Tweet Chat summaries

Topic: High Schools in Disarray
Guests: Wawira Njiru, Mark Bichachi and Eric Otieno
Date: 25th July

The most significant underlying issue behind the current fracas in public high schools can be attributed to the fact that students are seen as subjects, but not partners in their education.

The disarray also indicates that our education system does not encourage independent thought. Furthermore, high schools lack appropriate disciplinary structures for the modern kid. Students should not be blackmailed every time they react to a situation that they face in schools. The government offering threats to students is also not a solution, but another source for chaos.

The way we can start to resolve the current crisis is if the lack of parental participation and overcrowding in schools are acted upon as factors that lead to the rebelling of students. More importantly, students must voice their concerns, and they should be heard.
August

Topic: Election Safari: One year on, stories of young people from the 2017 General Elections
Guests: Shiku Kihika, Andrew Letting, Samwella Lerno and Arnold Maliba
Date: 8th August 2018

There is a negative narrative that young people are incapable of leading. This is slowly changing and it will continue to do as more young people are standing up to check the systems that do not work for them. We need to keep encouraging the youth and stop telling them that they are the ‘future leaders’. They are the leaders of today, not tomorrow, and they should be fully engaged in all political processes. The increased participation of young people in politics was seen in the 2017 General Elections, and the numbers will even go up during the 2022 General Elections.

While we fight for young people’s spaces in politics, it is important that a lot of focus is also directed towards encouraging more (young) women to vie for elected positions. This will be done if women are enabled to take part in public life. Through intense political education, they will be able to understand their rights and the Constitution. This will also empower them to protect their positions when they get elected into office.

Finally, there should more advocacy for the 2/3rds gender rule, and more pressure should be put on the Executive to ensure its implementation. The second liberation stands incomplete without women’s participation.

Topic: The Y Follow Campaign
Date: 15th August
Guests: Silantoi Lengewa

The Y Follow campaign is a youth led initiative that seeks to empower the populace to question status quo, and ask relevant questions when it comes to governance in the country. The main objective of YFollow is to empower the common mwananchi to demand for accountability from the leadership and therefore a mindset change that will inform voting patterns from tribal to issue-based.

The Y in #YFollow stands for youth and they are the main focus in the initiative, on both National and County levels. The youth have always been associated with being ignorant to current affairs, and this seeks to show them how political decisions affect them personally and how they can get involved.

Having also realized that Information is what most of the population is missing, #YFollow will aim to provide relevant information as well as a platform to air grievances and provide solutions in the community and to the leadership.

Our main concerns as a movement are Corruption and lack of convictions by the Judiciary. We can see some efforts from the leadership in terms of tackling the issue of corruption with the arrests and court cases, but these remain ineffective until convictions are made and assets are retrieved.
One of the other many issues that YFollow will push for, is the review of the 2006 Youth National Policy that is currently outdated, and not in line with the new 2010 Constitution.

Topic: Political Violence Against Young people in East Africa
Guests: Rosebell Kagumire (Uganda), Caroline Ndosi (Tanzania), and Ruth Aine (Uganda)
Date: 22nd August 2018

This tweet chat was addressing the general mistreatment of young people in East Africa who are punished for demanding better leadership, with particular attention to Robert Kyagulangi’s (Bobi Wine) who was the illegally detained by President Museveni’s regime.

Why are young leaders considered as a threat? The current leaders believe that they alone are the custodians of power. For long young people have been expected to be spectators of political contestations, but this has to change. There is an abundance of young leaders in the continent today and we are saying, WE WANT MORE SEATS AT THE TABLE.

What can young people do to bring down oppressive regimes? Young people need to show up and question their leaders and institutions. The following can guide them:

  • Radical organizing can help citizens deter the state from meting out violence against young leaders. It is easier for the state to isolate few, which is why citizens must find different ways to engage the state in an organized and radical manner.
  • Online spaces also play critical role as governments tighten the noose on media through beatings and threats of closure. Young people must create their own channels, and tell their resistance story.

What are the impacts of political violence against young people? Political violence can alter ways of organizing, it slows change but certainly won’t stop it. Like Shirley Chisholm says “If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.” Young East Africans already have millions of folded chairs. We have also have to be mindful of the intention of those deploying violence. It is make many disinterested in politics, especially young women. We have to ensure that they, and other marginalized groups are also part of the struggle.

How can young people protect themselves from state violence?

  • Identify what we are good at: Not everyone will take to the streets, so young people have to create more rooms for different kinds of thoughts around protest. Young people should find what kind of protests to deploy, when, and how can they be more inclusive.
  • Protection: Make sure your digital footprint is intact –VPNs, password protection and encryption.
  • Networking: Cultivate important contacts within government institutions that can come to your defend.
  • Education: Know your rights, understand the constitution, be an active citizen and take responsibility. Vote and advocate for systems that are truly for development of the nation.
  • Uphold your truth and values: Young people can target different pillars of the establishment, using various means. For instance they can start by boycotting businesses that are run by those behind state sponsored violence.

“You are more useful to the struggle alive than dead. So by all means, stay alive.”

Topic: Pushing for open political primaries in Nigeria
Guests: @YIAGA Africa
Date: 29th August 2018

Nigeria has at least 91 political parties with different ideologies all within the ambit of the Constitution. Political parties form government and since 1999, we sadly still clamor for good governance.

Political parties decide what kind of primaries (direct or Indirect) to hold. They conduct the primaries themselves, under the monitor of Electoral Management body and independent observers like YIAGA AFRICA. Despite parties conducting primaries by themselves, they must adhere to their own guidelines, Electoral Management body guidelines, electoral laws and ultimately the Constitution.

There is another aspect of our democracy that needs intensive reform, and this is ensuring that the outcomes of political party primaries are credible enough to instill confidence on the part of citizens. The issue of imposition of candidates, inducement of delegates or manipulation of party members register has continued to cast questions over the credibility of the process.
Role of young people in political party primaries

Young people have a lot of roles to play when it comes to party primaries, but the question that remains is whether they are taking part in these processes. The answer is not enough. Young Nigerians can be more involved by first registering as members. This will allow them to be part of party primaries, in case a direct one is conducted.

Young people also vote during party primaries, but most times do not fall into the delegates’ categories when it comes indirect primaries. This, in turn makes it difficult for them to have a say in the emergence of candidates.

To solve this, the #NotTooYoungToRun movement that is now @ReadyToRunNG has embarked on a ferocious campaign to demand youth candidacy, and open party primaries from all political parties. This will ensure inclusion in our democracy.
September

Topic: People, Police and the Parallel relationship, (in partnership with Amnesty Kenya)
Guests: Irungu Houghton, Martin Mavenjina, and Patrick Safari
Date: 6/09/2018

Since independence, the Police force has been used as a tool of repression, and various systemic human rights violations continue to be committed by police officers. This, has resulted into mistrust between the police and the people.

Relationship between the young people and the police:

The relationship between the youth and the police is only characterized by conflict and tension, with high levels of anger, fear and mistrust on both sides. In the recent past, many Police officers have killed youth for allegedly engaging in criminal acts and have unlawfully arrested many.

Measures to reduce extrajudicial activities by the police:
We must make sure the police are only accountable to the people and not anybody else. For this to be done, there has to be:

  • A greater sense of command responsibility.
  • Deeper and intentional community policing
  • Intensified oversight by the public and state organs mandated to oversee the police.

Amnesty Kenya also highlighted that the above can only be possible in an environment that is:

  • Able to empower those at risk of extrajudicial executions.
  • Of propositional with the duty bearers and making clear asks/ demands.
  • Is able to bring partners’ and allies together.

The other measures that can be taken is if we make crime prevention a community business, and not just the police. This can be done by sharpening civic support for predictive and intelligence-based policing. This can also help to avoid blanket profiling. Investing in digital capacities including GPS, wearable body cameras, and CCTV cameras in police stations could also make a big difference, as the performance of the police can be easily tracked.

Role of the people and the civil society in improving the police and people relationship:
There needs to be community sensitization forums that involve both the Police and the public, which can help improve their relationship. The state must also respect, protect and fulfill the right to life, liberty and security of the person, as well as the absolute prohibition of torture.

The Civil Society Organizations also work greatly with grassroots organizations (The Justice Centers) to ensure a grassroots approach on police conduct. The grassroots organizations are able to monitor, document and report human rights violations by the police. This information, as well as data can be used to hold them accountable for their actions.

Improvements in police training
The training needs to be one that is intelligence based. The officer should not only be trained on how to use violence to fight violence, but also on other aspects such as Alternative Dispute Resolution and Peace building mechanisms.

Topic: Repercussions of increased taxation
Guests: Mukami Mungai, Asamoh Rein and Hilda Muteshi
Date: 12/09/2018

There are several reasons that can explain the continued increase in taxation. There is a need by the government to raise revenue to bridge the funding gap in the Financial Year of 2018/19, which includes the ability to pay back the 4 trillion foreign debt that we owe our lenders. Other reasons include money lost through corruption, gaps in the tax collection system, and major investment in infrastructure.

Increased taxation Vs. reduced expenditure: Tax policy attempts to balance many goals. These include revenue generation, economic efficiency, redistribution, equity between similarly situated taxpayers, and stabilization of economic cycles. However, increasing taxes is what is going to lead us into an economic crisis. A tax policy geared towards stabilization must reduce reliance on tax expenditures relative to government spending; tax expenditures imply that government subsidization moves in tandem with the business cycle, thereby destabilizing the economy. Increasing taxation will discourage investment and saving as income available to households will decrease.

Effects of increased taxation on the people: The increase in taxation has only added to the burden of the low-income citizens. Kenyans have been facing high levels of poverty and disparity for the last few years, and this hike will likely exacerbate the problems. Other effects include Increase in commodity prices, reduced investment and savings and inflation.

Short and long-term changes as a result of increased taxation: Tax policies can also affect the supply of labor in the short run. A cut in payroll taxes could bring some workers into the labor market or encourage those already working to put in more hours. Other short-term changes include increased government revenue, increased product prices and cost of production, as a well as hiked transportation costs. The long-run effects of tax policies depend not only on their incentive effects but also their deficit effects.

Kenya’s debt/GDP ratio: According to Cyntonn Investment, Kenya’s public debt to GDP was estimated at 56.2% in 2017, rising from 44.0% 5-years ago, and 38.4% 10-years ago. This is against the global recommendation of 50%, and the 30%-40% standard range for developing countries.

The Kenyan people and power: The people have the power to reverse increased taxation through their representatives in parliament. However, the question that stands is whether these representatives have the people’s interests at heart. Organized demonstrations can also put pressure on the government to revert high taxes.

#SiasaWesnesday Tweet Chat Summaries – June 6th to July 18th 2018

JUNE

6th June 2018

Is lack of evidence helping suspects go scot free in the justice system?

Kenya has an adversarial system of law, where the Judges take a spectator position and weigh the evidence brought before the court. The problem here does not lack of judicial powers, but it is whether the Judiciary is ready to apply the law effectively in corruption cases. The judiciary can, however, in practice set standards. Corruption laws (Anti-corruption Act) provides a mandatory sentence for twice the benefit a corruption offender gets from corruption. We have the laws, and the question that is raised is whether we are ready to prosecute.

The independence of the Judiciary has greatly improved since the Moi Regime, but we are not there yet. The Judiciary needs to prove to Kenyans that they cannot be intimidated; the recent denial of bail of the NYS suspects is a good start.

12th June 2018

Economic impacts of public theft

Poverty rates in Kenya are higher than they ought to be, and this is as a result of public theft. The causative relationship between poverty and theft of public funds is that, above all else, the resultant higher borrowing and taxes levied on the general citizenry discourages production and that leads to higher than natural incidence of poverty.

It is also possible for the taxpayer to exercise their sovereignty to protect themselves from the repercussions of public theft. The people can pass laws that can check this bad behavior through a referendum.

What other countries have done to reduce government over expenditure and theft, is to tie spending to revenues. The logic here is that the less they can spend, the less they can steal. Balanced budget amendments helps in adopting this approach.

Kenya is also a lucky country in the sense that it has a large private sector as government accounts for, perhaps, give or take, 30% of total spending. Consequently, private sector activity is typically more than 65%. This, to a degree, allows the economy to cope with government failure.
One of the main things that can be done to reduce public theft is education. We need to make economic knowledge general knowledge so that we look at things from a practical perspective. That way, we will be able to understand what is at stake better when political promises are being made.

20th June 2018

Can the Kenyan people survive a 3.07 trillion Kshs budgetary estimate?

This year’s budgetary estimate is 3.07 Trillion Kshs. Kenyans have witnessed a dramatic increase of more than one trillion Kshs, in comparison to last year’s figure of 2.6 billion kshs. This current budget highlights a major challenge, which lies in its funding. Research indicates that there is a gap in the budget of 562 billion KES, and the treasury claims that half of the budget will be financed from borrowing.

The budget is too high, and there are no justifications for some decisions such as the VAT exemptions for basic items, and keeping the VAT rate at 16.

On the possibility of capping the budget; the IEA, an economic think tank in Kenya, found that Kenya’s budget can be sufficient at just 2 Trillion KSHS, where the founder, Kwame Owino, suggested it should be capped.

On checks and balances; Article 12 of the Constitution has sufficient controls of the country’s expenditure. Through the Public Participation Act, Kenyan people can also voice their concerns over any public issues, including the budget. Through this act over expenditure can be minimized.
Within the budget there was no information on the challenges experienced with the implementation of last year’s budget. Fighting corruption was one of the key issue that was briefly talked about by the CS for the National Treasury, when asked about the issue.

JULY

4th July 2018

History of Political alignment in Kenya

The formation of coalitions in Kenya began on a positive note changing the monolithic structure that existed before 1992. However, the political structure in Kenya has become very corrupt which continues the ability of political parties/coalitions to withstand the test of time. As a result, Kenya’s political and economic system cannot guarantee free and fair competition. This is also because all systems are controlled by a small elite that determines who participates and how.

For this to change, Kenyan Youth and other oppressed population groups must realize how much political elites fear an informed, angry, mobilized and organized citizenry. They will be able to defeat bad leadership if they are equipped with knowledge, which will be followed by actions.

11th July 2018

Role of Media: Is it harnessing gains or losing ground?

The role of journalism continues to evolve, and we still haven’t taken time to evaluate this. As a result, media continues to seem like it has lost the integral part it played as the fourth estate in Kenya’s first liberation.

For the East African media to be effective, it has to be able to maintain the trust of the public. As this has not been proved to be the case yet, other alternatives such as citizen journalism will continue to change the course of how stories are developed and consumed. Citizen Journalism has opened up a space for citizens to hold their leaders accountable, and be able to influence political outcomes. Citizens are able to tell their stories without state interference. However, for citizen journalism to be efficiently explored, there has to be paid attention to fact-checking and source-balancing to avoid the spread of false information.

In regards to independence in media; the most important question is asking how this freedom can be harnessed. For instance, the Constitution of Kenya guarantees media freedom, but this is limited by Editors and the Media Council as a result of factors such as ownership and control. This challenge can be addressed through the establishment of publicly funded broadcasters. This way, citizens will easily demand for accountability and media will be more people and issue oriented, as opposed to media setting its own agenda.

Technology has also largely influenced East African media. It has liberalized the dissemination of information, and there is a wider and diverse audience that can be tapped into. There are now various ways in which content can reach consumers using means such as websites, videos, and podcasts. There has also been more employment opportunities as journalists are now working as freelancers. Every journalist can be their own cameraman, photographer, editor and producer.

In conclusion, the future position of media in the East African Region lies in the hands of its citizens.

18th July 2018

Equality in Media: Fact or Fiction?

Equal representation in media allows everyone to belong, gives everybody a voice, which can lead to freedom. Equal representation amplifies the voices of the minority, and raises awareness on their issues and work that they do.

One of the ways in which this can be achieved is if journalists learn to go beyond the headlines, do more homework, especially when it comes to minorities. Learning to listen, look for the story within the story, or change an angle to how they look into an issue, could make a big difference.
The government could also do better in ensuring that laws/policies on equality are well implemented in media. What ails these agencies is nepotism, corruption, and the fact that those within the field allow themselves to be manipulated by external forces.

Technology and citizen journalism have also given a voice to the marginalized groups. Women in the villages have been able to carry practice journalism and report from their own locality. Through citizen journalism, groups have also been able to raise pertinent issues that have brought about policy change. For example, #StreetNakuru and its founder James Wakibia pushed for the ban on plastic through the #ISupportBanPlasticsKE campaign.

In conclusion, every person has a unique story and they should be given a platform on which it can be shared.

MAY 2018 #SiasaWednesday SUMMARY:

Title of the topic: Social Media & Politics: Where are we as a country?
Tweet Chat Summary For: May 2nd 2018
In today’s world, news and information are critical components of everyday life. With change in dynamics, various avenues of connecting with friends, sharing news and information, and real time connection has led to many people especially the youth, embrace social media to serve their various needs. Digital space has given many Kenyans a voice that was otherwise a monopoly of mainstream media. It gives platform demanding for transparency and accountability when it comes to political offices. Social media has straightened voices.

Social media will continue to be used as a tool for driving future changes in society as an avenue of enabling people express themselves. Measures must be put in place to curb the spread of fake news. Citizens must come together and shrinking civic spaces must be kept alive. Technology has the capacity to amplify the voices of citizens and greatly improve oversight. Government should instead embrace social media as a feedback platform for better service delivery and accountability.

Title of the topic: Disaster management: Where are we as a country?
Tweet Chat Summary For: May 16th 2018

Disasters are majorly unpredictable occurrences that have serious negative consequences on the lives of the people. It is for this reason that as a society, we need to be fully and adequately prepared to initiate intervention mechanisms whenever faced with any kind of disaster to avert casualties, disruption of social order and to save lives and property. Disasters disrupt the functioning of society causing widespread human, material, economic and environmental loses which exceed the ability of the affected society to cope with using its own resources. Examples include drought, floods, fires and earthquakes.

All stakeholders in society must come together to form multi-agency rapid response units for interventions and rapid response. Government should involve and support stakeholders that deal with matters of humanity and disaster management to help mitigate emergencies. Both National and County governments should follow best international practice in handling disasters whenever they strike i.e. Preparedness, Reaction, Recovery and Prevention. Political goodwill and commitment is key to the implementation of the National Disaster Policy.

Title of the topic: What is the impact of public theft without consequences?
Tweet Chat Summary For: May 23rd 2018

Corruption as the abuse of entrusted power for private gain. Anyone exercising power given to them by others, if they abuse it for personal benefit they are corrupt. It results to very serious consequences that impede the overall well-being and order of any society/state. It impedes development and service delivery meant for public good. The AKU’s East African Institute youth study 2016 found that 21-58% of youth believe it doesn’t matter how one makes money so long as you don’t get caught; 30-58% admired those who made money in any way; 8-45% believed corruption was profitable. The problem today is too many points of theft with no accountability. Also cultural tolerance seems to have gone up, sadly watering down tenets of Chapter Six of our constitution.

Theft without consequences – impunity – causes an erosion of confidence in public institutions, leaders and the law. Ultimately this destabilizes the politics and causes dislocations in society that manifest in a myriad of ways. There is need to make it hard to steal and get away with it. If institutions fail to hold those who steal to account, publicly ostracizing them should be the norm. Parents should live upright and honest lives while moulding the lives of the young ones. If they are busy stealing from the government the apple will not fall far from the tree. We need to look critically at corruption as theft. We never celebrate those who steal from our houses. Why do we celebrate those who still from our pockets indirectly?

Research shows that between 2013-17 Kenya lost US$3.5billion as a result of theft by the Jubilee regime. This is economic delinquency on a grand scale. It is more than mere theft. Deterrence value of convictions and asset recovery is at the core of success against graft. Whistleblowers are essential in fighting crime. They must be protected if we are to succeed. Remember most whistleblowers are public spirited civil servants. As citizens we have what it takes to make sure our leaders are accountable. Also make institutions deliver. Let’s use the power. Sovereign power belongs to us

Title of the topic: Are social movements able to offer solutions to matters affecting the nation?

Tweet Chat Summary For: May 30th 2018

Social movements play vital roles in educating, informing and empowering communities. Through social movements, many communities especially in developing economies have realized serious changes in approaches to the challenges they face, while coming up with sustainable solutions modeled for long and short terms. Social movements have played a leading role in bringing about change in Kenya. All major social and political changes that have happened in Kenya have been birthed through social movements. From the Mau Mau movement in 1960s to the 2010 constitution. Social movements come in two fold, both negative and positive. Positive in the sense that the oppressive nature of the status quo has created interest in social movements as an alternative and a viable option to bring about fundamental change. Negatively in the sense that by keeping the majority of Kenyans from taking it upon themselves to bring about change. They have perpetuated the notion that the problems we have as a country were meant to be and no one can do anything about it.

Social movements can be a great vehicle to rally the people into taking on corruption in government rather than waiting on your favorite politician to do it. Through training and practice, we are not reinventing the wheel but building on best practices that others have used with great success. Most important is that it will spread its basic theory that change only happen when the people themselves participate in bringing about the change they desire. There is no other being coming to bring about change in Kenya, it’s the people to do it.