Eyes on Kenya

A world-over overview

Tuesday, 15. April 2008 von flikawa

Its been a while since we have written something here. Well, we too, just like you, have been waiting with bated breath to see what the face of the Kenyan cabinet in the coalition is going to look like. We have let it out now, though not in full. Concerning the cabinet, The Nation and The Standard have a comprehensive listing. What is really heartening is the 13 women that are in the cabinet, the most Kenya has ever seen. Kudos to the both sides for that.

Lets try looking forward, now that the past is being pushed aside for newer memories. Lets look at the face of the world and not forget Kenya. World Bank head Robert Zoellick warned that 100 million people in poor countries could be pushed deeper into poverty by spiraling prices. From Mexico to Pakistan, protests have turned violent. Rioters tore through three cities in the West African nation of Burkina Faso last month, burning government buildings and looting stores. Days later in Cameroon, a taxi drivers’ strike over fuel prices mutated into a massive protest about food prices, leaving around 20 people dead. Similar protests exploded in Senegal and Mauritania late last year. And Indian protesters burned hundreds of food-ration stores in West Bengal last October, accusing the owners of selling government-subsidized food on the lucrative black market.

You do not need a crystal ball to predict that Kenya is on its best way to join this list. There have been starving people in times where Kibaki’s government took the credit for being East Africa’s most successful economic-forward-moving government. But with Kenya’s economy shredded, still thousands of displaced persons and fields in Rift valley neglected during the violence, the country is facing a whole different situation, almost impossible to solve without foreign help. With 100 million people facing the crisis and only some hundred million from the international community, Kenya will find itself at the end of the list if they do not shape up now and let any bits of yields from the economic restructuring trickle down to the people. Otherwise, we are going to be one hungry, dissatisfied people very soon. I have my ears on the ground for anything they do towards this.

The BBC special report takes a look at the facts and figures behind rising food prices across the globe.

With Kenya’s wheat and maize production severely tampered with due to the unrest, one can be sure that this is going to hit Kenya harder than the rest of the world. One thing though is for sure: At least 42 cabinet members are not in fear of being hungry. Kudos to your pockets, oh ye soon-to-be-hungry Kenyan taxpayers!

Berthold Brecht wrote: “However much you twist, whatever lies you tell, Food is the first thing, morals follow on.” and Bob Marley sang: “A hungry mob is an angry mob”. Haiti prooved them both right. It is time for action now, so Kenya will not turn into a Haiti like situation. While the post election violence slowed down when the political leaders saw their chances to get their share of power, a hungry mob cannot be called to order: In the Rift valley violence pangas, spears and bows were used, in the cattle fights up north, kalashnikovs were used instead. Do get going, our dear Leaders.

Background information on the political crisis in Kenya

Friday, 22. February 2008 von Jannek

Many articles in the Kenyan “blogosphere” (see chart below), local and international media have been written about the post-election crisis. The numbers reach into their thousands. This article tries to give an overview about good articles with background information on Kenya and the current political crisis. It is just a selection and we are sure that we may have missed many good ones. It is just the beginning and we will try to keep it updated, so if you see any good ones that would fit into this page, please use the comment function to add them.

(Topics in alphabetical order)

Constitution

The Draft Constitution of Kenya, known as the Boma’s draft, was adopted by the National Constitutional Conference on 15th of march 2004.

Economy
The potential impact of economic sanctions on the Kenyan government” takes a closer look at the Kenyan economy and delivers useful statistics and numbers.

The Reuter’s fact box gives an overview about the “Aid to Kenya”, the CIA fact book delivers more economic figures.

Eyes on the World Bank and Kibaki’s economy” takes a closer look at the economic program of Kibaki’s government and at the World Bank’s interest in Kenya.

Ethnic Violence

Antony Otieno Ong’ayo, a researcher at the Transnational Institute, Amsterdam, gives “An overview of the underlying factors” of “The Post-election Violence in Kenya” at Pambazuka News. It is detailed and gives a great historic overview as well .

Unearthing of the sources of tribal disagreements and ethno-politics in Kenya” takes a closer look at the historic background of tribalism in Kenya.

The US biased NGO Human Rights Watch published a report about the involvement of opposition politicians in the preparation of the Rift valley violence. “Kenya: Opposition Officials Helped Plan Rift Valley Violence” was published on January 24th 2008.

Health
The article “The effect of the Kenyan crisis on Kenya’s health system” tries to summarize the struggles to keep up the Kenyan health system in this time of crisis. It also refers to an article by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs IRIN “KENYA: Healthcare threatened by political crisis

International Medical Corps addresses the issue “Risk of Long-Term Food Insecurity and Malnutrition” in Kenya.

Land distribution

The Africa Policy Institute published a report by Horace Njuguna Gisemba named “The Lie of the land: Evictions and Kenya’s crisis”. It takes a closer look at the history of land distribution and ownership in the Rift valley and disputes the often heard argument of “land distribution” as the underlying cause for the killings. It is controversally discussed at the Kenya imagine.

Media

Reuter’s alertnet posted an article by Joanne Tomkinson called “MEDIAWATCH: Kenyan media inciting ethnic hatred” on Februray 7th 2008. It deals with the local radio stations promoting ethnic hatred.

Humanitarian news and analysis (IRIN) also writes about “Spreading the word of hate” .

John Barbieri, an independent reporter and the founder of the US Coalition for Peace with Truth and Justice in Kenya writes about the “The poverty of international journalism”.

Simiyu Barasa, a member of the Coalition of Concerned Kenyan Writers, wrote an essay on “War journalism: Kenya’s newest tourist attraction” on the kwani blog. Barasa picks up the concept of “peace journalism” by the Norwegian Scholar John Galtun and shows how the local media tries to use their influence to promote peace and fails due to an international “war journalism”. He gives examples how cameras create stories and that media attention is only drawn by violence. This is done by the very same media cooperation which thought it was their responsibility not to show any cruel pictures after 9/11 and during the Iraq war.

The Foreign Correspondents’ Association of East Africa (FCAEA) strongly condemned the violation of press freedoms and intimidation of journalists on January 19t.

Political Parties
The Mukoma Wa Ngugi analysis on the differences within the Orange Democratic Movement and the different political approaches by its leaders. “Understanding the Kenyan Opposition” brings to light the differences between the activist-intellectual left, the Moi-ist retrogressives, and the populists within the party.

Eyes on Kenyan Political Parties: A call for change” looks at the historic background of Kenya’s Parties and the lack of their political profiles.

In the publication “Political Succession in East Africa – In Search for a Limited Leadership” by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, Dr. Katumanga Musambayi wrote the chapter: “After the floods – The Rainbow: Contextualising NARC’s election victory – Lessons learnt and the challenges ahead”. It was published in 2006 and gives an overview about the prior election in 2002.

Power-sharing

The full text of the power-sharing deal was signed by Kibaki and Odinga on February 28th 2008.

Religion
Despite the fact that the different religious communities play an important role in Kenya's society, we have not found any deeper analysis on the role of the churches to promote peace and their role in finding a conflict solution.

United States of America

Here we are still looking for a good article, that analyses the change in the US policies towards the Kibaki government.

 

Our early analysis on the “The role of the US Department of State in the aftermath of Kenyan Election” sees a change in US policies as the results of a learning process due to the mistakes made in the 2005 Ethiopian election.

Patrick Mutahi asks the Question”What is America's stake in this?” and explains their interest according to their “war on terror” policies.

Women's rights
The “Women’s Memorandum to the Mediation Team” was published on Pambazuka News. It was written by the “Kenyan Women's Consultation Group on the Current Crisis in Kenya” a group of women from various backgrounds who met to discuss a solution to the crisis. Among other important points it stresses the importance of women participation in the finding of conflict solutions adhereing to United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325.

"Violence and women in Kenya" portraits the Kenyans Prof. Wangari Maathai, Dekha Ibrahim Abdi and Gladwell Otieno and takes a closer look at violence against female candidates in the pre-election period.

Again: If you know other background articles on the current situation in Kenya, please use the comment function or the "Contact Page" to add them. If you leave a comment you have the option to be notified for any further comments.

 

Habari ya leo – Today’s news from Kenya 01/26/2008

Saturday, 26. January 2008 von Jannek

ODM denies involvement in the violence

ODM officials object the Human Rights Watch report about the involvement of local ODM leaders in the Rift valley violence.

“ODM leadership Friday trashed the report and said that nothing could be further from the truth.

ODM leader Raila Odinga said all communities in the area were equally affected. “That evidence is only from one person. What happened was not premeditated but spontaneous as people reacted to the injustices they suffered after the elections. In addition, the violence could not have been planned because all the communities in the Rift Valley have suffered,” said Mr Odinga.

Separately, the party’s secretary-general, Prof Anyang’ Nyong’o, told a Press conference that it would be surprising if any human rights violations would be linked to the party. He also challenged the authors of the report to investigate violence in other areas such as the Nairobi slums and western Kenya and give their verdict.” (Nation)

We agree that there should be independent investigations about the violence in other parts of the country, but what ever will be found out there, it will not change nor justify what happened in the Rift Valley Region.

 

 

Kenyan Army is operating in Nakuru

According to the Eastern Standard, “thirty-Two people were killed in fresh flare-up in Nakuru and Molo. And Rift Valley’s capital was put on 7pm-6am curfew. Military officers in fatigues, and armed to the teeth, were brought out of the barracks to enforce law and order. Another 5,000 people were displaced in Nakuru and adjoining areas. In Nakuru town alone, 12 people were hacked to death or shot with bows and arrows in the Thursday night terror. This followed a serious fighting in Githima and Kwa Rhonda estates next to the sprawling Kaptembwo slums. Of the 20 killed in Molo, 18 were shot with poisoned arrows.

Nakuru DC Mr Andrew Wanyagah led a security team backed by military personnel from Lanet barracks, as he toured Kaptembwa slums calling for peace.

“This problem has been fuelled by rumours circulating among local communities. We have received reports that members of the Mungiki gang and armed militiamen have been transported to the town to cause mayhem,” he said.

Following the violence, angry youths barricaded all roads leading in and out of Nakuru town for the better part of the day as police made frantic efforts to clear the highway.”

Nakuru residents made up most of the new arrivals at the town’s showground camp set up for people fleeing post-election violence in neighbouring districts, according to a local aid official. The camp holds 5,900 people, according to coordinator Jesse Njoroge who said most of the 696 new arrivals were from Nakuru itself. (Kenvironnews)

The use of military forces is a new development. It might be influenced by the presence of the international mediators. With the international Community watching, the government has to show that it can provide security

Koffi Annan termed the violence “gross and systematic human rights abuses” on a visit to western Kenya, where scores more people were killed in the flashpoint Rift Valley province.

No consequences for Colin Bruce from the World Bank

Following up on one of our previous articles, it seems that the World Bank still trust in Colin Bruce as their local representative. He still is in power and can influence the World Bank’s policy towards the Kenyan government. Colin Bruce, a tenant of Kibaki, sent a memo to the World Bank, suggesting that his Landlord had won a “fair” election.

Considering how much Paul Wolfowitz had to do to get kicked out, it is no surprise.

Sport
With the African Cup of Nations football fever, we cannot fail to have our eyes on the Kenyan football scene. East African Standard reports that suspended Kenya Football Referees Association (KFRA) chairman Wycliff Ogutu says he will appeal against the action.

Ogutu was among three officials suspended by Fifa’s ethics committee for five years after being found guilty of engaging in corrupt activities.

 

The potential impact of economic sanctions on the Kenyan government

Tuesday, 22. January 2008 von flikawa

There has been a lot of speculation how much the Kibaki government can be influenced by economic or aid sanctions.

Reuters Facts Box reports :

An EU official said on Monday the 27-nation bloc, one of Kenya’s top donors, was considering suspending all aid and imposing sanctions if mediation efforts to resolve the crisis failed. The EU provided 290 million Euro ($430 million) in aid to Kenya between 2002 and 2007. A further 383 million Euro are planned for 2008-2013. A big percentage of this goes to direct budgetary aid.

USAID is supporting more than $300 million in development activities in Kenya, including education, health, economic growth, democracy and governance, and peace and security programs.

In June 2007 the World Bank approved a credit of $80 million for Kenya to expand the fight against HIV/AIDS.

As of September 2007, the World Bank’s portfolio in Kenya consisted of 16 active operations with a total commitment of $919 million.

Lets take a further look into complementary facts:

According to the CIA World Fact Book, Kenya’s revenues as of 2007 were $4.448 billion and the Expenditures $5.3777 billion, including capital expenditures. This leaves a glaring deficit of almost a billion US Dollars. How does Kenya go about patching this? One can include the direct budgetary support by the EU. However, from the figures above, it is not sufficient to cover the deficit.

According to the 2007 budget speech,

The overall budget deficit (including grants) in 2007/08 would be KShs.109.8 billion, equivalent to 5.3% of GDP. Overall expenditures in 2007/08, excluding amortization payments and restructuring costs, will amount to Ksh.580.4 billion, about 28.2% of GDP, up from KShs.427.6 billion or 23.4 percent of GDP in 2006/07.

The government based their calculations on a number of factors. They predicted that:

  1. in line with Government policy, there would be a shift of resources from recurrent to capital expenditures and core-poverty programs

  2. the share of recurrent expenditure was projected to decline sharply from the level of 2006/07, while domestically financed capital expenditures were planned to increase from Ksh.54.7 billion to KSh.85.1 billion or from 3.0% of GDP to 4.1% of GDP.

  3. Net external financing amounting to KShs.39.8 billion or 1.9% of GDP, was expected to cover part of this budget deficit

  4. KShs.70 billion or 3.4% of GDP, to be financed through domestic borrowing (Kshs.34 billion) and net privatization receipts of about KShs.36 billion.

  5. Inflation remaining under control

However not to be ignored is the fact (stated in the budgetary report) that this structure above was based on and set against the background of the medium-term macro-fiscal framework and a continuation of the recent strong economic performance, with real GDP expected to increase by 6.5- 7.0% in 2007/08, largely propelled by continued strong performance across all sectors.

With a review of the post-election situation and the loss of revenue that Kenya has undergone and is continuing to undergo, a retardation and even decline of economic growth, one can see an eventuality of a total collapse of the budget. Point five above would even bite more if the sanctions threatened by the EU are carried out. The government is heavily reliant on the world bank and its projects/ programmes. We do not know how far the World Bank would go to carry out these sanctions in review of their seeming tolerance of the government.

The fear that China would fill the gap without preliminary conditions is in our view over-rated. China’s interest in Africa so far has been hunger for natural resources. Looking again into the CIA Fact Book Kenya’s lack of natural resources stand out. And the little that Kenya has, seems to be already under China’s control: In what the East African called cynically a “an unprecedented act of generosity”, the government of Kenya gave the state-owned National Oil Corporation of China – CNOOC – exclusive rights to its hotly contested areas where oil might be found.

If a co-ordinated freeze aid to Kenya campaign is carried out by all donors in the face of the turmoil and violence, I believe the government and opposition will shape up and sit with the mediators to bring an end to the stale-mate that has cost many a Kenyan lives. It is the most effective way and we urge a consideration of this.

Eyes on the World Bank and Kibaki’s economy

Sunday, 13. January 2008 von Jannek

 

When it comes to the root of all evil in Africa, specialist in conspiracy theories, left wing crowds, Marxists, Anti-colonialists, development experts, Bob Geldorf, Bono, Ngugi wa Thiong’o and basically everyone else has one institution in mind: The World Bank.

And if the World Bank was aiming to demolish the rest of credibility they have, they were quite successful in doing so in Kenya. A confidential memo from the World Bank’s Kenya office that supports President Mwai Kibaki’s claim of victory in the country’s disputed elections plunged the Washington-based lender into controversy on Wednesday.

The East-African Standard gave the report as follows:

"World Bank Country Director, Mr Colin Bruce, was a man on the spot as a confidential memo he authored supporting President Kibaki’s re-election kicked off controversy in Nairobi and Washington.

The leaked January 8 briefing note, originating from the World Bank Kenya office, lays out the case for accepting Kibaki’s victory on the basis of "oral briefings and documents from senior UNDP officials" who "monitored the overall electoral process".

The memo, quoted in a story by the Wednesday issue of The Financial Times claims "the considered view of the UN is that the ECK announcement of a Kibaki win was correct".

However, Michele Montas, a spokeswoman for the UN Secretary-General, denied that the UN had adopted that position.

 

UNDP officials said they had neither monitored the elections nor provided any assessment suggesting a Kibaki victory."

William Wallis, Michael Holman and Krishna Guha summarize the incident as follows:
Mr Bruce’s memo has created discomfort among some senior World Bank staff who fear the bank’s analysis of the Kenyan crisis has been influenced by too close a relationship with Mr Kibaki. Mr Bruce, from Guyana, lives in a house owned by the Kibaki family. The bank said the tenancy was inherited from its previous country representative and was chosen on security grounds.

The World Bank has been criticised for maintaining its large development programme in Kenya in spite of evidence of high-level corruption in Mr Kibaki’s government. The bank says its projects are vital for the country’s poor.”

Former Western Mail journalist Sarah Elderkin yesterday said the following of her unique involvement in the dramatic political events of Kenya that have plunged the country into chaos.

“We have had a poor experience with Mr Kofuor – poor in that he was unable to make any headway at all with self-declared president Mwai Kibaki. “I attended meetings between Kofuor and our Orange Democratic Movement Party (ODM) leaders, and so am privy to what happened.

“A document to facilitate mediation had been drawn up at the initiative of Dr Collins Bruce, country director of the World Bank in Kenya, who is well known as a personal friend of Kibaki’s.

“ODM had heard that Kibaki was broadly in agreement with the document and was ready to sign. Then it was suggested by ODM that, because Kofuor was coming, the document be signed publicly and witnessed by the signatures of Kofuor, the UK and US ambassadors and the EU representative.

“After several hours’ final consultation with ODM leaders, Kofuor went off to State House to take the document to Kibaki.

“To Kofuor’s intense embarrassment, Kibaki said he had never heard of the document. He disclaimed all knowledge of Dr Bruce and refused to sign anything. Kibaki had been ready to sign a document he’d later ignore, but signing with international witnesses was a different story.”

Donaldson, a spokesman of WB's Washington headquarters, clarified to Financial Times the memo's intention was to ensure the bank staff were more efficient in presenting the news.

The World Bank's Kenyan loan portfolio is at least $1 billion. It has been criticized for extending loans despite charges of high-level corruption against the Kibaki administration.

The close connection between the World Bank in Washington under the leadership of Robert Zoellick (formerly United States Deputy Secretary of State) to the US government would explain their early acknowledgement of Kibaki by the US State Department. One might assume how great the influence of the World Bank is.

Minister of finance Amos Kimunya exchanges an agreement with Mr. Colin Bruce, the World Bank Country Director

(more...)

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