Wednesday, July 28, 2010

President Kibaki and his Predecessor should be role models

President Kibaki and his Predecessor should be role models
By Joseph Lister Nyaringo,
New Jersey USA
While President Kibaki and his predecessor are exercising the beauty of our democracy in the current referendum debate, personal attacks does not augur well for the Country.
They are expected to exhibit decorum and statesmanship that the new generation should emulate.
Former President Moi has a right to take a position in the coming referendum over the proposed constitution but the aggressiveness he has exhibited in campaigning for its rejection has bee characterized by rancor, propaganda, falsehoods and misinterpretations of clauses.
It’s very rare for a retired President to openly pick a quarrel or throw words at a sitting president and vice versa but the latest between former President Moi and his successor has taken many Kenyans by surprise.
It’s imperative for the two leaders to remain as pillars of social harmony and role models. Our Country is still fragile following the 2008 tragedy. The peace we currently enjoy is likely to be put in jeopardy when two respected elders are openly washing their dirty linen in public.
Coming from a province which was the hot bed of the post election violence and where majority of the people are against the proposed constitution, Moi and Kibaki’s disagreements does not help to cement the peace that the multi-ethnic province desperately craves for.
Both leaders being in opposing camps, this might spill over to catalyse a collision between members of the public in the Rift Valley who are for and against the proposed law.
In Western democracies, most former presidents do not directly criticize their predecessors. When they do, it’s so veiled and usually touches on their party policies, or campaigning for party candidates.
The best example is the recent passage of the healthcare legislation by the Obama administration which sparked heavy criticism from the Republican Party, but not a single day did former President W. Bush come out to criticize his successor, President Obama.
In our Continent, we have never heard Benjamin Mkapa, Tabo Mbeki, or John Kufuor directly criticize their successors. In fact, despite the acrimonious debate that culminated to Tabo Mbeki’s exit from the ANC party leadership and South African presidency, the former president has kept his cool and given Jacob Tsuma the chance to lead the rainbow nation.
The die is cast and Kenyans must look far a head and choose between what is right and discard what is undesirable. I leave them to judge for themselves whom between the current President and his predecessor his standing for our national good or doom.
The beauty of our democracy should be exercised with caution so that we can build a united Country for posterity. Freedom can build or wreck a nation but when applied wisely to spread what is desirable, truthful and beneficial to the governed, it will go a long way to cement peace and tranquility in any society.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Dr Lumumba has heavy responsibilities at the helm of KACC

By Joseph Lister Nyaringo
New Jersey, USA
For the first in the history of Kenya, a plum and sensitive government appointment has been given to a professional without political leanings. This is a reflection that we are moving towards nurturing meritocracy in our Country’s civil service.

Dr. Lumumba, Prof Jane Onsongo and lawyer Pravin Bowry were approved by our legislators without any political or ethnic considerations.

Being at the helm of KACC, Dr. Lumumba is an inspiration and a motivator to many Kenyans. He has exhibited exemplary qualities in the reform platform. He has persistently challenged the status quo, terming it a recipe for the Country’s stagnation on democracy, political, social and economic development.

His intellectual Stimulation to those inside and outside the academia has motivated many Kenyans to strive and climb the academic ladder. From PLO the great orator to a chief anti-corruption tsar is not only a milestone to the Dr’s family but for all Kenyans.

He is known to be brilliant, knowledgeable and a forward thinker. Heading an organization charged with the responsibility of fighting corruption in the country is a tall order for the charismatic and eloquent lawyer. He has no political baggage and Kenyans expects him to operate independently with a paradigm shift from his predecessor, Justice Aaron Ringera.

Being young, energetic and creative, the new KACC director should fight the vice of corruption with zeal and determination. He knows that corruption is the genesis of the myriad problems that have bedeviled our country since independence.

The new KACC boss developed the vision, sold the vision to Kenyans, found his way and now he stands to be counted rather than saying I wish it was done this way and that way. The yoke is on his shoulders to translate his eloquence and ideas into practice. He needs to convince Kenyans and the world through service delivery because saying is one and dong is another.

There are high expectations from Kenyans for the new KACC boss. He needs to fold his sleeves to help the nation on the war against corruption. There is a general believe that new brooms sweep clean and although they don’t sweep all corners, a clean house is what Kenyans expects from Dr Lumumba.
May the new KACC team under Dr Lumumba make integrity, honest, and values their operational etiquette in anti-corruption watchdog body. Their appointment was done transparently, through vetting and finally approved by our law makers who represent millions of Kenyans.

We urge the new team to lay a firm foundation centred on professionalism, transparency and accountability so that those who will take over from them will perpetuate the same ideals in KACC.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Leadership perspectives Visa-vis World cup in South Africa

Joseph Lister Nyaringo
New Jersey, USA
The entire world was glued on television watching the world cup for the first time from the African Continent. Our two leaders in the coalition government President Kibaki and PM Raila Odinga travelled to Johannesburg for the tournaments’ opening ceremony. I wonder if they learnt any lesson while in a country which has enjoyed majority rule for only 15 years but has comfortably positioned itself in the global stage; surpassing the Continent’s power houses like Nigeria and Egypt.
When South Africa won the votes to host the 2010 World cup, it sent a very strong message to Africa and the world that the post apartheid nation was prepared for greatness globally. It was impressive during the matches … security, infrastructure and logistics to safeguard the comfort of fans who thronged the rainbow nation was well coordinated; a reminiscent of a developed country.
South Africa’s economic grid and governance practices are phenomenal; a sharp contrast with Countries which attained self rule more than a half a century a go like Ghana, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Sudan, Morocco, and Guinea. In fact, the Country’s GDP is 10 times that of Kenya despite being 3 years away to celebrate a half a century since we attained independence from Britain.
I don’t want to sound disrespectful to African leaders who took over after independence; but it appears like they were not ready for majority rule. May be things would be better today if the colonialists stayed longer the way they did in South Africa. The challenges we see in the DRC, Zimbabwe, Somalia, Sudan, Rwanda, or Kenya, are all homegrown as a result of poor leadership foundation laid upon by the founding fathers.
It must be remembered that if Neslson Mandela could have followed the path that most African leaders took after independence, South Africa would not have gotten the opportunity to host the World cup. Despite the horror of the apartheid regime and Mandela’s incarceration, the white minority rule laid a firm foundation that they passed to the freedom hero and this has continued to define country’s current stature.
Mandela inherited an economically viable Country from the minority predecessor, Fredrick De Klerk and ruled for one term; passing the baton to Tabo Mbeki who perpetuated the same ideals passing it to Jacob Tsuma. Mr. Tsuma recently shepherded the World cup to a successful end.
It’s paradoxical that Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana, Zimbabwe and Zambia, despite sharing the same colonial heritage with South Africa, cannot measure up to the rainbow nation on good governance, democratic practices, infrastructure, and respect to the Country’s constitution. I’m not implying that South Africans are free from daily challenges but their Country stands on a better platform compared with many African nations.
Shall we conclude that African nations currently bedeviled by civil strife, corruption, governance malpractices and injustices achieved liberation from the colonialists too soon, or post independence leaders were caught off guard before they could set their minds on self rule?
In Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe inherited a robust economy from the British, but today the Country is a shell. The citizens cannot even feed themselves, yet the Zimbabwean strongman keeps whining; blaming the West for his Country’s problems. Just recently, the DRC celebrated 50 years of independence from Belgium but there was nothing to celebrate when the country is riddled with poverty, illiteracy, violence, injustices and many other human rights violations.
If Nelson Mandela, suffered for over a quarter a century but after his release and ascendancy to the Presidency proved that political cronyism, tyranny, autocracy, corruption, ethnicity was not in his vocabulary, how come our own Jomo Kenyatta who equally suffered never nurtured the same ideals when he took over from the colonial leadership ?
Nobody thought Kenyatta will renege the spirit of the independence struggle. Nobody thought his reign will be compounded with land grabbing, political assassinations, detaining government dissenters especially those he fought with during the freedom struggle. The first President cynically and tragically aligned himself on ethnic identification through a cartel of tribesmen who misadvised him on key national decisions which is the genesis of Kenya’s present predicaments.
He passed on a devastating legacy to Moi, which has continued to roil our country making it hard to agree on issues that affect the nations especially getting a new constitution. How come former President Neslson Mandela was able to get a new constitution for his people in a span of two years after he became president when it has take Kenya more than 20 years to achieve the same?
My final challenge is for African leaders is to take stock of where they went wrong and devise home grown solutions if they expect to be at par with South Africa.
As we move to see our Country’s rebirth on 4th August, let us not be engulfed by utopia because our great success is dependent upon a transformative leader who will take over our nation under the new constitution. The future is bleak but very hopeful.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Honour heroes through a new constitution

By Joseph Lister Nyaringo- New Jersey USA.

Those who love freedom and justice; those who cherish and relish democracy should be prepare to reward the heroes of Kenya’s second liberation through voting in a new constitution.
Truly, how can we reward these brave men and women who are still with us and the departed ones like- Bishop Alexander Muge, Henry Okullu, Manasses Kuria, George Anyona, Masinde Muliro and Jaramogi Odinga?
Shall we continue being manacled by the tentacles that deprived them off their freedom or we need to shake off and build a new order, look back and celebrate their zeal and determination to pave the way for Kenya’s second liberation.
Shall we reward these heroes by joining forces with those who subjected them to physical torture, spiritual ordeal and mental agony to deny Kenyans a new order?
Shall we reward these heroes through negative maneuvers through killing the dream they have always held for the Country and which is likely to change our leadership and governance systems for future generations?
While attending a discussion group sponsored by Amnesty International in New York recently, I was given accolades not because of doing anything for Kenya but through the respect one the key figures of the organization upholds for the Central Imenti MP Gitobu Emanyara, when they met in New York at the height of Kenya’s clamour for Multiparty democracy.
This reminds me of one key thing- true patriotism. Emanyara and his group fought passionately with zeal, bravery without looking at any gains. They loved Kenya during that time and they have continued doing so without giving up.
They didn’t mortgage or betray the course of the struggle but kept pressing forward fearlessly. Those days, there were no strong activities from the civil society like it is today but they used every means to ensure that section (2a) was changed. The public order act, the chiefs’ order, and the public security act all gave former president Moi the ammunition to make Kenyans forced refugees in the West and detainees at home.
Let us reward the heroes who paved the way for the freedom we enjoy by voting in a new constitution in the coming referendum.

Pursue what’s achievable before Referendum day

By Joseph Lister Nyaringo
New Jersey, USA

Let us not dream that we shall wake up one day to sing one chorus or dance in the same rhythm. That is why it’s futile to seek for absolute truth in the proposed constitution before the referendum day.
No leadership system or political ideology his perfect in the World. Not even the evolution of Democracy; the most preferred system of government.

Theocracy, the system Moses and his brother Joshua used to lead the Israelis from Egypt never lacked weaknesses despite giving World the 10 commandments. Reaching Promised Land, Israel’s leadership from King Saul to the present Benjamin Netanyahu has been riddled with turmoil after turmoil for many generations.

It has been said severally how hard it is to attain a perfect constitution. Personally like most Kenyans, I’m for yes not because the constitution is perfect but because it will help us run our country well than the current one.
A law that faces resistance is not necessarily a bad law. That is why many of the hard criticism being fronted by sections of the Kenyan society about the proposed law do not pass the merit test. Court petitions, suggestions to entrench an addendum to the contentious clauses before the referendum are clear moves to scuttle the constitution and prevent Kenyans from getting a new constitution.
Where were these people now coming with ideas at the eleventh hour as if they are from another planet? They had humble time to petition, propose or suggest ideas when they failed to provide inputs at the formative stages of the proposed law?
When a first time MP voted on a transformative platform is fighting to use Parliament to stop the referendum, many of us are left in a state of quandary about our nation’s young legislators and their reform credentials. It’s quite clear that Mr. Jamleck Kamau is for the retention of the status quo and an enemy for the reforms the country craves for.
Those who are against or are on the grey area on proposed constitution should take a cue from the recent passage of the health care legislation in the USA which never got any backing from the right wing Republicans, whom like many Kenyans in the “no” camp wanted to score political points when in fact the was for the benefit of millions of Americans without healthcare.
They should be reminded that even the law is rejected in the referendum, it will be elusive to achieve what is acceptable by all Kenyans at any given period. Besides, we’re fatigued with the quest for a new constitution. We don’t want to start from ground zero on the tax payers’ expense.
The IIEC has already hinted that they have run short of funds for the referendum and therefore, it will be a financial tragedy to subject Kenyans to another circus of coining another constitution if the proposed one is rejected during the referendum.
It’s too late to use unorthodox maneuvers through courts or punch holes on the contents of constitution. We need to focus for decision day on August 4th 2010.
However, those who feel there is time to try and engage the Church for a possible deal can do. Church leaders supporting the proposed law like Dr. Timothy Njoya and retired Bishop David Gitari should be prevailed upon and requested to reach out to their fellow Church leaders. You set a thief to catch a thief.
It’s never too late to unify the Country by bring the clergy on board to support the proposed constitution. This is a viable mechanism than what many on the “no” camp are pursuing.

Koigi Wamwere should be consistent with reforms

By Joseph Lister Nyaringo, NJ USA

The former MP for Subukia’s political credentials especially on the struggle for freedom and good governance in the country has been exemplary. That is why; I cringe with disgust when I see him sharing the same platform with his former oppressors who want to deny Kenyans a new constitution.

He must understand that the bigger percentage of those against the proposed constitution are not doing so because of patriotism but due to some clauses that are likely to disrupt their comfort zones but very beneficial to the Kenyan majority.

Koigi should reconsider his stand and support the proposed law; failure to which, his political resume will be dented forever. If he continues his negative campaign on the proposed law, he will never be remembered to have been in league with freedom heroes like: the late Jaramogi Odinga, Mukaru Nganga and George Anyona.

He needs to emulate the consistency of former Butere MP Martin Shikuku and Dr. Timothy Njoya who have continued to fight relentlessly for reforms in the Country especially on the attainment of a new constitution.

Having suffered detention without trial and being exiled, many Kenyans expected Koigi to be the last person to dine and wine with non reformers like Cyrus Jirongo, William Ruto and former President Moi especially on matters related to chatting the way forward for Kenya’s future.

I also call upon Dr. Wanyiri Kihoro and Rev. Mutave Musimi to reconsider their stand and join the league that wants to give Kenyans a new constitution. Like Koigi, the two suffered immensely during the Kanu regime as a result of their stand against dictatorship.
They need to remember that the good of today often overshadows the good of yesterday. Therefore, even though one has done good things in the past for the country; their future legacy is often tethered on the stand they take especially now that the Country is gearing to usher in a new constitution that will define the future governance systems and processes.

Kenyans should ignore those who want to scuttle the referendum

By Joseph Lister Nyaringo New Jersey, USA

I’m dismayed by a group of Kenyans coming with court injunctions at the eleventh hour when we are only one month to the referendum.

The latest from Dr. Barrack Abonyo, a Kenyan in the Diaspora who filed the application in Court through civil society activists with questionable credibility, is a shocker. The Interim Independent Electoral Commission is yet to come to terms with the Wednesday ruling by the Interim Independent Constitutional Dispute Resolution Court that allowed prisoners to vote in the referendum.

We have two groups in Kenya’s civil society: those who genuinely want positive change and those who love to see disorder in the Country because this is the only way they will convince donors to fund their programs.

I will single out Mr. Okiya Omtata of KEJUDE whose ambiguity in the proposed constitution has been noted by many Kenyans. I don’t want to sound harsh but many idlers purporting to champion for the rights of Kenyans for cheap publicity are fighting tooth and nail for the postponement of the referendum.

We need to be privy with these groups who se primary motive is to see the Country swim in chaos so that they will remain relevant because they know that comprehensive reforms in the Country will make it elusive for them to attract funding from donors.
Where were they only to emerge at the eleventh hour? They didn’t raise this matter earlier enough for logistics to be put in place to allow Kenyans to vote from abroad. It’s unrealistic to fix modalities in a span of one month to allow Kenyans to vote from abroad when they are scattered a cross the globe even in smaller countries like Monaco and The Vatican.
Indeed, it’s our inalienable right to vote in any election from the Diaspora but logistically, it’s impossible in the coming referendum. Besides, most of our Missions abroad do not have a comprehensive central database of Kenyan citizens and this alone complicates the matter.
I challenge Dr. Abonyo to travel to Kenya and exercise his democratic right in the August referendum instead of using proxies -Okiya Omtata to file a case on behalf of a constituency he does not control or represent if he believes that what he stands for is popular with Kenyans in the Diaspora. Since he never consulted widely before he decided to proceed to court, I view the case as personal since it doesn’t represent the interests of the Kenyan majority in the Diaspora.

Like Dr. Abonyo, I live overseas and I don't want to see a delay for Kenyans to have a new constitution just because some one is advocating for me to vote in the August referendum. I may not cast my vote in the referendum from abroad but I have family members, friends and relatives whom I could advise how to vote based on what I have read in the proposed law and how important it is for them to vote for or against the proposed constitution in order to shape for destiny of our motherland.

Therefore, I urge the IIEC not to be derailed by last minute strugglers who don’t want Kenyans to have a new constitution as they had humble time to file court injunctions but could not do it only to come at the eleventh hour.
While the ruling by the Interim Independent Constitutional Dispute Resolution Court that allowed prisoners and remandees to register and vote in the August referendum is laudable, we need to question those behind the injunction on why they waited for the referendum campaign when they had a chance to do the same while the voter registration exercise commenced.

To be honest, this is a scheme to either delay the country from getting a new constitution or having the exercise discarded altogether. Even the registration of prisoners and remandees is not going to be easy.