Raila Odinga

Month: April 2016

Devolution is here to stay

Devolution is here to stay

Devolution is a baby we have to nurse and babysit to maturity despite its deformities. We started down this new road only three years ago. It still has much to be done. It has many rough parts to be smoothened. It has many problems yet to be solved. But I have an enduring faith, and I urge you to share this enduring faith, that this devolution road is the right road.

It is the road to the future. It serves the interest of harmony. It is the road ahead to a better, more equal and more prosperous Kenya for all Kenyans. Any other road takes us only to the past.

Devolution carries our nation’s prospects for a life in which citizens develop and pursue their aims, potential and ambitions to the fullest, without the constant interference and domination of big brother government in Nairobi.

But Devolution is facing internal and external challenges.

County Governments must put their fiscal houses in order. They must reign in corruption and deal with the perception that they are the new centres of graft. According to the Auditor-General, Counties are losing billions of much needed money through careless spending and disregard for procurement regulations. If reports by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission are to be believed, almost every county has flouted tender rules and violated staffing guidelines. A number of counties are accused of favoritism, nepotism, tribalism and marginalization of regions or clans in recruitment and service delivery.

These are luxuries we cannot afford if the promise of devolution is to be fully realized. They are the reasons Kenyans asked to be released from the suffocating grip of centralized government. They must be left with the National Government where they currently have a cozy home.

But Counties are not the sole authors of their problems. Nearly all counties are victims of the acts of omission and commission by the National Government. The national government continues to hold onto devolved functions and the resources for implementing those functions. That is why the budgets of the National Government remain bigger than the combined budgets of the 47 counties in sectors that are already devolved.

The National Government continues to deploy its members as procurement officers for counties in contravention of the law. This is motivated by the need to continue with the old habits of using the procurement process to enrich a few people. It is possible that the corruption that has gripped county procurement processes is a carry over from the National Government. Counties must be allowed to train and deploy their own procurement officers.
Counties are still inconvenienced by delayed and inadequate disbursement of funds by the National government. In some cases, county governments are simply conduits for the National Government to steal money from Kenyans.

The procuring of equipment for health facilities is one such project. It was fronted as a project that was to be funded by the National Government. By the time the National Government approached county governments it had already signed an agreement with suppliers for the lease of equipment for seven years. County governments were then threatened into signing MOUs to accept this equipment. The public was fed with a lot of propaganda on how governors were refusing to take free equipment for the county health facilities. Among the equipment that has been leased under this contract are scissors, trays, trolleys, tongs and similar tools that would be cheaper if they were purchased.

Come 2016, counties are now being forced to surrender Ksh 95 million to be deducted from their share of funds annually for seven years as the payment for the lease of these equipment.

Kenyans in every county have therefore been forced to lease equipment for Ksh665 million over 7 years; funds that they would never have elected to spend in this manner. This scheme is definitely a scandal.

The contract needs to be made public. A forensic audit of the process for budgeting and procuring this equipment needs to be done including the determination of the value for money.

To date, many counties have not fully received the billions that were allocated to fight El Nino last year. Here again, counties were used as conduits of the National Government.
Delays by the National Government to disburse funds to counties have particularly affected delivery of health services. But it is the governors taking blame.

I want to challenge the National Government to fully and ungrudgingly let go of devolved functions. The National Government must make its budgets reflect the goals, ideals and aspirations of devolution. The refusal by the National Government to let go of state corporations whose functions have been devolved is frustrating county governments. For instance, although Agriculture is fully devolved, nearly all its parastatals remain in the hands of the National Government. The same applies in the health sector.

Institutions that ought to have died like the provincial administration are being revived and rebooted to compete and confuse the county governments. The National Government is busy rebranding the old order instead of dismantling it. The money that the National government is using to sustain duplicated functions could easily finance the operations of devolved units and ensure efficient, adequate and timely delivery of services by counties.

Despite these unending roadblocks, counties have made tremendous and unimaginable impact on our people.

Agriculture, a devolved function, has reemerged as the driver of the economy in the last two years. Healthcare, another devolved function, has recorded tremendous progress despite funding and staffing problems.
Even the National Government cannot deny that health care services were in shambles when counties took them over.

Everywhere there were too few hospitals and no drugs, no bedding no beds. Some counties were able to construct and equip up to 20 hospitals, dispensaries and health centres within the first year. Ambulance services are now taken for granted in parts of the country where none existed for the last fifty years. The number of doctors has increased from about 3,000 three years ago to over 4,500 today.
With increased and predictable funding, Agriculture and health sectors could easily meet and surpass expectations. Increased and predictable funding could easily see counties provide universal health insurance whose absence is confining many of our people to early graves because of unaffordable costs. Anybody saying that county governments have done nothing is stuck in a regrettable past and wants to make Kenyans miss the future.
To help secure this future, I wish to appeal to our senators who are the custodians of devolution, together with members of county assemblies and the governors to end the unhealthy competition between them and work together to secure devolution.

The Senate must stand true to its role as the protector of devolution. Governors and Senators must extend hands of friendship and show unity of purpose for the remainder of their terms, even if they are going to run against each other in 2017. The National Assembly must join in friendship to enhance the new order instead of fighting it.

The National Government must also end its unhealthy war with county governments. It is time the National Government gave governors their rightful roles in the new Kenya.

We must accept governors as the constitutional Chief Executives of the Counties. The Chief Executive of the National Government, H.E. the President must accept this reality and forge and nurture a culture of consultation and not confrontation with governors for the good of the nation. The National Government must stop seeing governors as enemies to be subdued but as partners in the struggle for a better Kenya.

Finally, I wish to address a matter that is going to choke everyone if not tackled urgently and soberly; our uncontrolled borrowing.

In the 2015/2016 Financial Year, the National Treasury allocated Kshs 362 billion for debt repayment. This figure has risen to Kshs 433 billion in 2016/2017, an increase of Kshs 71 billion or 20 per cent in one year. At this rate, in five years, the country will be spending all the tax revenue on repaying public debts with nothing left for capital and recurrent expenditures. Sooner rather than later, debt service will take priority. This will mean less revenue share for counties and more trouble for devolution. Counties will suffer, yet they are not getting any shares of the borrowed money. Let’s join hands and raise the alarm now. We have been flirting with disaster and we now seem to be embracing it in the name of debts.

Our salvation lies in strengthening the Counties and making them effective bulwark between the people and an ever-encroaching National Government that is determined to gather more power unto itself and to minimize and emasculate the functions of other organs and other levels of government.

Together, we have scored significant victories for devolution in the last three years.
But we must not live in the fading memory of those victories.

Let us join hands one more time, in this coming year and look ahead and anticipate successive new victories for devolution.
Let us not allow the fire we lit in 2010 to flicker and die.

Let us nurture the flames and ensure the future generations find not its ashes but its hope and promises.

Thank you all.

Post Election Violence Victims

Post Election Violence Victims

Uhuru and Ruto must stop mocking the victims of PEV:

I began writing this from Paris where I had come for a special meeting of the Emerging Markets Forum hosted by the Governor of Banque de France.

The theme of the meeting was “Striving for a Just, Prosperous and Harmonious Global Community.” It was attended by various world leaders and particularly President Alassane Ouattara, President Horst Koehler, Michael Camdessus and Hiroshi Watanabe.

While in Paris, I learnt of a medieval dance that originated in France called the “danse macabre,” which is French for “the dance of death.” It started in the mid 14th Century and involved a procession in which people danced to the graves of the dead in their community in celebration of death.

As I thought about this very perverse type of custom and traditions, I could not help but compare this with what President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto have planned to do at Afraha Stadium tomorrow, April 16, 2016.

Firstly, I wish to explain my position on the collapse of the cases. I did congratulate my friend Hon. William Ruto for being free from the cases, as I had also done to my brother President Kenyatta.

Ruto’s freedom was of particular concern to the Orange Democratic Movement as it proved, as we had always maintained, that ODM did not plan any violence against other Kenyans. Ruto could not have planned for the eviction and murder of so many ODM supporters in so many parts of the country including Nairobi, Naivasha, Nakuru and Kisumu. Ruto certainly could not have evicted so many perceived ODM supporters from the remote parts of central Kenya where the party then had to hire buses and ferry people to Kisii, Kericho, Kakamega, Kisumu, Eldoret and other parts of western Kenya.

The collapse of the cases brings little to Kenya in terms of justice and an end to impunity. While we all agree that our leaders got caught up in a mixture of botched investigations and subversion of the administration of justice, we must admit that the collapse of the I.C.C engagement with the Kenya situation denied this country the only chance it had to end the culture of impunity that has condemned us to an orgy of violence with every election.

As we reflect on the cessation of our engagement with I.C.C regarding the post election violence, we must moan the continued lack of justice for those who were killed, the helpless women who were raped and the multitude of persons who lost their homes and were displaced.

Clearly, as a nation, there is nothing to celebrate about. Instead, we have to reflect on the many critical decisions that we need to make. We have many people who we still need to condole and reparate and a national sense of justice that needs to be reconfirmed.

In light of these circumstances, it amounts to mocking the dead and the surviving victims of Post Election Violence for the President and his Deputy to assemble their political supporters at Afraha Stadium to celebrate the end of the pursuit of justice over the atrocities of the mayhem in 2007/2008.
The only picture that comes to mind is that of the President and his Deputy leading a procession of Jubilee followers performing the ‘danse macabre’ over the graves of their fellow county men.

What Uhuru and Ruto should be doing is keeping their jubilation in check and thinking of the pain that abounds in the country. There is pain over continued lack of justice for the hundreds of young Kenyans shot in their backs as they ran away from the steaming barrels of AK47’s. The children who helplessly watched their mother’s being beaten and raped are hurting. The thousands whose homes, property and places of worship were incinerated beyond imagination remain pained. That elderly father who had to identify his son’s maimed body from a sea of blanket covered corpses, the young girl who discovered her mothers body lying in a pool of blood as stray bullets tore through their “mabati” home, striking her mother in the chest all remain in pain.

Kenya does not need a self-absorbed jamboree hosted by the Presidency but a genuine engagement to pursue truth, justice and reconciliation. Justice was always intended to be our shield and defender. Without justice, the shield is gone, and we are exposed.
Uhuru and Ruto must cease this continued mockery of the victims of the Post Election Violence and lead this nation towards the truth and reconciliation that will save us from what is quickly becoming an irreversible descent towards another orgy of violence.

We need truth and reconciliation in our Presidency. Barely a couple of years ago, the Deputy President was complaining that people close to the President “fixed” him. With the Jubilee Coalition constantly marketing itself as a partnership to unite communities, these loudly pronounced accusations must be addressed openly to remove the suspicion they have created among the people.

We need truth and reconciliation in our institutions. The National Intelligence Service provided a lot of the evidence that I.C.C cases were riding on, and in particular what is now known as the confidential Exhibit 19 and 19A of the Waki Report. These are the exhibits that were compiled by then Director General of NIS as evidence against Ruto and other ODM members. The president must now make these exhibits public if he is serious about truth and reconciliation.

The President should open up the envelope and let the people deal with the I.C.C ghosts and exorcise them from their national psyche.
Similarly, the Police must come out openly regarding their operations in the 2007/2008 period. We need to know how they ended up shooting close to the declared 500 people. We also need to know the exact number of people the police shot. Most critically, the police must answer the yet unanswered question of what happened to the over 1000 Kalenjin youths that went missing during and after the post election violence.

We need truth and reconciliation among our communities. In 2007/2008, neighbours rose up against neighbours. Long time family friends picked arms against each other’s parents and children. They burnt each other’s homes.
We can’t sweep these realities under the carpet and move on. We must bring people together to talk and make peace. This has been done successfully in South Africa and Rwanda and we have seen it bring lasting peace.

And lastly, we need truth and reconciliation in the whole country. The President must now publish the list of all the people who died in the Post Election Violence, those who were injured and those who were displaced. He must also publish what reparations his government has given to each of them.

Just last week, we observed the International Day of Reflection on the Genocide in Rwanda. That was on April 7. I ask that we consider undertaking a similar initiative like Rwanda’s village courts.

I think we can have “Baraza Courts” in villages that were affected by the Post Election Violence. Let people come together and say what they did, why and on whose instructions. It is never too late to pursue truth and reconciliation.

APRIL 15, 2016.

Lost money

Lost money

Those who still harboured any hopes that the Government of Kenya prudently used the proceeds of Eurobond money and will fully account for it to our citizens must now burry those hopes. After many twists and turns, the Central Bank of Kenya yesterday declared that the information and documents it holds in relation to the Eurobond is privileged and cannot be disclosed to third parties.

We, Kenyans have suddenly become third parties in the case of money borrowed in our name to be paid by all of us, our children and our grandchildren. But it is the final realisation that the money is lost which must concern us. Everything points to that.

We have been on the trail of this money since last year when we wrote to the PS and CS Treasury asking for information on how the money was spent. We were told the National Government had set up a desk at the National Treasury where all information regarding the loan was readily available. It turned out no such desk existed.

Then Kenyans were told that all the proceeds of Eurobond were put in infrastructure projects that the government would make public in three months. It never happened.

Next we were told the money got lumped with those from other sources and used to finance public infrastructure projects and it was not possible to pinpoint which money funded which project.

Then the government embarked on an elaborate campaign with the support of the private sector, spearheaded by the Kenya Bankers Association writing lengthy columns in the national dailies on how all the Eurobond money had been accounted for.
Two weeks ago, in another twist, the National Treasury CS Mr Henry Rotich disclosed that all the proceeds of Eurobond were used to settle debts incurred by the Grand Coalition Government.

At around the same time, we established authoritatively that the Government had equally misled the International Monetary Fund on the proceeds and use of the proceeds of Eurobond. We wrote to the IMF seeking clarity. We attach that letter to the IMF.

It is this ever changing and conflicting position of the government that compelled us to write to the Governor of the Central Bank of Kenya in the belief that he would have the final word and the duty to share it with the public on this money.

Yesterday, to our dismay, in response to our request, the governor declared and we quote him:

“The information and documents held by the CBK in relation to the Eurobond is privileged under the banking laws, and therefore cannot be disclosed to third parties.”

The information we had sought from the CBK is attached here.

We wish to state that CBK is a State organ. The Governor of the CBK is a State officer.

The money that the CBK banks belongs to the people of Kenya. It is the people of Kenya, not the government, who are the clients of the bank. The government is the manager of the people’s money. CBK cannot justifiably and legally erect a wall of privilege against the owner of the money; the people of the Republic of Kenya.

A matter of grave concern to us is how the CBK has chosen to operate without a Board. Under the CBK Act, the Board of Directors is obligated to determine the policy of the bank and keep in constant review the performance of the Governor. Yet for over two years, the CBK has not had a full Board.

The Governor is operating under the policy direction of the chairman, Mr Mohammed Nyaoga and the Principal Secretary to the Treasury Dr Kamau Thugge, who are the only members of the Board.

This is the reason there is so much confusion at the CBK.

How does the CBK say it has a policy to keep public information confidential when the Constitution is clear that the information must be published and publicised? Section 35 of our Constitution guarantees, among other things that:

1) Every citizen has the right of access to information held by the State; and
(2) The State shall publish and publicise any important information affecting the nation.

At the start of our search for the truth on Eurobond, we made a commitment to the people of Kenya and we reiterate that commitment today. We shall not rest until we get to the bottom of the Eurobond saga which we maintain, is a case of grand robbery against the suffering people of Kenya.

Until the Government proves otherwise, we maintain that Eurobond money was raised abroad and stolen abroad. All that the government brought home was the debt.
We are not letting this matter go. We are exploring many options to help us get to the truth.

For a start, we shall therefore be writing to the Chairman of the CBK seeking to know how he came to give such a policy directive to the governor against the Constitution of Kenya.

We are witnessing the subversion of the People’s Constitution. The Chairman of the Board must explain this treasonable position by a State organ. And we will demand punishment fitting this crime.