Bretton Woods to the rescue? Not again!

Posted in If I was... on February 27, 2018 by Kyama

Classical Economics, Capitalism and Kenya: There are three key internal actors in Kenya’s present economics debate. The Banks, the Regulatory framework, and Wanjiku. By regulatory framework, I include here the Central Bank along with the Parliamentary mechanisms of control. Classical economists taught us that if you operate everything like a market, a free one, then the market forces will regulate the economy – and we will live in capitalist bliss. Here everyone’s labor is rewarded according to the value they generate and the market’s demand for it. In other wards, let everyone do what they want to do, and the market will decide. The best of the lot will make money, the worst of the lot will fizzle and die – in an epic Darwinian battle. Competition will keep the prices down so long as there is enough of what people want.
Keynes and the Real World of Money: After the Great Depression in the largest capitalist economies, an observant and intellectually honest John Keynes noticed that supply and demand were at times erratic in their behaviour, in a macro-economic scale. The market wasn’t perfect. It never was. He suggested that monitoring and careful monetary and fiscal control could help stabilise the erratic economy to avert national or global crises. Large Western economies today are led by, and largely subscribe to similar wisdom of Keynesian economists. Interest caps plus some of the monetary and fiscal policies emerge, in part, from this thinking. These are the work of the regulatory framework, whose most far reaching, and controversial event in Kenya in the last 3 years was to cap interest rates. Omni_Moun_Washington_Resort_Bretton_Woods_Overview_Left
Banks do not like regulation. Largely because in a free market they can charge whatever they would like, in order to achieve a profit. This is especially if they are able to wilfully or inadvertently act like an oligarchy [a greedy monopoly of not one but a few players]. Their main goal is often opposed to that of the regulators. Regulators want to stabilise the economy, and in some instances protect the poor and weak [ read individuals and SME companies]. Banks want to make money. A noble objective gained usually at the cost of the marginalized.
The Common Woman and Man: Wanjiku is the third major player in the economy. She represents the majority of the population from all over the nation that has no money, and thus no real economic power. All she wants to do is survive. When there is economic instability, inflation goes up and Wanjiku suffers. When [through regulation] the economy is subdued but predictable, she weathers the storm to live, grateful for another day. As an aside, my untested thesis is that Kenya survived the extended electioneering period of 2017 largely because of this regulatory act. Without it, even more businesses would have closed, inflation sky rocketed and only God knows what we would be staring at now. Economic crisis is a security risk.
In a macro scale, only the regulator can help Wanjiku. Unless of course she goes to the street and fights both the regulator and the banks using stones, guns or her vote. The first two options produce two kinds of banana republics. The last option is more unlikely when the regulator and the banks have a choke-hold on Wanjiku, and both their hands are in her almost empty purse. The Bank’s role is to facilitate the economy while eating off it, but its goal is often not to help Wanjiku.
Enter IMF: The International Monetary Fund is a major player from the outside. They are a bank that essentially lends to countries to facilitate development work. The rationale for their existence since world war two is to humanely mitigate global crises by assisting ‘selected democracies.’ [Remember economic crisis is a security problem] Like other banks, they justify their existence by making money in the process. IMF tries to control many things globally towards their cause – some of those things include perceptions – which any businessman or economist would know means a lot. Poor perception of an economy can destroy it. IMF recently with held Kenya’s access to a fund thereby influencing perception. Access to this fund is now predicated on the change of a law to remove the interest cap.bretton-woods-cryptocurrency-696x472
Interest Capping: The Banking Act, Banking (Amendment) Bill 2015 pegged the Bank’s interest rates to no more than 4 percentage points above the CBK rate. This means that since 2016 banks have only 4% plus their ingenuity to work with in order to be financially viable. Banks have struggled, shutting branches, laying off workers and issuing profit warnings. That has been hard for many, especially the Bank workers for whom my heart goes out. I am still yet to hear of a bank that actually closed because of the Act. They found a way to survive!

The net effect of removing that interest cap, is that small business just managing to pay debt will be pushed to the brink. Banks will lend only to those with secure businesses, and who have deep enough pockets, or prior investments that can pay. Banks can make more off those who can pay, and auction off those who can’t. Small and fledgling businesses will collapse, jobs will be lost, inflation will rise and what is a hard economic space will be even harder. Wanjiku will suffer even more than she has already.
We saw this kind of assistance-with-strings-attached help in the SAP era of the 1990s. It didn’t work and the World Bank has a pile of reports to that effect. [Doubting me, read THIS] The entire country [together with other nations] was pushed to the brink, and their poor suffered terribly. I am not ready for a similar Bretton-Woods rescue.
What to do? I would say leave the interest rate cap where it is for now, and lets wait for a reason other than the IMF to change it. I think Kenya’s economy will do just fine. In any case, even Bretton Woods knows that things work better when people arrive at their own decisions. [Again if you doubt me check THIS]. This was our own decision lets stick with it and change it when we need to on our own terms.

After all, the US economy has been going strong with minimal interest changes policed by hawk-eyed managers, regulators, and very interested cliques of Keynesian economists. Granted, its a larger economy but the principles are the same, and the human pain from crises cuts us all in the same way. If they don’t predicate their economy on it, why should we then prejudice Wanjiku by going classical now? Wouldn’t it be a moral failure to uphold the desires of powerful economic players at the expense of those who carry the economy on their breaking backs, are seldom acknowledged, and are pushed further to the margins by those they look up to?

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Can Kenya become a nation, or melt: A Response

Posted in If I was... on December 28, 2017 by Kyama

This article is a response to Rev. Canon Francis Omondi’s very insightful article which you can find here: Can Kenya become a nation, or melt into an apocalypse?

Thank you Canon for your article. I appreciate the balanced approach as you point out to the issues. I also resonate with the allusion/illustration/teaching from Joseph in Genesis.
What are missing, in my view, are some practical next-steps. You are right we’ve all been in danger of oversimplification. Metanoeo is a heart matter, but it also is accompanied by practical things – I will pay back four-fold what I took, I will break the alabaster jar at Jesus feet, I will get baptised…

What does repentance look like for Jubilee, NASA, even those of us in the church… (As I speak to you I’m also speaking to myself)

Could it be that –
Jubilee
– for the sake of the nation, needs to admit that unfair legal and inordinate law-enforcement means have been used to entrench their position in power.
– needs to step beyond the rhetoric and actually invite the opposition to the table, first to listen.
– in the same way they submitted themselves to the court in the August election Supreme Court Decision, needs to submit themselves to a process of dialogue mediated by others to find a solution?

NASA
– for the sake of the nation needs to admit their role in the pursuit of justice that has had a needless human, property and economic cost.
– needs to show a greater commitment to truth, than to power by inviting Jubilee to the table to air their views
– model to the nation that real opposition is about the nation, not about acquisition of power. A place to start is to outline what the issues are, and show a consistent commitment to pursuing truth and change in these issues.

That neither Jubilee nor NASA were existent 15 years ago, is testimony that this nation will outlive the transience of political outfits. I have stated elsewhere that our democracy as envisaged by the 2010 constitution leaves much to be desired in achieving justice and equity. Our system dictates that the more votes one has the more justice and equity there should be. For good [and ill] our current ethnic and economic realities affect the numbers, leaving the unhappy situation we find ourselves in. There will be a large group with the votes, and another with less – whichever way it goes. Also, we have not yet learnt how to consistently turn a legitimate [or illegitimate] loss into a firm moral position to build a credible case for upsetting the status quo. Is it time to revisit the constitution with this in mind? Is it time to start talking about a different kind of democracy – a negotiated democracy?

Jubilee have the mandate as it stands now. I believe that there is much more they could [must] do to demonstrate that they can carry that mandate for the sake of the nation. I would accept an admission, for example, that the effort to change the electoral law [which needs changing…] was ill timed. Going forward the onus is on Jubilee to be the ‘bigger man’ to show an effort to be national. That effort begins with the President. Let it be that concrete overtures were made but there was no response.
It is disappointing though to see the many opportunities lost by NASA to keep us focussed on the main things. Our institutions need close scrutiny, and in some cases total overhaul. The debate on secession and swearing in, while promising short lived supporter satisfaction and forcing the issues, serves more to distract from the real issues. Most occasions to present a morally strong argument to strengthen institutions for the future of the nation, seems to have been blown in the wind by strong arm tactics that seem to echo what those in power are already doing.

I finish with a thought from 1 Sam 23-24. David was being pursued by Saul and escaped in the cave of Adullam. It so happened that Saul needed to relieve himself and, as fate would have it, went to that same cave. This presented David with a once in a life time chance to kill Saul, avenging his persecution and at the same time projecting him to the God given position of power.
David did not kill Saul then, to the chagrin of his elite battalion.
David opted to stand on a higher moral ground, choosing to respect God’s constituted law and order for the day. His argument hardly made sense to his battle hardened aides. However, in that choice David sacrificed expediency for irreproachability – which would serve him well in his eventual ascendancy. Saul literally self destructed paving the way for the Israel’s golden age under David’s reign.
We are in an interesting season where in their own ways, for historical and political reasons, both NASA and Jubilee have a legitimate claim to being David. In this double enactment, the dual election season is our grotto in Adullam. What they do in this cavern will be important for their long term political survival. In many democratic moments the value of morality, ethics, constitutionality and other God instituted forms of order tend to be underplayed, assuming sole human agency. This moment is not much different. What happens in Adullam will be important for David’s political future, assuming as I do, that God has a say in it.

Presidential Election Petition: What’s a Christian Response

Posted in If I was... on September 3, 2017 by Kyama

This has been a busy, tension filled week. We have become an IT expert nation, plus we now know a little more Latin than we did before – courtesy of our lawyers.

The ruling came out on Friday – the Presidential election was nullified. With it came mixed reactions. Some of us are elated, others are disappointed, still others are concerned about the future. The stock exchange reacted, people celebrated, Facebook posts were vindicated, others were vilified.

In the midst of these mixed reactions, I have been wondering what my Christian response should be. The supreme court ruling has many effects on us. It showed that the judiciary can make bold decisions for the sake of justice. IEBC is now under pressure to deliver a second election in two months. The winning side, did not win. The other side, has an opportunity to have another go.

What then should my response as a Christian be?

As I thought and prayed about it, I found a passage in Micah 6:8. Incidentally, it is found within a dialogue which is set up like a court case, with a petitioner, and a respondent. God is the petitioner holding Israel, the respondent, accountable to their behaviour towards him. The prophet Micah, is in this instance, Amicus Dei, the friend of God. He concludes that “court” section by advising Israel, the respondent. This is what he says –

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8

Justice: God is interested in Justice. The thing is Justice is not always convenient. When we pray for justice, what this ruling reminds me that there are many ways in which God may respond. Justice will come at a cost. Our role is to seek obedience by applying justice in our spheres of influence.

Mercy: God is not obligated to give a second chance. When he gives that second chance it is an act of mercy. We have a second chance as a nation to do elections properly. We have a second chance to exercise love, patience, concern as a nation in the process of an election. This is an act of mercy, for which we need to be grateful. It also is a chance for us as Christians to redo what we did right, and to correct what we did wrong. Let us be grateful for that act of mercy, and be good stewards of it.

Humility: Humility is required of us, not just to each other, on whatever side of the divide, but we need to be humble before God. Humility does not mean silence, or acquiescence to injustice. Humility does not mean anything goes. Humility means that we are all under God’s sovereign power and we must act in obedience first to him, before anyone else. Over the next 60 days and beyond, how will you live out your life humbly before God, being a godly citizen.

What to do? Social media is the platform of choice for many of us to exercise our opinion. It is our place of influence, as a literate community. I challenge you to evaluate your communication on WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter against these three values. When you express yourself, are you advocating justice, affirming mercy and demonstrating humility. The next two months will be critical – this is where we must be salt and light for the sake of the Nation God has given us.

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8

Presidential Election Petition: What’s a Christian Response

Posted in If I was... on September 2, 2017 by Kyama

This has been a busy, tension filled week. We have become an IT expert nation, plus we now know a little more Latin than we did before – courtesy of our lawyers.

The ruling came out on Friday – the Presidential election was nullified. With it came mixed reactions. Some of us are elated, others are disappointed, still others are concerned about the future. The stock exchange reacted, people celebrated, Facebook posts were vindicated, others were vilified.

In the midst of these mixed reactions, I have been wondering what my Christian response should be. The supreme court ruling has many effects on us. It showed that the judiciary can make bold decisions for the sake of justice. IEBC is now under pressure to deliver a second election in two months. The winning side, did not win. The other side, has an opportunity to have another go.

What then should my response as a Christian be?

As I thought and prayed about it, I found a passage in Micah 6:8. Incidentally, it is found within a dialogue which is set up like a court case, with a petitioner, and a respondent. God is the petitioner holding Israel, the respondent, accountable to their behaviour towards him. The prophet Micah, is in this instance, Amicus Dei, the friend of God. He concludes that “court” section by advising Israel, the respondent. This is what he says –

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8

Justice: God is interested in Justice. The thing is Justice is not always convenient. When we pray for justice, what this ruling reminds me that there are many ways in which God may respond. Justice will come at a cost. Our role is to seek obedience by applying justice in our spheres of influence.

Mercy: God is not obligated to give a second chance. When he gives that second chance it is an act of mercy. We have a second chance as a nation to do elections properly. We have a second chance to exercise love, patience, concern as a nation in the process of an election. This is an act of mercy, for which we need to be grateful. It also is a chance for us as Christians to redo what we did right, and to correct what we did wrong. Let us be grateful for that act of mercy, and be good stewards of it.

Humility: Humility is required of us, not just to each other, on whatever side of the divide, but we need to be humble before God. Humility does not mean silence, or acquiescence to injustice. Humility does not mean anything goes. Humility means that we are all under God’s sovereign power and we must act in obedience first to him, before anyone else. Over the next 60 days and beyond, how will you live out your life humbly before God, being a godly citizen.

What to do? Social media is the platform of choice for many of us to exercise our opinion. It is our place of influence, as a literate community. I challenge you to evaluate your communication on WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter against these three values. When you express yourself, are you advocating justice, affirming mercy and demonstrating humility. The next two months will be critical – this is where we must be salt and light for the sake of the Nation God has given us.

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8

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Why should Christians participate in Politics?

Posted in If I was... on August 8, 2016 by Kyama

Should they? Political leaders in Kenya famously told Christian leaders to stick to their Christian sphere and not interfere with politics. Are the two mutually exclusive? Does Christianity have anything to do with politics and political leaders? If politics is, a “dirty game” should Christians have anything to do with it? The separation of church and state has been a topic for constant philosophical debate dating back over a century. If the church and state should be separate, what business do Christians have voting? What authority, if any, do church leaders have to comment on political issues of a nation such as Kenya?

I believe the Christian in the African context has a God-given mandate to actively participate in the political life of their country. Christians have a role to play in every sector of leadership and governance living out their faith in Christ as they do so. Here is a short summary of my reason why.

Church and stateA Biblical Mandate: God has invited His people to extend his influence over the world. The physical, social, political, economic, and cultural aspects of our world suffer the effects of sin. This sin is evident in the brokenness we see in many aspects of human society. (Romans 8:19-22) This brokenness is addressed when God’s people live out their mandate. (Romans 8:19) This mandate covers all areas of human life including politics and governance. It is a continuous effort that began at the fall of man. (Genesis 3) It stepped up to a higher level when Jesus became God incarnate, teaching about the Father’s Kingdom. He then left his followers to carry on the work with the help of the Holy Spirit. That work will conclude when He comes back at the end of time. (Revelation 11:15) Throughout the Bible we can see evidence of this mandate among God’s people.

In the Beginning… The mandate for God’s people began in Genesis where God invited his people to “be fruitful and increase; fill the earth subdue it.” (Genesis 1:28) God invited Adam to exercise delegated authority over His creation. (Genesis 1:28) This call was repeated and extended when man got the authority name all creation, influencing the identity of the things that God created. (Genesis 2:19-20) In this way God’s people use their delegated authority from God to become agents of growth and even influence identity in God’s world. This mandate continues throughout God’s word. It is a foundational principle that governs our understanding of where Christians get the authority to participate in politics, governance, and leadership generally.

What about the Law? In the books of the law, the nation of Israel was presented as an initial model of God’s relationship with his people. Here, God presented an elaborate structure of what it means to live as a society under God’s rulership in that context. God gave a framework that touched all aspects of Israel’s life providing tangible examples of how God’s values and justice apply in human society. The rules covered most of the areas of Israelite personal and public life. For example, the life and priorities of a King in Israel were outlined in the law. (Leviticus 17:14-20) Many justice and legal systems in the world today, including the Kenyan one, can trace their structure, and origins to this law. Mostly, legal systems exisbible-law-gavelt to provide reasonable order and wholeness to human society. This is a God instituted value often called the “Shalom.” Though human legal and political structures have evidence of human brokenness, we still have a duty as Christians to establish them, reshape them, and serve under them, exerting God’s values as we do so.

Stories of Leaders and a Nation: The extensive narrative section of the leaders and prophets provide stories of the, often erratic, relationship God had with His people. The prophets arose, filled by the Holy Spirit, to speak the mind of God to generations of His people. Their voice arose both when the people did the right thing, or did wrong. In the same way,a Kingdom perspective gives Christians, and especially their religious leaders, the unique role of speaking the mind of God to their generation. In doing this they inform, remind, and reinforce God’s values in our political context. The following are some examples we find in scripture.

Of Kings and Prophets: Moses and Aaron demonstrated how leaders strive to depend on God as they gave direction in a season of terrible oppression in Egypt. Their journey documents what leadership looked like for them in a time of transition great uncertainty in the desert. (Exodus) Samuel directly participated in the selection and the inauguration of leaders at the early stages of Israel’s monarchy. (1 Samuel 8) His warning about the potential perils of earthly authority were pertinent at the time and remain relevant for reflection today. (1 Samuel 8:10-22) Nathan became God’s voice pricking King David’s conscience and explaining the consequences of his moral failure on his own family and the fledgling Kingdom. (2 Samuel 11-12) Ezekiel issued a challenge for God’s people to become the moral conscience of the society. He modelled this challenge in his own life as he explained his role as the watchman for the nation. (Ezekiel 33:1-20) This prophetic role, and the attendant responsibilities are as relevant today as they were then.

Amos taught that complacency had no place among religious leaders in the face of societal injustice. (Amos 5:18-27) Amos was vehement in his condemnation against systemic injustice in the society at the time. (Amos 5:1-17) When eventually Israel went into exile, Jeremiah gave direction to God’s people, encouraging them to exert positive influence and maintain their hope even under a potentially oppressive regime. (Jeremiah 29)

daniel_den_lionsNormal People, Extraordinary Influence: Others in the Bible became models for modern Christians through the lives they lived in exile, or under oppressive regimes. They were otherwise ordinary people who stepped into opportune moments in time, exerting God’s influence in making extraordinary decisions. Daniel became a civil servant, an agent of God’s influence through multiple unbelieving regimes in foreign lands. Esther was a unique example of influence that she exerted behind the scenes to ensure God’s purposes for His people prevailed. Deborah and Jael, in the book of Judges, overcame gender stereotyping to fill a glaring gap in national leadership at a critical time in Israel’s life. Each of these, and other Biblical role models, carried out their mission often at great personal cost, and despite their human weaknesses. Their lives and subsequent achievements are attributed to God’s influence over human affairs through the obedience of His servants. In the same way, God’s people acting in obedience to His Word can exert God’s influence over human affairs.

Jesus and Politics: Jesus Christ, God incarnate, provides the most comprehensive understanding for us of what a Kingdom perspective entails for God’s people. He taught that he did not come to abolish the law but to fulfil it. (Matthew 5:17) This statement comes with reference to His call to establish God’s Kingdom. (Matthew 5:19) His mission was to preach about the Kingdom of God, modelling its values with his own life. He instructed his followers to preach this Kingdom as well. (Matthew 10) In his life and ministry Jesus also spoke boldly and prophetically to the authorities of the day challenging the status quo. (Matthew 23) He then sent the Holy Spirit to teach, and empower the believer to be a witness to this Kingdom. (Matthew 23) Jesus had an expectation that his followers would do these same things and even more in their lives as His witnesses, and agents of God’s Kingdom. (John 14:12-14) Christians have the power Holy Spirit and Christ’s intercessory backing to effect God’s influence on earth through prayer and bold action.

Activ(ist) Apostles: We can see the dual effect of prayer and bold action in the apostles and the early Christians. In the book of Acts, we can see Paul-Silas-Jailerhow the Apostles became agents of God’s Kingdom as they influenced the world of their day. The Apostles began by living out God’s values within their community modelling God’s Kingdom to that society. (Acts 2:42-47, 4:32-37) Their lives demonstrating God’s love, sharing and community were a contrast to the society at the time. This was a powerful witness in and of itself. The Holy Spirit in some instances led the believers to power encounters that were noted by the authorities. Two notable examples are Peter’s miraculous healing acts that captured the attention of the authorities, and Paul’s dramatic prison release. (Acts 4:16, Acts 16:25-34) Peter was instrumental in the conversion of Cornelius, a military and political leader of his day. (Acts 10) Using different strategies, energized by the Holy Spirit, Paul, and his companions challenged the institutionalized idolatry of Ephesus, and the pagan philosophies in Athens. (Acts 19, 17:16-34) Like the Old Testament prophets, the Apostles’ lives were not without challenges. The authorities persecuted them for their beliefs. This was especially because of the way their Kingdom values upset the status quo. (Acts 4,7, 19) Still, they remained steadfast in being Christians implementing God’s Kingdom on earth. This same mandate to exert God’s influence in society remains in force over Christians today. God the Father has given his people the mandate to exert His influence over the earth. This mandate extends beyond the personal spiritual arena, into all the structures of human life. These include politics, governance, and leadership.

So should I vote, or become a politician (instead)? With this understanding of their mandate, Christians should vote. They do so with their Christian perspective, with their conscience, while exercising their responsibility to be agents of God’s influence on earth. Their voting choices must come out of their understanding of God’s values. In this way, by voting, Christians affirm the values they believe in. They exercise their minds, finding the right leader who best fits and represents God’s Kingdom values. Their vote is thus a personal duty of obedience. The result of the vote is outside the dictates of the individual, but within the realm of the omniscient and omnipotent God.

Similarly, Christians with the passion, call, qualifications and the networks also should go for electChristians in Politicsive office. They will work within the government structures to evaluate, enact, and propagate legal and governance structures that ensure God’s values of justice and equity for all. The same applies to civil servants who, like Daniel, should use their opportunity to serve in these structures to bring about God’s Kingdom values. Both politicians and civil servants have a high call to create structures and live such lives that will be a testimony to both believers and non believers of God’s power, righteousness, and justice. At the same time, they will be watchmen standing guard against God’s retribution against nations that harbour structural and systemic injustice.

Christian debate in Government? Opposition? Whether voters, politicians, civil servants, or other participants in national leadership governance structures, all have a duty to actively try to understand what the issues are and what their role is. Christians should engage their God given intellect to engage with the issues, making use of the diversity of experience and opinion that God has provided. This gift of diversity blossoms when Christians from different political persuasions, ethnic perspectives, professions, and experiences come to the table to passionately, exhaustively, and yet respectfully engage each other on issues.

There is a dire need for Christians in the government, in the opposition, in civil society, and other spheres who are bold enough to challenge others, and themselves on the best way to establish God’s wholeness and peace (“Shalom”) in the society. Where there is difference then temperance and respect should prevail. Where there is agreement then each should be honest enough to rise above the rhetoric for common good.

What if? Where existing leadership fails in aspects of justice and righteousness, then Christian leaders and their congregations should act. Such action does not invite or condone wanton bloodshed. However, such action is firm, clear, and driven by the Kingdom perspective that comes from God’s Word. They will systematically work within the existing God-instituted structures to address evil. There will also be instances where like the Apostles, Christians should oppose the authorities, respectfully yet firmly, challenging them at the risk of their personal lives. Whenever obedience to God is pitted against obedience to the propagation of systemic bloodshed and idolatry, then like Daniel, obedience to God must carry the day.

The-Christian-VotegsAnd those Bishops and Pastors? Christian leaders must teach God’s Word and its application beyond personal spiritual life. God’s word is powerful and effective for the individual, and it is also applicable and powerful for national and global issues. Christian leaders, like Old Testament prophets, must be prepared to fearlessly speak the mind of God to their generation. In some instances, Christian leaders may use their spiritual authority to intervene and quietly give direction where leaders have erred or lost their way. The authorities might have invited them, but in other instances, like Nathan, they will act unilaterally under the compulsion of the Holy Spirit. On occasion, under the leadership of the Holy Spirit, and in concert with the wider body of Christ, leaders may also rally their followers to decisive public action against political, economic, or other forces that thwart God’s justice, equity, and righteousness for all. To effectively carry their mandate, Christian leaders must take their instruction from God’s Word, and their inspiration from the Holy Spirit.

So? Should Christians be involved with politics? Yes, they should by all means participate, at all levels according to their calling, station, and gifting in life. Such involvement is by virtue of being children of God the Father and followers of His Son Jesus. Their involvement is inspired by the Holy Spirit and informed by God’s Word.

What does this mean for clergy and top leadership in the church? Christian leadership have a duty to teach about political engagement from the corporate gatherings, to the house churches, weaving this thinking into a holistic understanding of the Gospel. Christian leaders, and their followers should also constantly evaluate the extent to which national governance and political leadership relates with God’s influence on earth. Where it fails then they should call it to account, and commend where it does well. Church leaders should learn to manage the tension between their personal position on politics and the biblical foundations for a just society effected through political means. Where there is a conflict then the church leaders’ political opinions must give way to God’s vision for his nations. The leadership should also encourage deep Christian reflection from within the incumbent government as well as the opposition. The church leadership should model how to engage in honest, respectful debate both in private and in the public, for the common good of the nation.

Confustrated by the IEBC Conundrum

Posted in If I was... on June 15, 2016 by Kyama

Excerpts of an enlightening facebook conversation regarding the current Kenyan IEBC issue.

Kyama Mugambi I’m watching this citizen morning show, someone please help me: what is the problem? Is it the IEBC commissioners themselves, some, all? Or the IEBC law? Or the provisions for IEBC in the constitution? If we have a constitution and law, is there a constitutional provision for extra-constitutional institutions to solve constitutional inconsistencies? Do we now need a referendum for this? Why weren’t these issues anticipated when this constitution was written and promulgated? ‪#‎confustrated‬

Njonjo Mue Kyama, the IEBC performed poorly in the 2013 elections. Some put it down to incompetence, some to corruption in procurement, some to partisanship. Whatever the case, the technology acquired at the cost of billions of shillings to the taxpayer failed cataclysmically forcing us to revert to the manual system that was so discredited following the 2007 elections. The IEBC did not have a voter register and their figures kept changing with thousands of new voters being added after the official registration period was supposed to have ended on 18th December 2012. IEBC never explained how on earth they could agree to share a server with one of the competitors at the election, TNA. All these issues and more were raised during the election petition but the Supreme Court treated them very casually. After the election, IEBC took a defensive position and did not conduct a proper audit of the election to ensure that these issues were addressed. As all this was going on, news came in of the Chickengate scandal implicating the Chair and some commissioners. CORD has also not forgotten the Chair declaring on oath that Raila Odinga is a sore loser who believes that no election can ever be fair if he is not declared winner. This shows inherent bias. The recent and ongoing clamour for reform and removal of the commissioners is therefore a case of chickens coming home to roost (pardon the pun).

As for the process of removal, CORD is arguing that they cannot expect justice in a parliament a majority of whose membership is beholden to their competitors who were put in power by the very body whose legitimacy is in question.

iebc

Of course the Constitution should be respected, but this country and others have known extraordinary moments when political consensus outside formal structures is necessary first after which what is agreed is taken to Parliament for approval. If we always insisted on ‘following the Constitution’, apartheid in South Africa would never have ended, neither would post election violence in 2007.

 

Kamotho Waiganjo Kyama Mugambi the IEBC is the easiest matter to solve both legally and politically. Actually if one looks at the changes proposed by JLA Com the bulk of these issues are included even some that deal with the broader Electoral reforms that target the entire infrastructure of elections. These latter are trickier but with bipartisan support can be carried out. Carrying out these reforms is not impossible. There are avenues in the law for this. One can also get political consensus on most of the critical issues. So that’s not what dialogue outside parliament is about. The elephant in the room are the “outstanding issues”, the ones that were not resolved (or which were conceded to for purposes of moving forward) in Naivasha during the writing of the COK that are trickier because most are political and very contested. These include the Structure of government, nature of devolution etc. These in my view are the unspoken issues that the current agitation is about, not IEBC. I could be wrong.

Kyama Mugambi Thanks this is helpful Njonjo Mue . This is what I am getting from your analysis above 1. The IEBC failed us. [one doesn’t need to be a rocket scientist to figure that out]. There are integrity issues with the commissioners. 2. The justice system failed IEBC, Cord and the nation at large. 3. The constitution should be respected. 4. This is one moment in Kenya, which like Apartheid in South Africa, where the constitution needs to be set aside to solve a national crisis.

Gerald Macharia Not one endowed with political commentary prowess, but what about ordinary people who voted representatives into parliament? Should we ignore that and have a deal cut by a handful of people, some of whom are not representatives of the people, brought to the house for a rubber stamp by a conclave that we elected to represent us, diverse views and all??

Njonjo Mue This is why we are calling for an all inclusive dialogue, not one just involving MPs or CORD and Jubilee. As for the issue of people’s representatives, I take that with a big spoonful of salt. It is usually overstated by people who seek to preserve the status quo. Raila Odinga was voted for by just under half of the people of Kenya. Do those not matter, just because our system is dominated by so-called tyranny of numbers? In any case, we are not discussing the last election, but the next. If we do not hearken to introduce reforms that will make the next election credible, then we shall rue the day we hid behind the fig leaf of ‘the people’s representatives’ instead of taking the hard decisions necessary to preserve our country.

Monica Nzive Why did the agitated push for reforms come this late in the day?! Why are they not coming out clear with all issues for all Kenyans to see? Why do we think that anything agreed upon in a hotel room by a few will be automatically rubber stammped by the so called tyranny of MPs in parliament?

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Kyama Mugambi So in light of the above – 1. Njonjo Mue if there was lack of integrity with the commissioners then it seems to me the law should be followed? The moment we step outside the law then we introduce “extra judicial” remedies to a situation we create precedent which becomes hard to deal with in the future. No? What is to prevent weekly riots in 2018 for more money to Counties, for devolution of the police force and other such issues that are of ‘national’ importance. 2. Is this issue of the same magnitude as the repeal of Section 2A to warrant loss of life and property? As a matter of fact, given this or other constitutional dispensations, is there any issue that is large enough to warrant the kind of destruction and loss of life we have seen recently? 3. Kamotho Waiganjo I like your proposition of bipartisan caucusing to address issues, both legally and politically. a. Is such bipartisanship possible given the political polarity and its proximity to elections? b. Can we trust our legal system to ensure due justice, where it is needed? 4. Why now? Several muted voices raised concerns about the constitution way back when. The answer given was that the ‘small issues’ would be resolved. After all the constitution has a ‘self cleaning’ mechanism to ensure we can modify it as we go along. Those in government and those in opposition were all a part of the process. CORD for example ate half the biscuit/cake/loaf for a significant amount of time to influence outcomes, including promulgation. For some time CORD in the recent parliament also had just under 50% of representation in both houses. How many bills did they propose addressing the current issues? I am also not aware of any bills proposed by Jubilee either to address these or similar issues. What should the kenyan public make of that? Ama hii ni porojo tu 5. Kamotho Waiganjo Njonjo Mue is this a watershed moment? Should we suspend the constitution, take to the streets, agitate for a referendum and solve these issues? Or should we smell a rat and ignore the political machinations for power? Ama we should vote peacefully in 2017 and hope that the elected government and opposition will act together to make a better Kenya, for us, not just for themselves.

Kyama Mugambi So in light of the above – 1. Njonjo Mue if there was lack of integrity with the commissioners then it seems to me the law should be followed? The moment we step outside the law then we introduce “extra judicial” remedies to a situation we create precedent which becomes hard to deal with in the future. No? What is to prevent weekly riots in 2018 for more money to Counties, for devolution of the police force and other such issues that are of ‘national’ importance. 2. Is this issue of the same magnitude as the repeal of Section 2A to warrant loss of life and property? As a matter of fact, given this or other constitutional dispensations, is there any issue that is large enough to warrant the kind of destruction and loss of life we have seen recently? 3. Kamotho Waiganjo I like your proposition of bipartisan caucusing to address issues, both legally and politically. a. Is such bipartisanship possible given the political polarity and its proximity to elections? b. Can we trust our legal system to ensure due justice, where it is needed? 4. Why now? Several muted voices raised concerns about the constitution way back when. The answer given was that the ‘small issues’ would be resolved. After all the constitution has a ‘self cleaning’ mechanism to ensure we can modify it as we go along. Those in government and those in opposition were all a part of the process. CORD for example ate half the biscuit/cake/loaf for a significant amount of time to influence outcomes, including promulgation. For some time CORD in the recent parliament also had just under 50% of representation in both houses. How many bills did they propose addressing the current issues? I am also not aware of any bills proposed by Jubilee either to address these or similar issues. What should the kenyan public make of that? Ama hii ni porojo tu 5. Kamotho Waiganjo Njonjo Mue is this a watershed moment? Should we suspend the constitution, take to the streets, agitate for a referendum and solve these issues? Or should we smell a rat and ignore the political machinations for power? Ama we should vote peacefully in 2017 and hope that the elected government and opposition will act together to make a better Kenya, for us, not just for themselves.

Njonjo Mue Kyama Mugambi, to say this is just about integrity is to over simplify the issue. In any country, the Election Management Body must enjoy the confidence of all , or close to all, of the political players. An electoral commission that is not trusted by parties that represent half the electorate cannot perform the function that it is mandated to perform by the constitution, ie, run a credible election. To ignore calls for reform going into an election is the surest way to ensure that the result will be contested and most probably violently contested.

Njonjo Mue Kyama Mugambi, No one is calling on the Constitution to be ‘set aside’. The call is for a consensus building dialogue whose result can then be taken through the laid down process. I don’t know why people are treating this as such a strange thing. It happens all the time. Ever heard of the Speaker’s Kamkunji that happens informally in the Old Chambers of the House where positions are bi-partisanly agreed and then the parties stick to the agreed positions when it comes to voting a particular measure in the formal proceedings in the House? It’s the same thing. As for people demonstrating to change things that they do not like, that is their constitutional right. We have done it for many years, and MPs sometimes yield to that popular pressure and sometimes they don’t. It should not be presented as if it were treason!

Njonjo Mue And let’s not forget the words of Howard Zinn: “No form of government can be trusted to limit its own ambition, to extend freedom and to wither away…It is therefore up to the citizenry…to engage in permanent combat with the state, short of violent, escalatory revolution, but beyond the gentility of the ballot box, to insure justice, freedom, and well-being, all those values which virtually the entire world has come to believe in.”

Kyama Mugambi 1. Wait a minute Njonjo Mue I am all for calling the government to account. I am on record as stating that Kenya stands to lose if we do not have a formidable force keeping the government of the day in check. That’s the work of the opposition, and in their absence, negligence or incompetence, then any another body should pick that role up. [Civil society and/or
the church, which I am a part of] That said, I believe the whole point of a democracy, which people died for, is for representative government. The person with more votes, wins, the one with less loses. Democracy is by definition a tyranny of numbers. If this is not what will serve us well, then we need to change the constitution to make Kenya a consensus state, where decisions of national [and
county] importance are made not through representative government, or by vote – but through consensus that brings everyone to the table, while managing gender, ethnic, and other demographical considerations. To do that we would need to change the foundational philosophy of democracy as envisaged by the constitution. Ama? 2. Njonjo Mue it is common knowledge that an incumbent government will not willingly cede power in a negotiation of this nature. Especially if they feel they have the electorate’s mandate. This is true of Jubilee. However could it also be true that an opposition without an electoral mandate, will do whatever it can to gain power or political advantage? And that if it can do that through a non-electoral process that would even be better? Its all about power. This is why I want to be careful about this whole demonstrations and ‘negotiations outside parliament’ thing. 3. Njonjo MueKamotho Waiganjo I am curious. In the democracies which we have been trying to emulate with our constitution, what happens when a party/president wins with slightly over half the electorate? For example Bush/Gore election. The US did not modify its governance to accommodate the nearly 50% electorate who voted for Gore/Democrats but lost with a slim under 0.5% margin. However in Kenya, we would like to take apply ourselves to be inclusive of those who lost in a democratic election, which, we’re told, observers said was largely fair. I did not vote for the current government, and I’m critical of some if its actions and policies. I do wonder whether we are entering into a phase of ‘oppositional impunity’ where we develop a culture of distrusting our institutions, when we should be strengthening them. The other thing is – should we be considering “approximate democracy” if you win by 50% plus one, then you do not have a mandate, if your losing opponent had somewhere near 50%.

Njonjo Mue Kyama Mugambi, 1. Our democracy is a representative democracy but it is not a perfect democracy. To ask us to yield to our institutions no matter what is to assume that the institutions themselves are perfect, which they are not. Sometimes strengthening the institutions may call for dismantling them when they fail us and reconstituting them. That is what we did with Kivuitu. And let’s not forget that the selfsame Jubilee that is now so beholden to constitutionalism used their ‘tyranny of numbers’ to send home Mumo Matemu and his entire team at the EACC despite their tenure being guaranteed by teh Constitution.
2. The opposition would not be going to the streets and demanding an extra-parliamentary process if they did not have a critical mass of public support or a legitimate grievance that they feel will not be adequately addressed in Parliament. In 1997, we went to the streets to demand a people-driven constitutional reform process despite Moi telling us that only Parliament was mandated to amend the Constitution. We were teargassed, we were beaten, we were jailed, some of our colleagues died, but we prevailed, at first in winning minimum reforms ahead of the 1997 elections, and eventually in getting a new constitution. The situation is the same now. The opposition is calling for level playing field going into the election and that is their constitutional right.
3. The Bush/Gore analogy is misplaced. First, our constitution provides that if no party gets 50%+1, then we go into a run off. It is the contention of the opposition that no party actually got 50%+1 and that if the election had gone into a second round, the outcome might have been different. Of course the Supreme Court ruled differently, but let’s not assume that the SC itself is unquestionable. Their ruling helped the country come to a finality and move forward, but it did not address all the critical issues. As US Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson once famously stated regarding the Supreme Court, “We are not final because we are infallible, but we are infallible only because we are final.”

If you want to use an American analogy, Bush vs. Gore is not in my view the best to use. The Civil Rights Movement with all their demonstrations and direct action appeals to put pressure on the white establishment to make real the promises of democracy is closer to our situation. We are talking about a group of outsiders knocking on the door of another group that has always controlled power in this country.

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Sammy Mate “Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws” Plato

Sammy Mate Whilst I have no confusion over the place of the Law in society, the law does not trump humanity. A good man will have no need to quote and hide behind the law in his arguments.My observation is that, in principle, we have not applied ourselves to voting in “good men and women”. So they will twist the law this way and that way to suit themselves.

Monica Nzive How comes many members of the opposition in parliament have since elections and by elections contacted by the IEBC been holding onto their positions and enjoying taxpayers money as salaries. Shouldn’t they have declined taking up the elected position as it was as a result of a flawed process?!

Wambui Kyama Interesting discussion. Njonjo, what do we do when 49% led by unelected representatives give conditions that the process has to take place out of parliament and whatever is agreed upon outside parliament cannot be amended negatively by parliament. In my view one problem that is quietly simmering is the fact that the opposition does not want to follow the laid down procedures. The Cord leader was heard to say that most of the appointees in IEBC were his appointees but he made a mistake and now they must go home.
Njonjo Matemu was not removed illegally. He resigned after a tribunal was formed at the recommendation of the said parliament to constitute a tribunal to investigate him…

New Word

Confustrate: verb, to confound while causing angst, to cause disappointment and disillusionment by obscuring meaning…

Wambui Kyama By the way I agree that we need to improve on the electoral reform processes. I dont agree that it should be done out of the law and it should also not be done for short term gains…if it is done for jubilee and cord those parties may not be in existent in 2022…

Kamotho Waiganjo We are an amazing people. We don’t trust the constitution. Even though we negotiated it politically. We don’t trust the institutions, even where we negotiated them politically. We don’t trust the law. Even where we negotiated the laws. We don’t trust democracy, it’s not perfect…we trust..,what? I am a believer in protests to push Govt, they are absolutely constitutional…. but surely they are always a last resort? Have we sincerely tried s constitutional processes to resolve our problems and failed. NO! When Govt and the opposition succeed in fully delegitimising the Constitution, where will we go? ….God help us….@ Njonjo Mue who are these outsiders? RAO has been in Govt since 1997. SKM since 1990s, MW the same….the current govt and the opposition are the ultimate insiders

Wambui Kyama Mr. Kamotho you are spot on…in fact I have been wondering whether I can demand certain things based on the fact that I was born under the old dispensation and therefore should be governed by it. I struggle with the fact that I thought the constitution had major flaws and I opposed passing it as it was. However, it was passed and I made my peace with it. In fact I was of the view that we need a referendum to amend it for the long term in order to make it more cohesive, to reduce cost and to make it possible for whoever is in power to govern. However, I am not willing to disregard it because I dont agree with it. How can the very people who were campaigning for it and who labelled people who were saying no be on the forefront of telling us to disregard it. That is the recipe for chaos and anarchy.

David Ewagata We are walking on eggshells. We have pushed justice, integrity and good character to it’s fatal end and now we are seeing red! I don’t think the problem lies with IEBC or jubilee. It’s just that today they hold the long end of the stick. With the sickness of heart that is the Kenyan way of doing government, if Rao was sitting on the other end, I fear nothing would change. Corruption, tribalism, sectionalism, and all other things we are vehemently against would still be.
The change we seek is not a change of officers but a change of heart. And that, not even the queen of constitutions can give to us. The verdict on Cretans in Titus 1:12, “Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons.” Speaks true of the Kenyan. We need to turn to God and sober up. What we are asking for is a God intervention because this nation is in dire straits and the solutions being vended are mere fallacies. With the glutton tendencies, anyone who holds IEBC office will be subject to bribery, coercion, even threats as in kivuitu’s time.

Elizabeth Dena Kyama Mugambi thank you for sparking off this conversation.Wandia Njoya penned a post recently highlighting the challenges we face as a nation: basically two sides of a divide having a conversation that doesn’t make the remotest sense to either side. It is difficult to believe that the two groups are from the same country and are discussing the same phenomena. The conversation being had here is akin to what she was saying. One half of Kenyans is remembering all that Njonjo has outlined in his first response to this post; this half is refusing to go to an election without all those issues resolved. One half of this nation is confrustrated and wondering what the problem with IEBC is. It is confrustrating – for those allied to Njonjo’s position – that a commission responsible for an outcome of an election in a country with 42 million people (all those other points Njonjo has raised notwithstanding) can be implicated in a corruption scandal that causes the jailing of citizens of another country implicated in that scandal and it is confrustrating for others who wonder whether the issue warrants demonstrations and a call for the removal of the IEBC commissioners. I was in a high profile 2 day discussion at the Kenya school of law recently. A senior professor from Kenyatta University gave an extremely engaging presentation on gender in political leadership. She nailed it on many points we needed knowledge on thus becoming the ultimate mentor on the “how to” manual on “how to run your world as a female CS, Prime Minister, President, MCA” etc . We were captivated – 47 women from all the counties – and we kept talking over lunch. Eventually I asked her what she thought of IEBC now that we were waxing political. She asked confrustratedly, “What is wrong with IEBC”?

Sammy Mate Well, the day we will view the opposition and government as the “one side” and we, the Kenyan citizens as the “other side”, we will have made a great stride in our quest for a progressive national dialogue on governance. The “one side” does not represent the “common good”. Whilst it may true that the political class is representative of the citizenry, this does not hold always. This is indicative of remarks made recently by individuals such as Moses Kuria and Ferdinand Waititu. What I am saying is that there is a “reasonable” contistuency that is not represented by the “one side” and this group is becoming bigger by the day. So, not to symie the conversation,but its possible that we are adding to the clamor in the “one side” house whilst we are better off consolidating our position on the “other side”.

Josh Kikuvi Kyama Mugambi, thank you for always raising such issues in a sober, direct and engaging manner. I’ll follow the dialscussion with a view to learn as much as listen. For what it’s worth, the manner and the substance of issues I’m contention has been very #confustrated to say the least. I’m not sure if that is by design or by default…but perhaps that’s neither here nor there. On the substantive issues at play between both sides, I will let others who may be better informed to enlighten us and candidly shed more heat than light. We lead the latter most in our country, although some may imagine that the former precedes the latter, or vice versa. But clearly, we do have issues with the referee in this game and no amount of charlatanism is going to blind the fact. It’s interesting to hear there’s more than IEBC in all these-perhaps not too surprised by that. But pray, why are these supposedly deal breaker issues not brought to the fore? Is such a way of engaging likely to pertain ad infitum going forward? Perhaps our political leaders need to be more mature and open in their discussions than perhaps they have been. Like I said, more light than heat. Very interesting discussion so following…

Muchiri Waititu For once i am happy that we can congregate and discuss issues without checking Kyama’s surname. My query is simple. If Mumo Matemu was removed constitutionally, then what is so difficult in removing the IEBC officials? Like Kyama, i am confustrated (nice word sir) and the lawyers are still adding more smoke. Every relationship has an exit/ termination clause. In marriage, it is divorce; In employment it is termination. What is the termination clause for the IEBC? Has it been exhausted? Street activism is a last resort to a situation. Why are we using it as the first? If the elected senators and M.P’s are also sincere in their condemnation of the IEBC and their inability to do anything in their power, should they not therefore resign?

Francis Kuria Very interesting discussions Kyama Mugambi. I have been engaged and it is true that IEBC is not the key issue. Indeed both sides agree this set will go. The question is deeper. And it is simple. Jomo Moi Kibaki Uhuru, ……? We cannot practise politics of exclusion (and insults) and not expect agitation. If the Kabogo remarks are considered in proper context (no support without our man beside to succeed you) then the problem is intractable. Kenya, and indeed most of Africa, with our ethnic politics and liberal capitalism with the state as main decider of who succeeds in business, cannot afford winner-take-all political contests. It won’t work. Our intellectuals failed us in Bomas.

Muchiri Waititu The world over is replete with countries with deeper schisms than ours.
Try catholic/ protestant in Ireland, Flanders/Wallonia in Belgium, castes in India, Sunni/Shia in the mid east.
We enacted a constitution to spread the pork! Primarily by giving power to the counties. Are we saying that this has failed?
I remain very suspicious of moves to assuage personalities rather than structures. Especially when the same personalities were at the forefront of agitating for a new constitution.

issack

Kyama Mugambi Good thinking friends! I am becoming more enlightened by the minute. So here is my summary of what I see so far. 1. The IEBC has failed Kenyans, both in terms of their integrity of service, and the structure [as enshrined in the current constitution.] 2. Both the current Judicial system, and the government of the day, have failed Kenyans on this issue. Means outside the constitution have been proposed, as the only solution. 3. Kenyans have been rallied to the streets by their leaders with 49% [round it off to the
non-governing 50%] mandate, to “demand” [not my words], electoral reform, to ensure a free and fair 2017 election. 4. It turns out the issue is not really the IEBC. [Where I would
customarily say “oh dear!”] It is deeper than IEBC, and touches on other matters, such as structure of government, nature of devolution, and other such things – all of which are further complicated by the geo-ethnic complexities of our context. Is this a fair summary of the foregoing?

Njonjo Mue Kyama Mugambi, with your every summary, you frame the issues in a way that I find hard to agree with, but I’ll let the matter rest here for now and thank you for creating the opportunity for such healthy debate on such an important issue. Barikiwa.

Kyama Mugambi That being the case. a. Njonjo Mue argues that going into an election with an untrustworthy electoral body is courting trouble. Agreed. However, knowing what we know about CORD, has there ever been a time when we can say that they gave the public confidence in the electoral institution? Or is it that our institutions, including our constitution, which they helped us pass, is fatally flawed and must be reformed outside of constitutional means. On the flip side, knowing what we know about Jubilee, and the nature of incumbency in power, can we expect that this will be a walk in the park for CORD, where any reforms brought will be signed of with the pen because the opposition said so, and they were backed by people in the streets? b. Kamotho Waiganjo argues that this can easily be resolved politically and legally. While I don’t fully understand politics and law, I would have to say this is very reasonable, and I accept it. It makes perfect sense to then question the need for the drastic means being proposed on this wall. However, what should Jubilee do to move this discussion forward? And are they doing it? Do they have a mechanism to check themselves to prevent them from being too hardline in their position, or do we just trust that they will know. c. From yet another angle, is there anyone checking the opposition to caution them against taking a position that will hurt the nation? Should we assume that they will know when they have gone over the line? d. If the problem is intractable because of our geo-ethnic complexities as Francis Kuria reminds us, then what is our fate? Will the current definitions of democracy then work? If a presidency has to be inclusive ethnically and geographically, what then is the use of elections? We should then just list the ethnic communities alphabetically, ask them to line up their presidential nominees and we just tour the position around the country. To put it differently, our constitution is not serving our reality. We have to address that at some point, politically, economically, socially, demographically and so on, either now, or sometime in the future. Address it though, we must. e. If we have to revisit the pertinent issues of the constitution and demand change using the last resort of mass action each time we face the challenges, then we will have a problem if we don’t already. I think this is where the wisdom of having a constitutional implementation body serves us well. However if to address the issue of a body that doesn’t serve us well, then we have to go outside elections, and outside parliament then we are exposing our nation. What is the use of the CIC? f. Njonjo Mue, there is an integrity issue, and you point it out in your posts above. I won’t gloss over that. And no, it is not an oversimplification. However there are legal means to address that. They haven’t been exhausted. Lets not kid ourselves. There is a way to change government officers and institutions, its in the law and the constitution. They haven’t been exhausted. I haven’t seen exhaustive parliamentary and senatorial debate from the 48-49% representation from CORD. In the same breath I will agree that Jubilee could do more to move this progress with their 50%. The “more” they should do is what I am not clear about. If we look hard enough we can find it. After all that’s what we pay them 1m a month to do [which they increased for themselves, with the help of
CORD representatives. See! bipartisan consensus in parliament is
possible, if both sides are committed to the cause]

Francis Kuria Agreed Kyama Mugambi. We in from faith institutions have proposed a post election Constituent Assembly to discuss these deeper issues and hopefully reach some agreement by 2022. Uhuru has promised to support such a promise but could not guarantee an outcome given our tendency for prevarication n brinkmanship

Njonjo Mue A final comment from me on this subject.

In 1997 when we took to the streets to demand constitutional reforms before that year’s elections, Moi called politicians from both sides of the political divide and they agreed on a set of minimum reforms to level the playing field (The IPPG Deal).

One of the reforms was to change the mode of appointing the electoral commission so that commissioners would be appointed on the basis of nomination by political parties based on their strength in Parliament.

Fast forward to 2007 and the terms of those commissioners were expiring. We pleaded with the Kibaki government to use the same formula to name their replacements, but we were ignored.

“IPPG was a gentleman’s agreement that was never enshrined in law, ” said the then Minister for Justice, Martha Karua. “It served the exegesis of that moment but does not bind the president now.”

Kibaki went on to unilaterally appoint all the commissioners except Kivuitu whose term was extended by one year.

Was Martha legally right? Of course she was. Was it wise or in the national interest to have one competitor unilaterally appoint the referee to oversee the closest election since independence because ‘we must follow the constitution ‘? The 2007-8 PEV provide a tragically eloquent answer to this second question.

We are courting disaster as we quibble about this matter while the window to act continues to close. If we continue to prevaricate. There shall be no country, let alone constitution, left to defend.

Wise heads must prevail.

Kyama Mugambi Thank you very much ladies and gentlemen for engaging me on this. I feel a little more enlightened. I have more questions, but I also have perspective, if not answers. As always Njonjo Mue Kamotho Waiganjo asante for the insights.

For the full conversation see: https://www.facebook.com/kyama.mugambi.7/posts/10153708739741476?comment_id=10153708830306476&notif_t=like&notif_id=1465797508852233

For further insights see Bishop Oginde’s perspective: https://citamblog.wordpress.com/2016/05/09/dialogue-best-solution-over-the-iebc-standoff/

Who is equal to the task?

Posted in If I was... on May 20, 2016 by Kyama

During his enthronement as the 3rd Anglican Archbishop January 1997, Bishop David Gitari publicly announced in his speech, that he would retire midnight of 16th September 2002. To many he seemed to be clarifying the ambiguity and drama that emerged at the end of archbishop Festo Olang’s service. But underneath was the prophetic challenge to president Daniel Arap Moi, who was attending the function, to also be clear on his retirement. Moi’s rule had dragged on such that no one was sure he would leave power. Such a prophetic valor was rare at the time and came at great personal cost. Bishop David Gitari, among others, was willing to pay that cost. In the chaos characteristic of Kenya today, the incoming archbishop will be expected to be prophetic, fearlessly reprimanding, calling out and confronting impending dangers to the society.

The issues in Kenya’s current socio-political landscape would challenge any formidable leader. The ICC conundrum which goes back almost 8 years since 2008, got the political establishment, the IDPs and the opposition all pulling in different directions, at different times. The ethnic undercurrents that emerged in the period could have pulled the Anglican church apart given its strong representation from opposing poles of the PEV divide. That the Anglican church remained largely united under this environment will be a feather in Archbishop Wabukala’s cap in times to come. The challenge of the incoming primate will be to preserve the legacy of an Anglican church that has remained united despise such great odds.

The 2013 transition between regimes, compounded by a contested election result, all in an ethnically divided nation, made for an eventful time in Kenya’s political history. While the voice of the Anglican church was not as loud as it has been in the past, it did maintain a concerned, if not muted, aura. The outgoing archbishop’s quiet mien and deliberate manner provided the Kenyan public with this lower key demeanor of Anglican leadership in the public sphere. The incoming archbishop will have a variety of precedents in terms of leadership postures. If national leadership is a reflection, at least partly, of personal leadership practices, then the election of the archbishop will need to factor in the leadership personalities of the individuals in the run.

It is corruption and economic crimes that, for good or ill, prompted a forceful response from the otherwise reserved outgoing Archbishop. In his call for the declaration of corruption as a national disaster in 2015, Archbishop Wabukala resonated with the public sentiment, and the opposition’s fever pitched protest that saw the exit of key government officials. A case could be made against his uncritical stance on the opposition’s lack of cohesion around a solid national agenda. Then again, one could say the same of key church leaders across the board on that subject. The church leadership must be ready to confront irresponsibility in any sitting government. It must also be willing to call into account potentially debilitating failure and lack of focus among the opposition. Going forward this will be an important area of meaningful engagement within the church generally, and for the incoming Anglican archbishop in particular.

The outgoing archbishop’s tenure also coincided with the transformation of All Saints Cathedral into a bustling hub of activity. The completion of the ministry centre and its commissioning into service surfaced a unique ecumenical dimension of the Anglican church’s relations with the wider church in Nairobi. While it will not escape notice that the centre provides a valuable income stream, what is noteworthy is the nature of activity at the centre. Multiple church traditions take part in the daylong and evening activities. This hopefully points to an important unifying role that the Anglican church is increasingly playing outside its engagement with the NCCK.

While the election of the archbishop will not have a direct effect on this ecumenical perspective, there will likely be a residual impact of the incoming prelate’s preferences, which could reverberate through out the church. In recent years, Anglican church has been more congenial in its interaction with the more established charismatic and pentecostal communities. The continuation of this will serve the prophetic cause of the Kenyan church going forward.

Kenya is a young nation. Researchers put the median age at 18 and postulate that the nation will remain young for the next 50 years. The ability of the Anglican church to keep the youth engaged and focussed falls squarely on the laps of the leadership of the church under the direction of the archbishop. Various initiatives have experienced mixed success with some congregations reporting high retention of young people, and others lamenting the loss of their youth to “these mushrooming churches.” Capturing the soul of the youth must remain on the front burner for all churches, new and historic alike, if we are to safeguard the nation’s moral fibre and spiritual future. Even if the incoming archbishop were to do nothing else, this is such a mammoth task that it would instantly fill his hands, and keep them that way for the rest of his tenure.

We must add a final word about the voice of the Kenyan Anglican church on the global platform. It would not be an understatement to say that if the Anglican church in Africa sneezes the Anglican church in the global West could be checking into ICU comatose with severe flu. The Anglican church in Kenya is demographically significant. There are more Anglicans in Kenya than there are in all of North America. Kenya has more than twice as many Anglicans as the average weekly attendance of the church of England in the UK. To its credit, in matters doctrine, the church in Africa has fiercely held to the evangelical tenets of traditional Anglicanism. A notable example is the question of the ordination of gay clergy. Kenyan Anglicans through the outgoing Archbishop have played their part valiantly. The incoming archbishop carries with him a big responsibility to speak into the life of the entire denomination, more than half of who reside in Africa south of the Sahara.

Good leadership, like good sorghum porridge, takes the shape of the container that holds it, warming the container and its surroundings, while nourishing its beneficiary. The shape of the Kenyan political, social, economic, and spiritual landscape is clear. With this there is clarity on how the leadership of the church generally, and the anglican church in particular can respond to, influence and serve the public. We know the container, and what type of heat we need!

The incoming archbishop needs to be a shepherd, spiritually and physically attending to the needs of a nation in need of truth, light and comfort. It is abundantly clear now that the state of the Anglican denomination, locally and globally, points us to the need for a prophet. A leader who will speak authoritatively to the prime movers on all sides of the political divide calling them to account. He needs to be a prophet who will keep the church united and focussed forwards a brighter national future, at a time of ethnic, political, and economic travails. The chosen leader will automatically have a global platform with which to affirm and, where necessary, defend the strength of the communion. He will also be faced with an internal challenge, God helping him, to sustain initiatives to corral the youth into the fold and engage them meaningfully, as a deposit for the future of the denomination. Who is equal to the task?