Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Meeting Senator Barack Obama


The key cities of New York and Washington D.C. in the United States were host to a number of Kenyan delegations on nation building exercises during the month of September. While the President of Kenya led the largest delegation amongst UN member countries to the 60th anniversary celebrations of the United Nations and a Special Summit on implementation of Millennium Development Goals, the Hon. Paul Muite led the Parliamentary Departmental Committee on the Administration of Justice and Legal Affairs to Washington D.C, to lobby Senators on crucial pending legislation of national importance.

In Washington D.C, the two Democrat Senators from Illinois, Senator Richard J. Durbin and Senator Barrack Obama invited a group of East African government and civil society leaders to their weekly forum with lobby groups from Illinois. Dubbed the “Illinois Coffee”, it serves as an opportunity for the senators to meet their constituents in a hall at their senate office building to discuss constituency matters and to update them on legislative affairs affecting them. A similar meeting is also held later in the week at the state of Illinois. In this particular meeting, some of the pressure groups present were drawn from HIV/AIDS groups, university students and even an eighteen year old ex-convict inquiring on employment opportunities for those in his predicament. On the other hand, the eighteen Kenyans, Ugandans and Tanzanians were undergoing a six-week training programme on anti-corruption and good governance at the Les Aspin Centre for Government based in Washington D.C. This was one of the positive things I saw in the U.S. political system. If any Kenyan MP met with his ocnstituents to update them on legislation affecting them and to listen to their issues, we would have a different Kenya. Unfortunately, we elect some of the most dumb politicians who do not even know what laws they are discussing in the house. So long as their patron tells them how to vote, they are ocntent with ammassing wealth and women.

Senator Obama and Senator Durbin took time to update their constituents on the progress with key legislations before fielding questions from them. Thereafter they gave the East Africans a chance to speak and ask questions on issues affecting their countries with relation to U.S. foreign policy. Some of the issues addressed included the recent suspension of $201 Million dollars Global Fund to Uganda due to massive corruption and a lapse in leadership. The Senators expressed their concern at the massive corruption in the East African countries which, in due course, impacts negatively on their foreign policy and trade. Senator Obama cited his recent meeting with the Prime Minister of Britain, Tony Blair where they discussed the latter’s efforts at assisting African countries in poverty alleviation as well as debt cancellation through Britain’s current leadership at the G8. Senator Obama then informed the East Africans that he would be traveling to the region later next year.

Later that evening, the East African delegation held a meeting with Senator Obama’s Chief of Staff where I had the priviledge of presenting a memorandum highlighting key concerns that we have in our respective countries. The memorandum included an imploration for the inclusion of whistleblower protection legislation alongside witness protection which the U.S. is urging Kenya to pass as a measure to curb terrorist activity; concern at the opportunities for graft and civil unrest as the Tanzanians prepare for their elections and the Kenyans for their referendum on the draft constitution. The delegation also requested the Senators to use their influence in ensuring that the Les Aspin Centre programme continues to get federal government support as it had trained leaders in the past who have made an impact in their countries. Some of the past fellows of the programme include Kenyan Cabinet Ministers Hon. Ochillo Ayacko and Hon. Amos Kimunya and the late Hon. Frederick Chesereck as well as a host of current civil society Executive Directors and senior civil servants.

The two Illinois Senators are quite influential in their own right. Senator Durbin is the Assistant Minority Leader, the second highest ranking Democratic Leadership post. He is serving his second six-year term as Senator and sits on the powerful Appropriations Committee as well as the Judiciary and Rules and Administrations Committees. Senator Barrack Obama is a member of the crucial Foreign Relations Committee where he also sits on the sub-committee on African Affairs. According to his website, he sought to serve on this committee because of his interest in the issues such as keeping nuclear weapons out of the hands of terrorists and his personal background. His father was born in Kenya and he is the only African – American Senator. He also serves on the important Environment and Public Works Committee which oversees legislation and funding for the environment and public works projects throughout the country, including the national transportation bill, and the Veteran’s Affairs Committee.

Everyone (i.e. American) I talked to is in agreement that Senator Barack Obama's star is rising. He is one of the few Senators who are known and highly regarded country-wide (i.e.U.S.). Hillary Clinton is known as she was the wife to the immediate former President and a brilliant attorney. Others stake their claim to fame through scandals or controversies. One thing worth noting is that there is still widespread hesitation when Obama is linked to the Oval office in terms of his future political career. It is easier to think of Hillary in those terms . One of the well connected people to Capitol Hill waxed lyrical on how Obama owes his political career to Senator Durbin, who has mentored him. Granted the mentorship system that seems to be one of the hallmarks of the U.S. legislative history is commendable, but this person totally refused to acknowlegde Senator Obama in his own right.

For the past six years, the Les Aspin Center has sponsored training programs for community leaders from Kenya, Ghana, Uganda,Mali,Nigeria, andTanzania in democracy principles and practice. The training program began in 1996 with funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and has been extended since then. The Democracy Training Program involves six weeks of lectures and discussions in a seminar setting. The participants also undertake site visits to experience directly and learn about the functioning of democracy and the public policy process. The presenters and the participants discuss, compare, and critique the American and African political institutions and how these operate to produce and implement effective public policy. The entire seminar experience enables the participants to understand and synthesize key insights that can be integrated into their country experience. This way, they can identify what is relevant for promoting effective democratic participation in their countries.

My next post will expound on my one month Washington D.C. and Milwaukee visit for the training and my experiences there.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Charles Njonjo: Rigid in a changing church and changing times

When the name Charles NJonjo is mentioned, what comes to your mind? I will not mention anything for now, but the octogenarian is really steeped in church issues. He is a staunch member of the Anglican Church and devotedly and without fail attends the 6p.m. evening service at All Saints' Cathedral Church. This service is more "Anglican" than any other services on a typical Sunday at All Saints' and includes Latin chants. For a moment you feel like you've been transported to England. This is a service that is seldom interfered with even during the "Mission Month" when All Saints' drops it's conservative approach and embraces evangelistic styles only seen at Charismatic gatherings. Granted the church has a vibrant, well funded Evangelism and Outreach Ministry, but they employ the Charismatic modus operandi for one month, to win over souls...and it has proven to be effective. The other months are spent in well strategised and creative approaches that has seen a church that was once slowly dying, turned into a vibrant growing church with many who left slowly trooping back to their "Mother Church" after wandering out there.

Back to "Sir" Charles Njonjo. He made some remarks that were captured in a section of the press. The East African Standard on Monday 27th June 2005 edition quoted him taking a swipe at the Anglican Church. Now Njonjo usually communicates a lot with the press. This has become the only forum you will get to hear from him on socio-political issues. That is when he is not launching some philanthropic initiative or receiving accounts from one of the many high profile organizations he chairs. His remarks as reported in the Standard were as follows:

The former AG also took a swipe at the Anglican Church of Kenya for "embracing pentecostalism".Njonjo, a member of the All Saints Cathedral, said the church had abandoned its dignified way of worship.He said the clergy was forcing worshippers to "jump, shout and lift their arms," a style of worship mostly associated with Pentecostals."The clergy have abandoned the clerical collar and instead of the traditional formal way of dressing, they lead services dressed in white kanzu."But we are heartened that the archbishop has heard our cries and appointed a committee to look into the administration of the cathedral with the aim of hopefully returning it to the good old ways."Saying there was a pentecostal church not far from the All Saints Cathedral, Njonjo said those who wanted to become Pentecostals were free do go there. "We want to follow the 1662 (Common Book of Prayer) and to see our priests in proper formal attire and clerical collars," he said.He revisited the "cash-for-prayers" saga of last year and wondered why the cleric who was accused of receiving money from the City Council to offer prayers for its officials was still in employment.

The following is my response:

Log on to the Anglican Communion official website and a banner message on the home page reads, “Greetings for the season of Pentecost. Come Holy Spirit and kindle in us the fire of your love.” The former Attorney General and Anglican congregant Charles Njonjo may not be aware of the existence of this website and its contents which totally contradict his recent swipe at the Anglican Church of Kenya for embracing what he terms as “Pentecostalism”, as reported in a section of the press. Mr. Njonjo actually has a problem with “jumping, shouting and lifting of hands” and very carelessly refers those who prefer this mode of expression to a Pentecostal church “not far from All Saints’ Cathedral”. The banner message clearly recognizes the place of the Holy Spirit and Pentecost in the Anglican Church, giving it predominance and pre-eminence. The books of prayer Mr. Njonjo prefers over and above “Pentecostal” expression also make reference to the Holy Spirit in numerous prayers and creeds and Pentecost is observed in the Anglican calendar every year.

First and foremost, it must be granted that Mr. Njonjo is indeed entitled to his opinion and he therefore has the freedom to express them in any way he so wishes. What is of concern is that he does not channel his discontentment to the church authorities. Rather, he chooses to do so through the media. The press on the other hand, refers to him as “a Church elder” and confuses the general public in thinking that his statements reflect the very thinking and standing of the Anglican Church. This has previously caused confusion during debates on abortion amongst other contentious issues. He is an elder, in terms of his seniority in age and high profile public life, but holds no known position within the Anglican Church hierarchy, or the All Saints Cathedral Church.

Secondly, Mr. Njonjo must be living in a different age and time. The mainstream church today throughout Africa is embracing “Africanization” of the church. The Roman Catholic Church in fact is ahead of the Anglican Church and the Presbyterian Church in this. Pentecostal and Charismatic Churches also have elements of “Africanization” though with the proliferation of the foreign Christian media content, many of them are looking more African - American than African. After his visit to celebrate the centenary of the Church of the Province of Kenya in 1994, Archbishop George Carey, the then Head of the Anglican Church, said, “I believe that there are yet untapped riches in African culture waiting to be used for the glory of God”. While he was in Kenya, he took every opportunity to encourage the inclusion of African songs in worship. Such songs will always be accompanied by jumping, shouting and clapping. Various string, wind and percussion musical instruments are being used in church worship as a complement to the traditional church piped organ. A recent development that Mr. Njonjo must have smarted about was the Church of England’s appointment of a man who fled the poverty and persecution of Idi Amin’s Uganda as its first black Archbishop. It would be interesting to see what Dr. John Sentamu’s appointment means in the predominantly white and traditionalist York.

Thirdly, Mr. Njonjo should desist from antagonizing friends with his statements. All Saints Cathedral has a good relationship with its neighbouring churches. By dismissing those who supposedly express themselves in a “different way” and telling them to go to a “Pentecostal Church not far off”, Mr. Njonjo is sending a very negative message across to the friends of his church across the road. If the handling of external factors like Kadhi’s Courts or alleged Masonic symbols in church architecture is anything to go by, an internal dispute on a doctrinal issue would cause untold chaos unless sobriety takes root first. It didn’t escape many that a local Christian radio station host made Njonjo’s reported statement the subject of her breakfast show and reduced the issue to an “us” verses “them” battle on the issue of Pentecost, complete with quoting Bible verses and receiving emails from listeners expressing solidarity with her. Many Christians can misread her intentions.

Finally, the newspaper article reported Njonjo’s happiness at the redress over administrative anomalies at All Saints’ Cathedral Church and quoted him as saying that “we are heartened that the Archbishop has heard our cries and appointed a committee to look into the administration of the cathedral with the aim of hopefully returning it to the good old ways." His happiness is obviously misplaced as the Archbishop’s move had nothing to do with “jumping, shouting and lifting of arms”. Njonjo risks inaccuracy by relying on the media as his source of information for church issues.

On a more conciliatory note, the viability of Africanization for the Anglican community in Kenya depends upon holding these different spiritualities not as antithetical, but as complementary partners. I believe that this will provide the Anglican Church of Kenya with a meaningful spirituality for the future.


Friday, April 01, 2005

The Kenya Bribery Index at a glance

Transparency International - Kenya recently launched their annual Kenya Bribery Index. Much as it has been in the news due to a misrepresentation by our low calibre journalists , this index focuses on exactly where Kenyans are being hurt by bribery. Furthermore, this is where we should be focusing on and not on the sideshows that the politicans would want us to focus on. It would be inetersting to hear what guys have gone through in these organisations. This is a brief summary of the Bribery Index. The full report can be found at the Transparency International website . Find the link to the right of my page.

THE
KENYA BRIBERY INDEX 2005 AT A GLANCE:

The Kenya Bribery Index 2005 survey features 34 organizations, 4 less than in 2004. This reflects reduced number of organizations that had sufficient sample to be included individually. The survey indicates a decline in bribery in 2004 but by significantly less than the reduction reported in 2003. The number of bribery encounters reported declined from 40 % to 34 % of encounters, both public and private. The number of bribes paid declined from an average of 2.7 to 0.5 (i.e. one bribe for every two people who interacted with officials).

The Bribery Index measures Kenyan’s experiences with petty bribery and does not capture grand corruption, the mega scandals involving billions in kick backs and negative macro-economic impact such as Goldenberg or the Anglo-Leasing scandal “that never was”.

On the bribes reported in the survey, the average expenditure on bribery declined to Ksh.2,660 from Ksh. 4,000 in 2003, while the average bribe paid increased significantly, from Ksh.1, 484 to Ksh. 4,958. Kenyans are paying fewer bribes than before in addition to a significant reduction in frequency across all organizations. Conversely, the amount of money changing hands has reportedly increased. With time, public focus on corruption, bribery and service delivery has remained sustained, especially with the government’s pledge of zero-tolerance to corruption and its recovery programme that gives priority to good governance and the rule of law as the foundation of our economic growth. This has made public servants more reluctant to openly seek for bribes hence the increase in the average size of the bribes due to the high risk of being caught.

The Kenya Bribery Index 2005 survey features 34 organizations, 4 less than in 2004. This reflects reduced number of organizations that had sufficient sample to be included individually. The top ten worst offenders are as follows:

The Worst Offenders

The Kenya Police tops the list once again, and has topped the list since the inception the survey. This time it has recorded its worst index score of 72.4, down from 57.3 in 2004. Furthermore, the Police force ranked worst in five of the six indicators, save for average size of bribes, where it is ranked second. In the previous surveys, it had recorded relatively low amounts for the average size of bribes, an average of about Kshs.540 annually. This time its average size of bribes has increased drastically to Kshs 10,800. Kenyans are now paying an average of Kshs.2, 377 per annum to the police,an increase from Kshs.805. Incidentally, the bribery transactions reported have reduced form 12.5 to 2.5.

As explained earlier, there is an environment of law enforcement and order and numerous reform initiatives especially in the Traffic Division that makes it harder for one to get away with an offense. Subsequently, due to the increased risk of severe punishment coupled with an increase in the amounts of the fines and the penalties, the bribe price has increased. Despite the police being better equipped both in the towns and rural areas due to partnerships with donors to fund reforms, there is reportedly no corresponding improvement in service delivery.

The Judiciary, which works closely with the Police, has a similar trend whereby there is a reduction in bribery encounters (4.7 to 0.4) and an increase in the size of bribes. (Kshs.1, 836 to Kshs.3, 606). The much touted radical surgery that took place in 2003 may come under increased scrutiny, especially since it was surgery that was carried out at the top.

Other organizations that performed poorly include the Teachers Service Commission, whose index increased from 18.7 to 30.6 and whose ranking rose from 19th to 2nd. The Commission also ranked worst in average size of bribes, with an average of Kshs.13, 115 reportedly being paid. The Bribery Index has been able to track a trend in national recruitment exercises by various organizations, where their episodic appearance and high ranking in the index takes place after a recruitment process. This was evident with the Department of Defense in last years’ index when it was ranked second following a national recruitment. It does not feature in this years’ recruitment. Teacher recruitment, promotion and appraisals have been dogged by reports of massive bribery.

Interestingly, the Education sector features prominently, with five education service providers appearing on the Bribery Index this year. These are the Teachers Service Commission, the Ministry of Education, Public Universities, Public Colleges and Public Schools. The first four are amongst the top 15 in the average size of bribe category.

The Local Authorities index has increased from 17.3 to 25.2. A major contribution to this is the inclusion of the Kisumu and Mombasa City Councils’ in the Local Authorities category since they were not cited by a significant number of respondents so as to reach the sample significance criteria that would warrant them to be ranked separately.

Organizations that have improved.

The Nairobi City Council was ranked 7th with an index of 20.4, a slight improvement from an index of 26.2 from last years’ index. The Nairobi City Council has recorded significant improvements across the indicators. Worth noting is the decrease in the cost of bribes per person from Kshs. 89.9 to Kshs. 2.71 and the frequency of bribes ,from 5.8 to 0.3. The average size of bribes though has increased by about 50%, from Kshs. 863 to Kshs.1, 266. It would be interesting to track the impact of the decentralization of certain services from the Nairobi City Council, including the newly created Nairobi Water and Sewerage Company, the new partnership with the Kenya Revenue Authority where the latter has been contracted to collect land rates on behalf of the Council and the impending awarding of the garbage collection contract.

Other organizations that have shown marked improvements include: The State Corporations n.e.s, The Immigration Department, The Kenya Revenue Authority and the Central Government n.e.s.

Behaviour Change in the Public

There is a sharp increase in the frequency of members of the public declining to bribe and there is also an increase in the willingness to report bribery encounters indicating that it is behaviour change by the public, as opposed to behaviour change by public officials that is driving reduction in bribery. This should send out a message to the public and private organizations involved in sensitizing the public on corruption. Programmes targeting public officials should be designed and implemented.

Perceptions of Change.

The perceptions of significant reduction in corruption declined to 9% from 14% in 2003, while perceptions of slight reduction also declined from 18% to 15%. Conversely, perceptions of significant increase rose from 8.5% to 12% and perceptions of marginal increase rose slightly from 4.4 to 5.5%. The majority (57.5%) perceived no change.

The Bribery Indicators: Where do organizations rank?

A sneak preview into the six indicators constructed to capture the different dimensions of corruption is given below. The top ten organizations for each indicator are provided.

Indicator 1: Likelihood of Encountering Bribery, % of encounters.

The Immigration Department registered significant improvement on this score. It was ranked worst with a score of 90% and this has educed to 60%.The likelihood of encountering bribery increased very significantly in Public Universities, the Ministry of Agriculture, Kenya Power and Lighting Company and the Ministry of Health.

Indicator 2: Prevalence (Bribery Encounters as % of respondents affected)

The Judiciary, the Registrar of Persons and the Nairobi City Council registered significant improvements and dropped from the top ten offenders list. The Immigration Department registered the most notable improvement, moving down from 14th to 27th position. The Ministry of Agriculture and Public Universities have registered the most significant regression, the former from the second most favourable position to 18th position, and the latter from most favourable position to 25th position.

Indicator 3: Severity (% of declinations resulting in service denial).

Amongst the ten worst offenders last year, only three organizations have registered some improvement, namely the Registrar of Persons, The Kenya Revenue Authority and the Immigration Department in that order. The Teachers Service Commission registered the worst performance, from the second best to the 8th worst offender. Other poor performers in this category include: Local Authorities (19th to 5th),

Indicator 4: Cost of Bribes in Kshs.

Public organizations have an overall downward trend in the total expenditure on bribery, save for the Police, who are now extracting three times more than last year. (From Kshs.805 to Kshs.2.377). Notably, however, the increase has occurred in rural areas, from Kshs.49 to Kshs.3, 700 per person per month. The downward trend in the public sector is offset by an increase in the private sector, where Co-operative societies (4th), the Private Sector (6th) and NGOs/CBOs (10th) feature prominently.

Indicator 5: Frequency (average number of bribes paid, per client p.a.).

On average, people are paying significantly fewer bribes to all organizations. Significant improvements were recorded by the Immigration Department (8th to 25th) and the Nairobi City Council (from 5th to 17th). Poorly performing organizations include the Ministry of Agriculture/Livestock (25th to 6th) and the Ministry of Gender, Sports Culture and Social Services.(7thand first time on the Bribery Index).

Indicator 6: Average size of Bribes.

The two top offenders, the Teachers Service Commission (Kshs.13, 000) and the Kenya Police (Kshs.10, 800), also top the list of the largest increases in size of bribes paid. (By Kshs.8, 560 and Kshs.10, 200 respectively). Others with significant increases include the Postal Corporation, the Judiciary and Co-operative Societies. Significant reductions were recorded by the Public Universities, who were ranked first last year and moved from Kshs.35, 000 to Kshs.1, 550; State Corporations and Public Colleges.

The Bribery Index Table.

Aggregate Index 2004

2004

2004

2004

2003

2003

2003

Rank

Organization

national

urban

rural

national

urban

rural

1

Kenya Police

72.4

62.2

75.3

57.3

57.6

55.9

2

Teachers Service Commission

30.6

23.0

28.6

18.7

24.2

12.2

3

Local Authorities n.e.s

25.2

31.3

20.7

17.3

17

18.1

4

Judiciary

23.7

30.1

21.1

24

24.7

23.6

5

Ministry of Lands

23.6

28.4

22.0

24.5

21.2

31.4

6

Provincial Administration

22.7

30.0

21.6

26.7

23.9

31.8

7

Nairobi City Council

20.4

21.0

27.4

26.2

27.8

16.6

8

Immigration Department

18.2

21.8

12.7

30.1

31.8

24.9

9

Kenya Revenue Authority

17.8

21.0

14.7

28.8

25.3

28

10

Ministry of Culture,Gender& Sports

16.9

11.2

19.0

11

Central Govt n.e.s

16.8

21.2

14.5

25.5

22.7

31.1

12

Cooperatives

16.3

17.7

15.9

12.5

15

12

13

Public Hospitals

15.3

16.4

15.3

21.9

24.1

17.3

14

Registrar of Persons

15.0

16.7

14.0

21

20.5

21.9

15

Private Sector n.e.s

14.4

11.9

17.4

17

17.3

15.9

16

Ministry of Agriculture/Livestock

14.0

17.1

12.6

5.8

14.9

5.4

17

Kenya Power & Lighting Company

12.8

13.1

15.0

12.9

12.7

15.8

18

Ministry of Education

12.7

24.8

10.9

14.3

12.8

16.2

19

State Corporations n.e.s

12.7

13.5

12.8

30.1

37.5

10.5

20

Ministry of Water Development

12.1

16.0

8.4

8.9

12.3

4.2

21

National Social Security Fund

11.4

15.0

7.8

18.8

18.8

18.7

22

Ministry of Health

10.8

11.1

11.2

12.7

12.3

13.2

23

Public Universities

9.2

11.4

8.5

21.6

21.9

16.6

24

Public Colleges

9.1

12.0

7.3

13.2

16.9

4.3

25

NGOs/CSOs

9.0

6.4

10.3

7.3

7

8

26

Kenya Tea Development Agency

8.9

14.8

7.9

27

Postal Corporation of Kenya

7.1

13.3

0.8

4

5.4

2.3

28

Public Schools

6.9

8.7

6.2

8.5

11.7

5.1

29

International Orgs/Dip. Missions

5.3

4.7

6.3

8.9

8.8

5.6

30

National Health Insurance Fund

4.1

3.0

4.9

31

Coffee Board of Kenya

4.0

-

3.9

32

Financial Institutions n.e.s

3.3

3.8

3.0

8.2

11.1

3.9

33

Kenya Commercial Bank

2.8

0.7

2.8

3.8

3.1

4.5

34

Religious Organizations

2.3

3.1

2.6

2.4

2.6

2.6

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