Jerry Okung'u: Don't We Know What We Want?

Fellow Kenyans, this is an open letter to President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga. I have decided to share it with you because the issues I am about to raise with them concern you directly.

As I sat there in that stuffy hall at Kenyatta Conference Centre, I wasn't sure if this meeting was appropriate in the middle of so many tragedies and scams, for which the public was blaming the present administration. What caught me by surprise was the lineup of key speakers at the opening ceremony.

I wondered aloud whether, once again, 2,000 poor Kenyans were gathered for lectures from the very leaders they were blaming for the mess we are in.

As we listened to Planning minister justifying the efforts that went into putting the event together; as we listened to contributions from former president Moi, Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka, Raila and Kibaki in that order, trying to spell out what was wrong with us and how we must deal with our present predicament, I wondered aloud why I needed to listen at all to the same talks I had heard over and over again in the same venue.

Then I recalled that in 2007 during the campaigns for the last General Election, we heard well articulated ODM and PNU party manifestos at the same venue.

These manifestos spelled out the ills afflicting Kenya and prescribed a cure for them. Kenyans listened for the better part of 2007 before they went to vote.

The fact that the three main party leaders are now in a coalition is the more reason they should not again have asked us to tell them what is wrong with Kenya or what Kenya we want.

They have answers in the three manifestos, which I am made to believe were merged at some point.

More importantly, the fact that this conference was the third such gathering with the same theme since 1962 was proof enough that the event was an ill-conceived exercise at a time when Kenya was plagued with all manner of calamities.

Had the organisers been a bit more prudent; they would have first gone to the archives, dug up the resolutions passed in 1962 and 1980 to see whether or not those resolutions had been implemented. They were not.

Again, it was foolhardy to gather 2,000 Kenyans of mixed background — some highly educated while others with bare minimum of education — to share in a forum that was predominantly elitist.

On another note, was it wise to bring Moi to speak of his 24 years of mayhem during which he ground the economy to a halt? Was it necessary for him to make that cruel joke that for 24 years he was the bus driver, he knew that back there in the bus, there were pickpockets stealing from Kenyans? Why didn't he stop the bus to flush them out?

Having said that, following is a list of some of the things I know Kenyans want done to restore their country to the Kenya they want:

Kenyans want their country back.

They are tired of politics of greed and insensitivity.

They want leaders who keep promises and resign from public office if they are involved in public scams.

They want a Kenya that has two chambers of Parliament to guard against One Chamber dictatorship, public exploitation and greed.

The Cabinet should be composed of 21 competent professionals who are not MPs.

Kenyans should be free to recall non-performing MPs .

Kenyans want to see that corruption, theft of public funds, police killings and other impunities are punished for real in real time.

Kenyans want John Michuki to head a special Ministry of Roads, Transport, Internal Security and Lawlessness

They want a Kenya where private land ownership is restricted to a maximum of 100 acres.

They want a Kenya where impunity is not allowed to deplete our Central Bank and forex reserves.

They want a Kenya where justice is blind.

They want a Kenya where bank interests and fuel pump prices are controlled.

They want a Kenya where bribing voters should earn a politician a life sentence.

They want a Kenya where MPs and all constitutional office holders pay taxes.

Jerry Okungu is a media consultant who comments on topical issues.

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