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Archive for May 13th, 2008

A primary school with big dreams – To change third world economy!

Posted by African Press International on May 13, 2008

Publisher: Korir, africanpress@getmail.no

<Story by Harrison Mwirigi Ikunda, Nairobi – Kenya

MURUNGURUNE PRIMARY SCHOOL may not feature anywhere among the famous schools in Kenya nor even around the central part of Kenya where it is located. For its location it is in the East of Mt Kenya on the slopes of the said mountain which is reputed to be the highest in Kenya and with the surprise phenomenon of having snow yet situated along the equator.

<Left photo (School building)

The school is interior and almost in the forest but in an area famous for quality tea production, quite difficult to access via roads but in an area with wet, cool, rainy and sunny climate which resembles most parts of America and Europe.

Till a bit recently the area was almost completely shut out of the rest of the country and the world due to extremely bad roads, poor or no telephone connectivity and almost no electricity. However recent developments have seen the area a bit accessible (though roads are still poor), telecommunications have improved as well improvements in electrification.

Despite the area having heavy production of tea it is still poor. Poor world tea prices coupled with global tea glut, rising fuel costs, other overhead costs, challenges in marketing, unlimited bureaucracies have made tea farmers generally poor. Already Kenya has lost its biggest tea market Pakistan, to her main rival Sri Lanka dimming hopes for better tea prices which would have had a probable effect to returns to poor Kenyan farmers.

School building. (right photo)>

Murungurune being a tea zone has had her good as well bad times. The weather and the environment look good, but the residents of the area have had rapidly changing fortunes at various times. Incidentally the area residents rely so much on tea for their livelihood for the weather is not suitable for food crops farming save for few horticultural crops which can thrive on such cold climate. But even with horticulture the area inaccessibility, economies of scale plus the unpredictable prices have locked the area to solely rely on tea farming and unreliable dairy farming which has over the years not been spared the hardships of co-operative movement mis-management and poor government policies then.

That is just the beginning of the problems. Over the years particularly in the 1960’s and1970’s tea was not a lucrative crop. During this period many could not access schooling for lack of fees. In the 1980’s when the fortunes of tea changed for the better many young people especially boy’s preferred tea farming more than schooling as it was then relatively lucrative. But with the tea fortunes declining starting in the late 1990’s the people have been caught in a great economic quagmire. The problems have been compounded by the usual low regard to girl’s education. In a nutshell many of the school going girls have not accessed education as they should do. They are usually married at relatively young age to tea farming young men. With tea in deep trouble the area can only explode due to poverty!

<Murungurune students and teachers.This clearly came to the fore when the writer of this article (Harrison Mwirigi Ikunda) visited the area accompanied by the Executive Director of a Portuguese local based NGO called ADDHU CYCA Mr. Armstrong Brian Ongera Jr on a fact finding and research mission which luckily coincided with a prize giving day at Murungurune Primary school on April 18th 2008. What was learnt was both encouraging but it was about a community struggling to come to terms with the globalized economy on which the community was greatly disadvantaged.

<A group of Murungurune students and teachers.It was clear that third world countries have a lot to do if they have to survive globalization. It was clear that unless they adapt to modern ways of economic empowerment and dynamism they are doomed and that the gap between the poor and the rich of the world will continue widening. It was apparently clear that Murungurune and Nairobi is world apart in economic, technological and on social realms. Yet still comparing Murungurune with Manhattan in New York of USA makes it more scaring and one would shudder to imagine whether the two are in the same world. Clearly the students of Murungurune primary school and those in up market Nairobi primary school are digital worlds apart. Those in Nairobi’s good schools can easily be like the ones in New York, but for Murungurune it is not imaginable.

Out of this an idea for an ICT (Information Computer Technology) village was born. In Murungurune market (township) there is good electricity connectivity. There is vast usage of mobile cell phones by the local population living in the area. Several buildings are incidentally (albeit slowly) coming up in this remote village which is reputed to produce the best tea in the world. Like India’s cities and village towns this town can provide Business Processes Outsourcing services (BPO’s) for American, European and Asian firms as well as others in big cities in Nairobi, Mombasa and so on. Already Kenyans are reputed to have good English accent compared to most of the other global English speakers in the world. Similarly Kenyans including young people in Murungurune (despite the enormous challenges) have attained quite reasonable education.

This idea had to be conceived against a backdrop of the wide society frame work and thus a pilot project had to be created to change the society thinking, give the children hope and provide the parents of an increasingly resourceful but globalization impoverished village a hope. An idea to computerize the school was conceived and the Writer and the Executive Director proposed to donate some computers to ensure the students learn computers at an early age. In addition two more guests decided to donate more computers. To encourage girls education ADDHU CYCA Kenyan Executive Director proposed to donate sanitary towels for one full year. This was to tame unnecessary (but still massive) girls school drop outs and unwanted and unwarranted early age child pregnancies.

The next phase was to source for more support widely. There are good prospects from within and outside the country who are showing interest. This pilot project should not and will not fail. The next phase will be to provide adequate computerization plus internet connection to enable the student know more about global opportunities and how to exploit them and the challenges therein, plus learn about environmental degradation and conservation. With this sorted other schools in the area and country wide will follow suit and will be supported.

This phase will cascade to community ICT training a Murungurune town free of charge or at least at highly subsidized costs, internet connections and then to explore global trade. Already Kenya is reputed to have unlimited potential for BPO’s especially in providing back office services plus Customer services among others. For instance a customer calling to New York, Washington DC, London, Sydney or Wellington bank could easily be served with the call re-routed to Murungurune call centre yet the service will be efficient and interactive courtesy of ICT connectivity and enablement. This is a way to help the third world share in the wide opportunities offered by globalization and sort out third world poverty and wars.

It is possible and there is determination to sort out the challenges of global poverty and ensure continuous wealth creation and opportunities. Murungurune Primary school project is an eye opener. It has been nicknamed Murungurune ‘Silicon Valley’. There lies an opportunity to ensure peace in the world and initiatives like this in Murungurune while replicated elsewhere can do much. It is to be remembered that 2006 Nobel Peace prize winner Professor Yunnus and the bank he founded Grameen bank of Bangladesh started on a simple idea. That idea has been replicated elsewhere in the globe including in Kenya with enormous success. Fighting global poverty is making the world peaceful!

Herebelow: Pictures on Sanitary towels being received by teachers and students of Murungurune primary school.

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African Press International – API

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Why the Kalenjin MPs ditched Raila Odinga during his home coming parties in Kisumu and Bondo

Posted by African Press International on May 13, 2008

Publisher: Korir, africanpress@getmail.no
<Story filed by Leo Odera Omolo,Kisumu
Plans are a foot for the launching of a new, butexclusively a Kalenjin political party.
According to insiders, the Kalenjin are in the process of ditching the ODM a party that won close to 31 in last December General elections.
Disenchanted and disgruntled Kalenjin MPS, especially those from the South Rift part of the expansive Rift Valley Province, have in the recent past holding behind the scene series of meeting while charting for the way forward for their community.
Insiders says, it is only a matter of time before the new mass political movement is launched. These series of meeting have been held ,mostly in Kericho. In March, the retired President Daniel Arap Moi called a meeting of Kalenjin professionals and political luminaries from all over the region, and among issues discussed were the possibility of founding another party that would end the ODM influence in the region.
Information reaching us, says that top leaders in on the Rift Valley have zeroed in on two parties, namely KANU and the United Democratic Movement {UDM} with either of which as the likely chosen popular vehicle to rally the community into and be used for power bargaining instrument in the formation of any future coalition government.
The signs that all is not well within the ODM, and that the Kalenjins were about to divorce the party could be read in the non-appearance of Kalenjin MPS, particularly those from the Kpsigis region at Mr. Odingas homecoming ceremonies held in both Kisumu City and Bondo at the weekend. Only two cabinet Ministers were poresewnt. The were Henry Kosgei {Tinderet} and Willaim Ruto
[Eldoret North}
Several secret meetings have been going on between the legislators and other political luminaries,.civic leaders, elders, and professionals. One such meeting was held at the Tea Research Institute of Kenya, which is located about 12 kilometres east of Kericho town and another such meeting took place inside an exclusive members only club in the town.
Taking active part in such deliberation were MPS ISAACK Ruto {Chepalungu}, Franklin Bett{Buret}, Dr. Julius Kones{Konoin}, Langat Magerer {Kipkellion}, Zakayo K Cheruiyot {Kuresoi}. Notable absentees were Kipkalya Kones{Bomet}, Lorna Laboso{Sotik}aqnd Charles Keter{Belgut}. The latter three were recently appointed to the cabinet in the bloated grand coalition government and had good reasons to stays away from the series of meeting organized by protesting MPS.
These series of secret meetings are said to be part of the concerted efforts to hammer out a consensus on which party direction to take.
According to an impeccable source, the build up towards the search for a new party to be the home of the Kalenjin community has been more forceful in the South Rift region where such consultative meetings were held within a span of less than two weeks.
As the discontent heightened, the former Baringo Central KANU MP Gideon Moi brought together former MPS and a dozen of an unsuccessful parliamentary aspirants in various parts of the Province to a secret hideout in Kericho to chart for the way forward on how to revive KANU.
In Mr. Mois team were former nominated MP Mzee Ezekiel Bargetuny, former Mosop MP John Sambu, former MT Elgon MP MR. John Kimkung..Mr Moi, according to sources has been shuttling in the full length and width of the expansive Rift Valley Province to drum up support for the revival of the 48 year old KANU, a party that ushered in the political independence in 1963 and thereafter ruled the country for close to 42 years.
Gideon, the favorite son of the self-professed Professor of politics, the retired President Daniel Arap Moi, is said to be out to cash on the ODM bad show after the formation of the grand coalition and further buoyed by popular talks of a new political party to cater for the interests of the community. He has been making new approach and forays to win back the lost grounds in both Kipsigis and the Maasai communities.
The Kipsigis community in particular blames Raila Odinga, the Prime Minister for having sidelined them, when he negotiated for the coalition cabinet with President Kibakoi. Members of the community are wondering why the neighbouring Abagusii community which gave the ODN less than 300 votes can have four permanent Secretaries, while the Kipsigis which coffed close to one million votes ended up with only one PS, in the name of Mrs Jane Kirui. The Kisii also got away with two full cabinet ministerial dockets, in the name of Prof. Sam K.Ongeri{Education}and Chris M. Obure{Works}.These leaders are also questioning the rationale in which the Abaluhyia community of Western Province, which gave the ODM less than 600,000 votes got away with more cabinet appointment.
Te UDM which boast one MP Prof. Hellen J. Sambili could be the next stop. The latter is the Minister for Sports and MP for Mogotio in Koibatek district.
But there has emerged some kind of valid argument that both Gideon Moi of KANU and the team, which is led by Franklin Bett and Isaack Ruto should bring their forces together, and perhaps lure one senior Klaenjin politicians like the powerman Nicholas K., Biwott on board of one roof in party that could succeed in bringing the disjointed Kalenjinb community politically together.
Biwott, the majority feel has the clout and support to united the Kalenjin once again in the same manner and way the retired President Moi had done for many years. It was reported had a soft heart for both President Kibaki and Priime Minister raila Odinga, and that during the recent tour of the North Rift on the peace mission to reconcile the communities there as well as to pave the way for resettlement of the IDP, Biwott took a seat in the VIP podium and got a VIP treatment and was engaged in discussion with both men.
Under heavy pressure to explain why he had sidelined the Kipsigis, and a community whiuch voted on a man to man and gave the ODM nine MPs, Raila odinga said in speeches at Chebilat along the Borabu Sotik borders and in Kipkellion in the presence of both Kibaki and Kalonzo that he had given the community two full cabinet positions in the name of William Ruto {Agriculture} and Kipkalya Kones{Roads}, saying that he was very much aware that Ruto ids a Kipsigis who was born in Belgut, but moved and settled in Eldoret in the same way, he Raila was born in Bondo, but represented Lang;ata constituency in Nairobi.. Ruto who was present, however, did not touch anything to do with his origins, perhaps fearing that would be a hot potato f to handle for his future bpolitics in the North Rift.
Another source of discontent is the hasty manner in which the government has handled the return of the IDP refugees to their homes. The MPs from the South Rift had said they needed time to dialogue with their constituents so that they could achieve genuine reconciliation. They had argued that the ground was still volatile and ripe with suspicion among the returnees and their neighbours.
Another thorny issue is the resettlement of the squattars in the Mau Forest, which has earned the wrath of the Maasai veteran politician Wiliam Ole Ntimama, {Narok North} ODM who did not minced his word, saying hat the Mau Forest must be concerved at all costs because it is the water catchment area.
A number of Kipsigis elders in Kericho were heard saying that the community had revoked the name of Arap Mibei, which they had given to Raila Odinga when they made him an elder of the community. These elders were arguing that for many years, and even during the reign of Mr. Moi, the community had voted for the successive government s
, but got nothing in return. The community has always been marginalized, and even its prime rich agricultural land which is currently occupied by the multinational tea companies has remained a touchy issue which need to be resolved.
The elders said they voted whole heartedly for Raila Odinga hoping that he would be the redeemer, but the prime Minister had ignored them despite of having given him properly educated and youthful lots of MPS..
.Ends
Leooderaomolo@yahoo.com
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API

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Kenya: Resettlement of IDPs in Molo is not smooth – the locals complain of lack of consultation

Posted by African Press International on May 13, 2008

Publisher; Korir, africanpress@getmail.no
<Story filed b Leo Odera Omolo,Kuresoi
THE much touted resettlement of internally displaced people{IDP} Iin their original homes in some parts of the Rift Valley Province may prove difficult to the government.
In Mau Forest, the Maasai leaders in Narok have vowed not to allow any more refugees to settle in the water catchment area under all the circumstances..
The resettlement programme launched in earnest last week by the government has hit the rock with the Maasai MPS vowing not to allow any illegal squarters to resettle again in the Mau Forest. Led by the veteran Maasai politician and cabinet Minister William Ole Ntimama, who seemed to be enjoying the backing of leaders from the South Rift, which included the Kipsigis region.
Although all agreed that the IDP should be resettled back to their deserted homes, the leaders felt the government was rushing too fast with the resettlement issue. The government should have given the local leaders sufficient time to conduct dialogue with the warring communities before forcing the refugee backs to their homes under armed escort.
But as predicted, there was a fresh flare up at Kamwaura farm in Kuresoi, which resulted in 23 youth losing his right eye sight. A gang of well drilled youths, acting like militia struck at Kamwaura shopping centre and beat up everybody on sight. One youth Newton Irungu, 23 ended up with an arrow head lodged on his left eye. He was rushed to the nearby Molo distroict Hospital, where doctors recommended that he be transferred to Kenya National Hospital for specialized treatment. Several other people sustained panga cuts injuries.
Tension remained high in most part of Molo district where the IDP were ferried to last week in military vehicles. Inter-communal suspicion is high, and the government should have taken time before brushing the IDP back to their homes. It should have consulted with the local leaders, MPS, civic leaders, clergymen.
The resettlement, however is going on very smoothly in the Kipkellion constituency of Kericho district. But the IDP refugees who had abandoned their homes in Kipkellion and lkeft for their homes in Kisii region have yet to come back. It may be difficult for these categories of IDP people to return to Kipsigis land due to the fact that hatred between the two communities is well rooted.
Mr Irungu who is the victim of a fresh skirmishes said from his Hospital bed that when they arrived back to their homes near Kamwaura in Kuresoi, they were greeted by a gang of youths singing war cries, who warned them of dire consequences should they chose to stay on.
The following morning they went to the shopping centre to have their tea, when the group invaded the centre and beat up people senselessly. we could not run and they settled on us with rungus, matchetes, arrows and simis.
In some parts of the region, especially in the Burnt Forest areas, some IDP have set conditions demanding that the government look for a suitable land elsewhere and settled them. Others have demanded that they be compensated first before they move out of their temporary camps due to the heavy losses they had incurred during the skirmishes.
MPs from the region have made it clear that the IDP and the indigenant people need to be sufficiently reconciled it is wrong to force someone back to go and live in a home where his or her neighbour is still nursing a grudge,
In what could complicate the schism between the Maasai and the Kikuyu communities, Ntimama, the most vocal defender of the Maasai rights recently brought together the MPS from the region and made it clear that they would not allow any new settlement in the Mau Forest, which is part of the Narok district.
Apparently this is completely contrary to the recent decision by the Kipsigis MPS to have the Mau allocations validated as a conditions for the IDP resettlement. But the Kipsigis leaders have also voiced their concern at the speed with which the government was moving in total disregard of the need for reconciling the communities to remove all elements of suspicion among them.
The mpost outspoken Kipsigis leaders include Buret MP Frankling Bett, Chepalungu MP Isaack Ruto, Konoin MP Dr.Julius Kones and Kipkelion MP Magerer Langat.
The legislators felt that reconciliation work should take the centre stage and thereafter to be followed by resettlement. These people must be lectured sufficiently on the importance of living in harmony with each other and working together.The situation calls for more of a Pro works, they said.
The Maasai leaders have not hidden their unease with the settler communities in matter of political supremacy and have always ensured that all the legislative seats in the area remained their preserve, a myth that was put to test in the last general elections in which the Kipsigis voters gave the former Minister for Immigration Mr. Konchellah a run for hid money.
In EldRoret area, many IDP have voluntarily returned to their farms, but other have become hard-core setting up stringent pre-conditions to the government such as a demand for compensation or for land to be secured outside But the moderate members of Parliament from the Kalenjin region wanted the IDP to be assisted asnd helped back to their homes without any conditions.
ENDS
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API

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Surprising transsexual aid

Posted by African Press International on May 13, 2008

Publisher: Korir, africanpress@getmail.no source.aftenposteneng

Christian Democrat Party leader Dagfinn Hybrten continues to watch out for transsexual rights. PHOTO: FOTO: MORTEN HOLM/SCANPIX

Norway’s Christian Democrat Party continues their support for transsexuals, in contrast to the conservative image of party leader Dagfinn Hybrten.

Norwegian health authorities have decided to drop financial support for the National organization for the diagnosis transsexualism (LFTS) which the group says is essential.After a meeting with representatives for the transsexuals on Tuesday, Hybrten has sent a letter to Health Minister Sylvia Brustad asking that she restore LFTS support to current levels.

“The organization does an important job for equality both for transsexuals and their families – children and parents. This is a small but extremely vulnerable group,” Hybrten told newspaper VG.

The LFTS first made four written appeals to the Health and Care Ministry without getting a reply from Brustad, and now hope that the Christian Democrats can make an impact. The Ministry has yet to issue an explanation of why they wish to cut the group’s funding.

When Hybrten was Minister of Health in a previous government he halted plans to scrap a national treatment group for the treatment of transsexuals, and secured the LFTS funding through increased aid for mental health.

“We hope Hybrten can help again,” said LFTS leader Tone Maria Hansen, who said that they could not maintain their office and activities without financial support.

The LFTS has 120 members.

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API

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Confesses to killing daughter

Posted by African Press International on May 13, 2008

Publisher: Korir, africanpress@getmail.no source.aftenposteneng

Lawyer Johan Tnnes Lchster meets the press.

PHOTO: Per Annar HolmThe 29-year-old man arrested in Telemark County on Wednesday accused of killing his five-year-old daughter has confessed to causing her death.

Related stories:

The man’s lawyer made the announcement to the press on Thursday after the remand hearing. The accused was remanded in custody for four weeks, but denied legal guilt.

Defense lawyer Johan Tnnes Lchster told Aftenposten.no that his client was relieved after telling the court that he had caused his daughter’s death.

Lchster said he was concerned for his client’s health and had asked police to ensure his safety. The remand hearing had been held in closed chambers at the request of police lawyer Jon Borgen.

The 29-year-old had refused to make a statement if the press was present. Lchster also argued that the proceedings be private out of consideration to the mother of the dead child.

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API

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Corruption investigation for Norconsult

Posted by African Press International on May 13, 2008

Publisher: Korir, africanpress@getmail.no source.aftenposteneng

First published: 16 May 2007

The World Bank is investigating Norwegian consultancy Norconsult on suspicion of corruption in connection with an aid project in Tanzania.

Norconsult chief John Nyheim confirmed that he notified special economic crime division kokrim about the situation on Tuesday.

According to financial daily Dagens Nringsliv, USD 146,500 (about NOK 900,000) has disappeared from a Tanzanian project account belonging to Norconsult.

Norconsult is taking part in a development project to improved the water supply to 2.5 million inhabitants of Tanzania’s financial capital Dar es Salaam, in cooperation with two smaller companies from the Netherlands and Tanzania.

The project is financed by the World Bank. Last September bank representatives appeared at the project office in Dar es Salaam due to suspicions that the money’s disappearance was linked to corruption.

The World Bank also sent people to Norconsult’s head office in Sandvika outside of Oslo but found nothing. According to Dagens Nringsliv, this was because relevant documents had been shredded.

Norconsult board chairman Per Kristian Jacobsen told DN that certain employees had seen something that is likely corruption, without reporting it via official channels.

Neither kokrim nor the World Bank would comment on the matter.

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API

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Kabuga ready to talk: API would like to remind its readers that any person charged by any authority is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Posted by African Press International on May 13, 2008

Publisher: Korir, africanpress@getmail.no source.wikipedia.trialwatch

After speaking to Mr Kabuga and his representative, API is of the opinion that the run-away businessman means business. He is tired and ready to talk, but not willing to surrender ina manner that will enable his capturers to torture him before he tells his story. Hedoes not doubt that if allowed to surrender repectfully,his actions and that of the government will foster peace and reconciliation.However, he says if the government does not extend an olive branch to him, he will have no choice but continue living his life the way he does, although he admits it is very stressing psychologically, having to watch over his shoulders at all times.

The best time for him in Europe is during the winter time, because of teh way people dress. The climate forces people to dress heavy and cover almost all the parts of the body because of the winter cold. That is when he can move freely. Other seasons makes life for him difficult. It would look strange if he was walking around covered all over. “That will create suspiscion”, he says adding “I am inndoors most of the time watching television.” – API

Kabuga sets conditions to be met for hissurrender. Wants to be given the same opportunity given to Joseph Kony(right photo) and his Lord’s Resistance Army.

FlicienKabuga

Judgement place : ICTR (Rwanda

On the run: Sought – Arrest warrant

Particulars : On the run

Position :Businessman, President of the Radio Station Milles Collines (RTLM)’s Ruling Committee (Comit d’initiative de la Radio Tlvision Libre des Milles Collines – RTLM) and President of the National Defence Fund

Flicien Kabuga was born in 1935 in Muniga, in the commune of Mukarange, prefecture of Byumba, Rwanda. Called the financier of the genocide , he was an extremely rich businessman who was closely allied to the family of President Habyarimana. He took part in the creation of the National Defence Funds Acting Committee (Comit Provisoire du Fonds de Dfense Nationale – FDN) of which he became President, as well as becoming president of the RTLMs Ruling Committee.

He was also the main financial contributor to and silent partner of the National Republican Movement for Democracy and Development (Mouvement rpublicain national pour la dmocratie et le dveloppement – MRND, the presidential party), of the Coalition for the Defence of the Republic (CDR), an extremist Hutu party inside the MRND (openly and fiercely opposed to the Tutsis) and of their militias. In this capacity, he wielded considerable influence on these organizations and exercised authority over their members, including the Interahamwe (an extremist Hutu militia).

From the end of 1990 to July 1994, Kabuga was said to have played a role in the preparation of a plan aimed at the extermination of the Tutsis. Amongst other elements, this plan in particular, encouraged hatred and ethnic violence against the Tutsis, trained and armed the militia , and drafted lists of people to be murdered. Flicien Kabuga was said to have organized, ordered and participated in mass murders in the implementation of this plan.

From April to July 1994, as a direct consequence of their officially held positions, pronouncements made and orders they issued, the members of the Interim Government and Kabuga exercised control over the local authorities and the Interahamwe (extremist Hutu militia). As from April 6,1994, these authorities and militia, together with the army, ordered and participated in mass murders against Tutsis and moderate Hutus throughout Rwanda. Kabuga was aware of these massacres but did not use his authority to intervene and put a stop to them.

The use of communication channels such as the newspaper Kangura and the RTLM created and directed by Kabuga, and others, helped to indoctrinate the Rwandan people with an extremist Hutu ideology based on hatred and ethnic violence. During a meeting organized to collect funds for the RTLM, Kabuga declared that RTLM should become the official radio of Hutu Power. In November 1993 and February 1994, he was convened by the Information Ministry who urged him to stop the distribution of messages aiming at inciting inter-racial hatred but Kabuga is said to have held to his position concerning the programs broadcast by the RTLM.

Before and during the Rwandan genocide, Kabuga, and others, are said to have participated in the provision of weapons to the militia and certain well chosen members of the civilian population with the aim of exterminating the Tutsi people and eliminating their accomplices.

From 1992, Kabuga through his company ETS – was reported to have bought massive stocks of machetes, hoes and other farm tools, in the belief that they would be used as weapons during the massacres. In addition, Kabuga was said to have provided logistical assistance to the Interahamwe by supplying weapons and uniforms and by providing transport in his company owned vehicles.

In March 1994, in relation to the above, Kabuga was reported to have imported 50’000 machetes from Kenya.

UNAMIR (United Nations Assistance Mission in Rwanda) was created in order to establish in a peaceful manner, the institutions provided for by the Arusha Agreements. This military force however was perceived to be an obstacle by certain members of the extremist political classes. Thus, leaders from these groups adopted a strategy of provocation aimed at the Belgian military who were the UNAMIRs most efficient and well equipped contingent, with the aim being to force them to withdraw. With this in mind, a campaign of anti-Belgian propaganda was put in place, through the media such as RTLM, created and directed by Kabuga, and the newspaper Kangura .

On 25 April 1994, in the prefecture of Gisenyi, Kabuga, and others, are reported to have reached an agreement to create the National Defence Fund in order to provide assistance to the Interim Government to help fight against the Tutsis and moderate Hutus. This fund was created in order to buy weapons, vehicles and uniforms for the Interahamwe and the army throughout the country. Kabuga was appointed as President of the National Defence Funds Acting Committee and had signatory power over the funds bank accounts. On 20 May 1994, Kabuga was reported to have informed the Interim Government about the existence of this fund and to have counseled the government on how to manage and to use it.

In June 1994, Kabuga and others were said to have held a meeting in Gisenyi. During this meeting, members from MRND were reported to have made a list of Tutsis and moderate Hutus who had come from other prefectures to seek refuge in Gisenyi. From this they are reported to have drafted a list of persons to be eliminated which was subsequently given to the Interahamwe.

In June 1994, confronted with the advance of the troops of the RPF (Rwandan Patriotic Front,- an opposition movement composed essentially of Tutsi refugees and led by Paul Kagam), Kabuga fled Rwanda He first reached Switzerland but on receiving an order to leave this country, he then went to Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo. After this, he was said to have taken residence in Nairobi, Kenya. As of todays date he has still not been arrested and has been successful in avoiding all attempts to arrest him.

Kabuga fled Rwanda in 1994. As of todays date, he has resisted all attempts at arrest.

On 22 July 1994, Kabuga sought asylum in Switzerland on a valid visa. He was deported on 18 August 1994 and was able to fly to Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo before Rwandan Associations in Switzerland could lodge a complaint against him. The Swiss Confederation assumed the cost of departure for Kabuga, his wife and seven children for a total amount of 21’302 Swiss Francs. In addition, before taking off, it appears that he was ably to go freely to the UBS bank subsidiary at Genve-Cointrin airport to withdraw money.

With the establishment of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in 1995, Kabuga quickly became one of the principal targets of the investigators of the Tribunal. On 18 July 1997, he escaped the Naki operation in Kenya after being spotted in a villa in the residential district of Karen in Nairobi. A Kenyan police officer is said to have given Kabuga fair warning to allow him to escape. According to ICTR investigators, Kabuga was reported to be protected by Kenyan president Daniel Arap Moi. In April 1998, according to the ICG (International Crisis Group), Kabuga was said to have been localized in a house owned by the nephew of President Moi and annexed to that of the Presidents son. According to a 1999 report of the United Nations Commission of Enquiry into arms purchases by the former militia of the Rwandan government, Kabuga was reported to have been seen in South-East Asia in September 1998. Finally, in 2000, he was said to have transited through Belgium, where his wife is living.

On 11 June 2002, the United States launched a large information media-campaign in Kenya aimed at capturing Kabuga. The Rewards for Justice American federal program was used to track down those accused by the International Criminal Tribunal for ex-Yugoslavia, but this was the first time it was used against those accused by the ICTR. A reward up to US $ 5’000’000 was offered for any information leading to the capture of Kabuga.

In December 2002, the United States accused the former Permanent Secretary for Kenyan National Security, Zakayo Cheruiyot, of having given sanctuary to Kabuga and of using governmental infrastructures to prevent him from being arrested The Kenyan authorities opened up an investigation into this affair.

In January 2003, Kabuga was able to avoid an attempted arrest led by both the Kenyan police and the FBI in Nairobi. On 17 January 2003, the police informer with the task of entrapping Kabuga, William Munuhe, was found dead.

On 28 August 2003, the United Nations Security Council urged all the States, Kenya in particular, to intensify their cooperation to find Kabuga and to bring him to justice (resolution 1503).

Furthermore , the ICTR Prosecutor arranged to have Kabugas financial assets confiscated and to block access to his bank accounts in France, Switzerland and Belgium.

Kabuga was indicted by the ICTR in August 1998 and an international arrest warrant was issued in August 1999.

According to the act of indictment dated 21 November 2001, Kabuga is charged on 11 counts. He is accused of genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, complicity in genocide, and direct and public incitation to commit genocide. Also, he is accused of assassination as a crime against humanity, extermination as a crime against humanity, rape as a crime against humanity, persecutions on political, racial or religious grounds as crimes against humanity in addition to various war crimes

Kabuga was initially indicted together with 6 other persons. On 1st September 2003, based on the fact that he had still not been arrested, the Third Trial Chamber of the ICTR on request of the prosecutor ordered the separation of the proceedings undertaken against Kabuga from those of the proceedings entitled Government 1.

Related stories:

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Strike may hit airports

Posted by African Press International on May 13, 2008

Publisher: Korir, africanpress@getmail.no source.aftenposteneng

Seven Norwegian airports face possible closure if wage settlement talks do not reach a decision by May 16.

Umbrella union LO Stat warned it could pull 220 members of the Norwegian Civil Service Union and the Electricians and IT Workers Union at airports Bergen Flesland, Molde r, Kristiansund Kvernberget, Mosjen Kjerstad, Mo i Rana Rssvold and Harstad/Narvik Evenes. Some employees at Oslo Gardermoen would also be affected.

Midnight May 15 is the deadline for a deal that affects most airport employee groups with the exception of air traffic controllers.

“The parties are not near an agreement and there is a real danger of conflict. We enter all negotiations with the ambition of reaching a result, but there is no doubt that this will be a challenge,” said Lise Olsen, LO Stat’s chief negotiator during mediation.

Overtime payment is one of the key topics in the settlement talks.

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Guinea-Bissau poised to repatriate 18,000 illegal immigrants

Posted by African Press International on May 13, 2008

Publisher; Korir, africanpress@getmail.no source.apa

Illegal immigrants in Guinea-Bissau are slated to be repatriated soon, the director of the border immigration police, Lino Luyal, said in a statement on Monday at the inauguration in Pirada of a police post at the border with Senegal.

“We are going to proceed without delay to the identification of all illegal immigrants (). They will then be handed over to their embassies for repatriation, including beggars of foreign citizenship squatting in the Bande market of Bissau”, Lino Luyal said.

According to the border and immigration police boss, the repatriation measure will affect 18,000 nationals of the sub-region, including Guineans, Sierra Leonean, Senegalese, Nigerians and Congolese. The beggars are mostly from Guinea (Conakry) and Mali, he said.

According to sources from the Bissau Guinean border and immigration control police, an estimate of over 32,000 foreigners, mainly from the sub-region, are living in Guinea-Bissau.

Mauritanian and Guinean citizens are essentially active in trade (retail, semi-wholesale and wholesale), or even import. The Senegalese are very present in trade as well as traditional fishing.

Apart from Mauritania and the Congo, all the other nationals targeted by the measure are members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

The free movement of people and goods is one of the main objectives of that Community.

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UNHCR closes two more Sudanese refugee camps in Ethiopia

Posted by African Press International on May 13, 2008

Publisher: Korir, africanpress@getmail.no source.apa

The United Nations High Commission for Refugee (UNHCR) has officially closed two of the four camps hosting refugees from Southern Sudan in the western part of Ethiopia, a UN statement revealed here Tuesday.

The UNHCR Ethiopian office said the camps were closed following a successful repatriation season in which some 23,000 refugees from the two camps Bonga and Dimma – went home. The returnees were assisted by UNHCR, mainly to Blue Nile state and to a number of other states in Southern Sudan.

According to the UNHCR, about 2,000 refugees made their way home using their own means.

Before the start of the return operations in March 2006, the two camps, which opened in the early 1990s, had a combined population of nearly 28,000 refugees.

Last weeks closures bring to three the number of refugee camps which have been emptied in western Ethiopia since last year. Yarenja, the first one, was closed in March 2007.

The repatriation operation has now halted for the rainy season and is scheduled to resume again in November. Some 3,000 refugees remaining in the two camps will be transferred either to Fugnido in the Gambella region or to Sherkole camp in the Benishangul-Gumuz region of Ethiopia. Some of the refugees awaiting camp transfer have indicated that they will be returning home to Sudan later in the year using their own means, UNHCR said.

The regional administration in Gambella has already decided to convert Bonga camp into an agricultural training centre.

UNHCR is enlisting the support of other organisations such as the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) to help transform the camp facilities.

In Dimma, there are proposals to use the facilities to set up a technical training college.

According to the statement, the UNHCR has helped more than 30,000 Sudanese refugees to return home from Ethiopia since the launch of voluntary repatriation a couple of years ago.

Overall, some 275,000 Sudanese refugees have returned to South Sudan since 2006 from various surrounding countries, including Uganda, Ethiopia, Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Kenya, the statement said.

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Kibaki raises funds to help the needy IDPs. Hopefully, the money will not be squandered

Posted by African Press International on May 13, 2008

Publisher: Korir, africanpress@getmail.no source.nation.ke

Kibaki starts cash drive for poll violence victims

Story by JEFF OTIENO

President Kibaki and his Cabinet ministers on Monday appeared to set aside the law banning public officers from conducting harambees and gathered to raise Sh457 million for internal refugees.

President Kibaki receives a contributions by the Ministry of Agriculture from minister William Ruto (right) during a fundraising in Nairobi, yesterday. Looking on is Archbishop Ndingi mwana aNzeki, the chairman of the humanitarian fund working to resettle internal refugees. More than Sh457 million was raised during the event at Kenyatta International Conference Centre in Nairobi. Photo/ PPS

In a manner reminiscent of former President Daniel arap Mois time, Cabinet ministers lined up to hand the President donations from their ministries.

And in less than three hours, the President announced the final figure of Sh457,271,129 raised to help families affected by the post-election violence to resettle. The violence which followed the disputed presidential election, left more than 1,000 people dead and 350,000 displaced.

But the figure was still far short of the Sh30 billion budgeted to help displaced people rebuild their lives.

When he came to power in 2002, President Kibaki and the then Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Mr Kiraitu Murungi, went to great lengths to distance the new administration from harambees.

Mr Murungi successfully lobbied for enactment of the Public Officer Ethics Act which, among other things, banned civil servants from presiding over harambees as a way of fighting corruption and looting of State resources.

True to form, President Kibaki even stayed away from a harambee in his Othaya constituency to drive home the point.

The President was at Kenyatta International Conference Centre to launch the funds drive at a function attended by Cabinet ministers, permanent secretaries, members of the diplomatic corps and chief executive officers of various parastatals.

The function brought to mind similar drives conducted by then President Daniel arap Moi in aid of schools, churches or water projects.

President Kibaki pledged a donation of Sh5 million towards the resettlement kitty, insisting that it will be his personal contribution.

The ceremony differed from others as ministers both from ODM and PNU led their assistants and PSs in presenting cheques to the President.

The president then presented the cheques to the chairman of the fund, retired Archbishop Ndingi mwana aNzeki. Donors were warned that it was now a criminal offence to issue bouncing cheques.

Public Service

The Ministry of Agriculture led by William Ruto topped the list of donors with Sh298 million, money contributed by members of staff and parastatals under it.

The newly created office of the Prime Minister donated Sh500,000 with a pledge to give more. The cheque was presented to the President by Public Service minister Dalmas Otieno as the PM, Mr Raila Odinga, was in Western Province. The Office of the Vice President donated Sh512,700. The cheque was presented by Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka.

The Ministry of Energy led by Mr Kiraitu Murungi donated Sh14.8 million.

Other contributors were Ministry of Medical Services( Sh6.6 million), Office of the President (Sh6.3 million) and Ministry of Foreign Affairs Sh4.6 million.

Ministry of Trade headed by Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and the Ministry of Local Government led by Deputy PM Musalia Mudavadi donated Sh1.3 million each.

The government of Algeria donated Sh30 million while China gave Sh1.38 million.

Speaking during the launch, President Kibaki urged Kenyans and the international community to help the government bridge the Sh29 billion deficit needed for the resettlement.

It requires Sh30 billion. The money will be used for construction of new houses, replacement of household effects as well as rehabilitation of community utilities and institutions destroyed in the violence.

Already, the Government has donated Sh1 billion to the fund also known as the Humanitarian Fund for Mitigation of Effects and Resettlement of Victims of Post-2007 Election Violence.

He said the resettlement programme must succeed adding that those displaced were mainly smallholder farmers who played a major role in food production.

Food production

There is fear that famine might hit the country as food production is expected to decline in the face of spiralling global prices.

Seated with President Kibaki at the dais was Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka, Speaker of the National Assembly Kenneth Marende, Internal Security minister George Saitoti and his Special Programmes counterpart, Dr Naomi Shaaban.

President Kibaki said the resettlement which started with those who were in the camps, will now move to the next phase; address the plight of those who took shelter in homes of friends and relatives after their property were destroyed.

Last week alone, he said 85,000 displaced persons returned to their farms under the Operation Rudi Nyumbani programme. Prof Saitoti said 70,000 people were still in the camps, adding that the task of maintaining them was a major challenge to the Government.

He said the Government will soon convene a meeting with donors and NGOs to seek support for the resettlement.

Prof Saitoti said the provincial administration is compiling a list of all property destroyed during the violence.

He said 32 new police stations and 40 administration police posts had been built in the affected areas to restore security.

Mr Musyoka said though construction of police stations was critical, there was need of encouraging reconciliation among the different communities.

It is time for proper national healing and reconciliation and we will need more than construction of police stations, said the VP.

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Two Egyptian clubs qualify for the next round of African Champions League

Posted by African Press International on May 13, 2008

Publisher: Korir, africanpress@getmail.no source. apa

The two Egyptian football clubs of Al-Ahly and Zamalek have qualified for the next round of the African Champions League after winning their matches on Sunday against Platinum Stars of South Africa and Inter Club of Angola respectively.

In both matches played in Luanda and Cairo respectively, Zamalek benefited from its first win in Cairo 3-0 to qualify with the aggregate result 4-2 despite its loss 2 1 in Luanda.

Gamal Hamza scored the goal in the 15th minute for Zamalek in the first half time, while Fernandez tied for Inter Club in the 40th minute, then the same player added a second goal in the 63rd minute.

In Cairo, Al-Ahly qualified after beating Platinum Stars of South Africa with two goals to zero.

Striker Emad Meteeb and Angolian striker Flavio scored the two Al-Ahly goals in the second half of the match.

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Posted by African Press International on May 13, 2008

Publisher, korir, africanpress@getmail.no source.standard.ken

MPs defy Raila on Opposition

By Standard Team
Debate on the formation of a Grand Opposition gained momentum, with several ODM backbenchers behind the initiative vowing to defy their party leader, Prime Minister Raila Odingas call that they shelve the move.

They said they would soldier on and would not resign to seek a fresh mandate as demanded by Raila at the weekend.

The MPs, including the man behind the move, Mr Ababu Namwamba (Budalangi), said they respected Railas view demanding that they resign, but insisted that it would not be necessary because they were not moving from one party to another.

Reading a statement at Parliament Buildings yesterday, Chepalungu MP, Mr Isaac Ruto, and Konoin MP, Dr Julius Kones, said neither President Kibaki or Raila nor the VP had the authority to order them how to run parliamentary business.

“It is not within his docket to order us. We are only accountable to the people who voted for us, not Raila or Kibaki or Kalonzo or any minister,” said Ruto, adding that some ministers and their assistants had endorsed their move.

The ODM MPs were joined by New Ford-Kenya MP, Dr Bonny Khalwale, who is also the new Public Accounts Committee (PIC) chairman, and Naivasha MP, Mr John Mutututho, of PNU.

There are fears in the Raila camp that the Grand Opposition could signal problems in the party, a move that could weaken Railas hold in Parliament.

According to National Accord that governs the Grand coalition Government, the party with the majority in Parliament produces the Prime Minister.

Any loss in numbers is being perceived in ODM circles as a move to undermine the PM, although in real sense the PMs position is not under threat.

The defiant MPs said there was no going back and hit out at Raila, Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka and Foreign Affairs minister, Mr Moses Wetangula, for what they termed “dictatorial and draconian” measures while handling internal dissent.

The MPs accused Raila, Kalonzo and some Cabinet ministers of personalising the matter.

“It is not about their offices, but the serious issue of governance which can only be tackled by MPs in Parliament and not at homecoming parties,” said the MPs.

They told their critics that they will have an opportunity to go through the Bill in Parliament and should not vilify opposition proponents in parties.

They urged the House Business Committee, chaired by Kalonzo, to expeditiously put on the Order Paper the private members Bill by Namwamba seeking the Speakers recognition of an Official Opposition composed of more than 80 members of the backbench.

“We know these people resisting the move are senior members of the HBC and will use their position to scuttle this noble move,” said Ruto.

The MPs asked President Kibaki and Raila to join them in their quest for recognition by engaging in debate in the House like they did during the historic debate on the National Accord and Reconciliation Act.

Namwamba, who spoke to The Standard on the telephone, said even though they respected Raila as the party leader, it was important to have an opposition to check excesses of Government.

Namwamba, whose motion was seconded by Igembe South MP, Mr Mithika Linturi, said Raila should know that other leaders were entitled to their views.

Namwamba said he was shocked by Railas stand, adding that the PM understands the role of the opposition better than any other MP in Parliament.

“He is the child of opposition and he made a name in the opposition. We did not expect him to dismiss us,” said Namwamba.

He said the defiant MPs intended to do the work Raila was doing when he was in the opposition and the PM should support them instead of vilifying them.

Namwamba, however, added that he would remain loyal to Raila and ODM, but said he owed Kenyans higher loyalty.

On Saturday during his homecoming rally in Kisumu town, Raila lashed out at MPs planning to form the grand opposition, saying the move would undermine the Government.

“I disagree with my son Namwamba over mobilising ODM MPs to form a grand opposition. The move will deny my party the majority in Parliament,” Raila had said.

Speaking the next day in his home town of Bondo, the Prime Minister told MPs insisting on the grand opposition to quit the party and seek fresh mandate on a different party.

Raila said the MPs could still check the Government from the backbench.

But Namwamba said: “We are disturbed that some leaders are twisting the truth over the agenda of the grand opposition leading to the resistance we are facing.”

Namwamba said backbenchers would follow the legal framework in pushing for the grand opposition.

“I will move a Motion in Parliament in two weeks time to streamline and define the role of the opposition in Parliament,” he added.

He pointed out that he was optimistic that they would carry the day because there was goodwill in the House.

“All we are doing is undertaking a noble move to ensure that institutions like the Official Opposition are not swallowed by the Grand Coalition Government,” he said.

Khalwale, the Ikolomani MP, cautioned the VP and Wetangula to tread carefully, saying Kalonzo was not party to the National Accord signed by Kibaki and Raila.

“Kalonzo should count himself lucky because the Accord does not recognise. He absconded his rightful place in the opposition and should, therefore, not try to scuttle the process,” said Khalwale.

Added he: “Nowhere in Railas role as spelt out in the Accord does it say that he will supervise MPs. Let him stick to his docket.”

The Ikolomani MP said Raila was a product of the opposition having been leader of the opposition for many years.

“Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, Wamalwa Kijana, Masinde Muliro and a host of other second liberation heroes must be turning in their graves at Railas stance. At our age, we cannot support the two principals blindly,” he added.

“Raila should know that it is still fresh in our mind that he never sought a fresh mandate when he literally led a hoard of MPs out of Narc and into the Opposition. If it was not illegal then, it will not be illegal now,” said Kones.

Kones quoted former President Moi who, in 1964, said a government without an official opposition goes to sleep.

The MPs disputed claims that they were sulking because they did not get ministerial positions.

Mututho said many ministers were behaving like mini-gods hence the need for an official opposition.

Last week, Parliament passed a Motion seeking to formalise the official opposition, a move which gave the MPs the go ahead to publish a Bill that will be brought to the House for debate on the matter.

It now awaits the go-ahead of the HBC for the Bill to be placed on the Order Paper of the House for debate.

A group of 65 MPs began the opposition crusade after President Kibaki and Raila formed the Grand Coalition.

Reports by Peter Atsiaya and Abiya Ochola
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Cen-Sad condemns rebel attack on Sudanese capital

Posted by African Press International on May 13, 2008

Publisher: Korir, africanpress@getmail.no source.apa

The Community of Sahel and Sahara States (CEN-SAD) expressed its deep concern with the attack on the Sudanese capital on Saturday, which caused human and material losses and it charged the rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) of being responsible for the action.

In a press statement issued on Sunday in Tripoli Cen-Sad condemned the attack as unjustified which they said represents a flagrant violation to all local and international laws.

This action carried out by JEM leads to no peace except to increase the suffering of the Sudanese masses, the statement said.

Cen-Sad went on to call on JEM to abandon weapons as a mean of expressing opposition and to join along with other armed movements on the negotiation table which began in the Libyan city of Syrt in October last year.

In its statement, the general secretariat of Cen-Sad based in Tripoli appealed to African countries and the international community to support the exerted efforts and the negotiations between the Sudanese parties which began in Syrt to reach a comprehensive peace agreement in the context of respecting the security charter and the cooperation agreement approved by Cen-Sad.

Cen-Sad expressed its full support for President Omar Hassan al-Bashir and the Sudanese government in the orientation towards openness and dialogue policy with the aim of finding negotiable and peaceful solutions to all the problems.

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All Hail the Placatundancy Or, how to form a government whose chief aim is not to govern

Posted by African Press International on May 13, 2008

Publisher: Korir, africanpress@getmail.no

Written by S.K. Boit
As national events continue to play out in all their intriguing ways, Kenyans and political scientists all over the world have had a chance to ponder the momentous occasion that unfolded before our eyes at 4.33 pm on Sunday, April 13, 2008. At that time, after due diligence and with much forethought, the President formally constituted his government. It was a historic moment and not because of the novelty that came with only the second prime minister since independence. It was a historic moment in a more consequential way; a moment that must be placed alongside other epoch-making events in the history of politics and government. Surely, ancient Greeks may have invented the practice of democracy in human societies. The Romans may have given the world the concept of separation of powers in democratic governments. The Bolsheviks may have elevated communism into a competitive force on the world stage. And the British may have given us the concept of parliamentary supremacy.
But it is Kenya in the 21st century that has given the world a placatundancy. Do not reach for your dictionary of rare words. This is the newest word in the political lexicon. The etymology of the word is simple enough: If you fuse placating with redundancy the result is placatundancy. The word came into existence approximately 15 minutes into the Presidents cabinet speech. That is when it became clear that the President had formed a government whose major goal was to placate powerful constituencies and individuals, thus resulting in a cabinet so unwieldy in size and so duplicative in effort that it is mostly redundant.
To clarify: A placatundancy is a political system dedicated to the idea that a government can be formed for the secondary purpose of governing. In a placatundancy, the primary purpose of government is to appease certain constituencies and actors in the political arena by conferring on them the symbols of power (emphasis on symbols, e.g. a limousine and a flag); or by purchasing the loyalty of smaller, allied parties in Parliament (e.g. when a party threatens to withhold support from the President if it does not get a cabinet post); or by placing certain individuals in a position of strength for the next campaign season (e.g. when a politician has to be given a government post from which he can readily launch his bid for the presidency in 2012); or to preserve centers of political power within specific regions in the country (the fight over portfolio balance demonstrates this well enough).
And so we have it. A placatundancy. A Kenyan original. A first at home. A first in the world.
In its sprawling and extravagant manner, a placatundant government is a wonder to behold; but it is remarkably easy to create. Here is why. To form an ordinary government one in which governing is specifically envisaged one asks the question: I have key programs and agenda for the country in the next five years. How can I design a government that will not only deliver my vision for Kenyans, but will do so efficiently and with the smallest footprint on the nations economy? But to form a placatundancy, one merely asks: There are 200 members of parliament who, collectively and individually, represent various regions, parties, interests, ambitions, goals, grievances, and temperaments. How can I divvy up government departments and functions so as to reward their loyalty, cool their tempers, soothe their grievances, prop up their egos, advance their careers, and affirm their ambitions?
Once the second option is selected, a placatundancy is born, and politics takes on a life of its own. Suddenly, the unreasonable can seem eminently reasonable as when one minister each is appointed to oversee the sectors of tourism, forestry and wildlife, and the environment. Or when the ministry of agriculture is constituted separately from the ministry of livestock development. And why create one ministry for roads and a separate ministry for public works? In fact, arbitrariness is no bar in this system. How else to account for the ministry of education and then the ministry of higher education, not to mentionthe ministry of medical services and a separate ministry for public health?
In a placatundancy, even the insignificant can be turned into a symbol of magnanimity. Kenyans clearly remember that day when the President confidently stood tall, looked at the Prime Minister, and said, To heal and unite our country in these difficult times, I hereby offer you the Ministry of Grasshoppers. I jest, of course; the President did no such thing. But it makes little difference: he did create a ministry of children and a separate ministry for youth. All insignificant things look alike.
Here and there, throughout our placatundancy, abound other tell-tale signs of mis-governance and trivia. A minister for justice and constitutional affairs coexisting fully with an attorney general? A minister for Nairobi? And another for Northern Kenya? A minister for special programmes? The Orange Democratic Movement may have saved us from the ministry of cabinet affairs and a fully-fledged ministry of national cohesion. But when the Party of National Unity proposed the ministry of rice enterprises, God Himself intervened, saying, It grieveth My heart to witness government profligacy. Thou shalt not have the Ministry of Rice, lest thou also shouldest create the Ministry of Milk. In the end, neither PNU (they wanted a ministry for every unhappy MP), nor ODM (they were too accommodating), nor God (sometimes He simply laughs at human folly) could save us from the ultimately frightening numbers: Kenya, a country of 36 million people, has a government of 43 ministries running its affairs, at a cost of Ksh.500 billion per year.
But never mind the miniaturized ministries. The essence of a placatundancy is fully captured by the boondoggle at the top of our government. Kenya now has a president. A vice president. A prime minister. A deputy prime minister. Another deputy prime minister. And a head of the public service. The prime minister will have powers to supervise and coordinate the functions of government ministries whatever that means. His two deputies have ministerial portfolios. But one deputy will help him supervise and coordinate the functions of government ministries. Another deputy will help him supervise and coordinate the functions of government ministries. On the other hand, the head of the public service will continue to organize and coordinate the business of government. Taken together, the entire thing sounds like high irrationality in high places.
And only the head of a placatundant government would say, as the President said, that this magnificent edifice will deliver services to Kenyans in a timely and more efficient manner. Why, the opposite will be the case. This is not a government designed to serve the people: it is a government designed to be served by the people. By some estimates appearing in the press recently, and as indicated above, the 100-or-so ministers and their assistants will directly consume 80% of the entire national budget! And this economic wreckage does not include other perverse effects of heavy government borrowing on the local economy, the resulting national debt, possible tax increases, and possible pressures on interest rates.
To be fair, it is unlikely that any two ministers will perform exactly the same functions. (After all, smart people with pencils, feeling their wallets and thinking about their dear friends, must have found a way to neatly re-draw unique duties for each minister). And to be fairer still, it is likely that all those funny ministries, for all they are worth, will serve some useful function or other for the country. But in our struggling economy, the question is not about function per se; it is about necessity. Why was it necessary to have such a large cabinet? According to the government spokesman, this arrangement is necessary in order to heal the nation after the traumatic events of the last general election. And moreover, according to the same source, the President, as head of state and government, reserves the constitutional right to design his government as he sees fit.
These two claims, especially when used to justify a bloated government, must be robustly challenged.
There is no dispute on this fact: the events surrounding the general election were of such a magnitude that they caused grave and possibly lasting damage to our nation. But those events were not an act of God, and were therefore not inevitable. It is not as if there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean that spawned a huge tsunami, which made landfall and sent thousands of poll workers to flee with votes, and deluged their cell phones into silence, and made the chairman of the electoral commission unable to reach and command his subordinates, and delayed presidential results in good political areas, and denied poll observers access to polling places, and altered presidential results (making sure only to spare local and parliamentary ones), and sent the GSU officers to cordon off the electoral commission offices in a show of partisan presidential authority, and pressed the electoral commission to declare a winner prematurely, and blacked out independent media coverage of the results, and otherwise created a miasma of rigging, injustice and unfairness. Again, these were not apolitical events over which the government of Kenya had no control. They were intentional, step-by-step acts of men and women who were trying to achieve a specific outcome. Those acts should have been undone and remedied.
It is now too late to undo the damage that was done to our nation. But it is not too late for Kenyans to reject that bungled election as a basis for governing the country, especially when a new constitution may soon codify the mess into the fabric of our society.
As to the issue of presidential discretion, two points need to be made. First, any discretion be it personal, executive, constitutional, or otherwise must be exercised subject to good judgment. Good judgment is a product of many things, one of which is a good appreciation of the fact that our ministers and assistant ministers, although light on actual substantive duties, nevertheless draw bank-breaking salaries and allowances. In light of this, good judgment should have taken into account the founding motto of the London School of Economics, which was, For the betterment of society, not the burdening of it. Simply put, placing a placatundant government on the back of Kenyans hardly constitutes a sound use of a presidential prerogative.
Second, even if it were ever necessary for a poor country to dabble in a placatundancy, this is the most inopportune time for Kenyans to do so. By its very nature, a placatundancy is a very demanding way to govern, not least because it involves vast and competing interests that require delicate balancing and careful attention. While it needs presidential discretion to bring it into being, a placatundant government requires a vigorous, firm, and decisive hand to make it work. At present, we do not have that vigorous, firm, and decisive hand at the top of our government. Call it what you will a hands-off approach or a laid-back style but the net effect of that approach is weakness of authority and recklessness in national affairs. As we witnessed in the run-up to the grand coalition cabinet, the spectacle of a weak president can be captivating, if a little disquieting. It is not often in Kenya that we see a president who makes a decision, only to be overruled by his subordinates. This practice is likely to continue into the future and it will, happily, doom the placatundancy.
For all of the above reasons, and many more, I urge my fellow Kenyans to please unfasten your seatbelts. The bus of stateall cranked and revved upis going nowhere.
African Press International – api

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