Getembe High Vision Youth Group based in Nyamira County in Kenya was formed in January 2006 as a merry-go-round youth club. It was later registered as a farming youth organization. Due to the high rates of poverty, food scarcity and unemployment, the members were stimulated to initiate this project to address food insecurity, the poor health status of children resulting from under nourishment, juvenile delinquency, child labor abuse and youth unemployment.
The National Convention Executive Council (NCEC) endorses the ratification of the Proposed Constitution by the people of Kenya at the Referendum. The Proposed constitution secures the Sovereignty of the People instead of the sovereignty of the government. It shall entrench the Supremacy of the Constitution instead of the supremacy of Parliament. The expanded Bill of rights shall finally secure the principle of the Indivisibility and inalienability of rights and freedoms. Kenyans now have the basis of building a democracy where the dignity of every citizen shall be the center piece of government policy. This shall fundamentally alter the basis of state policy and budgeting in Kenya and it shall greatly deal with inequalities that exist in Kenya today.
Popular Participation shall be secured with the enhanced platforms of people’s participation in governance including stronger political parties, better representation of the people and the avenues of legislation. Further, National Values and Goals have been articulated to offer the standards against which to regulate the behaviour of all citizens and public officials alike. It is difficult to understand how we have survived under the old constitution that we are about to get rid of!
The Separation of Powers between the Judiciary, the legislature and the executive shall ensure that rights are protected, justice delivered, opportunities and security enhanced for all Kenyans.
The introduction of vertical and horizontal Checks and Balances especially with the entrenchment of key constitutional commissions shall greatly give Kenyans value for money and check impunity and facilitate a new culture of governance under a more clean, lean, effective, accountable and responsive government because the sanctions for violations of the rules shall be severe. This is the secret to ensuring the upholding the rule of law. For example administrative units in Kenya could not have been increased in total disregard of the Provinces and Districts Act (1992) as we saw the Moi and Kibaki administration do.
The elaborate provision for the Diversity and Inclusivity of all Kenyans by recognizing our ethnic, regional, religious, gender and even intergenerational diversities is a major pillar towards building a more cohesive, united, tolerant, proud and peaceful nation.
The principle of Equity is the hall mark of this Proposed Constitution and NCEC encourages Kenyans to see the great opportunities that this new constitution shall present in unlocking the great opportunities and potential within the nation. The public finance and public service chapters of the PC shall enhance equity in a significant manner. The National revenue commission and the principles guiding budgeting shall offer Kenya a major platform for embracing the value of equity and justice. The needs of Kenyans shall be responded to in a meaningful manner.
The provision of the principle of Devolution is remarkable. Kenya shall now witness a vibrant nation in all the constituencies since resources have been significantly devolved and the creation of county governments with meaningful powers shall greatly enable every Kenyan to participate in creating a productive state and a fair socio-economic system. The fact that regions have not been provided is academic since it is not clear what has been missed now that Kenyans rejected the regions.
The vetting of all senior civil servants, the provision of cabinet ministers to be appointed from outside parliament and the securing of the independence of public services from excessive politicization shall greatly secure Public Service Neutrality and Professionalism which will lead to Kenya witnessing a more responsive and effective government. This is massive.
Equal Protection of and before the Law is the twelfth principle that NCEC expected this constitution to provide for. And yes with separation of powers and the elaborate entrenchment of the rule of law, the corrupt and rogue state shall become a thing of the past and indeed equal protection of and under the law shall become a reality.
NCEC has witnessed distortions and misinformation that has followed the COE draft passing through parliament. These are around ten areas. Abortion, Kadhi’s courts, land, devolution, rights of armed servicemen, denial of counties to certain minority ethnic communities, the vetting of judges, the provincial administration, the role of the senate and argument that there are too many representatives and government. All these issues are managerial, administrative and of policy in nature. Please note that none of the arguments on these points offends any of the 12 principles set out above which are the basis of assessing the acceptability of a new constitution. Policy issues always have contentions along moral, ideological and sometimes political lines. Religious, ideological, political and individual interests are the reasons why these ten areas of the NO movement have emerged. They are not based on known principled foundations.
As the organization that organized the nation to embark on the agenda of reforms, reconstruction and reconciliation since 1996, we at NCEC have the moral authority to call on all Kenyans to register as voters and to emphatically vote YES for the Proposed Constitution.
Finally we call upon all agencies to work with the Committee of Experts and the IIEC in carrying out effective civic and voter education to ensure a productive referendum so that Kenya shall sing Katiba Mpya, Maisha Mapya from all corners of our great nation.
African Youth Leaders Introduce the youth Charter at a Social Media Forum
Friday 19th March 2010
Venue: University of Nairobi Sports Ground Nairobi, Kenya
Nairobi, Kenya— At least 100 youth leaders from 24 African countries will introduce the African Youth Charter to the public today, 19th March 2010, at a social media forum at 3.00pm at the University of Nairobi Sports Ground. Maina Kiai, the immediate former Chair of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR), will officiate at the forum.
The youth have been attending a Pan African Youth Meeting at Lukenya Gateway since 15th -19th March 2010 to discuss new tools and effective strategies of youth participation in democracy and governance in Africa. The weeklong event culminates in a public social media forum today.
Dubbed the Youth AfriCamp 2010, the theme of the forum is: Youth, Media, and Governance. An initiative of Open Society Institute Youth Program, the Youth AfriCamp is the first of its kind in the region.
The Pan African Forum seeks to provide a platform for positive transformation of African youth by encouraging them to harness new strategies and tools to get their message heard. At the forum, the youth will showcase their work, share their experiences, discuss the African Youth Charter and the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance; and learn how they can apply these important instruments in their work.Hon Cecily Mbarire, Kenya’s Assistant Minister for Tourism and Wildlife and Member of Parliament for Runyenjes addressed the youth on Wednesday 17th March 2010, at Lukenya Gateway.
The Open Society Institute (OSI) is a New York-based organization with a presence in over sixty countries around the world. OSI is a non-profit operating and grantmaking foundation that aims to shape public policy to promote democratic governance, human rights, and economic, legal, and social reform. On a local level, OSI implements a range of initiatives to support the rule of law, education, public health, and independent media. Since 2005, OSI has been represented in East Africa through its Nairobi office, the Open Society Initiative for East Africa (OSIEA).
In East Africa: Linda Ochiel, Open Society Initiative for East Africa (OSIEA), at Lochiel@osiea.org or + 254 727-642-193 or Ronald Rwankangi, Open Society Initiative for East Africa, at firstname.lastname@example.org or +256772302979
The inconvenient truth about Africa today is that dictatorship presents a far more perilous threat to the survival of Africans than climate change. The devastation African dictators have wreaked upon the social fabric and ecosystem of African societies is incalculable. Over the past several decades, bloodthirsty dictators like Uganda’s Idi Amin, Zaire’s (The Congo) Mobutu Sese Seko, Central African Republic’s Jean Bedel Bokassa, Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe, Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir, Chad’s Hissiene Habre, and the political fraternal twins Mengistu Haile Mariam and Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia have been responsible for untold deaths on the continent. Millions of Africans have starved to death because of the criminal negligence, depraved indifference and gross incompetence of African dictators, not climate change. Millions more suffer today in abject poverty because corrupt African dictators have systematically siphoned off international aid, pilfered loans provided by the international banks and plundered the tax coffers. Africans face extreme privation and mass starvation not because of climate change but because of the rapacity of power-hungry dictators. The continent today suffers from a terminal case of metastasised cancer of dictatorships, not the blight of global warming.
The fact that greenhouse gas emissions (global warming) from human activities are responsible for a dangerous elevation of the global temperature is accepted by most climatologists in the world. Only clueless flat-earther troglodytes like US Senator James Inhofe believe that climate change is a conspiracy hatched by ‘the media, Hollywood and our pop culture.’ The general scientific understanding is that the planet is facing ruin from an unprecedented combination of extreme weather patterns, floods, droughts, heat waves and epidemics. The developed countries are primarily blamed for the rise in temperatures caused by excess industrial carbon emissions. This is evident in the increase in the average temperature of the Earth’s near-surface air and oceans. Africa has contributed virtually nothing to global warming. For instance, Africa produces an average of one metric ton of carbon dioxide per person per year compared to 16 metric tons for every American.
For Africa, climate change paints a doomsday scenario: Global warming will severely aggravate the atmospheric circulation and precipitation in the African monsoonal system resulting in severe shortages in agricultural output. Millions of Africans will die from famine, and the continent’s agriculture will be crippled. Deforestation and overgrazing will cause further increases in global temperatures through emission of greenhouse gases. Africa’s subsistence farmers who already operate in marginal environments will face catastrophic consequences in terms of decreased tillable and pastoral lands. Competition for water, agricultural and grazing land and other resources will inevitably result in conflicts and wars. Vector-borne diseases such as malaria, dengue, trypanosomiasis and others will spread rapidly causing large scale deaths in Africa.
The climate change debate has been honey in the mouths of forked tongue African dictators. It has provided them the perfect foil to avoid detection and accountability for their corruption and mismanagement of their societies, and a convenient opportunity to divert attention from their criminal state enterprises. Global warming has proven to be the perfect substitute for the old Bogeymen of Africa – colonialism, imperialism, neo-colonialism and poverty. Why is Africa reduced to becoming the ‘beggar continent of the planet’? Global warming! Why are millions starving (euphemistically referred to as ‘severe food shortages’ by officials) to death in Ethiopia? Climate change. African dictators are using global warming as their new preferred ideology behind which they can hide and ply their trade of corruption while expanding their thriving kleptocracies.
The global warming debate has also offered African dictators a historic opportunity to guilt-trip the industrialised countries and rob them blind. Beginning on 7 December, a phalanx of African climate change negotiators will swarm Copenhagen to attend the UN Conference on Climate Change. For Africa, the outcome of the negotiations is foreshadowed by pronouncements of comic bravado. On 3 September 2009, the patriarch of African dictators and head of the ‘single African negotiating team’ on climate change, Meles Zenawi, huffed and puffed about what he and his sidekicks will do if the industrialised countries refuse to comply with his imperial ultimatum. Zenawi roared, ‘We will use our numbers to delegitimise any agreement that is not consistent with our minimal position… We are prepared to walk out of any negotiations that threatens to be another rape of our continent.’ (Whether African dictators or the industrialised countries are raping the continent is an open question. Witnesses say it is a gang rape situation.)
It was vintage Zenawi with his trademark zero-sum game strategy writ large to the world: ‘My way or the highway!’ It does appear rather preposterous and irrational for the master of the zero-sum game to open negotiations with his long-time benefactors by sticking an ultimatum in their faces. Obviously, the strategic negotiating bottom line is to shakedown the industrialised countries and strong-arm them into forking over billions in carbon blood money; and Zenawi did not mince words: ‘The key thing for me is that Africa be compensated for the damage caused by global warming. Many institutions have tried to quantify that and they have come up with different figures. The sort of median figure would be in the range of US$40 billion a year.’
Curiously, we could ask what Zenawi and his brotherhood of dictators would do with the windfall of billions, if they could get it? It is reasonable to assume that they will use it to expand their kleptocracies and cling to power like ticks on a milk cow. They will certainly not use it to meet the needs of their people. What they have done with the international aid money and loans they have received over the decades provides compelling extrapolative evidence of what they will do with any windfall of carbon blood money.
As Dambisa Moyo and others have shown, in the last fifty years the West has poured more than a trillion dollars of aid into Africa. Today, over 350 million Africans live on less than US$1. Real per-capita income in Africa is lower today than it was four decades ago. Aid money and international bank loans have been stolen by African dictators and their henchmen to line their pockets and maintain their huge kleptocracies.
In 2002, an African Union study estimated the loss of US$150 billion a year to corruption in Africa, and not without the complicity of the donor countries. Compare this to the US$22 billion the developed countries gave to all of sub-Saharan Africa in 2008. In 2006, former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo, who faced impeachment for corruption and ineptitude, declared at an African civic groups meeting in Addis Ababa that African leaders ‘have stolen at least US$140 billion from their people in the decades since independence.’ Ghanaian economist George Ayittey citing UN data argues, ‘These are gross underestimates… US$200 billion or 90 per cent of the sub-Saharan part of the continent’s gross domestic product was shipped to foreign banks in 1991 alone. Civil wars in Africa cost at least US$15 billion annually in lost output, wreckage of infrastructure, and refugee crises… In Zimbabwe, foreign investors have fled the region and more than four million Zimbabweans have left the country along with 60,000 physicians and other professionals…’ Is it any wonder that Africa today is worse off than it was 50 years ago?
The question is not whether global warming could impact Africa disproportionately, or Africa is entitled to assistance to overcome the effects of greenhouse emissions caused by the industrialised countries. The question is whether African dictators have the moral credibility and standing to make a demand for compensation and what they will do with such compensation if they were to get it. Certainly, the ‘capo’ African negotiator has as much credibility to demand compensation in Copenhagen as a bank robber has from the bank owners. It has been a notorious fact for at least two decades that Ethiopia is facing environmental disaster. Ethiopia’s forest coverage by the turn of the last century was 40 per cent. By 1987, under the military government, it went down to 5.5 per cent. In 2003, it dropped down to 0.2 per cent. The Ethiopian Agricultural Research Institute says Ethiopia loses up to 200,000 hectares of forest every year. Between 1990 and 2005, Ethiopia lost 14.0 per cent of its forest cover (2,114,000 hectares) and 3.6 per cent of its forest and woodland habitat. If the trend continues, it is expected that Ethiopia could lose all of its forest resources in 11 years, by the year 2020. What has Zenawi’s regime done to reverse the problem of deforestation in Ethiopia? They have sold what little arable land is left to the Saudis, the Shiekdoms, the Indians, the South Korea and others with crisp dollar bills looking for fire sales on African lands.
There has been a lot of environmental window dressing and grandstanding in various parts of Africa. In Ethiopia, lofty proclamations have been issued to ‘improve and enhance the health and quality of life of all Ethiopians’, ‘control pollution’ and facilitate ‘environmental impact’ studies. The ‘nations, nationalities and peoples’ are granted environmental self-determination. There is an Environmental Protection Council which ‘oversees activities of sectoral agencies and environmental units with respect to environmental all regional states.’ The Environmental Protection Agency is ‘accountable to the Prime Minister.’ What have these make-believe bureaucracies done to save Lake Koka, just outside the capital, and the 17,000 people who drink its toxic water daily?
Zenawi and his minions will show up looking for a pot of gold at the end of the Copenhagen rainbow. It does not appear that a bonanza of riches will be awaiting them. If the advance Barcelona negotiations held last month are any indication, a deal does not appear possible in Copenhagen. German Chancellor Angela Merkel told the Barcelona summit that ‘global climate negotiations would inevitably drag out after the meeting in Copenhagen ends on 19 December.’ African dictators deserve our grudging admiration for their sheer tenacity and brazen audacity. After sucking their people dry, they are now moving camp to the greener pastures of climate change to continue their vampiric trade.
The fact of the matter is that while the rest of the world toasts from global warming, Africa is burning down in the fires of dictatorship. While Europeans are fretting about their carbon footprint, Africans are gasping to breathe free under the bootprints of dictators. While Americans are worried about carbon emission trapped in the atmosphere, Africans find themselves trapped in minefields of dictatorship. Handing over carbon blood money to African dictators is like increasing industrial emissions to cut back on global warming. It is the wrong thing to do.
Africa faces an ecological collapse not because of climate change but because of lack of regime change. It is humorously ironic that African dictators who panhandle the industrialised countries for over two-thirds of their budgets should threaten to walk out on them. We know the bravado is nothing more than the ‘chatter of a beggar’s teeth’. As the bank robber will not walk out of the bank empty handed because of moral outrage over the small amount of money sitting in the vault, we do not expect the band of African negotiators to walk out Copenhagen because they are offered less than what they are asking. We expect to see them making a beeline to the conference door for handouts for there is no such thing as a choosy beggar. We wish them well. Go on, take the money and run.
As entrepreneurs facing the worst economic crisis in our lives, it is pretty difficult to keep our businesses’ afloat; let alone take the time to follow all the “reform” talk going on around us.
This week alone, Kenya proved that it did not have the political goodwill to try the perpetrators of 2008’s post election violence and even mediator Kofi Annan is in town to assess the implementation of Agenda 4 of the Accord.
Another development this week is the publishing of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation’s Index on Governance. The word “governance” the way it is bandied about seems to be akin to the word “impunity” which doesn’t seem to have a standard definition. To us business people, governance comes in the form of having public services such as a steady supply of electricity and water. It is also important when it comes to that monster we call “corruption”. In essence, good governance translates into fewer indirect costs.
According to the website, “the Ibrahim Index measures the delivery of public goods and services to citizens by government and non-state actors … using indicators across four main pillars: Safety and Rule of Law; Participation and Human Rights; Sustainable Economic Opportunity; and Human Development”.
So what does the Ibrahim Index tell us about the effect of (good) governance on business? In a nutshell the following:
Good governance ensures our personal security.
Human rights are not divisible from business competitiveness.
Social unrest is not good for business.
Judicial independence and the strength of the judicial process are important for business.
Transparency, accountability as well as corruption in the public sector adversely affect business.
Countries scoring high on the Index have a superior quality of infrastructure coupled with the provision of reliable utilities.
Economic policies that promote sustainable business are vital.
Rural provision of public goods are essential for growth.