Archive for August 2015

Devolution of Power or Devolution of Corruption ?   Leave a comment

Among the major reasons why Kenyans were clamoring for “dcvolution” was the prospect of taming corruption at the very top of government—the national government and wayward presidents and their handlers, cronies and sycophants. Corruption has been a particularly corrosive disease because of both the scale of resources and funds involved and the impact this cancer has had on the entire nation. Then came devolution that was supposed to curb abuses of power and redistribute power and resources widely so that local areas throughout Kenya can have greater access to leaders and resources. So what happened?

The emergence of local “nyang’aus” who have gone on a rampage plundering and pillaging county government coffers in various ways including:
1. unsustainable increments in salaries and allowances
2. sending large caravans of political tourists to foreign lands such as UK, France, China, Israel, etc, ostensibly to lure foreign investments as well as showcase their counties—quite a laughable spectacle to the leadership of the places they visit.
3. rampant corruption that has simply devastated local areas from Mombasa to Kisumu

I am sure most of you can think of more “sins” that have been committed by these local “nyang’aus” (aka County officials and elected leaders). The moral here is that you cannot tame corruption by a simple act of devolution. What the latter succeeds in doing is to break up a large polluted lake into smaller polluted ponds. The voracious parasites that reside and rule such putrid waters can be found in both, large and small bodies of waters.

However, the local areas constituted as counties and municipalities are much more accessible to local Kenyans and the task of going after the local “nyang’aus” is much easier than that of going after the “heavy hitters” (presidents, etc), who operate at the national level. It is up to Kenyans to mount multifaceted campaigns of redeeming their counties and country from leaders who have continued tp sabotage their quest for a better life.
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Bless you all
Prof. Edari


Posted August 11, 2015 by edari1 in Land Tenure Issues

County Grassroots Mobilization for Political and Economic Development   Leave a comment

At the time of Kenya’s independence, a chorus of leaders with Mzee Kenyatta in the driver’s seat rallied around the chant of “Harambee”. This philosophy of pulling ourselves up collectively has been followed by many ordinary wananchi who have gone about the business of educating their children, conducting local “harambee” initiatives, pursuing all sorts of businesses, etc. If anything has contributed to emergence of Kenya as a leading economy in East Africa, it is the activities of these brave Kenyans. It therefore comes to me as a surprise when I see so many Kenyans still looking for “salvation” from our elected officials at the local and national levels. As far as I am concerned, elected officials are mostly an insidious form of cancer that is a serious obstacle to political and economic development. Plundering public coffers, corruption, sycophancy, political violence and murders, are just some of their numerous “sins” against Kenyans and God!

In every local and national election cycle, Kenya is gripped with the fever of political campaigns and the rampage of politicians. But when the dust settles, it is business as usual: “eating”, corrupt deals, wheeling and dealing, etc. In other words, elected leaders engaging in self-serving activities that do very little for wananchi throughout Kenya.

Fortunately many wananchi have not waited for manor to fall from the heavens, They have seized the initiatives of advancing their own lot and that of their families and communities. But wananchi can do more and I would suggest the following:

  1. Develop a system of report cards for rating elected officials
  2. Put elected officials to task and let them explain in public meetings what they have done for their constituencies
  3. Look deeply into their respective cultures to identify institutions that can be used for mobilizing resources in cash or kind for deployment in advancing development. Among the Akamba people there is still the institution of “mwethya”–a system of reciprocal collective labor that my own mother Syovata wa Kimanzi used for cultivating huge tracts of land around Ikutha in Southern Kitui. When I was preparing to go to the University of Waterloo, none other than the late Chief Kitonga, Nzamba Kitonga’s father organized a fund raising initiative under the auspices of “Akamba King’ole”. That initiative yielded monies with which I was able to buy a suit and tie, suitcase, etc. in order to travel to Canada. My family had very little resources then. These types of events in my past are what have shaped my character as an “eager beaver” who is always trying to help others.
  4. Mobilize political campaigns and agitation for infrastructure investment—roads, water, rural electrification, health clinics, schools and teachers, etc. Infrastructure investment constitutes what economists refer to as “public goods”. These types of investment not only create an “enabling environment” for development, but they also have a broader impact on a much wider segment of Kenyans–locally and as well as nationally.

More Later

Prof. Edari

Posted August 6, 2015 by edari1 in Land Tenure Issues