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The year is half gone - and the same things keep going wrong

Tuesday June 27 2017

By MUTHONI THANG'WA
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We’re at mid-year now! What has happened to the time?

I would like to make some observations and suggestions to Kenyans, given that each election is a new beginning for the nation; we either get a better nation or more of the same.

Either way, there will be a Kenya long after the current generation, or so I would hope.

As a Kenyan, you have responsibilities that come with your nationality and even if we conveniently forgot to articulate them in the 2010 Constitution, they are very clearly outlined in the National Anthem.

We have the Bill of Rights that says what the nation owes us, but debts of nationhood are paid by the responsibility of citizens.

So just stop whining and vote, monitor those you voted for, and kick them out if they do not meet your expectations.

Like natural evolution, it takes years to refine a political species to be suited to its environment, so how much longer must it take to refine a politician, given that these are social constructions?

I visited a government office recently. The secretary there had any number of filing cabinets, with huge metal bars welded on them, which enabled them to be locked with the biggest padlock the procurement department could find.

What do government secretaries lock in those cabinets, when the world is talking of hacking into digital data and building firewalls to stop the hacking ?

This is the same country where the Integrated Financial Management Information System (IFMIS), which was supposed to interlink government planning, budgeting and expenditure, it would seem, has also been very successful in linking government with cartels.

MOTORISTS OR PEDESTRIANS ?

Through IFMIS, Kenyans have been asked to believe that individuals and cartels have accessed and siphoned off billions of taxpayer shillings.

So, again, what is locked in those metal cabinets? Kenya enacted the Access to Information Act in 2016 and this law mandates public institutions to make policies or decisions public on request.

This was viewed as a critical step in the advancement of our democracy and governance, and means that any information held by government is, or should be, accessible to the public, except in instances where it compromises national security, impede due process of law, endangers health, life and safety, or any other provision specified in Section 6 of the Act.

Next, a question. Can someone, anyone in authority, help me determine if boda boda operators are motorists or pedestrians?

How can it be that they can ride on pavements during a traffic deadlock, onto the road past a policeman and then right back onto a pavement, regardless of the danger that they cause to pedestrians?

This mostly applies to urban environments, but the danger is nationwide, though the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) published regulations in 2015 prohibiting this kind of conduct, including overtaking vehicles on the left.

INSANE PROFITS

Penalties for breaking this regulation are quite severe, with fines of no more than Sh20,000 and up to six months' imprisonment. This, however, has not deterred boda boda riders.

Last and most important, for how long will Kenyans entertain this maize and maize flour fiasco? We are not the first nation to be bullied by politicians using food so that some companies or people make insane profits from hunger.

Although we are unlikely to engage in revolutionary tactics such as the Boston Tea Party, it is time to rethink our staple food options. Ugali can be mashed up from other indigenous crops that we have neglected to grow over the years.

Just like in the Tea Party, the government gave subsidies to millers at Kenyans’ expense, apparently because of the illusion that without ugali there is no life. Come on!

And the delusion of a sugar shortage is just sad, because none of us needs sugar anyway.

Ms Thangwa works in the heritage sector, specialising in culture and enterprise. Twitter: @muthonithangwa