Archive for September 2012

Kenya’s abysmal politics a direct import of our choice

A rare species of a politician, a leader in the contemporary world, Jesse Ventura is in a class of his own, apart from being brutally honest with his political views, he remains the only leader of the independent party who won election when he got elected to the key post of governor in Minnesota. Away from his achievements, I find the following words he spoke recently very educative and timely for the Kenyan folks. Ventura had quipped, “When the power of love overtakes the love of power, we shall be one and united as a Country”. Kenya is one place that needs unity on many fronts and mine really is to expressly share views to revitalize the need for a concerted effort in seeking able leadership at all levels, National and devolved levels.

Economic growth and prosperity is dependent upon good governance, secure, stable environment, and political will from the executive for the citizens to pursue meaningful economic activities, to create wealth and employment in order to stimulate national development. To move all working parts of a nation, Kenya needs a capable leader, one who is able to synchronize the vision and aspiration of the people and deliver goods and services needed to steer the nation towards a steady path of growth and development.

Going by the current trends of political affairs in Kenya, the criteria used in choosing national leaders and representatives is seriously flawed and misguided at the very least, not for lack of legislative capacity but because of a big gap in civic education.

It is sad to note that all persons aspiring to lead in Kenya has to come from a closely knit segment of society, extremely wealthy and or traditionally connected to a politically powerful entity or, be part of a cartel always determined to ruthlessly defend vested interests to the detriment of public good, common welfare.

Great leadership acumen such as those exemplified by heroes like Nelson Mandela of our time and Mahatma Gandhi of yester-year is not about oneself but about certain key value sets and beliefs, powerful enough to assert authority, garner popular support and influence to provide direction and hopes for the people. Hence, without a unified theme of beliefs and values to rally and influence people, our present-day leaders are going to fail miserably in their quest to transform the society.

As it is now, we are left with our institutions as the only conduit left to save Kenyans from the tyranny of an archaic political system that is overly immoral, has no regard for merit, ethics or profession whatsoever but feeds on corruption and exclusively depends on mediocre ethnic jingoism amidst classic scheme pitting factional class interest. It is no wonder our presidential aspirants are too contented to sidestep real issues, challenges facing Kenya today. None of them have tabled any real tangible plan to grow the economy, to rein in mounting security threats or deal with widespread poverty, diseases and unemployment.

In a country where ethnic groups appoint their tribal chieftains, and where gangsters, lords of impunity equally appoint or endorse their representatives, there can never be hope for a prospect of transformative change in sight. The people are owners of change and our situation is basically a matter of choice.

Mohamed Wato is a Retired Kenya Army Major, Aspiring Senate candidate for Marsabit County and Author; Walking a Tight Rope amidst Kenya Post election violence

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Kenya Airline Pilots Association (KALPA) No-Confidence Statement on Kenya Airways Management over Hiring of Foreign Crew and Retrenchment


As has widely been reported, Kenya Airways has retrenched/declared redundant about 600 of its’ employees in its’ staff rationalization program. KALPA takes great exception to the inhumane manner in which it was conducted.

It is instructive to note that Kenya Airways is in the process of hiring flight attendants from India, Rwanda and Ghana in addition to the existing foreign crew from Ghana, Cameroon and Thailand, who have ‘The Pride of Africa’ to thank for creating employment in their respective countries. KALPA takes great exception to this and would like to seek the intervention of the concerned Government offices particularly
the Ministry of Immigration, who issue work permits, and the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA), who issue the foreign licences, to stem the exportation of Kenyan jobs. 

This is happening in a country that has abnormally high unemployment rates, and is struggling to keep the pace in achieving vision 2030. Annual reports indicate that jobs creation still falls way below target if the Vision is to be achieved. It is appalling that this issuance of documents to non-Kenyan nationals is happening while Kenya Airways retrenches the same cadre of workers. Kenyans who have for more than a decade given sacrifice after sacrifice trying to help achieve Kenya Airways’ vision, ‘To consistently be a safe and profitable airline that guarantees World Class service: The Pride of Africa’. This exercise has also seen the targeting of young families.
To quote some of the reasons given for this exercise, it doesn’t take much to see where the real problem lies. ‘...downturn in passenger volumes occasioning sharp shortfalls in expected revenue streams...increasingly competitive environment... direct operating costs being very high, employee costs and other overheads continued to rise disproportionately to rise in revenues..’ If indeed Kenya Airways is in such a precarious position, how did it get there? 

We as pilots are deeply concerned about the future of our national carrier and will not stand by and watch as it sinks whether due to intentional mismanagement or negligence. We do not believe that the same Management and Executives that have steered our airline to this position are the ones best qualified to lead us out, and for good reasons.
1. Kenya Airways is at a loss on how to fend off increased competition through misadvised decision-making and knee-jerk reactions to situations as they develop. Once the airline with the youngest fleet in Africa, Kenya Airways now plays second fiddle to our competitor, and it will take a lot more than luck to keep up in this hostile environment. Our competitor Airline is now the first African carrier to operate the Dreamliner. Kenya Airways was to be the launch customer in Africa, but lost its chance years ago as management continuously fixates itself fighting employees. 

By the end of this year our competitor will have 5 Dreamliners, and by the time Kenya Airways acquires its first one, our competitor will have all 10 of theirs. Their fleet also boasts of 5 brand new Boeing 777-200LRs compared to the 4 Boeing 777s Kenya Airways has had since 2004. Between 2004 and now
management has been busy acquiring vintage Boeing 767s in a view to save money. This shortsighted thinking has put the airline in the position it is in now, and it is clear for all to see that the chickens have come home to roost.
2. Once again regarding aircraft acquisition, Kenya Airways is in the process of receiving several Embraer aircraft. However, KALPA is concerned with the apparently large numbers of aircraft on order vis a vis our route structure and passenger profile and has communicated the same to Management. 

The pilots, having looked at some of the planned routes for this aircraft have since raised fears that this will exacerbate an already serious problem of misconnecting passengers’ baggage and cargo. While the Embraer is a pretty ‘bird’ it is unable to operate out of high altitude JKIA with substantial payload, even for the routes it is planned for. Is the Embraer the aircraft of choice in an environment littered with Dreamliners and Airbus A380s?
3. Kenya Airways is once again considering setting up a low-cost subsidiary that would operate on domestic and regional routes, by the name Jambo Jet. Other than a name change, KALPA does not feel that management has any viable plan. 

Aircraft that operate on this business model often operate with minimum set of optional equipment, further reducing costs of acquisition and maintenance, as well as keeping the weight of the aircraft lower and saving fuel. Often, no in-flight entertainment systems are made available and some airlines even use only nonreclining seats. For example EasyJet’s aircraft cabins are configured in a single class, high-density layout. The airline’s main fleet, comprising Airbus A319 and A320 aircraft, carry up to 156 and 180 passengers respectively, depending on layout. A typical A319 carries 140 passengers in a single class configuration. FastJet (as Fly 540 is soon to be known) will be operating these same A319s.
Kenya Airways plans to compete with its newly acquired Embraer 190s. These aircraft, other than having leather seats, have full touch-screen on demand entertainment systems for each passenger and are configured in two classes, business and economy carrying a total of 96 passengers with 12 in business class. Is Jambo Jet really going to be able to compete with other low cost carriers with this equipment? Again, according to KQ management, Jambo is supposed to operate all flights falling under 4 hours flight time duration. Out of 56 destinations that Kenya Airways operates currently, about 80 percent are destinations within the Africa region of which about 93 percent fall within the 4 hour flight time range. Are we seeing the killing off of Kenya Airways for the birth of Jambo Jet?
4. The main reason given for the problems bedeviling Kenya Airways is employee costs. A casual look at the financial results for the year ending March 2012 will reveal that there was a rise of a mere 2.2 billion in employee costs, while there was a staggering rise of almost 24 billion in Direct operating costs. While most
of this was attributed to fuel costs at 40.7 billion, there is still another 36.5 billion that is not accounted for. Is the cost of delayed flights and hotel accommodations included here? Is the cost of misconnected baggage included here? Is the cost of cancelled flights included here? According to European Union regulations (EU
Regulation 261/2004) passengers can get up to €600 as compensation for flight delays. That amounts to Ksh. 20 million per delayed/cancelled flight. The point here is, if management dedicated half the effort towards addressing this cost as it does towards employees costs, Kenya Airways might just get on the right path.
5. Kenya Airways corporate culture leaves a lot to be desired. Whatever the industry, the best companies have at least one element in common: a highly motivated, enthusiastic workforce that delivers exceptional service day after day. Most successful airlines have demonstrated the value of fully engaging every employee. Kenya Airways is bedeviled with employees that have low morale, and are constantly looking over their shoulder to avoid losing their jobs. Engineers in particular have been frustrated to the point that they are constantly looking for jobs with middle eastern carriers. Delays caused by technical problems can attest to this. When it comes to flight attendants, management has decided to outsource this essential service, a practice that stands in diametric opposition to good corporate culture. It is still a mystery where Career Directions Ltd sprouted from.
While Kenya Airways is a private company listed in the stock exchange, it still is a Kenyan company and as such must comply with the laws of the land. KALPAs message here is two fold. The work permits and crew certificates issued to foreigners have directly led to the retrenchment of Kenyans who have performed the same tasks for the last 20 years. We call upon the Government of Kenya to act within the democratic framework of this republic and hence ensure that its actions protect, and do not in any manner undermine, the livelihood of the working people of this country who constitute the republics vast majority. 

Secondly, Kenya Airways pilots remain dedicated to the success of our national carrier and are always at the frontline in ensuring the airline lives up to its vision. We have grown wary of a management that does not seem to have the national carriers interests at heart, and we, as all other employees, stand the most to lose if Kenya Airways does not survive. 

KALPA would like to state that we no longer have confidence in management’s ability to successfully restructure the company.
For and on behalf of KALPA
Capt Ronald Karauri
General Secretary & CEO
22nd September 2012

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Miguna Miguna to vie for Nairobi Governor Seat

Miguna Miguna has finally revealed his political interests by declaring that he will be vying for the Nairobi governorship position. He announced his candidature during the popular K24 TV Capital Talk show hosted by former CNN journalist Jeff Koinange.

The first instinctive reaction is to laugh it off, wonder if he has seriously thought about his chances and dismiss him as one of the many political jokers and comedians that strut Kenya's political landscape gambling with the lives and livelihoods of Kenyan citizenry. One also sees his writing of the controversial book "Peeling back the mask" that has attacked the integrity and political honesty of Prime Minister Raila Odinga as an intended springboard to raise his profile before the announcement rather than dealing with impunity and corruption within the ODM ruling class.

On hearing such an announcement one immediately struggles to reconcile Miguna Miguna's abrasive, arrogant and self-important style of dealing with people with the required humility, patience and compromise required to deal with the complex personalities he will be interacting with on a daily basis. One cannot fail to imagine that if Miguna were to become Nairobi governor, he will easily misinterpret it as a mandate to rule the whole of Kenya and to talk down look down upon every other elected leader.

However, looking at the list of politicians who have offered themselves for the same position, Miguna Miguna does have a point and his candidature is worth a second look and consideration.

Ferdinand Waititu, the current MP for Embakasi, is currently seen as a leading contender on the basis of tribal maths (being a Kikuyu). He is at best thuggish going by his many media appearances and uneducated. One wonders how he would govern professionally without resorting to his violent ways. He also has not articulated his vision for Nairobi county other than his desecration of the newly built overpasses and roads with his campaign graffiti.

Philip Kisia, a former Nairobi City Council town clerk has had a corruption-ridden and under-performance stint at the city council. He has also been linked to dubious dealings such as the fake ISO certification of the city council. He delivered no change to the way services are delivered by the city council and was only keen to increase council revenue by increasing rates paid by Nairobians without corresponding improvement in service delivery. He is not bound to change his leadership style if he were to become governor. 

Evans Kidero, a former public listed Mumias Sugar Company CEO is so far the best professional bet (on paper) for Nairobi Governor. Miguna had an interesting take on Kidero's candidacy citing that he is not a politician (governorship being a leadership as well as a political post) and questioning how he acquired his vast wealth.

Nairobi county, albeit cosmopolitan and among the wealthiest counties has its politics dominated in the past by a convergence of thuggish, corrupt and tribal interests. A fact that may not change soon. If the list of previous mayors, MPs, councillors and town clerks is to be considered, Miguna Miguna is a saint in spheres of integrity and tolerance to corruption. So far he is also among the most academically qualified (maybe after Evans Kidero) and passionate for change for the sake of a better country. This means that Miguna Miguna is not so far off the mark when it comes to his candidature for Nairobi governor.

There are however pertinent issues that Miguna Miguna has to deal before his governorship candidacy becomes viable. One has to bear in mind that despite the reforms happening in Kenya, the Kenya voter has not reformed. The Kenyan voter is still tribally aligned, corruptible and worships wealth and handouts. This will be a headache for Miguna Miguna. Further, a majority of voters are in the low income earning group that may not resonate with Miguna's ideology and style of politics. No wonder, Miguna said he will target university students and ask them to register massively in Nairobi.

The other issue is that a majority of Raila Odinga's fan base have not forgiven Miguna Miguna on his 'peeling back' their hero's inner clothes. A majority of these fans in Nairobi are fanatical and a substantial number of them belong to the low-income group and would do anything including massive voter registration in Nairobi and other mass-action-oriented ways to make sure Miguna's dream does not materialize.

Miguna Miguna also has to contend with the fact that Nairobi county has a majority of its voters perceived to be from the Mt Kenya region who will vote for a Kikuyu inclined candidate, currently embodied in Uhuru's The National Alliance (TNA). Will he align himself despite his assertion that he is running as an independent candidate? Will TNA embrace him?

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Shame in Tana Delta; Can the government address security challenges

The Tana River County is a front runner in the news headlines for all the wrong reasons. The Pokomo and the Orma, the indigenous group resident of Tana Delta are at the center of criminal behavior, having resorted in an all drawn out war, of attack and counter attacks skirmishes leading to deaths and injuries to scores of people including police officers in its wake.

Preliminary reports indicate that ethnic rivalry may have been catapulted to new heights by competing political and vested interest. Tana river is a neighbor to Ijara County and is one of the many jurisdiction that forms part of the network of what was originally called Northern frontier districts that have suffered a great deal of historical injustices, the vicious effects of marginalization. The region is at best anarchic lying within close proximity to the war torn Somalia with the flow of illicit small arms and black market for numerous commodities remaining largely unchecked.

The role of political leaders has come under sharp scrutiny. Interest groups are said to be taking positions in order to leverage the powerful politics, to ultimately clinch the highly lucrative post of governor at the apex of the devolved government and who is expected to control massive resources. But the strange character about the Tana clashes that calls for deeper scrutiny is the audacity of raiders to assault police stations. It is not unlikely that there could be other external forces taking advantage of the current situation. The role of Alshabaab and MRC cells must therefore be interrogated.

To deal with the current trend of rising insecurity in this area, all the stakeholders – government, political leaders, religious leaders, cultural institutions, and the civil society need to forge a common front, to map out an effective plan to provide security and protection for the people of kenya as a service, to enforce law and order, to cultivate peaceful coexistence, and guarantee tranquility in the troubled zone.

To achieve a degree of success, the government must play a lead role in the implementation of a conflict prevention and security management program in Tana Delta. Disarmament exercise is not an end in itself; it is just another component within a broader framework of security arrangement that could be tailored to provide meaningful remedies to resolve conflict. Without forgetting the remote disposition, zip code of places such as Tana River County as inaccessible location and inundated with economic, social hardship, and endemic poverty, it is possible with modern technology to operate and oversee active security program in such far flung and highly ethicized hotspots with an effective monitoring, surveillance and control system backed up with a proactive, quick response, and intervention mechanism.

With a little bit of creative and positive mindset, it is not difficult to curb the runaway security violation in Tana River. In my view, the long hours of curfew ordered by the government are not a good prescription even for a start. The curfew is unproductive, a total disruption to people’s lifestyle and an impediment to the basic freedoms and rights as enshrined in the constitution.

It is going to be cost effective and beneficial for all Kenyans if the government resolve to deal with these security challenges completely, once and for all. In any case the government has fiduciary responsibility to secure and protect its citizens anywhere and at all times.

Mohamed Wato is a Retired Kenya Army Major, Aspiring Senate candidate for Marsabit County and Author; Walking a Tight Rope amidst Kenya Post election violence

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Why Kenyan Doctors are on Strike - Kenya Medical Practitioners Pharmacists and Dentists Union


12th September, 2012


The current Doctors’ strike is a stench emanating from the rot in Afya house. It is an indicator of a government that does not value the health of its citizens and their lives.

We would like to assure Kenyans that the Doctors Union does not condone the delapidation of the health sector. We shall continue to be a reliable and consistent voice for change and improved health care systems because we are not only fighting for the welfare of our members but also for better health care for all Kenyans.

As we ended the Doctors strike of December 2011, the Government and the Union agreed on key things that were captured in a Return To Work Formula signed by both parties with the government side led by the then Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Hon. Uhuru Kenyatta. The government has chosen to implement the RTWF selectively, ignoring a significant part of it.

Doctors have been very patient, lobbying and pushing for over eight months for total implementation but the government has been adamant.

Three weeks ago, the Union served Afya House with a strike notice. Unfortunately, instead of taking constructive measures to end the stalemate, the Minister of Medical Services chose to engage in propaganda to turn the public against doctors and to intimidate doctors back to work. Their intimidation tactics are illegal and have failed miserably.

It is unfortunate that innocent Kenyans continue to suffer because the government has refused to honor its word after a written commitment to do so. 

The bill of rights in our constitution entitles each Kenyan to health care and places this responsibility squarely on the state to provide well equipped hospitals and adequate personnel to provide health care when a Kenyan needs it. All Kenyans should therefore demand this right from their elected government.

To end the strike, the government must keep their end of the bargain and implement the following as agreed in December 2011:

1. Musyimi Taskforce Report:

The government must adopt and implement this report. The report defines specific actions that need to be done in several key areas. For instance, it has proposed construction of a REFERRAL HOSPITAL FOR EACH COUNTY complete with medical equipment and diagnostics.

It has also defined resources required to end perennial deficits in medicines and other supplies in our facilities, to set up a national ambulance service and to address issues surrounding Human resource.

The Musyimi report recommends a constitutional amendment to form a Health Service Commission to deal with matters of all health personnel in the country

The report also recommends that self sponsored registrars working in Kenyatta National Hospital, Moi Teaching & Referral Hospital and Mathare Hospital should be given a stipend. This was in fact, a decision to END SLAVERY of qualified doctors who for their backbreaking work that generates a lot of income for the referral hospitals get no pay at all and have to take other jobs at night to make ends meet.

Top ministry officials decided to trash the report which had representation from all stakeholders in favor of decisions taken by few individuals who are either inadequately informed or whose motives are anything but improvement of the health sector. We are calling for ACCOUNTABILITY from the government.

2. Postgraduate Fees: The Ministry of Medical Services received KSh. 131 million to cater for debts owed to the Universities since early 1990’s and to pay fees for personnel currently in training. To date, the old debts are still unsettled and current fees are not yet paid. Where did this money go to? We suspect this money has been misappropriated and just as we fought the NHIF saga, we are fighting again to END CORRUPTION in Afya house.

3. Emergency Call allowance: The government committed to paying this allowance to all doctors but to date, many have been left out. These doctors have to be paid too.

4. Employment of 200 doctors: Due to current shortage of doctors, the government committed to employ 200 hundred doctors. So far, only 57 Doctors were recruited.

5. Victimization must be reversed and intimidation must stop: Both parties agreed not to victimize anyone for activities done towards or during the December strike. However, the government has continued to threaten and intimidate our members. Dr. Onyimbo Kerama was forced to find a job in the terror-prone region of Eastern Congo after the government un-procedurally dismissed him from service for his role in activities that led to the strike.


In a nutshell, Doctors in Kenya are calling upon the government to:

1. Be accountable and take responsibility to end slavery in our referral institutions

2. Stop Corruption in Afya House and implement the Musyimi report. The Minister claims we are blackmailing the government and Kenyans. No Kenyan of goodwill needs to be blackmailed to do the right thing for our Country but if the government needs to be pushed to do the right thing, we shall not relent.

We call upon all Kenyans to join the union in transforming Health care in Kenya towards vision 2030. This is not our fight alone, the civil society, religious bodies and the media have a role to play too. 

Thank you for your support.

God bless the Union and God bless Kenya.

Dr. Were Onyino
Secretary General, KMPDU

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