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27 Nov

By Javas Bigambo

Cocky demagoguery is eternally anathema to liberal democratic progress. Following the post-election handshake between Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta and his erstwhile political nemesis Raila Odinga, the truce midwifed the Building Bridges Initiative, driven by a task-force, mandated to collect and collate public view founded on a nine-point agenda.

President Kenyatta receiving the Building Bridges Initiative report from task-force chairman Senator Yussuf Hajji at State House, Nairobi.

The political class has invited Kenyans for ‘free lunch’, through a very cockeyed idea wrapped in foil paper called Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report, which advances bourgeois liberalism. Nothing really surprising by giving carrots to the rabbits.

The contraposing of the political class interests to national progress through witty propositions that sooth the proletariat by seeming to favour their interests is bewildering and epitomizes strategic self-seeking in a tottering democracy.

A proper functional democracy has the people at its center, not the politicians. It is the people who should drive reforms, and benefit from the same.

Prior to the embrace of the Constitution of Kenya 2010, the hue and cry in the choir of lamentations was that 20% of the document was not impressive, and would need revisiting in the quest of perfecting Kenya’s young democracy.

Nine years since the promulgation of Kenya’s Constitution which has billed as nearly the most progressive and liberal the world over, Kenya has continued to suffer the displeasures of age-old misfortunes, not for lack of legal and policy frameworks, but for merely incessantly dismantling national character contained in the political and social fabric.

The political sociology of the Kenyans is that every social and political problem can be fixed through legislation. Kenyans are tired of corruption – widespread blossoming graft. Kenyans are tired of politicians in the executive and legislature who are crooked and averse to being held to account.

Kenyans are eternally tired of institutions, whether constitutional or statutory, that are dysfunctional, and manipulated by the political class. Kenyans are tired of hollow values and tasteless public service work ethic.

Kenyans are totally tired of various Members of County Assemblies who willfully behave like unruly rascals that make no sense of the worth of public office and the attendant decorum desired of them.

Kenyans are tired of electoral injustices and politicians who think that they are God’s gift to democracy and must be in political offices and public spaces even when they have been rejected through choices made by way of suffrage.

Kenyans are uncompromisingly tired of political parties that purvey hooliganism and entrench electoral injustices witnessed during political party nominations, and party leaders who hand party nomination certificates to the highest bidders.

Kenyans are tired of the ghosts of historical injustices that the ruling class has stubbornly refused to address, regardless of colossal amounts of money having been used to make inquiry and come up with reports such as the Ndung’u Commission Land Report; the Kriegler Commission Report; the TJRC Report and such like.

Kenyans are tired of the whimsical yet worthless casuistry of politicians who say what they never believe in, engage in self-seeking political preservation maneuvers that further the interests of cartels and agents of mass economic stagnation.

Going by such dissatisfactions, it would have been prudent to have the BBI report make recommendations that touch on and open up the lives of ordinary citizens in a bold and spectacular way. Such would have included;

1. Proper and clear separation of powers in the arms of government.

2. Have cabinet secretaries as non politicians, and have them appear to parliament once every quarter and whenever an issue of public interest may arise to any ministry, at the behest of parliament.

3. Clear recommendations on the consequences to any person or institution, including government and even the executive in instances of contempt of court (disregard of court decisions).

4. The Attorney General; DPP; DCI and the EACC to be audited annually on successful prosecution of criminal cases, and performance contracts for holders of these offices to be pegged on successful prosecution of cases.

5. Guard against willful constriction of budgetary allocations to key institutions including the judiciary and constitutional commissions.

6. Punitive consequences for police officers who engage in extrajudicial executions.

7. Punitive consequences for police and investigation officers who bungle criminal and corruption cases.

8. Ensuring that every constitutional commission should do its work to the absolute satisfaction of Kenyans.

9. De-registration of political parties that engage in electoral violence directly through the incitement of political leaders or lawlessness of party supporters.

10. Make implementation of party manifestos mandatory to a political party that wins election at national and county level, and an audit of implementation of party manifestos to be done the office of the auditor general eight months before the general election. This is to guard against taking the electorate for a ride.

11. Grant a period of one month to adjudicate presidential petition after the first election and 14 days in case of a repeat presidential election.

12. Electronic voting system and the chair of IEBC and all commissioners to bear all responsibility of any institutional malpractices, and bear personal responsibility at a personal level with regard to costs of law suits upon indictment and sentencing by a competent court of law.

13. Any public servant culpable or charged with corruption to be barred from seeking political office for a period of ten years on account of Chapter Six of the Constitution on leadership and integrity.

14. Make it mandatory that every person holding public and elective office must necessarily have irrefutable and ascertainable University education. Education must not only be considered as a right, it should be highly regarded and be given its pride of place at all levels of public office and service.

15. Fully implement/ enforce justice Mumbi Ngugi’s ruling in the Criminal Revision No. 25 of 2019 in Moses K. Lenolkula vs DPP (following R vs. Moses Lenolkulal and 13 others), forbidding governors and any elected official or public servant from accessing their offices or executing their mandate pending the determination of charges facing them before courts of law.

16. Guard against high spending in elections by make clear recommendations on campaign financing and filing returns in individual and party campaign expenditure, which is to be verified through independent audit by the office of the auditor general.

17. Criminalize gender gender violence during elections and bar perpetrators from seeking elections in the said election if found guilty.

18. Every public office to have 50% gender balance.

19. All county government and national government offices including parastatals to have and fully enforce 50% gender balance.

20. County governments to fully implement the County Integrated Development Plans, and each county/ governor to be audited on implementation of the CIDP for 90% execution eight months before the general election. Lack of 80% implementation to lead to exclusion from the successive one election.

21. National government to be compelled to implement every taskforce report and every report from commissions of inquiry, to avoid wastage of public funds.

22. All contractors to finish allocated/ awarded projects within the stipulated time, and any delays to incur 15% penalty of the project cost.

23. Every SME and start-up to pay 10% tax and 15% corporate tax after 5 years of operation.

24. Banks to exercise 6 months’ leniency/ grace period before auctioning property of persons below the age of 35 in cases of non-performing loans.

Such would have been earth shuttering recommendations with direct implication not just on democracy but in the ordinary lives of Kenyans. Put rather plainly, there is nothing really cryptic about redesigning seats in a tumbling ship such as has been recommended at present by the BBI taskforce.

As the BBI report is released for public discourse, these proposals remain sound. The ruling class must come alive that the games of musical chairs must come to an end. There is no more music. If the flames of hope must be stoked, the crucible of truth and true public interest must be lifted.

Javas Bigambo and KTN’s Aby Agina after in-depth live discussions on the implications and significance of the BBI report after it was presented to the President and Hon. Raila Odinga.

A critical look at the BBI task-force team, I am beside myself wondering why politicians had to constitute that team. After public national dialogue, if a review has to be done, let no sitting politician make the team.

The BBI Task-Force team joining President Kenyatta and Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga at State House Nairobi after presenting the BBI report.

The writer is a governance consultant with Interthoughts Consulting.


21 May

By Javas Bigambo

Appreciating constitutionalism in the modern democratic times, the Bill of Rights in Kenya’s Constitution of Kenya 2010 provides a slate of fundamental protections and safeguards for human rights, and one among them is the right to privacy, domiciled in Article 31 of the said Constitution, and it is predicated on fundamental postulates of liberties that are inherently human, which finds a home in the natural law school of thought.

This paper jurisprudentially delves into the right to privacy discourse.

Privacy refers to “The right of an individual (or corporation) to withhold himself and his property from public scrutiny, if he so chooses. It is said to exist only so far as its assertion is consistent with law or public policy, and in a proper case equity will interfere, if there is no remedy at law, to prevent an injury threatened by the invasion of, or infringement upon, this right from motives of curiosity, gain, or malice.”

The Black’s Law Dictionary 6th Edition defines right to privacy has ‘the right to be let alone and the right of a person to be free from unwarranted publicity’.

This right does not find its primacy in the Constitution of Kenya alone, it is tethered to other unrivalled and equally vital legal instruments of international origin and acclaim, such as the Universal Declaration on Human Rights (UDHR) and the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and Article 7 of the European Union Charter.

It is instructive to note that Article 12 of the UDHR globally provides the primary foundation for the right to privacy, as well as Article 17 of the ICCPR.

Specifically, Article 12 of the UDHR provides that;
“No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.”

This provides a secure global intention and agenda for the comity of nations to take the right to privacy seriously.

Javas Bigambo: Kenyans need to emphatically speak out and demand more from the state on enhancement of privacy and data protection.

To bolster this argument, in Digital Rights Ireland and Seitlinger and Others, the ECJ determined that ‘The retention of data for the purpose of possible access to them by the competent national authorities, directly and specifically affects private life and, consequently, the rights guaranteed by Art. 7 of the EU Charter.’ This went the whole mile of demonstrating the significance of personal data, which is a primary facet of privacy.

In Kenya, data protection issues are a major concern with new pieces of legislation. The laws must be cognisant of the fact that processing of personal data shall be done with the consent of the data subject…right from collection, processing, storage and transmission of personal data, it should be lawful and secure.

In line with the new huduma number registration process, Kenyans have a right not only to demand and to know how secure their data is, and the extent to which any person can access it.

Huduma Namba sample card.

There is so much surveillance in Kenya. For example, the Kenyan Police Service has surveillance powers, established in the National Police Service Act (2011) and the National Police Service Commission Act 2011.

In March 2012, the telecommunications industry regulator, the then-Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK, the precursor to the Communications Authority), announced that it was setting up a system to allow the authorities to monitor incoming and outgoing digital communications.

The right to privacy is a legal issue whose infringement easily attracts a lawsuit hinged on tortious liability. It is an important legal concept in the Constitution of Kenya 2010, as well as within the law of torts in commonwealth jurisprudence. While this view can be rejected a priori, legal, theoretical and contextual issues provide various arguments, which this paper discusses in detail in subsequent sections.

To further entrench and protect the Bill of Rights, the Constitution through Article 22 asserts that “every person has the right to institute court proceedings claiming that a right or fundamental freedom in the Bill of Rights has been denied, violated or infringed or threatened.”

Globally, for ages, privacy has remained a sensitive issue of human concern. In Griswold v Connecticut where the court invalidated a law prohibiting the use of contraceptives, even by married persons, Justice William O. Douglas opined that “there is a zone of privacy within a “penumbra” created by fundamental constitutional guarantees, including the First, Fourth, and Fifth amendments”.

Affirmatively, the classical case of Roe v Wade in 1972 recognized “right to privacy as fundamental, and required that any governmental infringement of that right to be justified by a compelling state interest”. Thus, the right to privacy has its limits, but the limits are to be executed within the margins of law.

The fact the the Constitution of Kenya provides for the right to privacy, by and of itself, provides a critical basis for centrality and sanctity of privacy law. But it offends that broader protection when an avalanche of legislations puncture that protection through such laws as mentioned inhere above.

But the fact that a right is enshrined in the Bill of Rights and protected by the Constitution of Kenya does not make that right absolute. This is true. But human privacy requires more reasonable protection without sneaky circumvention by the state.

Each right has got corresponding obligations and principal limitations which are also provided for by law, though Article 25 of the Constitution of Kenya enumerates certain rights and freedoms that may not be limited. Such rights and freedoms that may not be limited include right to fair trial; right to an order of habeas corpus; freedom from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and freedom from slavery or servitude.

Key Issues on the Right to Privacy
The ideological and foundational premise of the right to privacy globally and constitutionally, intrinsically aims at limiting state power and authoritarian intrusion into the lives of citizens within human societies, or an exposition of private information or infringement of personal spaces devoid of due process to the chagrin of humans.

It is aimed at building and strengthening the pillars of individual respect and firming up of reputational spaces and management, safeguarding personal social and political spaces, and enabling individuals to own their spaces, feel protected and indebted to the law, and not the mercies of the state.

This is informed by the fact that over generations of recorded political history in human affairs, authoritarian regimes have manipulated the law to subdue individuals through mass surveillance and using individual data to root out dissent, limit citizens’ freedoms and manage political interests for state exploitation.

It is therefore fitting and reasonable to arrive at the position that the right to privacy can be positively and negatively construed. The positive view of the right to privacy revolves around the necessity of the state to facilitate individuals by protecting personal spaces, and putting in place legislative, nay legal frameworks that protect individual spaces, which safeguards their integrity, be it social, economic or political.

The negative view of the right to privacy on the other hand revolves around persons being protected form unnecessary intrusion on aspects of their individual identity whether religious, sexual, whatever.

Protection of privacy thus connotes limitation of searches without regulatory frameworks such as search warrants being obtained by security officers before accessing people’s homes, offices among others.

The other fundamental springboard toward protecting right to privacy is accentuated by protection of personal data, and limitations to access of the said data for the benefit and security of the individual. This does not find proper protection in the Constitution of Kenya 2010. When the state or a state agency collects individuals’ data and preserves it at a central repository, access to such data should be protected and accessed only as permitted by strictness of law, to the requisite extent, without possibility of obvious violations.

Emerging Challenges to Right to Privacy as Public Policy Concerns
In the expeditiously globalizing digital world, the other crucial facet of privacy is digital privacy. The internet era provides various internet platforms and spaces where personal data is collected or can be mined for use other than the initially intended purpose.

The inescapable global flow of information for counterterrorism, law enforcement, trade, travel has greatly threatened the right to privacy.
In Kenya, the argument can be propounded that the right to privacy is counter-punched by the right to access information as provided for by the Constitution.

It is therefore not trite to state that right to privacy is not just a constitutional and legal concern, it is also strongly a public policy issue of momentous interest.

In Kenya, the right to privacy can be constitutionally defended, because it is constitutionally protected. But the existing and unavoidable rivulets of limitations drain out the whole strength of protection, leaving the protected right a mere shell of its intended purpose.

Privacy: The State is taking every step and every measure to increase surveillance on the masses in every aspect.

This argument is predicated on protection of state security the tough late-blooming argument in favour of global war against terror.

In Kenya, the important case of Bloggers Association of Kenya V AG, 2018, directed the spotlight on 26 sections of the Computer Misuse and Cyber Crimes Act of 2018, against which the petitioners lamented the extent to which sections of the Act infringe, deny and greatly threaten freedom of expression, media and person besides the right to privacy, property and fair hearing, all of which are domiciled in the Bill of Rights, and contrary to Article 24 of the Constitution of Kenya 2010.

The bloggers held that existing legislation already provided for violations against which the new Act seemed to cater for, such as the Kenya Information Communication Act and the Penal Code and its regulations already criminalised several cybercrimes.

What was worse was the punitive punishments the Act provided. the crime of “fake publication” attracts a fine of 5 million Kenyan shillings or 10 years in prison. Unauthorised interference or interception of state protected computers attracts the longest sentence of 20 years.

The fears of the petitioners were that the act could be misused to censor free expression in the online space, and that directly contradicts the country’s Constitution.

While the new Act aimed at containing and hampering internet-based offences such as cyberbullying, hacking and spreading of fake news, it permeated the sacred grounds of right to privacy.
The Act shifts liability on to the victim or target of the cyber crime.

Of note was that the new Act offers a framework for the timely and effective detection, investigation and prosecution of computer crimes.

Such crimes include unauthorized access to or interference with computer systems by third parties; the distribution of child pornography and online harassment like bullying and stalking; and the production of fake publications. These were clear aspects of infringement and violations of fundamental rights guaranteed and protected by the Constitution of Kenya 2010.

The court, per Justice Chacha Mwita, issued conservatory orders suspending sections are: 5, 16, 17, 22, 23, 24, 27, 28, 29, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52 & 53, against which the petitioners had approached the court.It is proper to underscore that at the intersection of protection of free expression and privacy altogether with state security concerns is the preservation of human dignity and a person’s free space and right to associate without the supervision of the state.

This can be seen through the lenses of the landmark decision that disallowed the Communications Authority of Kenya (CAK) from effecting a plan to oblige mobile service suppliers in Kenya to install the Device Management System (DMS), which would have heightened state surveillance of all persons in Kenya by monitoring all mobile phone interactions.

The CAK, if allowed, would have to accessed information on all the subscribers’ International Mobile Equipment Identity as well as international mobile subscriber identity, and this would have seriously thwarted the right to privacy of all mobile phone users in Kenya and their recipients.

With the benefit hindsight, Parliament appreciated the place of privacy in Kenya when it passed the the Prevention of Terrorism Act No 30 of 2012, because Section 36 of the Act provides that the police must obtain a warrant from the High Court before the security agents can conduct surveillance on any terror suspect.

In retrospect, as noted earlier, Article 31 of the Constitution of Kenya safeguards the right to privacy which includes the right not to have one’s person, home or property searched, possessions arbitrarily seized, information relating to family or private affairs, reinforced by Article 24 (3) of the Constitution of Kenya 2010, which necessitates that the one seeking to limit any fundamental right is duty bound justify such limitation.Section 15(1) of the Kenya Information and Communications (Consumer Protection) Regulations (2010), states that a licensee “shall not monitor, disclose or allow any person to monitor or disclose, the content of any information of any subscriber transmitted through the licensed systems by listening, tapping, storage, or other kinds of interception or surveillance of communications and related data”.

Through international lenses, there have been interesting juridical positions on presenting further debate that creates a conundrum around the right to privacy imbroglio. For in stance, in Olmstead v. United States, 1928, the Supreme Court held that wiretaps obtained without a warrant and used as evidence in courts of law were not in fact violations of the Fourth and Fifth Amendments. But in the same ruling, a lone dissenting opinion of Associate Justice Louis Brandeis held that privacy is in fact primarily an individual right.

From the understanding that an equilibrium must be struck or attained between the right to privacy and the state’s existential interests such as national security, it has seemed obvious that in Kenya, the government has adversely made steps to limit the right to privacy, guaranteeing the same only to the extent that state security and national interests are not curtailed by the enforcement of the said right.

Every Kenyan must care about their privacy, and demand to have it secured as contemplated by the unpretentious parchment that secures governance and God-given rights. 21st century Kenyans and global citizens must ask themselves “What is it that Rosa Parks knew that we don’t,” or we easily forget? This could be a passive way of exiling the Constitution.

To this end, by virtue of the incontestable fact that the constitutionally provided task suffers enforcement glaciation when the interests of the state are deemed at risk, the conclusion is that the Constitution of Kenya 2010 does not fully secure the right to privacy for Kenyans.

The writer has studied Political Science; Law (LLB); and Communication.


30 Jul

By Javas Bigambo
(This article was originally published by the author in ELOG’s DARUBINI YA UCHAGUZI BULLETIN, No 4 June-August Issue).

Since Kenya’s founding upon Independence, the earnest quest for electoral integrity and electoral justice processes have incessantly remained elusive, though encouraging steps have periodically been made.

It is immutable trite law that electoral processes are the vital pillars in establishing the Hobbesian Social Contract between political leaders and citizens.

The primacy of that contractual process is guided by the fundamentals of unadulterated franchise as provided for and preserved by facilitative legislation that guides the election process, so as to establish an esteemed democracy where the majority have their way.

Javas Bigambo writes and speaks extensively on matters of Governance; Devolution; Elections; Law, and Communication.

An incisive look at the pre-election, election and post-election challenges that have dogged Kenya since the advent of multiparty democracy point to a stubborn refusal by powerful politicians from respecting the dictates of the rule of law.

It remains disturbing that despite major constitutional reforms that heralded the Constitution of Kenya 2010, which brought forth critical institutional reforms in the electoral process tethered to progressive election legislation, it is worrying that avoidable challenges abound. Such challenges relate to delayed voter or staggered voter registration processes due to insufficient biometric voter registration equipment; corruptible procurement processes of election materials; disputes and suspicions over printing of ballot papers; treating of voters during campaigns; lack of capacity in monitoring and prosecuting individuals and politicians engaging in election offenses; election-related violence; extra-judicial executions during election season; political threats aimed at intimidating security and judicial officers among a galaxy of other challenges.

These challenges spiral into disputed election outcomes; testing the limits of nationhood and at times fragmenting civic cultures that are otherwise supposed to be bolstered; and diminishing the perceptive capacity of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to conduct a free, verifiable, independent and fair election.

The Youth Factor in Elections
If Kenya’s democratic normative frameworks are intended to be enforced and realized as progressive and productive, the place of youth and women in the body politic has to be re-negotiated.

The youth can no longer be spectators or cheerful bystanders whose only significance is to be feted as town-criers, carriers of leaves and marginal composers of songs or seat-fillers within the political framework.

Beyond leadership roles that have to be taken up in political parties, campaign management and institutional management within government, the young people in Kenya really have to re-imagine their roles in the political process, and re-think their place at the frontiers of electoral processes, governance an political leadership.

It is no longer worthwhile to have young people wasted or to waste themselves as dis-engaged agitators who count for nothing.

Rising above the Challenges
What is undeniably needed is the urgency of constitutional commissions to claim their real independence which is preserved by the Constitution. The the IEBC and the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) must of necessity be sufficiently funded.

Commissioners to these bodies should be competitively recruited, and political parties should respectfully stop interfering with the discharge of duties of the IEBC.

It would serve the ends of justice to have serious investigations of election offenses conducted during and after elections.

Political parties are the cog in the wheel of these challenges and solutions. Beyond internal mechanisms established by political parties to address such challenges, there is need for Kenya to put in place a body that monitors and reprimands political parties that cast a blind eye on election offenses or malpractices by their members and supporters.

All criminal offenses related to elections have to be tackled decisively and seriously within the provisions of the law.

The IEBC could also establish an electoral justice database that documents all persons investigated of election offenses, and those found culpable prosecuted and barred from presenting themselves to the electorate for election in two subsequent elections.

It is necessary to re-think our legislation, policy and monitoring of campaign financing and expenditure by each politician and each political party, with proper reporting within specified times. As it is presently, the regulations on campaign financing presently in place are anything but useful.

Kenya must work to have in place an election management system that is not open to manipulation.

To the extent that there will be incessant systematic and systemic failure to extirpate electoral injustice, there will be perpetual worthless casuistry of electoral processes by the government of the day or subsequent ones that will germinate from such injustices, and the appropriateness of a social contract between the people and the political establishment will invariably be dishonoured.

The writer is a Governance and Communication Expert at Interthoughts Consulting, and the Chair of the Board of Directors at Youth Agenda.


30 Jun

Javas Bigambo

Kenya’s political terrain is jagged and tough, and that is not going to adjust in the foreseeable future, given certain variables that remain constant. The sword of Damocles keeps hanging above the heads of many, and many candidates get guillotined by the uncompromising interests of power players.

History is a powerful lens through which certain future prognoses can be made. In politics success can be slippery, and compromise can be at times costly, and at other times handsomely beneficial.

There is this small magnetic issue of serving as President of Kenya. From Kenya’s founding, historical realities depict one hard fact – Presidents in Kenya are made. No one makes himself President. Listen to wise voices.

The best one can do is to build their profile, keep tightly close to the powers, coyly magnify your wisdom, without bringing out Caesar’s insolent ambition, which caused him his life. Jomo Kenyatta was made President by Jaramogi’s charitable confidence. Moi never made himself President, he was made. Kibaki never made himself President, Raila’s declaration wrapped it. Uhuru never made himself President, in fact he was most disinclined. Audacious ambition has its place. To all persons eyeing that glorious seat, avoid Caesar’s fate.

Learn from the Crocodile, it never roars, but it is tactful, swift and an encounter with it assures fatality – not its own but yours. Take no lesson from the Cheetah, its chase is optically exciting, but nothing much thereafter. Listen to me, then you will become President.


11 Jun

By Javas Bigambo

Each side you turn your head in every city, town or village in Kenya, you are bound to be met with sad faces of youth in a hodge-podge of misfortune ranging from growing unemployment, substance use and abuse, irresponsible sexual behavior, struggling SMEs with nose-diving profits, self-help groups with limited support, and generally a canopy of young men and women wallowing in self pity.

Javas Bigambo:What is sadly true is that most young people in Kenya are simply shadows in the movement of economic growth.

Each leader and community member should examine his of her conscience about what contribution they are making toward ameliorating the lives of young people in Kenya.

With the right support, mentorship, motivation and guidance, each young person has an unqualified chance to be successful and happy through hard work.

So far, many great initiatives have been rolled out by the government, youth organizations and development partners toward empowerment of the youth. The institutionalization of financial aide through Youth Enterprise Development Fund remains creditable, and progressive.

Nonetheless, ominous challenges still exist and great opportunities still await the too many frontiers of the youth in Kenya.

Youth leaders and organizations have to get impatient with the slow pace of empowerment and transformation among the youth, regardless of commendable efforts and programmes in the past 20 years. The goal of youth empowerment remains unreached, predictable challenges not surmounted, and legislation alone cannot be the dependable cure.

Unemployment; reviewing institutionalization of financial aide for the youth; support in venturing into and mastering entrepreneurship; understanding dynamics of and positioning themselves in political leadership; and responsible sexual behavior.

Urbanization also has accentuated and spiraled various kinds of evils and crimes. We cannot be demure about the scale of these challenges if we robustly intend to squelch them. From these perspectives, it is obvious that the nation is faced with moral, economic and academic challenges with regard to the challenges facing the youth.

Platforms such as AGPO (Access to Government Procurement Opportunities) are working fairly well, but the ultimate success points remain elusive, because far too many youth-owned companies remain stuck due to unpaid invoices from government agencies, as well as county and national governments.

More needs to be done in policy and programme-level interventions. There is need for expansion of urban and rural job opportunities, through robust infrastructure development, and a commitment to employ 50% of youth in all public funded projects, so as to narrow the variance between economic growth and employment generation in the public sector.

The government should provide more benefits too in tax relief for all private sector institutions that provide paid internships and also take up interns upon completion.

On the academic front, the national and county governments need to upscale interventions that enhance increased transition rates in educational institutions, to lend meaning to the constitutional provision of education being a right in Kenya.

For the youth who are already in gainful employment, stakeholders need to establish vigorous programmes that would boost the culture of saving money, and encourage investments.

The youth remain statistically significant. The sad part is that they are mainly looked at statistics, and their premium valued during election times. Report after report has been released by key sector players on youth matters and how palpable momentum can be built for fitting interventions.

All youth in Kenya, premised on the constitutional provision of non-discrimination on grounds of race, gender, ethnicity, or religion necessarily should have equal access to quality education and health care and the favourable economic and social opportunity to grow up in safer neighborhoods, communities and counties, in pursuit of happiness.

The East African Community, with the cooperation and help of the Ministry of Public Service, Youth and Gender, the ministry of East African Community and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, need to establish a strong mechanism and cross-border interventions to help the youth overcome their economic woes.

Continentally, the African Union should revisit, and audit the Africa Youth Charter endorsed by the 2006 Heads of State Summit, and renew obligations of nation-states to the letter and spirit of the that Charter.

As a country, Kenya must look to long years ahead of challenges for the youth, unless there is expeditious multi-stakeholders’ synergy building and interventions on the multi-faceted woes bedeviling youth in Kenya. What is sadly true is that most young people in Kenya are simply shadows in the movement of economic growth.

The writer is the Chair of the Youth Agenda Board of Directors.


21 Nov

By Javas Bigambo

Every election is essentially a battle cry, driven by convictions of candidates and their supporters, informed by fundamental principles that men and women of our nation-family lost lives to have them founded, and must be inevitably sustained by individual and collective sacrifices.

The contours and margins of democracy are formed by the imagination, push, commitment and diligence of citizens, and Kenyans, beyond any precept or example of any other country on the African continent keep proving that they know who they are. What if the Greeks would have this country for their own?

Following the repeat presidential election, the Supreme Court has rendered its verdict today, laying to rest officially the hard-fought contest for presidency, a duel wrestled by political notables in the ballot and the courts. With that judgment comes not unity, harmony, brotherhood or spirit-lifting progress.

Kenyan Supreme Court judges, from left to right, Njoki Ndung’u, Jackton Ojwang, Deputy Chief Justice Philomela Mwilu, Chief Justice David Maraga, Smokin Wanjala and Isaac Lenaola preside over the hearing of the petitions. The court upheld President Kenyatta’s re-election.

What is undebatable is that detailed recorded fact point to the reality that the 2017 general election was in many observable cases virulently fraudulent, scandalous, disturbingly opaque and divisive, tribal and threatened the very foundations of our stability and nationhood.

But we had to get over the 2017 election all the same, whichever way it had to come. This does not mean that the many anomalies noted in the election process should be pushed to the backwaters till the next general election.

The malpractices that took place in the 2017 general election sullied our democracy, and amounts to spitting on the faces of the fathers of democracy here in Kenya and all over the world. In justice lies safety. It must be our collective national realization that democracy is not a delusion, and should not be made to be that aberration.

So it must be necessary that independent investigations should be conducted on how the the electoral process at the IEBC was managed, and critical recommendations to remedy those errors effected, followed by charged being pressed against any persons found culpable.

Questions of electoral injustices are not small or of private or individual interests. They are universal in effect and interest. The cause of free, fair and veritable elections is the cause of human liberty.

Therefore, following the nullification of the August 8th 2017 Presidential Election, as well as the repeat presidential election and its determination by the Supreme Court, so much remains politically unresolved. There is still so much pain in many parts of the country.

The post-election incidences have also demonstrated that there is need for more reforms in the Police Service. Such reforms should be focused on police training, and how police should interact with or manage public spaces and demonstrations at all times.

The police need to embrace a rights-based approach in handling protesters.

There are people who lost lives, and some lost loved ones following disputes and protests related to the election outcome. To them, closure did not come with the Supreme Court verdict that upheld the re-election of President Kenyatta.

There are those whose property was destroyed or looted, hence lost earnings and sources of livelihood following post-election protests. They cannot find closure just because the court has closed the matter.

It is for this reason that I am not indifferent to the opinion of those uncharmed by the decision of the Supreme Court to uphold the re-election of President Kenyatta. Neither am I enthused entirely by the inconsiderate celebration of those tickled by the affirmation of the court.

What is vital is how we must begin building bridges, and refuse to build political walls. Now then, whatever measures conciliatory that are needed, let friends and foes pursue that. We cannot afford to be slaves of hopelessness, and by so doing neuter a young democracy.

President Kenyatta has a duty, so unique and solemn to bind the open political wounds in the country. I know not how his second inaugural speech will be written or how it will read, but how that speech will be weaved will be the starting point of lifting the spirit of the nation.

The Supreme Court upheld the re-election of President Uhuru Kenyatta by disallowing the two petitions challenging his re-election for lack of merit.

The Hon. Raila Odinga has a critical role to play too in the healing process. Being sworn as president in a recalcitrant act will not at all assuage the pain of his supporters. In any case, it will be out rightly unconstitutional.

NASA leader Raila Odinga (center), withdrew from the repeat presidential election on grounds of unmet reforms in the electoral process. Mr. Odinga is critical in the necessary effort to reduce political temperatures and restoration of normalcy in the country.

We are all a part of what we have witnessed and experienced. So there is so much to be done in an effort to move Kenya forward. Is it not true that Milk and honey have different colors, but they share the same house peacefully? Then let us remember that we are one nation, and Kenya is our country.

I must bring myself to the appreciation that here in our land, I know no law higher than the Constitution, and thus, obligated to respect it as it provides, till such time that we shall, collectively, elect to amend sections of it.

The Media and Safety of Journalists

The press and television journalists need to operate within boundaries of decency, responsibility, compassion founded on conscientious professionalism, not sensationalism.

Journalists on the other hand need not be threatened or to operate in an environment where their security is threatened or compromised. We should have outgrown the age of press censorship, the fancy of absolute rulers, dictators and fear-ridden office holders who suffer insecurities of public scrutiny. Media censorship portends the decline of liberal democracy, which must be guarded against.

Media freedom, without doubt, is an inherent and unassailable element of liberal democracy, that facilitates part of the right of information essential in holding state and public officers accountable.

Similarly, integrity in the practice of journalism must also be demanded of journalists by citizens and leaders, so that news content should not be sought or twisted at the bidding of special interest groups, but for the greater good as a general principle.

Building an Accountable and Democratic Kenya Together

The shadow of patience must not grow shorter. Need we entertain the imagination of secession and the attendant untamed savages of individualism that come with it? Let secession remain a mirage, or at best, an apparition that we live not to experience.

We cannot take pride in divisions. We cannot for so long sustain the negative energy, abhorrence and squabbling. It is obvious that there are critical social justice matters, land matters and electoral reform issues that must be undertaken. This work is ours as a people.

There is an understanding in African tradition that brothers love each other when they are equally rich. We have to make sure that we overcome the high inequality in Kenya, breath life in our national values, boost entrepreneurship and business environment, facilitate sustainable agriculture and put more money in devolved government as we put premium on accountability.

There are many pillars of nationhood. Many of those pillars are not strong here in Kenya. Let us not ask of anyone, politician or foreigner to strengthen them. We the people have to rise, fold our sleeves and strengthen those pillars.

Javas Bigambo: Not all is ok in the country. There is need to build a new Kenya through critical reforms and abiding by the rule of law.

Greater sense must reign among Members of Parliament and Members of County Assemblies to work toward better reforms through pieces of legislation and debates in the house.

Let us elevate our thoughts, moderate our excitement; contain our anger, and fathom that ours is a country to secure, a nation to unite and saunter into the future, thankful that we have it in our power to strengthen our national home. That effort of building a truly new Kenya should start right now.

The writer can be reached through


1 Jan


By Javas Bigambo, Interthoughts Consulting

The centerpiece of the development of nation states is the nature and quality of each nation’s politics, and politicians.

From antiquated Greece to modern third world and developing countries, politics is the stuff that makes or breaks nations.

Political leaders determine each country’ development agenda, foreign policy direction, tax regimes and development budgets, even though most politicians are irredeemable hedonists.

That is why it is beyond dispute that the unequaled power and subtlety of politics inadvertently makes elections a matter of universal interest. Agreeably, dependence on transparent democratic decision-making and veneration for well-structured political institutions makes national progress possible.

A democracy that makes proper use of knowledge, regards public participation, accountability and good governance ends up benefiting the denizens more, than a democracy that is blind to corruption, embraces tribalism and nepotism to the chagrin of the masses, and rides on the wheels of inevitable folly.

To determine the respect of institutions by a government, judicious use of public resources and development plans that work, democracy demands that governments renew their social contract with the people by conducting periodic elections.

For this very reason, Kenya heads to yet another election cycle in August 2017. However, owing to riches of selfishness, self-aggrandizement, limited imagination, profound vacuity, tribal interests and an indifferent electorate, anxiety is already building up over the general election, just as it has been the case in all previous elections. Kenyans’ commitment to democracy will once again be tested, question is whether it will be found to be sturdy.

Every electioneering in an election cycle in Kenya comes with stunning exuberance, energy, flaunting of ignorance, narrow interests and cut-throat competition, and mass excitement wrapped in the valiance of contestants.

Regrettably, the 2017 election in Kenya will be won by the presidential candidate with the highest ability to craft compelling propaganda and ethnic arithmetic, altogether laced with campaign messaging replete with unprintable profanities, expenditure of looted public funds, choreographed policy bravura that cannot be remembered after elections and borrowed ideas from which nothing is learned.

This has cemented the place of Kenyan politicians in the canon of global politics. Political ambition and agenda ordinarily should constitute of sterner stuff.

Political literature from which much can be learned is composed of a collage of profiles, some legendary, while others can consign you to a shrine of tears.

Across Africa, and through the prairie of Kenya’s political history, it cannot be mistaken that politics is the most misconstrued and misguided profession, where some seek personal wealth, others seek old age consolation, some use it to protect their wealth, and only a few join to lift a people from dark valley to majestic heights of development.

Hence, politics remains a strange and yet compelling thing all around the world. Progress has been baked and served through the crucible of visionary leadership, and new national or global agenda shaped by leaders now remarked as legends in history, because they chose the better and altogether rare path.

Ambition by itself is not a bad thing, but ambition mounted on ego, driven by emptiness and supported by greed can only be calamitous.

For politics, Brutus murdered Caesar in Shakespeare’s compelling play titled Caesar; for politics, Trump quit business to join the most intricate career and caused the most absurd and baffling political contests ever imagined; for politics, the world has been treated to the most distinct and awe inspiring orations in the leadership Abraham Lincoln who preserved the Union; John F. Kennedy who led America through a new frontier that took the USA to the moon; Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton with his silver tongue; Tony Blair with crafty persuasiveness; Adolf Hitler with amazing convincing power; Tom Mboya’s profound agility; Franklin D. Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Dwight Eisenhower, Harry Truman, Barack Obama with exemplary mastery of communication and soaring oration;


Barack Obama, America’s 44th President and the world’s most compelling orator in modern history.

Freeman Mbowe, Chuka Umunna among a slate of great communicators and latter day orators, who have distinguished themselves as weavers of words.

Politics has been the stage for all of them, yet history profiles them differently.

What messes up Kenyan politics is the erroneous thought on the part of politicians who think that political power is their natural and lifelong entitlement.

I hold it firmly that no politician must be permitted to act as he or she pleases.


Javas Bigambo sharing a thought with opinion leaders and compelling young political leaders in Kenya.

The dictates of democracy are such that the collective wishes of a people must necessarily be the guidepost for national growth and aspirations, which, in our case, are enshrined in the Constitution by what is firmly referred to as national values, which sadly make no meditative sense to Kenyan politicians.

The Constitution must be revered second to the Bible or Quran. When political leaders surrender good judgment and reason to beasts of the bush, their sycophants hauntingly rise to personify absurdity that is a departure from the civility that defines national decency.

Nationhood cannot be perfected when politicians and individuals entertain disregard for constitutionally established institutions, or disrupting the esteem of constitutional offices they hold, or even worse, watering down independence by surrendering democratic power or management of elections to foreign powers or institutions.

Ours must not continually be a disfigured homeland, misguided by apparitions and politicians’ phantasmagoria, which lead a whole nation into sanctioned darkness by the people’s own inaction.

Due to diminished wisdom and reason, Kenyans have experienced tragic elections in the past, the worst being the 2007 Post-Election Violence.


Images from the 2007-2008 Post Election Evidence that shook the foundations of our democracy and put a nation’s conscience to shame.

Honesty and sobriety was washed off the inner beings, and anger was permitted to flourish. For no reason whatsoever must violence be given a chance, ever, because of elections. There must be no reason for anyone to orchestrate violence after the August 2017 elections.

We should find counsel in the wisdom of Thomas Paine who once wrote “He that would make his own liberty secure, must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty, he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself.”

Kenyan democracy, through every election cycle, must be ameliorated by the unadulterated growth of truth that no politician must make his or her followers burn our country and other people’s property, and that as ordinary citizens, ours is the harder task of defending our democracy, yet not the less.

This is a noble purpose we should pursue to a noble end. The mere display of fierce ambition by politicians need not be the gasoline we use to burn that which generations of Kenyans have, through toil and sacrifice, built up.

To reduce our elections therefore to merely to an arithmetic of tribal groupings and electoral victory being merely a function of tribal arithmetic, and not a function of progressive ideas supported, is to postulate a frail thesis that tribes build nations and not brilliant ideas of visionary leaders.

This is what President Uhuru Kenyatta should know, this is what Opposition Leader Raila Odinga must not forget. It is precisely what CORD/ NASA and Jubilee Party should reflect on.


President Uhuru Kenyatta who will seek re-election in the August 2017 general election.



Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, who will lead an onslaught against Kenyatta’s re-election bid.








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13 Jun

By Javas Bigambo

If there ever was a Drum Major for justice and the rule of law, it is Justice Willy Mutunga. This week is historic. The honourable Chief Justice who elected to retire a year early, leaves office. A fair-minded judge has walked among us.

Justice Willy Mutunga has retired from office.

Justice Willy Mutunga has retired from office.

The stars in the expansive sky are not illuminating his name in twinkles, but it cannot be denied that the mortal judge has left a legacy so immortal.

In comparison, his predecessors dim in their glow juxtaposed with Willy Mutunga’s irrefutable shine. No Chief Justice had ever proven their mettle in the leadership of the judiciary in the interest of justice as opposed to political interference, than that which has been witnessed in his time.

More by example than precept, the first President of the Supreme Court in the new constitutional order has demonstrated that justice must not always be understood to be an advantage to the strong or the wealthy. In his time, he has been seen as that force at the helm that possibly hindered the executive from wanton miscarriage of justice through the justice system as a tool.

The state has openly done much to wane the independence of key institutions, including the judiciary, and he has overtly chided at the all-powerful state machinery, culminating in his last hoarse wail that Kenya is a bandit economy.

Except for the glitch he nearly suffered with the entire Supreme Court during the 2013 presidential petition, the man has irradiated light on the maxim that whoever comes to equity must come with clean hands.

Cartoonist GADO's impression of the spectacle that was the 2013 Presidential Petition at the Supreme Court.

Cartoonist GADO’s impression of the spectacle that was the 2013 Presidential Petition at the Supreme Court.

He impressed even the more when he made the report on the transformation of the judiciary after his first hundred and twenty days in office.

From the start, he courted controversy. The President of the Supreme Court preferred to carry his rag pack like a magician, defended his stud, and did not give himself to don the finest suits and converse in legalese, the pride in the realm of the learned friends. The man has had his flaws, but credit him for the good work done.
Those who propagate the status quo will want to forget him so quickly, no doubt, but history has a place for him already. No mud would stick on him. And those earnestly diametrically opposed to Mutunga’s leadership, finding no torn hem on his garment of leadership, chose to hate on him for the stud he wore, an artifact that never blocked his ear for justice.

He took over an institution that had suffered the stroke of public confidence crisis, thoroughly underfunded and where justice was procured by the highest bidder. While the judiciary is not yet out of the woods, it is fair to say that it is nearer the road than when he took up its leadership.
No one doubts where he stands on the issue of corrupt judicial officers, and it is alright that he is not standing in the grey area.

The judiciary has opened up new and expanded courthouses in most areas within counties, and has done much to reduce backlog of cases in a bid to dispense justice. Admission to the bar for new attorneys no longer had to wait for eternity and a day.

Under Willy Mutunga’s leadership the judiciary has ceased being an allegory of judicial obfuscation where access to justice was known to shrivel on account of social status. Now social justice has a bigger and better platform, reinforced by an even more liberal Bill of Rights in the Constitution of Kenya 2010.

Perhaps Justice Mutunga’s last best efforts and attitude for justice is evident in the Justice Rawal retirement appeal imbroglio, now set for determination at the Supreme Court. By a stroke of his pen, Mutunga rolled back the date initially issued by Ndung’u Justice on the hearing date for the Supreme Court hearing of the appeal, on a matter so open to the naked eye.

It is famous for the dictum of Lord Camden who once quipped that “If it is law, it will be found in our books. If it not to be found there, it is not law”, in the famous Entick v Carrington. One only hopes that the Supreme Court will not fail to agree with the initial High Court ruling and the recent Court of Appeal ruling on the express issue of the retirement age of judges inscribed in the Constitution in glowing letters.

Whatever path the leadership of the Supreme Court takes henceforth, is justly in the wisdom of whoever takes over. But if wisdom be ours for the pride, the conscientious among us will node in agreement with the uncannily judicious Lord Denning who asserted “Let justice be done, though the heavens fall.”

In the journal of human affairs on earth, nothing hoists justice better than unprejudiced course of liberty among men.

The writer can be reached through


25 May

By Javas Bigambo

The “outsider” mentality to political class consciousness and “the others” peripheral perceptions of communities, groups and individuals in Kenya, is the functional force of drawbacks to what should necessarily be progressive growth of democratization, inclusivity and constitutional permissiveness of frameworks that not only foster institutional expansionism for inclusiveness, but also a shot in the arm for national cohesiveness.

A painfully narrow and simplistic view of this is what would lead some to dismiss with a wave of the hand, the growing call for institutional reforms of even constitutional commissions such as the IEBC. That mass inequality, class and ethnic discrimination are alive in Kenya does not need hyperbolic narratives.
Everything seems to be tribal, petty, narrow and simplistic. Even an average mind of objective quality would appreciate tribalism is taking Kenya down so fast than the threat of terrorism.

Einstein on consciousness

Einstein on consciousness

The paradox of ethnic entitlement is a narrative now even being fed to the poor, and propagated in such a manner that it shreds logic, wisdom and inclusivity in political spaces in Kenya, now even more prominent under the Jubilee government, through the false but now accepted “tyranny of numbers” dumbness, predicated on an emptiness of consciousness.

To me, there is nothing impressive about tyranny of any kind, and the only numbers that should matter must be figures that speak to reduced national debt, reduced public wage bill, reduced number of poor people, and increased number in prisons of the corrupt, unjust and those who murder at will.
Kenya is presently winged into a labyrinth of political woes that would easily be averted by national leadership that is open to ideas and collective progress.

These are the times that call for the urgency of a nation’s consciousness must be awakened. Debates must start on every platform, and discussion through every channel and media, discussions that are true and helpful. These are indeed times that put the media and journalism on trial.

Javas Bigambo arguing out a point on NTV's Press Pass programme.

Javas Bigambo arguing out a point on NTV’s Press Pass programme.

Why do politicians look at their opponents through the lenses of enmity? Why do politicians reduce communities merely into ethnic bandwagons and appreciate then only as voting machines that can be procured on the cheap? Why do national leaders and heads of parastatals venture into wanton pillage under the veil of communities? But most importantly, why can’t ordinary Kenyans see through the cracks see the big picture?

A nation that sets one community against the other is one that is one that is surrendering to degradation and death, a total aversion to growth.
Many things are a miss in Kenya, but the biggest is the lack of a national consciousness that creates a platform where national pride and cohesiveness are evident, not occasionally but always.


24 Jun

By Javas Bigambo

(This is a transcript of the extemporaneous speech delivered by Javas Bigambo as the key speaker at the annual Kenya and Somali Expert Assembly of the GIZ (German Cooperation) held on the 23rd June 2015, at Safari Park Hotel, Nairobi)

GIZ Country Director Hendrik Linneweber, distinguished ladies and gentlemen.

I am grateful to be hosted by the GIZ fraternity to reflect among experts on the subject of CITIZENS AT WORK: SERVICE DELIVERY AND ACCOUNTABILITY IN DEVOLUTION.
I thank you all accomplished enthusiasts of development for doing all you do to make things work. I feel honoured to join with you in this hall.

My entire remarks are predicated on the primacy of the revolution in governance christened DEVOLUTION, the only third truly remarkable thing to have happened in Kenya. The first great thing ever happening was attainment of Independence in 1963; the second is the introduction of multiparty democracy politics in 1992; and the third being devolution, thanks to the 2010 referendum and promulgation 0f the Constitution.

Everywhere you turn today, you see attempts of communities in action. It is not in doubt that devolution is the future of communities for shared growth and shared prosperity.

There are numerous success stories from various counties which can be told, that demonstrate how devolved governance has effectively led to distribution of resources across the country in the counties; how communities are striving to identify their place through participation; access to leaders and services;

1) Improved health services delivery: In most counties, for the longest time in our history, residents had long been trapped in the tragedy of broken-down, insufficient health facilities, and numerous maternal death cases. Now the narrative is changing. Counties are registering improved health services delivery. More than 9,000 health workers have been employed across the 47 counties; health facilities are being given face lifts and getting equipped; construction of new health facilities is evident; ambulances have been purchased; drugs are now in most health facilities and maternal death cases are on a steady decrease. In Mandera County in 2014, the people came a live to the first ever Cesarean Section since Kenya’ independence. Lamu County is innovatively using speed-boats as ambulances, and Samburu County has come up with delivery Manyattas.

2) Water supply: Makueni County is making history on its part with approaches for increased water harvesting and storage, because water is a priority issue in that County.

3) Education: Around the 47 Counties, thus far, over 3,000 ECDE teachers have been employed, and County Governments are sparing no shilling to develop ECDE centers and scale up polytechnics and Medical Training Centers.

4) Agriculture: Farmers in many Counties are finding reprieve, and smiling all the way to the bank. In Murang’a County, the shilling has doubled for the dairy farmers because middle men or brokers have been eliminated, and marketing approaches have been enhanced. Across the country, Narok County has purchased milk coolers to increase milk storage and reduce wastage. Farmers in Trans-Nzoia like in the Rift Valley are receiving fertilizer and seeds at subsidized costs.

5) Infrastructure Development: Nearly in every County, there are evident works of grading or graveling of roads, or tarmacking. Machakos County has demonstrated how this can be done through their brand of Maendeleo Chap Chap, and rural areas in many counties are opening up for access. This will enhance mobility and access to services.
6) Trade Industrialization: County Governments and embracing technology and now angling for breakthrough in industrialization through evident efforts to make Private Public Partnerships to work.

These efforts and changes are evident to all of us, and no one can argue against them. However, in the thrilling changes of devolution, not everything is rosy.

I have traveled the length and breadth of this country, just as much as all of you, and I have been confronted by the same questions and challenges that have not eluded any of you. Why are people asking themselves too many questions about devolution? Three years after the roll out of devolution why is accountability emerging as a major challenge? These are things we all know to be true.
Record numbers are losing hope and sliding into despair. There is need for a turnaround in these formative years, to seal the gaps, enhance transparency and accountability, and renew the people’s hope in approaches to devolved governance.

The fundamental pillars of devolution are strongly enshrined in the Constitution of Kenya, and devolution is clearly the backbone of our Constitution.

Our challenge with devolution is very clear. Many people, far too many people don’t understand its layout and its objects. We all realise that uncertainty of political good will in transparency and accountability, and power politics remain a major challenge, and need urgent attention.

Three years now since the 2013 elections, we can firmly say that the amorphous nature of public participation without useful structures in place makes far too many people find it difficult to engage with the leadership. I am referring to public participation in three perspectives: public participation as a process, public participation as a space or platform and public participation with regard to capacity. Without access to information people and communities cannot effectively participate in decision making and furthering the development agenda in devolved governance.

Public awareness levels are still low, just as much as literacy levels, and this is greatly exploited by cunning politicians. Less informed communities are a weakness in the progress of devolution. County Governments too must go further in packaging and disseminating information. Much possibly is being done, yet much remains unknown to the public.

County Assemblies too are mostly filled by semi-illiterate politicians who now engage in wanton plunder of resources. Just check around, and you will realise that more than half the big contracts and machines in County governments are superintended by those in power, to their own companies through proxies, and common citizens have only a 2 percent chance to win tenders. That is the reality in which we live.

There is need for enhanced safeguards in devolution. Constitution implementation is a must but should not be the only safeguard. The power in the hands of the people must be enhanced by fast-tracking the enactment of a comprehensive Public Participation Act; there is need to lobby for the amendment of the Elections Act 2012 to make sure that every holder of an elective position must be a degree holder.

Legislation, policy formulation and oversight are not simple things, they are complex. You cannot legislate when you are semi-illiterate. This tells you why the quality of legislation is compromised.
Perchance in times ahead we may need to have in place a body that can police public participation mechanisms across all the Counties, and strengthen this principle.

Further, the need to leverage devolution’s success on technology; transparency and accountability; leadership and integrity, and Constitutionalism needs no emphasis.

We find ourselves at a point in time where we must ask ourselves hard questions, for our own sake, and for the sake of communities, and self-analyse, and determine whether we want to look at devolution as an instrument of ethic fiefdoms and corruption, or as an instrument of hope and prosperity in the hands of communities.

Challenges are rife, and seem to get compounded. Border conflicts between Counties are on the rise; ethnic chauvinism is now at unprecedented levels, and most recently, the flexing of political muscles between the Senate and the National Assembly nearly brought the functioning of County Governments to a halt. The speaker of the National Assembly and the speaker of the Senate are always at odds, and often speak at cross purposes.
These are challenges that we must agree exist, and face them with appropriate measures.

The challenges faced by County Governments with regard to Private Public Partnership need attention too. The bureaucracies and attendant challenges must be reduced, especially by the National Government. PPPs must be made to work for the Counties, just as much as County Governments themselves need have their capacity in the planning component scaled up.

Additionally, Counties need to go beyond the formulation of CIDPs. It is regrettable many residents across Counties remain less involved in development. Most County Governments have not publicly shared their CIDPs. No County has translated their CIDP into Kiswahili. It is necessary and proper that important national documents be made available and functional. The Constitution of Kenya too is printed in the English language only. There is no official translation of the Constitution into Kiswahili. This leaves out many Kenyans, and denies them the chance to understand the supreme source of law in Kenya.

From my experience as a consultant in governance, devolution and development communication, I find it necessary that for future strengthening of devolution, to have in place a framework called Counties Peer Review Mechanism, a platform that could help County governments to caucus among themselves as accountability partners. This can be something modeled around but more functional than the Africa Peer Review Mechanism among African countries.
It is time for everyone to value devolution, and for devolution to be of value to everyone, not the privileged few.
It is important for us to shepherd ourselves around common goals and aspirations, that tether us to those values and principles of good governance lifted and consecrated by the Constitution.
Kenya needs partners in this endeavor.
Communities and Counties need partners too, and you are in the right place. For the great support and commitment you continue to offer as GIZ experts and for the multi-sector support as development partners, you certainly deserve the thanks of all people.

Javas can be reached on mail through