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Kenyan politics should not be about majority versus minority

Saturday December 14 2019

By GICHU KIHORO

When playing team sports at school, we were always taught the motivational team-work oriented phrase, “there is no ‘I’ in team”.

Before every game, I remember our teacher making us repeat the phrase to remind us that the game was not about us, but about the team.

The recent Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) Task Force findings are also very much about the team; they are about team Kenya.

They are about national awareness, national ethos, national unity.

 NATIONAL UNITY

They are about levelling the playing field, about creating a fairer and more equal society, and a more representative system.

But there is also an “I” in the BBI initiative. The personal “I” which makes this set of recommendations so special. The consultation process gave the ordinary Kenyan a chance to contribute to the debate and put the “I” of the individual firmly in the process.

Furthermore, the heavy focus on creating a system which is both transparent and representative, is designed to transform Kenyan democracy.

Kenyan politics should no longer be about the majority versus the minority. Nor should it place one tribe against the other.

It should empower each Kenyan, strength the voice of the individual, and bring politics back to the people.

In the devolution section, all the 47 counties are recommended to remain as representative geographic bodies. But they will now see their resources increased by a massive 35 per cent.

TRANSPARENCY

A new formula has been proposed to ensure the money is fairly distributed. It focuses not on the size of the district, but rather how many people actually live on the land. 

The ridiculous duplicities of government functions between national and county governments will be ironed out, saving money and bureaucratic red tape.

Transparency must be paramount throughout. Parastatals will be placed under scrutiny to ensure they are run efficiently.

Currently, they neither make money, nor do they serve the people. This is unsustainable and demands immediate reforms.

Devolution will also be adjusted to ensure that gubernatorial candidate pairings from now on will consist of a male and female team.

Our women will be decision makers and event shapers.

The BBI seeks to limit arbitrary and corrupt recruitment in government. It is time the Public Service Commission was active in every county to make sure that Kenyans are appointed on merit.

FAIR TREATMENT

Fair treatment goes beyond fair representation. The BBI calls for a new patient’s bill of rights to provide equal and fair quality of healthcare across all counties. 

There is a lot of work to be done and new oversight mechanisms must be introduced to deflate our current bloated county governments.

The report notes that all government projects, no matter when they are initiated, must be completed.  

This will put an end to the disposing of government money down the drain just because a new governor or treasurer decides that he or she does not like what their predecessor started.

It’s time to establish an Office of the Public Rapporteur to oversee all public participation on behalf of all public entities to crack down on bias, exclusion, and prejudice in public participation. 

For the first time, we see in the report a real willingness to bring in third party independent adjudicators and auditors to oversee and partake in the government recruitment processes.

MINORITY GROUPS

With e-government, there is no excuse not to make the entire process transparent from start to finish.

With a revamped Public Service Commission and County Service Board devising and operating recruitment strategies in currently underserved and under-represented communities and minority groups, our public service will finally begin to reflect the ethnic make-up of our nation.

It is time that we started working as a team. But working as a team and fighting for the many does not mean forgetting the individual.

It means listening, empowering and representing the individual.

Mr Kihoro is a data and research expert. [email protected]