The Differences Between States Is The People, Lessons From Germany By Scheaffer Okore @scheafferoo

Many countries in Africa are struggling not with the obvious assumptions of the world but with one key issue leadership. The debates around leadership are so broad and so layered that it exhausts any right thinking individual like me who believes that there are no superwomen or men. I believe in the collective responsibilities of individuals towards the betterment of everyone and indeed society.

I had the honor to observe the just concluded German election in Bavaria-through the wonderful Hanns Seidel Stiftung-where I engaged their electoral and governance processes. The Federal system of government in Germany has a subsidiarity principal which is similar to what Kenya has at present known as devolution. The subsidiarity principal states that government works best at local level and the closer the control of government is to the people, the more interest and control citizens hold in political proceedings and operations. This principal is fully implemented and protected by the leaders from local level all the way up to the highest office.

This kind of government is achievable even in Kenya but we always fall short of something, political will. Almost everything is done at the local level where they have municipalities each headed by a Lord Mayor. The Lord Mayor of Meitingen Dr.Michael Higl whose municipality has roughly 11,500 people elaborately took us through he’s daily tasks from sustainable and affordable housing for the community where the municipality buys land and builds more homes for residents. He explained that income generation to finance the activities of his office in order to serve the community was key and in his municipality they depended heavily on electricity and steel production.

The role of the federal government is to establish a framework and the municipality becomes the implementing arm. Within the framework of building homes for example it is required that the municipality doesn’t interfere with nature, doesn’t build towards densely populated areas, doesn’t interfere with national heritage, maintains the aesthetic of the specific municipality, incorporates solar panels, ensures accessibility of the houses not clustered together, minimal high-rise buildings and so much more. I believe we have an institution in Kenya that is supposed to deal with regulatory issues around construction but do they do it?

The Lord Mayor of Welden Mr. Peter Bergmeir whose municipality has around 3,700 people pushed further on to many issues that are best dealt with on local level. He made it clear that every resident had to register in their municipality as a legal requirement in order to get benefits and services from government like passports. Municipal registration made it easy to map and plan the needs of all residents at every given time. Knowing the number of people in your municipality allows you the freedom to be able to prioritize what is a need and what isn’t. If you’ve got more old people then you prioritize their needs, if you’ve got more children then kindergartens and day care facilities are a must, if you’ve got more young people then industries for employment become a priority.

I wondered if in Kenya we could have a registration system similar to this in ward level to be able to make mapping out more narrowed down. Wouldn’t it be easy to streamline services and make effective the delivery of these services if we knew specifically who lived where, young or old, employed or not, with family or not, male or female? Municipal registration in Germany also makes it possible to acquire voting documents since they are given out where you live. You also pay tax to both the federal state and the municipality hence where you live cannot be ignored in most cases it determines how much you pay.

Another interesting thing is that flood protection is a municipal mandate and not totally a government one. The mayor is supposed to know the landscape and weather patterns in his/her area and is able to mitigate the risk of flooding. The mayoral position can be either voluntary or elected like the case of most mayors we talked to who started off volunteering their services to the municipality and are now elected having been seen as performers.

This I found very interesting especially in the Kenyan context where someone cannot even think of volunteering at this level of leadership. We are stuck seeking people of service and without any avenue for those willing to serve to show case what they can do. In turn we ridicule anyone trying and going out of their way to do things differently from the norm instead of holding on to the opportunity of creating leaders with verifiable track records. Surprisingly, almost all fire fighters in these municipalities are all volunteers trained by the municipality to offer their service to their local area.

The electoral system is elaborate in theory but very simple in practical. It is headed by the electoral commissioner who has an unlimited tenure and whose vital task is to ensure preliminary results are determined, election has taken place within the rules and has no complaints plus approval of party lists. The voting can be done via post or physically during the day of election. The polling station is full of volunteers and any other voter who wishes to be part of the process not just officials.

Everyone is allowed during the entire the voting, counting and verification is done since they believe the more eyes and hands the better and faster the process is done. It is mostly about trust of the people towards each other and in the fact that no one would willing jeopardize such an important process. The returning officer is not heavily supervised as many residents feel that he/she knows what they’re doing and they have the interest of the people and country at heart. Determining of the results starts at local level at the polling station where the results-after counting and verification-are communicated to the municipality.

At the municipality level election protocol is signed by 9 officials then passed to the district level where the results are commissioned and given to the commissioner who sums up the results from all districts. On the 23rd of September-the eve of their Bundestag election-was an easy day. People went by their daily lives in fact we even went boat riding in Utting their politics didn’t seem to hold captive anything as it does in Kenya. All through this final week to the election there were campaigns of course but not as rowdy as the ones I’m used to.

In small municipalities, town hall meetings took place as they discussed the best ways of securing their desired candidate a win. The civility in which the campaigns were conducted and even the way counter arguments were dealt with was something to note. Yes, they disagreed on issues but some sort of conduct was to be adhered to even in conflict. I remember one of the people at the closing election campaign of the CSU telling me, “Leaders must behave respectably even when dealing with issues they don’t agree with”

Despite all this, Germany with a population of more women than men has minimal representation. Even in one of the mayor’s offices where they have a wall of celebrated residents no woman was on the wall and I remember being utterly shocked. I asked why and was told it’s simply because of the patriarchal society that still shrouds many things and hinders a lot of progress. It would also be a grave oversight if I don’t mention just how apathetic the young people are towards their politics. It worried me because I remember only meeting a handful of young people in almost all the institutions that are engaged in political discourse or mainstream politics.

It is therefore not just an African problem when we talk about an intergenerational disconnect and lack of participation. Maybe Africa is even leading in spaces of youthful people active in politics to an extend that most of our governments seek silencing remedies for the vocal youth. The lessons are many and the most important one was the mandatory expectation of service. With all the institutions we have, we lack people of character who are truly led by the desires to deliver.

We’ve don’t needed new laws what we are in desperate need of is new people. For good to happen, good people must be in leadership. The only thing different between states is the kind of people we are because our states are a representation of how we value or devalue ourselves. Look at your country and tell me what you see?

By Scheaffer Okore
@scheafferoo
Program Officer Civic Engagement At Siasa Place.

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Who is to blame for arms proliferation in Northern Kenya? By Samwella Lerno

Samburu County
Election safari correspondent at Siasa Place

Laikipia North at its border points with Samburu and Baringo smells of death, it is littered with dry bones and carcasses. Hopelessness hangs in the air and you can feel despair from the triangle-shaped iron roofed police huts at Lmarani to the ashes of what was once Pokot villages in Lonyek, not to mention the now soot black ghost of Mukutani Retreat lodge.

It is the aftermath of the devastating fight that seems to have set everyone against pastoralists; from private ranchers, police, and farmers. As one writer of ‘The Conversation’ noted in February, “this is not a new issue, there have been many incidents of invasions throughout the past few decades. However, continued framing of current and past invasions as responses to droughts, fail to address the underlying dimensions of resource distribution.

Short-term programmes to address famine and prolonged situations of drought which don’t guard against future invasion and deep inequality within Laikipia between those who reap the benefits of wildlife and those who bear the costs. Additionally, the presence of heavily armed herders in Laikipia and the neighboring counties who do not seem to be petrified by security agencies is astounding.

How resilient are these young people (branded as bandits) that if police respond to any distress call in this side of the country you are assured of loss of life. As one security official once noted, people here do not care about the law nor respect the uniform. The only difference between a police officer and a herder is the former wears a uniform. Herders are well versed with the terrain and at times have better guns than the Kenya police.

Where do they get the sophisticated weaponry? In a bid to complement their security efforts in Northern Kenya, the Kenyan government decided to arm civilians in the name of home guards in the 1970s that later metamorphosed into Kenya Police Reservists (KPR). In a statement released by the Kenya Police on 1st March, 2017 it was noted that a total of 7,609 reservists in the following counties respectively: Baringo 30, Turkana 1,617, West Pokot 685, Samburu 1,486, Mandera 284, Wajir 336, Garissa 116, Tana River 280, Lamu 227, Marsabit 1,585, Meru 85, Isiolo 130, Trans Nzoia 505, Elgeyo Marakwet 101, and Laikipia 142, while Kitui had none. As of 1st March, 2017, an additional of 1,739 had been recruited for deployment as follows; Baringo County 195, Lamu 227, Samburu 375, West Pokot 250, Kitui 80, Elgeyo Marakwet 242, Laikipia 200 and Turkana 170.

There are no further details as to their recruitment criteria or the compensation, the Kenya Police Act 2012 article 110 outlines a good narrative that no one has ever implemented; KPR therefore is just some rural volunteer armed agency with little or no policy framework on management and administrative issues. Kennedy Mkutu and Gerald Wandera in their article Policing the Periphery in the Contemporary Kenya asked, “how significant is or will KPR as an auxiliary service without a salary impact on performance of security and safety be, and what measures can be taken to ensure they are not drifting towards private armed security to survive?”

It indeed, came to pass that KPR not only drifted to private armed security, but majority get converted into animal scouts manning conservancies, and now in Laikipia they have turned against the same government that armed them. More lethal weaponry is easily disguised in the name of KPR, previous security operations have failed to bear fruits as police rely on Chiefs for intelligence when recovering illegal guns, who are not likely to give up the KPRs’.

Kinship ties among pastoralist communities that straddle international borders facilitate movement of firearms from one side to another, and are openly carried under the KPR pretense. Policy makers have for years rode on the rhetoric that culture fuels animosity in Northern Kenya, as a scapegoat so that the electorates cannot ask the real questions like the international treaties with other countries with porous borders like Somalia and South Sudan where arms trade is conducted.

Or nonexistent of explicit legal criteria in Kenya for determining whether an arms shipment should be permitted to transit the country, with all the risks, for example if the weapons get diverted to an unauthorized third party where the market is ripe among the pastoralists communities or the existence of an abusive armed conflict in the recipient country.

Politicians’ actions and inactions are therefore perpetuating cycles of violations, insecurity and suffering at tremendous human, economic and societal costs. Failing to manage the weapons supply chain, weak enforcement of existing firearms legislation including the provision of KPR will continue to feed this vicious cycle of violence.

By Samwella Lerno

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The Integrity Question And The Gender Myth By Diana Korir

Election Safari Writer From Kericho County

The August 8th 2017 General elections in Kenya recorded a historic win for Kenyan women as five of their own went out to clinch hotly contested top positions in the country. Three women were elected as Governors while two others became senators for the first time. This is contrary to the 2013 General election where the county government recorded nil representation by elected women.

This counts as progress for The National Gender and Equality Commission. The constitutional Commission aims at promoting gender equality and freedom from discrimination. Article 81(b) of the Kenyan Constitution states that, “Not more than two-thirds of the members of elective public bodies shall be of the same gender,” Hence women representation targets about 30 women Governors.

Despite all the progress, women leadership is without fault. Similar to their male counterparts, they too engage in misuse of their power and engage in political corruption. In early 2017, we saw The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights seek to block a section of leaders mentioned in integrity cases from vying for elective positions in the 2017 General elections.

The charges were corruption, gross misconduct, misappropriation of public funds and voter bribery. KNCHR seeked to have them disqualified on grounds that they failed to observe Chapter six of the Kenyan constitution on Leadership and Integrity. Women involved in government are less prone to corruption. This is according to a research by Dollar, Fisman, and Gatti ; Swamy et al.

The electorate in Kenya characterized women as being intelligent, passionate and determined to make real change in their communities. This is true especially for the pioneers like Wangari Maathai, Ngilu and Martha Karua who played a pivotal role in the race towards achieving Multi-Party democracy. But with an increase in female representation comes watering down of the feminist cause and hence corrupt politicians in the name of feminism and being a minority arise (wolves in sheep’s clothing).

“Fairer Sex” or Purity Myth? Corruption, Gender, and Institutional Context”, a study by Justin Esarey of Rice University and Gina Chirillo of the National Democratic Institute, found that the statement that women are less likely to participate in corruption is a myth. Stereotypes depicting women as honest help advance corruption.
The report argues that this effect is highly dependent on institutional context. In a political culture “where corruption is stigmatized, women will be less tolerant of corruption and less likely to engage in it compared to men,” they write. “But if corrupt behaviors are an ordinary part of governance supported by political institutions, there will be no corruption gender gap.”

Highly Corrupt societies depict no difference in corruption levels between Men and Women. This is the case for Kenya. Women are not excluded from exposure to opportunities of corruption. A popular TV series “Scandal” follows the life of Olivia Pope played by Kerry Washington. As the protagonist we are forced to love Miss Pope since all the odds are in her favour. She is black (minority), educated and most important of all a woman who calls the shots in the White House and consequently the world.

Myself I love Olivia. She is strong, tactful and intelligent. She sacrifices her happiness for the sake of the country. She refers to herself as a Gladiator, defender of the innocent, supporter of justice. Prides herself in being ethical -‘wearing a white hat’. In the sixth season, power consumes her. She is involved and is aware of killings of many top officials and innocent people. She has also participated in election fraud, where her client won President.

Which begs the question is she still a gladiator for the truth &integrity or she now fighting for power. I’m worried that I am a fan of a powerful, hardworking and successful (Read: good) woman who is also an election thief and a fraud. At what point is it okey to leave our integrity at the door and decide that because she is a woman and she is pretty then all sins are forgiven.

If you have morals you won’t go far in politics for instance 2013 presidential candidate James Ole Kiyiapi who was commonly termed as the ‘nice guy’. He came in 7th in the race. Similarly Boniface Mwangi, the renowned photojournalist and activist vied for Starehe Member of Parliament seat and lost. Apart from human rights activism he is involved in several development projects all for the good of citizens.

You can’t win without playing the dirty game. The nice guys finish last. But then I guess politics has always been dirty; you have to commit a few evils to get to the top. The youth from my home county fear that just electing women won’t bring an end to corruption scandals that have crippled our country’s economy. I believe they will ensure the good guys men or women with clean records emerge victors next time.

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A Reflection on Kenya’s Rule of Law & its Implication By Sitati Wasilwa

Writer’s Podium First Cohort

The application of rule of law in the Republic of Kenya has for a long time been perceived as a cosmetic and bureaucratic. Common citizens and genuine members of the civil society are the victims of this compromised judicial system with the latter acting as a mechanism of subjugating the spirit of constitutionalism.

While acknowledging the significant progress we’ve made as a nation since the suppressing days of the Kenya African National Union (KANU) regime, more needs to be done in regard to the constitutionalism agenda and the principle of the rule of law. We cannot escape the reality of the subjective application of the rule of law and the selective administration of justice.

Unknown to many, the justice system includes and involves the National Police Service tasked with the enforcement of law and order. Delivery of ‘justice’ in Kenya is a façade. The politically connected tend to find their way out of the justice system without being punished for breaking the law.

After the final announcement of the nullified presidential election results, a number of Kenyans lost their lives including infants and very young children. Families that lost their loved ones are painfully waiting for justice to be granted. The rogue police officers who cut short the lives of these innocent souls haven’t been prosecuted. Are they above the law? Or is it the selective nature of Kenya’s justice system?

It is this hellish attitude of being above the law that generates the reproach towards the constitutionally-crafted institutions. Members of the Judiciary have on several occasions been admonished by the leading figures of the Executive and Parliament for making sound judgments. To the political class, the judicial process must always play in their favor, a disorder which has affected majority of their supporters.

A ruling in contrary with the expectations of a given political entity forms the basis of politically immoral suspicions. Politicians and their supporters must learn to accept the verdict of the courts without throwing tantrums and issuing threats of ‘fixing’ the Judiciary. We are accustomed to judicial mediocrity and institutional conspiracy between the arms of government. The bombshell recently delivered by the Supreme Court, however, will alter the legal and judicial architecture of the country and restore hope in the process of constitutionalism.

Restoration of the spirit of constitutionalism is fundamentally important in stamping out the selective administration of justice especially for the politically, economically and socially marginalized Kenyans. In essence, the judicial process and the justice system must effectively work for the benefit of the present generation and for the nation’s posterity.

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