Nyanza Strategic Recovery Forum: Statement on Kenya National Dialogue and Reconciliation

Introduction and Background

Nyanza Strategic Recovery Forum - a platform initiated by representatives of the Luo Council of Elders, religious community, civil society, professionals groupings and private sector to mobilize stakeholders to participate effectively in socio-economic and political recovery of the province and the entire nation from the negative impacts of the 2007 post election crises - recently hosted stakeholders' consultative forums and radio talk show aimed at engaging the people of Nyanza in objective and independent discussions on how each agenda item of the Kenya National Dialogue and Reconciliation is being implemented.

The stakeholders also discussed the emerging socio-political issues/challenges that impact on the implementation of the National Accord.

The following issues emerged:

National Accord

One year after His Excellency President Mwai Kibaki and the Right Honorable Prime Minister Raila Amollo Odinga signed and committed themselves, members and supporters of their respective political parties and all Kenyans to the National Accord, the people of Nyanza province feel disenchanted, troubled and outraged at the dismal performance and regressive tendencies of the two Principals, the entire Coalition Government and Parliament.

The ever rising incidences of impunity and corruption in government and parliament, failure to demobilize and disarm illegal armed groups and continued use of the police force to perpetuate violation of fundamental freedoms and rights of ordinary Kenyans, including the right to life, are sparks that threaten the uneasy calm in the country.

Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) hosted in Nyanza province are living in extremely painful and deprived situations as they are yet to be compensated and/or resettled. It is disheartening that political leaders are quiet over this matter and are yet to make any meaningful efforts towards healing and reconciliation.

The people of Nyanza are disillusioned at the real threat to peace and pursuit of fundamental reforms that the manifested lack of cohesion and incessant conflicts in the coalition government poise. The evident breach of agreement for "real power sharing" is disheartening.

The slow and indecisive tendencies towards fundamental reforms such as constitutional, institutional, legal and land reforms is a serious indictment on the commitment and capacity of the coalition government and parliament to provide means to implement broad reforms, including those that would address the factors responsible for conflict in the country.

The people of Nyanza province, who have borne the pain and suffering of socio-economic and political exclusion and marginalization by successive governments since independence, fear that apart from sharing power, politicians are not keen to fast track reforms.

Economic Development of Nyanza

Since independence in 1963 and mainly because of marginalization, Nyanza has been a province where there is dearth of formal sector industrial activities; where labour-absorptive capacity of the traditional subsistence agriculture and fishing sectors and the modern industry falls far short of the growth of labour force; where poverty relegates many people - especially the youth - to a life of deprivation and hopelessness; and where high dependency levels stifle savings and investment - the vicious circle that condemns majority of the population to perpetual poverty.

The pledge to revive collapsed industries is yet to be realized.

The Coalition Government and the political leaders from the province must make deliberate efforts and bold moves to work with stakeholders to reverse these trends that have been made worse by the impact of the post election crisis.

The Coalition Government and Members of Parliament from the province need to work closely with the people of Nyanza to mobilize official government funds, constituency development funds, bank credit, donor funds and group savings through cooperatives and investment clubs to buy shares in the local investment ventures such as sugar factories that are being privatized and to start viable microfinance institutions.

The culture of hard work, savings, investments and entrepreneurship must be revived amongst the people of Nyanza - especially the youth. To do this, explanations must be made and lessons drawn from the massive losses incurred by masses in the Luo Thrift and Trading Company and in the purchase of the Molasses Plant.

The coalition government should invest in the necessary physical infrastructure and actively mobilize investments into the province. Government departments in Nyanza and the provincial administration must be transformed from being alien organs for marginalization of the masses into systems that are sensitive and empower the masses towards economic development.

Democracy and Governance

The people of Nyanza strongly feel that corruption and impunity in management of national public resources and devolved funds, especially CDF and LATIF, should not go unpunished. For the province to grow economically and for equitable distribution of wealth to be entrenched, democracy, transparency and accountability must be guiding principles in local politics.

The masses must be accorded a chance to choose their party affiliations and to elect their political leaders without coercion or intimidation. Internal party democracy must thrive and the right to dissent must be protected jealously. Use of political violence to intimidate opponents must not be tolerated. Politicians should also listen and accommodate views from the elders, religious community, private sector and civil society.

Invasion of Migingo Island by Ugandan Forces

Finally, the people of Nyanza province are outraged that invasion of Kenyan territorial borders and take over of the Migingo Island in Lake Victoria by Ugandan armed forces continue unchecked by the Kenya Government. Fishermen and the local communities have been forced to flee the island following the departure of Kenyan police. The incident has sent panic of insecurity across the entire Lake Victoria with serious consequences on the over Kshs. 8 billion fishing economy.

It is surprising that despite his Oath to protect the integrity of Kenyan boundaries, the President who is also the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces maintains a deafening silence on the Migingo Island issue. The Island should be immediately restored to its Kenyans inhabitants and sufficient security accorded by the Government.

Inter-Faith Procession and Prayer Event to Mark 1st Anniversary of the Signing of the National Accord

In pursuit of God's spiritual guidance for the people of Nyanza and the entire nation as we mark the 1st Anniversary of the signing of the National Accord, the Inter-Faith Network will host an inter-faith procession and prayer event on 28th February 2009.

The Procession will commence at St. Teresa's Cathedral Catholic Church, Kibuye at 9.00am and move along Jomo Kenyatta Highway up to Jomo Kenyatta Grounds where the Interf aith Prayer Event will be held.

All are welcome.

Delivered in Kisumu this 26th Day of February 2009

Rev. Fr. (Dr.) Charles Oloo K'Ochiel - Inter-Faith Network
Ker Riaga Ogallo - Luo Council of Elders
Jude Ragot, Esq. Advocate Laws Society of Kenya - Kisumu Chapter
Betty Okero CSO Network for Nyanza and Western
Prof. J. B. Okeyo VIRED
Joshua Nyamori Nyanza Youth Coalition
Rose Waringa Precious Tears Initiative

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