Poor Leadership and Governance in Kenya

Mwai KibakiIt's the 12th of December 2010, Nyayo National Stadium and Kenyans from all walks of life have gathered to celebrate Jamhuri day. It's an important day since it's the same day in 1963 that Kenya became a republic. Politicians, foreign envoys, religious leaders, disciplined forces, school children and other citizens are present.

The prime minister and the president, who formed a coalition government after a disputed elections and post poll violence, don't usually agree in public but this day is a unique one. They both are reading from the same books, they are furious and blasting the US ambassador, Michael Ranneberger. The previous week, WikiLeaks had exposed the US communication cable and views from the ambassador criticizing the two leaders on how they showed no efforts in fighting impunity and were anti reformists.

Poor governance as a result of leaders not implementing reform agendas, not ensuring the citizens have access to basic needs, non accountability, passing of policies and laws that oppress people, not fighting impunity providing an environment where citizens don't enjoy their rights.

The big question at the moment was, should foreigners meddle with our affairs or should we be left alone to handle our issues? What if the foreign envoys aren't involved who else apart from the free media would act as the voice for the people and question the government?

Implementing reform agendas passed in the formation of coalition government, power sharing deal, and new constitution would bring a lot changes since it will ensure political accountability, rule of law, respect to governance and state resources. Due to vested interests by the politicians Kenyans will have to wait more as the law makers in parliament debate on whether to pass the laws that facilitate their implementation or not.

Billions of shillings have been lost in various scandals, Goldenberg, Anglo leasing, pyramid schemes, price under estimation of the sale of Grand Regency hotel, maize scandal, paying of ghost workers in parastatals, price over estimation of public graveyard site, awarding of tenders to ghost contractors and nepotism during tenders and contracts awarding are just some of the few practices that exposes poor governance of the Kenyan government.

The judicial system has been compromised and justice has been delayed to post election violence victims. The president appoints the high court judges an act that raises eye brows. Efforts have been made by human rights commission and law society to change the appointing authority but it seems they are fighting a losing battle. This means that the head of state appoints people whom the government can manipulate hence it's difficult to have a top rank government official arraigned in court.

Exorbitant tax rates paid by the citizens who majority earn very minimum wages is a big issue but the money isn't disbursed to relevant departments but pocketed by a few or used in political campaigns. State property is used to reward sycophants, thousands of hectares especially in the Kenyatta and Moi regime were rewarded to their accolades. This has led to a lot of people being rendered homeless as the Kibaki government is evicting them trying to recover public land. The sad story is that funds meant to resettle them is being misappropriated by the same leaders evicting them. Where will they go to? Kenyans and the free media, one of the government's few achievements, should continue in the fight for good governance not only rely on the envoys and western countries. 

By Oscar Otindo, Kenya

The writer is a Kenyan volunteer and activist based in Nairobi,Kenya.