“They Killed Them?”

Everybody has a story.

This is primarily why given half a chance to get to know someone, I take it. Cab drivers are my favorite people to interact with. With the hours lost to traffic in this city, that time feels less wasted if you can learn even one new thing, make a new friend as your life gains a new dimension. One of my favorite cabbies, let’s call him John, hangs around the Ngong Road/Kilimani area quite a bit.

One day we found ourselves waiting for a larger group of people at Prestige Mall and he decided that we had ample time to get his car washed. So into Kibera we went, greeting miscellaneous folk on the road, the old lady that sells fruits, the kids who split into two groups and reenact AFC vs Gor every weekend, that random cop who we gave a ride when his cavalry was late and he had resulted to walk the distance. We waved, exchanged a word or three and then moved toward the “Car Wash”.

It technically wasn’t a car wash, just a place where these 7 or so youngsters hung around washing cars, listening to music and talking shit all day. I had only had the pleasure of talking to 4 of them, but not for lack of trying. They didn’t trust me. I wasn’t from there. They washed the car with no incident and at an extreme discount, returning lost monies – coins and notes alike – that had found themselves under the seats and in between consoles. He told them I would bring my car next time and we parted ways. Continue reading

Less Gate-Keeping, More Monitoring: Towards a New Regulatory Framework for NGOs in Kenya


When all three arms of government are on one side, the Fourth Estate is meant to assert the power of the people and ensure that the State is held to account. Traditionally, this role has been played by the media but many argue that an organised civil society could be equal to such an important task. However, both the media and NGOs in Kenya (which includes Civil Society) are largely unregulated, often finding themselves consumed by profit-making and promoting partisan agendas. For today, the focus shall be on NGOs.

Currently, the Non-Governmental Organisations Bill 2012 published a few weeks ago is the hot topic of discussion in many public and private circles. To understand how this Bill proposes to rein in NGOs and clean up the sector, we must recall some of the issues that this Bill is trying to address. Firstly the definitional issue, and then the major issue of regulation both state regulation of NGOs and self regulation of NGOs amongst themselves.

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NHIF Fiasco: Constructive Tension, Individual Conscience and Access to Information under the Constitution

The nation continues to watch as the National Health Insurance Fund is embroiled in controversy over how a certain Clinix Healthcare Ltd received Sh202 million for treating civil servants, of which Sh91 million went to non-existent or ‘ghost’ clinics. Understandably, everyone is interested in knowing who are the directors and shareholders of Clinix Healthcare Ltd. However there is a larger issue that we must grapple with, that of responsibility. Responsibility here must be seen in two ways: collective and individual. Collective responsibility means that because of the actions of a greedy few within NHIF, both its Board and Management owe Kenyans Sh202 million. By extension, the government through NHIF’s parent ministry: Ministry of Medical Service is also responsible since it failed to regulate, supervise and monitor the goings-on at the embattled health parastatal.

But to many the more pivotal question is that of individual responsibility.

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The Law is Broken: The Doctors’ Strike Isnt The Only Thing that May Be Unconstitutional

It is Day 3 of the on-going doctors’ strike by members of the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) and despite their willingness to try and avert a nation-wide health crisis through negotiation and mutual settlement, the government has decided to play hard ball with a profession that literally holds the lives of Kenyans in its hands.

Many have argued that the Constitution is on the side of the doctors’ two fold: firstly it protects their right to take industrial action and secondly the State is under a positive obligation to protect the fundamental rights and freedoms of all Kenyans both from a health care perspective as well as from a general human rights perspective.
However, constitutional rights are not absolute especially where there are competing rights such as the right of the general public to the delivery of essential services, which arguably would include health care services.

Before we discuss these weighty matters of legality, let’s start from the beginning.

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Foreign Policy Embarrassment: Kenya Negotiates With Terrorists, Sometimes

It’s no secret that Kenya has become the laughing stock of the East and Central African region. We are that country that has no clue on how to build, maintain and restore its national image abroad in addition to being ambivalent where issues of national sovereignty are concerned.

The latest case is the government taking sides with a war criminal against both international and national laws.

But let’s rewind back a bit:

A few months back, during a spell of severe drought which resulted in the #feedKE campaign, there still were Cabinet Ministers openly blaming relief agencies and media organisations for blowing things out of proportion while pictures of emaciated women and children were beamed to the entire world. Prior to and during the confirmation hearings of the Ocampo Six, our government tacitly encouraged its senior officials to continue displaying their ignorance by accusing the ICC of having a political agenda and attempting to subvert an international instrument that we have signed and ratified. In that connection, let’s not forget how a certain Vice President went on two rounds of “Shuttle Diplomacy” to try and stop the ICC cases from proceeding at the Hague only to end up embarassing our country in the eyes of the world.

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The Audacity of Hope: Karua, Tuju and Post-2012 Kenya

“Hope – Hope in the face of difficulty. Hope in the face of uncertainty. The audacity of hope! In the end, that is God’s greatest gift to us, the bedrock of this nation. A belief in things not seen. A belief that there are better days ahead.” – Barack Obama.

About two years ago, Martha Karua made no secret of her presidential ambitions and after wilfully resigning from Kibaki’s Cabinet, she has been hard at work campaigning and drumming up support for her bid.
About two weeks ago, Raphael Tuju resigned from his cushy job as Special Advisor to the President and declared that he is offering his candidature for President of Kenya in 2012.

These two are among the growing number of Presidential hopefuls seeking to challenge the two descendants from the two big political dynasties Kenyatta and Odinga, along with the rest of the candidates vying for CEO, Kenya 2012.

As far as political campaigns go, I’m sure that the hopefuls are hoping their new faces and fresh ideas trigger an Obama effect that will inspire wide-scale, cross-boundary support from the electorate. Although Kibaki is certainly no Bush, presidential aspirants will target the failings of his two-term administration and hope to sell themselves as the Change Agent that the voters and the country seek. They will promise to slay the twin-headed dragon that is corruption and impunity, they will have you convinced that once they’re elected the economy will be revitalised, jobs will be created and basic services will be improved for all Kenyans.

That said, the Obama effect as we know it, is unlikely to work here in Kenya.

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