Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Jubilee Cabinet Should be More Inclusive

By Joseph Lister Nyaringo New Jersey, USA. The yet to be confirmed nominees for Cabinet Secretaries by the Jubilee government comprises men and women of finesse, knowledge and professionalism but their composition is not inclusive and representative for diverse groups in the Country. We expected President Uhuru Kenyatta and his team to consider nominating at least an individual with a consciousness on social justice, advocacy and strong understanding of the plight of the poor. We expected to see a youth and at least a Kenyan citizen from a different ancestry incorporated in the Cabinet lineup as a gesture to boost national diversity. We have evolved as a nation through great struggle. Men and women with bravery risked their lives; forgetting their self-comfort to fight for the collective good of our nation before and after independence. The freedom and democracy we cherish and the good signs of accountability in managing government affairs were never achieved on a silver platter. I challenge the Jubilee government to consider men and women who have fought for Kenya on the streets and in the boardrooms to the Cabinet. Offer them an opportunity in the Cabinet in order to showcase their yearnings for the nation’s poor. With this, the nation will gauge the fire and desire which drives an activist to pursue causes geared towards transforming the lives of the poor in society. After all, the sum total of any successful government is measured on how many poor people whose hopes it has rekindled. The proposed sixteen members Cabinet have no single individual who has participated to edify Kenyans on the utility of justice, fairness and democracy. This is a vital segment of our population which is more result oriented, passionate and their desire to emancipate society is more crystal clear because they focus on people. We cannot underrate the bravery of the present Century activists like Okiya Omtata, Anne Njogu of CREAW, Mwalimu Mati of Mars Group, Cyprian Nyamwamu of NCEC, Susan Kariuki and Kepta Ombati both founders of the Youth Agenda. The number of Kenyan activists both old and young is huge. I believe they are energetic, knowledgeable and strong believers in freedom, fairness, justice, democracy and the rule of law for all Kenyans and can do well if offered a chance. I agree with a Daily nation Columnist, Macharia Gaitho’s analysis on the need to have agents for change in the Jubilee Cabinet rather than pure bureaucrats. While bureaucrats mostly follow the ‘book,’ and strict work ethic, their view on the plight of the masses is often vague. Some level of extremism is vital for effective management and leadership of any institution. We need people of the late Mboya’s caliber whom as a Trade Unionist, made an excellent Minister for Justice. The late John Michuki’s tenacity and firmness helped to transform the public transport sector in the past government. Freedom icon, Nelson Mandela’s endurance, bravery and reconciliatory approach, helped to liberate and pacify South Africa. Mother Theresa made a mark in the lives of the poor through philanthropy and divine consciousness. On diversity, we expected to see a Cabinet nominee from the Asian community. If voters are embracing diversity by voting Kenyan Asians like Irshad Sumra and Shakir Shabir, why should our leadership avoid this vital constituency in a Cabinet? After all, Asians are naturally good managers and the government needs to tap their talents in running government affairs. The developed World especially the USA realized that a blend of professionals from diverse backgrounds is a boon to their economy and the country has benefitted massively through this. While some Kenyans are jubilating how the Jubilee government has injected fresh blood in the Cabinet by shutting doors for politicians especially older ones, I think this argument is far-fetched and a false theory. Where is proof that non-politicians are good performers in the Cabinet? Those tasked to run public affairs need to have political backgrounds and understanding on how politics shapes public policies. Cabinet Secretaries will operate under the policy guidelines of their ministries but they will still remain answerable to the executive- the President and his Deputy who are politicians. Besides, legislators vetting Cabinet nominees are elected through a political process. Therefore, we cannot completely divorce politics from those tasked to take Cabinet portfolios in subsequent governments. Retaining Madam Ngilu and Najibu Balala who are politicians in the Cabinet, isn’t a bad gesture. After all, the Kitui Central MP is passionate, motherly and those who have worked with her say, she is a stickler for duty despite alleged malpractices when she served as Minister for Water in the past government. The nominee for the Ministry of Mining, Najibu Balala, performed equally well as Minister for Tourism and his background as chairman for the national Chamber of Commerce Mombasa branch, will boost his performance in the new Ministry. Having a hybrid Cabinet will ensure service delivery, professionalism and harnessing of a broad range of ideas to spur socio economic development in the Country.
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