Junior wrote in his memoirs about his parents' meeting and wedding: "In a Russian language course, he met an awkward, shy American girl, only 18, and they fell in love. The girl's parents, wary at first, were won over by his charm and intellect. In many parts of the South, my father could have been strung up in a tree for merely looking at my mother the wrong way,"says Obama Junior.

"Even in the more sophisticated northern cities, the hostile stares and whispers might have driven a woman in my mother's predicament into a back alley abortion.

"I carried a single image of my father, one that I sometimes rebelled against, but never questioned, one that I had tried to take as my own. The brilliant scholar, the generous friend, the upstanding leader - my father had been all of those things," Obama Junior says of the father who deserted him as a two-year-old.

As Obama Junior grew older, his interest in his biological father increased and he sought to understand the man he called 'father', but who was a complete foreigner to him.

One of the things he sought to know was why his father had abandoned them in Hawaii. "It wasn't your father's fault that he left, you know," his mother, Ann, told him. "I divorced him."

But doing the 'right thing' did not automatically gain the couple their parents' acceptance. Obama Junior explains in the book how his grandfather in Kenya wrote a long, nasty letter saying he did not approve of the marriage, nor did he want the Obama blood sullied by a white woman.

While in his stay in New York, Obama Senior acquired a taste for the finer things in life. His social life revolved around a popular student hangout called the West End bar on Broadway Avenue, says Okatcha.

Like several other Kenyan students, he became a regular there. But unlike the others, who would order regular beer and American bourbon, Obama Senior drank the more expensive Budweiser beer and Scotch whisky, which was a symbol of status among students.

He would walk in, hoist himself up onto a high seat and order his favourite drink. He would then sip this quietly, adjusting his black-rimmed spectacles, which gave him the look of a serious academic. At intervals, he would dig out a cigarette, light up and take long drags, blowing rings up towards the ceiling, remembers Okatcha. He also recalls that offering Obama Senior a drink came at a cost. If asked, "What will you have?"Obama would reply in his booming voice, "A double Scotch whisky."

"If you asked him,'With what'?" says Okatcha laughing,"He would reply "With another double Scotch whisky.'"

Ochieng' agrees that Obama Senior was excessively fond of Scotch. The two had first met in Tom Mboya's office in Nairobi, and went on to become drinking buddies.

Apart from his booming voice, today echoed in that of Senator Obama, he was noticeable for his sharp dress sense and style. "He was always in a suit and a tie, even at the bar," says Okatcha.

"He had personality and self-confidence. The fact that he was brilliant and well-educated meant he had everything [with which] to impress the girls, despite a different cultural background."

At his home in Kogelo, villagers also remember a sharply-dressed man who was rumoured to have lived and worked in America. "He was a city man and most of us just saw him a few times," says a villager, Francis Otieno, 69. "He would have been long forgotten were it not for the son."

Obama Senior's critics argue that his egocentric behaviour can be attributed to American acculturation that gave him a taste for the high life.

Returning to Kenya in the mid 60s, Obama Senior was employed by an oil company. He later served as an economist in the newly independent government. Last year, the Daily Mail in London reported that he became "prosperous with a flashy car and a good salary". But he was unable to find an avenue for his intellectual energy, and his frustration soon became evident when he increasingly turned to whisky for consolation.

Over the next couple of years, his life became a downward spiral of personal and career disappointments, that ultimately cost him his job and led to his death.

Senator Obama writes in his book that his father lost his civil service job after campaigning against corrupt African politicians. It is possible that the key to Obama Senior's fall from grace lies in an essay he wrote in 1965. The essay takes a critical look at the Kenyatta government's economic policy. A move, analysts say, that placed him in direct conflict with President Kenyatta.

Okatcha believes that Obama Senior was too open-minded and liberal to fit into the rigid and bureaucratic government system.

Others, however, like Ochieng', say boasting proved to be Obama Senior's undoing. "He [Obama Senior] said there was tribalism in it, and that left him without a job, plunged him into prolonged poverty and dangerously wounded his ego."

Okatcha would occasionally bump into him at the United Kenya Club, near the University of Nairobi. "He sat at the bar counter with a Scotch, just like he did in the US," says Okatcha. "He probably would have been better off in academia or in the private sector where people are more open and free to experiment with ideas."

His third wife, Ruth, was an American-born teacher, whom he had met at Harvard while still legally married to both Kezia and Ann. It is alleged that she left him after enduring his repeated whisky-fuelled rages and brutal beatings. According to friends, drinking blighted Obama Senior's life: he lost both his legs in a car accident while driving under the influence of alcohol.


Obama was often accused of arrogance, but Okatcha disagrees.

"He would listen carefully to your arguments and then tear into you with facts and figures," says Okatcha. "He could be very forthright and that could be annoying to some people."

Other acquaintances, however, say Obama Senior had no time for people without ideas, and that may be where the issue of his arrogance and boisterousness arose. He was a typical technocrat who believed in providing brains for a system.

"The determination and hard work is certainly a feature [the] senator has inherited from his father," Obama's grandmother, Sarah Obama, observes.

Obama Senior ended up with three wives - two Americans and one Kenyan - and by the age of 46, he had eight children. But after a road accident in Nairobi in 1982, he died a desolate man.

It is only the reflected glory of his son, Senator Barack Obama, that has brought glory to a man whose intellect was muddled in Kenya's post-independence politics and his own human flaws.

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Ababu Namwamba: The Young & the Restless

Ababu Namwamba: MP for Budalangi Constituency


Orange Democratic Movement (ODM)

MP and Secretary, ODM parliamentary group

Kolanya High School, Teso District

: University of Nairobi. Master of Law degree in International
Legal Studies, Washington College of Law, USA
LEADERSHIP: Chairman of the Kenya Law Students' Society (KLSS), University of Nairobi
: Public Law Institute of Dr Oki Ooko Ombaka,
Founded human rights NGO Chamber of Justice and 'After the Promise' programme to audit political parties on faithfulness to commitments and promises made to the public
: National Civil Education Programme prepared different
social groups and leaders for the National Constitutional Review Process
HOBBIES: Reading history books and autobiographies of great leaders
FAVOURITE SPORTS TEAM: Arsenal, British Premier League
HEROES: Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga

When millions of TV viewers saw a firebrand MP refuse to swear allegiance to an ‘illegal president’ a leader was born. Clearly, Ababu Namwamba was not prepared to toe the party line.

It was a day to remember. The lawyer turned-politician Ababu Namwamba, 33, broke from the pack and turned the swearing-in ceremony of Kenya's new parliament in January into an occasion to give President Mwai Kibaki a dressing down - the likes of which Kenya had not seen before.

MPs were only meant to swear allegiance to the president and the state. But the Orange Democratic Movement, (ODM) was still reeling from being denied victory by the Electoral Commission of Kenya after it announced Kibaki as president and took exception to this.

Taking his cue from more seasoned MPs, Namwamba launched into a stinging address in which he accused the president of being in office illegally.

Expecting humility from their new administration, Kenyans were jolted out of their ennui. Namwamba was sending message to the old guard - he was not prepared to toe their party line.

He chose his platform well. The drama was played out on television to millions of viewers. While Kibaki sat stoically, albeit nimbly, through his tirade, Namwamba demanded that "the MP for Othaya" should be treated the same as any other MP, because the election was rigged.

Namwamba, the MP for Budalangi, then poured salt on the wound when he deliberately altered the wording of the oath, loudly proclaiming his allegiance to"rais wa jamhuri Amollo Raila Odinga," (President of the Republic, Raila Odinga), instead of “rais wa jamhuri Mwai Kibaki”.

That triggered loud protests from Kanu MPs, and the Speaker of the House, Kenneth Marende, was forced to restore order. Namwamba bowed to pressure and repeated the correct oath, but the point had been made.

"I didn't swear allegiance to Raila the man, but to Raila the symbol of democracy and the fight for the Third Liberation," he said.

It was a clear indication that the MP for Budalangi does not believe in pulling his punches. So, who is Ababu Namwamba, the man who sports a haircut more common among trendy celebrities than politicians?

Hundreds of people had been killed in the violence after the elections, and several thousand more displaced. Namwamba's party was in a rage, its leader and presidential candidate Odinga, led a swathe of the country that felt cheated by the Electoral Commission of Kenya, which they believed had conspired to grant a 'stolen' victory to Kibaki. Namwamba was a new MP who eloquently articulated the ODM's protest. He demanded that Kibaki be replaced by the 'legitimate' winner, Odinga.

I seized the moment to illustrate our country's spirit of resistance," Namwamba said. However, his boldness earned him criticism, including accusations that he was an Odinga sycophant.

"I have never been anybody's sycophant and I will never be. My public service has been based on principles and those are principles I'm ready to sacrifice a lot for," he stated.

It is tempting to compare Namwamba with Barack Obama, the Kenyan-descended American senator carrying the flag for the Democratic Party in the United States presidential elections. Obama entered America's national consciousness with a powerful speech at the US Democratic Party Convention in 2006 and was hailed immediately as presidential material. But is Namwamba anything more than a maverick?

He is certainly fearless, fiery and fresh. But, for many, he is a young man in a game designed exclusively for grey-beards. Obama was 43 when he set out on his personal journey to the upper echelons of political power. Namwamba is 33. Can he find enough support in his constituency take on the big guns?

We meet in Parliament to hear his views on politics and listen to his vision for the country, as well as his experience as a first-time MP It is chilly but the imposing structure, with its well-manicured lawns, exudes power. The thrill of it banishes the chill. This is hallowed ground.

Namwamba has been expecting us. As soon as he spots us, he strides over. He is looking sharp in a formal dark blue suit with a white kerchief protruding from his jacket pocket. It dawns on me that he would look equally presentable in jeans and sports shoes - anonymous among the youth of Nairobi. What his slight frame lacks, he makes up for with his authoritative voice and magnetic confidence.

Namwamba has spent the past few years building his profile as a conscientious human rights advocate and is now reaping the fruits of his labour. He trounced the populist former MP Raphael Wanjala, in Budalangi and looks set to develop a more visible profile in national politics.

He worked for several years as a human rights advocate and knows how to fight hard. He founded the Chamber of Justice, a human rights NGO, which fought a case for children prevented from enrolling in some Nairobi schools, because they were HIV positive.

"We fought in the corridors of justice until the court found the practice not only discriminatory, but also offensive to the constitution," he said. That led him into philanthropy and he founded the Ababu Namwamba Foundation, which he runs.

"I often visit the children at Nyumbani Home and other homes and I feel a strong sense of fulfillment when I see them coming happily from school."

He also supports up to 150 students, many women's and youth projects. 'The money I earn from Parliament goes within a week of payday."

As he talks, you sense the steel-trap lawyer's mind carefully weighing up his words. It hammers home the point that Namwamba is all about independence - independence of mind over loyalty to party and leader.

Odinga engineered the election of Namwamba as the ODM's Parliamentary Secretary, creating the impression that he was destined for greater things.

Then came the bombshell - he had not been named for government, in spite of his emergence as leader of the impatient young politicians who had ridden the ODM wave all the way to parliament.

He became a loose cannon, leading a group of MPs from both the Party of National Unity (PNU) and the ODM, who were demanding the constitution of an official opposition.

"We cannot afford to suffocate and emasculate the traditions and customs of parliament simply because today we are enjoying the benefits of a grand coalition, because we shall become victims of a temporary arrangement' he said.

"Just like we have government heterogeneity, we should have opposition heterogeneity. What is good for the government, is also good for the opposition." But, Odinga did not seem to think so, and he said as much during a 'bonding' session for ministers, assistant ministers and permanent secretaries in Nairobi the next day.

Dressing down the proponents of the opposition, Odinga accused them of rocking the boat because they had not been included in the new cabinet.

Was Namwamba deflated? For some reason, the young politician and his admirers- of whom there are many-had expected that he would be named in the government, at least as an assistant minister.

But Odinga and the other party bigwigs did not appear to think that he was ready. Some party faithful even took the opportunity to accuse Namwamba and his co-agitators of behaving like traitors.

"Some people want you to worship the party bosses. It takes a lot of character to go against your party," he said.

Namwamba deliberately presents himself as an independent. He would have you understand that parliament is the vehicle for change and democratic growth. He was clearly the leader of those agitating for a formal opposition, even though he is a rookie.

The coalition government had left a huge gap in governance: a formal body to offer checks and balances for a government that could become unmanageable when two opposing sides agreed to share the cake.

But the law was clear - an opposition had to have not less than 30 MPs from the same party, to be formally recognised - Namwamba's opposition had 65, but from different parties, and could therefore not be recognised.

Namwamba's determination and focus shone through - not even Odinga's opposition was going to stop him from seeing the opposition formally recognised.

He wanted to be his own man, but was he taking it too far?

That impediment seemed to have been overcome in May when MPs allowed him to introduce a law to "anchor, govern and regulate the opposition in parliament" in place of an official opposition - before an Official Opposition Bill.

Namwamba is building a reputation as a maverick, but has he paused to think of the effects this will have on his career and ambitions? Mavericks in Kenyan politics have not fared well and, until the recent appointment of James Orengo to the Cabinet as Minister of Land, few expected them to rise beyond agitators.

Martin Shikuku and Koigi wa Wamwere, despite their many admirers, have failed to win their constituency seats at previous elections. Others such as Peter Anyang Nyong'o, Kiraitu Murungi, Martha Karua and Mukhisa Kituyi learnt that toeing the line was safer than shouting from the rooftops.

"An opposition is about democracy, it's about checks and balances and it's about transparency. Its not about Raila or Kibaki" Namwamba said.

"Kenyans fought and shed blood to entrench position politics in the country and it would a disservice to them if we killed the same for political expediency" said the former Nairobi University law student and student leader.

Older MPs also see the need for a formal opposition protected by law. "Having a check-and-balance system is critical for democracy. It's not just about opposing for the sake of opposing, but to ensure that government is watched all the time to protect Kenyans' interests," said the Mwea constituency election loser, Alfred Nderitu.

I get an insight into the way Namwamba' s mind works when he lists his heroes - former South African President Nelson Mandela, first Kenyan Vice-President Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, former US President Abraham Lincoln and Indian political icon and pacifist Mahatma Gandhi.

To him, these men shrugged off oppression, transformed their societies and ultimately changed the world. "These historical figures illustrated that the greater goal of society is more important than the self," he said, his trademark grin illuminating his youthful face. Namwamba thinks that the country has entered "a different historical phase".

He is eager to change the way things are done in politics, much like Obama wants to end Washington's "politics as usual".

WHY POLITICS ANNOYS ME DECEIT "People don't keep their word. My experience with politics over time has convinced me that not everybody means well." HOLLOWNESS "Most politicians say one thing in public, but practise a totally different thing in private. That makes politics feel so hollow sometimes."
CULTURE OF IMPUNITY I really don't know what politics does to good souls. People want to force their way into things without even consulting the rank and file." FRUSTRATION "The public sometimes want to lynch you, even when you do the right thing. Right or wrong matters little in public opinion."


LOVE "The epitome of human life. It's the foundation of life. It's the most beautiful expression of life.
Love brings down all barriers. It's the most powerful force created by God." COURAGE "Manifestation of conviction. I believe that it's the height of coming alive. It's what makes you stand up in a crowd." KNOWLEDGE "Pathway to everything - to life and to existence. It liberates the mind and liberates an individual."

"About 60 percent of the current members of parliament are young, and we believe we have the numbers to make a difference," he said.

He has learnt quickly that it will not be an easy ride. There are old and conservative politicians who have little tolerance for young, energetic minds.

"Politics is not easy. There is a lot of deceit and pretence. It's difficult to be yourself," he said.

Namwamba hit the ground running in his first few weeks in parliament, working on various legislative agendas, including a plan to introduce motions to reform some parliamentary rules that he believes are outdated and archaic.

'The standing orders and the rules are bureaucratic and have no place in modern Kenya. Even the prayers we say in parliament are very traditional and conservative," he said.

But his youthful enthusiasm is up against the cumbersome machinery of the state. The Kenyan Parliament, like the British House of Commons and House of Lords, from which it borrows its traditions, is slow-moving. It adheres to traditions, which are often a smokescreen for protecting vested interests. In spite of his age and energy, things cannot move faster than they are.

His 'generation X and Y', described by sociologists as young, driven, upward-moving and always seeking new opportunities, must try to work for change from within. That will mean going head-to-head with the old, conservative men.

"We certainly see things differently. When, for example, the old politicians see an individual in terms of tribe, we see them in terms of their abilities, whether in business or profession."

Kenyans, he believes, are ready for young and dynamic leaders. But this does little to remove the vice-like grip on power of the grey-beards, who for decades have controlled the status quo.

He says that the post-election chaos completely changed Kenyans' political perspective and created a need for genuine, lasting reforms.

"We have to seize this historical opportunity, and the prevailing spirit, to carry out lasting reforms that will change the order of things in the country."

These reforms, he has learnt in the few weeks he has been in parliament, have to start with parliament itself.

"It would be hypocritical to talk about reforming the country when parliament itself is conservative and a hostage to tradition," he said.

He wants to see drastic changes in parliamentary standing orders, which he can push through as a member of the Standing Orders Committee.

"I knew 2007 was going to be a transformative period in terms of generation and a new constitutional order, but I did not expect the country to descend to this level of chaos. The chaos, the killings and the anger that followed the 2007 elections were a rude welcome to politics. It was a baptism of fire."

But instead of becoming disillusioned with politics, his conviction that strengthening institutions - not faith in individuals - is critical for democracy, has been hardened. "We have to fight in the trenches to anchor our young democracy and bury the ghost of personal impunity forever," he said.

Namwamba knows that Kenya, like many emerging economies, has to deal with the issue of national debt - most often arising from poor governance. He has travelled around the world and lobbied the European Union for debt relief. Now he hopes to use his position as an MP to intensify his lobbying.

But Namwamba is at somewhat of a crossroads. He is entering parliament at a time when political leadership has lost its credibility, with many people seeing politicians as corrupt, inept and manipulative. A local NGO recently released a study, which revealed that around Ksh 3 billion was spent by politicians to bribe voters.

Namwamba is quick to explain that he worked closely with women's and youth groups in Budalangi and claims that he won because he was able to identify with their problems and aspirations.

But, he says, he does not understand why the majority of his people still live in abject poverty.

"These things are puzzling, but now I have an opportunity to look at them deeply from a policy perspective."

And from a particularly cushy vantage point - a parliamentary seat comes with perks that include a monthly salary of Ksh3OOOOO, a Ksh3 million car, house loans and other benefits.

Few would turn down a Ksh1 million job that does not demand much input or many working hours.

But Namwamba says it is not just about money and perks. "Some changes can only be made when you are inside the system, and that's why I entered politics."

The issue of the Mungiki sect is close to his heart. To him, the emergence of gangs among the youth is a symptom of a more serious socio-economic problem that must be dealt with in a systematic way.

"We have to create jobs and address the high poverty levels in the country."

Our interview on the manicured lawns of parliament is going past 7pm and it is getting dark.

Namwamba, however, has not lost his grin or his passion. I wonder for how long he will maintain the energy before the system wears him down.

As if reading my mind, Namwamba comes to my rescue."I don't intend to stay as an MP for long.
I will evaluate my first term, probably go for a second term, and that's it." He explains that 10 years in parliament is long enough and he does not see being a legislator as a full-time job. "What would you do that you haven't done in 10 years?"

He gives a hint of his ambition when he says he would not mind staying a little longer, not as an MP, but "probably prime minister, or something. That I can consider."

His goal, he says, is to teach law, read, travel and write. In between his parliamentary schedule, he has to make time for his American girlfriend and his passions, which include football. Like football, politics is a high-stakes game where your opponents tackle hard in the fight for victory.

Whether Namwamba's youthful spirit, ambitions and energy will survive the hard tackle remains to be seen.


Kibaki Succession wars spill into Kenyan media houses

It can be said without exaggeration that the Kibaki Succession and its subsequent spill over into the media is linked to the violent early evening of December 30,2007, the day the delayed and hugely controversial presidential election results were finally announced and a hasty inauguration held at State House, Nairobi.

Indeed, so hasty was the inauguration that it did not even have the benefit of a guard of honour or even the blessings of the national anthem. This was the first time since January 4, 1994, that a presidential inauguration was being held in the protected precincts of State House and only the second time since independence.

All other related ceremonies have been held in public at the Uhuru Park. And the only thing that the 1994 ceremony did not have by way of protocol was a Kenya Air Force fly past, (with the exception of the presidential helicopter fleets no aircraft, military or civilian, are allowed to over-fly State House).

The 1994 ceremony had a Kenya Army guard of honour and military band and the invitations had been sent out overnight to VIPs, including members of the Diplomatic Corps. The close-circuit inauguration was the first one of the multiparty era and followed President Daniel arap Moi's highly effective tactic of divide-and-rule which scattered the opposition and handed him a minority victory with only 36 percent of the vote.

Moi decided on a State House ceremony after receiving intelligence reports from media sources that the opposition was headed for the High Court where they intended to file a case stopping any presidential inauguration until further notice with a duty judge (the court was in recess).
Unbeknown to the general public the beginning of the Kibaki Succession eight months ago also had an immediate impact on the media.

Hardly known to the public is that on the morning of December 30, Secretary to the Cabinet and Head of the Civil Service Ambassador Francis Muthaura, Minister for Internal Security John Michuki and Government Spokesman Alfred Mutua summoned media Chief Officers and editorial directors to the Office of the President and gave them a behind-closed-doors talk.

The media top guns were given to understand that the election results would be released before mid-afternoon on the same day. But what raised eyebrows was the fact that it had to be government officials making the announcement instead of the Electoral Commission officials.

The Standard Media Group's top two executives (Paul Melly and Paul Kamande Wanyaga) developed cold feet at the last minute and instead dispatched the Editorial Director, Kwendo Opanga, to the official briefing. Little did Kwendo know that he would become one of the earliest casualties of the explosive beginning to the Kibaki Succession?

By mid-afternoon there was no sign of any announcement of the presidential results. In every mainstream media house a series of top-level editorial meetings was considering whether to go to town with a story to the effect that as of midnight on December 30-31 President Kibaki's first term would lapse and the country would effectively have no President and no Commander-in-Chief.

Kibaki had been sworn in exactly five years before December 30, 2007, in a premature ceremony but one graced by what the media described as a mammoth crowd at Uhuru Park, Nairobi. The then victorious opposition literally ran President Moi and his Kami party out of town on that day in 2002, refusing to hear anything about a decent interval and a more orderly handing over.

On the mid-afternoon of December 30, 2007, when there was still no sign of the presidential results, a remarkable video cassette was doing the rounds in the newsrooms. It featured Juja MP William Kabogo describing in detail how he had been "rigged out" by businessman George Thuo and the President's PNU and administrative operatives. Kabogo made a direct on-camera appeal to Kibaki, urging him not to steal the election. Only one TV station ran the tape, the Standard Group's KTN.

Kibaki was sworn in at twilight and KTN stood out once more as the only broadcasting house that reported the beginning of the violence, starting with incidents in Kisii, Eldoret and the Coast. Soon after 9pm the Standard Group's top security managers, two of them Kalenjin and one of them a former Officer Commanding Police Division (OCPD), gave all staffers at the company's I&M building 5 minutes to clear the premises.

Although there was no immediate official explanation, whispers rent the air to the effect that Michuki had ordered a strike force to raid the building and get hold of the Kabogo tape. Terrified Standard employees vacated I&M in three minutes, many of them abandoning the night's work. KTN was taken off air by 9.30pm and replaced with the CNN feed.

How the Standard was able to produce a newspaper for December 31, 2007, remains a minor miracle. The alarm turned out to be false but as violence spread across Kenya the coverage by the Standard and KTN increasingly enraged the Government, which was composed of only 17 Cabinet ministers and President Kibaki at that time. There were many calls far behind the scenes for another raid on the Standard Group such as the one mounted by the notorious Artur brothers a couple of years ago.

The Standard's owners -Moi and his favourite son Gideon - came under tremendous pressure from State House, the National Security Intelligence Service (NSIS) and the PNU hierarchy to put a leash on the Standard and KTN and to make a number of heads roll. Moi tried his damnedest to control the Standard but to little avail. Gideon, busy licking his wounds after losing his Baringo Central seat to an ODM political neophyte, moved more slowly than his father, who was also in shock at the extent of his loss of power, influence and prestige in Rift Valley Province.

Two top editors lost their jobs as a direct result of their media houses' coverage of the General Election campaign, voting and tallying anomalies and the violent aftermath. Opanga and the Nairobi Star's Executive Editor Frank Whalley, both of whom used to work for the Nation Media Group as Associate Editor and Training Editor respectively were first casualties. Whalley, an expatriate who started out in journalism in 1968 found his way to a brand new publication, Kenya Weekly, bankrolled by Amos Kimunya and other regime heavyweights. Published by Oakland Media Services' Mundia Muchiri and edited by Ngugi wa Mbugua, both of them former Nation Media operatives, Kenya Weekly collapsed afterwards due to lack of funding. Why Whalley left Nairobi Star whose chairman is Mumias CEO Evans Kidero and the editorial policy has soft spot on PM has left many guessing. State House itself is known to complain about articles carried by the paper.

Kwendo's departure from the Standard was quickly followed by that of ace TV anchorman Alex Chamwada, who moved back to his original base of Citizen TV. A new editorial line-up is now in place at I&M building.

At Nation Television (NTV) star anchors Tom Mboya and Sophie Dcenye were showed the wide open doors of Nation Centre by top management for consistently failing to tow a conservative political line of reporting early.

The politically-charged onslaught on the media houses did not begin with the disputed presidential results. It started much earlier during the Orange-No and Banana-Yes titanic campaign for Kenya's first ever national referendum in November 2005. The big vote, on the then- Proposed New Constitution (PNC), resulted in a humiliating defeat for the government side and appeared to set a template for the 10th General Election.

Beginning with the referendum campaign the president's wealthiest and most faithful followers moved into the media sector massively, rolling out media strategies and networks oiled by envelopes bursting with cash and other goodies. But the timing was all wrong and the focus was on Central Kenya media operatives, both active and retired. Suddenly so-called research offices mushroomed all over the leafy suburbs of Westlands, Hurlingham and Lavington and elsewhere, manned by PR, advertising and editorial operatives, some of them at CEO and managing editor levels.

The General Election campaign, which began almost the minute the referendum results were announced, also sucked in media operatives in big ways. Wilfred Kiboro, the retired CEO who turned the Nation Group into a Shl5 billion operation, joined Kibaki's Presidential Re-election Directorate in a senior capacity.

But the Orange Democratic Party (ODM) was not sitting on the sidelines watching the action; they were in the thick of networking with the media and were in fact doing a more effective job than their PNU rivals. After clinching the ODM presidential nomination Raila started to increasingly rely on veteran journalist and former UN publications chief Salim Lone, a Kenyan citizen of Asian extraction who once had his citizenship revoked and later restored by the Moi regime.

Lone rolled out a media strategy for Raila that left the one developed for Kibaki by Marcus Courage of international PR, publicity and advertising firm Africa Practice stuck in the mud of campaign politics. Courage, which came to the Presidential Re-election Directorate via the powerful presidential buddy Nat Kang'ethe, who runs the Saatchi and Saatchi Kenyan franchise, came highly recommended for work done in South Africa, Nigeria and Libya. But his best efforts came a cropper against Lonc's tactics and strategies.

The Kibaki Succession struggle, which is four-and-half years premature (but that is nothing, the Kenyatta Succession ran for 15 years) is impacting the newsrooms in many invisible ways. Part of the Kibaki Succession is the silent but permanent struggle between Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka and Prime Minister Raila Odinga, which reached a climax during the protocol wars before the organization of government chart was produced.

Both sides somehow managed to have their cases showcased in the media by household name columnists, analysts, commentators, editorial cartoonists and photojournalists. Hundreds of thousands, even millions, of shillings changed hands at the time, with some newsroom operatives eating from both sides of that political divide.

The internecine warfare inside PNU, especially the Martha Karua/Narc rebellion against the President's exit strategies and her onslaught on Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and Internal Security Minister George Saitoti is also reflected in media coverage, both pro and contra and indifferent. A lot of cash is changing hands, particularly at weekends when the weekend editions of the major papers and the FM and TV talk-shows go into overdrive.

There is a clear ethnic divide between journalists and even media houses when it comes to the Kibaki Succession, with Luo and Kikuyu media people lining up behind their top politicians. The Standard, long after Opanga's departure and re-surfacing at the Nation Group as a top columnist, remains the voice of Kenya from Nakuru to the Lake and the Nation maintains a huge readership base and ideological bent in Central and Eastern Kenya.

But there are some major overlaps, for instance, it is taken as an article of faith by both practitioners and consumers of journalism that Nation Media's Group Managing Editor Joe Odindo is a diehard supporter of the Prime Minister and his boss Editorial Director Wangethi Mwangi of the President.

At the Standard Group, the Kalenjin formation of Deputy Chairman and Group Strategy Adviser Melly, Editor in Chief Bundotich and Managing Editor Weekend Editions Tanui takes care of the Rift Valley impacts of the Kibaki Succession battles, CEO Wanyaga projects an image of being far above the political fray but insiders say his hidden hand sometimes comes into play when PNU is in a particularly tight corner.

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Turbulent times in Kenya media houses as axes fall at KTN and Nation TV

WEEKS after it re-launched and turned the country's oldest newspaper, The Standard, into a tabloid, trouble is looming at the blue house after the Standard Group threatened to fire 30 percent of its staff. The threats came after the Group's leadership panicked following an overambitious recruitment of staff in anticipation for the relaunch.

That there is trouble at Barasa Limited that owns KTN and The Standard newspapers, is demonstrated by the exit of Andrew Teyie, a top journalist who has worked for the newspaper for over 15 years but resigned in a huff.

Teyie who recently returned from studies abroad accused a clique of top editors at the paper's daily department of serving interests of certain politicians at the expense of professional ethics.
He penned his resignation letter, tabled it at the group's chief editor's desk and walked out.

What has currently caused more panic, is a threat to fire over 30 journalists, drivers, accountants, advertising executives, news anchors and cameramen from the group.

The staff claim they have been rubbed the wrong way by the group's managing director Paul Wanyaga who now requires journalists to do at least three stories each a day with one being a feature.

It is said that the advertising and circulation departments are to blame for the shortcoming as they have not done their part of the bargain.

A source at the blue house privy to the on-goings in the house claim that top editors among them the group's news editor Douglas Okwatch are among those earmarked for removal.

Others include Dan Okoth a former acting chief sub who was demoted allegedly after he differed with the new Managing Editor Pamela Musau,

It is also whispered that a top editor at the Nation is due to join The Standard as the new chief sub to replace Thomas Kangondu who is currently said to be holding the office in acting position.

As if this was not enough, the group management has reportedly decided to sack nine sub-editors who are mainly from the Luo community. Oketch Kendo a top level editor at the group will is also said to be uncertain of his immediate fate.

A Gideon Moi ally and a Deputy Managing Editor Paul Woka is the new kid on the block and is said to have drafted the list of those to be sacked whom he says are corrupt and have links in high circles.

All this is happening when Standard top managers are enjoying time at the paper with some newly-recruited women and are said to be keen to ease off certain editors and staff.

There are also claim of biased reporting. The paper produced Sunday edition of July 27 with Prime Minister Raila Odinga taking almost half of the political pages starting a cold war between the so-called anti-Railas and the pro-Railas camps who are trying to outdo each other.

Aware the pro-Raila camp had a banner story in his favour, the anti-Raila group forced a negative side of the PM.

At Nation Centre, the management is trying to shed off the image it is pro-Kibaki it earned during last year presidential campaigns that saw it lose readership in Western and Nyanza provinces.

It forced top managers to fly to Kisumu to hold meetings with stakeholders in the region and promised to help reconstruct the city. Nation had embarked on public relations gimmick to win back confidence which had been eroded to an extent the lake-based businessmen were fearing to advertise in the paper.

In October last year during the height of election campaigns, ODM through Sarah Elderkin who served on ODM presidential campaign committee wrote to Wangethi Mwangi, Nation Editorial Director complaining of biased coverage. Part of her letter read, "I write to express ODM's concern about the unbalanced coverage given by the Nation group to respectively the PNU launch on September 30, the ODM launch on October 6, 2007 and the ODM-K launch on October 13,2007.

"Regrettably, despite protestants to the contrary by various people within the Nation group, there was a demonstrable lack of balance in the way Nation newspapers in particular selected to treat three events..."

At Nation, a bitter silent war is on with Wangethi and Linus Gitahi the Chief Executive Officer fighting to remove Joseph Odindo from the Group Managing Editor's office.

Odindo is perceived to be a Raila pointman at Nation Centre. To fight Odindo, the anti-Raila forces have brought on board Jaindi Kisiero a man who was bought a Volvo by Nairobi businessman Jimmy Wanjigi years back. Wanjigi who has links at Nation's mighty offices has been fronting Kisiero to replace Odindo although Mutuma Mathiu the Sunday Nation MD is being mentioned.

The war drums at Nation newspaper reverberating into the studios of its sister, NTV. Anchors Sophie Ikenye and Tom Mboya were fired recently due to what is claimed to be indiscipline. They are said to have made it a routine of reporting 10 minutes to bulletin time. They were also accused of engaging in uncontrolled drinking of free hard drinks from station die-hard followers.

Weekly Citizen has however established Sharleen Samaat the new NTV Managing Director wants to recruit staff who apart from reading news are also go-getters and can also produce documentaries and stories.

Mboya and Ikenye are only known for reading news a culture that seems to be endangered in local TV stations.

Earlier, NTV's Julie Gichuru resigned due to differences with her bosses to join Citizen TV. The gap Gichuru has left at NTV as far as talk shows go is being felt by both the management and viewers.

It is said when lan Farnades left to Nation Digital Division as the Managing Director, Gichuru was to replace him as MD Broadcasting but instead the Management had Sharleen Samaat in mind.

By late last week, the cool-as-cucumber Mboya was making calls to return back to Citizen TV where he worked together with Ikenye. Latest Steadman report on electronic media shows Royal Media is the fastest growing in the country with citizen TV having improved on its image and leads in local program productions compared to others who depend on foreign programmes.
However Citizen TV's trouble is human resources.

Elsewhere, after a successful 10-year success, Oakland Media a publishing house owned by journalist Mundia Muchiri came tumbling down two months ago. Mundia the blue-eyed publishing boy of the mt Kenya mafia is now a hunted man, with auctioneers and employees baying for his blood.

Situated in Westlands, Oakland media was the toast of ministries parastatals and the private sector. For one, Kenyan media fraternity were happy an indigenous publisher was kicking out foreign businessmen who dominated the field since independence.

Mundia worked with Nation and Standard groups at senior management and founded Oakland, an outfit started in Kariobangi which grew into a gigantic publishing house.

Senior staff at Oakland say Mundia is in debts of shs 63 million he owes printers who sent auctioneers to him and carted away the press and furniture.

The entrepreneur journalist is reported to have been messed up by PNU campaigns last year where he worked closely with former nation boss Wilfred Kiboro and disgraced finance minister Amos Kimunya.

Reports say PNU owes him over shs 10 million for work rendered and not paid. PNU says the figure is exaggerated.

After elections, he and Kimunya started the Kenya weekly magazine which failed to pick. Mundia belongs to the Meru journalists in Kibaki era who have been used to further kibaki’s agenda. His other friends in this category of PNU sympathisers are Isaya Kabira (pps), Mwenda Njoka, Kaunda Muchuku (ministry of transport) and Munene Rwigi(pps).

Those viewed with suspicion by meru mafia are Benson Riung’u (standard) and Mutuma Mathiu (Nation) who are said to have no time for the Kibaki regime and his Meru cohorts led by Kiraitu Murungi and Francis Muthaura.

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Kenya National Commission on Human Rights Public Accountability Statement for 2003-2008

The Kenya National commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) is five-years-old! The Commission became operational on July 29 2003 when Commissioners were appointed under the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights Act, 2002. The National Commission succeeded the Standing Committee on Human Rights (SCHR) that had been established through a presidential decree in 1996. The establishment of the Commission was a collaborative effort between civil society, the Government, and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

The Commission's broad mandate is to enhance the promotion and protection of all human rights for everyone in Kenya. The Commission plays both a watchdog and advisory role on human rights in Kenya. It monitors Government institutions, carries investigations on alleged human rights violations, and in appropriate cases, provides redress to those whose rights have been violated. The National Commission also gives advice to the Government on how to enhance the promotion and protection of human rights. Although established by the Government, the Commission is independent.

Its operations are guided by the United Nation's approved principles on establishment and functioning of independent national human rights institutions.

Five years since its establishment, the terms of office for the first nine Commissioners have expired. Five new Commissioners have been appointed and three former Commissioners re-appointed for a second term. The current Commissioners are Maina Kiai (outgoing chairman), Florence Simbiri-Jaoko (incoming chairperson), Hassan Omar (incoming vice chair), Wambui Kimathi, Dr. Samuel Tororei, Fatuma Dullo, Fatuma Ibrahim, Winfred Lichuma and Lawrence Mute.

In the past five years, what has the Commission achieved in enhancing the realization of human rights for Kenyans? What are the successes and challenges experienced by the National Commission in executing its mandate? As we mark our fifth anniversary, we take this opportunity to share with Kenyans our achievements and challenges in the past five years. We welcome members of the public to scrutinize our work and point out areas that need improvement.

The Commission thanks the Government for its financial support over the years, as well as development partners under the Governance, Justice Law and Order Sector (GJLOS) basket who have supported its work.


The National Commission's Strategic Plan for the period 2003-2008 guided its work. The Commission's five strategic objectives around which its programmes are organised include: reducing systemic human rights violations; framing and informing human rights discourse; increasing opportunities for realization of economic, social and cultural rights; establishing a comprehensive human rights education system and establishment of institutional capacity to deliver effectively human rights.

Advising the Government on Infusion of Human Rights Principles into Legislation and Policy

The Commission in partnership with civil society has made proposals for new legislation to advance human rights. The proposals have been on legislation to prohibit hate speech (Prohibition of Hate Speech Bill) and freedom of information (Freedom of Information Bill) among others. It has also reviewed Government bills and advised on how to improve them from a rights perspective; examples include the Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission Bill, the National Ethnic and Race Relations Commission Bill, the International Crimes Bill, the Suppression of Terrorism Bill, and the National Social Health Insurance Bill, among others.

The Commission has proposed amendments to existing legislation such as the Persons with Disabilities Act, the Prisons Act, and others.

In the ground breaking report titled The State of Human Rights Report: Deficits, Critiques and Recommendations, the Commission made policies on a wide range of measures to advance economic and social rights in the country. Policy proposals have also been made to government on abolition of the death penalty, enhancing access to education for those with special needs, issuance of national identity cards for border communities.

The Commission together with the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs (MOJCA) are spearheading the process of development of a comprehensive National Policy on Human Rights. Regional level hearings to receive the views of Kenyans on the proposed policy are concluded. Reviews were made of the Water Sector Policy and recommendations forwarded.

To advance the international mechanisms available for promotion and protection of human rights, the Commission successfully lobbied the Government to ratify the Rome Statute that established the International Criminal Court. After ratification, the National Commission worked with the Government to draft the International Crimes Bill that would domesticate the Statute. The Commission also lobbied for ratification of the Maputo Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa.

The Commission has supported Government to fulfil its reporting obligations under the several international human rights instruments it is a party to. Periodic reports have been prepared and submitted under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights, the Convention against Torture, the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights, and the Convention on the Rights of Children, among others. As a result, reporting backlogs have significantly reduced, thus giving the Government positive image.

The Commission participated actively in the drafting of the International Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities up to its adoption by the UN General Assembly in November 2006. The Commission lauds the Government for having signed and ratified the convention. Following the signing of the Convention, the Commission is advising the Government to domesticate the Convention to enable its implementation in Kenya.

Training and Capacity Building Of Public Officers On Human Rights

The Commission has contributed in promoting understanding and the gradual spcialization of human rights into the public service in Kenya. The Commission has conducted dozens of human rights education trainings to promote understanding and awareness of human rights among public officers. Within the first two years, the Commission targeted officers in ministries, the Judiciary, Police and Prisons departments.

In the past two years, government schools and institutions, the Ministries of Information, Planning, Health, Water, Agriculture, Labour, Public Works anc1 Roads were the major targets. Using the rights based approach to programming, the National Commission is empowering duty bearers within government and the civil society to mainstream human rights principles in the delivery of services to the public.

The Commission is working to infuse human rights into curriculum and training manuals of government training institutions, including the Police and Prisons Training Colleges.

Together with other actors, the Commission has contributed in raising public awareness and understanding of human rights by the public through agricultural shows forums, human rights clinics and public accountability forums, especially in marginal areas of the country. The National Commission in conjunction with the Kenya Police Service developed and produced over 100 billboards on the rights of arrested persons to inform citizens of their rights and duties at the time of, and subsequent to their arrest.

The billboards are being mounted in strategic locations where members of public and persons being admitted into police stations access them.

Provision of Legal Advice and Other Support Concerning Human Rights Violations

The National Commission has routinely initiated investigations, on its volition or upon receiving a complaint, on human rights violations. The number of cases relating to human rights violations reported to the Commission has increased over the five years.

The increasing number of cases is an indicator of the niche that Commission has established for itself as a lead agency in the pursuit of justice in Kenya. In resolving some of the complaints brought before it, the Commission either invokes its quasi-judicial competence or alternative dispute resolution mechanisms. The number of complaints that the Commission has received over the years have been increasing steadily, starting with 611 (2003-2004), 1,412 (2004-2005), 1,499 (2005-2006) and 2,274 (2006-2007). In the 2007-2008, the National Commission received 1,200 complaints; the lower figure is attributed to the disruptions caused by the post election violence.

Following massive human rights abuses that took place in the country after the disputed 2007 presidential results, the National Commission launched investigation to determine the violations that happened and who is accountable for them.

The Commission's Complaints Hearing Panels, through which the Commission exercises quasi judicial functions, are gradually emerging as a key forum where significant human rights issues will be canvassed. For example, in the precedent setting case of Peter Makori, the petitioner, a journalist, alleged violations of his rights by State officials over a period spanning more than three years. The Commission awarded Peter Makori compensation of Ksh 5 million.

In the Medo Mesama case, the Commission directed the Attorney General to register the applicant's political party since no valid reasons had been given in declining to register it and this amounted to a human rights violation.

Promoting Accountability in the Use of Public Resources

The Commission's efforts to hold the Government accountable has increased awareness and probity in use of public resources in Kenya; increased public demand for accountability from the political class, increased publicity by the media of incidences of misuse of public resources during campaigns, and improved the culture of accountability within Government.

Following the National Commission and Transparency International's (Tl- Kenya) publication in February 2006 of the 'Living Large' report, which documented wastage of public resources in the purchase of luxurious vehicles for Ministers and senior public officers, the Government publicly committed to cut down on the numbers of vehicles allocated to Ministers-and senior Government officials. The recommendations of the publication were adopted by the Minister of Finance, in the budget speech for 2006/7, leading to a Government decision to reduce the number of vehicles used by cabinet Ministers.

The Government also precluded almost all public servants from using official cars for private use (home to office). In their analysis of this new policy, the media widely referred to the earlier research findings by the Commission in the report 'Living Large'. The Government is yet to make public its findings following the exercise to reduce excess usage and number of vehicles in public service. The Commission made remarkable contributions in profiling corruption as a key human rights issue in Kenya.

The Commission views corruption as one of the critical impediments to the full realization of human rights by most Kenyans. As part of its broad strategy to fight corruption in public institutions, the Commission closely monitors progress and developments in the review of policy and legislation impacting on corruption in Kenya. The Commission also enhances the capacity of community groups to effectively monitor budgets and other devolved funds.

In 2007, the Commission undertook an analysis of proposed amendments to the Public Officers Ethics Act and the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act to make them more effective in the fight against corruption. The recommendations were forwarded to relevant Government offices. The Commission has also published a number of reports aimed at publicizing the cost and other human rights dimensions of the illegal and irregular allocation of public land as reported in the Ndungu Report.

The Publications include 'Unjust Enrichment, The Making of Land Grabbing Millionaires', documenting illegal and irregular allocation of forest and other public land; and the 'Human Rights Dimensions of Corruption,' following an international conference on Corruption and Human Rights. The broad aim of these publications has been to enhance the protection, of public resources, give voice to those who are most hurt by the illegal diversion of resources, empower the general public to demand accountability and transparency, and serve as a check on unscrupulous leadership.

Promoting Accountability in the Electoral Process

There exists very few or no mechanisms in Kenya for holding leaders accountable to their electorates. To empower citizens to move beyond simply expressing their views and preferences, and demand for accountable leadership, the Commission with its partners, in preparation for the 2007 General Elections, initiated and supported a national campaign, dubbed the Movement for Political Accountability (MOPA), as a strategy to promote accountable leadership.

MOPA, an independent coalition of civil society groups, religious groups, the National Commission and interested citizens, developed presidential and parliamentary aspirants' accountability charters that contained a set of key commitments that members of parliament were to sign on to and deliver on once elected into office.

Some of the key issues of the Charters included commitment to equitable salaries in public service and commitment to not to engage in inflammatory or hate speech along gender, race, religious, ethnic and/or other lines during campaigns or in any public or private function. Several parliamentary aspirants, some of who are sitting Members of Parliament signed the charters and will be hew accountable on the basis of the charters.

The National Commission has also successfully monitored the process of conducting by-elections and general elections to promote accountability in electoral processes. The process begun with the successful monitoring of the Referendum on the Draft Constitution in November 2005, the by-elections that happened in between and culminated with the December 2007 General Elections. The three key issues monitored were, the misuse of state resources, participation of public servants in the campaigns, and use of incitement and hate speech.

The Commission has published in the media its series dubbed 'Behaving Badly' containing, a list of shame with names of recalcitrant politicians, including particulars of offences committed. The Commission forwarded evidence of election-related malpractices to the Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK) and the Attorney General for action.

Monitoring and Documenting Human Rights Violations by Law Enforcement Agencies
Pursuant to its statutory mandate, the National Commission visits police stations, posts and patrol bases, often on the basis of reported complaints. These visits helps in monitoring the excesses of the police towards suspects held in custody and occasionally results in the release of illegally confined persons, among other immediate reliefs.

The Commission has in the past five years, monitored extra-judicial killings, police and military operations, evictions, torture in places of detention and harassment of persons with disabilities. Consequently, the National Commission prepares reports that are released to the media and recommendations discussed with relevant Parliamentary Committees and Government departments.

At the end of 2007, the Commission released a preliminary report on the Mungiki killings that indicated that between June and October 2007 close to 500 bodies of young men have been deposited in various mortuaries in the country by the police. The report further revealed that scores of other bodies bearing classic execution signs of gunshots were dumped in the wild in various locations including Ngong, Magadi, Suswa and Athi River. A final report is being completed.

Following the release of this report, the Commissioner of Police promised to launch further investigations into allegations of extra judicial killings by the police. To effectively monitor the pattern and document extra-judicial killings in Kenya, the National Commission designed and maintains a database of such killings since January 2007. The database has been instrumental in elucidating the magnitude of what appears to be a de facto 'shoot to kill policy' by the police.

In 2008, the Commission acting on complaints of torture and harassment from residents of Mount Elgon conducted investigations into the joint military and police operations in the area. The Commission subsequently shared the report Mountain of Terror with various state agencies including, the Parliamentary Committee on Defence, on the role of the military in the torture of suspected Sabaot Land Defense Forces in Mount Elgon District of Western Kenya. The Attorney General Amos Wako has stated that he was perusing the report of the National Commission on the Mount Elgon military operation with a view to possibly prosecute those responsible for torture and human rights violations.

The National Commission has been one of the principal players in the Prisons Reform Agenda. The National Commission has statutory powers to access prisons and other places of detentions in Kenya. The Commission conducts regular prisons inspections across the country with a view to gauging and suggesting improvements on the living and working conditions of prisoners and warders.

As a result of these prisons visits, the National Commission published a report titled 'Beyond the Open Door1. The report gave recommendations to the Government and relevant bodies to play their role in improving conditions in prisons. The Commission was represented in the Taskforce set up to investigate the 2008 Prison Warders Strike and also made presentations to the Taskforce drawing on its previous recommendations in terms of Policy and Legislation. The presentation was well received.

The National Commission has succeeded in the past five years in strengthening linkages between the criminal justice actors in Kenya. Together with other actors such as the Kenya Magistrate and Judges Association (KMJA), the Commission initiated and supported dialogue and consultations between a number of agencies i.e. the Judiciary, the police, prisons, probation officers and children's department resulting in the creation of court users committees to reduce back log in cases and decongest prisons.

The Court Users Committees are operational in Kitale, Kerugoya, Meru, Mwingi, Nakuru, Kericho, Nairobi, Mombasa, Bungoma, Gatundu, Kajiado, and Naivasha among other places. The Commission continues to play a facilitative role in this regard.

Enhancing the Capacity of Local Communities in Social Monitoring

The National Commission believes that the realization of economic, social and cultural rights is key to the realization of its vision of creating a strong and vibrant human rights culture founded on equality and social justice for all. Drawing from its experience, the Commission believes that the most optimal way facilitating the realization of economic, social and cultural is by enhancing stakeholders' participation in public policy, lobbying for greater provisioning for these rights through public expenditure as well as ensuring increased legal and other protection by state and non- state actors.

Consequently, the Commission conducted a review of the Constituency Development Fund (CDF Act) and submitted its proposals to the relevant parliamentary committee. A review of the Act would encourage greater accountability in the management of the funds. Together with the Institute of Economic Affairs, the National Commission carried out a survey on the effectiveness of the Constituency Development Funds and published a report 'Kenyans Verdict: A Citizens Report Card on the Constituencies Development Funds (CDF).The Commission is also working with other actors to train communities on how to conduct budget monitoring so that, among other things, they can effectively monitor the use of CDF and other devolved funds.

Business and Human Rights

The National Commission has emerged strongly as one of the National Human Rights Institutions with programs in this area and has participated in several international forums aimed at enhancing understanding of the duty to respect human rights amongst business. Recently it co-hosted with London based Human Rights Institute a successful regional Business and Human Rights conference that was chiefly aimed at interesting African National Human Rights Institutions to develop programs around this area.

Locally, the Commission has been at the forefront in providing redress on violations of workers rights in Kenya. A detailed inaugural Inquiry into Human Rights Violations by Salt Mining Companies in Malindi was conducted upon which a report with several recommendations was released and disseminated. Key findings included violations of the rights of workers by local salt companies and environmental degradation.

Following the publication of the report, a number of salt mining companies initiated several reforms in their work places. The Inquiry also led to the formation of the Malindi Human Rights Forum, now championing the rights of the communities and hosting dialogue with salt mining companies to improve the living and working conditions for salt workers in Malindi.
To enhance the duty to respect human rights by business in Kenya, the Commission has undertaken investigative missions and provided advisories to Pan Paper Mills, Tana River Development Authority, and Dominion Farms in Yala, and participated in the development of the International Standard Organization (ISO) process of developing ISO 26,000 Social Responsibility Standard.

Protecting Human Rights Using Cultural Institutions

Using cultural structures amongst the Luo Community in Kenya, the Commission and the Policy Program have succeeded in facilitating reinstatement of at least 20 widows and orphans who had been stripped of their family property and sent away from their homes following the death of their spouses and/or parents. The affected are mainly widows and orphans whose spouses and parents succumbed to HIV/Aids. Wforking with the Luo Council of Elders, the Commission's efforts have enhanced property ownership and inheritance rights of widows and orphans in the Nyanza region. The project is currently being replicated in Eastern Province, in partnership with the Meru Council of Elders (Njuri Nchekg), to advance human rights work in the region using cultural frameworks.

Promoting Human Rights of Minority and Indigenous Peoples (MIPs)

The Commission took the leadership in bringing to the forefront the human rights of MIPs by conducting training for public institutions, CSOs, CBOs and KNCHR staff to enhance the competence of stakeholders to secure respect, protect and fulfil the human rights of this group. In 2006, the commission held a 2 day forum on MIPs rights which enabled the actors to mainstream the protection and promotion of the rights of this group. This resulted in context specific actions points for actors and the commission made a deliberate creation of activities on MIPRs. In December 2006, the National Commission was the focal point in hosting the Special Rapporteur assessing the situation of human rights and freedoms of Indigenous People's rights in Kenya.

Providing Leadership on Topical human Rights through the Journal, Nguzo za Haki (Pillars of Rights)

The Commission's human rights journal, Nguzo za Haki (Pillars of Justice), is fast emerging as a useful resource reference on topical human rights issues. The Commission has in the past five years produced seven editions of the authoritative journal, focusing on the following themes: Business and Human Rights, Corruption and Human Rights, Security and Human Rights, Land and Human Rights, Labour and Human Rights; and Leadership and Human Rights.

The publications continue to be a resource of choice for researchers nationally and regionally and have been used as reference by students writing their thesis, the Law Society of Kenya in its 2005/2006 Human Rights Report, in an article in the Harvard Human Rights Journal, Spring 2006 and the 2007 National Human Development Report used the Commission's Issue No. 4 of Nguzo za Haki, on the theme of Security and Human Rights as a reference material on security matters.

Motivating reformists through National Human Rights Awards

The Commission has in the past five years rewarded reformists through the Annual Human Rights and Democracy Awards. The Awards aim to honor, encourage and reward individuals and institutions to defend human rights and good governance in their different callings.

The unsung independence heroes, Dedan Kimathi, Pio Gama Pinto, Father John Kaiser, and Dr. Geofrey Giffins, have been recognized through the Awards' Milele Lifetime Achievement Posthumous Award. Prof Wangari Maathai and the legendry athlete, Tegla Loroupe won the 2006 and 2007, Milele (Lifetime achievement) Award; while John Githongo was rewarded with the Firimbi (Whistle Blower) Award for blowing the whistle on grand corruption within government.
increased visibility, credibility and accessibility of the National Commission nationally and internationally

The National Commission believes that it has firmly established itself as an effective independent National Human Rights Institution (NHRI) nationally and internationally. The Commission has curved a niche for itself in monitoring and providing redress on violations of human rights, providing advice to the Government on human rights issues and providing leadership in human rights discourse in the country and regionally.

The reputation the Commission has earned in the past five years has largely been supported by the expertise, the commitment, the consistency, the diligence, realistic methodologies and strategies it has employed in its activities. The National Commission is also a regular news maker and is considered an authority regionally and internationally in human rights work.

The Commission has been accredited by the International Coordinating Committee of National Human Rights Institutions in Geneva in the top most category; only effective and independent human rights commissions receive this. To further ensure accessibility to marginalized areas, the Commission has set up two regional offices, in Wajir in North Eastern Province; and Kapenguria in North Western Kenya, each with specific programmes targeting the unique human rights challenges and needs of these areas.

Lack of human rights awareness

High levels of illiteracy and poor understanding of human rights has over the years affected the National's Commission's work. The Commission is often confused for a development agency and/or a humanitarian organization, with members of the public asking that the Commission meets their developmental and humanitarian needs, especially in a crisis situation.

Slow political and governance reforms

The promotion and protection of human rights would have improved significantly if the 'Bomas' or 'Wako' draft Constitutions had been enacted; both had many useful proposals for the advancement of human rights. The proposals included an expanded Bill of Rights, including economic, social and cultural rights, and stronger public institutions, such as the proposed Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice.

The Government's commitment to fighting corruption appears to have waned in the past five years. Failure to decisively deal with endemic high level corruption has affected the realization of economic, social and cultural rights of the poor. Not only does corruption encroach on our fundamental liberties and freedoms; by diverting public funding to private pockets, corruption reduces what is available for the realization of economic and social rights, and further perpetuates discrimination by favouring the few with access to power and impunity. Government therefore needs to step the fight against corruption.

Inadequate finances and lack of adequate financial independence

Over the past five years, the Commission received inadequate funds from the Government, its principal sponsor. Limited funds means poor accessibility of the Commission, as the Commission cannot open regional offices in different parts of the country, inadequate staff capacity and limited resources to monitor conduct investigations and provide redress for increasing human rights violations. The Commission normally uses the Government grant to meet its operational costs, while primarily relying on donors to fund programme costs.

In 2006-2007, the Commission received a grant of Ksh 92 million from the Government while it got 120 million in the 2007-2008 and Ksh 116 million in the 2008-2009. This level of support is inadequate for an institution with a nationwide mandate.

A related challenge is that the National Commission does not have a separate vote. The grant it receives comes through the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs. This threatens the independence of the Commission since the Ministry is potentially one of the institutions the National Commission may be called upon to investigate. The National Commission continues to request Government for its separate vote with accountability on use of funds lying with Parliament.

Managing public expectations

Members of the public have very high expectations of the Commission considering its statutory powers. The demands of members of the public are often times not easy to meet, because some expect to receive immediate remedy upon lodging a complaint. Additionally, most members of the public do not understand the mandate of the National Commission, and coupled with weak public institutions, they often expect the Commission to address issues that are out of its mandate.

Poor linkages with Parliament and Government

To be effective, the Commission needs strong linkages with parliament, which is the key institution in influencing policy, legislation and public accountability. On the other hand, though there has been marked improvement in understanding human rights in Government, cooperation is still not optimal. Access to key Government officials and information from Government is still difficult.

Poor or lack of understanding by some public officials of the role and mandate of the National Commission continues to be a problem, with some even believing that the National Commission is a Non Governmental Organization. Poor coordination within various departments also makes follow-up difficult.


There can be no accountability in the management of public institutions unless the public is fully informed on what these institutions are doing on their behalf, and unless the practice of public participation in running the institutions and accountability are institutionalised. We believe this is beginning of the journey to open up to public scrutiny and we shall appreciate your feedback.

Please send your comments 020-2717928/08/00 Email: haki @ or write at the above address.

Florence Simbiri - Jaoko Chairperson

Mburu Gitu - Commission Secretary
31st July, 2008

Kenya National Commission on Human Rights
1st Floor. CVS Plaza.
Lenana Road.
P.O. Box 74359 - 00200.
Nairobi - Kenya.
Tel: 254-20-2717908/2717928/27 i 7256/2712664,
Fax: 254-20-2716160
Email: haki @

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Energy Regulatory Commission Press Statement On The New Electricity Bills

1.0 Our attention has been drawn to the various news articles and public statements both in the electronic and print media regarding the magnitude of electricity bills for the Month of July 2008.

2.0 The Energy Regulatory Commission is empowered under Section 6(i) of the Energy Act, 2006 to," Set, review and adjust electric power tariffs and tariff structures, and investigate tariff charge, whether or not a specific application has been made for a tariff adjustment." In line with this mandate, the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) announced, on 26lh June 2008, new electric power tariffs and tariff structures which took effect on 1st July 2008.

3.0 The Kenya Power and Lighting Company (KPLC) and the Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen) had submitted initialed Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) seeking a review of KenGen bulk supply tariffs with effect from 1st July 2008 to the Energy Regulatory
Commission (ERC). At the same time KPLC had submitted to the Commission, an application for an upward adjustment of retail electricity tariffs with effect from the 1st July 2008.

4.0 In reviewing, approving and announcing the new tariffs and tariff structures, the Commission was guided by the following considerations:

  • Electricity tariffs had not been revised since 1999. As a result, KPLC's cash flows have continually been eroded by inflation escalation clauses embedded in the Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) for Independent Power Producers (IPPs).
  • The need to provide sufficient revenues for new power generation and distribution projects to meet rising electricity demand projected at about 7% per annum.
5.0 There are several power generation projects planned and committed to come on stream in the next four years. These projects involve the development of over 600 MW in new power generation capacity. The planned projects include the following:
  • A 35 MW geothermal plant by (Orpower4) an IPP which is due to be commissioned in October 2008;
  • 25 MW supply from a 34 MW cogeneration plant by Mumias Sugar Co. using baggasse, due to be commissioned in January 2009;
  • An additional 50MW medium speed diesel plant by Iberafrica due to be commissioned in April 2009; and,
  • A 90 MW medium speed diesel plant at Mombasa by Rabai Power due to be commissioned by September 2009.
  • KenGen is also working on progressively increasing hydro generation by an additional 70 MW by December 2011.
  • Further, Olkaria II additional unit of 35 MW geothermal plants is being developed to come on stream by May 2010.
6.0 The Commission has already approved PPA's between the IPP's and the KPLC for the above mentioned projects. Power Production Licenses have also been issued.

7.0 With these considerations, ERC announced an average overall retail tariff increase of 24%. based on average 2007/08 fuel prices and generation mix.

8.0 Fuel Cost Charge refers to the cost of fuel oil used in electric power generation in a given month. The total fuel oil cost is divided by the total units (KWh) consumed in a particular month to get Fuel Cost Charge in Kenya cents/kWh that is passed on to all consumers. The fuel cost is
determined by two main factors - Generation Mix and Fuel Oil Prices.

(i) Generation mix: This refers to the percentage contribution of various power generation sources. Kenya's power supply system is from three main sources - Hydro, Geothermal and Thermal. In Hydro generation water is used to run turbines while in Geothermal underground steam is used to run steam turbines. Thermal generation uses imported fossil fuels to run power generation engines. The higher the percentage of thermal generation, the higher the Fuel Cost Charge and vice versa. Power generation in Kenya has been predominantly hydro based, but
the percentage contribution of thermal generation has lately risen steadily from 25% of total generation in January 2008 to 37% in June 2008.

Between May and June 2008, power generation from thermal power plants rose from 175 GWh to 196 GWh, an increase of about 12% in one month. This has happened mainly due to failure of the last long rains. Most of the hydro generation is from the Tana cascade. The water
inflows at Masinga and Kamburu dams have been very low compared to Long Term Average flows.

In addition, the country is generating a substantial portion of its electrical energy from Emergency Power Plants (EPPs) which use expensive Automotive Gas Oil (AGO). The normal thermal plants use lower cost Heavy Fuel Oil (HFO). The EPPs will be gradually phased out in the next 2 years as new regular plants are commissioned.

(ii) International Oil Prices: All petroleum requirements for Kenya are supplied through importation. Therefore any increases in the international prices of petroleum products are directly reflected in consumer prices. In the fifteen months to June 2008, the international price of Murban crude oil has increased from US$ 62.1 per barrel to US134.00 per barrel, an increase of115.8%. On July 11. 2008 the price of Brent crude hit a high US$ 147 per barrel, the highest ever.

9.0 The fuel cost charge has, therefore, rapidly increased over the last several months. The fuel cost adjustments were 284, 314 and 359 cents/kWh in March, April and May 2008 respectively. In June 2008, the Fuel Cost Charge was 649 cents/kWh reflecting the increases in both thermal generation and fuel prices.

10.0 It is anticipated that Fuel Cost Charge will decline as water levels in hydro dams improves. In addition the fuel cost charge is expected to decline further as the system incorporates on-coming lower cost generation plants and the EPP units are progressively retired.

11.0 The ERC will continually play its oversight responsibilities of ensuring that costs borne by electricity consumers are prudently incurred by the industry. ERC however encourages electricity consumers to adapt energy conservation measures such as switching to energy saving bulbs and practicing prudent energy-use habits.

Eng. Kaburu Mwirichia
Director General
Energy Regulatory Commission
First Floor, Integrity Centre
Miliman/ Valley Road

P.O. BOX 42681-00100
Tel: +254-20- 2847000/200

Email:info @

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Water Supply And Its Conservation In Nairobi

Nairobi Water Company
KAMPALA RD, P.O. Box 30656, Nairobi,
Tel: 557131/3 FAx: 552126
E-mail: info@


The Nairobi Water Company wishes to inform its esteemed customers that there has been a huge drop in water levels in our water storage at Thika (Ndakaini) and Sasumua dams due to failure of long rains.

Currently the storage at Ndakaini, where 80% of water to the city comes from, is less by 30% of the reservoir capacity of 70 million Cubic Metres.

To sustain the supply through the rest of the year March next rains, the normal supply from the dam must be controlled as required by the operation rules. And as there is very little flow from the rivers into the dam, the supply pi-water for treatment has reduced drastically.

Although a rationing programme had been issued and published in some of the dailies in May this year, the present situation on the ground may call for its further review with a view to distributing the water more equitably. This may lead to a small reduction in hours of supply for some customers- to be advised at an appropriate time.

In the meantime, the Company is taking the following measures to alleviate the anticipated crisis should the condition not improve:
  • Controlling the stored volume of water to ensure it is sustained to the next rains
  • Ensure available water is equitably distributed through rationing programme and water bowsers
  • Calling on consumers to use water sparingly and enhance strict conservation measures
  • Enhanced patrol on trunk mains to reduce water loss occasioned by vandalism Repairing leaks as soon as they are reported
  • Replacing old network pipes to curb water loss through leaks Conducting aggressive underground leak detection and repair of the identified leaks
The Company would prefer that water for critical activities like domestic, industrial and commercial activities is available in reasonable quantities during the period and is appealing to consumers to practice the following water saving tips:
  1. No watering of flowers will be done between 9am and 6pm.
  2. No carwashes should operate within this dry period. Those flouting this rule will have their cars towed away and prosecuted. Car owners are therefore advised to clean their cars at home with rinsing water.
  3. No domestic gardening with water directly from the tap. Use grey water for gardening. Avoid irrigation with sprinklers or hose pipes.
  4. Business premises within CBD are advised against washing pavements with water from the wet risers.
  5. Report any leaks, vandalism immediately to the Company on the following numbers: 557131/2/3, 552150 or 553737.
  6. Check all leakages within the premises and have them repaired without delay. This will not only reduce their bills but will conserve water for the severely affected areas.
Your cooperation is of utmost importance to us.
Managing Director
Nairobi Water Company

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Open Letter To All Leaders From The Mt Kenya Community

Centre for Strategic & International Studies

Dear Waheshimiwa, Greetings,

We salute you as citizens of this great nation, Kenya. Whilst we are citizens of the Republic of Kenya, we have been endowed by providence with traditional, cultural and regional identities which raise specific issues that require our particular attention and action. That is why we further salute you as members of the Mt Kenya community.

We write you this open letter after observing with utmost concern the political direction that the region appears to be heading in the recent weeks. We are aware that you have daunting responsibilities as elected leaders. Besides your national legislative obligations, your constituents look upon you to guide their political, social.economic and development agenda. As Waheshimiwa, you are the representatives of the collective aspirations and hopes of the people that you represent.

Succession Talk
Of late however, these collective aspirations and hopes have been reduced to one item-the clamour for political power, succession bickering and jockeying for prominence. Your noble calling to serve the people has been relegated to play second fiddle to your personal dreams and ambitions. All of a sudden, it is no longer about the people who turned out in large numbers to vote for you; rather it is about who is well positioned in the path to glory, power and personal gain.

There is nothing wrong with ambition. As the legendary Masinde Muliro once said, if you have no ambition, get the hell out of politics. But perhaps in the pursuit of your ambitions, you may want to be guided by the Holy Book. Mathew 20:20-28 narrates to us how the mother of James and John told Jesus of her wish to have her two sons sitting at each side of Jesus in heaven. Jesus' reply should inform all of you clamouring for high offices and succession. He told the mother of James and John that it was not him to decide, rather the positions she was seeking for her sons were for those who had been prepared by Cod his Father.

If you internalize the above teaching from the holy book, you will realize that the current succession talk is nothing but vanity of vanities. If you take time to listen to the current undercurrents within the Mt Kenya region, you will realize that the last thing that the people who elected you want to hear about is power and succession.

Our people want to hear solutions to the myriad issues and challenges that afflict them. They want you to fulfill the promises and pledges that you gave while campaigning last year. With all due respect, we advise you to hearken to the voices of our people or risk losing their patience permanently.

We like your current talk of succession and political positioning. But in the name of Cod Almighty your current talk of succession is an abomination to the hundreds of thousands of the internally displaced persons dDP's) currently languishing in various camps in this cold winter. As you are aware, a disproportionately overwhelming majority of these IDP'S are blood relatives of the Mt. Kenya communities. Their situation is so dire and grave that some of them have been reported to have resorted to prostitution for survival. The ones who have gone back to their farms are sleeping in the cold, living in pathetic sub-human conditions. Their children are not going to school, unlike your children. They have no food, they have no money, they have no shelter, they have no hope.

As of December, 2007, these people were doing just fine. The only "crime" they ever committed to deserve what they are going through was that they were presumed to have voted in line with the Mt Kenya community. Our appreciation to them is through succession talk while they languish in an abyss of despair. These people will hold you guilty forever. Their patience is running out, they want solutions today before tomorrow. They want immediate resettlement; they want immediate and fair compensation.

The IDP'S demand of you that you stand up and speak out for them so they can regain the dignity in their lives. Sorry to disappoint you, they would not care less who will be the next President of the Republic of Kenya. They want action and the jury is out.

Youth and Jobs
Other than the IDP'S, waheshimiwa, there is another group that is equally if not more sick of your succession talk. That is the forgotten youth in the Mt Kenya region. During the campaigns, you promised to deliver to them the moon on the one hand and the sun on the other. But have a look at their situation. Majority of our youth are rotting in the shopping centres across our region where they idle away their productive days In hopelessness and anger. They want jobs, not succession. They have laid their hopes for a decent living with you, Waheshimiwa.

They wonder where you get time to talk about succession when you are meant to be extremely busy planning and executing programmes that will give them jobs and other forms of economic empowerment. They want to hear you talk, they love your voices but they would rather you talk about the continued harassment and persecution of young people in the region for the crime of being jobless. The youth of Mt Kenya region are waiting for you to stand up for them and the jury is out.

National Healing
Honourable ladies and gentlemen, the recent events that followed the General Elections of 2007 have brought to the fore the need for all of us to re-dedicate ourselves to the principle of a united, unitary and indivisible nation called Kenya, in this regard, as leaders of the Mt Kenya community, you have a responsibility to lead our region in continuously building bridges with the rest of the country. This is not unique to you as Mt Kenya leaders.

The same is demanded of leaders from other regions. Our nation needs time to heal. Kenyans have been deeply hurt and scarred by the events that rocked this country since December 27", 2007. They need a break, period! The current succession talk by Mt Kenya leaders flies in the face of the healing process. Forgive us, but in the wake of the healing process, your current squabbles on succession are not helping much in the healing process. Your actions have the risk of further isolating Mt Kenya from the rest of the country. We will be seen as a people too eager to run after a fly while Rome is burning.

Uprooting of Tea and coffee
You have realized that an increasing number of our people are uprooting tea and coffee. Their patience has run out. They have given their leaders enough time to fix the problems in tea, coffee and other agricultural sectors. Since you started these meaningless fights for succession, the rate of uprooting has gone up a notch higher. Why? Our people have realized that you will not have the space any time soon to think about reforming the tea and coffee sectors. Kindly read the mood of our people and align yourselves accordingly.

Constitutional Reform
While you are busy fighting each other, others are busy preparing for the forthcoming constitutional reform. You are aware that the Mt Kenya communities, like all other regions have major stakes in the re-writing of the constitution. Various longstanding issues that have affected our community negatively can and should be addressed in the forthcoming process. Top on the agenda is the issue of a fair distribution of the constituencies.

The people of Mt Kenya region want to hear you address the skewed distribution of constituencies that have continued to place an unbearable burden on you as members of parliament thus affecting service delivery to them. They want to see you working towards a permanent settlement and solution to the outstanding questions so that the rights to life and property are made sacrosanct in the new constitution.

They want their rights to settle anywhere in the country affirmed and protected. You as their leaders would do yourselves a lot of good if you spent more time standing up for those rights than scratching each other's face in the name of succession.

Education in Crisis
Our community has historically placed a very high premium on education, in fact, education and enterprise are pillars of our community. Yet, waheshimiwa, none of you can look at us in the eye and claim that you are proud of the status of education in the Mt Kenya region. Our educational institutions, facilities and standards have continued to falter over the years. Urgent action is required to uplift them. You are better off focusing on that than in these distractive talks about succession.

Inaccessible Leaders
if you never knew, compared with the rest of the country, leaders in Mt Kenya region are perceived by their own people to be disconnected to their needs. You have an onus to bridge the gap between the leaders and the people. Our people want leaders who are close and accessible to the common man. if you were, you would realize that they want you to prioritize their problems over your succession issues.

Youthful Leadership
During the last General Elections, our people voted for a very high number of youthful members of parliament, just like the other regions did. In fact over 85% of our M.P's in the region are young. It is imperative upon these youthful M.P's to rise up to the challenge and lead our region towards not only solving the above challenges, but also towards greater heights of prosperity for the Mt Kenya region.

Sense of Priorities
In a nutshell, we request that you work towards solving the problems of our people. It is too early to confuse our people through succession talk, we would like to remind all and sundry that we have had many presidential candidates in the past and thus there is nothing magical, unique or even wrong about having presidential candidates in 2012. Since 1992, Mwai Kibaki, Mukaru Nganga, Koigi wa Wamwere, Waweru Ngethe, Wangari Maathai, Godfrey Kabeeria Mwireria, Dr Munyua waiyaki, Uhuru Kenyatta, Kenneth Matiba and Bishop Pius Muiru have all vied for the Presidency. They are all from the Mt Kenya region. Nobody interfered with their democratic right, just as no one will interfere with your democratic right to vie in 2012.

The question is: - With the foregoing issues and challenges, with the iDP's still in the camps, with our youth roaming the villages and urban centers without jobs, with our farmers uprooting tea and coffee, with the country still trying to heal from the post-election wounds, with the constitutional reforms still not started, with our education in crisis, do you people have a sense of priorities?

Kindly ponder over these matters otherwise political oblivion is approaching fast and furious.

Moses Kuria Secretary General
Timothy M. Muriuki Chairman

Centre for Strategic and international Studies.

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