Wednesday, March 3, 2010

How Long Are We Going To Be Ruled With Democracy Of Hypocrisy And Sycophancy In Kenya ?

"Great Kenya",a strong and prosperous Kenya is my cherished dream - as is of any true patriot.But moron management of our society by opportunistic political leaderships is leading us to ridiculous imbroglios.Everybody from common-men,to our social and political leaders and intelligentsia are crying about our society's overall degeneration.With the slogans of "Democracy Of Hypocrisy And Sycophancy dripping from their hearts,as they continue to consume the same poison of grand coalitions of mass corruptions in the name of democracy.

True democracy has five essential ingredients - freedom, self-governance, empowerment of people, rule of law and self-correcting institutions of state. Freedom is the right of any individual to do as he pleases as long as his actions do not impinge on the freedom of others. The Kenyan state can be ranked quite high in terms of freedom of its citizens. True, there are serious limitations to enjoyment of freedom for the bulk of our poor on account of inadequate resources and skills, which is largely a result of the failure of the Kenyan state. However, there are not many state-imposed fetters to individual freedom and choice. On an imaginary scale of 0 to 100, Kenya's score in terms of individual freedom will be probably below 60 for "have-not" above 60,for middle "haves" and in some respects may be approaching 80 or 90 for "have-ones".

Self-governance is the right of citizens to govern themselves directly or indirectly. What happened in 1964 was mere transfer of power from the colonial masters to the indigenous oligarchies. In our anxiety to preserve unity and order at all costs, we accepted centralization of power and bureaucratization, and marginalised the role of the people. We accepted many institutions purely on grounds of familiarity rather than suitability to our conditions and needs. As a result, self-governance is limited to an occasional exercise of franchise,that too when permitted by the local bigwigs. As the choice is often between Tweedledum and Tweedledee, this franchise has no real impact on the outcome, and self-governance became largely illusory. On our imaginary scale, self-governance component of Kenyan democracy can probably be quantified at about less than 25 percent, a poor score for any vibrant democracy.

Empowerment is the ability of citizens to influence the course of events on a sustained basis and to make meaningful decisions on matters of governance having impact on their own lives. In a highly bureaucratized and centralized milieu, with most local institutions beyond the reach of stake-holders' influence, as stake-holding and power-wielding are divorced,empowerment of citizens is at a low-level. The local school,Primary Health Center,or civic services are all beyond citizen's influence. The local public servant is unaccountable to people, and is often the master,rather than their servant. Many procedures are rigid, incomprehensible and highly formalized,preventing access to, and influence by,most ordinary citizens. Conse-quently, in terms of empowerment, on our imaginary scale our democracy would score some where in between 5 and 10, an appallingly low score for any functioning democracy.

Rule of law is the concept of people being governed by law, and all citizens, irrespective of station and rank, being subject to the same laws to the same extent. It is the basis of all democratic governance, and all our institutions, including the executive and judiciary, swear by it. However, in reality, the centralised autocratic functioning of the political parties,the flawed electoral system,highly secretive,opaque functioning, the ubiquitous patronage system, the all-pervasive corruption and the excruciating delays in obtaining justice in law courts - all these made sure that the people with access to power ,muscle and means are more equal than the ordinary citizens. As a result, rule of law has been given the go by in most cases and most citizens have resigned themselves to lives of indignity and quiet desperation.

Self-correction is the ability of institutions of state to constantly learn from past experience and improve themselves in order to serve the people better. No design is ever perfect and no system,however well-constructed, can ever conceive of all possible eventualities, and provide for them. In any reasonably efficient and responsive governance structure, there must be a high degree of flexibility and self-correcting mechanism, so that the system is functional. In Kenya, almost all institutions of state have become moribund and dysfunctional. There is no real self-correction visible on an enduring basis or in a meaningful manner. On our imaginary scale,the score for self-correction is almost zero.

My humble endeavor is just a part of such efforts,but with a significant difference.I have analyzed and reasonably discounted that all those factors-corruption to communalism and even malfunction of our political leaderships and institutions are not the causes of degradation;and that they are just symptoms of our society' degradation.And that our political system itself,the genetically flawed Democracy we practice further has manipulated and distorted by our opportunistic leadership,is the real villain,the basic cause,producing all those ill symptoms.

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Sunday, February 28, 2010

Do You Think Economic Liberalization Alone Can Deliver In Kenya ?

Many Kenyans pin their hopes on economic liberalization to arrest and even reverse the drift, and to strengthen order, democracy and unity. However, there is no ground to believe that economic reform in itself, though welcome and over-due, will be able to resolve our crisis. On the one hand, our governance structure failed to ensure adequate human development. The failure of our delivery systems meant appallingly low levels of literacy and skills, poor health coverage and hopelessly inadequate rural infrastructure. As a result, the vast majority of Kenyans are not in a position to participate in the productive process of the nation meaningfully. Consequently, the fruits of economic reform, if unaccompanied by transformation of our governance structure and delivery systems, will be at best modest, transient and self-limiting.

As the latent, untapped productive and entrepreneu-rial potential of our middle and upper classes is now unfettered, there will be moderately high growth rates for some time. However, as the bulk of the population is excluded from this economic reform and growth process, high growth rates cannot be sustained and they will eventually taper off.If we take China as example,China could have successfully launch economic reform in 1978 on a superb base of human development, skills and rural infrastructure, built painstakingly between 1948 and 1978. Without such an enduring base, China would not have recorded spectacular growth rates now witnessed about 10% or more compounded annual growth rate for an unbroken 18 year period. Kenya certainly has the potential to match such growth, but only if we create a similar human development and rural infrastructural base.

In fact, economic reform with modest growth, unaccompanied by reform of governance structure, may exacerbate the dangers of authoritarianism. As the dominant groups seek stability, public order and opportunities for growth, they may be frustrated by a crumbling governance structure incapable of creating conditions for growth. The examples of China and South East Asia may be easily misinterpreted, and the middle and upper classes may come to the wrong conclusion that the full fruits of economic reform cannot be realized, unless there is an authoritarian regime, albeit benevolent, to provide order and stability. Little realizing that true democracy is in fact more conducive to competition and growth, these groups may throw the blame for poor results on the democratic process. Such authoritarianism is neither morally acceptable, nor will it achieve high growth, because the real problems are poor human development, low level of skills and inadequate rural infrastructure. In a plural society, authoritarianism will fail as comprehensively as our quasi-democratic state with poorly designed institutions, and without people's participation and role in governance. The only antidote to the ills of our democracy is more, better and truer democracy and not extinguishing the fires of freedom and self-governance.The danger of balkanisation being accentuated by wide regional disparities, which are inevitable in the absence of reform of governance structure.

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Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Dangers Ahead That Awaits To Happen Due To Illiberal Democracy In Kenya

The extent of the fall of a body is always measured by the distance between its momentary position and the one it originally occupied. The same is true of nations and states.A decisive significance must be ascribed to their previous position or rather elevation.Only what is accustomed to rise above the common limit can fall and crash to a manifest low. This is what makes the Grand Coalition Government In Kenya so hard and terrible for every thinking and feeling Kenyan citizens, since it brought a crash from heights which today, in view of the depths of our present degradation, are scarcely conceivable.

As a result, the nation faces three grave dangers. First, there is increasing lawlessness and anarchy in most parts of the country. As all governance structure fails, the citizen is no longer sure of the state meeting its obligations in any sphere. Any citizen, unadorned by power and privilege, who ever approaches any public office in the country to obtain something that is due to him as a matter of right, is fully aware of the magnitude of the state's failure. The all-pervasive corruption, harassment, delays, inability of the courts to render justice in time, the complexity of our administrative system that makes it wholly unintelligible to hapless citizens, the frequent breakdown of public order and increasing insecurity are all the visible manifestations of this anarchy. In a true sense, we are already in a state of anarchy. This anarchy is rising rapidly, and already in several pockets of the country life is never predictable. Justice, human rights, freedom and high quality of public services are all remote concepts which have no relevance to the day-to-day life of ordinary Kenyan citizens.

The second danger ahead of us is the possibility of despotism by invitation. As the propertied and educated middle and upper classes, who have great stakes in peace and order, are increasingly disenchanted with the governance process, they are coming to the dangerous conclusion that freedom and democracy are synonymous with chaos and anarchy. Most of our urban middle classes have already come to this conclusion and have become votaries of some form of authoritarianism that can bring order and peace to the society at any cost, so that they can pursue economic growth unhindered.

In this milieu, the threat of dictatorship does not lie in a possible coup d'etat, but it may creep into the system by the acquiescence of the middle and upper classes - the political class, bureaucracy, armed forces, police, professions and the business class. In their desperate quest for order at any cost, they have little understand-ing of the nature of dictatorship, or its limitations, and the lessons of history are all-too-readily forgotten. Setting aside the fact that freedom and democracy are inalienable birth rights of every citizen, there is no guarantee that the right type of philosopher-statesman will ascend to the top in this dictatorship by invitation. If, by some good fortune, a philosopher-statesman does emerge as the supreme leader, there is no reason to assume that he will continue to be good after having tasted absolute power. If Kenya, by some miracle, finds a philosopher-statesman-dictator who remains true to the ideals of the nation for life, there is no way by which he can actually deliver the goods all alone in a vast and complex plural society in a highly centralized despotic regime. If, by some modern electronic marvel, the centralized regime does find the means of governing our vast and complicated polity in a despotic manner, there is no reason why the ordinary people, who have no real stakes in order, should give up freedom and adult franchise, which are the only elements that lend dignity to their impoverished lives. The rejection of depotism by the poor and the deprived will result soon in a massive upheaval and bloodshed, and society will face even greater chaos and disorder.

As a wise man said, while the capacity of man for justice makes democracy possible, the propensity of man for injustice makes democracy necessary. Morally or pragmatically, there is no substitute to democracy. Any efforts to the contrary are not only doomed to failure, but will also drive the nation to disaster.

The third grave danger threatening the nation is the spectre of balkanisation. As authority and order break down, and as the governance apparatus fails to serve its main purpose of maintaining public order and ensuring cohesion and harmony in society, disintegration becomes inevitable. As the centralized and inert polity proves incapable of reform, many thinking persons, daunted by the vastness of the nation, its incredible plurality, and the complexity of problems, may be compelled to conclude that the only way of bringing about reform strengthening democracy and fulfilling people's aspirations is to break up the country. In addition, the economic liberalization process itself may exacerbate this latent tendency towards balkanisation. As some regions and states respond more positively to growth impulses, and have a better social and economic base to enlist mass participation in production process, they will be far ahead of the rest of the country. The disparity between, say 15% annual growth rate in one region and 5% growth rate in another, may not appear to be dramatic at first sight, but within a decade it will be very great. If both regions started at the same level of GDP per capita, the faster-growing region will have three times the GDP per capita at stable population. If already the faster-growing region has double the GDP per capita, then the disparity will be six times. Such disparities are unsustainable among regions in democratic society. The resultant mass migration from the poorer regions to the more prosperous areas in an already over-populated cities will create untold havoc and suffering. Inevitably the social strife will lead to erection of barriers against entry and will lead to eventual balkanisation.

"You see these dictators up on their pedestals, surrounded by the bayonets of their soldiers and the truncheons of their police. They're afraid of words and thought. ... They make frantic efforts to bar our thoughts and words. ... A state of society where men may not speak their mind -- where children denounce their parents to the police -- where a businessman or small shopkeeper ruins his competitor by telling tales about his private opinion. Such a state of society cannot long endure if it is continually in contact with the healthy outside world." - Winston Churchill"

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Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Crisis of Governance In Kenya

Most thinking citizens have come to the conclusion that Kenya is facing an extraordinary crisis today. The manifestations of this crisis the all-pervasive, inefficient state, increasing lawlessness, competitive populism, criminilisation of polity, ever-growing nexus between money power, crime and political power, excessive centralization, serious erosion of legitimacy of authority and extremely tardy and inefficient justice system all these are only too evident to all of us.

Causes of Crisis

This crisis is not on account of decline in values in society, nor is it because we have the wrong kind of people in politics, bureaucracy and judiciary. Essentially, the crisis of governability in Kenya is a result of two major flaws in our governance structure. Firstly, good behaviour is not consistently rewarded by the Kenyan state, and bad behaviour is not consistently checked or punished. In fact, the contrary is true, and there is a strong feeling throughout the country that in our governance structure it is bad behaviour that ensures rewards and success. Thanks to a very poor design of our democracy despite noble intentions, honesty is no longer compatible with survival in political office, and politics and honour do not seem to coexist.

The second major flaw in our system is in the nature of power and its exercise. If power is defined as the ability to influence events, resources and human behaviour for the larger public good, then such power is severely restricted in our state functionaries at every level. Though it is difficult to quantify this phenomenon, some effort to do so may enhance our understanding of the problem. On a scale of achievement by state functionaries, if a quantum of 100 is what is possible in a well-functioning governance structure, and what is necessary in a well-run civil society, then the best of the functionaries in the Kenyan state are able to achieve only about 15 to 20 on this scale. Whether these functionaries are the occupants of high public office like the Prime Minister,Cabinet ministers and MPs,PCs, or other elected politicians or appointed public servants or the members of judiciary, this limitation is very evident at every level in every organ of our state. If however power is defined as pelf, privilege, patronage, petty tyranny, harassment, or nuisance value, then almost all our state functionaries enjoy this negative power in abundance. This imbalance between the exercise of positive power and negative power is the most striking feature of the failure of the Kenyan state. As a result of this imbalance, all state functionaries have perfectly plausible, rational and realistic explanations and alibis for non-performance. The hapless citizen, who expects results, is perpetually frustrated.

On account of these characteristics of the Kenyan state, all institutions of state failed grievously, and are on the verge of collapse. This collapse encompasses the political executive, the legislatures, the bureaucracy and the judiciary. None can be blamed in isolation, nor can any segment escape the blame. However, this failure is not because individuals have failed, nor is it because the society lacks values, but it is a result of the fundamental flaws in our governance structure, which make this crisis inevitable.

In the face of the state's failure to optimize results, and its incapacity to check malignant use of power, the citizen is increasingly frustrated. Unlike the elites, who laud the modest accomplishments of state functionaries against heavy odds, the ordinary citizens are deeply discontented as they perceive the vast area of non-performance, and the pervasive insensitivity, corruption and unresponsiveness. As repeated rejection of status quo and voting out the party in power do not yield any positive results, there is increasing frustration, and easy recourse to violence like the one we show in 2007 after election and many more to come.

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Monday, February 15, 2010

Corruption In Kenya ----You Can Say No To It!

In Kenya, corruption is something we all learn to live with. But wait! We need not be resigned to it or cynical. Instead of breast-beating over the sorry state of affairs, let's explore the solutions. Maybe there are no satisfactory answers to our questions. Let's ask them anyway.Let me begin with a confession. It is precisely to avoid writing about issues like corruption that I did not join mainstream journalism.

The universe, with characteristic irreverence, moved on its well-oiled joints to burst my self-righteous, 'Oh-I-am-so-spiritual-and-therefore-so-perfect' bubble. Seeing our parliamentarian representatives in a government office counting soiled scam shillings notes in full view of all and sundry did for me what all the grainy Maize,and Free Primary School and many more corruption scandals that is surrounding our grand coalition government It brought home the sordid reality that is corruption. Corruption that is all around us, omnipresent, almost like a distorted, antithetical version of God for the 21st century.

Like most people of my age group, I am nauseated by the epidemic proportions corruption has acquired in Kenya. It is literally under every stone you turn. It is also in every alley you turn into, every nook and cranny you might care to peep into. It happens as much in broad daylight as it does behind closed doors. It is as much a part of my life as it is of yours.It may be as much because of you as it is because of me.

If there is corruption in society,as it is today, each one of us is responsible. It is wrong to blame the system. Why do we separate ourselves from the system? Don't we vote the corrupt to power? Don't we endlessly suffer from all deprivations and refuse to raise our voice? And then when it becomes too much, we crib.

Some tend not to think the common man is responsible. I don't blame the man who shells out money so that he doesn't have to spend half his day in a queue at the municipal office. Is it not more pertinent to ask how these serpentine queues are created? Are we short of staff in an 40million,overpopulated country with a large section educated but unemployed? This theory that people feed the monster of corruption is eyewash.

The fact remains that the individual can certainly not shirk responsibility. For the individual is the smallest unit in this complex web of interrelationships we call 'society'. If we are all interconnected, how can a minority or a majority, as the case might be only be responsible for a phenomenon as widespread as corruption?
While culpability might be a debatable issue, what causes corruption to spread its tentacles in society is not.

A few believe that Corruption is the symptom of a disease that has as its progenitors over-centralization of power, non-transparency in all government functions and lack of accountability.Lack of transparency gets majority votes for being the single largest factor that provides an ideal breeding ground for corruption.Millions from development projects are siphoned off annually to Swiss bank accounts before anybody notices anything amiss.

Corruption thrives on opacity. To give an example, people marketing computer networking software found that 'corporate transparency' is not the sales pitch that works with the top bosses. But the same people are more than willing to invest in networking if told that it would help them manipulate information. This sort of a mindset is ingrained in us in the form of a belief in an 'information pyramid' that causes information to move according to hierarchy. In my view, the information revolution is all about flattening this pyramid and providing access to information for as many people as possible.Flattening the information pyramid is something many of our leaders are hiding in.

Among other things, the common man must campaigning incessantly to bring a semblance of transparency in the dealings of political parties. I think political funding is at the root of all corruption. We have to join hands campaigning for transparency in this.

Here is my call to all Kenyans to join hands with us in demanding clean politics. The voice of the common man must rise. Hit out at political corruption because the largest quantum of money is transacted there. You can write letters to the Prime Minister and also to your MPs . Strike at them directly and let them know how you feel. Fight to effect changes in the funding system, for example. I feel that a person should be able to make an income tax exempted donation to a political party, just as you can donate money to the Prime Minister's,president's relief fund. That will discourage bribery in the name of 'party fund'.

Corrupt politicians often found themselves at the receiving end.In Good harvest, bad harvest, they are the cause. If an ambitious project for public welfare fails, what did you expect with such politicians in charge. If money for a project disappears, it is because they have lined their pockets with the money. If the roads are not coming up at an appropriate pace, blame the politicians. If they are coming up too fast and there are too many, suspect the politicians. Sometimes it seems they cannot do anything right.

While our politics may be the dirtiest, the very structure of our polity is top heavy, thereby concentrating too much power in too few hands. This increases the chances of power being misused and manipulated for vested interests, totally bypassing the greater common good. One practical alternative, as i believe is to: "Decentralize. In urban areas, implement the much talked about e-governance system. Enact a law to make the neighborhood committee the first municipality. Give them the power to collect dues and empower them to be the first authority to sanction any building alterations. Empowering the people and putting them in charge of their own neighborhood will reduce corruption as well as make administration effective because that is where the administrators themselves live.

Giving an example,In Kisumu City, if any building work begins, all the men and women of the area collect and do not let the work proceed until they are shown all the building permits. As a result, no unauthorized building work can take place there. That is the power of collective action. If the electricity and water system is also given over to the neighborhood committees, it will significantly reduce kickbacks and thefts and also make everything so much more efficient. But the politicians and bureaucrats will not allow this. Can you guess why? Because it is bread and butter for them. They would become useless if the e-governance system were to work!

Interestingly, the system of effective governance through least interference is advocated in Ruling a large kingdom is indeed like cooking small fish' (the less one handles them the better).

The adherence of all under heaven can only be won by letting alone.How do I know that it is so? By this.The more prohibitions there are, the more ritual avoidance,The poorer the people will be.The more sharp weapons there are,The more benighted will the whole land grow.The more cunning craftsmen there are,The more pernicious contrivances will be invented. The more laws are promulgated,The more thieves and bandits there will be.Therefore, a sage has said: So long as I 'do nothing' the people will of themselves be transformed.So long as I love quietude, the people will of themselves go straight. So long as I act only by inactivity the people will of themselves become prosperous.So long as I have no wants the people will of themselves return to the 'state of the Uncarved Block.

The less governance model of the third century BC Taoists seems to be what 21st century Kenya needs to move towards. According to some the exploitative nature of contemporary Kenyan polity is alien to us. Kenya has a healthy more quality-year-old tradition of egalitarian democracy where governance did not mean some top boss lording it over you from Nairobi but a series of 'concentric governments' that had the village at its center. Rejecting it and adopting a socialist-capitalist mishmash only gave us a slothful government where getting anything done for the common man without 'speed money' has become next to impossible.Overawed by 'modernity', we rejected our egalitarian ethos when our salvation lay in reconnecting with our heritage.

Both rights and duties are European ideas.basis democracy is the Kenyan concept in which rights and duties regain their deep and eternal unity and indeed its the basis of democracy.
Perhaps it is the loss of this sense of basis of democracy that has rendered values in public life redundant. Nothing is sacred anymore. We have polluted our land, air and sea, and we did not stop at that. The external pollution seems to be spreading inwards. We have lost respect for life, and somewhere, for ourselves too. In the noisy global marketplace, our conscience is up for grabs, stacked in neat rows somewhere between the aisles stocking genetically modified food and cloned Hollywood stars.

Many believes corruption has only increased with economic privatization that has engendered a materialistic lifestyle: "You have so many satellite channels bombarding millions of Kenyan households with pictures of goodies they cannot buy. Today, the reality is that there is mass unemployment and voluntary retirement schemes. The Americans are sending our professionals back. It is a situation eminently conducive to corruption. Moreover, the speed with which we are distancing ourselves from our culture and values makes us more vulnerable to these temptations.
One finds individual attitudes becoming increasingly opportunistic.Because of the erosion of religious and moral values, somehow corruption has become acceptable. Let's face it, there are no role models any more in public life. The fear of God is gone, and so is the fear of law. Few are caught and fewer convicted-of every 100 corruption related crimes, only about six or none is finally convicted. All this has made corruption a 'high-profit low-risk business in Kenya.

So you see, it is possible. We can contribute our bit by not being cowed down by the mean ways of small men.To sums up in one sentence.Today one does not have to be a revolutionary to create a storm. Being honest is enough.

What will make you and the rest of people virtually incorruptible? What gives them the conviction that we lack to swim against the tide? It is as simple as that.There are other good people for whom a corrupt choice is never the option: They don't even consider the possibility. If ever confronted with a proposition of unethical gains—and one does come across these—something akin to a 'moral reflex' comes into play. They also know that sticking with their morals has some constraints, for example, that they may never be very rich. But that is fine by them. They believe in the MAD logic, which stands for a Mutually Assured Destiny that we are all a part of. Everyone is connected with everyone else. Being corrupt and self-serving can only be termed as a shortsighted and irrational act. Hear 'corruption' and we either become extremely moral, lambasting all those who indulge in it, or we are resigned to it being a part of life. Just this once, let's make an effort to actually care, and more than that, to explore the avenues of action available to us.

Transparency International is a global organization that seeks to empower civil society to participate in efforts to fight corruption. Here are some ways advocated (and implemented) by this nonprofit organization with which we can make a difference:

PUBLIC DEBATE Many of us may feel inhibited discussing corruption issues. To overcome this, we can generate a debate within our community, whether at home or at work, regarding the corrupt practices we come in contact with. Ask yourself and your friends why things seem to be going wrong, and how they might be corrected. Have brainstorming sessions to come up with ideas as to how systems can be made more transparent and accountable. Write letters to newspapers, but try to suggest improvements, not just complain about the way things are at present. It is small steps like these that snowball into movements that change society.

DEMAND TRANSPARENCY Groups are campaigning for access to official information. Once legalized, get information of, for example, small-scale development projects at the village level, take it into the villages, and inform the people there. They are the ones who know who has really been paid, and how much. At village meetings, officials may be asked to explain why the money has not gone where it should have, and can be shamed into changing their behavior in future.

BE A WHISTLEBLOWER The most effective thing that individuals can do is to complain when they see corrupt acts occurring. This can be difficult when your superiors are the ones who are misbehaving! Make sure there is no innocent explanation of the activities you see happening because what less senior people see is not necessarily the whole story. You don't want to confront an honest boss with a complaint that they are corrupt! Yet unless people have the confidence to raise their concerns with people they trust and are in a position to do something about it, nothing is ever going to get better.

Initiate discussion, within your own organization and with your friends about how existing complaint mechanisms are working (or not), and see whether there is room for any of you to take an initiative to improve them.

FORM AN 'INTEGRITY CIRCLE If you are working in a department with a reputation for corruption, form an 'integrity circle' with like-minded colleagues. Each member makes a pact with all the others that he/she will not be involved in corrupt activities and will support each other if anyone has any problems over this refusal. Declare your office a 'Corruption-free zone'. You may also put up signs saying 'Please do not offer bribes as we do not accept them' or 'Bribes are unnecessary-we are paid by the state to serve you'. Encourage friends in other departments to do the same. Inject a seed of integrity into the administrative body and see how effective it is. Get your managers' support for your endeavor in writing.


REMOVE TEMPTATION When you see opportunities to remove unnecessary blockages in systems that serve no useful purpose but which create opportunities for bribes to be extorted from the public, write to ministers, MPs, newspapers, drawing attention to the reforms needed.

BUILD NATIONAL INTEGRITY SYSTEMS The National Chapters of Transparency International are building coalitions to strengthen integrity systems in their countries. The framework for strengthening integrity systems is set out in TI's National Integrity Source Book. This describes practical reforms that can be taken in each sector of society.

This project also includes creating an international framework against corruption that will ensure that the agendas of international organizations give high priority to curbing corruption. Intergovernmental agreements are being developed to fight corruption in an internationally coordinated manner. Both the TI Secretariat and TI National Chapters around the world actively monitor the implementation of such agreements by the signatory countries. This includes monitoring international conventions concluded within the framework of the Council of Europe, the European Union and the Organization of American States.

Most anti-corruption drives or remedial measures taken are geared towards taking stringent steps to punish those who are corrupt or to instill fear in them. I think the fear of detection is the most effective weapon we have against corruption. Singapore has ruthlessly enforced anti-corruption laws and that is what we too need to do. Doing this requires giving precedence to strength of character over everything else.


However, unless the decision comes from within the depths of one's being, true transformation is impossible. This is borne out by Kohlberg's theory of moral development, according to which moral conduct is based on the choice that we make when faced with a dilemma. This theory classifies conduct based on avoidance of punishment and deference to power at the lowest rung of moral development, called the 'pre-conventional level'. The highest rung is called the 'universal and ethical principle orientation' where 'right is defined by the decision of conscience in accord with self-chosen ethical principles appealing to logical comprehensiveness, universality and consistency'. These principles are abstract and ethical and are not concrete moral rules like the Ten Commandments. Essentially, these are universal principles of justice, of the equality of human rights, and of respect for the dignity of human beings as individual persons." This level of making choices may be achieved only after one does some serious and honest soul-searching. Let's do just that.

First of all, you and I need to get off our moral high horses and shake off the complacence that comes with 'dispassionate discussion' or, in other words, pointing fingers at others. Let's face it, that's what we have been doing for the past 3,500 odd words since this article began. We have examined society and people, but what about our own selves? For every finger that we have pointed at politicians or bureaucrats or the government representative in a certain office counting soiled manipulated million of Kenyan shillings, four fingers have pointed right back at us. It is time to turn the light, and the microscope, inwards.


We might begin by asking ourselves: Am I incorruptible? If an opportunity comes my way, would I desist? It is easy to be a person of steadfast integrity until a temptation presents itself. What if... will I... may be... only if nobody got to know... only if I needed the money for something urgent... only if it were a life-and-death matter... Carry on.


Some of the answers might surprise you for you may not really be who you think you are. I, for one, discovered that although I might be impervious to the lure of lucre, I would not be averse to bribing my way through for a driving license. And this, when I believe both the giver and taker of the bribe to be equally guilty of corruption. Another young person who claimed a absolutely impeccable moral standards admitted to giving up a 'tip' to a clerk at a land records office. Getting rid of the kind of hypocrisy that keeps us from judging ourselves of what we believe to be incorrect in others may perhaps change the mindsets that let corruption fester.

All the best as you devote yourself to Fight Corruption In Kenyan ghettos,to Parliament Verandas.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Lack of right to information for Kenyan citizens in the drafted constitution;poses governance risks, abuse of power and corruption

PSC draft constitution lacks adequate checks and balances on the executive; poses governance risks, abuse of power and corruption.Some of the suggestions submitted by the Parliamentary Select Committee to the Committee of Experts are in direct conflict with the will expressed by the citizens of Kenya.

Bill of Rights The submission by the PSC seems reactionary rather than reflective on its handling of the bill of rights. Democratic governance is premised on the ability of the citizen to hold the state accountable on the use of the citizen’s entrusted power. The PSC’s recommended removal of the right of the citizen to access information held by the state seems to serve only the colonial and current non-accountable and coercive form of governance that places the government above citizen. It is a shame that despite the loss of citizens money in the ministry of education, the Kenyan citizen’s source of information on how his/her money is lost is through the benevolence of an audit report by foreign donors. If there is no right to information to citizens of Kenya.Its my calls on the Committee of Experts to be faithful to the responsibility entrusted upon them by Kenyans to uphold their will including that of being able to access information held by state.

Electoral system and civil strife Every average Kenyan is disappointed that some of the recommendations by PSC to the Committee of Experts (CoE) are self serving to the detriment of citizens. For example, PSC recommends electoral quarters, universal suffrage and equality of votes which would lead to civil strife and majoritarianism. It is imperative that in a deeply divided and deeply unequal like society like Kenya, there is in place a mixed member representation system. This would ensure that principles and values expressed in the beginning of the harmonised draft constitution such as equality and representation of minorities and marginalised groups is upheld.

Political party financing We are also concerned that while the PSC goes into great detail about party funding, including the percentage of national budget that has to be set aside constitutionally for political parties, it does not go into the same details about regulating political financing from other sources which has been the basis for state capture by vested interests. We urge the CoE to make disclosure by both parties and donors a constitutional imperative.

Subordination of the Senate It is extremely worrying that while the spirit in which citizens of Kenya demanded two levels of parliament (National Assembly and Senate) was so that the two levels of parliament hold each other accountable, PSC’s submission subordinates the senate thereby limiting it to issues pertaining to county governments. We urge the CoE to ignore such self-serving recommendations.

Expensive ventures not in the interest of the taxpayer The PSC’s recommended increase of parliamentary seats to 349 begs rationale especially when compared to the ratio of representation in other countries in Africa. The elevation of leader of majority party to a status above that of a minister, and that of the chairman of a committee to the status of a minister is an undue burden on the taxpayer whose basis is dubious at best.

The independence of public service In article 121(2c), the president may dismiss any state or public officer whom this constitution requires to appoint. Most of the mega scandals on corruption in Kenya are perpetrated in collusion with state and public officers appointed by the president. Most of the offending state and public officers are coerced under the threat of dismissal, demotion or transfer. We strongly urge the CoE to safeguard the principle of arms length between the civil service and executive by placing the dismissal demotion or transfer within the responsibility of independent institutions such as the police commission, public service commission etc.

Election of county governors In the interest of holding County governor/Deputy county governor accountable to the people, they should be directly elected under universal suffrage instead of by members of the county assembly. This is because the mayor of Nairobi will also be elected through universal suffrage (article 172(2).

We are deeply sorry and concerned by the PSC’s decision to delete the provision on criminal liability of the president and international criminal law (article 131). It’s important that Kenya shows commitment to hold its leaders accountable under the international criminal law especially given the inaction around holding perpetrators of the 2007 post election violence accountable. In addition, we are concerned that the PSC (six schedule, par 5) has replaced the CoE recommended commission on the implementation of the constitution with a select committee (Parliament) on the implementation of the constitution. Given the usual self interest among parliamentarians we fear that Parliament should not be the sole body to monitor the implementation of the new constitution.

Judiciary A valid criticism by the PSC of the harmonised draft constitution is that it has too many independent commissions. However, this is in response to historical and continued betrayal by the three arms of government. One of the main reasons why we as Kenyans find ourselves in a protracted governance crisis is because of the inability of the current judiciary to deliver justice and hence inspire confidence among Kenyans on the supremacy of law. It is important that accountability mechanisms within the judiciary shield it from future capture by the executive. The independence and effectiveness of the Judicial Service Commission is an imperative that cannot be achieved if it is chaired by the chief justice who is appointed by the president. The judicial service commission’s independence and accountability can also not be guaranteed if its membership is restricted to judicial offices as the PSC has recommended.

Commissions and independent offices Commissions and independent offices are arms length institutions that are supposed to hold the various arms of government accountable for their various entrusted powers. As such, their composition is imperative to their faithfulness to the will of the citizens. The Kenya Internal Security Service Commission as recommended by the PSC is composed exclusively of the security services themselves and presidential appointees. How then will they be accountable to citizens? We urges the CoE to ensure that their composition includes statutory civilian organisations such as LSK, COTU, and Institute of Engineers etc. This type of composition should be applied across all commissions and independent offices.

The spirit in which Parliamentary Service Commissions in democratic countries exist is that of providing parliamentarians with the requisite support and resources to undertake their duty to citizens. The history of the Parliamentary Service Commission in Kenya is replete with impropriety in resource utilisation. This is because the Parliamentary Service Commission is constituted of parliamentarians without any mechanisms of accountability.We urges CoE to ensure that the commission is constituted of a majority of non-parliamentarians.So that to make the entire process with its mechanism accountable to server the Kenyan citizens more effectively.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Oral Sex, That Impregnated Girl !

Oral Sex, a Knife Fight and Then Sperm Still Impregnated Girl,Account of a Girl Impregnated After Oral Sex Shows Sperms' Incredible Survivability
A strange tale of oral sex, a knife fight and the most unlikely of pregnancies recently brought to light by the blogosphere has doctors touting the triumphant persistence of sperm.

A woman with a birth defect that left her without a vagina still got pregnant after she was stabbed shortly following oral sex with her partner. Doctors say the bittersweet story shows the incredible survival of sperm.


In 1988, a 15-year-old girl living in the small southern African nation of Lesotho came to local doctors with all the symptoms of a woman in labor. But the doctors were quickly puzzled because, upon examination, she didn't have a vagina.

"Inspection of the vulva showed no vagina, only a shallow skin dimple," so doctors delivered a healthy baby boy via Caesarean, the authors wrote in a case report published in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.

Her birth defect -- called Mullerian agenesis or Mayer-Rokitansky-K├╝ster-Hauser syndrome -- didn't necessarily surprise doctors, but her pregnancy did. Even the 15-year-old girl could not believe she was pregnant.

Yet by looking at her records the hospital staff realized the young woman was in the hospital 278 days earlier with a knife wound to her stomach. The average pregnancy lasts 280 days. After interviews, they gathered that "Just before she was stabbed in the abdomen she had practiced fellatio with her new boyfriend and was caught in the act by her former lover. The fight with knives ensued."

The girl arrived at the hospital with an empty stomach -- and therefore with little stomach acid around -- and doctors found two holes from a stab wound that opened her stomach up to her abdominal cavity. The case report said doctors washed her stomach out with a salt solution and stitched her up.

"A plausible explanation for this pregnancy is that spermatozoa gained access to the reproductive organs via the injured gastrointestinal tract," the authors wrote.

Infertility experts note the story, which resurfaced on a Discovery magazine blog, is not only a testament to Murphy's Law but one to arguably nature's most impressive swimmers: sperm.

How Could Sperm Survive Those Conditions?

"Here's an unbelievable set of coincidences," said Dr. Richard Paulson, head of the University of Southern California Fertility Program in Los Angeles. "But it's totally plausible."

Although doctors know that sperm needs a low acid (high pH) environment to survive, and would likely die eventually in the low pH of stomach acid, doctors also said that sperm comes in a protective fluid: ejaculate, a nourishing medium meant to protect the sperm.


Besides, "out of hundreds of millions of sperm if you knock out 90 percent of them, you're still going to have tens of millions of sperm," said Dr. Peter Schlegel, chairman of urology at New York Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York.

Paulson agreed.

"Sperm are pretty hardy," said Paulson, who pointed out that sperm must make it out of the acidic environment of the vagina before reaching more friendly territory at the cervix and in the uterus. Once in the abdominal wall, Paulson estimated that the sperm could survive for days.


"It's a long way from the stomach into the lower abdomen, it's a heck of a trip, but they made it," said Paulson. "You just need sperm somewhere in the area of an egg."

Paulson said in the early days of fertility treatments in the 1980s, doctors injected sperm in the lower abdomen hoping for the coincidental encounter with an egg. The procedure, called DIPI or direct intraperitoneal insemination, has largely been replaced by more effective methods.

The Lengths Sperm Can Travel

Schlegel pointed out that although fertilization typically takes place in the fallopian tubes, doctors know that sperm can normally swim up and out of the reproductive organs into the abdominal cavity.

"The sperm are naturally there at times, and eggs are naturally there," said Schlegel. "Eggs are released from the ovary, and they sort of dance around before they get taken up by the fallopian tube."

Sperm Can Swim Far in the Female Body

So it seems, Schlegel concluded, that the sperm could also be taken up by the fallopian tube, as could a fertilized egg.

But some doctors are still suspicious of, or at least bewildered by the tale. The girl's birth defect is well known and by age 15, doctors say most girls would have been doubling over in pain with an abdomen filled with menstrual fluid that cannot escape.

The menstrual fluid of several periods would make it even more unlikely for a pregnancy to occur.

"She'd have pain all the time and would have a stomach full of blood all the time, and would have to be operated on, or she would eventually die," said Dr. Sherman J. Silber, director of the infertility center of Saint Louis at St. Luke's Hospital in Missouri.

Dr. Howard A. Zacur, a reproductive endocrinologist at Johns Hopkins, also had doubts. "The case report here suffers from the fact that an individual with a completely obstructed vaginal outlet would have been expected to have blood accumulation in the vagina, and/or uterus," he wrote in an e-mail.

The authors of the report guessed a pregnancy could only be possible if the girl had ovulated once or at most twice before her pregnancy.

Whatever the true story of the woman, and her now grown son, Silber said it could send a message to ordinary couples planning pregnancy.

Why Doubt the Longevity of Sperm?

"This story is a crazy story, and there's no way to make sense of it," said Silber. "But the data on sperm is that normally it's quite good in an alkaline environment for two or three days -- that's why the average couple wastes a lot of energy when they're trying to get pregnant."

Silber said he sees many couples who buy into the idea that they should time sex to coincide with the woman's ovulation. But Silber said the remarkable survivability of sperm means most couples don't have to change their normal sex lives at all.

"The average American married couple tends to have sex two or three days a week," said Silber, author of "How to Get Pregnant."

If sperm can survive for two or three days, that means the average sex life of an American married couple results in living sperm swimming around the woman's body every single day of the week.

"The practice to check when you ovulate and not to have sex until you're ovulating is stupid," Silber said.

Silber said because ovulation calendars and methods to detect ovulation are somewhat inaccurate, couples could miss ovulation and have sex too late.

"Twelve hours after ovulation, the eggs aren't good any more. You want to have the sperm there ready and waiting for when you ovulated," said Silber. "It's absolutely true that sperm can last a long time." By LAUREN COX Courtesy of abcnews.go.com

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year 2010!;Stop Learning How To Make A Living And Start Learning How To Make A Life

Dear Friends,
As we close down the year 2009 and matching in to year 2010,I will like to share with you some of my thoughts for the new year...Well,the paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers, wider freeways, but narrower viewpoints. We spend more, but have less, we buy more, but enjoy less. We have bigger houses and smaller families, more conveniences, but less time. We have more degrees but less sense, more knowledge, but less judgment, more experts, yet more problems, more medicine, but less wellness.

We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too little, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom. We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often.

We've learned how to make a living, but not a life. We've added years to life not life to years. We've been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbor. We conquered outer space but not inner space. We've done larger things, but not better things.

We've cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul. We've conquered the atom, but not our prejudice. We write more, but learn less. We plan more, but accomplish less. We've learned to rush, but not to wait. We build more computers to hold more information, to produce more copies than ever, but we communicate less and less.

These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion, big men and small character, steep profits and shallow relationships. These are the days of two incomes but more divorce, fancier houses, but broken homes. These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throwaway morality, one night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill. It is a time when there is much in the showroom window and nothing in the stockroom. A time when technology can bring this letter to you, and a time when you can choose either to share this insight, or to just hit delete.

Remember, spend some time with your loved ones, because they are not going to be around forever. Remember, say a kind word to someone who looks up to you in awe, because that little person soon will grow up and leave your side. Remember, to give a warm hug to the one next to you, because that is the only treasure you can give with your heart and it doesn't cost a cent.

Remember, to say, "I love you" to your partner and your loved ones, but most of all mean it. A kiss and an embrace will mend hurt when it comes from deep inside of you. Remember to hold hands and cherish the moment for someday that person will not be there again. Give time to love, give time to speak, and give time to share the precious thoughts in your mind.

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.

If you don't send this to at least Ten people.... who cares?

Thank You All.

Monday, October 5, 2009

And the best country to live in is ... Norway tops U.N. quality-of-life list; U.S. is 13th, while Niger finishes last

BANGKOK - Norway enjoys the world's highest quality of life, while Niger suffers the lowest, a U.N. agency said Monday, as it released a ranking that highlights the wide disparities in well-being between rich and poor countries.

The annual Human Development Index, unveiled in Bangkok by the United Nations Development Program, takes into account life expectancy, literacy, school enrollment and per capita gross domestic product in 182 countries.

"A child born in Niger can expect to live to just over 50 years, which is 30 years less than a child born in Norway. Furthermore, the differences in per capita income are huge for every dollar earned per person in Niger, US$85 are earned in Norway," UNDP said.

Norway was followed by Australia and Iceland on the list, which drew on statistics dating from 2007, before Iceland was hit hard in global economic crisis. Afghanistan and Sierra Leone rounded out the bottom of the ranking.

The United States was listed 13th.

Life getting better in China, Iran and Nepal
Trends in the index since 1980 showed an average improvement of 15 percent in countries' scores. The greatest long-term improvements have been shown by China, Iran and Nepal, but progress has been concentrated in education and health rather than income, said the U.N agency.

Afghanistan is new to the list this year — reliable statistics were not previously available — but otherwise leaders and laggards are largely the same.

However, five countries rose three or more places — China, Colombia, France, Peru and Venezuela — while seven countries dropped more than two places — Belize, Ecuador, Jamaica, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Malta, and Tonga.

The index was released as part of the UNDP's annual Human Development Report, which this year highlighted migration.

"Most migrants, internal and international, reap gains in the form of higher incomes, better access to education and health and improved prospects for their children," said the report. "These gains often directly benefit family members who stay behind as well as countries of origin indirectly."

It also suggested that as the populations age in developed countries, they could benefit from increased migration to boost their work forces.

But it cautioned that encouraging migration should not substitute for "efforts by developing countries to achieve growth and improve human well-being."

Thanks!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Clinton Calls for Accountability in Kenya

Today in NAIROBI, Kenya — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton opened her seven-nation African tour in Kenya with an address to a major United States-African trade conference and other public events on Wednesday, in a visit intended to promote the broad themes of good government, trade, food security and women’s rights.
But Wednesday’s events were shadowed by a subject of deep international concern: Kenya’s volatile politics.
Some of the headlines that greeted Mrs. Clinton on her first morning in Kenya anticipated American pressure to set up a special tribunal to try the perpetrators of election-driven bloodshed early last year that left more than 1,000 people dead.
“Clinton lands as U.S. breathes fire,” said one. “Quit lecturing Africa on politics, says Raila,” said another, referring to Raila Odinga, the Kenyan prime minister who narrowly lost the disputed election that set off the violence. He signed a power-sharing agreement a few months later with the man many accused of cheating him out of victory, President Mwai Kibaki.
Mr. Odinga joked about the vote as he welcomed Mrs. Clinton at the trade conference. “In Africa, in many countries, elections are never won, they are rigged,” he said, cracking a grin and paused for a moment or two before introducing Mr. Kibaki.
Despite strong pressure from its own citizens and Western donors, the Kenyan government has refused to begin work toward a tribunal.
Many people fear that the Kenyan government will take no action.
“We are waiting, we are disappointed,” Mrs. Clinton told a news conference.
She reminded Kenyans of how the United States played a large role in brokering a peace treaty last year between Kenya’s warring political parties but said that “unfortunately, resolving that crisis has not yet translated into the kind of political process the Kenyan people deserve.”
Prosecutors at the International Criminal Court at the Hague have vowed to get involved if the Kenyan government fails to prosecute the top suspects, possibly including government ministers. On Wednesday, the Kenyan foreign minister said that this was still an option.
But Mrs. Clinton said Kenya should handle the process itself. It is “far preferable that prosecutors, judges and law enforcement officials step up to their responsibility,” she said.
“To resolve this issue internally is preferable to losing control of this.”
But she said she recognized the obstacles ahead. “I know this is not easy; I understand how complicated this is,” she said. “How do you go about prosecuting the perpetrators without engendering more violence?”
Mrs. Clinton said that the United States was not demanding that all suspects be hauled into court immediately but that “there needs to be a beginning; that’s what we are looking for.”
The address at the opening of the trade conference sometimes had a lighter tone, as Mrs. Clinton covered topics including tariffs, alternative energy, and pineapples. She made a fleeting self-referential joke about the scrutiny she has lived with as a public figure.
“This morning I had the chance to meet two women in Nairobi, to get my hair done,” she said. “My hairdos are the subject of Ph.D. theses. I’ll let everyone know I got a good one in Nairobi.”
The audience — mostly diplomats, business leaders and African ministers — chuckled politely.
The address at the trade conference touched on the broader themes of Mrs. Clinton’s visit. She cautioned the gathered African leaders that “true economic progress in Africa will depend on responsible governments that reject corruption, enforce the rule of law and deliver results for their people.
“This is not just about good governance — it’s also about good business,” she said in a speech that echoed themes raised President Obama on a visit to Ghana last month.
The new American policy for Africa would be trade, not aid, she said, declaring, “We want to be your partner, not your patron.”
She laid out plans to channel development dollars to agriculture and infrastructure, to increase support for African entrepreneurs and, at the same time, to cut back on all the overhead that often goes to American contractors.
Kenya has one of the biggest economies in Africa, driven by its safari business and exports of tea and coffee. But the country has been ailing politically since a deeply flawed election in late 2007, and it faces problems on a number of fronts.
In a video message to the conference after Mrs. Clinton spoke, Reuters reported, President Obama said, “Only Africans can unlock Africa’s potential.”
“Open markets alone are not enough,” he said. “Development requires the rule of law, transparency, accountability, and an atmosphere that welcomes investment.”

As I hold my breathe here, my biggest worries is: WILL CORRUPTION BRING ABOUT ACCOUNTABILITY IN KENYA?

Thanks!