Kenya s shameful political leadership

December 8, 2008 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 8 – A progressive society could be described as one that is made up of three core segments; quality political leadership, economic prosperity and a cohesive social order. For a society to attain comprehensive development, it must develop a strong foundation for political leadership that in turn is able to spur economic prosperity and a vibrant social order.

History does not document the prosperity of any society that has not been as a result of a progressive political order be it of an Emperor, King, Queen, President, Prime Minister or a Chief.

Kenya is the 47th largest country in the world with an area of 582,650 sq km compared to Germany, 63rd covering 357,021 sq km. Germany is the third largest economy in the world with a GDP (nominal) of $3,320 trillion, just behind another far smaller island country Japan that is second to USA, which is but a giant conglomeration of 53 states. In comparison, Kenya’s economy is ranked 80th, according to the World Bank/IMF statistics as at 2008 with a GDP (nominal) of $27.026 billion

Politically, Kenya is a centrist Presidential system with a parliamentary multi-party order, while Germany is a federalist parliamentary multi-party system.

When Kenya was declared a colony in 1908, the territory was curved into eight provinces, established along racial and ethnic lines for purposes of colonial political expediency under tactics of divide and rule. Germany has sixteen states.

The German population currently stands at 90 million people and is projected to reduce to 70 million by 2015. The government has to encourage higher birth rates or face labour shortage for its many industries.

Paradoxically, the Kenyan population (currently unconfirmed at 38 million) is expected to multiply to around 50 million by 2015. But with the current trends of tribalising democracy, which catapults inefficient unproductive leaders to power, then definitely our problems will be; increased crime, lowest unemployment, high inflation rates, skyrocketing commodity prizes due to greed, high demand and low production, corruption everywhere and many more ills as the souls struggle to survive.

A Member of Parliament (MP) in Germany earns €7,000 gross (equivalent to Sh707,000) and is not pensionable since they are not civil servants but people’s representatives. The Kenyan MP is both a civil servant who is pensionable, and a people’s representative who is untaxed. Kenyan MPs earn about Sh800,000 above other benefits and privileges.

Exacting pressure to have the MPs taxed, is not, in my view, the most important issue to pursue. It should be to review their status, in order to let them know their obligations and expectations to the citizens, to distinguish the functions of representation and civil service, and to review their allowances downwards.

Taxing them will only inspire them to introduce a new allowance to recoup the lost earnings. Somebody should inform them that, representation is not a career or profession, but a duty to the nation. In representation, there is no promotion or demotion. When the President appoints you a Minister, it does not constitute a promotion, but acknowledgment of ability to help the President serve the citizens.

When a player is recruited to the national football team, Harambe stars, which will only happen when he is in form, the expectation is that he will be on an assignment of duty to the nation but not a ‘kibarua’ – his earnings will only constitute allowances and honours. On the other hand, when the same player turns up for Gor Mahia then his earnings will translate into a salary and other commercial benefits that come along with his abilities.

The same should apply to our leaders. Being a people’s representative is out of your own volition as well as the people’s acknowledgment of your abilities to be their worthy representative.

Individuals who aspire to be people’s representatives should be patriotic citizens, who are willing to serve their country with modest pay.

Kenya is being subjected to robbery without violence by its leaders. This must be brought to an end and not by Kofi Annan but by Kenyans.  

(Maur Abdallah Bwanamaka is the Chairman, Chama Cha Uzalendo)

Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of Capital Group, but those of the writer.


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