Archive | February, 2012

PWANI SI KENYA? IGNORANCE IS PURE BLISS!

27 Feb

By Javas Bigambo
I am not tempted to draft a disparaging epistle in disfavor of perennial discrimination in the coastal region. I thus do take robustly as a point of departure, that if it is purely on account of underdevelopment that the coastal region has some activists embrace hollow gravitas for secession, then other regions of Kenya should be the first to secede. Let West Pokot and Upper Northern Kenya be the first regions to secede because they are a hundred fold underdeveloped than the coastal holiday region in the present day Kenya.
If it is on grounds that some antiquated agreement between some Sultan of yore, then let us remember that pre-independence paramount chiefs too came into agreements with colonial and post-colonial powers. Sticking on the traditional history of what the Sultan said is as sour as a giant cranberry. The vanity and presumption of secession therefore emerges as an insolent regional tyranny. What with malicious calls such as “wabara watoke Pwani?” If such profiling clouds their agenda then their clarion call is replete of insignificant energy.
No, I am not oblivious of the impetus behind such secessionist activism. My argument is that at a time when it makes progressive sense to embrace regional integration and a global village much defines human existence, it is grotesque and damaging peccadillo to argue for secession. I know the land issue at the coast is a national shame to the land policy that we have had since independence, and successive regimes have not moved with speed to address that boiling pot. Many other transgressions committed on the watch of the state against coastal natives would make any sensible eyes wet with tears of anguish. The cases of Nyumba Sita, Mlungunipa, Kayabombo and the landlessness that bedevils over 60% of coastal natives should shred the pending Kibaki Legacy on governance.
It would be poignant and maladroit for anyone to argue that the land policy regime since Kenya’s independence has helped anyone, save the ruling class and the affluent. But I have not heard my grandfather call for secession. The Mombasa Republican Council (MRC) should seek counsel on how best to advance the authentic argument on development and resource distribution. Else that perpetual exclusion of themselves is particularly incompatible with the free and unrestrained progressive provisions and principles of the Constitution of Kenya 2010, which is sound on how all marginalized areas, must be allocated funds and developed by the national kitty.
The unfettered implementation of the constitution and related calls is what should drive the MRC hoarse so that the whole country, Mombasa included, should benefit. The less sagacious resentment for national cohesion will drive the MRC, like Pharaoh, to unpitied miseries. Did they vote for the new Constitution in the 2010 referendum? Did they know what is contained therein? Have they seen the strength of Chapter Five of the Constitution and Articles 204, 219 and 220? Then they are bound by the strength of the Constitution.
From where I stand, the theoretical problematization of the concept and promotion of secession delineates firm theoretical underpinnings of the Universalist thought of collective growth and the relativist perspective of development and integration. What fundamental principles of territorial independence would disambiguate the right but convoluted arguments of MRC? Spare me the brouhaha and help me make sense of this secession mantra. I have a gut feeling that if not properly managed, the MRC may provide a safe detour for organized crime on that part of the country and end up being a brazen security risk for the country.

 

Email: jbigambo@interthoughts.co.ke

SINO-AFRICAN RELATIONS AND KENYA’S QUEST FOR INDUSTRIALIZATION: REFLECTIONS ON REGIONAL AND GLOBAL POWER BALANCE

18 Feb

By: Javas Bigambo
The 21st century presents itself as a century of inevitable progress for nuclear and industrial power for major states across the world. But this has left a sour test in Africa’s pursuits at the tail-end of these global tramps. This could be attributed partly to negative Afrocentric lore that has enriched Eurocentric lenses through which that peninsular looks at Africa. But Africa is likely to jump from one pit to another. From the apathies of Eurocentricism, Africa may find itself in the Sinocentric quarters. Political developments in 2010 in the Arab world and the crest of the horn of Africa further speak to the perils that incessantly bedevil Africa in the interplay between power and politics at the global stage.
The recent years have seen Kenya work to shift its economic development agenda from the powerful West toward the emerging East and specifically China. The huge multi-billion dollar contracts awarded to China speak to this reality, atop other development grants China has extended to Kenya. In this effort, Kenya needs to stage a chary equilibrium between China and the West. Like the rest of Africa, Kenya needs more of strategy for power and economic balance than aid from its development partners.
As a new major power, China is determined exert its influence in Africa in an effort to stamp its presence at the table of global power balance where America, Russia, Germany, France and Britain have long seemed to dominate. So China needs Kenya, and Africa at large solely for its selfish raison d’être. While its grants to African countries come devoid of preconditions, the interest rates are higher than those from the West. To have an economic growth and stop the economic decline or perpetual stagnation, Kenya needs to proactively produce wealth for all its citizens and strategically march on towards prosperity in self-reliance.
It is an undisputed veracity that the Asia Pacific has worked hard and strategically to claim its present global economic standing. The emergence of Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC) and recent emerging major powers speaks to this. Though in terms of strategic global presence, that could be reordered to read as CRIB (China, Russia, India and Brazil). It is little wonder that the Asia Pacific has found wisdom in endearing itself to Africa as an alternative to American and British superiority. But Kenya must not blindly depend on China the way it long depended on America and Britain with little to show for it. The human rights agenda, good governance score-card and respect for international instruments on these issues must be the guideposts for international partnerships.
Walter Rodney’s timeless epic How Europe Underdeveloped Africa paints in black and white how Africa’s religious dependence Europe put paid to its underdevelopment. African countries need tact. Kenya needs to rethink its foreign policy agenda regionally and globally if it has to remain dominant and influencial. The Somali incursion to flash out Al-Shabaab adherents who have recently publicized their ties with Al-Qaeda portends economic and security concerns that should not be assumed longer.
As Kenya prepares for the next major general election under its new constitution, it needs to select leaders who are privy to this reality. Specifically, it needs a president who understands the need for strategic global alliances that will enhance Kenya’s economic and political visibility. From this standpoint, it calls for the complete transformation of the political script to mirror global demands in the local agenda. This further connotes need for strategic shift in regional and sub-regional linkages. The East African Community (EAC) and COMESA, jointly with the African Union (AU) must be re-engaged for strategic mutual benefit before seeking solace in the Asia Pacific or European blocs.
Javas Bigambo is a Consultant at Interthoughts Consulting where he is an Advisor on Political, Governance, Human Rights and Development matters in Nairobi.

HOW TO RUN AND WIN ELECTIONS IN KENYA

13 Feb

By Javas Bigambo
The 2012(13) General Election in Kenya is going to be a critical, earth-moving and likely to be an expensive affair. The nation is at pivotal and authentically historical point. It is a national turning point, and like it happens with revolutions, the nation is expected to turn with the times, from the drub cannibal politics and despotic leanings, and take democratic trajectory.
The choices are stark, the stakes are high, and anxieties are on the brink. Candidates for various offices are taking positions, and the electorate is being treated to a noisy, confusing, tribal and blood-letting market place. Everyone will have to choose their preferred candidates: for president, gubernatorial, parliamentary and a host of other seats. As expected, most voters are going to be so much confused at the booth. So candidates need to do their ground campaigns well, and reduce errors to their advantage. Here are some crucial basics for candidates eyeing political offices.
Before setting up your campaign secretariats, be sure that you will go through clearance from the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission. How do you ensure this? Remember that a political campaign is as strong and powerful as the character, networks and ideas of the candidate. Here is what to do for a start.
Understand the Constitution’s chapter 6 on Leadership and Integrity properly, and its implied meaning thereto, as well as the provisions on Representation of the people. The Constitution should always be the politician’s second Bible. Make sure that you have:
1. Tax Compliance Certificate from the Kenya Revenue Authority
2. Clearance from the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission
3. Clearance from the Criminal Investigations Department of the Kenya Police. They will issue you with the “Certificate of Good Conduct”
4. Clearance from the Chief Registrar of the Judiciary (to ascertain whether you have any on-going/pending criminal or civil matters in court.
5. Clearance from the Credit Reference Bureau Africa Limited (to ascertain whether you have any defaulted financial commitments after taking loans/ ever issued bouncing cheques).
6. Clearance from the Higher Education Loans Board
7. Clearance from the relevant/respective professional associations to which the candidate is affiliated.
8. Clearance from the Kenya Counselling Association (to ascertain mental stability)
9. Clearance from the National Intelligence Service, to show non involvement in local and international cases of disrepute such as money laundering, spying, drug trafficking and affiliation to terrorism activities.
10. Clearance from the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights and National Commission of Gender and Equality. This is necessary to show whether you have been keen at violating other people’s rights.
Once the candidate is sure of this, let him/her now contemplate setting up a powerful, informed, dynamic and visionary campaign team. Campaign teams full of old guys will lack the requisite steam for take-off and issue-based response to opponents. A great campaign team is assembled not just because you need experts that you can afford. To go beyond borders, look for a team that can buy into your dream and vision. So identify the broad and narrow issues upon which you intend to run for office. Then narrow these issues into three or four main/agenda pillars from which all other policy and service issues will spring. Get to know the universal population of the voters you must target, and then divide them in respect to requisite strategic approaches, and what you think they believe in.
Political Campaigns are Expensive
A smart politician is a great brand. So brand yourself in a manner that you will stand to be admired by all people, even opponents. Plan a smart campaign even to the chagrin of opponents. Have a strong grassroots team; a strong media & advocacy team; a strong fundraising/monetary management team; have powerful content analysts and speech writers; then assemble a rapid response team who can counter propaganda and who can drive opponents to the wall with ideas. These teams should form the secretariat, and should not just vegetate in the same room for the comfort of it. Be sure the teams are loyal, tight-lipped, and not easy to be penetrated. To manage all these, the individuals in these teams will need to be well paid, motivated and have all aspects of their operations facilitated by the campaign kitty.
In most democracies, scoundrels and the unscrupulous leaders seem to make it through elections. The issue is not on being unscrupulous, but being a master schemer, and play hard ball when necessary. Pour not vitriol and do not run on vengeance or petty emotions because all these can be seen from a far. Be bold, assertive, and consult with your campaign team every so often.
Do not be partisan at all, but then again, do not seem to stand for the cause of the wealthy, but tap from their wells of financial support. Note that establishing the nature of an election is the first step in winning an election. So know the mood of the nation and the people, and always be ahead of the people and your opponents with ideas.
In Kenyan politics, you don’t have to be overly puritanical, and don’t be incorrigible. Always make choices, and stand for the change that the people thirst for. Secondly, fear mongering will give you advantage. Fear often trumps logic. But do not over do it. For every fear that you tout, offer a potential or possible solution that is possible on the promise of winning the election. Speak with conviction at all times, never seem unsure. And the best politician promises much, then once then election is won, deliver what you promised as you start planning for the next election.If you want unique, practical and winning political strategies you could source the services of Interthoughts Consulting, political strategists you can believe in.

We can be reached through info@interthoughts.co.ke