Thursday, November 29, 2007

Raila’s economy doesn’t add up

They say facts should not get in the way of juicy political promises. That seems to be the case with Raila Odinga’s economic model for Kenya. He has promised to use 10% of the GDP on infrastructure, send 60% of the national revenue back to the Majimbo (Provinces) and increase government expenditure on social programs. On top of that he will not increase taxes and will pay government employees more. All this seems to work in the political world but cannot work in a real economy.

GDP is simply a sum of Consumer spending, Government expenditure, Investment, and Net Export. Kenya’s GDP is about $41.4 billion with government expenditure standing at about $5 billion. That makes government spending about 12% of the GDP. From this 12%, Raila wants to spend 10% on infrastructure. That leaves Raila with 2% of the GDP to spend on Health, Education, National Defense, and so on. I wonder how Raila will manage to split this 2% between free secondary education, universal healthcare and other social programs.

We must also ask ourselves how Raila’s ambitious economy will work when the central government will be left with 40% of national revenue after sending 60% to regional governments. The Raila administration will have to work with about $1.7 billion since our national revenue stands at about $4.7 billion.

In this season of promises, we have to take promises with a pinch of salt. It is imperative that we go through these promises with a fine comb check for practicality. It is vital that our leaders strike a balance between populism and pragmatism. I can promise you the moon; the problem is how I deliver it.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Why ODM's Majimbo Propaganda Backfired

Here is my shorter version of the rant below as edited by the Standard

And here is the full version:

Raila Odinga has historically never favored Majimbo. His father –Jaramogi Oginga Odinga- was opposed to Majimbo. Until 3 weeks ago, Majimbo was a word that never featured in ODM's vision for Kenya. Why ODM chose to employ the Majimbo government in their campaign is puzzling to many. One will not be wrong to conclude that Majimbo is ODM's Division for Kenya. Recent Steadman polls show that a significant majority of Kenyans oppose Majimbo.

Those who have keenly watched the ODM campaign unfold will agree with me that everything ODM has said has ended up with Kikuyus shortchanging other Kenyans. ODM has successfully created an image of a Central Province where residents are swimming in money; where roads and footpaths are paved; where the local dispensary is more equipped that Kenyatta National Hospital and bla bla bla. That is far from the truth.

ODM's "wining" line has been turning the rest of Kenyans against the Kikuyu community.

ODM's opinion on economic growth is that only Central Kenya is benefiting while the rest of the country languishes in poverty. ODM has completely divorced poverty from the disparities in income between the very rich Kenyans and the very poor Kenyans. The reality is that it is the rich employers like Raila Odinga and others who are raking in tons of money while their employees still earn a minimum wage. Our ODM MPs have nothing to say about their close to sh 1million a month pay (nearly tax-free) they earn in comparison to the sh 4,000 a month minimum wage "enjoyed" by a majority of Kenyans.

After successfully "identifying" the Kikuyu community the "root cause of poverty in Kenya," the ODM propaganda team came up with Majimbo as the solution. Majimbo was supposed to bring in 2 major gains to ODM. First, it could have isolated the Kikuyu further and second, it could have locked in the Rift Valley and Coast Province votes. The problem is that the ODM propaganda team was in the 1980s and 1962 mode.

They picked the term Majimbo to further their segregationist agenda because the term is akin to what the swastika means to the Jews. Majimbo as we know it in Kenya has been used as an excuse to drive out "foreigners" from their land.

ODM's linkman in Southern Rift, William Ole Ntimama is one of the well known proponents of Majimbo. He is well known for his role in tribal clashes and fiery segregationist statements.

Here is a quote from the Nation:

But Mr Nitmama admitted that he insulted the Kikuyu on the floor of Parliament after the Finance magazine wrote a derogatory story on the Maasai, saying that they would be obliterated from the face of the earth.

He said that to even the scores, he stood up in Parliament and described the Kikuyu as a filthy community with protruding stomachs, red teeth, and jigger infested feet.

"I told them that because of their arrogance, they will be cut down to size as it happened to the Ibos of Nigeria."

The Nation (Thursday, April 15, 1999)

It is hard for Kenyans to trust people like Ntimama's new version of Majimbo as preached in the ODM gospel. In 1992 and 1997, Ntimama and others led a Majimbo campaign in Rift Valley and Coast province. These campaigns were followed by tribal clashes. The same calls are being made and evictions have started in Molo and Sondu. Communities like Kisiis and Kikuyus who are viewed as being against Majimbo are now being evicted for their land.

Human Rights Watch:

Akiwumi Ethnic Clashes Inquiry

It is a shame that leaders who should know better are deliberately and irresponsibly using populism to push for an idea that has failed in the past because of the hate and violence that is associated with it.

Polls have shown that Kenyans don't support the ethnic segregation suggested by Majimboists. Constituency Development Fund (CDF) and Local Authorities Transfer Fund (LATF) have been vehicles of economic devolution and should be strengthened and closely monitored to make sure that the money reaching the village is used to improve living standards.

Majimbo as a Trojan horse for tribal segregation is not the way to go. Kenya belong to all of us; every single inch of it.


I will like to dedicate this poem to a friend of mine who is a high ranking campaigner of ODM. His family experienced clashes in 1992 and 1998 because they were "foreigners" in Rift Valley. Today he sees nothing wrong in what is going on in Molo and Sondu because his tribe is in good political books with the tribalists fanning the tribal flames.

First They Came for the Jews

First they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the Communists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for me
and there was no one leftto speak out for me.
Pastor Martin Niemöller

I hope the poem will make sense to my friend. Some issues should transcend who we support in politics.