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Make 2020 Year of Transparency and graft, bickering will go away

Sunday January 12 2020
GUYPIC

President Uhuru Kenyatta (centre), his deputy William Ruto (left) and ODM leader Raila Odinga at the launch of the Building Bridges Initiative report in November last year. Such projects have been met with resistance. PHOTO | DPPS

By KALTUM GUYO

Let’s face it: the past decade has been a bag of mixed fortunes for politics in Kenya.

The Supreme Court’s nullification of the 2017 presidential election tested the Judiciary and our resolve to the limit. But it is what the government did, or didn’t do, that ended up eliciting murmurs and protests.

Value added tax on petrol led to confrontation, forcing the government to renegotiate. Bulldozers deployed on illegal buildings fell silent before they could fully deal with corruption beguiling public land.

MPs attempted to bulk their salaries but failed following an outcry. ‘Wazee-vijana’ (re-hired retirees) being favoured over the youth caused enough rancour to wake up the dead.

However, the voices that have refused to be silenced are those speaking loudly on Huduma Namba, SGR and BBI. Huduma Namba had its fair share of opponents.

The 2018 ‘Handshake’ between President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition chief Raila Odinga got baptised as “hand cheque” amid claims of a selfish agenda. BBI moviemaking is on ‘Take Two’ with objections from some quarters.

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APPROPRIATE LEADERSHIP

Projects and propagandist mantras such as BBI and ‘Handshake’ have been met with resistance because most Kenyans felt that they lacked altruism.

The government is being accused of leaving out the beneficiaries (the public) out of key discussions as required by law before ‘forcing’ down its throat projects, policies and panels.

The BBI-Handshake project is struggling to shake off accusations that it mainly aims at reconfiguring the political landscape by creating political seats for its proponents.

Ex-Jubilee Party top official David Murathe has lent credence to that talk when he claimed that President Kenyatta is slated for the Premier position.

Kandara MP Alice Wahome has weighed in with a demand for further clarification.

The jury is out. But I, for one, don’t give a toss who is going to be at the helm. I just need someone who can secure my rights, sustain a better economic environment and create a stable country.

PROPOSALS IGNORED

The ‘Handshake’ and its alma mater, BBI, are overloading Kenyans with reports that very rarely elicit the positive results in key areas of concern to the citizens.

Land injustice is a matter that has not been exhaustively dealt with in the BBI. Even when this was in the ‘Ndung’u Report’ of 2004, the government had dragged its feet in its implementation.

In that regard, the BBI, sadly, looks headed to suffer the same fate as reports that came through Kriegler, Waki and Ndung’u commissions: it may end up gathering dust.

Not so much that there were no points in the BBI to be implemented but it is because of the disquiet that followed its formation and the manner in with which the panel was constituted. It appears to be a poisoned chalice already.

The BBI report has not been fully digested by the public before it is relaunched, raising eyebrows further.

In this Digital Age, it is easier to both collect public views and share government plans online.

DECEITFUL CONDUCT

Essentially, the report, for all intents and purposes, is a public document and should be online for public perusal as soon as it’s compiled.

Most of the data required could easily be obtained cheaply via our smartphones and tablets and the odd baraza.

The standard gauge railway has equally faced criticism for having its contracts and financial matters kept away from the public.

Despite several requests, the government is yet to open SGR-related documents to scrutiny.

If there is, indeed, nothing untoward in the deal, open matters pertaining to SGR for fact-checking to dispel concerns of impropriety.

It is one thing to say something is prepared with the interest of the public in mind and another to keep that very thing secret from the public.

It’s a conduct that smacks of deceit and dictatorship. Hence, the Freedom of Information Act and public participation rule are there to lay the ground for open governance and are cornerstones of any democracy.

This year gives the protagonists in government a great opportunity to come clean and share information that led to SGR, handshake and the BBI and any other project relevant to the public.

Making 2020 the Year of Transparency could just be the solution we need for a united and corruption-free Kenya.

* * *

It is simply wrong for officials to circumvent the Constitution and international law on citizenship rights for political purposes.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is clear on citizenship by birth. Let no one waste time and resources on Miguna Miguna’s case.

Direct the effort to areas such as revamping the economy and war on terror. Besides, the case does not augur well for the country’s image.

Allow Miguna to come back home and then bore him with freedom instead.

Ms Guyo is a legal researcher. [email protected] @kdiguyo

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